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Sail Date: November 2018
We have been cruising since the early 1990's and have cruised mainly with NCL and Carnival. We have been on 50 plus cruises. This is our second Royal Caribbean cruise; our first was on the Allure. Our last cruise was on the NCL ... Read More
We have been cruising since the early 1990's and have cruised mainly with NCL and Carnival. We have been on 50 plus cruises. This is our second Royal Caribbean cruise; our first was on the Allure. Our last cruise was on the NCL Bliss in October 2018. Embarkation: We arrived at the Port of Los Angeles to find that there were two lines. Priority and everyone else. The lines were long and looked like Disney Land. It appears that there were not enough workers to accommodate the amount of people. A few weeks prior we sailed on NCL and there were plenty of workers to acclimate the 4000 people and the boarding process went smoothly. Once on the ship the only option for lunch was the buffet. The main dining room was not open as it is on other cruise lines. Ship: The ship was built in 1998 and is showing its age. The furniture was old and outdated. RCL should retire the ship or give it a complete overhaul in side. Dining: We were very disappointed in the quality of the food in the buffet and the main dining room. For example, breakfast in the main dining room took 1 hour and 45 minutes to get our food. The waitress was in training the Head Waiter told us. When the food did come out of the kitchen it was cold and every one at our table got their food at different times. We had to waive the white napkins to get a refill on our coffee. We complained to the Head Waiter but he was not concerned. Later I went to Customer Service to discuss the bad service asking to see a manager. Who showed up? the same Head Waiter. I told him it was unacceptable for customers to wait the long for their breakfast. We never when back to breakfast in the main dining room. The food in the dining room for dinner was of poor quality. Steaks were like shoe leather and the chicken like hockey pucks. The food in the specialty restaurants was very good. We bought the three-night dinner package. It was a good value for your money. We had dinner one night in the buffet it was not very good. I found a piece of plastic in the squid salad and called the Head Waiter over to show him. He he told me he would let the chief know. I expected him to remove the salad from the buffet, however this never happened. Entertainment and /Activities: There were plenty of activities and entertainment on the ship. We loved the music some oldies and top 40. We saw a Eagles Tribute Band they were great. It was hard to find a quite place on the ship to relax on sea days. There were activities in the Centrum and Schooners Lounge most of the day and it was very noisy. Service: Service was below average. It appears they were running out of money - small bills. I needed some small bills for tips and to spend in the various ports. The Customer Service Agent told me to that I should ask one of the bartenders in the Casino to break down my bills. The cashier in the Casino told me to see the bartender too. I had asked the Customer Service Agent if the Port of New Orleans had baggage service to the airport, he informed me that this service was only available for ships sailing from Miami. Well once in the terminal we found that there was a company providing baggage storage/transportation to airport for $40.00. We left our bags and explored New Orleans. I think RCL wanted people to book shore excursions for New Orleans. The cabin attendant did an excellent job - no issues. Ports and Shore Excursions: Loved Cabo and Puerto Vallarta we explored on our own and had a great time. The other ports Guatemala, Costa Rica, we did not venture out as those are dangerous ports. We did take a tour of Cartagena in Colombia from a local tour operator. It cost $20 per person for a 5-hour tour of the old city and new city. He also took us to a restaurant on the beach for lunch. Very good value for your money. Fellow Cruisers: We had a great time meeting new people. The average age was 50's to 80's. Everyone was very friendly and we made some new friends too. This was the best part of the cruise. Smoking: My husband and I are non-smokers - the Casino was too smokey. RCL its time to eliminate smoking on cruise ships. We found it difficult to have cocktails in the Casino too much smoke. Disembarkation: We decided to take our luggage and walk off the ship. We got in line around 6:30 and were one of the first off the ship. Would we sail with RCL again? Maybe. We will be sticking with NCL and Princess moving forward. Our next three booked cruises is with NCL. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2018
We took a 16 day cruise from LA to New Orleans. This was out 5th RC cruise. We’ve enjoyed the others. The ship was nice, not too big. The cruise director was wonderful. Very friendly and creative. On this cruise however the dining ... Read More
We took a 16 day cruise from LA to New Orleans. This was out 5th RC cruise. We’ve enjoyed the others. The ship was nice, not too big. The cruise director was wonderful. Very friendly and creative. On this cruise however the dining room food was worse than terrible. We were in second seating. Food consistently arrived over cooked, cold, and not as described in the menu. Try a baked potatoe that has been overlooked so it’s brown inside, and then cold so butter won’t melt. Or a steak ordered medium rare that comes out well done. Ok. Mistakes happen, but not in every order, for all 8 people at the table. We complained, sent food back, spoke to a head waiter, always met with excuses and denials. Finally a chef came to our table. He was confused. Couldn’t understand how it was happening, and offered to fix all our food the next night himself. We spoke with other passengers. People in first seating had no complaints, while 2nd seating had consistent problems. One couple who were cruising back to back said the food on the previous cruise was excellent, it this cruise was terrible. The chef fixed our food and it was better, not great, but improved through the last five nights of the cruise. Regarding the excursion desk. We had bought an excursion in Panama to take a boat on Gatune Lake and a tour of the locks. Two days before the stop we received a notice in our stateroom. It was worded as a “reminder” that our tour did not visit the locks. What? It also listed it as 1.5 hours shorter. Fortunately I had printed out a description of the tour and had it with me. When I went to the desk another woman was complaining. I asked to speak with the manager. She finally came. I explained the problem and she told me I was wrong. It had never included the locks, and was never posted as such online. I had to bring my printed description to her, and even the she tried to deny it. I asked for a different tour that included the locks. She said I had to pay more...$70 more, because the tour was almost 2 hours longer. I pointed out that the tour I paid for was 1.5 hours longer than what she was trying to get me to take. She ignored that. She finally offered me the other tour at 20% off. It still cost much more than the original tour. The most upsetting thing was she continued to treat me like I was the one wrong. She never acknowledged that the tour had changed. She never apologized. She remained rude the entire time. If this had been my first RC cruise I would not have ever gone back. I have one more cruise scheduled with RC with grandkids. After that I will think long and hard before I cruise with them again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2015
Our Panana Canal cruise was wonderful! A full 15 days with great ports, many sea days aboard a great ship with a fantastic crew. Leaving Los,angeles we went to two Mexican Ports, Puerto Vallarta and Cabo. Then on to Guatemala, Costa Rica, ... Read More
Our Panana Canal cruise was wonderful! A full 15 days with great ports, many sea days aboard a great ship with a fantastic crew. Leaving Los,angeles we went to two Mexican Ports, Puerto Vallarta and Cabo. Then on to Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, through the Canal then on to Colombia and ending in San Juan Puerto Rico. a great iteniary. The only disappointment was Royal Caribs new menu which they implemented the second day of our cruise. Gone was the traditional cruise fare--shrimp cocktail, prime rib, lobster tail and instead was a daily dose of almost unedible items attemtping I guess to gourmet us. Food that was unrecognizable both in appearance and taste. The eveyday menu was similarly bad. The "aged manhattan steak" was tough beef you wouldnt serve at home. This new menu was a complete disaster and it was the talk of the passengers everywhere on the ship, in the elevators, in the bars and at dinner. RCI clearly lost many future passengers by serving us this swill on a 15 day trip. i am Diamond but it will be long and hard before I waste money on another RCI ship if this is what they are going to serve us as cruise ship food. And I am not alone based on what our tablemates and others said. Our servers were absolutely excellent!! The food in the specialty places, Steakhouse and Portofinos was EXCELLENT! I cant recommend them enough. Perfect service and excellent food but there is a cover charge. And those charges have gone up. Also, drinks on the ship are now in the $7-8 dollar range with a built in 18% tip! And R I no longer has the Broadway shows either, apparently cutting corners there as well. lOoks like future cruise are going to be Princess or Celebrity since RCI seems to want to kill the goose that laid the golden egg. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2015
I really like this ship as it offers lots of windows with many lounges and very comfortable seats. It only has one area for elevators but each one is glass so you view either the center of ship or the ocean. All our ports went smoothly ... Read More
I really like this ship as it offers lots of windows with many lounges and very comfortable seats. It only has one area for elevators but each one is glass so you view either the center of ship or the ocean. All our ports went smoothly except for Cabo San Lucas which was by tenders. It took about 2 hours to get off after the ship arrived due to very slow procedures. The ship really needs to work on that! The pools are small but adequate and there are 3 hot tubs. We were lucky as there were almost no kids on board so the pool and hot tubs were enjoyable. I don't think the pool area would be comfortable with lots of kids on board. Would of preferred a different port in Panama instead of Colon. Can't say to many good things about that port. Cartagena was an outstanding port with a special entrance of monkeys, macaws, tocans, deer, iguanas,geese, flamingos and a beautiful landscaping. We must of spent one hour just enjoying all the wild life. Old Cartagena is incrediable, too The staff on board were great as always. Maybe lacking a little in the Windjammer compared to the larger ships. Most bathrooms were clean but a smell of some kind of cleaning solvent was not so sweet and had a dirty smell. Our stateroom was always kept clean and tidy and the usual towel animals and information was left. I did however have to request a robe for my Emerald status. Overall a great trip! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
We were so happy to finally have a west coast cruise with the opportunity to sail under Golden Gate Bridge. Unfortunately, the one really great thing on this cruise was the weather. Oct 3. The check-in process was a fiasco!! We knew ... Read More
We were so happy to finally have a west coast cruise with the opportunity to sail under Golden Gate Bridge. Unfortunately, the one really great thing on this cruise was the weather. Oct 3. The check-in process was a fiasco!! We knew since late August that the Jewel was going to be docked at pier 42, so obviously the port authorities knew, the ships' crew knew, so why oh why were passengers subjected to three hours waiting while standing in line, some even outside in the hot sun!!! Reasons and rumors abounded but no apology whatsoever, until Wednesday evening from the captain himself. Too little, too late, was the subject at the dinner table that night. The ports were lovely, but many disabled passengers were not able to leave the ship due to the tendering system. Then in San Francisco, the long walk down and back the ramp was exhausting. People had long waits for wheelchair assistance that often never came. The food quality and service certainly didn't measure up to our past cruises with Royal Caribbean. Often the Windjammer food was lukewarm, and bland. The dining room food was better, but service was often very slow and neglectful. Overall, the ship is beautiful, but not enough elevators. Our cabin was toward the back and we had to walk a great distance to the Centrum elevators or stairs every time. First ship we've been on that didn't have aft elevators. Our room attendant was very, very good. No complaints there. We loved our room. bed was the best ever, closet space quite adequate, and the balcony spacious. There wasn't many planned activities especially for those who stayed on the ship on port days. Only information about the ports was available to view on stateroom tv's. No live conversation. We saw one towel folding demo, one napkin folding class and a couple of card making class. What happened to the food carving and ice sculptures? We heard several accusations about how the Diamond and Diamond Plus passengers get far better treatment than those in lower classes. Today's disembark was so much better, I guess because we were in the usual cruise port terminal. As much as we loved Royal Caribbean, (platinum members) I'm afraid that we'll be looking elsewhere for our next cruise. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
Over an hour at the airport waiting for a bus. Three hours waiting in line to get our ship pass and get onto the ship; half dozen computers were unmanned which surely slowed down the process. Room temperature food every meal at table 105, ... Read More
Over an hour at the airport waiting for a bus. Three hours waiting in line to get our ship pass and get onto the ship; half dozen computers were unmanned which surely slowed down the process. Room temperature food every meal at table 105, even the ice cream came melted. I ordered scallops as an appetizer, they came in an escargot tray but it was small pieces of scallop not whole scallop in each tray depression. Talk about skimping and saving. They no longer place a piece of chocolate on the pillow each evening. And they no longer sell computer time by the minute, you have to purchase time at $20 per day. At that rate it would have cost me over $100 just to check my email each day. The cabin was directly above a crew entrance and all night long the door slammed with a loud noise. The staff, although friendly, seemed confused/disorganized, especially at the airport and cruise port. I do have one favorable comment; we finally disembarked and made it to a restaurant that served hot food! I've been on many cruises with RCL, have Silver status with them, and I enjoyed every one, but this was my final cruise with them. I'll use a different cruise line, one that is not so hell bent on nickel and diming the customers and one that knows how to serve hot food. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2015
The Royal Caribbean/Celebrity/NCL agent at LAX was wonderful. Very helpful and courteous and because I am handicapped helped me with my luggage to the bus. The Jewel of the Seas is a beautiful ship. She is classy, elegant and ... Read More
