This was, without doubt, the worst holiday experience I have
encountered to the extent that I asked the ships Customer Services
Manager about being let off the ship in Brisbane. We suffered two
weeks of beer swilling noisy and foul mouthed people, terrible
overcrowding, endless queues, continual RCI bad management,
disgusting food, untrained, un-interested and rude staff, highly
expensive drinks and tours, lost luggage and a maze of scams and
additional charges by RCI.
This is not my first cruise or my first cruise with RCI and so I
have a valid basis of comparison.
I've detailed below a few of the problems on the ship for which
I hold RCI responsible.
We picked up the ship in Singapore on the 18th October 2016 and
booked into the terminal at 12.00 noon. The scene was chaotic as
you can imagine with so many people trying to board. Cases were
simply left outside the front door of the terminal with no check in
procedure. There were thousands of bags piled up in no particular
order without any security measures being taken by RCI. No RCI
staff were present other than the checking in staff
who were rude and appeared un-interested.
Bearing in mind the age of the vast majority of travelers, I was
surprised that RCI made no attempt to offer refreshment, suitable
seating or advice whilst the boarding process was ongoing.
We boarded the boat at 12.45pm but some guests were still being
boarded 5 hours later. We made our way to our cabin, we had booked
a junior suite and found the room to be bright, airy and mostly
clean with plenty of storage available. The balcony and room were
sparsely furnished with uncomfortable furniture and the balcony had
not been cleaned.
The fridge did not work and the TV choice was poor unless you
paid extortionate amounts for films (I think it was $12 per video)
The bathroom was extremely small and there was no plug in the bath,
the tap to the wash hand basin offered no cold water. The bath,
sink,WC and shower curtain were stained and looked in need of
Even in a junior suite there was nowhere to eat if you wanted to
opt for room services or sit comfortably. The balcony was nice and
private but the glass screen was so dirty you had to stand up to
see over it if you wanted a view.
There were tea and coffee facilities but in the room but we were
shocked to find that only bottled water at extortionate cost was
available. There was no cold water for drinking in the
We waited for several hours for the delivery of our cases and
after many broken promises by RCI Customer Services staff and
several hours in queue's and discussions on the phone, I went down
to Level 1 and retrieved four of my cases at about 8pm. I was not
challenged by RCI security staff at any time. I located the fifth
and final case at 11.00pm on level 5 some 11 hours after I arrived
at the terminal and this only by chance because I went to level 5
to complain, yet again, about my missing case. Throughout the
process I saw no security of any of the guests cases whatsoever
either in the ship or at the terminal and no attempt was made by
any staff to help locate my luggage or confirm that my luggage was
on board or help me transfer my luggage to my room. As a
consequence the whole first day of the cruise was lost.
I quickly learned that any RCI staff just were not interested
and would lie and tell you what you wanted to hear just to move you
away. Complaining by phone from the cabin was a waste of time
because RCI staff just did not call back and you couldn't complain
because you couldn't get through to the same person twice.
I wasn't alone in having difficulties with my luggage, hundreds
of people formed an endless queue at Customer Services throughout
the first day trying to sort their own issues with luggage and
there were some very angry and unpleasant scenes.
We noticed during the first night that the ship was not
following its advertised course this meant that we were on the
seaward side of the boat throughout the journey. We had
specifically chosen the port side of the ship to give us land views
for the first half of the cruise, had we been known that the course
was to be radically changed without any apparent reason we would
have chosen a starboard cabin. There was no explanation or reason
given for this course change, as always RCI guests were treated
with complete contempt. Whilst I note RCI reserve the right to
change its course for operational reasons, no reason or excuse was
The self service breakfast and lunch restaurant, Windjammer, was
like a works canteen with appropriately poor service. With old
plastic plates and cups and dirty tables you can imagine the scene.
The food was just about edible but was not the quality you would
expect on a cruise ship. The queues for food were horrendous and
there weren't enough tables. It's the sort of place I would spend
all year avoiding and unfortunately as prisoners on the good ship
Voyager we had no choice.
I actually witnessed one waiter in Windjammer pouring the
contents of used glasses of water into a water jug as he was
clearing the tables, not at the end of the sitting but mid way. I
dread to think what he did next. No wonder RCI suffer from so many
contagious illnesses on its ships.
