I found this posting as a "draft" from a few years back. We had been on the Monarch of the Seas for a three-day cruise. My ultimate conclusion about cruises (after taking a seven-day trip on the Hubris of the Seas) was that they are overpriced and not really all that much fun.
I am not a big fan of cruises, as you know. But I was amazed at some of the "opinions" offered that seemed, well, kind of ridiculous. Perhaps they were reverse-shills by the cruise line (offer criticisms so bizarre that they discredit all criticisms?
When I went on an Epinions site to see how other people liked it, I was surprised how petulent some of the reviewers were.
"The guests, all of us, were herded into the the boarding building like cattle, refused information and stood/sat/laid there like stranded travelers. This lasted three hours. We started boarding 4 hours late. Once on, the ship smelled like chlorine and no one would explain what happened. The ship, continued to smell the whole time. No one knew why despite questioning."
I have to say that the ship today was very vigilant about sanitation - there were sanitizing stations everywhere and signs encouraging people to wash frequently. Many doors opened automatically, eliminating the need to touch surfaces. I was pleasantly surprised to see most children embracing the sanitizing stations - these are apparently plentiful in schools these days, and kids love them. We avoided touching surfaces, if possible, just to be safe, and we washed our hands often and had no problems.
"On the day of departure, we were made to exit our cabins by 8:00 a.m. and we then told to report to any public area of the ship and wait for our flight to be called. Two and a half hours later we were herded to a bus, dropped at the airport and had to wait another four and a half hours for our 3:00 p.m. flight out (again poor scheduling on the part of Royal Caribbean). There must be a better way to end the cruise than in this manner."
From the time we left the stateroom to the time we drove off the property was about 20 minutes.
If you are taking a shuttle bus to the airport, then you will likely have to wait longer for your fellow passengers and for the bus to leave. That is the nature of the beast. If you want to arrange your own transportation (flight, etc.) you can do so and arrive by taxi and depart by taxi, and thus keep your own schedule with less herding.
"The ship that was clearly outdated (built in 1991,) was overcrowded and smelled of urine. That's right, you heard me. It was so disgusting. The pools were old and looked of fungus. We all had decided upon booking our cruise that each couple would go for a standard state room without a porthole (who looks out a small window anyway, and we won't be in our cabin much anyway. The room was as small as a shoebox! We tried to upgrade the next day to a larger room, but it seemed as though everyone else that had a standard room had the same idea, and all the suites were taken. We should have acted FAST"
"First, we were charged a full fare for our 11 month old daughter (and told that is the only way Royal Carribean did it) and given a 2 person room that was not big enough to put an extra cot, crib, etc in, which the reservation agent told us they certainly could do. We never met the room attendant, and he did not clean the room well - trash that was on our closet floor when we got there was still there when we left. The customer service people on the ship were not helpful at all - questions would be answered with "there's pamphlets over there" and point to a stack of brochures and leaflets. On one occasion I told them the literature did not mention shuffleboard and I wanted to know where the game was. They told me they no longer had shuffleboard on this ship.I found out 2 days later during a walk of the ship that they did. I asked a different agent which programs would be best for my 11 month old daughter. They told me that they didn't have a program for her, that the programs started at age 3. Turns out they do have one, but I missed 2 days of activities by the time I found out about it. When I asked them about this their response was - oh, well I don't know about those programs - you should have asked the people that work with the kids. Small children are also not allowed in any of the pools which limits activities even more. Next: great food and buffets at any time - not on this ship. The pizza/burger place is always open, but the pizza is awful and I didn't go on a cruise to eat burgers.Midnight buffets? Only on 1 night and that is by the pool with all the drunk revelers - if you wanted a quiet sit down, you had better have eaten earlier. Our waiter in the formal dining room all but ignored us (probably because we were not ordering copious amounts of alcohol like his other tables) and service was slow. The one highlight to it all was our assistant waiter who actually exceeded our expectations. Andreas from Lithuania was remarkable. As for ambiance: the pool deck smelled like cat urine and when you first enter the buffet room it smells like the sewer backed up. I haven mentioned the 7am cabin departure on the last day - you have to have all your bags packed and in the hall by midnight.
I'll leave you with a couple positives - quality of food in the buffet was ok, but it was great in the formal dining room (DON'T get on a second service however since dining is a 3 hour event and you will miss all the evening activities - insist on a first meal service). The rock climbing wall was a blast, and the comedian was very funny"
Yes, the comedian was funny, although we only caught his act on the in-room TV as we dined late and missed most of the shows. But taking an 11-month baby on a cruise? (who the hell takes an 11-month old baby on a cruise for chrissakes?) I would suggest against it. A friend of mine recently came to visit with a very young baby, and she had a horrible time. Traveling with children that age is just a bad idea, period.
