Year Started: 1969
Ships in Fleet: 22
Summary: The largest and most technically impressive cruise ships in the world. Great for kids, families and adventurous adults. A large fleet, but Oasis and Brilliance are often cited as favorites
Good for: Families. Overall Service. Seniors.
Regions:Eastern Caribbean, Western Caribbean
Good for: Families. Overall Service. Value for Money.
Regions:Caribbean, Canada, Transatlantic
Good for: Seniors. Group. Families.
Regions:Bahamas, Southern Caribbean
Good for: Families. Children`s Programs. Seniors.
Regions:Bermuda, Bahamas, Eastern Caribbean
Good for: Seniors. Group. Families.
Regions:Eastern Caribbean, Western Caribbean
Good for: Seniors. Group. Families.
Regions:Bermuda, Bahamas, Eastern Caribbean
Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Families.
Regions:Western Caribbean, Eastern Caribbean
Good for: Children`s Programs. Group. Families.
Regions:Western Caribbean, Southern Caribbean
Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Families.
Regions:Western Mediterranean, Panama Canal
Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Families.
Regions:Western Caribbean, Eastbound Transatlantic
Good for: Families. Value for Money. Teens.
Good for: Teens. Group. Families.
Regions:Singapore, Malaysia, Phuket & Port Kelang,
Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Families.
Regions:Eastern Mediterranean, Caribbean, Eastbound Transatlantic
Good for: Seniors. Families. Overall Service.
Regions:Eastern Caribbean, Western Caribbean
Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Families.
Regions:Alaska, Hawaii, Tasmania
Good for: Children`s Programs. Seniors. Families.
Regions:Hawaii, Alaska, South Pacific
Good for: Group. Families. Children`s Programs.
Regions:Western Caribbean, Suez Canal, Bahamas, Dubai
Good for: Children`s Programs. Seniors. Families.
Regions:Brazil, Western Mediterranean, Greek Isles
Good for: Seniors. Families. Singles.
Regions:Norwegian Fjords, British Isles, Scan Russia, Southern Caribbean
Good for: Children`s Programs. Group. Families.
Regions:Toyko To Taipei, Australia, Asia
Good for: Teens. Children`s Programs. Families.
The RCI Breakdown:
Let me begin by saying that we are first time cruisers and I have a mixed review that I hope you will take the time to read thoroughly through.
My finance and I have never experienced a cruise and after a month of reading reviews and getting input from friends and family we finally decided to take a Western Royal Caribbean for our Honeymoon. We were married March 1 and scheduled to board on March 3rd. All my wife could keep telling me was about how beautiful Cozumel and Costa Maya Mexico are, and that's all I could think about from the day we married until the day we boarded the Jewel. With that being said here is my break down of our first cruise experience.
We boarded around 1:30pm on March 3rd and our first objective was to get to our Stateroom and get our carry on luggage put away. Upon arrival some of our luggage was already waiting for us, so we quickly put away what we could and took advantage of walking around the ship since we still had a few hours before departing Tampa. Being avidcoffee drinkers we thought it would be nice to get some java and explore the Jewel. So we proceeded to start at the AFT part of the ship and work our way forward, surprisingly every restaurant and coffee machine we saw was closed, now being first time cruisers we didn't know the difference so we continued on exploring. The Jewel was beyond our expectations for a cruise ship we were in astounded by the beauty and architecture we seen â€“ it was truly a fabulous ship and I envisioned a fantastic honeymoon a few hours away from beginning.
With no luck on the coffee we continued to walk in hopes of finding some kind of refreshment or open restaurant, and as we got closer to the center of the ship on Deck 12 we heard music so we worked our way in the same direction figuring something would be open. Upon arrival at the main pool my hopes of a romantic honeymoon crashed and burned. The complete pool deck was filled with 21 year old college students at which time half or better percentage of them were already hammered from drinking and here it is only 2:30 in the afternoon, looking around we seen all the sun bathing lounge chairs â€“ pools and hot tubs were completely taken over by college students who at this point could careless who else was on the ship. It was their world and nothing was going to stop them. Now for the record I am not opposed to anyone of legal age having a good time, however there are still rules of engagement and clearly these young adults were far from understanding the words "Respect and Courtesy" and being drunk was all they cared about.
Emergency Evacuation 4:15 March 3rd At 4:15 The Captain called for the must have emergency evacuation drill. Being first time cruisers we were very interested in understanding the process. We arrive at E16 our evacuation center and along with us were half the drunken college students talking and yelling above the crew and the PA system completely ignoring the safety protocols that were being announced. Also during the evacuation drill it was brought to our attention that a group of College students were kicked off the ship and 4 were arrested stemming from obnoxious behavior to other passengers and smuggling drugs through customs. This delayed us from leaving until almost 5-5:30pm. Again, the only unfortunate issue here is that none of the RCI personnel stepped up to control the unruly crowd.
Food: Being that the culinary staff has to feed 2,000 plus people from several different ethnic back rounds I feel they did an adequate job with the food â€“ but not necessarily superb. It was your basic buffet style food â€“ we did go to one formal dinner but nothing wowed us to go to any others so we mainly ate at the buffet.
Eat when you want? â€“ No such thing on this cruise â€“ All the main restaurants closed at 11pm and you were left with Pizza and maybe some nacho chips â€“ and the worst part was, it was only available at one location at the bow of the ship which made it even more difficult to fight the crowds, and if you wanted a Soda â€“ good luck finding it after 11pm. However, you can opt for room service with a little more on the menu however one and half hours waiting wasn't worth the extra money you had to pay.
Entertainment The entertainment at the Center of the ship was absolutely fantastic â€“ it was where most of the older generation couples were hanging out because the pool areas and lounges were being overrun by the college students, but as soon we thought we found a nice quiet area where we could talk and enjoy a late night drink while listening to some very good live music â€“ while dressed in our casual evening clothes here comes the College kids staggering across the dance floor in their swim suits / no shirts or shoes to one of the bars.
The Motown show featuring the Horizons was beyond Fantastic â€“ Kudos to Royal for having them on board.
The 70's Dance Party that was held on deck 4 inside was Excellent â€“ However it slowly crashed and burned when (Yep) the drunk college kids got into the party wearing their bathing suits, screaming hollering and using profanity.
Excursions All canceled due to inclement weather â€“ The cruise line did absolutely nothing to try and compensate with on board activates and or offer other excursion options.