The Royal Caribbean/Celebrity/NCL agent at LAX was wonderful. Very helpful and courteous and because I am handicapped helped me with my luggage to the bus. The Jewel of the Seas is a beautiful ship. She is classy, elegant and comfortable, all at the same time. She is an older lady but she isn’t showing her age too badly. She is going in for refurbishment in the spring of 2016 and she will only come out better. I love her size, she is a midsize ship, not a mega liner, which is what I like. The pool areas were never crowded, always enough loungers to lay by the pool and crew was easily accessible. My room attendant Lucy, was wonderful. She has worked for RCCL for almost four years, has two small boys and work for the line because she wants a better life for her boys then she had growing up in Jamaica. Whatever I needed she brought me, made sure I had ice every morning and evening, left towel animals all over the room and kept the room in perfect order. The Main Dining Room, (MDR), Tides was good. I have the 5:30 p.m. dinner at the same table every night and I loved it. Got to know passengers from all over and we became good friends, went to shows and bars together because we enjoyed each other’s company. Our waiter Stanley and Assistant Waiter Rui were wonderful. Stanley has been with the line for fifteen years and you could tell it. He was knowledgeable, remembered all our names on the second dinner and what our likes and dislikes were. Rui was doing her first cruise but she was so sweet, kept our glasses full and our plates taken away. The entertainment was good, not great, and just good. Wayne Cotter, comedian, John Joseph, comedian, City of Dreams production show, Quest Adult Show, Edge Effect, (5 guys who sang A capella), West End to Broadway production show, Steve Smith, comedian and the Cruise Director, John Blair as Neil Diamond, he was spot on, looked and sounded just like Neil and the Farewell Show. A problem that is present in all casinos on cruise ships is the smoke. It is one of only a few places passengers smoke. Somehow RCCL figured out a way to get the smoke out of the air. Every cruise I return to my cabin smelling of smoke and beer, on my clothes, hair and skin, have to take a shower immediately to get the smell off of me so I can at least sleep. This did not occur on the Jewel. If was refreshing to go where smokers were sitting and not have the horrible odor bothering me. THE BAD THINGS: I spend my time in the casino when it is open. I found very few crew available in the casino. There were no crew for drinks while playing the table games or machines. You had to ask a dealer to find one for you, which then had a pit boss out looking for a bartender to take drink orders. It looked to me like RCCL has cut down on the amount of casino employees and wait staff for the casino. If a machine gave you a problem you had to stand by the machine and flag down anyone that had a RCCL uniform on to get you someone from the casino. Every cruise I have been on and that is around 35, the casino staff is usually the friendliest of all the crew. This was not so on this particular cruise. The Windjammer Buffet has new hours, they don’t open until 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Most cruise buffets are open until late at night and only closing for about an hour to change from breakfast menu to lunch menu to dinner menu. This caused a long line of passengers waiting to get into the buffet. The food was good, not great. There was a large selection of all food, including gluten free and vegetarian. Sometimes you could find a wait person and sometimes not. There was the Seaview and Solarium Café that were open about two hours in the morning, noon and at 6 p.m. for lite snacks, Pizza is always available on any cruise I have been on but because it is in the Windjammer it closes at 8:30 p.m. and then no more pizza. THE WORST THINGS: Arrived at LAX at 9:10 a.m. and was met with a wheelchair escort who took me to the baggage claim area. I received my luggage and found the RCCL/Celebrity/NCL agent. She took my luggage and stored it since she said there would be a wait for the bus until 11 a.m. By that time there were 15 passengers waiting and getting restless because of the wait and the agent not having any idea why there wasn’t a bus. As a seasoned traveler I knew that every cruise line has a travel emergency number and I called RCCL to see what was going on. It took about 15 minutes to get an answer but the Jewel disembarked two hour late, (normally 7 a.m. but today 9 a.m.) making RCCL two hours late. The emergency rep said it was better to sit in the air conditioned airport then to come to the port because there was a two hour wait to get on the ship. We finally left LAX at 12:30 p.m. and arrived at the port where the Jewel was tethered and it was chaos. Only four ships are allowed to dock at Port of Los Angeles/San Pedro and one is under construction. The port didn’t know what to do with the Jewel, so it was docked way at the end of the port, with two white tents, no air conditioning, no running water, no bathrooms, food, etc. When I got off the bus I asked where I could leave my luggage and that I had requested wheelchair assistance. I was told by a port employee that a porter would be glad to check my luggage for a tip and the wheelchair assistance line was a two hour wait, sitting on white plastic folding chairs, outside of the tent at the farthest end from where the bus let us off. I gave my luggage to a porter and with my walker managed to walk approximately two blocks to the wheelchair area. The people sitting there said some had been there two hours or longer and there just wasn’t any chairs available. I decided to stand in the handicapped/accessible line, (with many passengers who noticed the line was shorter and stood in the line). I tried to explain to the passengers this was a handicapped line but most of the time I got it was none of my business from them. One hour and 30 minutes later I got to the check in table, yes I said table. Because of where the port put us there was no electricity, so RCCL was doing the best they could by using battery operated Tough Books to connect to RCCL network to check passengers in. In the last three hours the website had gone down four times. When I sat down to be checked in it went down again and took about 30 minutes to be rebooted. The rep that was checking me in notified me that he has already worked one hour longer than he was supposed to so he was leaving and would try to find someone to check me in. I told him no he wasn’t leaving until I got checked in. A passenger heard the whole conversation, saw an officer and reported what was happening. The officer came over and told me that he personally would check me in, to just sit tight until the network was up again. When the network came up that officer, Manuel Palmero, IT Operations Manager/Officer, checked me in. I told him I needed a wheelchair to get on the ship and he was told there weren’t any. He told me to have a seat at the end of the line and he would find a chair and get me on the ship. Thirty minutes later he walked by and saw I was still waiting, five minutes later he came with a wheelchair and brought me to my room. I didn’t arrive on ship until 3:30 p.m. so I could not get any food because the Windjammer was closed. Room service wasn’t open yet and I hadn’t eaten since 6 a.m. that morning. I met Manuel in the elevator early Sunday morning and asked how he was doing and he told me that of the fifteen years he has worked for RCCL that was his worst experience ever. He explained that some of the problems were RCCL but most was the port, not being accessible, not even ready for our ship to dock and disembark and embark new passengers. He said there was an officers meeting planned for later in the day to assure that this never happened again. I told him I felt that this wasn’t RCCL’s fault but passengers were put in a situation, left in a hot tent, with temperatures of 100 degrees outside, no a/c, no food, and no bathrooms and of course they will blame the cruise line. Both tender days were totally unorganized. In Santa Barbara on Deck 4 the passengers started waiting in line to get on the tenders. The line started at Guest Services, went all the way to the back of the ship and up the other side of the ship. Passengers couldn’t get out of their rooms because they were blocked by this huge line. I think that is a definite safety hazard. If a fire starts or there was a passenger emergency in one of the rooms being blocked it would be havoc for everyone. It was stated in the Cruise Compass that please wait until you got your tender number and it was called before starting a line. First RCCL didn’t have a place set up to get your tender number so it was total confusion and RCCL should have stopped the passengers from starting and standing in a line. In Monterrey, again, totally unorganized. We were a little late getting into port and passengers that had excursions were being told to go to the conference room on Deck 5 to get off first. When we got to the Conference Room, no RCCL employee was there and when someone showed up, we were told to go wait in line again. Many excursions were missed or we were too late to take them. On the fifth day on ship, a sea day, Captain Thorolvsen came on the intercom and apologized for what occurred in Los Angeles Port. He guaranteed us that this would not occur when we disembarked. He had spoken to RCCL International Headquarters and were working on getting us the easiest and fastest disembarkation available. On the day of disembarking all passengers needing wheelchairs were told to meet in the Conference Room on Deck 5 at 7:30 a.m. I wanted to make sure I had no trouble getting there so I was there at 7:15. There were already a few disabled passengers in the room. Around 8 a.m. a crew member told us that there were only 5 wheelchairs available and no attendants to push them, so if you could make it off the ship by yourself you needed to do that. There was one couple waiting that the woman only had one leg, a couple with a child with Downs Syndrome and several others that there was just no way possible they could walk down the gangplank to the port building. After sitting there until 9:30 and knowing my flight left from LAX at noon I walked off the ship with the aid of my walker. When I arrived in the port building in Los Angeles, there were 41 poles with numbers from 1 to 41 on each pole and your luggage tag told you at what luggage pole your luggage would be. I had green tag 19. When I got to 19, there was not any luggage at the pole. I stopped a port employee to ask if all luggage was off the ship and she said yes. She asked me to give her a description of the luggage and she would start looking for it at other luggage poles and be back with me in about 5 minutes. While she was looking, I did too, and my luggage was not at any number from 1 to 41. When the port employee returned she said I would have to a make a claim at a counter across the building. I explained that it was 10 a.m. and my flight was leaving from LAX in less than two hours. She said there was nothing she could do. I started walking to the claim counter and saw a couple hunting for their luggage also and they told me that a bunch of luggage with no RCCL tags on them were stacked behind a brick wall, where you couldn’t see them, and to go check there. My luggage was there with about 15 pieces of other luggage on top of it. I couldn’t get anyone to help me, so I had to move those pieces of luggage myself to get to mine. My final thoughts on this cruise is, I love the Jewel of the Seas and Royal Caribbean. I feel that the treatment of handicapped passengers has disintegrated to non-existent. Handicapped passengers don’t matter to RCCL and I am sad for this to be happening. RCCL has to figure out a way to better service the disabled passenger. We pay our fares just like anyone else but are treated very differently than a passenger that can walk off the ship, take care of their own luggage etc. This has to be addressed quickly by RCCL. I do want to say that any passenger that blames RCCL for what happened in the sauna tents in the Los Angeles port is wrong in doing so, this was clearly the ports fault. Could RCCL have done things better, yes, there could have been some kind of bathroom facilities for passengers to use while waiting three hours to get on the Jewel. There could have been some crackers, or something non-perishable for the passengers to chew on. There needs to be more attention paid to the tender days and for RCCL to ascertain that the passengers don’t gather for miles around the deck of the ship. Wheelchair access is something that most cruise lines hire other companies to do but maybe it is time for RCCL to look at the companies they are using for wheelchair access and find a better company that can deliver a handicapped passenger to the ship and back off of the ship. If I had to give the cruise a point average from one to five, I am sorry to say, because of the handicapped problems, I would give it a rating of 2. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2015
First time a Royal ship has been on the California West Coast in years! We didn't care what ship we went on. We were celebrating our 36th wedding anniversary, husband's 60th birthday (6 & 13th) and 1 1/2 years of treatment ... Read More
First time a Royal ship has been on the California West Coast in years! We didn't care what ship we went on. We were celebrating our 36th wedding anniversary, husband's 60th birthday (6 & 13th) and 1 1/2 years of treatment for cancer. This trip was a biggy! We booked a Grand suite to do it right. What a disappointment to experience a FULL ship staffed with trainees. (I truly hope they were trainees.) Not once did the room staff stop by to ask if we needed anything. No extra effort since the tips are already included? If it weren't for the concierge, we would have had a better time staying at home. At home I have bed covers without numerous stains, shampoo and conditioner ( I was told by room staff they had run out and I would get it tomorrow, first day on board. We make lobster hoagies, fresh Italian fish stew, Black Angus rib-eye steaks and local GMO free salads and veggies at home. So the cruise dining experience fell short. We did appreciate the awesome presentation of food and intimate, attentive service at our favorite place, Portofino. BUT "back in the day", ( when Ca. had a ship) Royal used to WoW us with beautiful food and ice sculptures all the time. I would walk thru the buffet and I used to love the smell of the everything. The early dining room service people would know everyone's name, have bottles of wine waiting and make dining a joyful experience for all. Definitely missing. I was expecting to disembark feeling as if I was "Queen of the World" because I had been so spoiled and made to feel special. Instead, I left feeling sad that the concierge would continue to work really hard picking up the pieces, as the ship sailed on. The concierge made this trip incredible and memorable. It was an honor to be under his care. The concierge deserves a 5+ rating. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2015
This was my first cruise on RCL and only my second cruise overall so I'm fairly new to cruising. As previous reviewers stated, the embarkation situation was a bit of a nightmare. I booked transfers through RCL from the airport to the ... Read More