When eventually tables were cleared, countless tables were being
wiped with the same dirty cloth without any attempt to clean the
cloth and no cleaning products of any type were used. This was the
same for every one of the cleaning staff and on every occasion we
had the misfortune to have to use this disgusting canteen.
The food and service in the main restaurant was at best poor and
at worst shambolic and by the end of the cruise the continued and
persistent staff begging for additional tips was played out in
front of no more than 50% occupancy. I've cruised a fair few times
and I've never seen the 8pm sitting, on a full ship, half empty.
Food was cold, late, tiny portions, not as described on the menu
and of consistently poor quality. Guests were allowed into the
restaurant in shorts and beachwear even on formal nights and the
behavior was normally consistent with their attire. Our waitress
could not speak English and we had no idea what she was telling us
throughout the cruise. After 5 days at sea, the ship ran out of
every bottle of wine on its meager wine list below $60 a bottle and
despite several stops in Australia and assurances by the restaurant
management RCI made no attempt to rectify this problem.
I complained every day to the waiter, head waiter and floor
manager and only on the last night of the 14 day cruise was the
food bought out to us hot.
Some of the food bought out onto our table was embarrassing not
just to us but to the waiters who were serving it.
The numbers of tables who had pretty violent rows with the
restaurant staff grew over the 14 day period until most of the
tables around us were empty.
It quickly became evident that RCI are intent in squeezing every
possible cent out of every passenger and this theme was drummed
into the customer with such ferocity that there was disquiet on the
boat throughout the cruise. I've never been on a holiday or cruise
where the guests felt such ill will against the operator. The price
of drinks was excessive, charges for everything conceivable were
added to each bill, money taken from cards without authority,
children of 10 years old allowed to gamble hundreds of dollars on
their state room cards without parental consent or knowledge,
excessive charges made for land tours. A few examples of such sharp
practice:- $39 to tour the kitchens, $7 for a lanyard for the state
room key, $2.95 for a can of coke, $7 for a small bottle of beer,
land tours costing up to five times their local cost.
I noticed people on drinks deals were given second rate drinks
such as draught coke, un-branded wines, low quality beers etc.
Despite paying $13.50 per day per person for service charges,
18% was also added to every bill for additional service charges.
The constant begging by staff for additional tips was, to say the
least, annoying especially as the service throughout the ship was
We had four stops and two of them were tendered. On the first
tendered stop RCI made such a mess of the disembarkation that
people were still trying to get off the ship at 2.30pm, even though
we arrived at anchor at 10.00am. The queue for re-boarding was up
to 2hrs 30mins and then we were taken back through choppy seas in a
small ships tender which was not a pleasant experience.
The whole fiasco was caused by not enough externally hired large
boats being organised to get people off the ship. If the ship holds
3,500 guests and you have boats each holding 250 people and the
turnaround takes 1hr 20mins it doesn't take a genius to calculate
the number of boats required to get guests on and off the ship in a
The Captain, disingenuously blamed the fiasco on the Australian
authorities, the truth is that RCI did not hire enough external
boats, did not act quickly enough to put right its error and then
did nothing for the people who were waiting for nearly three hours
in the Northern Queensland afternoon sun without shade or water,
many of whom were old and infirm. I saw the captain questioned
about the tendering problems and he refused to respond when it was
made pretty obvious to everybody in earshot that he had not told
the guests the complete truth.
Again it does not take a genius to work out that if you had
problems getting 3,500 people off the ship with 4 large boats, the
problems will be even greater if you try to board them back using
just 2 boats. RCI did nothing to correct its error until the queue
on the dock was over 2hrs long. By that time the 2 of the larger
hired boats had been let go and we were left with ships
On our return to the boat we were addressed like criminals by
RCI security staff who showed utter contempt for passengers and we
were herded like sheep from queue to queue until we got away from
level 1. I was so annoyed at the way we were spoken to as we
entered the ship (having waited nearly 3 hours to board) that I had
an extremely heated discussion with the security operative
operating the bar scanner. I honestly felt like I'd just arrived at
Shawshank Prison for a ten stretch and fully expected dogs to be
bought out to round us up.
My wife was pretty distressed and felt intimidated by the
constant searching and scanning and ID checks we had to go though
and the aggressive security guards we had to deal with.