Service Service from the wait staff was good â€“ but again not superb as I thought I would suspect or read from other reviews â€“ again I contribute this too the college crowd and their lack of respect for others, It almost felt like the crew was intimidated by the actions of this young crowd and preferred to let them just do what they want so they wouldn't have to deal with the insubordination or derogatory remarks.
State Room Our Stateroom 9636 was fantastic with a nice balcony and view located in a pretty decent part of the ship where walking to the stairs or elevators was very convenient. Final Day of Cruise: My wife and I inquired with the some of the crew about purchasing some wine so we can go back to our stateroom for a last cruise evening toast â€“ we were told that if we purchased a bottle at the Ship store we would be able to take it with us because it was the final night of the cruise â€“ However after our purchase we were informed that because there was so many college students on the cruise the Ships staff was suspending any liquor purchase back to the rooms and we would have to wait until morning to pick it up. Another amenity taken because of the college gathering, with that we assumed we could just go buy a drink and take it back to the room however upon arriving on the main pool deck â€“ everything was closed early, so that the college crowd didn't get out of hand partying all night and ensuring they got off the ship on time the next morning. How sad it is that the responsible passengers suffered for the inadequacies of these younger persons.
Over all our first cruise experience was dreadful â€“ I expected a lot more interaction from the RCI staff and security to ensure everyone on the ship had a pleasant experience â€“ I felt as if this cruise was geared strictly for Spring Break College Students and that we were simply the people that filled the empty cabins â€“ I completely understand that this was bad timing for weather and spring break activates â€“ but it was extremely unfortunate that RCI wasn't more involved with security and managing the unruly â€“ disrespectful younger generation.
My family (wife and two kids) wanted to try a cruise. Naturally, I resisted being a "landlubber". Between the air fare to Florida from NY and the cruise - it is in excess of $12,000. We could go to Europe for a week for the same money. So I gave in. I was very very disappointed.
The positives first. The staff was very helpful and professional. You don't know there are 6,000 people on the boat it is so big. The ship swallows up everyone and you still feel relatively alone. They make great mixed drinks and they are reasonably priced. The Mojitos are great. The pool staff is great. If you want to sit on a lounge chair for the week, you can do it here. The pools got crowded at times.
The negatives last. First the food is not edible. we all lost weight!!!! The only hope of eating anything resembling other than dog food is in the specialty restaurants but you must reserve 30 days in advance so do your research where you want to eat. The specialty restaurants don't rise to TGIF quality but have expensive price tags.The dining room food is disgusting, to be kind. They will keep letting you try dishes, but you are wasting your time.
You may decide to rent the iPhone walkie talkies to stay in touch with and track the rest of your party. The network works 1/2 the time and are basically unreliable. Beware the penalties in the rental agreement. You may think that $500 for a damaged or lost 1st generation iPhone that sells on ebay for $50 is not something they enforce. They do. We returned our 4 iPhones and they claimed one of them was not working. You return the iPhones the day before the cruise is over. They told us they would let us know later if they got the one to work, but they charged $500 to the credit card right away. Weeks of attempting to get answers were frustrating and fruitless. They refused to send me the iPhone they claimed was broken so I could independently verify their claims. They first claimed that none of the iPhones were returned. Then they claimed that they were returned but all were broken. Only after I asked for a copy of the agreement with the notations did they admit that each of the four iPhones were returned but one was broken. I offered to replace the iPhone with one I purchased on ebay but they refused. Challenging the credit card does not work since they refuse to negotiate and the credit card sides with the cruise. I would have had to sue them and would have won since they admitted that they could not locate the iPhone that was allegedly broken.
Next time I cruise, I will try a different cruise line.
Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas Western Caribbean Cruise Jan. 21 â€“ 28, 2012 By Mary & Vincent Finelli
Each January Vincent books our anniversary cruise and this year was no different. We celebrated our 43rd wedding anniversary aboard the Oasis. The same time last year we cruised on the Allure of the Seas, in a wheelchair accessible cabin with a balcony overlooking the sea and we thought it would be interesting to try a different cabin site â€“ so this time we booked a wheelchair accessible cabin over looking the Boardwalk. Well, there is an old adage: "Never leave the true and tried road for a new one." Or as the Italians say: "Chi lascia la via vecchia per la nuova, sa quel che lascia, ma non sa quel che trova" (Who leaves the old road for a new one knows what he leaves, but not what he finds). Just a word of advice: If you want a restful and relaxing cruise book the ocean view cabin!
This week the Oasis was fully booked with 6380 passengers (approx. 75% from USA) and 2200 crew members â€“ On the Royal Promenade attimes it was like being in a busy airport or train station â€“ However, we always managed to escape the crowds by walking to the most peaceful place aboard: Central Park, where the many plants, flowers, and the soft background music and sounds of chirping birds and water falls evoked in us a sense of pastoral relaxation.
Due to logistics, Captain Thore Thorolvsen remained a remote figure; we did not have a chance to meet him: The Oasis is too big and too busy for anything else! But we did have the opportunity to meet again Hotel Director Martin Rissley, whom we had known from past cruises. He gave us a warm welcome back to the Oasis on which we had spent 12 wonderful days during her inaugural cruise in December of 2009. It is amazing to see that everything in this huge floating resort runs perfectly: From stateroom to dining room, from casual dining to specialty dining, from entertainment to passenger service, etc., etcâ€¦. A lot of credit for the successful outcome of cruising on this behemoth floating city goes to the great experience of our friend Martin. We were so happy to see him again.
EMBARKATION Considering the huge number of embarking passengers, RCCL has adopted a well oiled check-in process, a large number of check-in booths where passengers are directed by their cabin deck. In addition, priority is given to people in wheelchairs, Suites and "Frequent Floaters" (Diamond Plus and Pinnacle Club members of the Crown & Anchor Society). So our check-in was expeditious and in minutes we were in our cabin. Here was the first "wow": A telephone call notified us that Vincent had left his wallet at the check-in booth. He went back to retrieve his wallet, thanked the kind lady that found it, but, due to the crowding, did not ask her name, so later he could not mention her for the "wow" employee who made the difference in our cruise! To the special lady: We wish we could have thanked you more appropriately. We are sorry we did not.