This was my first cruise on RCL and only my second cruise overall so I'm fairly new to cruising. As previous reviewers stated, the embarkation situation was a bit of a nightmare. I booked transfers through RCL from the airport to the port and waited 3 hours at the airport before a bus arrived. Then it was another 2 hour wait inside the tents to check-in. My friend and I decided to just wait it out until the line shortened so we sat in a shady, breezy spot. We were one of the last ones on the ship and boarded during the muster drill. We were told to go straight to our muster station. We were hot and hungry but just glad to be on the ship. At least our stateroom was ready! I've worked in airline operations so I understand that sometimes things go wrong so we weren't too critical of the situation but we heard plenty of complaints from the other passengers the whole week. Inside Stateroom: My first cruise was on HAL which all bathrooms have a bathtub so this smaller sized one on Jewel made me laugh out loud when I first opened the door but it was definitely adequate and always clean. Plenty of space for my friend and I and the beds are soooo comfortable with nice linens. Cruising in a balcony cabin my first time, I was wary about booking an inside but found no problems with it whatsoever as I was only in there to sleep and shower. Being mid-ship on the 3rd deck, I found the location very convenient. Dining: My friend and I did MTD and the first night we showed up right at 5:30 as we hadn't eaten much of anything all day. We had the best wait staff (Elmer and Carolina) so we made reservations the rest of the week so we could be in their station. My friend is gluten-free and they were very accommodating to her needs with always having a plate of GF bread for her and allowing her to see the menu for the next evening so she could make her order beforehand. We looked forward to our dinners every night so we could chat with them. Food overall was very good with most entrees being very tasty and filling and never cold. The chilled soups were excellent and my upgraded order of a filet mignon was cooked perfectly. Great experience at Tides. We also ate at Windjammer and although I don't care much for buffets, I was pleasantly surprised by the variety and the quality of food. Crew were always on hand to help with anything. Activities: I thought the various activities were lots of fun but were a bit lacking on port days with maybe one or two classes offered. Karaoke was so much fun. My friend and I love trivia and played several times but we quickly realized that the same people kept winning each time. We found out that the passengers were on the same cruise the week before and I'm assuming already knew all the answers. This was really disheartening. Near the end of the cruise, trivia wasn't much fun for us anymore. Some blame could be placed on the activities crew for doling out the same questions but I feel that the passengers should have done the considerate thing and let some of the newbies win a few games. The activities crew were fun and engaging though and we enjoyed chatting with them. Ship: Beautiful ship. Everything was very clean and sparkling. Elevators were few but never in a hurry so not a bother for us if we had to wait a couple minutes. Easy to navigate as well. Service: Excellent! I have absolutely no complaints on the service we received during our cruise from our stateroom attendant to guest services. Of course we really bonded with our wait staff and was a little sad on our last night on the ship. Passengers: My friend and I are in our 30's and most of the passengers were of retirement age. This really wasn't an issue but complaints were numerous and of course the bragging of loyalty levels. But we also got to know quite a few people who were so great and became instant friends. Overall, a great cruise and looking forward to cruising RCL again. :) Read Less
Sail Date: October 2015
Sailed Pacific coast on Jewel of the seas in October as part of a longer USA trip. Let me start with everything that went right. Jewel is a beautiful ship, medium size and easy to navigate with quirky ship shaped maps on each deck. ... Read More
Sailed Pacific coast on Jewel of the seas in October as part of a longer USA trip. Let me start with everything that went right. Jewel is a beautiful ship, medium size and easy to navigate with quirky ship shaped maps on each deck. Lovely centrum with plenty of bars close by so not far to walk to go from one to the other. Other bars are dotted around the ship more aimed at the evening rather than the daytime. Plenty of places to sit although I did notice some wheelchair users struggling with space at times especially in the corridors and around the shops when the watches were out. We found prices in the shops on the expensive side although did pick up a couple of watches at knock down prices and they are still working. Plenty of places to eat onboard pretty much all day if you know where to look.....we ate in the windjammer as we prefer to eat when we want to and it worked for us although, unlike some reviewers on here, we are not fussy eaters. Have to say though that the food could have been warmer at times. Burgers and the hotdogs were lovely though nom nom. We didn't do any excursions as we prefer to do our own thing when in port.....only disappointing day was Santa Barbra where it threw it down so we stuck with the ship. The tendering worked for us and my wife loved the voice of the tendering announcer which I found soooooooo game showy.....the price is right anybody? San Francisco was just magical as we knew it would be......it's a sentimental place for usage completlely lived up to our expectations from the golden gate walk to bubba grumps for food to just wandering around enjoying the view. Sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge and past Alcatraz was a bucket list tick for us and was awesome. Monterey was good had a Andre in the cannery district but Ensenada was simply too hot for us so back to the ship we went to enjoy the air conditioning. Our cabin attendant (Lola) was simply magical, friendly, approachable and always smiling and our cabin was the best we have had on any of our cruises, loved the balcony especially on the day at sea which just allowed us to chill. Disembarking the ship was hassle free and from leaving our meeting point to standing on the dock was about 30 minutes and this included going through customs so all good. Now to the worst. This is my 3rd cruise and first with RCL so I'm not really a hardened cruiser however I have never seen a shambles as bad as the attempts to get us on the ship at Port of Los Angeles on the 3rd of October. Well actually shambles is putting it mildly.mwe arrived at the port at 1100 with our shuttle driver not knowing where we were to be so he dropped us off at berth 92. It was only by bond luck we happened to see a coach with Jewel of the seas written on the front that we were then taken to our ship berth. 2 tents set up next to the ship and we then sat in one for 2 hours before we were allowed to join a line....2 hours later we were on the ship and pushed unceremoniously to our muster station as they were in the middle of the drill. No water, no food and toilets I wouldn't let my dog use really didn't start this cruise off on a good voting for us. What made it worse was the lack of apology from RCL and just a list of excuses from all the computers went down through to the port weren't expecting a shop of this siz to dock at this berth.......well m sorry but when I checked the port of low Angeles web site in July it specifically stated that the ship was going to be at this berth so they all had plenty of time to ensure a smooth transition for all. In 35 degree hat I'm glad I wasn't waiting outside the tent. And our luggage made it to the room before we did...unheard of. Overall from the moment we made it to our cabin and from then on we loved the cruise, the ship and our 7 days on the Jewel.....just a shame about the preceding 4 hours. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2015
This cruise started off on the bad side, the port of Los Angles/San Pedro, had the ship way away from all normal docking slips and had 4 cruise ships in that morning. LA Port is the worst ran port we have ever seen, lucky Royal had some ... Read More
This cruise started off on the bad side, the port of Los Angles/San Pedro, had the ship way away from all normal docking slips and had 4 cruise ships in that morning. LA Port is the worst ran port we have ever seen, lucky Royal had some tents installed to keep us out of direct sunlight on a very warm day they offered free water to the people waiting to embark. The normal process of going to the port and getting to your ship was stalled very badly by the port traffic. If this is the normal I now know why this was the last cruise Royal is having out of LA. Once aboard and all thing in control of Royal it was smooth sailing. The Jewel is behind the Radiance on upgrades she is due to be upgraded this spring, small things, old rounded televisions, no big screen pool side, only 2 choice restaurants, and to me the big one no shades that lower in the main dinning room to block the sun. Other wise a very clean and beautiful ship. As always the crew is amazing and did everything asked of them. Ports ranged from very nice to somewhat boring in my opinion. Santa Barbara nice little town but nothing really great about it, did the tour of Santa Barbara excursion the old mission is the highlight of the tour. San Francisco WOW loved this port so glad we spent 1 and half day there, so much to see and do. Did the 2 day Hop on Hop off bus tour with night tour HIGHLY recommend this excursion (get on the upper level if possible). They take you around town and give good information on the history of San Francisco the night tour is not to be missed. We then walked the pier area and saw Pier 39 with its shops and sea lions, went to fisherman's wharf, visited the major sight seeing attractions around the pier, the highlight for us east coasters was a burger from In and Out, best fast food burger ever. Monterrey was very nice we did the 17 mile Monterrey excursion. Being a golfer and getting to visit Pebble Beach Golf Course was the highlight our the trip fro me!!! VERY beautiful coastal scenery and information provided by the tour guide. Since all cruise ships must make a stop in a foreign country Ensenada Mexico was this stop. Did not do any excursions here just went to the town and looked around cost $2 to get to town $1 back to the ship normal Mexican shopping being haggled to stop here stop here. Dinning was very good in the Main Dinning Room we enjoyed every meal. The Windjammer Cafe was good buffet food but still a buffet it also seems to be closing much earlier than in the past. Cruise Director John Blair was outstanding very good entertainer himself, he is full of energy you can tell he loves his job. A side note about John he was on the port at disembarkation telling everyone goodbye, have never seen anyone except the mandatory personnel at disembarkation. In summary we had an Excellent cruise abroad the Jewel, and after the fiasco at the port it was truly smooth sailing waters included. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
This was our second cruise on Royal.....our first trip was on the Allure and was a "great" experience. When we saw the Pacific Coastal cruise on Jewel of the Seas we decided to take our granddaughter to celebrate her birthday. ... Read More
This was our second cruise on Royal.....our first trip was on the Allure and was a "great" experience. When we saw the Pacific Coastal cruise on Jewel of the Seas we decided to take our granddaughter to celebrate her birthday. First the positive....our cabin steward was very helpful, the staff in general was friendly and the birthday decorations were very nice. We enjoyed the piano bar. Unfortunately the negatives outweighed the positives. The quality of the food was extremely poor.....food in the Windjammer especially was well below expectations. Meats at the carving station were extremely dry...when arrived back from excursions the food trays were not stocked leaving us to wait. The solarium café did not have much to offer and ended up with pre-made sandwiches, which surprisingly were good. We did go to the specialty restaurant for Italian food and the food was well prepared and the wait staff was very attentive. The food at Tides was much better than Windjammer, especially for dinner. They were not very organized for breakfast...omelet delivered without the bagel or the sausage. When the bagel was brought out it was cold and the sausage was not delivered until the meal was just about over. Fresh squeezed orange juice was offered before the menus and we were not made aware of additional cost. Overall it did not appear that the staff was well organized when it came to activities, which often began late and conflicted with other activities/shows When returning from Santa Barbara, we waited for the tender for almost 2 hours....it was extremely hot and the ship, at the very least, should have provided water for the passengers who were standing in the sun. Also felt that the excursion were overpriced for what was offered. Disembarkation was a nightmare delays and lack of organization on the pier. In summary, I would not recommend Jewel of the Seas.... Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2015
It didn't start out well and ended even worse. We waited over 2 hours in line to check in. The staff seemed disorganized. There were 3 lines for check but the line for the Gold members was extremely slow. The ship itself is fine. ... Read More
It didn't start out well and ended even worse. We waited over 2 hours in line to check in. The staff seemed disorganized. There were 3 lines for check but the line for the Gold members was extremely slow. The ship itself is fine. It's a bit older but still looks great. We attended a couple of the shows and they were just ok. We have sailed on other ships with Royal Caribbean that in my opinion had much better entertainment. I had taken a first time cruiser and was promised a credit on my account of $50. RC told me because I signed her up for a Crown & Anchor account when I booked the cruise that I am no longer eligible for the incentive since it's for 1st time cruisers. What? It was her first cruise. After speaking to them they agreed to give me $25 as a so called thank you for recommending RC to a first time cruiser but I never received that either. When I inquired at Guest Services no one could assist with it. That whole first time cruiser incentive is a joke. RC did not deliver on that incentive. I was one of 9 people in my group. We booked three different rooms. Out of 9 people, 5 people ended up getting sick with flu like symptoms. One was a young child who ended up needing to see the ship Dr. While down in the medical assistance area there were a few other passengers, including a couple of crew members who were sick too. I inquired as to whether there was something going around on the ship but my questions were quickly dismissed by two different employees. The Santa Barbara stop was a mess. It was a very long wait to get off of the ship and a line to get back onto the ship. Once again it seemed as though RC was not organized nor prepared for the stop. The Monterey stop was nice. Things went smoothly. I thought the stop to Ensenada was a poor choice by RC. There were a couple of excursion options but the big push that I heard about was to take the bus to the shopping area. If you've ever shopped in Mexico you know all to well what you hear...it's almost free, how much you wanna pay? chiclet, want your hair braided, a bird whistle or people trying to drag you into their store and charge you $25 for a $5 tshirt etc. The majority of the stores try to rip the tourists off so why does RC stop there? I don't think it's for the passengers benefit. Now here comes the fun.....trying to get off the ship.....that was an absolute disaster. There was apparently an issue with the gangway, then an issue with immigration, then an issue with luggage, a change in berths so we needed to be shuttled to the location where we boarded the ship. However apparently no one was prepared for it. The employees were completely confused and telling people to go to get luggage at the tent where new passengers were waiting to board the ship for the next cruise. When we got there we were turned away and told to go to another tent to get our luggage. By the time we got off the ship and got our luggage it was 3 hours past the time we were supposed to disembark. Our shuttle driver had no idea where he was going and drove around the parking lot twice. He sought direction from 2 different people only to get conflicting information from both. The poor guy was getting yelled at, by at this time, very upset passengers just wanting to get to their cars. Royal Caribbean just wasn't prepared and it was obvious. This was my 6th RC cruise. I know they usually do a better job at serving their customers. Not sure how well I did at convincing the "first time cruiser" that I brought that this isn't the norm for RC. From the time we were supposed to leave the ship to the time we drove out the parking lot 4 hours had passed. The cruise itself was ok but the disorganization and lack of being prepared completely overshadowed the cruise itself. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2015
