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Oh Royal Caribbean…I’m so disappointed in you.

Oh Royal Caribbean…I’m so disappointed in you.

Old Feb 3rd, 2014, 10:13 AM
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Oh Royal Caribbean…I’m so disappointed in you.

This is a public service announcement. I consider myself an experienced cruiser – not an aficionado by any means, but I’ve been on 6 or 7 over the years. Obviously I am a fan. Actually, about half of those have been on Royal Caribbean, with the last one about 4 years ago giving me a pretty great experience (the other lines were Carnival and Celebrity if you are curious).

However, this most recent experience was enough to make me say I’ll likely never book with Royal Caribbean again. I set sail on the Liberty of the Seas from Fort Lauderdale in late January. It was a family event – our group was about 70 people. We are a fun group that can roll with the punches and make the best of things – the only reason the vacation wasn’t a total bust.

At first glance the Liberty looked like a great option, one of the largest in RC’s fleet I believe. Let’s start with the positive…the activities on board and the ship itself were great. The public areas were well designed with plenty of fun bars, shops and restaurants to hang out in (personal favs were Schooner Bar and the Hoof & Claw English Pub). The casino was very good with friendly dealers who willingly taught me the basics of craps. Yay! The pool area was awesome – if crowded –with plenty of hot tubs and a rock wall. The FloRider surfing set up was an absolute blast! Finally, some of my group utilized the child care services and reported excellent experiences on that front.

Unfortunately, everything goes downhill from here. Upon closer examination, cleanliness was a huge issue on board. Despite the instructions in the form of verbal abuse from staffers to use the Purell stations prior to entry into dining areas. Upon checking into our staterooms my father found what looked like pubic hair inside some of the drawers. Over the 4 night cruise our stateroom was cleaned only twice. Another example, the first night at dinner there was a hair in my cheese plate. I’m relatively understanding …in a busy kitchen things happen, I called the waiter over to let him know about the issue and request a different dessert. He proceeded to imply that it was my hair that had fallen in (completely different colors by the way). I was not amused and told him so – after which he went around to the other side of the table and attempted to blame me again to my family members. It was an early indication of the atrocious customer service that was to come. With this level of apparent disregard for cleanliness on board it comes as no surprise that this line has been in the news recently for health related outbreaks. Thank goodness no one got sick in my group.

Moving on…If you are like me, one of the things you look forward to most on a cruise is the food. Oh the food! Midnight buffets, burgers by the pool, main dining room smorgasbords and even the specialty restaurants…bring it on. Someone jokingly said if you don’t gain 2 pounds a day on a cruise you are doing it wrong. My past cruise experience led me to believe that I was in for a 4-day long amazing culinary adventure…I could not have been more wrong. The food on the Liberty of the Seas was TERRIBLE. To be fair, the casual buffet in the WindJammer for lunch and breakfast was good…your usual fare. The main dining room is where I had the majority of my problems. The seafood was fishy and rubbery across the board – it all tasted like it had been leftover from previous sailings. It was old and on the verge of going bad. To add insult to injury everything had that too hot, rubbery taste we all associate with excessive use of the microwave. OK, lesson learned – I’ll stick to land based cuisine…it didn’t help. Nothing was ever cooked to order properly. On multiple occasions my medium rare order came out charred and well done, while my neighbors well-done was close to bloody. Of the 4 nights we had dinner only the last had any actually tasty dishes. The last night…also known as tip night – call me cynical but I feel those 2 things may be related. I didn’t personally dine at Chops or Portofino (the specialty restaurants), but members of our group did and reported back that they were only marginally better.

Now let’s talk about that terrible level of customer service I mentioned earlier. Again, based on prior cruises, I was expecting pretty good customer service. Maybe not Disney level, but it is a cornerstone of this industry and I would expect representatives of the cruise line to take it seriously. Nope, the staff of the Liberty of the Seas was not helpful or friendly…in fact they were downright combative at times. It started in the main dining room – I’m sensing a trend here. The wait staff was horrendous. Every single night at our table they either got an order incorrectly, didn’t bring someone’s order out, brought out random extra orders or forgot to take someone’s order entirely. They were also incredibly slow at filling water glasses or taking additional wine orders. Not to mention the hair incident.

The beverage staff was equally awful at many of the on-board bars. They seemed to all be moving at the speed of sloth, it took a staggeringly long time to get a drink anywhere…even when we were the only people in the bar area. Bartenders will frequently roll their eyes at you, or condescendingly ask “what’s the magic word” when you order a drink. Side Note: I’m generally polite and a prior server – I tip well and always say please, which that guy would have heard if he bothered to pay attention to anything. Expect to be blamed for any problem you bring to someone’s attention – even at the guest relations desk. We had a small billing discrepancy I needed to clear up at the end of the journey. The rep behind the desk was completely rude and abrasive.

I have never been so disappointed in a company. The level of quality for my experience as a whole was so far below my expectations it was shocking. I love going on cruises, I’m sure I’ll go on many more in my lifetime – they just won’t be with Royal Caribbean.
slynnn is offline  
Old Feb 3rd, 2014, 02:07 PM
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I have only cruised twice. Once on Celebrity and once on RCCL. RCCL never did compare in food quality to Celebrity but we had good service and no problems with the wait staff.

Our last cruise on RCCL was in 2005 and it sounds like things have changed since then and not for the better.

With all the problems with the Norovirus, I don't know if I will ever do another ocean cruise. My luck, I'd be on one of the infected ships!

Sorry your cruise did not meet expectations. I can certainly understand your disappointment.
bettyk is offline  
Old Feb 3rd, 2014, 02:20 PM
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Interesting enough, over at cruise critics, there were a few not so nice comments on the quality of food as well.

