Ok folks, I know that we all have this little itch inside. We
love to read about everyoneís complaints in these reviews. Itís almost like driving by an accident on the highway.
matter how much you're aggravated by everyone slowing down to look,
you canít help but look yourself. Well, no matter how
wonderful this cruise was, I do have complaints. Hereís the
first one. PORTERS. I donít know what got up this guy's
rear end that morning but he was about to get my left foot as well. After having to unload our own luggage with help from the cab driver
and drag it to the curb, our porter picked it up and moved it the
last 1Ĺ feet to the cart and stuck his hand out. Lack of
sleep was getting to me and I was still trying to mentally prepare
myself for the lines that were ahead of us in the terminal. I
gave him $6.00 for the four bags he put on the cart (his job). Had he actually done more than talk to the cab driver and
with our luggage (his job), I would have been happy to tip him more.
As it was, he got more than $1.00 a bag for his lack of service. Mainly because thatís what was in my pocket at the time and I just
wanted to get inside to the AC as fast as possible. Apparently
this was not acceptable for him and he put his hand out to my
partner for more money. Confused, we just said that was all
the bags we had. He insisted we give him more money. Bewildered, we just walked away hoping we would one day see our
luggage again. After sharing this story onboard, we were
shocked to hear others similar. Even going as far as porters
who were flat out "charging" $10.00 per couple to handle
their luggage. This is the first time I have encountered
something like this. It was quite a put off, especially since we had
still to set foot on the ship.
Once inside we made our way upstairs and through the lines. To
our pleasant surprise, we were registered and in line to board the
ship within fifteen minutes. Kudos Royal Caribbean! We
made our way to cabin 8516 (balcony) to change and freshen up a bit
before heading to the Windjammer for lunch at noon. Our cabin
attendant was a very pleasant gentleman who was a little confused
when we kept pushing the beds together at night after he made them
separate. He finally caught on and after that point we really
didnít see him much. No complaints though. Our luggage
came after lunch (thank God). While Scott was taking a nap (his name
also), I unpacked. With the rush that we were in to get out of
town, neither of us were really careful about how we packed. We decided to get all the shirts and pants pressed once onboard.
This was a HUGE convenience for us. Two suits, 11 shirts, and 7
pair of slacks came to just under $40.00. Weíll do this from
now on. We ate lunch and toured the ship.
The ship is very easy to get around, although, you will
realize the sheer size of her once you find out that your cabin is
on one end and the dining room is on the other. Too far from
the food, our first booking mistake. Our experience on the
Adventure of the Seas proved to be an advantage on this cruise. The layout and ship schedule is basically the same.
biggest difference we noted was in the balcony. Gone are the
steel boxes that once comprised the voyager class balcony. A
nice touch. It makes the ship much more pleasant to look at
(and we all know that we want the other cruise ships looking at us
while weíre in port). You can now sit on the balcony and see
the ocean without having to stand up and lean over the rail. With much of the external support removed, they did have to install
support columns in the hallways outside the cabin doors. Not a
huge eyesore, but I noticed them right away. Itís worth
it for the views from the balcony though, not to mention the columns
help keep you upright on your way to the room when youíve had one
too many coco locos.
We mustered at 4:30ish and to our relief our muster station was in
the Ixtapa lounge. The last thing we wanted was to stand in
the Miami heat and humidity with a hundred other people around us
all wearing life vests. Huge difference this made. Our
muster drill was almost enjoyable. As the Explorer of the
Seas sailed by us, the two ships took part in a sort of mimic game
of blowing horns. It was cute.
It was at this time that I went to the spa for my scheduled facial. Wonderful as always.
The Spa is one of my favorite parts of
the ship. I had an hour long oxygen and galvanic stimuli
facial and it cost $100.00 plus tip. Note, you receive a
$20.00 discount for booking services the first day following the spa
tour. The young lady was very polite and not pushy about selling products.
Although she did make it sound like
space would collapse in on itself if I didnít purchase what she
recommended. Well, thatís the last thing I wanted! This was the first day of the cruise, not the best time for space to
collapse on itself. I ended up with a total bill including tip
over $400. Also, I wanted to make a note here for you all. On previous
cruises I noticed the spa hosting discounted specials towards the
end of the cruise. They would be listed in the Compass. This time there were spa specials, but not really discounted.
Just different packages that werenít advertised in the spa service
menu. Whatever... itís time for dinner.
The food on this, my third Royal Caribbean cruise, was good. Not great, but good.
Iíve noticed a definite attempt at cost
cutting. Iím not saying the food was awful as others have
portrayed it. Just lacking what it used to be. The dining
room was fabulous as was the service. Brent was one of the
bestÖ no, THE BEST waiter I have ever had. However, there
was a definite exception to Chops. The food was incredible! The service on the other hand was lousy.
I donít expect that
to be the norm. There ended up being a party of 18 that was
consuming every available resource the staff had. Including
patience. Chops was definitely well worth the $20.00 charge. Shoot, there were people in our party
who ate more than $20.00 in
appetizers! I canít leave this topic
without bringing up the infamous Ranch Steak or Surf and Turf. It was great!