The embarkation process was smooth, less than one hour. The ship staff for the main dining room were very good and our room steward too was quite good. The food was the same as the Serenade of the Seas we were on in December 2014. The ... Read More
The embarkation process was smooth, less than one hour. The ship staff for the main dining room were very good and our room steward too was quite good. The food was the same as the Serenade of the Seas we were on in December 2014. The quality of the food was pretty good overall and the service was very good to excellent. The first port of Santa Barbara was a tender port. The ship's tender service was putrid. They recognized problems early in the morning and attempted to solve some of the problems by hiring private fishing and tour boats for as far away as Long Beach. it still took over 90 minutes to get to the pier in Santa Barbara. The community was great and I will return, but not with this cruise line. We waited close to 3 hours to return to the ship and hundreds of people were forced to wait in the hot sun with temps @ 84+. The ship left this port over an hour later than scheduled or they would have left hundreds in Santa Barbara. San Francisco is a great town. The shore excursion staff were ignorant to the bus tours and provided false information that we thankfully did not follow. Monterrey was a tender port too. This time, the Jewel did a much better job or organizing and responding to the cruisers. The only negative was riding in a stinky fishing boat getting back to the ship. At least there was no waiting this time. Back in the port of Los Angeles (San Pedro), there were more problems with the ship resulting in leaving over 95 minutes late for an excursion. The ship staff forced us to wait 34 minutes in 88 degree heat in the hot sun waiting for our luggage. Once we got our bags and feeling ill, we finally found our tour bus. The tour left late. This forced us to get a cab from Santa Monica to LAX ad pay an additional $50 to get to the airport. I notified the cruise line by email and US mail and as of 10/15/2015, we are still waiting for a reply. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2015
We loved this ship and itinerary. The crew was the best of all the cruises we have taken. We live in California and it was nice to visit port cities we have visited previously by car. No restaurant or parking hassles! Cruising into San ... Read More
We loved this ship and itinerary. The crew was the best of all the cruises we have taken. We live in California and it was nice to visit port cities we have visited previously by car. No restaurant or parking hassles! Cruising into San Francisco under the Golden Gate was awesome! We were met by whales at the entrance of the Bay. That was memorable to say the least. The major attractions are in walking distance for us. We walked to Pier 39 on day one of the two day SF port stop. Day two we walked down to ATT Park passing Cupids Span,The Ferry building and under the Bay Bridge. We took in the waterfront at Santa Barbara and visited the famous Cannery Row and the Monterey Aquarium in Monterey. We walked to these from the ship/tender drop-off point as well. Embarkation was fast but debarkation was different. There were FOUR ships in port which necessitated an additional shuttle bus ride and baggage transfer from Pier 46 back to Pier 91-93. It actually worked pretty well but resulted in us leaving the parking lot around 10am which is at least an hour later than usual. Oh well, just part of the adventure! Read Less
Sail Date: August 2011
Once again, I will make this review short. Simply put this was an awesome cruise and a very nice ship, great food, and the staff were very friendly and great at remembering your name. I went with my Mother, Brother and his Wife and another ... Read More
Once again, I will make this review short. Simply put this was an awesome cruise and a very nice ship, great food, and the staff were very friendly and great at remembering your name. I went with my Mother, Brother and his Wife and another friend and his Wife. We all enjoyed it very much. There are the usual grumpy few staff members that you encounter on every cruise same as passengers. Mexico is a great place to visit and its even better if you can speak a little bit of Spanish that way you can have a little fun in the ports and test out ur communication skills, but you dont need to speak Spanish. A cruise is what you make it, there is no such thing as a bad cruise it just means that it wasnt the best. I will be doing the same ports in April 2012 with my Son, but that will be with Carnival, only because I want to try a different Line out each time!!! Any questions dont hesitate colinneilsen@hotmail.com Read Less
Sail Date: March 2011
This is our first Royal Caribbean cruise and, for many first-timers aboard the Mariner of the Seas, probably our last one. I have never been on cruise where at times it was great and at times it was terrible. Embarkation was horrid ... Read More
This is our first Royal Caribbean cruise and, for many first-timers aboard the Mariner of the Seas, probably our last one. I have never been on cruise where at times it was great and at times it was terrible. Embarkation was horrid unless you were Diamond Plus. To get a perspective, there was a turnover of crew of about 20% at Los Angeles which I believe is an abnormally high number which do not help in crew efficiency. There was an abnormally high number of Diamond Plus members aboard this cruise. RCCL caters to these Diamond Plus members, starting at Embarkation. Guess what, we ended up waiting in very long lines while the Diamond Plus members had to be handled first. Every cruise-line do this, but generally you do not have that many Diamond Plus members except on this cruise. In effect, I felt like I was aboard a Cunard ship where there are two classes of passengers and I was in the lower class. In the previous reviews of this voyage, you can guess who were the Diamond Plus members and who weren't.Originally, I had signed up for a cruise from Rio to San Francisco aboard the Star Princess, but Princess had canceled that cruise and this repositioning cruise came up and the price was hard to resist though the itinerary was not the greatest. However, it allowed us to try Royal Caribbean. The Mariner of the Seas had good reputation for food and if you were to take a 30-day cruise, lousy food would be like torturing yourself. Well, the food started out terrible which I thought because of the crew turnover, it only got to be a little better, but not much. Over time, we followed a few procedures which allowed us to have better food. Number one - eat at the dining room if at all possible. Number two - if you can't eat the MDR, be one of the first ones at the Windjammer. Royal Caribbean has great service at the Windjammer, but the price appears to be the quality of the food. It has great selection, but the price you pay is that the waiters are helping you instead of stirring the food to keep it from drying out or overcooked by the food warmers. Well, after an hour quite a bit of the food is overcooked or dried out in the Windjammer, but if you like salads or the equivalent, you will be happy. Royal Caribbean has a very large salad bar. I find that people who were happy with the food in the Windjammer were eating mostly in the salad bar. People who usually cruised other lines were not very happy with the food. Most unhappy were Celebrity cruisers - well at least it is in the same family, lol. Food in the MDR started out poorly, but was quite good by the time we got to Brazil with alot of good beef and lamb on the 2nd half of the 30 day cruise. It didn't help that the Prime Rib that I received on the first evening had too much baking soda in it. (Why, you use baking soda to tenderize the beef - Chinese restaurants do this quite often, but it leaves the beef tender, but a slightly different texture - but because they use too much flavor and texture was affected quite a bit.) Desserts were not very good unless it was Royal Chocolate cake - most chocolate flavored desserts lacked chocolate - cheesecake lacked cheese. This is the only cruise where I was eating ice cream for desserts. Strange as it may be, desserts were much better during lunch than dinner.We have sailed a 30-day cruise once before. The ship slows down during the day and speed up during the nights. The Mariner of the Seas was traveling from 17 to 19 knots per hour, night or day, which meant it was quite breezy on top deck when people want to sun themselves. There was no problem on the 2nd half of the cruise as there was no sun, just clouds and cooler weather. The ship was wonderful, the cabins were roomy, the entertainment was very good for the most part. It could have been better. The ship had a classical group called the Three Seasons who had a Ukrainian pianist who is world-class. However, instead of playing classical tunes, they were playing popular melodies which is a total waste of their talents. Worst, the Mariner of the Seas just didn't have too many out of way, quiet venues for classical music. Many venues for music allow for leakage from other music venues. Basically, the loudest gets heard.In Ushuaia, Argentina the tender took over 5 hours to offload the passengers.Some passengers did not get ashore until past 12pm. Not very good.In all, how was this cruise? Disappointing or at best a very disfunctional cruise. Many people came aboard in Los Angeles expecting a 30-day cruise, what they got was 2 2-week cruises where almost every non-Royal Caribbean cruiser was complaining or were very disappointed and most Royal Caribbean cruisers apologizing that this is not the way Royal Caribbean operates. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2011
Left PHL on USAir at 6:55 AM the day before the cruise just beating out an expected snowfall predicted to leave about 1-2." Plane had to be deiced first which was a unique experience for me. Great flight to Phoenix and after only ... Read More
Left PHL on USAir at 6:55 AM the day before the cruise just beating out an expected snowfall predicted to leave about 1-2." Plane had to be deiced first which was a unique experience for me. Great flight to Phoenix and after only about a 55 minute wait, flew on to LAX. My daughter and granddaughter flew a later United Flight and had to sit on the tarmac for two hours because the snow was falling faster and the deicing line grew longer. We stayed at the San Pedro Doubletree. Very nice room and the staff were exceptionally great. We used their courtesy shuttle to eat at a nearby seafood restaurant for dinner. Not a remarkable meal but all of us were famished after a very long day of traveling. Their shuttle also delivered us to the pier, also for free. Arrived at the pier at about 10:45 AM and dropped the bags off with a porter. With Set Sail pass in hand, signed in easily and quickly. After receiving Sea Pass cards, we were directed to have seats until allowed to board at 11 AM. Out of all my cruises, this was the fastest, best organized embarkation of all. In talking to some of the Royal check in staff at the pier, they were very sad that Royal would no longer be a presence in LA. I 'm sure that there will be a negative economic impact effect on all the restaurants and hotels nearby the port area, too. DAY 2: Sea Day. Although were many miles south of LA, the temperature on deck was only about 50 degrees at about 9 AM. Hopefully, it will warm up later on in the day for some sunning and perhaps time in the pool. DAY 3: Cabo San Lucas: We were allowed to begin tendering from ship to shore at about 10 am. For the amount of passengers on board, the process proceeded smoothly and rapidly. When we got to the pier, we contracted with a water taxi (Brayan Tours) to take my daughter and granddaughter to snorkel at Lover's Beach then taking my wife and I to another beach to sit, soak up some sun, and have some tropical drinks. At a prearranged time, our tour guide would pick up daughter and granddaughter, then come for wife and I so we could all return to the tender. At the tender/port area, we enjoyed a very filling Mexican lunch. Although the food was pretty good, the service was s-l-o-w. There were two very long lines waiting to be tendered. One was for the Mariner and the other for a Carnival ship. The line moved along quickly since there seemed to be an infinite number of tenders operating for both ships. Cabo seemed to be a very desolate place with the exception of beautiful rock formations jutting out of the water. It's not fair for me to harshly judge Cabo since we only got to see a small slice of the place. Day 4: Mazatlan: The day dawned sunny and bright. With absolutely no plans or organized excursions through the ship, we contracted with a taxi to show us the sights and visit a nice beach. What a great day it turned out to be! Our driver was Martin Salazar, a true gentleman and all around great person! He took us first to Royal Villas Resort where we enjoyed a very quiet, very beautiful place full of wonderful amenities for our use. The only charge was for any food or beverages you wanted. The entire staff at Royal was wonderful and pleasant, catering to our every whim. On the beach were parasailing, jet skis, and horseback riding. The ubiquitous beach vendors weren't allowed on the property's terrace which made it all the more "civilized." When Mr. Salazar picked us up at the agreed upon time, we were anxious to get a bite to eat. We asked him to suggest a good place and he recommended Lamar Seafood Restaurant to us. This place was another winner! We had a table overlooking the water, the music was quiet and low-keyed, and the food excellent. After our meal, we were taken on a short tour in the hills overlooking the water. Mr. Salazar pointed out some homes owned by Americans and others and gave us an idea of current real estate values. For about $500,000 really nice place with a stunning view could be all yours. Mazatlan was a shining jewel in my opinion. Naturally, there are all kinds of touristy places since ships come here, but there was a quaint, Mediterranean kind of charm despite the fact it's in Mexico. Every person we met went out of their way to be friendly and hospitiple to the cruise ship visitors. This wasn't a paste on type smile but genuine friendliness. DAY 5: Puerto Vallarta: Out of all the destinations on this voyage, this was by far my favorite. You could spend weeks here and not see 1% of all the beauty or experience all the things there are to do. Puerto Vallarta is both modern yet quaint in so many ways. Like Mazatlan, there seemed to be a certain colonial and Mediterranean flavor to this city. After debarking the ship, we contracted with a taxi driver to show us the sights, take us to a