May 2014 - Freedom of the Seas to Caribbean - Eastern
While the experience of ease throughout the ship was better than expected, after cruising on several cruise lines (Carnival (8), Princess (4), Royal Caribbean (2), the Freedom of the Seas experience was disappointing from the view point of service. I'm not sure if it's the quality of people or because of the change in the tipping process on some of the experiences. I personally feel that the service has changed in a negative way because of the automatic tip. Examples of my experience include: **complaining from staff - our room attendant wanted us to let him know if we needed anything from him because we were one of two rooms on that side of the ship with all of the other rooms he was assigned on the other side of the ship. When dining, we kept hearing the excuse for poor service as "because we are extremely busy at this point" -- did you not know everyone would be arriving? There was just a lot of complaining in which I have not experienced before.; **The whole dining experience was very concerning the first evening. I was able to book our two cabins in close proximity, I was able combine the cruise card account with no problem, but for some reason, we were booked for separate dining rooms. We politely explained the situation to the person in charge of the dining changes, however, were told we would have to be on a waiting list and he acted like it might not be possible. I explained that we didn't care what dining room, what dining time, how many other guests were at the table, we just needed to sit together because that was the purpose of vacationing together because they live in another state and we wanted to spend time together. My thought was, "Really", you have "Anytime Dining" going on throughout the cruise with the ability for a family to walk up at any time to dine together but you can't plan on 4-people to sit together at a table. (sorry for the sarcasim but it was extremely disappointing). Anyway, they were able to get us a table for that evening, expressing how they had inconveniently worked it out and how much of a task it was for them but when we got to the table it was literally sitting in the stairwell. And the service we received that evening from Trevor and his assistant was appalling. Honestly, I got a dirty look from the assistant because I wouldn't hand him my finished plate across the table. He was offended that he had to walk around my son's chair to get it. There were many tables empty that evening but we sat like unliked guests at a party. (Not a good experience when you've just paid for not only your trip but your families. And how must they be feeling when I've built the wonderful experiences I've had in the past to them.) After complaining about the location of the table they were able to sit us at another table with Gemy & Dennis the next evening and we were extremely happy with our evening dining experience for the remainder of the cruise. Gemy & Dennis were wonderful but the rest of the dining staff experience was very lacking. When we ate in the dining room at breakfast, poor service and comments from other guests as well. They seem to offended when we would order from the menu because they perferred we go through the buffet line. (If we wanted buffet, we would have gone to the Windjammer). Our deck experience throughout the day was a similar situation as the wait staff would take your order and be gone for extended periods of time. They would not bring you a glass of water with your order either. I understand not wanting to serve water to everyone especially if they're not drinking, however, I purchased the premium drink package for myself, so if I'm ordering a drink already, you're going to the bar and you won't bring me a glass of water too, I'm offended. So, I'm expected to get up from sunning, either leave my things or take them with me and go to the same bar to get a glass of water. And yes, I got the water from the bartender, not from the plastic container that sits on the counter throughout the day. Okay, I think you get the picture of our experience with the service onboard. An additional disappointment to me was how much space was allocated for smoking guests. My son and his guest both smoke and they appreciated it but for me as a non-smoker, I felt like the space was extensive. One day of sunning, I found what I thought was a nice chair for the day where I could see activities going on, however, after an hour or so a person rudely moved a chair right next to me and was a chain smoker who wanted to have a cigarette in her hand all of the time. I don't think they should be allowed to sit and lounge with a cigarette anywhere on the boat. People walking on the track had to walk right through the clouds of smoke as well. To me, having almost a whole side deck available of deck #4 was plenty for their habit and because they choose to have an unhealthy habit, nonsmokers should not have to be exposed on the main decks. It's dangerous anyway with how strong the wind can be. Another item of disappointment was the RC staff at ports. Rude, treating us like cattle, not smiling or pleasant. And while I have mixed feelings about it, this is the first cruise where the photographers were not engaged or interested in taking everyone's picture. (It didn't bother me, just an observation.) Our last experience on the cruise was not a good one either. While I appreciate the automation of finding our luggage, once again we were herded like cattle with no direction and then complaining when we ended up in a line the staff was not happy about. We had no idea we were doing something wrong and all they had to do was explain the expectation to us. Will these items keep me from cruising again, no,,,,but will they keep me from cruising on this particular ship, probably. If I continue to experience the disappointments, I will consider another cruiseline as well and that is disappointing. My husband and I both rave about cruising because it has been one of our favorite vacation options and this was his first experience with Royal Caribbean. We hope to take our granddaughter on her first cruise in the next year. Other items on the ship were excellent. Very clean, great entertainment (suggest offering an additional ice show since many were turned away), great food, organized. The process of boarding was excellent (with the exception of the dining separation) and de-boarding was a nice process as well (with the exception of confusion due to lack of direction and rudeness). Thank you for the opportunity to express concern. I hope you will seriously consider the service situation as that is one of the great things about cruising. Have a great day!!