In fact, I didnít hear anyone in our group
think otherwise. We were all surprised. I ordered it
only for the kitsch value. I wanted the t-shirt that says
"I had the Ranch Steak and survived!"
The production shows were very good. The Voyager class ships
have HUGE theatres and are able to do so much more than the Vegas
style review (although, there were a few headdresses on the stage). The 4 main singers have voices that could blow you out of the water.
The only problem I have with these shows are the fact that they give
pseudo roles to the dancers. I know I of all people donít
need to tell you this. You canít make a male dancer act like
a straight man no matter how hard you try. Just give up! The ice dancing show was pretty good.
It seemed to me that the
Adventure of the Seas show was better by far, but still, you canít
believe what they can do on ice in the middle of the ocean. And that girl and the hula-hoops!
My gosh! Will the
carnage ever end??? Entertainment throughout the ship was very good.
playing requests every night in the Two Poets Pub was awesome and a
lot of fun! (FYI, this pub is the only place onboard where you
can get Newcastle Brown Ale.) The hired entertainers were in
my opinion, fair to partly cloudy. The ones I saw were quite
enjoyable, others... I didnít even want to see. And I
canít leave out our Cruise Director, Jeff Arpin. He was the
best I have ever seen. Very funny, although I get the feeling
his routine never changes. His punch lines were very well
rehearsed. But still, he was able to make me laugh every
On our first day at sea, the pool deck was as expected. Crowded. However, I didnít see any chair saving and if you
looked, you could always find two, three, or even four deck chairs
together. We were never without a chair. Our favorite
spot to sit and read or people watch was the Solarium. This is
the "adult" area of this ship. It contains 1 fair
sized salt water pool and 2 fresh water hot tubs. There were
often times when Scott and I were the only ones in the pool or the
tub (a huge benefit to having second seating at dinner). That
area was never crowded and you could easily find sun or shade. It was fairly quiet and had great sea views.
There was always
bar service around if you wanted a drink. I never had to get
up and go to the bar myself. I did tip for the service if they
brought me a drink (above and beyond the gratuity added to the
check). But here is complaint number two. Since my last
cruise, Royal Caribbean has taken it upon themselves to add a
gratuity line to every receipt you see. Prior to this you
would just have a printed total and signature line. Not a huge
deal, but it leads me to believe that they are grubbing for more
tips. If a gratuity is added to the check automatically and
there is no service (you get it yourself), then no additional tip is
needed. I realize this is petty of me, but many people who
didnít know better were tipping every time they signed their
name. That adds up fast!
Our first port of call was Labadee, the private island. It was
very beautiful, although there were a LOT of jelly fish in
the water. If you are going to swim, I suggest staying in the
area protected by a net. The only problem we heard was if you
wanted to snorkel. The net kept out the jellies but also kept
out all the tropical fish. Not to mention the water was a bit
churned up. What would you expect from a 140,000 ton ship
pulling in and dropping of thousands of people. The island was
clean, well maintained, and people were friendly. No
locals pushing crafts right off the boat. I guess this is a
change from prior. All the vendors are stationed in an out of
the way location and itís up to you to go to them. My tip to
you, if there is anything you think you may need or want, take it
with you. Labadee is a tender port so going back to the ship
for something you forgot will be more pain than itís worth.
Ocho Rios was as expected. Jamaica, not my favorite island in
the Caribbean. We booked the Pete Taylor tour. He picked
us up at the pier, took us to Fern Gully, the falls, and drove us
around the outskirts of the city for some history. It was fun
and a lot cheaper than booking through the ship. I, however,
was not overly impressed with Pete Taylor. People on the
Cruise Critic boards speak of him and his tour very highly. I
felt he was just like any other tour operator. He had a job,
and he did it... end of story. The falls themselves are
BEAUTIFUL! It was a bit more work than I expected, but just
about anyone can make it up. The water was a little chilly at
first but felt good in the heat of the day. We got there later
in the afternoon so there were already tons of people making their
way up the falls. The guides were very rude and pushy. If you slowed down to help someone or take a picture, they splashed
us with water to make us hurry up. Also, donít bother taking a camera unless itís waterproof.
If you climb the
falls, you have to release your camera to one of the guides who
climb with you. They say they will take pictures for you and
return the camera to you once you dry off. We got 1 picture
and he lost our lens cap. After being pushed, pulled, yelled
at, and splashed, losing the lens cap was just about all we could
take. He put his hand out for a tip and we politely informed
him that his tip was paying for a new cap. Leaving the falls
was a whole new adventure. I have heard about shopping in
Jamaica, now I have seen it first hand. Just trying to get out
of the falls and into the parking lot was a nightmare. You can
say no, you can keep walking, or you can do as I did and just flat
out run. Either way, you will still be grabbed by your arm and
literally dragged to see their crafts. If you donít know
what shopping is like in Jamaica, I strongly suggest you read up
before going. Donít touch, even if itís handed to you. Free means free with a 15 dollar tip.
