On Royal Caribbean, you are vacationing cattle, held captive to be herded and milked dry. You will encounter all manner of crass, tacky scams designed to wring every penny from you before you are hustled grumbling home. Royal Caribbean brings new meaning to “shake down cruise”.
Tips for Royal Caribbean cruisers:
1. BEWARE OF RCL AMNESIA - Record everything the Royal Caribbean reservations agent says to you. Bring the recorder with you aboard. You will need the recorder and a stool for the hours you will spend complaining at the“Guest Relations” desk. Get everything in writing. RCL reservations will tell lies to get your booking. Nobody on board will honor the lies.
2. WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES – You will be gouged by RCL for a ride to the end of the pier. It is worth the walk. Royal Caribbean shore excursions are a complete rip off. You will find great cheap tours within a block of the pier head.
3. REVENUE ENHANSEMENTS – Royal Caribbean will give you crummy orange juice, awful coffee and cafeteria food as a part of your ticket. If you want decent food, real orange juice, sodas, water or drinkable coffee, you must pay lots extra. On our RCL cruise, there was a $25 dollar per person cover charge just to set foot in the decent restaurants. Internet service is set to run at a snail’s pace, maybe because RCL charges by the minute. You will be given a handful of gratuity envelopes. Swallow your anger and tip, in person, only those staff that actually did their job. In our case, our cabin steward, one bartender and one waitress.
4. ADVANCE PURCHASES – If you purchase anything from RCL reservations for a “discount” you are being screwed. The same packages are available at the same price aboard the ship. When you try to redeem anything you pre purchased from Royal Caribbean be prepared for a long, long wait and something like an IRS audit. The usual excuse is “nobody has the wine locker keys” or “the wine steward is off duty”. If you advance purchase wine you can’t have it delivered to your state room. Room service will, however, sell you another bottle instead of delivering what you have already purchased. RCL tells you where and when you can have the wine that you pre purchase. If you buy a soda package you are doomed to roam the ship for two weeks carrying the “special” sippy cup that you must drink from to be served.
5. ALCOHOL – You will pay simply infuriating prices for alcoholic beverages aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise. RCL will search you and your bags at each gangway to make sure you don’t have any bottles…they even sniff your mouthwash. Once they are sure you have no bargain booze they will really put the screws to you. Expect to pay multiple times the retail price of a bottle of wine. You will pay almost the cost of a twelve pack for just one beer. Plan to get short poured on cocktails and bend over and grab your ankles when they bring the bill.
6. AIRPORT SERVICE – Imagine the service you have received from the airlines in recent years. Picture your worst airline terminal nightmare. Visualize long lines, screaming kids and high handed treatment from puny gods behind counters and podiums. Now surround that with water and you get some idea of the Royal Caribbean cruise experience. Royal Caribbean advertising bears no resemblance to RCL reality. As our shuttle bus finally departed for the airport, someone yelled “Anyone who had a good time, raise your hand”….nobody did.
Royal Caribbean still owes us $92 dollars in disputed charges… They were going to contact us. I am not holding my breath.
It would seem this was your first cruise. Let me review and comment on your post:
1. I've never been lied to by an RCI reservations or purser's desk employee. I've cruised 10 times with RCI.
2. No cruise line provides free rides to the end of the pier unless local regulations require it. In fact, most ports restrict traffic on piers to a bare minimum for security and safety reasons.
3. The "revenue enhancements" are the reason the cruise fare is as low as it is. I've never felt the OJ and coffee were "crummy" on RCI, any more than those items are on any mainstream cruise line. Internet on all cruise ships is via satellite and is slow. You might like to know that RCI has the lowest per-minute fee of any mainstream line.
4. You do not have to carry the souvenir cup for soda. Any bar will give you a glass of soda as long you show them the soda stamp on your cruise card. The "wine and dine" package clearly states it is for wine served in the dining room and not where ever you please. Again, I've never had a problem getting prompt service for wine.
5. Alcohol prices on RCI are typical for all cruise lines. This shouldn't be a surprise. Go to Carnival, Princess, NCL, whatever, and you'll pay $3.50 to $5 for a beer. RCI has a stringent policy about bringing alcohol aboard. Most lines do the same these days, to varying degrees. It is their policy. I've also never encountered a weak pour for cocktails on RCI. If anything, they are usually quite stout. But then I treat the bar staff nicely.
