It was wonderful. The advantage of booking the Suite was 10-star, i.e., access to the Concierge Lounge and our personal "Concierge" was priceless - he was like a friend!
...not crazy about the Cruise Director - she had an irritating loud, voice, she should take it down just a notch!!! (I know, this is sounds a little petty)
(FYI ... I credit Lexi Garcia with providing us with over the top knowledge of all travel info I could possible ask for - she's unbelievable and I hope I will be able to only arrange all my future travel plans with her)
The ship stopped at most of the right destinations. Some stops could have been longer. The crew provided excellent service. The staterooms were adequate and very well maintained and serviced. The food from the buffet to the specialty restaurants was very good. Made new acquaintances mostly during excursions and sitting at the same table in the main restaurant. Excursions were very nice. On occasions guides could have done a better job.
On the down side (that is why excellent is a goal) the Internet was very slow. Seemed that Royal Caribbean was nickel-and-diming passengers. The drink packages could be redone with fewer options providing additional value.
We were a party of grandparents with grandchildren (19 and 16). The overall experience is good. But we noticed the differences between the previous cruises and this one. The ship is very nice. But nobody greats you when you embark, nobody takes you to your cabin. The cabin is great. Patric was cleaning very well. But there are no chocolates on the pillow at night (our granddaughter was disappointed), no toiletries except 2 pieces of soap (you have to carry them overseas or run around to buy them). Mattresses are not good. The feeling of the 5 star hotel is not there any more. The experience in the dining room was very good. Sandro and Jose were wonderful. We were looking forward for dinner. Also the guy (don't remember his name, who was making the reservations in the dining room) was extremely helpful. The different story about the buffet. There are three times less personnel than before. Nobody cleans the tables. You can't find the table because they are all dirty. I think I can bring a cup of coffee for myself, but find a clean table is more important. Also you have to clean the chair before sitting on it. They are all sticky. The floor is dirty. If you run around and find the person to clean the table, he or she will say 'sure', then turn their back on you and leave. They prefer to bring coffee than to clean a table.
About the itinerary. It was wonderful, if you can get from the port to the city. You are forced to pay for the shuttle, if you want to be on your own. There is no other way to get out of the port. I understand, that the cruise is a big business, but the cruise line should not charge for the shuttle. It is your responsibility to bring passengers to the point in the port were they can walk around and enjoy the city.
For me, I cruise for the itinerary. I loved this itinerary. The only improvement would be to have an overnight in Rome. I had an excellent time, and bottom line, I loved the trip because I love Italy. Other than that: service was excellent. Loved the capitain, cruise directors, waitstaff and room attendants. The food was inconsistent--some meals were excellent and some were not good. The entertainment brought on board were all enjoyable, but the ship's entertainers were mediocre at best. I did not like all the pushing of the RC excursions and lack of information provided beyond that. Sometimes I like their excursions but sometimes I prefer a smaller group experience. I'm not really into the activities for the at-sea days (like trivia games and napkin folding), but I was tired from the active excursions and enjoyed quiet days of reading and enjoying the sun while at sea. Overall, this was an excellent itinerary, and I enjoyed the trip. I would recommend it, and I would do it again?
Ship was well sized and spotless. The balcony stateroom on deck 7 was spacious with lots of storage, well laid out, comfortable and accessible to dining areas and pool deck. Pool area was crowded and noisy. Solarium area was too hot due to lack of open windows, and had heavy chlorine smell. Neither area was appealing.
Shore excursions were decent and well organized, but not as good as those we purchased from Cruises only.
Dining room waiters and cabin attendant were bright, personable, efficient, helpful and eager to please. Food in dining rooms was creative, tasty, attractively presented. Decent variety of offerings most nights. Portions at times could be larger, especially appetizer salads. Breakfast and lunch buffets at Windjammer offered a very good variety of offerings, and were of generally good quality. Park cafe was adequate, but opening times were inconsistent and varied from day to day. There were times of day when lemonade (my wife's go-to drink) was the only unavailable beverage.
Daily newsletter at times had incorrect operation times of the restaurants listed, and staff was misinformed as well. Guest services staff ranged from clueless to highly helpful and competent. Upper Management (hotel director), however, was very responsive when we came to them with legitimate concerns. The captain was a gem, and management personnel were approachable, helpful, and eager to please.
Gathering procedure for shore excursions on tender days was not as well organized as advertised, and importance of obtaining a tender ticket, even if an excursion was not planned, was underrepresented.
Culture of upselling, especially during first 3 days, was insulting and annoying. Subtlety was nonexistant. We were constantly approached by staff pushing packages for the specialty restaurants. Bottled drinks were offered for sale at the exits during departures at ports. Placards were everywhere offering drink packages, specials and sales, etc. We could not escape the concept that we were there simply to enhance the profitability of the cruise company.
Had it not been for the ports, the cabin, and the service people with whom we interacted daily, the experience would have been more negative than positive. I would do it again because of the special itinerary, but would alter my approach and expectation. I might look for a slightly more expensive and upscale line to avoid the annoyances which tarnished our experience. Had this been a Carribean cruise, it would have been more negative than positive.
Great sites to see in each port, whether with RCL excursions or private tours. Deck 8 the uppermost deck is subject to very loud noises overnight as the cleaning crews roll very heavy carts above your head all night long. Some nights we could sleep through, most nights we could not. Size of junior suite was wonderful as was balcony. Room service great for morning coffee. Entertainment was ok, not great. Overall a very standard cruise experience well done, but not on deck 8.
If you want to relax and also enjoy some ancient historic and scenic locations, this is a great cruise. Royal Caribbean does a great job with customer service and keeping the ship nice and tidy. Our cabin steward was wonderful and so was the formal dining service.
My only complaint was that the on board entertainment did not suit my tastes and I thought the shows needed improvement (lead singers were not in tune). The TV content was very out dated (2012 copyrights) and the programming repeated over and over many times. With 12 days on the ship, it got bothersome.
The ship offers great excursions but a bit expensive. I like a little bit of adventure, you can find many option right outside the port. Very inexpenisve ways to see places are trains and buses. Also, you can find people with the same interest looking for transportantion. You can team up with them!
you can take it if the "price is right" there are better ships. However, the service was good and personnel very attentive.
We had, as diamond+ members, at the same day 2 deliveries of food to the cabin, why can't that be on different days? Same goes for invitations - 2 in one day!
The ports that you stop at are mostly about shopping unless you have booked an excursion. There are lots of people selling the same excursions off the boat. We used the dive shop right at the pier to go snorkeling and had a great time with great snorkeling
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