beach, and then to a restaurant before returning to the ship. We had Pedro Vargas for over six hours at a cost of $100 for the four of us. It didn't seem exhorbanant to pay $25/pp but was told later it could have been cheaper. I felt that I got more than my money's worth, however. After taking us high into the hills where the film 'Predator' was filmed, we sat down for a quick snack and a few beers. The bulk of the day was spent at a beautiful beach at Mismaloya Inlet, south of Barcelo Hotel. There, we enjoyed the sun, surf, and spectacular scenery. My wife, daughter, and granddaughter had manicures and pedicures while I had a neck and back massage, all for a very reasonable price. While there, we met Adrian, owner of Sea Adventure, who gave us honest and valuable advice about what things should cost, inside information about Puerto Vallarta, and so much more! I enjoyed talking to him so much that when we next return to this place, I'll either call him or email to have him set up a custom itinerary. He's the type of person you trust instantly and very likable. We wanted some "real deal" Mexican food. Adrian recommended we try Jacalito which wasn't too far from the beach. Our lunch was among the best Mexican food we've ever had. The total bill, for four, was just $50 and well worth it. Keep in mind, Jacalito wasn't a fancy place but a real, down to earth, rustic, quiet place rather off the beaten track. We got back to the ship at about 6 PM as the day faded into evening. I saw the Mariner bathed in lights which was a sight I've never seen before. It seemed 10X larger in the early evening with all her lights on. Quite a sight. Everyone in Puerto Vallarta knew this was the last visit for Mariner and they were visibly sad. Even though January is part of their high season, many have told me that business was just a fraction of what it used to be. More on this further in the review under "Final Thoughts." Day 6: Sea Day: Weather still very warm and most of the day was spent by the pool soaking up the wonderful sunlight. Day 7: Sea day: Moving north, the day wasn't as warm as previously so not much time was spent on deck. It was a good day for just 'goofing off' and enjoying the final hours of the cruise. We all attended "Captain's Corner" to learn some behind the scenes things about the ship. Afterwards, there was a nice question/answer period with the captain. Day 8: Debarkation: We chose the Express Check Out where you take all your bags off the ship yourself. This worked out wonderfully because it saved time retrieving your luggage at the pier. Since we had a rather early flight back to PHL from LAX, we had caught a taxi within minutes of leaving the Mariner and got to the airport in plenty of time. Our flight left exactly on time and actually arrived in PHL about 20 minutes early. The whole debarkation process, including clearing customs, took perhaps 15 minutes. Food: This is always the most subjective part of any cruise review so your mileage may vary. Generally, the quality of food was usually good to very good. On two nights there was prime rib and we got very nice cuts of meat done exactly how we asked. The Windjammer fare wasn't too bad with a very long list of selections that seemed to please everyone. Many have addressed how food quality has declined. My biggest gripe is how bad the coffee was. At one time, they served Seattle's Best ship-wide and it was something I really looked forward to at breakfast. However, whatever they're using now seems to be some generic bargain brand and had little, if any taste. Their juices seemed a bit more watered down and weak compared to years past. Final thoughts: Sailing on Royal's last Mexican Riviera cruise was bittersweet. All my cruises have been on Royal and they have always been perfect. The staff was awesome, as usual, and that's something that always has me coming back. The sad part of the cruise is that Mexican ports of call aren't packing the cruise ships, so more lines will probably concentrate more on other itineraries, primarily in the Caribbean. Although Royal's move to reposition the Mariner was a "business decision," I think it's because travelers are increasingly wary of news about violence and the drug trade in Mexico. I've heard from other passengers that Royal is very worried about liability issues should something happen to their passengers while on a ship sponsored excursion. Although this was my first visit to the Mexican Riviera, t no time did I feel unsafe, threatened, or in any danger. As in any trip, visitors should be wary of their surroundings and be very careful if going somewhere far off the beaten path. Should we not go somewhere because there's a very, very slim chance of violence? With that sort of reasoning, maybe we shouldn't fly since there's a minute chance of crashing. So, no matter where we go or what we do, there's inherent risk involved. Since I enjoyed this vacation and itinerary more than any other, I will make plans on returning next year. I'm toying with the idea of staying at a good, all-inclusive hotel as a base then visiting various sights by taxi. Or, perhaps it will be another cruise with a different cruise line. I am still very loyal to Royal and am sorry to see them leaving this area for greener (more profitable) pastures. If anyone would like further information about my experiences, or additional information not included in this review, please feel free to email me at 'mystyou (at) Comcast.net' Happy cruising! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2011
I will Start with the transfer service From Lax to the port , on the morning of our embarkation the RC representatives met us right where our travel Agent told us they would be , they had a great big yellow flags to identify them and they ... Read More
I will Start with the transfer service From Lax to the port , on the morning of our embarkation the RC representatives met us right where our travel Agent told us they would be , they had a great big yellow flags to identify them and they where the start of the exceptional service we received on our cruise.One of our party had a very late addition to their booking and had to add a transfer ,it was seamless.Our luggage was taken and we were promptly shuttled to the ship. The checking in process was the one of the parts I was dreading because of our previous experience with Carnival. I was totally shocked ! The whole process from getting dropped off by the shuttle to checking in ,getting our sea pass and boarding the ship was only 15 minutes . Royal Caribbean gets an A+ for boarding procedures. The Ship, I had read a few reviews about how the Mariner was worn out and showing its age, I could not disagree more , I found the ship to be exceptionally clean and up to date with no signs of being old or worn out . We even noticed a maintenance person of some sort noting that a small corner was chipped off of a floor tile . We noticed a couple of times a bulb was burnt out ,only to be replaced by the next morning , it tells me that the crew was very intent on keeping up the maintenance. Also let me add that we tried to see every part of the ship and could not believe how tasteful all of the decor was . Again an A+ is in order for the ship. The Service, This was one of two major differences we found between Carnival and Royal Caribbean . We either got lucky and had the best State room attendant and waiters on board or RC holds them to a higher standard than Carnival, I think it is the standards held by RC , because others in our party had other attendants and waiters and had the same service. Our Stateroom attendant Vivian could not have been nicer nor more helpful. Our waiters in the main dining room where Clavain and Mahesh they were simply fantastic, they helped make a secret Marriage proposal go off without a hitch ,as well as provided exceptional service at dinner , I truly feel that the three above mentioned employees are an asset to RC. The Food , this is the other difference between Carnival and RC . Simply put I thought the food was awesome , we ate in the windjammer every day for breakfast, and the dining room all but one night for dinner , we did get a burger at Johnny Rockets, and did eat at Chops Grille one night. We never had a bad meal or bad experience anywhere. Food A ++ Read Less
Sail Date: January 2011
My husband & I were passengers on Mariner from LA around Cape Horn to Santos, Brazil. RCI has changed drastically since we sailed a few years ago. They have cost cutting in place - no hair conditioner or lotion - no shower cap on the ... Read More
My husband & I were passengers on Mariner from LA around Cape Horn to Santos, Brazil. RCI has changed drastically since we sailed a few years ago. They have cost cutting in place - no hair conditioner or lotion - no shower cap on the first leg. These items did show up on the second leg. The food was below par - beef too tough to chew - fish either over or under cooked. Very difficult to get any fruit suitable for cold cereal. Windjammer was typical steam table fare - guests were calling it the "trough." I have never heard of passengers moving from one cabin to another having to pack up & put their luggage out by 11PM. We moved from cabin 9342 to 8670. Usually (ALWAYS)the staff move you - Not this time!!!My luggage was lost & I couldn't get any staff to help me. My husband & I searched the decks & found 1 bag all the way forward on deck 7. I went to Guest Relations to ask for help. The young lady rolled her eyes, sucked her teeth & said "What do you want me to do? It's not my fault." That was the attitude from Guest Relations for most of the cruise - very condescending & unpleanant. My luggage showed up at 9PM. The Ice Show was outstanding!! Skaters very talented & enthusiastic! The rest of the entertainment left much to be desired. Like the last stop on the Vauddeville Circuit. The production shows were very low end - the singers seemed bored. There is much more that could be said - surfice it to say this was not our first RCI cruise - it is certainly our last. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2011
South America on Mariner of the Seas, 2011 This cruise was booked a year in advance and it seemed to take a long time for this day to arrive. We had an uneventful flight from Vancouver to Los Angeles. When we arrived at LAX our ... Read More
South America on Mariner of the Seas, 2011 This cruise was booked a year in advance and it seemed to take a long time for this day to arrive. We had an uneventful flight from Vancouver to Los Angeles. When we arrived at LAX our shuttle left before all the seats were full so it was not a long wait and we had a pleasant trip to the port. EMBARKATION The lines for check in were very long but one of the staff noticed my cane and moved us to the handicapped line where only two people were ahead of us. It was a quick and efficient embarkation for us. We learned later that some people had a very long wait before being allowed on the ship. Rumour was that 150 people were not allowed on the ship because they did not have Brazilian visas! Bill talked to a woman on board with her husband's luggage and medications but he was denied boarding. RCI had not to our knowledge stated the need for visas. There will be more people forced off the ship in Montevideo, about 100 we have been told. We were also surprised that there was no welcome aboard drink as Celebrity has for it's cruisers. Not even juice or ice water. STATEROOM We did not receive our Diamond welcome amenity. Our stateroom was ready at 1:00 and luggage arrived by 5:00. The stateroom was clean with a lot of storage space. I liked the shelves in the closet! The balcony was small but private. The room was well lit including bedside reading lamps. The promised extension cord and distilled water for my BiPap machine arrived later that evening. The bed was comfortable and we slept well. SAILAWAY PARTY There were a lot of cruise critic members at the sail away party by the pool but it was so noisy that it was hard to have a conversation. We left early and ordered room service dinner. PROS AND CONS, MOSTLY CONS From the beginning we found ourselves comparing Mariner to the Celebrity ships that we have enjoyed. Most of the comparisons were not favourable. Overall the ship was beautiful and public areas were well maintained and clean. The staff, with the exception of front desk and security, were very pleasant. They really tried to please even though there was obvious unhappiness with their treatment by RCI. The ship had no daily newspaper and the only "news" was from CNN. This meant a month with little outside news. The Daily Compass frequently had misinformation and was poorly edited. Port information was nonexistent. There were no maps of ports or any mention of geography, history or culture. The library had very few books to the point that passengers posted a note on the door asking people to donate their books after reading them. The only toiletries were small bars of Chinese soap and shampoo in the dispenser. People with sensitive skin should bring their own soap. Bill had a rash that seemed to be related to the soap. When he quit using the ship's soap the rash went away. Conditioner and shower gel arrived on day 15. There were no post cards of the ship, stationary or pens in the desk and when we asked at the front desk we were told that this is a new cutback and not an oversight. When I went to the desk for paper and envelopes the staff member did not want to give me any. When I insisted that I needed 6 sheets of paper and 6 envelopes he very carefully counted them out. He said that the shortage is part of the cut backs. The stateroom attendant did not have a card holder with her name and contact information on the desk and we did not meet her until the following day. There were no water pitchers in the state room and when we asked, we were told that they were not available. It was suggested that we could purchase bottled water at $4.50 a bottle. Our solution was to order 4 glasses of ice water and an ice bucket from room service. We kept the extra ice bucket in the fridge to make the ice last longer! The coffee on board was terrible! We stayed with hot tea and our morning Diamond cappuccino. As the trip progressed we noticed that most stateroom linens were stained, frayed and some even had holes in them. One towel was so worn that we threw it away. Voice mail was not working and was not to be repaired during the cruise so we needed to hand deliver messages concerning tours. Drinking water from the bars and from the places on deck 5 tasted musty and we could not drink it. The ship keeps running out of basics such as tomato juice (unless you want to pay bar price for it as a mixer), V-8, cream cheese, sour cream and even $1 bills and $10 bills! There are no packages of Splenda and they provide a less expensive type of sweetener. There are no sales of alcohol and mixers for use in the stateroom. The taps in the bars seem to be broken and it is not possible to get most brands of draft beer. The ship will not deliver liquor purchased on board until the guest has final departure from the ship. The comforter on our bed is very heavy and we asked for a light blanket instead. There are none! We had expected that television sets would be modern but many people complained that they had old sets like ours with poor reception and poor picture quality. We expressed our unhappiness during the mid cruise survey and added four pages of comments. This was supposed to be responded to within 24 hours. Days later we received a phone call at 9:30 at night after a long strenuous port day. We were sleeping and considered this late call as harassment! RCI had decided not to honour the on board credit agreement which was part of our package. We received the first $200 but nothing for the second leg of the trip. Even though we have it in writing they say that money