Donít give your name
or birthday/anniversary dates. Youíd be surprised how
quickly you will own something. People got back to our bus
with stuff they didnít even know they purchased. This was more then enough fun in Jamaica for us so we went right
back to the ship for some food at Johnny Rockets and a nap by the
The following day brought us to Grand Cayman. Personally, I
feel this is one of the friendliest and cleanest islands in the
Caribbean. Iíve seen just about all of them (southern,
eastern, western) and besides St. Thomas, this is by far one of my
favorites. We booked the NativeWay tour. Again, this tour offered more than the ships
and was much cheaper. We went to Stingray City and the Coral
Gardens. The water was warm and clear. The boat ride was
smooth and very enjoyable. The guides were fun and had lots of
information. Lots of fish and stingrays including the very
rare Caribbean Red Stingray. You had the option of
stopping at 7 mile beach and catching a cab to the pier if you
wanted. We went to Hard Rock for some drinks and munchies
before a 1 hour of crash shopping. Grand Cayman is a short day
and the tenders donít help any. The last tender was at 3:30
and we soon set sail for Cozumel.
We didnít end up seeing much of Cozumel. Once we docked, we
went right to our ferry for the trip to Playa del Carmen. We
booked the Tulum tour through the ship, mainly for the insurance in
case a ferry was late leaving the mainland. Once on the
mainland, we boarded a bus for Tulum. The tour was put
together very well and the driver and guide were great. We
were very tired though. Most of the info went in one ear and
out the other. I fell asleep on the bus more than once. They made a stop at a crafts market for a pit stop and then
continued to the ruins. Please keep in mind that most of this
tour is spent getting there and getting back. Almost 7 hours
and only 2 of them are actually spent at the ruins. That was
fine with us though. The Mayan ruins were quite a sight to
see. So much history. The views are breathtaking. The only bad part was the heat.
I think I lost 3 pounds that
afternoon. There is a lunch served on the bus, but if your not
a fan of fishy tuna, then I suggest you stop at Subway before
boarding the bus. Just watch out for the dive bombing dead
birds! Inside story, but very funny. Only in Mexico!
Why didnít we take a picture???
Our ferry back to the island of Cozumel was quite a ride. I
suggest anyone with even the slightest twinge of motion sickness
medicate themselves ahead of time. Both ferries cross open
ocean and rock and roll the whole way. Once on the island, we
only had an hour to shop. We picked up a few things and headed
over to Carlos and Charlieís to see if anyone was left standing. Apparently not!
We got back to the ship and took a seat on our
balcony to watch everyone stumble back up the pier. Glad we
did too! We got to see quite a show. Quite a few of our
friends were doing the best they could to get back onboardÖ but not
without offering the entire port side of the ship a show. (Keep your shirts on ladies!)
Another restful day at sea followed. This is always the
saddest day of the cruise. Getting ready to say goodbye and
packing is such a hard thing to do. We werenít going to go
out easy though. At least not without leaving our mark on the
During the passenger vs. staff volleyball game (passengers won!),
everyone started noticing the large amount of water gathering on
deck and the sudden lack of water in the pool. What we thought
was a lot of water on deck apparently didnít even compare to the
amount of water flooding into the 10th deck cabins! I have to
congratulate RCI on dealing with this! Iím not sure if the
folks in the effected cabins got any kind of compensation, but they
did have new carpet down on most of the 10th deck by midnight.
Hereís one last complaint I have to add before closing up here. During the cruise critic party I won a diamond crown and anchor
coupon booklet in the raffle. I was happy! Little did I
know how hard it was going to be to use this booklet. We ended
up being denied for various purchases and discounts using the
diamond coupons. Since Scott and I are only Gold members, any
transaction we wanted to use a coupon for that required a purchase,
they would point out the fact that this wasnít our coupon due to
the fact that it states GOLD MEMBER on the bottom of your seapass
card. We explained more than once that RCI raffled us this
coupon booklet at the cruise critic party. We were told both
times that they have never heard of a "cruise critic
party" and the coupon could not be honored. I wasnít in
the mood to put up a fight or take this issue any further. Iím not one to complain to someone about service so I just let it
go. My only question is why on earth would they give these
things out and then not allow you to use them?
Our wake-up call came way too early. Depression had set in and
all I wanted to do was get home so we could finish moving in to the
new apartment. There were lots of available places to sit in
the public spaces. Our color was called about an hour early
and we said goodbye to the Navigator of the Seas. Luggage was
easy to pick up. Unlike in San Juan, there is a baggage claim
so you donít have to walk up and down endless rows of bags. We cleared customs, collected
our bags and got a cab to the Miami
airport. Our flight departed on time at 12:30 pm and we
returned to everyday life here in the pacific northwest. This
was the best of my three cruises and the ship was beautiful. I
canít wait for our next Royal Caribbean cruise.
I hope this little review had some info you could use. I tried
to touch on a little bit of everything but have left lots out.
I have a sample of photos from this cruise online at Webshots.
Please note that a lot of them were taken with a brand new digital
camera which I never read the owners manual for prior to leaving for
the cruise. It was a learning experience.
(1) Moby Dick by Herman Melville.