My wife and I have been loyal Carnival cruisers for our past 5 cruises and this was our first Royal Caribbean cruise. The initial reason we chose to stray from Carnival was simply for the price, we also thought we would see what the competitors have to offer. The trip was just about $100 per person cheaper for the same cabin an cruise duration. Unfortunately cheaper doesn’t always mean better, as we found out. Right off the bat once we got to our room the problems began. The door knob/security card opener didn’t work…. Well let me be more clear, after 10 to 12 twelve swipes it finally read our card and permitted us to enter the cabin. Our room steward immediately saw us having struggles getting in the room and he proceeded to use his card to get the door to open (several attempts.) Once he got the door open he said he has asked for the door to be repaired but well maybe the guests on the following cruise will benefit from that because we sure didn’t, we got the opportunity to play “WILL THE DOOR OPEN” every time we came back to our cabin. Once inside the room we put our bags down and on the way out we noticed a musty smell, upon returning to the cabin later that evening we noticed the smell again. The smell was coming from the mildewed shower curtain. Don’t get me started on how Carnival puts in each cabin a basket of free sample items (razors, soaps, lotions…etc.), there is also a set of bath robes in each cabin that was unfortunately not a standard that Royal carried. Prior to our boarding date I called and told the vacation planner that my wife’s birthday was on the 1st of May and I inquired if there was anything special that could be done. Nothing too big or fancy, just something simple. The vacation planner said sure asked me the when I wanted it to happen, the 1st of May, on her birthday. Well when we get on the boat the first night (27th April) we get back to our room an there’s a mass produced birthday card lying on the bed with our daily planner. Two nights (30 April) later at dinner they bring her an extra desert and sing her happy birthday..??? What’s the sense calling and indicating what day if no one cares to read it?
From our past cruising experiences there was always a presentation located in the auditorium that discussed each excursion offered and had a slideshow with pictures the day before the ship would port in each location. We looked in our daily planer that was so helpfully placed in our cabin each evening but there was no such show offered. So we when to the shore excursion desk but no one was working it. Apparently there’s only a warm body at the desk for about 4 hours a day. This proved to be unaccommodating especially when you arrive in port and its 68 degrees, raining, and you decide it may not be the best weather to do the snorkel “ADVENTURE” you paid $59 for per person. But no one’s at the desk to tell you anything and no we didn’t get any notification that the excursion was cancelled, and when we asked the people at the customer service counter about it they said “oh well you will have to ask the people that the shore excursions desk” and of course everyone there looked over at the empty desk and realized that wasn’t going to happen. So we went on a $118 boat ride… Carnival on the other hand if the ship arrives in port and there’s inclement weather or something going on that may adversely affect your paid for excursion, you are automatically refunded the purchase and notified that the excursion was cancelled due to whatever the issue may be (68 degrees, rain… ETC).
Now let’s not forget that pizza counter/grill Royal has. That had to be the worst frozen excuse for pizza I have ever made the mistake of putting in my mouth. I would rather eat day-old Little Caesar’s cardboard crap pizza. And not to mention I get charged for room service after midnight, no sushi, no deli, and the chocolate buffet is at 11PM. On Carnival there pizza counter/grill had probably the best tasting pizza you can get from a readymade cruise ship pizza counter, room service was free around the clock, there were several time and locations that sushi was made and distributed across the ship during the week, there was a deli that made boars head sandwiches to order, and the chocolate buffet was held one evening at around 8ish so those of us who either had a late show or an early bed time could still partake in it.
As for the entertainment or the lack there of… had this been our first cruise we would not have known that second dinner seating people have a show each night just like first seating folk, but its normally after you eat and then comes the comedy show after that. We managed to take in 1 show (and when I say show I refer to the Broadway type dancing and singing) the entire trip. The first day we had the cruise director sing his rendition of several Neal Diamond songs, the last night we had a comedian, a ventriloquist (horrible by the way.. couldn’t understand half of the crap he was saying through a $10 duck puppet he bought at Wal-Mart), and the cruise director singing Neal Diamond songs AGAIN…. So that accounts for 3 of the 6 nights, the other 3 nights they were playing movies in the auditorium… the same movies they were playing on the TVs in everyone’s cabins. Carnival has two dinner seating (early and late) as Royal does but the difference is the late seating folk still have the same entertainment options after their meals as the early seating folks do.
We have two small children and don’t get to take adult vacations, as a gift from our family we were able to get away for 6 nights and unfortunately we chose the wrong cruise line to spend our time and money on.