does not exist! CRUISE CRITIC PARTY The cruise critic party was very poorly handled. There were about 150 attending the event but there were no officers to welcome us aboard. RCI provided a small gift (lanyard) for each person. The raffle gifts included key chains, 3 tee shirts, 2 RCI umbrellas, RCI bags and two bottles of sparkling wine. This seemed very paltry considering the numbers of people who had registered for the party. The person distributing these trinkets seemed to be embarrassed. On the positive side, it was nice to meet some of our shore excursion mates and to put names with faces. During later conversations we found that other guests also felt that RCI had let us down. ENTERTAINMENT AND SERVICE Theatre seating was comfortable but crowded. There seemed to be good sight lines through the theatre. The first performance was a group of Beatles imitators and they were not very good. It would have been more enjoyable if they had lip synched rather than trying to perform. Later I saw a ventriloquist who put on an enjoyable show and also a classical violin and piano trio which was excellent. During the first leg of the trip we found the dining room staff excellent. Not so during the second half. Throughout the trip we enjoyed the staff at Vintages and in the Dragon's lair. The Dragon" Lair is one of the nicest Diamond benefits with complementary wine and drinks at reduced prices. The servers were excellent and seemed to be tipped quite generously for their friendly service. CABO SAN LUCAS In Cabo we walked around the port for a while and spent some quality time with Scotty Nesbitt, the owner of the beach bar and restaurant "no worrys"! This business has free WI-FI and the owner is such a pleasant young man who sees that his customers are happy. He typically stops to talk with his customers and we enjoy his company whenever we are in Cabo. It is a very pleasant, relaxing and scenic water front spot to people watch, catch up on email and enjoy a bucket of beer. It will definitely be on our list of places to visit again next time we are there. Scotty emailed us later in the cruise to thank us for visiting his establishment and to ask about the cruise. PUERTO VALLARTA In Puerto Vallarta we were given more than a cursory search by port authorities before going through ship security. We don't know what they were looking for but they carefully went through purses, backpacks and shopping bags as well as using the wand to detect any metal. Ship security was as usual when we boarded. ICE SHOW The following day I managed to find a seat in Studio B for the ice show. It is a very good show with beautiful, colourful costumes based on a circus theme. It is amazing what the skaters could accomplish on such a small ice surface. This was very good entertainment and the audience was very appreciative. Bill went to see it later and took some photos. The skaters are primarily Canadian with Russian Irina Boyarintseva as the headliner. Bill realized he had lost his Nikon lens cap and reported it to the desk. Within 20 minutes it had been found and delivered to the desk. The staff gets some things right. INTERNET There were many complaints about the slowness of the connections, the old machines on the ship and (a cutback) no staff available to help in the computer station. At times there was simply no service at all. DRAGON'S LAIR Most evenings we enjoyed our Diamond status by going down to the Dragon's Lair for conversation with new friends and complimentary wine before dinner. The lounge is designed as a medieval castle with stained glass and dragons. The staff in the Lair were wonderful! Most people left the lounge carrying a glass of wine to dinner. Although we had bought a 12 bottle wine package, this allowed us to have the package stretch for the entire trip and we even brought a bottle of wine home. LIQUOR Typically on a back to back sailing, liquor purchases are delivered on the last night. Not so with RCI as they kept purchases (and seized bottles) until the passenger disembarked the ship. They even seized one bottle of cold local beer which I was taking back to the ship for Bill. TEMPERATURES Every day as we sail further south we can notice the temperatures getting warmer. So far the temperatures have been pleasant but tomorrow is supposed to be 35 C. PUNTARENAS We were supposed to dock in Puntarenas, Costa Rica but were diverted to Puerto Caldera, about six miles away. Apparently the area in Puntarenas was not dredged and the Captain is afraid the water is too shallow for Mariner. We have no tour booked and had planned to wander around town so this should not be a problem for us. But it was a problem! There is nothing in Puerto Caldera other than containers and there are no tourist facilities. None of the people speak English and the dock area is like a steam bath! Bill could not take the heat and went back aboard the ship. People were very angry that RCI did not provide any transportation to Puntarenas. I met some people from the ship and joined them on one of the few non ship tours available. It was a 5 hour tour for $25 and I was happy to be included. The bus was air conditioned! The first stop was to visit wild monkeys. The people have been setting food out for them for years and the monkeys come out of the jungle to eat and then return to the wild. Next we stopped at the Tarcoles River to see the huge salt water crocodiles. There were many and they were monsters! We then passed through several small towns and at one we stopped to watch children perform folkloric dances. We completely enjoyed meeting the local people and seeing the varied scenery. For lunch we stopped at a fruit stand. I had a whole papaya for lunch ($1). The store keeper peeled it, seeded and sliced it and put it in a plastic bag. Very refreshing. EQUATOR Sea days now and we are enjoying ship board life. We crossed the equator and watched the King Neptune ceremony. We are now "shell backs" instead of slimy polliwogs. The Captain had never crossed the equator and the crew enjoyed inducting him by pouring and smearing him with awful looking gunk! We will receive our "crossing the equator" certificates tonight. HAND SANITIZERS We will be in Peru tomorrow and I went to a lecture on the ancient native Peruvians. We will be anxious to meet our tour guide, Renato, tomorrow. Bill went with me to a second lecture in the series but we left because so many people were coughing and sneezing. Even with hand sanitizers available and their use encouraged at the entrance to restaurants, there is no supervision inside the restaurants. This really needs to be changed or more people are going to get sick. WILDLIFE We saw whales at a distance and I watched several dolphins leaping as much as 5 or 6 feet in the air and really putting on a show! Two of them swam right up to the ship just below our stateroom. Also saw a large feeding frenzy, possibly a school of tuna. A bit later there were hundreds of small silvery fish jumping in the bow wave. We are very relaxed and doing a lot of reading. LIMA Renato was our guide and is a very personable and friendly fellow with good English and a lot of information about the area. His van is air conditioned and he has a driver who stays with the van while we are away. If planning to book with him it would be good to ask him to bring bottled water or provide your own. Also be sure to have an idea of what you most want to see and how long you want the tour to last. We very much enjoyed seeing the cathedral, monastery and catacombs. The library was the absolute highlight. It was a long, high ceilinged room with skylights. The shelves were filled with very, very old manuscripts and books. One of our cruise mates gasped and said she felt like she had been transported to a Harry Potter movie set! Renato told us the story of a very large statue of a soldier on horseback placed in a small park next to the river. It is a statue of Pizarro made by the Spaniards. Initially it was placed in front of the cathedral but the bishop would not allow it to remain there and it was moved to the Presidential Palace. The President also did not want it on the property because Pizarro had murdered so many Peruvians. Spain refused to send a ship to take it back to Spain and so it was moved to the garbage dump next to the river in hopes that the river would flood and wash it away with the garbage. At the palace we stopped to watch a traditional folkloric dance occurring within the gates. We were kept back from the gate and the heavy fence by soldiers. They were spaced about 10 feet apart all along the sidewalk in front of the palace. They were armed with AK47s! There are many, many police and soldiers in Lima! We spent a lot of time in traffic jams! Finally we just got tired of riding and seeing nothing but traffic and asked to be taken back to the ship. The beach drive back to the ship is very nice with rugged cliffs on one side of the road and the ocean on the other. Lima is a very clean, progressive city and they are developing a lot of parks. The sites of interest are widely separated. Back at the ship we noticed a huge Naval presence. We even saw a submarine base there. The fishing fleet in Lima is huge! ARICA Arica at last! We had arranged a private tour for eight people with Victor of Sertours to take us through the Atacama Desert, the driest in the world and up to the Alta Plano and into the Andes. Everyone in our group made it off the ship early and we met Ivan, our guide and his driver. Victor was there to see us off and met us again on our return. The Mercedes Sprinter van was clean and roomy. Everyone in the group was friendly and looking forward to the tour. Since we had organized the tour, people left the front seat for Bill and me. The scenery was spectacular. The road from the coast was very twisty. Many times it doubled back on itself as we climbed rapidly to 15000 feet. The mountains were very dry and barren but the intense green of the Luta Valley contrasted with this background and was beautiful. The tour was to include a Chilean breakfast and we were curious about what would be served. We stopped at a cute cafe which was very clean and spacious. Our group were the only customers. The man and his wife who owned the cafe did not speak English but seemed very friendly and happy to have us there. Breakfast, however, was a disappointment. The meal consisted of two buns split in half. Two were covered with a home made cheese spread and the other two halves with mashed bananas. There were two of these plates for the four people at our table. There was also a plate of cookies and coca tea. In both directions on the road we saw some terrible accidents involving huge transport trucks. There were certainly multiple fatalities as the scenes were terrible. We were very happy with our driver's careful driving. The weather became foggy and misty and actually rained which was only the second time in eight years that our guide had seen rain there. Unfortunately the weather made it impossible to see all the geoglyphs on the hillsides. Souvenir stops were made in three places and we were able to buy some lovely souvenirs made of llama wool and some wall hangings of llama hides. Altitude became a problem for several of us. It is amazing how quickly the lack of oxygen hits and how completely it disables you. The craft stalls were only about 4 metres from our van but by the time I walked over I became dizzy and things quickly started to go black. I knew there was a chair only about four feet from where I was standing but also knew I could not walk that far. Bill grabbed me and held me up until Ivan and the driver came over to give me oxygen and help me back to the bus. He poured some coca loco on a towel and I used it as you would smelling salts. When I grabbed Bill for support I did not realize that he was also having problems. We were surprised to have any effects from the altitude as we had been taking medication for two days to prevent it. At the second stop I made it out of the bus before deciding that it was not possible for me to walk to the craft stalls. Bill is responsible for finding most of the nice souvenirs we brought back. Other people also needed oxygen and they had terrible headaches and nausea. Our guide had brought "coca loco" which the Indians use to prevent altitude sickness. We poured some on a towel and kept smelling it and it did seem to help. Coca is used in making cocaine! Lunch was in a small town, Putre, in a cute little cafe. It was a very traditional place and the people spoke no English. Most of us had coca tea. The dishes served were a llama stew, a chicken dish and a vegetarian dish. I tasted the llama but found it tough. Ivan, our guide, contributed two bottles of red Chilean wine. Only one bottle was opened and shared and the group "toasted" me for organizing the tour. They also gave me the other bottle which was promptly seized back at the ship! At one souvenir stop we met Lolly, the resident llama, who was looking for a handout. Ivan had to shoo her away before she climbed into the van. There was another animal there which did not like people. It was stomping the ground and had its ears back. It spit at a lady and she took it full in the face! We saw herds of alpacas and llamas as the van drove past but Lolly was the only one we got close to. Everyone became very excited when we saw the first vicunas. Soon they were ignored as there were so many. The vicunas are wild and are protected while alpacas and llamas are owned by people. At Lago Chungara, the highest lake in the world, we saw flamingos. They were not very noticeable until they flew and then the colour was beautiful! The Andes were more spectacular than we had expected and very rugged. To demonstrate the effects of altitude pressure Ivan took an empty water bottle and sealed it while we were at 4,500 metres. At sea level he showed it to us and the change in altitude had caused the plastic bottle to flatten. Everyone was happy to arrive safely back at the ship after a long and tiring day. We now had two sea days before reaching Valparaiso. VALPARAISO We woke early arriving in Valparaiso. The city is pretty with multicoloured houses clinging to the hill sides. We took a taxi to the top to see the view and do some shopping. The prices however were more than double what we had paid the Indians in the Andes. We used one of the very old ascenseors to go back down to sea level. Bill and I were the only passengers in the car and were able to move around, These old elevators have been used for years and there are only a few left in working condition. They are now a UNESCO site. While walking back to the ship a German Shepherd mix adopted us. He followed us for nearly a mile. He was very street savvy about traffic. When we crossed the street at an intersection he sat on the curb and waited until the traffic had cleared and then caught up with us. At one point we stopped at a street side kiosk and I bought a package of some kind of sweet roll. I did not see any packages of meat products. He was lying down waiting and I put the food between his paws. He just looked at me but was not interested in the food. After that though he barked at anyone who came near us! He followed us all the way back to the ship and laid down in the shade to wait for his next friend. The next morning we learned that three of our crew had been robbed at knife point. One had been cut while trying to defend his friend. Also, a passenger had her necklace ripped off her neck while on shore. LATINOS HAVE ARRIVED This is the beginning of the second part of the cruise. It seems that the entire dining staff has been rotated. The only familiar face was William and he always takes a minute to come over to say hello to us. The Latinos have boarded and the entire atmosphere has changed. Portuguese is now the first language on board. Spanish type music is played in the elevators and the