I just returned from a cruise on Freedom of the Seas to the Western Caribbean and I have to be honest, I was a bit disappointed. Yes, the ship was beautiful but overall service has gone down. First, the ship was way too crowded. No matter what you tried to do, the lines were so long that we ended up not doing the things we chose this cruise for in the first place. Ice-skating, flow rider, kids water park/swimming ... forget it -- they were too packed. Every time we tried to swim in the family areas, you couldn't even get in the pool. The Windjammer was the same way. Huge lines to get food and extremely difficult to find an empty table. Yes, Freedom is the largest ship but they have greatly increased their capacity to hold passengers. The other accommodations have only increased slightly.
My disappointment even went to our room attendant. I never even saw him until I had to speak to another room attendant about his lack of caring for our room. No towel animals for the kids, no daily planner for the next day, no chocolates, no turning down the covers, neglecting the room overall. When I spoke to the other attendant things did change but I have NEVER had to ask for these things before. This to me is a slip in service. His excuse was we needed to leave the little ticket in the door to "makeup" the room. We did do this every morning but I never had to do it for the evening. They would automatically do this for us while we were at the dinner and shows.
I am not a complaining person. I have sailed many times with Royal Caribbean and have thoroughly enjoyed my time but I have to admit, they are going down. Their ships are beautiful and the shows are wonderful but the crowds and service are disappointing. I choose to cruise for the extra attention to detail and pampering. If this is not going to be the case then I might as well fly to the destinations I wish to see and stay in hotels. I can only hope that Royal Caribbean does not end up being like Carnival. It seems they are heading in that direction.
I am curious how anyone else feels about Royal Caribbean these days. Have you noticed their decline or is it just my experience on Freedom? Do you still sail with RCC or do you recommend another cruise line? Thanks!
I think you have hit a nail on the head. We had avoided the larger ships (Voyager Class) BECAUSE of the number of passengers + crew on board. Those ships have total of about 4800 people (3600 passengers + 1200 crew).
BUT.....We sailed on the Mariner because of time and itenerary. The cruise, ship, service, was really great, EXCEPT for the crowds everywhere. We always enjoy the Windjammer for lunch and snacks - love to sit and watch the ocean while eating. But, on the Mariner, it was a place to avoid. Constantly full, crowded, food trays empty, lines.....
So I can imagine what the Freedom would be like. After all, it's only 20,000 Gross Tons bigger, but it has 2000 more people on board.
My advice would be to go back to the Radiance Class ships. Except for the Mariner, our last 5 cruises were on these ships. And the service has always been EXCELLENT.
Also have read nothing but RAVE Reviews about the smaller ships (Majesty, Enchantment, etc.) about how FANTASTIC the service is on all these ships.
Welcome to Cruise Chat, Vicariously Cruising. Growing pains can be difficult even for a multi billion dollar company like Royal Caribbean. I guarantee you that they have consultants telling them everything that you are saying. And they DO read the comment cards that you leave behind. Our room didn't get cleaned up one evening while we were out and it was a little disappointing. We forgot to leave the card in the door. He phoned us in the room and asked if there was anything he could do for us before he went off duty. That was the proper way for him to handle something that was actually our mistake. I am sorry for the lack of service and communication that you suffered, AKMom. Believe me, it will get better. I can remember when the Radiance class made it's debut. People were saying that it's too big to receive personal attention. Well, we learn from the past and improve the future. Happy sailing!!
Well I am on the flip side my experiance on the Freedom of the Seas was EXCELLENT, my cabin was Always clean we had the towels animals, our shows were never over crowded, the adult pools were crowed so we just went to the hot tub which weren't crowded at all. Even the flow rider there was never a very long wait. Yes the windjammer was always very crowed but we could and did find a seat the food was always plentyful. I am sorry you had such a time but my experiance and those with me was an excellent one after all. This was my first cruise and my family members 3 or 4th cruise and they said the service was some of the best they have had I myself thought it to be very pampering and friendly. The ship was clean and I never felt overwhelmed with people it didn't even seem like it was 3000 0r more people on the ship. So with that I can say my experiance was not like yours, AKMom or Vicariously Cruising, hopefully you will have better luck next time, don't let this one time stray you away.
Your next cruise may be the best ever. I've been on over 30 Royal Caribbean cruises and only complained about one. Another family we know was on the same cruise and raved about how wonderful it was. My very next cruise, on the Navigator, was one of my best cruises. The food was the best of any ship I've been on. There are times it's seems crowded, but not all the time. I've developed a phobia for lines ever since I was in the Marines. So far, I haven't panicked on any cruises.
Although it's never gotten much love here, I really enjoyed my cruise on Grandeur of the Seas (hence the upcoming cruise in little more than a week ) since there was very little people and the service was fantastic. Since it's one of the less popular ships in the RCCL's fleet, it always has a personal, calm feel to it. The only way I found it was because it's the one of the only ones that leaves out of Baltimore, Maryland (Saving the hassle of airfare and other travel expenses).
With as many people and crew members as they have to serve on any ship it's amazing that these type of reports remain rare. If you asked a hundred people on the same ship about their experience you'd get everything from horrible to best ever. I don't have as many sailings as Sonny but I've never had one I considered poor in quality of food, overall staff or crowding. I don't sail during Spring Break or even summer vacation time frames by choice. I have had the rare crew member who didn't meet or exceed my expectations. Maybe they were new, maybe they were having a bad week. I just don't know but I'm not going to allow one or two people under-performing ruin my vacation. Maybe I've just been lucky but I'll keep cruising RCI and other lines until I have an overall unpleasant cruise. Never happened yet, that includes with Carnival who the OP seemed to have something against. Big ships, small ships, I like 'em all. Guess I'm just easy to please.