SHIP The Oasis of the Seas, the largest cruise ship afloat, was launched the fall of 2009. She was the first of an innovative class of RCCL ships. The second ship of this class is the Allure of the Seas, which was launched a year later. Needless to say, no other existing cruise ship matches this pair in size, shapes or innovations. For a detailed review of the Oasis we refer the readers to the one we posted on this web site in December 2009. This review will be confined to the impression of our return to the Oasis and the difference of our balcony exposure.
CABIN Our stateroom was a wheelchair accessible cabin with balcony, # 14303, on deck 14, the top deck with passenger cabins. This cabin was similar to the one we had the last cruise on the Oasis, #14166. The major difference between the two cabins was that the first one overlooked the ocean and this one was above the Boardwalk. Needless to say, it lacked privacy since it was facing the cabins on the starboard side and the Sports Court on deck 15, with constant passenger activity. The first time out on the balcony, Mary was startled by two dangling legs whizzing by. Yes, the Zip Line went right by our balcony. The balcony was a bit smaller than the one we had before, thus we did not ask the steward for a chaise lounge for Vincent. No matter, we soon realized that for privacy we would have the drapes closed during most of the voyage and the use of the balcony was limited to very little time, since Vincent could not enjoy relaxation due to the noisy activities on the Boardwalk below, nor could he be lulled to sleep by the sound of the ocean's waves. Moreover, he could not stargaze during clear nights. Don't let us deter you from booking a cabin overlooking the Boardwalk, since your preferences may be different from ours and you might enjoy looking at the Aqua Show or watching the people having fun below.
Wheelchair accessible cabins on this ship have no automatic door openers, which facilitate the handicapped passenger to enter and exit the room. On a few ships we have enjoyed the automatic openers (see the Solstice class ships), thus we suggest that such convenience should be used on all ships. However, on the Oasis the wheelchair accessible bathrooms and most of the doorways are equipped with automatic door openers.
SERVICE & FOOD Despite the high number of cruisers, service is excellent under H.D. Martin Rissley. In the Opus Dining Room, Head of Restaurant Operations Oliver Dzalevski, gave us an excellent table near the entrance. Head Waiter Jay was on the ball and our waiters were terrific: James Francis, Michelle Edwards and MacArthur couldn't have been sharper!
As usual RCCL has tremendous portions and excellent meats. We feasted each and every meal. We also enjoyed Giovanni's Table, the upscale Italian restaurant and its special atmosphere, music and service. We lamented the absence of Chef Marco Morrama, whom we met on the previous cruise, but now he is on the Allure. He has an exquisite touch with authentic Italian cuisine.
The abundance of venues for food and the hot cookies and scones are still very popular and much appreciated on RCCL ships. The Concierge Club Lounge is unique to RCCL and it is a positive perk for Suite passengers and Crown &Anchor advanced members: Complimentary specialty coffee (Espresso, Cappuccino, Latte, etc.), pastries, juices and fruits are available for breakfast and through the day; and hors d'ouvres and drinks are offered before dinner in the evenings. This cruise Ricardo Mock and Allan Fajardo shared the duty of Concierge and were very helpful to us regarding reservations for shows and specialty dining, etc. The Concierge Club Lounge is also a nice place to meet people and make new friends. We were fortunate to befriend a couple of very interesting people from California, Sandy and Dennis, with whom we spent some nice time conversing about the cruises and other topics of common interest every evening during our pre dinner cocktail hour. We promised to keep in touch with each other, but have not yet been able to do it, first due to a computer problem and then to some health problems that afflicted us. We promise to get in touch with them as soon as possible.
ENTERTAINMENT Amy Fickert from Springfield, Ohio is the youngest Cruise Director of the RCCL fleet. Attractive and outgoing, she rallies the passengers for the many venues on board: sports, exercise and poolside activities. She introduces the major theater shows and she hosts "The Love and Marriage Game Show" on Monday evenings in the Opal Theater. There are several shows performed in the Opal Theater which require reservation. Some shows are presented several times, so if you miss them on the first day of the performance, you can catch them on the second or third time. The Headliner Showtime "Mosaic" and the production shows "Hairspray" and "Come Fly with Me" are currently shown in the Opal Theater. A stand up comedy show is offered every night in Comedy Live, deck 4.
In Studio B there is an Olympic quality ice skating show, "Frozen in Time" which is based on Hans Christian Anderson's tales, just fantastic! Don't miss it. At the end of the ice show there is an interesting attraction: A young lady and her assistant who tell stories using sand painting or sculpturing â€“ unbelievable, touching the sand on a screen with rapid motions of her hands and fingers she created numerous changing scenes with characters and animals, etcâ€¦.
There is live entertainment all over the ship, including classic string music, jazz and dancing. Go out and find your favorite entertainment.
PORTS OF CALL Day 1. Ft. Lauderdale, FL USA Depart 5:30pm
Day 2. At Sea
Day 3. Labadee, Haiti Arrive 7:00am Depart 4:30pm
Day 4. Falmouth, Jamaica Arrive 10:00am Depart 6:30pm
Day 5. At Sea
Day 6. Cozumel, Mexico Arrive 8:00am Depart 6:30pm
Day 7. At Sea
Day 8. Ft. Lauderdale, FL USA Arrive 7:00am
DEBARKATION Debarkation was just as efficient as embarkation. The passengers in need of wheelchair assistance met in a designated area on deck 5, where a coordinator indicated the order of debarkation according to the passenger's luggage tag color. In less than fifteen minutes we collected our luggage and went through customs. Within half an hour we were on our way home.
CONCLUSION This was a good cruise, but not as great as the last one on the Oasis. The big disappointment was the selection of our cabin with the balcony facing the Boardwalk, rather than the ocean. However, Oasis and Allure offer alternatives that other ships do not have, most of their inside cabins have balconies or windows on Central Park, Boardwalk or the Royal Promenade.
Our next cruise will be on the MSC Poesia, a new cruise line for us, and on March 17th we'll return to one of our favorite ship, the Grand Princess. Happy Cruising!
Please read through to the bottom where I have posted the "politically incorrect" comments about cruises departing from San Juan.
