I will start off by saying that my family and I had a great time on the cruise aboard the Splendour of the Seas. There was lots of laughter, great conversation, fun in exploring the ship activities and of course the port stops were fantastic to visit! However, and I think I speak for my family as well, we will never sail with Royal Caribbean again.
I will start with the positive: the staff were for the most part very nice and accommodating. The activities on board (Bingo!, Name that Movie Trivia, nightly movies on the main deck, mini-golf, etc) were lots of fun. In fact my sister and I each won a round of Bingo! (her $25, me $300, a bottle of champagne, an umbrella and a scrapbook package… I got the X, yay!). Our woman who cared for our stateroom was very nice and often left towels in the shape of very cute animals in our room to come back to at the end of the day. I loved the little daily itinerary they left each night in our rooms so we could see all the activities and plan accordingly. I loved that they had a salt water pool instead of using chlorine.
But, here’s the thing… When people pay good money to go on a trip that is supposed to be something of a luxury, it is expected that the staff are nice and accommodating and it’s expected that there will be fun activities on board so people can fill their time up on sail days with something other than staring at the water. It’s expected that the port stops would be interesting places to see/go. Otherwise why would people go on cruises to begin with? So really the only positive items about the cruise were things that one would EXPECT to be positive.
Now for the negative: 1) Booking with them was one of the most painful and stressful experiences we’ve dealt with in planning a trip. We booked online and everyday it was a new story as to what was owed. First everything was paid off, then we owed 5 times more than what the cruise was supposed to be, then it was back to almost being paid off, then we still owed more… Literally everyday there was some issue or another in our booking and I can’t tell you how many phone calls (upwards of 20 at least!!) were made back and forth to customer service (who were at least patient and nice on the phone) trying to sort everything out.
2) Steak night: my sister decided one night to order a steak… She ordered the temperature medium. What she got was a very tough piece of medium well steak. She didn’t want to send it back or make any fuss, but at my parents insistence (they wanting to make sure she actually enjoyed the steak) she told the waiter it was too cooked for her liking. He immediately sent off for a new one. Great! Well done!
No pun intended there, but that’s pretty much what she got for the second try: a medium well to well done steak. The waiter stood by as she cut into it (as he should) to make sure the cook was correct. It wasn’t so off it went again. This time however the manager came over to chat with my sister to fully understand what she was looking for. She again stated ‘medium’ then described how the cook should look (warm pink center).
Off went the manager and server and a few minutes later out came a VERY WELL DONE steak…. Ummm…… ?????? Seriously???? At this point is was just too comical!! Ironically it was the most tender piece received so far despite being well done, and my sister was at that point beyond trying to make them get anything right. She was content just eating the veggies and nibbling on some of the bits of meat. But no, the server and manager weren’t happy that she wasn’t happy, so they whisked away the plate again and brought back… Lucky steak #4???? No…. a RARE, almost so rare you could still hear it mooing steak… Again, we (my family) were actually quite humored by the whole fiasco and were in good spirits about the comedy of errors unfolding around us…
What wasn’t comical however was the second manager who came by to inform us that next time, if we wanted a piece of meat to be tender when cooked at a medium temperature, we should order the filet mignon for an extra $17…. THAT was condescending and highly rude. Duh! Of course the better the cut the more tender the meat! But that wasn’t the point. The point was there was a huge miscommunication going on with how to cook THAT particular cut of meat to the correct temperature. And by the way, we weren’t the only ones having issues with the steak as we overheard several more tables around us raising the exact same issue.
3) On the topic of food, in general it was lackluster whether at the buffets or at the restaurant.
4) Last little bit, I had the worst drink I’ve ever tasted… I ordered a mojito. Seriously mojitos are made by muddling mint, lime and sugar (simple syrup will do too) then adding in rum, shake shake shake, top off with soda water. Done. This bartender put in (I was watching) mint, simple syrup, sugar (yes, regular sugar WITH the simple syrup already put in), she muddled for about 15 minutes. Then added rum, mojito mix out of some cardboard container, added ice, shook for another 20 minutes then topped off with Sprite… Oh and THEN she added a lime on top… I could feel a sugar induced coma coming just looking at it! I hate to be rude though so I took a straw sip (not sipping from the straw but capping the straw and dipping it in for a taste). I have a very big sweet tooth, but seriously, there was no way to drink that drink!! It was so sugary and gross. Nowhere near refreshing as a mojito should be. I had to refuse it and later had to make sure it wasn’t charged to my account, which it was so I had to have it taken off.
Really the real theme going on behind all the negatives was the lack of… I’m not sure, knowledge, communication or experience with the staff??? I don’t know for sure but it was frustrating. Again, the staff were very nice and they tried (except for the condescending manager) but there was some serious link missing there . And again, the cruise was fun and relaxing and great to get away with my family, but if we ever happen to do another family trip via a cruise, it won’t be with Royal Caribbean.