April 2015 - Freedom of the Seas to Caribbean - Eastern
This was our first RCCL cruise in 10 years, mainly because their pricing model for 3rd person in the same room had us paying more for the 3rd person than either of the first 2, so for the past decade we had stopped sailing with RCCL in favor of other lines (Norwegian, Disney and Carnival). We were happy to finally get an offer that allowed us to continue to improve our Platinum status. However the RCCL we loved back then seems ot have changed. The ships are magnificent and the amenities are unimaginable! The food was good, but the people in general seemed to go through the motions. Our servers for instance never bother learning our names. This is not a huge deal but the personal touches that we found so grand are gone. Also we found the guest services desk to be most unhelpful when we tried to get a listing of those items we had purchased pre-cruise (tours, cupcake class, character breakfast). Little things like the daily towel animals in our room that our son loves were cut to only one for a 7 day cruise. The activities on the ship stop way too early, the rock wall, flow rider were shut down by 5 every day. The kids club close dat lunch and also was done for the day at 7pm so we didn't use it much, other lines don't break for lunch but offered kids the option of eating in the kids club. Also with the early closing we never took advantage of any of the adult sonly type shows that occur after 7pm. The ships may bring us back to RCCL again, but the service was not that good overall. The shows were good with alot of variety. The casino was rather cold in terms of payback, and we never saw it crowded as on other lines, and never really saw anyone stick around to play very long (if folks win form time to time they tend to stay and play). The art auction was also not that good and the auctioneer a little rude, we thought RCCL had parted with Park West, but they were the company being used. We had a couple issues with purchases from them in the past so we do not buy from them, but if you see something you really like for your wall, buy it and enjoy, but don't buy it for an investment regardless of the auctioneers banter. You probably won't be able to get the framing price back at anytime in the future. The bar staff was not too overbearing in the theaters which was great, however at 7am the morning of disembarkation, they knocked on our door to check the mini bar inventory! We do not use the mini bar and would prefer it to be emptied so we could use the fridge space, but to knock at 7am is a bit too early on any day of the cruise, especially the last day when we are trying to gather our stuff and vacate the ship. I gave this 4 stars although struggled to move it up or down based on the service. I think 4 star is fair given what our matre de called the "New Royal Caribbean" I know some folks don't care about their dining staff remembering a preferred drink and having it there already, or addressing you by name as opposed to "The Mister and Misses and the little boy", but those were the things that made cruising special for us when we started 30+ cruises ago, sadly they seem to be gone from RCCL. The ships however cannot be beat for size, openness and day time activities.