We arrived in San Juan 3 days before so we could tour El Yunque national forest and Old San Juan. San Juan has dozens of hotel choices ranging by price. If you check Expedia.com they provide a list of hotels and give you the ability to sort the list by price or by traveler opinion. The latter is the way to go and you'll notice that Hampton Inn is consistently listed in the top 5, and its worth it. The choice of hotel really comes down to life style: some want more from a hotel and some accept less for lower price. Just remember that choosing a hotel is like paying taxes in the United States: you get what you pay for.
From the airport you can take a cab at a defined rate by zones, just ask the driver what it will cost, and also be aware it is posted at the airport by the baggage claim. From your hotel the next morning you can again hail a caband pay a defined price to the pier. You can ask the front desk for info on cabs and typically cabs hang out at hotels for morning travelers.
Trust me on this one and learn from someone who has been burned in the past. Do not, and I mean DO NOT, and I'm saying you ABSOLUTELY DO NOT take the RCCL transfers and here's why:
1) They pay a local cartage company to transfer your bags FROM the airport TO the pier. Problem 1: Bags are often pilfered due to the locks being cut off. This violates your privacy and trust in them. Cruise lines do nothing to stop this so its YOUR problem, not theirs. Problem 2: Bags arrive at the pier whenever the cartage company truck arrives. On a prior cruise we bought the cruise company transfer and arrived at the pier just before 6:00 PM but our bags didn't arrive at our cabin until nearly midnight. Until they arrived we presumed them to be lost and sought help from the cruise line who gave us a small pouch with a tooth brush, past, and comb: big deal. The bags arrived with locks cut off and contents rifled.
2) RCCL hires local buses to transport you to the pier. The problem is they decide to fill the bus and that means waiting around for passengers to arrive, which can take an hour or more and that delays your transfer to the pier and boarding time. Several years ago on a Celebrity cruise we got off the airplane at 4:00 and didn't make it to the pier until 6:00 PM. After checking in we were late for our 6:00 dinner seating and denied access to the main dining room - because the bus had to fill every seat before departing the airport.
You'll probably spend less on cabs to/from the airport/pier than the RCCL transfers, and you'll arrive when YOU want, not when THEY want you to, and with your bags intact. The lesson is to handle bags yourself to insure their safety and your convenience.
We used Royal Caribbean's online check-in and this is a must because it saves a great deal of time at the pier. Either you fill out personal information (name, address, phone, various data) online yourself or they do it at the pier, which will take at least half an hour. When you arrive at the pier all they need from you at that point is your signed "Set Sail" agreement where you basically agree to pay your ship account, and a swipe of your credit card.
In general the earlier you arrive at the pier the better off you are going to be. If you arrive in morning you will likely have to wait as passengers are still disembarking and RCCL will delay entry. But the line is short that early in the day. Unfortunately, you are going to have to take some initiative and ask about the lines into the terminal. There were 2 lines: the line to the RIGHT was to drop off bags to be handled by RCCL. Meanwhile the line to the LEFT goes into the terminal and first through security. Note that large bags cannot go through their xray machines and must be handled by RCCL. You should hand carry (roll) all other bags to insure their safety and timely arrival on the ship. This insures you'll at least have something.
Cruises start on day "one" which obviously is your first day. But if you arrive at the ship at 6:00 PM you don't have a very long "day one" so the goal would be to arrive as soon as RCCL will allow you to board the ship, which is around 12:00 noon on day one.
Adventure of the Seas is huge. OK, its not in the Oasis class (new ship) but its still huge with lots of features. It's been very tastefully decorated, far more so than Carnival ships, which tend to be gaudy & overbearing. You can find images on the RCCL website. The Royal Promenade is a great place to hang out having shops, bars, and a cafe with pizza & deserts (included in your cruise price). On this cruise we began to notice the ship is getting a bit tired and needs a few weeks in drydock to recondition rails, replace carpets, etc. But its still a great ship.
Most likely you already know the differences between inside cabin, outside with window, outside with balcony, etc. But what you may not know is you are vastly better off with a room towards either bow or stern. Rooms mid ship tend to be burdened by lots of traffic. People pass by those rooms at night, drunk, and conduct themselves like noisy recalcitrant children. But when they get near THEIR cabin they quiet down and behave like an adult (you hope). Midship, having lots of traffic by fact of location, offers little protection from jerks. We chose a room aft for less traffic. Unfortunately there can be misbehaving inconsiderate jerks in any section.
In case you are not aware of this cruise lines offer rooms VERY cheap at the last minute to keep cabins full. Be aware that cruise ships have relatively fixed costs (crew, food, etc) which doesn't change from week to week. Because of this the cruise industry maintains a business plan to fill rooms at almost literally any price and after that they can then make their profit on excursions, booze, and gambling. HOWEVER - keep in mind this is usually only possible for locals, which in the case of Puerto Rico led to noisy, unruly, barbarians (more on this at the end). You ALWAYS want to carefully consider the departure port for this reason.
Food is very good and most people typically eat lunch and breakfast at Windjammers on deck 11. Some choose the dining room instead. Breakfast at Windjammers tends to have some of the same items every day, but with many choices it shouldn't matter because you can't eat everything. Lunch tends to be similar also but they do vary some of the meats, fish, and sides. The deserts change daily and are very good.
The main dining room, which is 3 floors high with each having their own name, is excellent. For us service was very good and the food was great. Waiters work for tips so they highly motivated to please you.
DINING ROOM DRESS:
This is one major flaw in cruises and not due to the Royal Caribbean but rather very lax social standards. Many people don't understand the etiquette of dressing for dinner on cruises.
There are 2 formal nights in which the majority of people actually dress formally. If you are the kind of person who refuses to dress up then I suggest having dinner at Windjammers Cafe on deck 11. Also, if you cannot get to dinner on time you should have dinner at Windjammers Cafe. It's informal and buffet style. When people refuse to dress properly in the dining room they disrespect their fellow passengers. When they refuse to arrive on time they disrespect the dining room staff and make life very difficult for them. If you need a reason why its because waiters typically have 3-4 tables they serve and it works much better if all tables are on the same schedule, which is to say serving starters at all tables, serving main courses at all tables, and not breaking up the rhythm due to diners coming in late, forcing wait staff off their schedule. This affects service at tables where guests did arrive on time.