dining room. The main dining room now had three buffets set up. The South Americans seem very different from the North Americans. They certainly know how to have fun! One day there were a couple of hundred people dancing on the promenade deck. The entertainment there is now also Latino. Unfortunately, many of them smoke and it is not possible for sensitive non-smokers to be in those areas. The women especially dress very differently from the North Americans with very short skirts, tight clingy fabrics and show a lot of cleavage! Some of them are very beautiful. and they all seem to radiate confidence. We're not in Kansas anymore. MUSTER During muster for the second part of the cruise, we reported so that our names would be checked off and then went to the dining room to sit. The sound system and crew there provided the same information and it avoided standing on the deck for more than 30 minutes. Many other people had the same idea and the room was soon fairly crowded. MORE ENTERTAINMENT This evening I went to the casino with the free coupons from the ship and won (and kept) $50. Next went to the promenade deck to watch the parade. While it only lasted for 10 minutes it was one of the highlights of ship activities. The costumes were beautiful and one of the girls was even on stilts! It was a Disney like production. CRUISE CRITIC PARTY Bill had contacted the new cruise director prior to the second meet and mingle party to tell him that people were most unhappy with the initial one. When we went to the lounge for the second party it was full of people who had ignored the private function signs and refused to leave. One group of Germans was particularly rude as they tried to talk louder to drown out the cruise director and became quite disruptive. Bill told them to be quiet or leave but of course they ignored that and became even louder. There were still no officers to welcome us but there were many more raffle gifts SEA DAYS AND CRUISING THE FJORDS The wind picked up and we had high waves. The ship was now two hours behind schedule due to these conditions. Captain Per came on the P.A. to tell us that the winds are 50 knots and the seas are 6 to 7 metres. He might keep the ship in the fjords and not come out to the open ocean again until we reach Ushuaia. All of the outside decks had been closed. It is very important for me to have a cane or walking stick to help maintain balance in these conditions. We had a room service dinner but it arrived with no silverware! A call back still did not produce any silver ware and by that time, dinner was cold. I called and told them that the food was inedible and to come and pick it up. The next day we received a note of apology and a plate of chocolate covered strawberries. We enjoyed watching the fjords slip by. They are not at all what we had expected. There is very little snow and so far, no glaciers. The hillsides are covered with some scrub brush and a lot of rock. It is interesting but not nearly as pretty as our wild British Columbia coast. Captain Per overtook and passed the Regent Seven Seas Mariner, the same ship which has visited our home town of Campbell River. For a while we ran parallel to each other. We did not see any glaciers. There has been a lot of bird life but no other large marine life noted since seeing the sea lions in Los Angeles. HEADING TO USHUAIA We woke up in big water again, back on the Pacific Coast and heading south. Tomorrow is Ushuaia and we have some concerns. Our tour with the penguins was due to leave at 8:00 a.m. As Diamond level we were supposed to have priority tenders but today I found out that RCI has changed its mind. They will only provide this for suite guests. The tender tickets are supposed to be given out on deck 5 at 6:30. I got up and went downstairs at 5:30 and there were already people waiting ahead of me! I managed to get tickets for the first tender! The government allows only one company, Pira Tours, to take tourists to the rookery on the island. Only 20 people at a time are allowed to go and only two trips will be made while our ship is in port. Well, the tenders made it to shore and we had an incredible day with the Penguins! It took 90 minutes to drive to the Estancia Harburton. That gave us a chance to see a lot of the Argentinean country side. We were taken across the Beagle Channel in a rigid inflatable and in ten minutes we were on the beach. We were the first group to be allowed on the island today. The Island has about 15000 penguins and it seemed they all came to greet us! They are not at all shy or aggressive, just really endearing little animals. We saw both Magellenic and Gentoo penguins from chicks to adults. The chicks are only about three weeks old but are nearly full size. The skuas were on the island as well. These are a predatory bird similar to a gull. They eat the penguin eggs and the chicks. Now that the chicks are larger they are safer unless they wander away from the flock.. While we were on the island the wind continued to blow and it was cold. The sun was out and had some warmth but could not overcome the wind chill. Everyone in our group was dressed suitably for the weather. As we walked over the island we had to carefully watch our footing. The penguins had dug burrows all over and we often saw chicks peeping out from the entrances. In one place a board had been placed over the burrow as it was right on one of the paths. There are countless trails through the tall grasses to the beach. Amazing how fast these creatures can swim! They are slow and awkward while on land. CAPE HORN The Captain approached to within a kilometre of Cape Horn and then circumnavigated the island. Bill was on deck to get photographs when the Captain cleared the decks. While on deck, however, Bill had his photo taken by the ship's photographer and it is an excellent photo! Just after that Captain Per ordered everyone inside as the weather deteriorated. Winds picked up to 55 knots on the north end then increased to 60 to 65 knots on the south end. The waves were huge. Captain Per was exuberant! He wanted it to storm as we went around the horn! "Yah, just like it should be around Cape Horn, Yah!" SHIPBOARD LIFE Lunch in the main dining room was bizarre. Bill ordered fried catfish and I ordered oriental chicken stir fry. When the meal arrived Bill had (farmed) salmon and I had a completely different chicken dish. The waiter said that he had given us the wrong menu and so he substituted without asking us. It was time for a small lecture! He continued to hover over us and was quite concerned that we did not eat. Nothing else on the menu appealed to us. We finally had to shoo him away. The menu was repeated every week and by this time few items appealed. The quality of the food was poor. The Captain's reception was very crowded. The people who sat at our table were very unfriendly not making eye contact or responding to conversation. After a very few minutes we left to join our friends in the Dragon's Lair. A much more comfortable setting. The Dragon's Lair has a club like feel and you feel welcome to sit with any group there. MONTEVIDEO Montevideo was our last port of call, with Marta Marquez as our guide. We had arranged a small private tour with a 10:00 starting time. Everyone in our group was ready on time and we saw the sign with our name on it. The person holding the sign was not Marta. In addition Marta had sold four more seats in the van and the people inside the van had been waiting for an hour as she had also changed the starting time for the tour. We had promised our group of eight that we would not fill the van so that everyone would have plenty of room during the tour. Marta had agreed to this but at a higher price which was agreeable to everyone in our group. Bill and I left and the others in our group made their own decisions whether to continue the tour. Marta had been recommended on cruise critic by others who had taken her tour. We were completely caught off guard by her poor judgement in changing the tour without contacting us directly. Greed? We could never recommend her services to any of our friends! Bill and I completely enjoyed our day. Montevideo is a fun city to walk around with its pedestrian only streets, small shops and street venders. We walked through the Puerto Mercado (amazing!) and shopped for souvenirs. Then went back to the ship. The area is well policed and feels safe. We went out again in the afternoon and ran into Elmer and the other bartender from Vintages. They were some of our favourite people on the ship and we walked with them until we were out of the port area. We also stopped in a side walk cafe for a beer. We went ashore again in the afternoon and took the free shuttle to the Leather Factory. I was surprised that it is right downtown on Independence Square. We rode upstairs on one of the very old metal cage elevators! Had not seen one in many years! After a few minutes of browsing we took the stairs out. We walked into the centre of the square to General Artigas mausoleum. It was a very large dark underground building and it was kept very dim inside. There is a dark marble walkway all the way around the urn. His ashes are in a very large gold urn flanked by an honour guard of two soldiers. Back outside we found the large flea market and antique market. It was fun to look there and I would have been happy to spend hours there. Bill however was not feeling well and we found a spot for him to sit while I spent just a bit longer looking. Then we found an outdoors bar and had a cold local beer. A friend from the cruise ship wandered past and we invited him to join us. We finally returned to the Leather Factory for the shuttle back to the ship. MORE CONS We were so tired of the dining room menus and our wait staff on this second part of the cruise that against our better judgment we went to the ship's buffet. The wait staff on this second part of the cruise lacked personality and seem poorly trained. At the buffet the food was even worse than in the dining room and much of it had been sitting on the steam tables much too long. We watched people handling various pieces of cutlery and plates and then putting them back in the containers. They also repeatedly picked up fruit and then put it back. We mentioned this behaviour to the lady at the hand sanitizer machines. She was always ensuring that everyone entering the dining room use the sanitizers. They also really need staff posted inside the restaurant to monitor people's behaviour. We can't use our balcony because of cigar smoke. Since the South Americans have boarded there have been a lot of comments about smoke on the balcony, in the casino and on the Grand Promenade. Our room attendant and ten other crew members were put off the ship because they didn't have Brazilian visas. This was only two days before tips. I accidentally ran into her on deck five and asked her to come to our stateroom so we could give her money. But most of the people on our deck had no idea this was happening. She was obviously concerned because she didn't know where she would be staying or even if the group would be booked into the same hotel. Of course our new room steward was Portuguese! Not a nice thing for RCI to do. We dreaded the long flights home. I waited in line for a long time to get our passports. Finally they asked for and repeated our names correctly before handing me the passports. I looked at the top one and it was mine and walked back to our room where we quickly realized that they had given us someone else's passport instead of Bill's. I knew the lady and tried to contact her with no response so I went back down, cut through all of the people waiting in line and found her standing at the desk. They had been unsuccessfully looking for her passport for more than ten minutes and she was beginning to panic. I should not have been so trusting and should have checked both passports but this should never have happened. Such relief! HOMEWARD BOUND The ride to the airport took almost three hours. Sao Paulo is not what I had expected. It is the world's third largest city and seems to go on forever. We passed mile after mile of terrible slums. Extreme poverty and very poor living conditions. The huts of tin leaned against each other. Later we passed an area that looked like projects followed by more slums. Any unoccupied space was very dense jungle. As we climbed into the mountains it was like being in a cloud forest. There were three very long and very dark narrow tunnels. The roadside had huge drop offs, hundreds of feet! The jungle areas had many thick canopies of a beautiful pink flowering tree. These were, I believe, the Brazilian Walnut. From a distance the flowers looked like a dense carpet of impatiens. Just beautiful! We will never cruise on RCCL again and would not recommend it to our friends. Now we are beginning plans for the Alaska B2B in May! This will be on Celebrity and we hope the RCI cut backs do not extend to Celebrity and Azamara. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2011
On 1/16/11 my husband and I boarded the Royal Caribbean ship named the Mariner of the seas for a 17 day tour from Los Angeles to Chile, First I would like to say we scheduled all our plans through Royal Caribbean including flights to ... Read More
On 1/16/11 my husband and I boarded the Royal Caribbean ship named the Mariner of the seas for a 17 day tour from Los Angeles to Chile, First I would like to say we scheduled all our plans through Royal Caribbean including flights to make certain all our arrangements would be proper. We arrived at the airport on time and were told our flights were rescheduled just a short time sooner which meant we had to pay for a new flight and wait at the airport an additional hour. This cost us time and money which Royal Caribbean refused to reimburse us for. Once on board we noticed there were obvious cut backs to what we are accustomed to with Royal, I will mention as few as possible as to not bore all interested. On our sixth day we determined that Royal had no intentions of heating any of the three pools. We contacted the front desk and spoke to two managers that said it was sea water to the pools which meant only 23 degrees which is the equivalent to the San Francisco Bay where we lived. Even the few children on the ship would not stay in without visibly shivering in a short while. We disputed this sea to pool logic and finally said we would get 100 signatures if necessary asking to heat the pools, which would have a taken less than an hour as 3,000 seniors were also very unhappy with this cost cutting at our inconvenience. We even asked if they would consider heating just the one pool on the adult side with the same answer of (no)! Ironically the very last day of the cruise, day 16, they decided to heat the pools! 3,000 of us suffered for 16 days and were not happy about this better late than never technique. Also the food was appalling on this ship. The beef could not be chewed effectively for swallowing, thereby causing my husband to continually pull it out of his mouth and placing it on its plate. On the forth day of this we decided to go to the main restaurant and try their beef and found it to be just as tough. We spoke to several waiters and informed them of this fact. We were told we could purchase for an additional cost of $14.99 a better choice that we would be able to swallow. The hamburger was worse as it did not appear to be a meat product. This is the tip of the iceberg as far as gross cost cutting was performed systematically on this ship. The majority of conversation we had with at least 100 guests was of how bad the cost cutting was. Takes the fun out of socializing! At least 20 seniors said never again to Royal and explained how much better Holland America was. These are only the majority of folks we talked too imagine the amount of folks who simply say nothing? I am a platinum member and used to think how nice it would be when we became Diamond members, now I am forced to look at alternatives as to other cruise lines and or visiting hotels as to Royal's depressing adventures. Perhaps this misery was a blessing in disguise? To top off our holiday we disembarked the ship in Chile and were bused to the airport and were informed we had a 14 hour wait for our return flight home. Other cruise lines would have had an excursion and drop off at the airport within two hours of flight but not Royal Caribbean. I was raised in proper English fashion where you don't complain but get on with life instead, but I do feel a certain duty to inform the public what to expect from the Royal Cruise lines. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2011