This same scenario was played out on the second tendered stop
although RCI provided desalinated water in glasses and cold towels
for people in the re-boarding queue and provided four large tenders
instead of two and used the ships tenders from the word go.
The water they served in plastic glasses in Windjammer was
desalinated and was pretty disgusting, forcing guests to buy $5 a
On disembarkation to the third tendered stop, 250 guests were
lead down to level 1 and herded like sheep into the main services
runway area and left for nearly 45 minutes pressed up against a
wall. This is a restricted area for guests and not only was this
extremely dangerous as it was in constant use by staff to transport
materials about the ship but the smell of rotting food was
appalling and worrying. We got no explanation why we were taken
from the theatre so early and no apology was given. We were just
pushed against one the walls and told to make way, this was 250
predominantly old people, some with walking aids unnecessarily
crammed into an area in constant use.
On the first day when I went down to level 1 to find my cases I
was told that it was too dangerous for guests to be in the runway
area and i was asked to leave.
I asked the RCI representative who led us down to level 1 how
long we would be kept in the runway area and he said "I don't know
and it's not my fault, I only work in the theatre" This was a
typical answer from waiting staff, customer services staff, staff
handling the luggage, in fact all RCI staff.
Despite the excessive profit made by RCI from the tours, it
decided to cut short our trips to make up for its own failings in
getting us off the boat in time. I travelled 11,000 miles from the
UK to see Northern Queensland and was rushed from coach to queue
and queue to coach on each of our three trips without having the
opportunity to see the place.
Even when we were docked the trips were cut short and we were
rushed back to the ship an hour early in both Darwin and
When I booked in at Singapore I was asked for a credit card to
secure my onboard expenditure even though I wanted to settle by
cash. Without authority and on a daily basis money was taken by RCI
from my credit card without my approval and authority. When I first
complained about the unauthorised withdrawal of funds the Customer
Services operative laughed at me and tried to suggest that this was
normal company policy. Eventually I spoke to the front desk manager
and told RCI that if they did not stop this unauthorised withdrawal
of funds I would report fraudulent activity on my card and have it
stopped. No further withdrawals were made on my account until the
final bill was settled. When I reviewed my final bill RCI had added
numerous transactions without my authority and signature some of
which had already been deducted from my account.
I think a total of $640 was taken before I managed to stop it
and when I enquired about a refund if I settled the agreed bill in
cash I was told this would take place 7-14 days after the end of
the cruise even though the unauthorised withdrawal had happened
within hours of the expenditure.
I have stayed in many top quality hotels throughout Europe,
Asia, North and Central America and the Middle East and been on
many cruises and this is the first time I have experienced this
type of breach of trust in respect of credit cards.
On the one occasion my wife and I used the casino, we had been
playing blackjack for about 30 minutes and we had won about $50 and
RCI put a dark suited manager behind us who stood inches away from
us with arms folded presumably trying to be intimidating. We were
extremely embarrassed but continued to play so the house then
changed dealer who was immediately rude to my wife and so we walked
away and cashed in our chips. Needless to say we did not
The entertainment was appallingly bad, singers in the pub were
excruciating, shows amateurish and comedians low quality and crude.
RCI's spurious claims that the shows were award winning are
disgraceful, these were amateur productions by amateur performers.
We spent the day by the pool on one of the later days only to be
confronted by a "belly flop" competition with the consequent
screaming and pa noise, how classy was that???
What upset me most was that RCI has turned this ship into a
floating Butlins camp with beer swilling, drunken, foul mouthed
guests, nothing like my experience of cruising with this or other
lines. I was appalled at some of the behaviour we saw both on and
off the ship. I acknowledge that RCI is not responsible for guests
behaviour but it is responsible for the environment which promotes
these problems. Having dress codes and codes of conduct in the
restaurants would help but the real problems were caused by having
an all you can drink cost of $55 which meant each person on the
deal felt obliged to drink at least $55 of alcohol per day. RCI has
set the price of the all you can drink package far too high with
total disregard to the non or light drinkers who have gone on
holiday to relax, not to listen to rugby songs and avoid drunks
throughout the night.