Other reviewers talk about how bad the beds are and if they are talking about the edge of the bed they are right. But what people forget is the cardinal rule of beds - which is you DO NOT sit on the edge of the bed. In addition you don't sleep on the edge. The beds are large and though the mattress is a bit thin it's not bad in the middle. My wife and I had plenty of room. Unfortunately the mattress was past its prime and I noticed some room attendant had stuffed a bag full of towels or sheets under the bed in the middle to keep it from sagging, another reason the ship is due for maintenance. Still it was adequate (not good but acceptable).
RCCL is pretty chintzy about this and want to make sure you ONLY buy THEIR liquor at their inflated prices.
In ports of call, for the purpose of confiscating liquor under a guise of "security", they x-ray your bags so you are not going to sneak on liquor. If you purchase liquor they WILL confiscate it from you and it they return your liquor to you on the last night of the cruise.
PORTS OF CALL & EXCURSIONS:
Renting a car VERSUS excursions:
It certainly is cheaper to rent a car than go on an island excursion, and this is true for any island. However, you have to consider that first you are driving in the 3rd world and if you are American you take for granted the roads you drive on. If you drive a highway in America there's likely local police who will offer assistance if you pull over with a problem. It is rare to find police on roads in 3rd world countries.
On the other hand if you can manage the roads the advantage of a car rental is you can come and go as you please. And it will cost less. But note that all Caribbean islands heavily push "collision damage waiver" which limits the amount you are responsible for. And worse some require a "deposit" which is island speak meaning a promissory note to pay $500-1000 in case of an accident claim. We purchased an insurance policy through CSA Travel Insurance over the Internet that covered the trip INCLUDING cruise, air, and the collision damage waiver so don't take their coverage - it stinks and is just another way to get money out of you.
Rented a car from Budget Car rental at Havensight Pier, very convenient. HOWEVER, the map provided was virtually worthless and its only purpose was to show where restaurants were, which we didn't use. We parked the car at the pier during lunch time and went back out and drove. Driving is on the left side of road. Avis is across from Havensight pier and had a better map on a prior visit to the island. For that reason I suggest Avis because driving without a map is a waste of time and money.
A very pretty island which has some interesting attractions such has Romney Manor and Brimstone Hill Fortress. Rented a car which actually worked out well, driving is on the LEFT with steering on the RIGHT. Note they require a $24 local license.
Did an offroad excursion through Port Promotions (find them on the Internet) for $84 each which included lunch, it was OK. Interesting sites that could not be seen without an offroad vehicle. Aruba is essentially one big rock.
Nice little town with a Dutch harbor. The bridge moves back and forth for ships passing through in which case it closes. Town has all the usual tourist trap stores.
In general there are tons of excursions offered by Royal Caribbean, but what's not generally known is there are other companies providing excursions. One such and previously mentioned is Port Promotions who we used in the past. They have any number of excursions on many Caribbean islands and are comparable to those provided by the vendors selected by RCCL, and may cost less. BUT - if you choose them you MUST keep track of the time returning to the ship and let your guide know. DO NOT expect them to keep track of ship departure time because they won't. You DO NOT want to arrive late for the ship since it may not still be in port.
This is pretty subjective and depends upon your personal taste so that must be up front. The ice show is fabulous and not to miss and consists of various Olympic skaters from around the world. Get your tickets as soon as they are offered because they go fast. There typically is a musical shows that is 'Broadway' and/or Las Vegas quality. Around the ship there are various other musicians and usually pretty good.
Auctions are held on most cruises lines and on most ships. I've sailed Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and Carnival, and Park West Galleries was on all of them. Royal Caribbean has now established their own inhouse auction vendor due to a particularly checkered history of Park West Galleries which is a lightning rod for complaints. Just check any cruise review website and you'll see what I mean.
People leave the ship in groups and you are provided with a group number, which they call for disembarkation. RCCL wants you off the ship as quickly as possible so expect a knock at your door by 7:00 AM. This cruise required us to go through customs which took more time than without a customs inspection.
On this cruise we had a great deal of problems with obnoxious people, and because America's economy is so bad Americans are not sailing. As talked about earlier the cruise industry works on the business model of filling rooms at whatever price needed to get people on board and make money on excursions, booze, and gambling. The problem with that is you get locals who are NOT the classiest people and often are poorly behaved, which sadly was the case on this cruise.
PUERTO RICAN LOCALS:
In the past there has been a limited number of Puerto Rican passengers and typically well behaved and respectful of other passengers. This time was entirely different and it got downright ugly with half or more of passengers being Puerto Rican, it was easy to see a cultural gap that created real problems. This time we noticed they moved in squad and platoon sized groups that made people feel very uncomfortable overwhelming people nearby, and they were completely inconsiderate of others and quite rude like they didn't know how to act in public. Here are some of the problems encountered:
* They played drums and sang loudly in public areas without concern for others (I'm not making this up). * Teenagers were typically unsupervised by parents and unruly. * Many sat on and stood around stairwells blocking them. * Walked into elevators without letting people off first and you were shoved in by a large group who insisted they all get on the elevator. * Very loud in hallways at night, often yelling. * Came into the dining room late, often one hour or more late, disrupting wait staff flow. * Low local fares attracted really lower class people without manners and any concept of how to behave within society. * During disembarkation notice one man repeatedly spoke very loudly of "Gringos" while waiting in line so that Americans could hear him. This was intentional and designed to goad us.
At this point we likely will NOT sail out of San Juan until such time as America's economy improves and cabins are filled with Americans and Europeans. After what Europeans experienced I don't think they'd want to sail out of San Juan again.
We have cruised with Royal Caribbean at least 10 times in the past and never in my wildest nightmares did I imagine that I would see the cruel indifference exhibited by Royal Caribbean after we boarded the Brilliance of the Seas January 5th. My daughter, who is 25 years old, had some gastrointestinal problems due to food poisoning for a few hours until the Friday afternoon prior to our sailing; however, she felt fine by the time we boarded the flight from NY to San Juan Saturday morning and filled out the "24-hour illness" cruise form with a "no", since her symptoms were outside of the 24-hour window. When we arrived in San Juan my daughter and I boarded the ship, ate lunch and attended muster. Since my daughter felt a little warm we decided to go to the medical center for a "free evaluation" to make sure she was OK. An employee in the facility took her temperature which was, if I recall, 100.4 degrees; we admitted that she had symptoms the day before but felt fine otherwise at that point. With no further examination, the doctor walked over andannounced that we had to leave the ship immediately.