The ship had a lot of youth programs and minders to watch your kids while you and the misses go out and get snockered and perhaps re-live the wedding night. The children are all given wrist bands and there are special programs and even a teen-and-tween disco for them. I hate kids, personally, which is why I liked this aspect of the voyage - I rarely saw them. But I would suggest that you wait until a kid is at least 6 or 7 before taking them on a cruise. It is like taking a baby to Disney world - they aren't going to appreciate or remember any of it, and in fact, will likely be very unhappy and cry a lot.
I am not sure why you say the buffet was no good and then say it was of good quality, that the wait service stank, but that you liked your waiter. The buffet is not my cup of tea - people milling about for food. The food there was mediocre at best, but with the way the cruise was laid out, only one meal (lunch on Saturday) was really required there.
I do agree that the food is not "all the time" although you can get room service at any time of the day (some charges apply after midnight). My biggest gripe there was the food and the alcohol were often at opposite ends of the ship, or so it seemed. Want an hors d'ouvres with your martini? Ain't happening. Want a cheese tray with your wine? Ain't happening. Want a pretzel with your beer? Ain't happening. Food is at POINT A and alcohol is at POINT B, and this encourages drinking on an empty stomach, which is a bad idea.
Customer service was OK, but if you ask a person for information that they don't have, or perhaps if they don't understand your question, they give vague, evasive answers, instead of saying "I don't know". I spent a LOT OF TIME before the voyage researching everything and reading up on things, so I wouldn't be in the situation of being constantly bewildered, and this helped.
But in ANY customer service situation, you have to remember that if the person you are asking is not empowered to help you, they can't help you, no matter what you say to them.
"So, off to the buffet (think really bad Denny's) for the first of many meals here. BLECH. This is a meat lovers paradise but if you’re a vegetarian like me, there’s so little to choose from and finding out what does and doesn’t have meat products in it is impossible. The few foods that were labeled had names but no ingredients and time after time no one serving knew what they were preparing. The tables were dirty and sticky, the food and drinks were serve-yourself, and the few attendants on duty were not in a hurry to end their personal conversations between themselves and help us. Thinking that this would be our only meal here I did my best to figure out if the mashed potatoes were made with milk or chicken broth (never did find out) or if the potato salad had bacon in it. Ok, I know they don’t get a lot of vegetarians, but what about people with food allergies? A simple label with ingredients would be great"
The food to me, was a pleasant surprise, in the dinning room. The service was great and we bought the Diamond wine package, and had a bottle of wine every night and a bottle of champagne with breakfast. OK, so it was Korbel, but still, it was OK for making Mimosas.
Room Service is always an option if you don't want to get into the lunch Darwinism of the buffet line - and many people opted for that, judging by the number of trays in the hall after lunch. Room service is free.
"We went back to our cabin, and after being on board for nearly three hours, there was still no sign of our luggage. A quick call to the customer service desk inquiring about our luggage yielded no results. I spoke to a young woman who sounded aloof and unconcerned about my concerns. Our luggage finally arrived minutes before dinner so that we could quickly change into our dining clothes. A couple we dined with wasn't so lucky; they didn't receive their luggage until midnight.
While we paid for and expected a three day cruise, what we really got was a two day cruise. The first day of the cruise was completely wasted time. None of the shops, casino, or other activities were available until well after we'd left port. The only open venues were the lounges. This made for an awful lot of drunken passengers by the time evening rolled around. At dinner, a woman seated next to us was slovenly drunk. After dinner, I witnessed two separate couples who were obviously intoxicated having screaming matches. Still later, we had to walk carefully through a hallway to avoid a large amount of vomit on the floor. In another hallway, we had to walk carefully yet again to avoid a young woman who couldn't seem to pick herself up from the floor"
"In July, my wife and I went on the Monarch, and to begin with, they lost our luggage when we debarked. To make matters even worse, they only offer $300 for lost luggage and in order to get that you'd probably spend that much on long distance phone calls."
"The first unpleasant experience occurred when we went to our room for the first time and tried to board the elevators that we were rudely told were for luggage only. This was the first of many such comments that rubbed me the wrong way."
"Later that evening after we assembled in our Muster Stations (station # 10 is inside one of the lounges, and it was much more comfortable than standing in the south Florida humidity with a life-jacket around your neck)"
"One last thing I wish to comment about before wrapping this up was our fellow passengers aboard the ship. There may not be a way to describe this without offending some people, but the overall “class” of the clients aboard this Royal Caribbean cruise wasn’t quite what I expected. Given, I was on spring break..."
But it is funny, these "online reviews" sometimes seem ridiclous. People bring infants on a cruise and wonder why they are not having a good time.
I guess it is the same old thing - unrealistic expectations. People want something-for-nothing and expect a $199 cruise to have Filet Mignon every night and champagne served free of charge in their rooms every evening.
Yes, there are cruises that do that. They charge a lot more than $199.