The last time we were on a RCL ship was the winter of 2009 (has it been that long already?) on the then brand new Oasis of the Sea. The food was not great but was very acceptable. Not as good as Celebrity or Princess but was good enough. Has it deteriorate really that much through the years or just the expectation was too high?

I can't fathom cruise ship service staff being argumentative or rude, especially when their "extra" income depend on them being nice. I seldom come across nasty staff on a cruise ship. I might got a dirty look occasionally, but never verbal.

A point to ponder: first time poster and only post to date. So will we hear form Slynnn again?
Eschew is offline  
Old Feb 3rd, 2014, 04:24 PM
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Perhaps this review of RCCL should be posted on CC boards as that is where the majority of cruisers go for info.

We have learned to take the good w/ the bad. We have had wonderful cruises and not so wonderful. I think everyone has different expectations. It was too bad that your cruise didn't meet your expectations.Perhaps you should write a letter to RCCL telling them what you have reported here, they are interested in feedback, both positive and negative. Even tho we may have had a not so spectacular cruise, be it the food, entertainment, cabins, etc. we always leave a ship trying to decide what our next itinerary is going to be.
Luv2travel15 is offline  
Old Feb 5th, 2014, 02:43 PM
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Sorry about your bad experience.

We've been on two RC cruises and though I don't think the food is as good as X or Princess I did not find it that bad. However food is probably the most subjective aspect to cruise evaluations so to each their own. We did dine at Portofinos and were delighted with our meal. We would go again.

If the service was that bad I would have alerted the head waiter or the hotel manager. I do agree with Eschew thats its hard to imagine the staff being combative or argumentative. I have never seen that on any of our 10 cruise except for one dimwit handing out bingo cards and I reported that and got a prompt apology.

Also we will see if you come back to reply which of course you don't have to or if this was to ventilate a bit and never return. In either case best of luck on the next cruise.
jacketwatch is offline  
Old Feb 10th, 2014, 08:22 AM
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I think over all the cruising vacation is nothing compared to what it was going back even into the 90's. The food quality has changed and so have the prices. It is a cheap vacation actually, and the expectations are large from the cruising population. I have done Carnival, (90s) and the food was just wonderful as was the staff. We have done RC, Celebrity Princess on a Med. cruise, and Norwegion. It seems to me there might be some correlation with the newness of the ship and not so much the lines in particular. Not sure if anyone else notices this or not? A new RC ship will have better food, quality then an older ship and henceforth the prices are higher as well. I think you get what you pay for and cruising certainly offers a big bang for the buck. Not sure what people expect of course barring the hair in the food. No one should have to put up with that--for any price paid. I also think due to the lower cost of cruising it brings in a myriad of people in all brackets. We have been on 13 cruises and would go mostly for the region visited, our last one was in 2010 on a Med cruise. We went to experience the Greek islands. I was sick once on a Hawaii cruise and the ship was old and awful. I was on a Splendor of the Seas which is RC and there was gritty sand in the bed. Cruising today is gamble. I prefer to pay more for a vacation and not gamble with the cruising issues as it has changed so much. Just my 2 cents worth.
diann24 is offline  
Old Feb 16th, 2014, 06:18 AM
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I wonder what slynn did about tipping the dining room staff. It seems these days although tipping is technically 'optional' or 'at the discretion of the traveller' a certain amount is 'suggested' with an implication that anything less makes you are an ungrateful cheapskate. No doubt some staff come to expect this and don't feel obliged to provide top service since it has no bearing on their income.
eliztravels2 is offline  
Old Feb 16th, 2014, 09:37 PM
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We've cruised once or twice a year on average for the past twenty years. Have been on Princess, X, Disney and mostly RCI. We've noticed that food quality has changed over the years, going both up and down and that from ship to ship the service and care can be extremely different. Our first cruise on the Explorer we ranked her as #1 in service and friendliness of the staff. Took her again several years later and would now rank her as last (and not surprised it was Explorer with the huge Norovirus issue).

Slynn and others - don't give up. While the cruise industry figures out how to make money and still keep us happy the road can be bumpy, but one ship and one cruise does not a fleet make.

I hope RCI does figure out that service, good food and the little extras goes a long way towards keeping us coming back.
cruise2dive is offline  
Old Apr 2nd, 2014, 11:36 AM
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diann24, oh I'm so sorry to read about your experience. my husband and I are scheduled to go on the Splendour of the Seas, but now I hope I have not made a mistake; it was expensive overall and my husband has expectations. My first cruise was on RCL, now RCI, and it was totally superb. Sign of aging, I guess; I think nothing will ever change over decades and not be as I remember it. Any other aspects of your experience on Splendour that it might be helpful to know?
susanuk is offline  
Old Jun 6th, 2014, 09:49 AM
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Just lately it seems that the food quality is starting to come up. I'm not a foodie by any means, but I've never had a bad meal.

The waiter was completely out of line and I would have spoken to the dining room manager. NOT acceptable.

I haven't had anything but superb cruises (14 so far on mostly RCCL, Celebrity, 1 NCL, 1 Carnival) but that doesn't mean there aren't problems occasionally.

Sorry for what you went through.
RCIdreaming is offline  
Old Jan 10th, 2015, 07:00 PM
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Just came off a week of Oasis of the Seas....same story...food and service were awful. Specialty restaurants... A JOKE! And even after paying an extra fee, they want even more cash for a certain items. Had a glass of wine in Vintages...I swear it was a bout 2 shots, max for a $10 glass. It's not about the money, its value...and it is not there! I WILL NEVER SAIL ROYAL AGAIN!!!
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