We were given no instructions as to our options, no help to secure accommodations for the evening, no help even in getting a taxi from the terminal and not even so much as a sheet with a list of phone numbers. We were escorted off the ship and dumped at the deserted terminal like so much detritus. This was not only cruel but put us in a potentially dangerous situation.
It is unbelievable and downright inhumane that Royal Caribbean can, first of all, pronounce someone ill without the most cursory examination and then put them in harm's way by throwing them off in a strange country without so much as a list of phone numbers. I shudder to think what would have happened if my daughter had really been ill; as it turned out, by the time we arrived at the hotel an hour later her temperature was 98.6 and she was 100% fine. I'm also wondering why they didn't quarantine us, as we had already been on the ship several hours and, if she had something communicable, would have exposed several passengers to the illness. By throwing us off the ship they had no way to follow up to see if she was, in fact, ill; I have a sneaking suspicion that this has something to do with CDC reporting, but that's just a hunch.
At any rate, in an attempt to get information over the next several days I called RCI customer service, RCI emergency travel assistance and RCI Choice Air. Not one of those was able to help or knew what to do in our situation.
We spent the next six days in San Juan at our expense, around $3,000. We are both extremely disgusted and traumatized by the way we were treated and will certainly be a lot wiser in the future.
This cruise varied between average to very poor. Many issues - the largest ones described below. Royal Caribbean seems only interested in extracting as much money as possible while denying any responsibility to provide service or satisfaction.
Food - generally low average to inedible - some dishes served in the dining room appeared to have no relationship to descriptions - some I wouldn't feed to a dog - beef stroganoff is one example
Smoking - we paid for a balcony - couldn't use it much of the time as the people next door were smokers â€“ every time thy lit up, our cabin was filled with smoke an rapidly began smelling like an ashtray
Guest services desk staff - generally unhelpful to downright aggressive if faced with a question they didn't like e.g. when we queried the smoking policy we were angrily â€“ yes angrily â€“ told smoking was allowed on balconies â€“ basically tough if we didn't like it
Promises to return answers â€“ on 2 occasions restaurant (Main/My-time & Giovanni's) Managers promised to get back to us the day we made the query â€“ neither did â€“ and this in on yourrecords as found out by your guest services staff when my husband complained for the 3rd time that the vanity in our cabin had still not been repaired â€“ "oophs" was the response â€“ not satisfactory
Maintenance â€“ on first entering our cabin we found the corner of the vanity's previous repair had failed â€“ there was an obvious and open crack of about 3 â€“ 4 centimetres in one corner, with one edge raised. We pointed this and the piece of piping on the sofa that was detached to the rom steward â€“ he was distressed about the piping but tried to tell us the vanity was not broken. When we insisted it was broken and needed to be fixed, he got on the phone and reported it to maintenance. A few days later the piping was fixed but the vanity was not. I met the maintenance man in the corridor and queried him about this â€“ he said there was no report of a broken vanity â€“ so I showed it to him and he agreed that it was broken and also got on the phone to report it. Still some days after and still not fixed, my husband spoke to guest services â€“ no reports of a broken vanity â€“ what happens to these reports â€“ anything too hard seems to disappear into telephone space. After considerable insistence a maintenance person was dispatched and, on examining the vanity, felt it couldn't be fixed until port. More discussion with my husband and suddenly the maintenance crew found they could fix the problem after all â€“ it took about Â½ hour and a small amount of filler
Ship: Mariner of the Seas, Dec 11, 2011. As usual our Royal Caribbean cruise was wonderful. This was our first sailing since achieving our Diamond Level status. It is certainly worth being Loyal to Royal to achieve the high tier status perks.
The ship was all decked out with Chirstmas decor and is a beautiful ship on its own. Clean and well maintained.
The only issue; the servers in the Diamond and above breakfast venue. The staff was pretty sullen, as if were a chore for them to wait on us. The staff in the Windjammer were more welcoming and accommodating. Although getting coffee in the windjammer took an act of congress. I realize they had extra sanitation issues to take care of to keep us all healthy. I can wait for coffee versus getting sick. Good Job people.
I do enjoy the style of cruising Royal Caribbean offers and I do realize there are times when things are not perfect.
The sailing before ours was a sick ship. It is amazing how everything comes together to ensure the ship is as germ free as possible before we boarded. Our crew wentover and above to ensure all passengers sanitized their hands. The crew was constantly disinfecting all surfaces.
There were 500 children on board and Royal Caribbeans children's programs kept them very busy. You rarely saw any bored children.
Our first cruise was on Royal Caribbean so they are special in our hearts. We have sailed on other lines and enjoy them, but our heart is with RCCL.
Never got the chance to sail with them and never will. Here's what they deleted that I put on their facebook within 2 minutes of it being up there. Too bad you can't edit the entire internet, eh?
DO NOT PLAN YOUR HONEYMOON WITH THEM. IF THEY CANCEL IT AND YOU HAVE PAID FOR AIRFARE THAT IS NONREFUNDABLE THEY DO NOTHING TO HELP YOU.
"I cannot believe you people cancelled my honeymoon after it WAS ALREADY BOOKED! How do you not know you were going to be moving the ship to the caribbean in December, you know, 7 months from now? What did you guys just randomly decide that? What are we supposed to do about the $2,000 plane tickets WE ALREADY BOUGHT?! And you guys were completely unsympathetic and didn't care, just said if we book another cruise with you you'll give us some onboard credit?!
ONE, my would I want to book with a cruiseline that has cancelled my honeymoon. What's to say you won't cancel anything else I book?
TWO, you have NOTHING similar anytime close to my Dec 2nd wedding.
I am frantic right now. We are going to lose our$2,000 plane tickets if we don't rebook with the same airline going to the same place but you guys don't have anything similar so how the heck can we?! I can't begin to describe how completely heartbroken and disappointed I am with your customer service and your policies regarding cancellations. I am not made of money, my fiance and I are paying for everything ourselves and we decided to splurge on this cruise because it was my dream and now we're going to be out 2,000 because you guys had no idea what you were doing?