It is so sad to have to express myself sooo badly about this last two cruises on the Mariner. We enthusiastically plan our cruises a year prior of sailing date. Our first disappointment: the prices drop by $300.00 pp on the first leg, RC ... Read More
It is so sad to have to express myself sooo badly about this last two cruises on the Mariner. We enthusiastically plan our cruises a year prior of sailing date. Our first disappointment: the prices drop by $300.00 pp on the first leg, RC does not adjust the prices anymore if it is paid in full, not even the OBC like they used to. On the second leg it drop $200.00pp, that would have been a total of $1,000.00 saving for both of us, that could have well been expended in a future cruise, or take one of the tours.  The food seemed to have been very low quality, fruits were very bad, no taste, hard, not ripe. On the first leg we managed to have a little bit of fun... On the second one we managed to survive with all the rude people that boarded the ship in Valparaiso, no class, no education at all. It got to the point that they would not let you get in on the elevators, the lines to the main dining room on sea days were terrible, 20-30 min. wait, lines all the way to Studio B, so we decided to do the alternative dining. We decided not to go there anymore, Windjammer was the solution.Front desk people very unpleasant, not courteous at all. It was a hassle to have to pack like if we were disembarking after the first leg, they unpack again. Going from a promenade stateroom to a regular inside was very disappointing, our first cabin steward attendant... "The best ever", thumbs up for her (Sheryl Romero), very neat, never had to ask her for anything, she took good care of us, in our 20 + years of cruising experience, she is been far the best. A completely different story on the second one, we got a smelly cabin, the attendant seemed to have been new, no experience at all, stain towels, missing toilet paper, forgot to leave cruise compass, had to reminded to leave toiletries PORTS EXPERIENCE:First bad experience... Puerto Caldera instead of our scheduled Puntarenas, we learned that we did not get there because Queen Victoria was already scheduled to arrive there, not because of the depth of the waters, that was an excuse I believe. Ugly place, no transportation plus it was a Sunday... Nothing to do there, very humid, taxis were trying to make up with expensive rides to either Puntarenas, San Jose or any other place you wanted to go. Ushuaia, again the ship did not dock @ the pier, we had to be tendered. Thank God we did not have to get up @ 5:30am to pick up tender tickets, being Diamond Plus Members, we got ours the night before. I felt sorry for those, specially handicapped passengers that went to retrieve them that early in the morning and did not get to go ashore until 10:00am or so. We had planned to get off around that time, they were barely disembarking people holding #6 tickets. We had to be back by 3:30pm, not enough time to do all that people wanted to do. On our way back... the line was about 3 block long, rainy/cold day, again I had to talk to the security @ the gate to let a partially blind senior and his wife to take the next tender, they had been in line for about an hour and could not stand on their feet for so long, since I speak Spanish I managed to convince them to help them out by allowing to board the tender. We were supposed to leave Ushuaia by 4:30, did not happened... the last tender arrived around 6pm, they could not get a third one, they said... only two tenders for 3,000 + passengers. In Montevideo about 100 people were forced to disembark because they did not have Brazilian visas, that was very sad. We knew from the beginning when we were boarding in LA, the process took forever, the reason was... "people with no visas". Unfortunately we have been sooooo "Loyal to Royal", but it's changing, we have 7 upcoming cruises booked, two are already paid in full, so we are being forced to take them, another 2 not paid in full but already have the airline tickets, so it means that cannot be cancel and the other 3 are maybe... We tried Cunard last year, Queen Victoria, can not describe the quality of food and accommodations, you have to see it to believe it, the prices are comparable to RCCL. Do we have to continue being "LOYAL TO ROYAL? IF THEY ARE NOT TO US?" That's the question... Being a Hispanic lady, my love for dancing exceeds to everything on the ships. I requested a bigger venue for Latin music/dancing area. They promised but never happened. Boleros is a very popular venue, tons of people try to dance there but not enough space, get to the point that accidents occur, people stepping on each others feet, bumping into each other, not enough chairs for people that want to take breaks in between songs. On the second leg of our cruise the personnel was not friendly, disorganized, careless.Many, many mistakes of the cruise compass, like having activities at the same time, same place. Wrong info. about activities. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2011
We have sailed several times with RCL and are currently Platinum level members. Our most recent 30 day sailing aboard Mariner of the Seas from Los Angeles to Sao Paulo Brazil left us wondering what happened to RCL's high level ... Read More
We have sailed several times with RCL and are currently Platinum level members. Our most recent 30 day sailing aboard Mariner of the Seas from Los Angeles to Sao Paulo Brazil left us wondering what happened to RCL's high level commitment to quality of service and overall client experience. The ship itself is beautiful and well appointed. The Royal Promenade is awesome and how often do you have a ship crossing the equator with an ice skating rink (deck 3)? The Mariner is a wonderful ship to sail and explore. We even climbed the rock wall successfully! Yet, alas, there were some concerns which I share below. I preface this by saying I'm sure sentiment will indeed vary from passenger to passenger. Although we booked our trip early, our luggage tags never arrived until the day after we left home. Not once did RCL mention the Brazilian visa requirement for Canadians & Americans. Apart from the high cost of the visa itself, and unless you were using an on-line discussion board or had a travel agent who was on top of things, you would not be permitted to end your cruise at Santos (Sao Paulo). Several passengers (and even some crew!) had to disembark in Montevideo, Uruguay (the last port of call before Brazil). Those passengers had to find their way home at their own expense. A number of shows were excellent and very entertaining, but too many were like amateur night at the local pub. These acts were by far the least professional of any we have seen during our many cruising experiences. This was made worse by the exceptionally loud ship band that on many occasions drowned out the headliners who they were supposed to back up. Even the ship's own singers and dancers could not be clearly heard over the volume of the band. Many people complained to both the cruise director and the stage manager to no avail. The band itself was very professional in their skill level; they were simply far too loud. The volume seemed even worse around the main deck pools where another band was featured. The fact that few people would even stay very long in that area was quite telling. As a result, the Solarium area (where you could actually talk to someone) was overcrowded and it was often difficult to get a lounge chair. If you could bear the high volume from the band, there were always plenty of chairs in the open deck pool area. RCL even found it necessary to amplify the band further using high mounted speakers at the opposite end of the open deck pool and hot tub area! Although we could not help but hear several passengers complain about the food, we found it to be quite good with sufficient variety and an appealing presentation. It wasn't always perfect for sit down dining, but if you can hit the mark 90% of the time, why complain? The level of service was excellent. It seems RCL is looking at every possible way to increase its revenue base once passengers are on board. Johnny Rockets (the on-board bistro / snack cafe), as many are aware, was once included in your package. Now there is a cover charge to get in ($4.95 each time) and you'll have to pay again if you request a milkshake. The RCA jacks are disabled on the flat screen TVs in your staterooms and suites, as we discovered when we tried to review our movie camera footage. There are no CD players in the rooms either, so its 'pay per view' even if you did bring a few of your favourite movies along. There are other less obvious grabs, but these like those above are more of an annoyance than a hindrance. Let's just say you'll need to flash your Sea Pass card more than you did in the past. We still like RCL, but we'll certainly be looking more closely at other carriers in the future. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2010
Boarding the ship was pretty good. We arrived at the cruise terminal around 10:30 before the lines were actually open, so there was a line outside the terminal, but once the lines opened, things moved quite quickly. Our Set Sail said that ... Read More
Boarding the ship was pretty good. We arrived at the cruise terminal around 10:30 before the lines were actually open, so there was a line outside the terminal, but once the lines opened, things moved quite quickly. Our Set Sail said that our boarding time was 12:00 pm, but we were all checked in and on the ship by 11:15. We only stopped to make reservations at Chops, then went right to the Windjammer for lunch. We were easily able to get a table, but before we were finished eating, the place was packed and our table was pounced on as soon as we stood up. The doors to the staterooms were opened promptly at 1:00, and we checked it out. We were in #1362. The bed was by the balcony and the sofa was closer to the hall door. It was a new arrangement for us, but felt a bit roomier than the stateroom on Holland America that we had in September. The closet was smaller than on other ships, but adequate for us. The shower in the bathroom was rounded and although still small, gave the illusion of having more space then the rectangular ones. It could actually hold four average sized adults if one wanted to try for some kind of shower stuffing record. (Don't ask how I know this.) My husband bought the Fountain Soda package on the first day. He won't do it again. He felt he had to drink more sodas than he otherwise would have in order to break even with the individual price. With the only diet option being Diet Coke, he got tired of the whole thing. The package comes with a big insulated bottle, but is a pain to carry around. Fortunately the package includes drinks served in regular glasses anywhere on the ship. He wound up adding his own vanilla to the Cokes after our first port stop. That helped. The ship is quite nice. The Promenade is especially impressive. The Promenade Cafe is a great place to pick up a snack (loved the granola bars) 24 hours a day. The rooms that overlook it are a bit strange, but we talked to a man who was in one and said he really liked it. The double paned windows kept out the noise except when one of the parades was going on. There were signs of wear and tear, but you also saw people working on maintenance during the trip too. The best show on the show on the ship was the "Ice Under the Big Top". The skating, costumes, set, etc. were all comparable to the land based ice shows, although smaller. Knowing that the skaters are working on ice on a rolling ship was most impressive. A nice touch is that skating classes are offered late in the cruise (sign up early), and they are conducted by the performers themselves. They also handle handing out the skates and getting people signed up. It was fun meeting them up close and getting to interact with them. They were quite patient with us newbies. They do have periods when the rink is open for free skating. Some people even brought their own skates. The production shows on the main stage were OK, but the talent was not the best. We missed one that sounded like it was the only one not to miss. We did enjoy the backstage tour one day conducted by the dance captain and the lighting director. Even if the shows are great, you can appreciate what the performers especially the dancers have to cope with when you feel the stage moving. There are lots of activities on board. Of course all the usual, but the ice skating and the rock wall climbing were unique and quite fun. The fitness center was very nice and well maintained. A couple of treadmills were out of order one day, but back in use the next. The trivia and Name That Tune contests were mostly held in the Schooner Bar. There were so many people participating that it was often impossible to find a seat and once you did, to hear what was being said. For popular activities, they should find a larger more convenient venue. We found the crew to be friendly and helpful. Our waiter in the dining room, Jasonn Joya, was great, as was his assistant, Reynato. In the Windjammer, Verheek was the best. The iced tea from concentrate that they serve is undrinkable, so I brew my own, much to the mystification of most waiters, but when I put in my standard order, Verheek knew I wanted to brew my own tea and brought me extra ice and extra hot water. Kudos. The food was adequate. A few individual dishes were outstanding, but the overall quality could only be considered average. We did have an excellent meal in Chops, one of the specialty restaurants, but wouldn't have paid the extra cost for it. We got it comped as part of the deal for booking the cruise. Our major complaint was the corridor outside our room. Apparently someone was sick there, and it took days for the smell to dissipate. It made you gag, and we were holding our breath walking down the corridor until we got into our room. The second day after it happened, we overheard an officer telling the steward to shampoo it. It helped, but the smell didn't completely go away until the last day of the cruise. We really appreciate the Express Departure on RCL. We had used the same procedure on Holland America, which was much better publicized and operated. On RCL, the information was just three lines on the As You Depart sheet. You really had to look for it, then listen to the whole 20 minute TV presentation about disembarkation to get any details. The Guest Relations desk didn't have any information when we checked there. We were told to report to one location, then moved to another. It appears that the popularity of just walking off and taking you own bags with you was underestimated by the staff, so procedures were changed at the last minute to accommodate the crowd. It was a minor inconvenience, and the crowd was adapted to quickly, but with a little more planning (like Holland America does), they would have known ahead of time how many were planning on doing this. Read Less
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