6. I recently used RCI's airport service and it was great. They even offered to "burn a bus" (send a bus with just me aboard) if I wanted it, instead of waiting a little while.
You obviously were intent on finding fault at every turn. It looks like you succeeded.
Hi we have cruised 5 times with RCI and can't wait to return for our next cruise in March. I find the cruises really good value for money, even when you add in the cost of the flight from the UK. I have had better food and service at 5* hotels I have stayed at - I have also had to pay $750 per night for that 5* treatment which is way more than I pay for a suite on the cruise. Shame that you didnt enjoy your holiday, think that your glass was half empty on this cruise - I prefer mine to be half full. Hope that you find a holiday that suites you better next time.
I'm sorry your cruise turned out so poorly for you. I've been on Royal Caribbean many times, as well as the other cruise lines in its price class, and Royal Caribbean does most things better than most. What this probably means is that either cruising at this price point is not for you, or cruising in general is not for you. You may, however, have a better impression of another cruise line, if you choose to cruise again.
One of the reasons so many "regulars" and guests in this forum sign on to the Royal Caribbean section is that we've sailed on some or many of their ships that you listed, some many times over, and we like it enough to keep sailing on RCI. So while I don't think you're going to change anyone's mind about RCI with your post, I hope it made you feel better to write it.
Perhaps you would be happier with Princess, Carnival or Norwegian Cruise Line. I hope you try cruising again and have a better experience.
Hi, Well it seems you are determined to put off anyone booking with Royal Caribbean, and if I hadnt cruised with RCCL twice before and now booked on their Oasis of the Seas for 2010 I might be tempted to recheck a few things.
If Im honest I found the cruise experience with them fantastic, I am only 32 and never thought cruising would be for me, thinking I was too young and not the stereotypical cruiser but boy was I surprised with the fantastic service, food, staff and excursions. RCCL are out to make a profit just like every other guy in business, so what if there excursions are a little more expensive, no one asked you to go on one, you could have booked one yourself at the pier, I dont remember anyone holding a shot gun to my head to take one of their excursions, or to eat in Portofinos. Neither did they hold that gun to my head to carry around a novelty soda bottle, if you had bothered to read things more carefully you would see that you can use your soda package in the dining room by just showing your card, and indeed if you showed it on the first night, your waiter would be 'that' attentive that you wouldnt need to show it again as he would make a mental note of it.
I dont like people that moan, complain for the sake of it.. I think you grossly exaggerated your claims and I think that your attitude probably didnt help you in your 'guest relations' I know if I had someone like you at 'my desk' I wouldnt be too forthcoming either.
Do me a favour and dont bother cruising again, I think it would be in your best interest to book into that new Hotel in Dubai, maybe those prices and extravagant food might keep you quiet.
I dont normally get this ratty and I have no affiliation with RCCL but when I see staff breaking their *** with 5k people and turning a ship around in a few hours ready to meet greet and smile all over again for another bunch of holiday makers, I feel they are short changed by people like you.
Gosh, our experiences with RCCL have been so great we have hesitated to try other lines (what if it isn't as good as we are used to?). I like all food I didn't have to prepare, I have always been treated like a queen by waitstaff, I enjoy all activities (just about) that I am unable to even dream of doing at home. Perhaps expectation figures into the experience?
Truthfully, we had one truly dreadful experience with RCCL in 1994 and if it had been my first cruise I may not have returned, but I can honestly look at the cruise and say: I was entertained. I enjoyed the food. The staff was more lax than I expected, but still fun and friendly. I saw Mexico, the great beaches, snorkeling, Sr. Frogs, Mazatlan historic churches, and lots of other things I can't see in Alexandria, Minnesota. Develop your photos and see if you can't find something beautiful to enjoy. Otherwise you just gave away a week of your life to negativity and pessimism--how many weeks do any of us get?
RCCL Nordic Empress 1993
RCCL Nordic Prince 1994
RCCL Explorer 2003, 2005
RCCL Navigator, 2004, 2007
RCCL Mariner 2006
RCCL Liberty 2008
RCCL Adventure 2009 Read and post cruise reviews
Did you use an agent who specializes in cruises for this booking or did you do it on your own?
Perhaps your expectations were not realistic? Trust me, the cruise experience among all the mainstream cruise lines is pretty much the same when you look at the boilerplate items such as food, drinks, prices, service, and accommodations.