I will never again book with RCI and I will be sure to tell everyone I know about this ordeal. About the lack of sympathy. About the complete disregard for the fact we're two students who saved for ages to be able to afford this but nevermind that. We're irrelevant to a big corporation like you guys. I truly cannot even express the depth of my sadness right now and thank you for ruining my dream trip, probably the only trip of this sort I will be able to afford in my lifetime and thank you for the complete disregard for the money already invested. Thanks"
CABINS The best cabin I've ever had on any cruise ship, period! We had a balcony room (10278) which had the good layout with the bed by the balcony door so we had plenty of room to access our closet. The bathroom is well laid out and felt spacious, and the balcony was the largest we've ever had. The balcony was wide AND deep and extremely roomy. I also appreciated the extra drawer space and cubbyholes all around the stateroom. The closet even had two racks for hanging and we had plenty of room for all of our clothes and gear. Bring an extra outlet plug for phone chargers, etc. since outlets are scarce.
SERVICE - CABIN The service on a whole was excellent. Our cabin steward was incredible. I am difficult to impress and he impressed me. I won a bottle of champagne in the casino raffle the second night on the cruise. I wanted to save it to drink at Thanksgiving so I set it down in our stateroom. When we came back in, our steward had brought 2 champagne glasses AND a large separate bucket of ice forthe champagne. We also never had to ask for anything more than once. The first night I requested 2 extra pillows and an extra towel and we had them all week. Another amazing feat: we were called / greeted by name all week long.
SERVICE - FOOD OUTLETS The My Time Dining service was a bit spotty. We sat at the same table every night and had the same waiter / assistant waiter but they just weren't very good. We were practically ignored several nights (waited 20 minutes just to place an order, never got items we ordered, received the incorrect entrees, etc.). Several nights I sat with an empty water glass for over 15 minutes! On "lobster night" I ordered the lobster and a steak since I thought surf and turf sounded good and I asked for them to be served together. Alas, I was presented with the lobster first and only after I finished, they brought my steak -- but they removed my dirty silverware from my plate and set it down on the table to use with my second entree! I was taken aback by that. Normally waiters will bring fresh silverware. I've cruised with NCL many times and they truly "get" the freestyle concept. Royal Caribbean does not. I would not recommend My Time Dining since it's not "eat whenever you want." You have to have a reservation if you want to avoid waiting for a table -- and what's the point if you have to eat at a set time? The bar staff was friendly and the service at the specialty restaurants, including Johnny Rockets, was fantastic.
FOOD It's no secret that I think RCI has the worst food of any cruise line. I'm sad to say that the Oasis is no different. The food is just not good. The food in the main dining room was edible but not very tasty. I made a point to try everything on the "available every night" menu. The sirloin steak was adequate but had a weird texture. The roasted chicken was moist and tasty. Only the salmon was actually inedible and I had to order something else. Some of the menus were better than others, and some of the selections were better than others. Sugar free ice cream is offered in the dining room every night and the flavor changes daily. Food is subjective but RCI still has the worst food in the business.
The Windjammer buffet is absolutely disgusting, and I do not say that lightly. I took photos of the food and I wish I could post them here because a pictures really is worth a thousand words! The food was cold, bland and generally unappetizing. The Windjammer has the same soups / desserts as the main dining room on most nights so if there's something you liked at dinner, stop by the buffet if you need a midnight snack!
Sorrento's pizza had a good variety of pizzas and a made to order pizza bar. Promenade Cafe had poor quality cold sandwiches and desserts. Solarium Bistro had good vegetable options at their lunch buffet and a decent salad bar. Room Service was okay. The spinach dip and caesar salad were the best items on the menu. Avoid breakfast; we ordered it once and the bacon was served practicaly raw. The Boardwalk donut shop was really bad, but it was free.
The roast beef in the Park Cafe was good and I enjoyed the tossed to order salads (these salads aren't as good as the tossed to order salads in the main dining room at lunch time; go there and get big shrimp and premium ingredients like roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes and more). The service here was exceptional as well. We couldn't get reservations at most of the specialty restaurants but we did get to go to Giovanni's Table and Johnny Rockets several times. The food at Giovanni's was very, very good. Johnny Rockets had typical burgers but it was fun to munch on them while sitting out on the Boardwalk. Service was stellar at both. The best kept secret on the Oasis is Vintages, the wine bar! They have an extensive tapas menu of very tasty appetizers. We went there on several occasions. Ask for Ramona, she is wonderful and took great care of us. We were in Vintages almost every single night (Caymus cabernet by the glass for $20; combine that with a Gold member 2-for-1 coupon and it's a deal)!
ENTERTAINMENT I didn't like having to make reservations for all of the shows. I made them before we left home for all of the shows but we only ended up going to Hairspray. I didn't like having a set time that I had to be at a show, so we just stopped going. Hairspray was good and fun; not Broadway quality but good for a cruise ship. The sets were awesome! We also enjoyed the improv show (no reservations required) and of course Quest! As an animation fan, I was always excited to see the DreamWorks characters roaming about. The characters pay attention to the kids as well as the adults so I got some great photos. The Dreamworks parade was a ton of fun, and it was a thrill to take a flash mob dance class and then get to join in as the entertainment one evening! Ride the carousel, listen to karaoke, mini golf, flowrider, play music trivia...there was so much to do we didn't have time to do it all! The casino, the nicest I've ever seen at sea (and I live in Las Vegas!), was large with a non-smoking side and lots of fun slots. The Aqua Theater shows fun movies at night (the Grease sing-a-long was a blast). I was sort of surprised at the low quality of the lounge acts and house bands.
GOOD I was most impressed with, aside from the sheer awesomeness of the ship, the attitudes of all of the staff we encountered! Every single employee we dealt with, WITHOUT EXCEPTION, was happy, friendly, smiling and seemed very eager to please. I really feel like the crew of the Oasis tried really hard to make sure we had an awesome vacation. I did not encounter even one disgruntled employee. Not one. That is very rare on any cruise ship and I have never had that happen before. What really surprised me is that the ship never felt crowded. Embarkation and debarkation was easy, and our luggage was delivered to our stateroom about 30 minutes after we boarded. Amazing!
BAD Aside from the food, my only major complaint was the time it took to get back on board after being in port. It was ridiculous, especially in St. Maarten where it took us over one hour to get back on the ship! RCI is serious about security, however, and they x-ray everything and wand you down before you get back on. Don't even think about trying to bring alcohol on board, they are crazy about stopping you from doing that. It was the worst liquor patrol I've ever seen on any cruiseline. I also hope the Oasis will start to sail different ports because our itinerary was overcrowded and not that fun (Nassau, St. Thomas and St. Maarten). Of course, we've "been there, done that" so we were going mostly for the ship!