On one occasion we walked through the casino after our dinner
and there was a drunk women sprawled over the roulette table
shouting, swearing and screaming. Needless to say we turned and
Perhaps I'm an abject snob, but all I want is that my holiday is
relaxing, the food is good and that I can have a glass of wine with
my evening meal. I don't want to have to fight for breakfast or
spend time complaining to get normal levels of service or fight a
drunken mob to get a drink at night. I don't want to spend hours in
unnecessary queues or be penalised because the operator is
incompetent or to continually have to negotiate my way through the
RCI money making scams.
A couple on our table who we made friends with were in their
80's and they felt very frightened about being out of their room
We spent most of our time on the boat on our balcony reading
because the rest of the ship was so unpleasant and crowded. on one
occasion we tried to get a bed chair in the adult only section of
the swimming pool area, we had to sit 25 yards apart because it was
I based my decision to cruise with RCI upon the many and varied
claims made on its UK and USA websites. I enclose several examples
of RCI's incorrect and exaggerated claims made about its cruises
which in my opinion it has failed to honour or even attempt to
honour to the extent that I consider RCI to be in breach of our
contract and of English consumer law. I have made RCI aware of this
matter but they have refused to comment on any specific
I don't expect 5 star quality from RCI, that is clearly not
their game, I do however expect RCI to provide the advertised
service levels which formed the basis of our contract.
My dealings with RCI customer service since I got back have been
frustrating to say the least and after receiving an email which
said they wanted to speak to me but only if I paid for a premium
charged, international phone call I wrote to Adam Goldstein the
I've now had a letter from RCI asking for arbitration, a
surprising request after less than two weeks from my initial
complaint. I feel an ambush coming.
Bottom line folks, this is a deplorable, dishonest, down-market
company intent on fleecing customers, lying through their teeth at
every opportunity and giving guests a true Blackpool experience. Do
yourself a favour and use another operator who show guests some
PS. Australia is amazing
"Everything you need to enjoy your holiday is included in the
price of your ticket, making your experience truly amazing value.
Of course, additional options can be purchased if you want those
Since when does water constitute a "a little extra"
"Enjoy countless incredible complimentary dining experiences
during your holiday with each ship offering something
Windjammers is an overcrowded works canteen with dirty tables,
plastic plates and glasses and plain food. The main restaurant was
half empty, food was cold and poor, wine list with no choice under
$60 per bottle and service was chronic. That's two poor options,
where does "countless" and "incredible" fit into this?????
"With so many extraordinary activities on offer, you can
tailor-make your Royal Caribbean holiday to be just as exhilarating
(or relaxing) as you like. Head for the heights with the rock-wall,
catch waves on the FlowRider, or make a splash in the H2O Zone
water park. Or, if rest and relaxation is more your thing, retreat
to our blissful Spa to pamper yourself from head to toe. With most
of our activities free, you’ll always find fun for all the
View the classy "belly flop" competition in a Butlins type
environment or hunt out a bed in the spa and spend the day 25 yards
away from your partner because there are no beds together due to
"And where else can you have fun doing as much or as little as
you want, without having to constantly pack and unpack, or dealing
with never-ending lines to attractions?"
Whoever wrote this should have cruised on the VOTS in October
2016. On our trip to Port Douglas we spent just under 5 hours in
queues on one day due solely to RCI incompetence. That excludes
queues for food and drinks on board or queues at RCI Customer
"Our unique style of service will enhance every aspect of your
cruise. No matter where you are the pool, the dining room, the spa
or your room – get ready to be wowed! And we deliver it 24
hours a day. This is way beyond normal service"
I'm still waiting to be wowed by any aspect of RCI service, in
fact I would say the service was at best 3rd rate. The only thing
unique about RCI staff is that amongst cruise lines I've been on
they are the worst, un-trained, constant begging for tips, rude,
incompetent and treat guests with utter contempt.
"Once onboard, you will enjoy dining options that are rich in
flavor and ambience. Savor dish after dish of fine cuisine, casual
plates and snacks prepared by our chefs in a variety of venues from
deck to deck. See which dining venues are on your ship"
Windjammers is an overcrowded works canteen with dirty tables,
plastic plates and glasses and plain food. The main restaurant was
half empty, food was cold and poor, wine list with no choice under
$60 per bottle and service was chronic. I didn't have any food
which was rich in flavour and/or ambience. If you want that try an
Olsen or Costa cruise.