Royal CaribbeanSovereign the SeasBahamasRamona
Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Sovereign of the Seas
Sailing Date: NOT FOUND
Itinerary: NOT FOUND
Sovereign of the Seas
We decided to take Sovereign of the Seas (SS) for my milestone birthday. We live in Georgia, and for us, Port Canaveral is a straight shot down I-95. My husband and mother-in-law accompanied us, so three adults in our party. We have each been on one cruise before (hubby and me on Holland America's Zaandam; mom on the Norwegian Wind).
We did the Sea Pass sign up routine on the internet, and went through embarkation rather easily. (However, my mother-in-law got yelled at for waiting for my husband at the edge of the "secured area", and the people at the parking lot payment booth dropped my husband's card on the roadway.)
We bypassed the photographers, and were on the ship lickety-split. We were expecting as were had experienced on prior cruises to be escorted to our rooms; instead we entered a zone of chaos in the Centrum, and had to ask where our room was. All we got was a hand pointing in the general direction we needed to go.
Our first room (yes, there is a story coming as to why "first") was 3545 -- the closer we got, the more strong was the odor of sour sewage throughout the hallway. Think a septic tank that needs to be cleaned. When we arrived, we noticed the rooms full of gangly teeangers across the hall from our room. We open our door (yeah, it opened the first time), and were taken aback at the broom closet the three of us were going to share for 3 days. We knew it was going to be small, but this was like being in a tin can. The third bed was not made up, and when we asked the steward about this, he got extremely defensive and angry. He actually got in my mother-in-law's face, touched her shoulder and pushed her away. (Mind you, she was not in his face but at regular conversational distance.) At that moment, his supervisor came by, and my mother-in-law called her over. This apparently infuriated the steward even more. No towel animals or chocolates for us that night.
What you have read about the tissue thin cabin walls is true -- we heard sneezes, conversations, drawers slamming. And remember the gangly teenagers across the hall? Curfew at 1 am meant zero to them, and not a parent in sight. They partied all night and we got little to no sleep. RCL's policy of allowing drinking at 18 is absurd -- we saw kids certainly younger than that drinking beverages handed to them by their "older" companions.
We were so upset by our first night, my mother-in-law requested a room change. To our great surprise and relief, we were reassigned to 6051. What a difference a day makes. The septic smell, while still present, was less noticeable, and our new steward Uday was an extraordinarily nice guy.
However, even Uday could not change the fact that our new room (as with room # 1) had not been updated or renovated with the overhauling of the ship last year. The tiles in the bathroom were irreversibly stained (they had to be the original ones), and the carpet appeared not to have been replaced for some time. Uday was a great guy and left us the famous towel animals.
If you are looking for a booze cruise with 2500 of your best friends, this is it. I have never seen booze pushed so much as it was here -- on Coco Cay, RCL staff walked around like cigarette girls of old shouting "Coco Loco" or whatever the mixed tropical drink of the hour was. And believe me, there were a lot more drunk people on this ship than I have seen at some fraternity parties. In fact, given the crowding, noisy teenagers and young adults, and emphasis on alcohol, I felt like I was trapped in a moving fraternity party at sea complete with the ridiculous sexy legs contest and the airbrushed tattoo artist (aargh!). This was not the relaxing cruise I had been looking so forward to.
And RCL, what did you do with all the deck chairs on the shaded lifeboat deck? Some of us don't want to get skin cancer in 20 years and watch our sun exposure. There must have only been two dozen of the old fashioned deck chairs, but at least 500 pool deck chairs. And the pool deck -- what a display of the great unwashed. The place was always a crowded mess, and a stink of moldy and never quite dry carpet hung over the scene like a bad cloud.
Food. Aside from the ever present "hog troughers" at the buffet, the food was rather good. However, the service in the dining room was slow (the kitchen's fault I'm sure) -- our waiters were quite pleasant and congenial (Cristian from Romania and Oliver from India). The head waiter wasn't doing the heavy lifting, believe me, but those two nice guys.
One other point about the buffet -- isolated islands of food do not an organized meal time make. I felt like I was a little atom in an accelerator bouncing off all the other little atoms. People coming in from every direction -- either passengers with precariously balanced full plates of food or staff with 65 dirty dishes headed off to the kitchen. Very nerve racking and stress inducing.
Also, the coffee was universally lousy -- an RCL conspiracy to induce you to buy their $2 / cup Seattle's Best? Ditto for the "free" ice cream on Deck 11 -- better to go for the extra cost of Ben & Jerry's? On HAL -- good ice cream and great specialty coffees were FREE!!!
No library in the proper sense -- just a group of shelfs tucked away next to the dining room. And what books there were appeared to be castoffs from your library's not-checked-out book sale. No comparison to HAL and another indication that this was a booze cruise.
RCL: Please change your tendering process at Coco Cay -- no one wants to sit for half an hour in the blazing sun while your staff figures out how to tender people back on the ship. It's not like it hasn't been done before. The septic smell wafted over the tender as we approached the side of the ship.
An important aspect of Sovereign -- it's paid for! In other words, all the money that RCL makes on the ship is pure profit. The 4- & 3-day cruise format is designed to maximize profits (along with the extras on board -- Johnny Rockets, Ben & Jerry's, Seattle's Best). As one crew member explained it to us -- guy # 1 comes on board on Monday for the 4-day with $500 to spend; guy # 2 comes on board on Friday for the 3-day with same amount. At the end of a 7-day cycle, Sovereign has collected $1000 from the occupants of one state room, and has hosted 5000 people on board. For another cruise line with the traditional 7-day cruise, they've only made $500 from the first guy (because he's the only guy in that stateroom that week), and hosted only 2500 people. In other words, Sovereign is a CASH COW for RCL -- they don't have to renovate the staterooms, because the buffet piggies and the booze cruisers will come on board anyway.
RCL, again? I don't think so. (In fairness, my husband says he would consider RCL again, but defintely not the Sovereign.) I'm running back to HAL with great fondness and love, and considering Norwegian and Princess for our next cruise.
Thanks, RCL, for a stressful vacation that I need a vacation from.