THE FREAKING AWESOME Select pools and hot tubs are open 24 hours! Yes, 24 hours! We went swimming at 2:30 in the morning and it was awesome (the pools are freshwater, so no nasty salt in your mouth). There was also NO pushiness about shopping or recommended stores or any of that nonsense! I didn't hear one solicitation all week. I also majorly loved Vintages wine bar.
SUMMARY All in all this was a great cruise and I'm ready to sail the Oasis again. One thing is for certain: it is going to be extremely difficult to ever go back to a ship that's not an Oasis class! This ship has spoiled me. Take the Oasis: you won't be disappointed. It is truly an amazing vessel.
Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas may be described in a single word, "Awesome". The incredible size of the ship, with its sixteen decks and extra width allowed designers and innovators to incorporate features and amenities that have to be seen and experienced to be believed! The ship features major new areas that include "Central park", "Boardwalk" and a water theater along with familiar areas like the "Royal Promenade", ice rink, theater and pool deck areas, except they are all bigger. Our adult family occupied three adjoining oceanview cabins with balconies for the October 23, 2011 cruise to the western Caribbean with planned stops at Labadee, Haiti; Falmouth, Jamaica; and Cozumel, Mexico. A hurricane prevented the Cozumel stop so we doubled back for a Nassau stop. No review can really describe the ship fully. It must be experienced to be believed. It may take more than a single cruise. EMBARKATION: 6000 people boarded the Allure on October 23rd. We arrived a little before noon and were eating at the buffet within 30 minutes of parking our van across the street from the terminal 18 at Port Everglades. Parking is outside and justa two minute walk to the terminal. The cost is $15 per day. Check-in lines for each deck were formed inside. Our line for deck 8 had no other people in it. Have your set sail pass, personal ID and credit card ready. Pictures were taken by the check-in agent for security purposes and we ascended the escalators for get-on-board photos. HINT: Have photos taken as couples because they use facial recognition technology to group subsequent photos taken during the cruise. From there we entered the ship on deck 5, the Royal Promenade and went straight to deck 16 for the buffet in the Windjammer. It was crowded, but we found a table for 6. LUGGAGE: It was delivered to our cabins at just about the same time as we reached our cabins at 1:30 pm after lunch. CABINS: We had oceanview, balcony cabins on deck 8. The cabins are about 10% smaller than similar cabins on the Freedom class ships and the balconies are about 20% smaller. We did open the dividers between our three cabin balconies which made a very nice family meeting area. The cabins are furnished very similarly to those on other Royal Caribbean ships with two notable features, excellent bedding and upgraded electronics including an interactive television that worked well. We were pleased with the cabin location on the "Central Park" deck. SHIP: The Allure of the Seas is obviously unique and sets a high benchmark for guest options at sea. It is beautiful and especially so at night with all the special lighting. A walk through Central Park after dark is a real treat. It has electronic signage to assist in finding shortest routes around the ship. There are three places for computers with internet access. The crew kept the ship clean and beautiful. The elevators are plentiful enough so that wait times are reasonable, except for peak hours. ACTION CENTERS: We enjoyed 4 of the many action centers; Royal Promenade, Broadway, Central Park and the casino/ice rink deck. The Royal Promenade, wider than on the Freedom class ships, features the 24-hour cafÃ©, a pub, Sorrento's pizza, shops, guest services, and Boleros. The Diamond Club has a balcony on top of Boleros which overlooks the Royal Promenade. Broadway has Johnny Rockets, Rita's Cantina, a carousel and the water theater at the end of the ship. HINT: Johnny Rockets has a complimentary breakfast that is very good. Central Park has some of the alternative restaurants (read pay extra) as well as a cafÃ© that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is a nice walk, especially in the evening but not in the rain although the ship does provide umbrellas. Deck 4 features the best casino on any ship we have sailed on along with the ice show theater. There are lots of other action centers including the pool deck, spa and exercise areas but we are neither pool nor spa users. There is simply too much to do for a single 7 day cruise. ENTERTAINMENT: The entertainment options are many. Featured shows include Chicago and Blue Planet in the theater, the AquaAria in the pool theater and the ice show. HINT: Do not miss either the water/diving show or Blue Planet. They were excellent. We also enjoyed brief stops in Dazzles, a club on deck 8 that featured very good music. There were music, dancing, parades, special shows, pool games, multiple bars, bingo and a lot more. We were tired at the end of every day. FOOD: The food was very good in every place we experienced. We tried breakfast in the Windjammer buffet and Johnny Rockets, lunch in Rita's Cantina, Johnny Rockets and the buffet, and dinners in the Adagio dining room. Dinners featured a large menu with entrees like corbina fish, chicken marsala, basa fish filet, lobster, salmon and nice desserts like cherries jubilee. We didn't try any of the alternative restaurants but they all had excellent menu choices. We also stopped by the cafÃ© on the Royal Promenade daily for an early morning coffee. SERVICE: The service was excellent! The restaurant staff, while serving its large crowd, was efficient, friendly and responsive. They made sure that timely service would meet the schedule of the people served. We do not like to spend a long time at dinner and our waiter was very accommodating. Staff, in every venue we used were excellent. CROWDS: We had read about the crowds in a few reviews and were alert to the possibilities of frequent long waits. Royal Caribbean has more experience with handling large numbers of people on its ships than any other cruise line and that experience shows. We did not experience lines during either embarkation or disembarkation. There were lines, similar to most ships we have been on, at peak hours such as the buffet on embarkation day, the first to disembark on port days, and the Royal Promenade during parades and feature events. HINT: Make reservations for shows before you board. The venues offer first access to those people with reservations and allows others to enter after 15 minutes before show time. We had consistently better seats for shows than we have ever had. DISEMBARKATION: The process was based on numbered bag tags for those who did not drag their own bags off the ship. Numbers were called from 7:15 AM onward. We had number 11 and got off about 7:45 AM. Bags were arranged by number in the terminal and easily retrieved. NOTE: There were a smaller number of bags for each number which was a significant innovation for expediting bag retrieval. We were called at 7:45 AM and were at the Ft. Lauderdale airport at 8:30 AM. Remember, there were 6000 people on board. SUMMARY: Great ship! You have to experience it to understand just how great it really is.