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4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
Chose this cruise for the transatlantic crossing and some of the ports. Having been on Rhapsody before the ship is in need of some TLC however the overall experience of the ship was good. Embarkation was a little slow with the girl ... Read More
Chose this cruise for the transatlantic crossing and some of the ports. Having been on Rhapsody before the ship is in need of some TLC however the overall experience of the ship was good. Embarkation was a little slow with the girl behind the counter more interested in joking and carrying on with a fellow worker than serving us and getting the job done. As soon as you got on the ship you realised that it was not set up for english speaking passengers and as we were in a minority a lot of information was not forthcoming. After some time consuming phone calls and attending the front desk we managed to get information in english. The cabin was not up to the normal RCL cabin standard which was a bit of a let down when we found a sticky substance all over the bench and also some form of tablets in a cupboard. The usual welcome gifts were not there and they turned up hours later. Our cabin steward was great and worked very hard and thanks go to him. As with most cruises nowadays dining is a very hit and miss thing. Some meals were good whilse some were not to a good standard. The fish on most days was overcooked and dry and also the meat even if you wanted medium rare. The wait staff are well and truely overworked but they try hard to keep a happy face on. The entertainment was at times good but again the english speaking passengers were kept in the dark as to what is being said during most shows. The PA system around the ship was way too loud which ruined the relaxation times especially if some thing going on at the pool and the PA blasted your ear drums. Only had the one shore excursion booked, done on the internet many months earlier, only to find a card with our tickets telling us that all the tours were in either Portugese or Spanish and that if we wanted any tours in english we had to go and join the long line of unhappy passengers who were trying to get their tours in english. Most of the staff were sympathetic as to the problem however the acting managers attitude was that it was too bad and you had to go on a waiting list to see if enough english speakers were wanting a tour then they would look at it. This was a huge mistake on RCLs side. All ports were great and despite what we felt was a lack of english speaking activities we had a great time and thank all the crew. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
Our travel agent got us a good deal, to include extra nights in Brazil and Barcelona. Never been to Brazil before, and the itinerary suited us with 7 days at sea, the cruise ended in Barcelona and we only live 1 hour flight away. We ... Read More
Our travel agent got us a good deal, to include extra nights in Brazil and Barcelona. Never been to Brazil before, and the itinerary suited us with 7 days at sea, the cruise ended in Barcelona and we only live 1 hour flight away. We were mid ship deck 2 with a window, the cabin was big enough and clean, the windows were rusty and needed renewing. We had booked a table for 2, after many calls to the desk we were given a table for 2. Meals were OK, many times I had a main course as a starter, I just didn't see I anything I particularly liked. We enjoyed the entertainment both in the theatre and in the Centrum. All the staff we met were very friendly and professional. Went on the Rio trip to Sugar Loaf and Jesus the Redeemer commentary in English it was great. Would go on Rhapsody again. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2016
A different kind of cruise on Royal Caribbean. What made this cruise different was the Brazilian staff who were able to involve an international clientele in shipboard activities as in no other cruise I have been on (about 40 in all on ... Read More
A different kind of cruise on Royal Caribbean. What made this cruise different was the Brazilian staff who were able to involve an international clientele in shipboard activities as in no other cruise I have been on (about 40 in all on RCCL). We embarked in Santos, Brazil and the boarding process was utter chaos with two other ships disembarking and intermingling with the newly arriving passengers. It was difficult just finding where RCCL was doing their check in, but once having found it, the process was typical and smooth. On board, the Rhapsody is similar to the other Vision Class ships, small if you are used to cruising the new ships, but in nice condition. The staterooms are typical for RCCL; we had 8038, a JS category, and it was fine with ample space throughout. The balcony was useful with the beautiful landscapes that a trip through Tierra del Fuego offers. The dining room was double tiered with the downstairs being for the classic early and late seating customers, the upstairs is reserved for the anytime dining folks. The staff in the dining room has a larger percentage of Brazilian waiters and assistants, which is a mixed blessing. On one hand, they tend to be more personable than those we have observed on previous RCCL cruises, but their quality of service struggles to attain accepted standards. Water glasses usually went dry unless we asked for refills; some dinners' length extended into the entertainment shows.The food in the main dining room was good to very good; the desserts were generally excellent. The only specialty restaurant we used was Giovanni's which was excellent. The entertainment was uniformly outstanding with great variety. The Italian tenor and Brazilian female soloist were great. All production shows were resplendent with very good singers and dancers. The orchestra accompanied the headliners and was phenomenal. The only canned music was for the production shows. We did a bridge tour which was really worthwhile particularly because they take you to a side bridge which is outdoors on this class ship. Overall, this was very informative. Port visits were typical for a Cape Horn trek, except that because it started in Brazil rather than in Buenos Aires, no visit was made to Punta del Este or Puerto Montt. Also, the visist to Buenos Aires was cut short with a 6 pm departure. So much for a bife de lomo dinner there! The shore excursions seemed priced too steeply particularly considering the strength of the US dollar in South America. What set this cruise apart is the Brazilian staff which has no similarity throughout RCCL. They set up activities that are truly fun, be it the many varieties of trivia or the themed nights which included the 70 Disco night and Carnival. The ship was rocking for these and other venues that made it special and fun to just be aboard. RCCL should try to replicate this elsewhere particularly on the Oasis Class and Quantum class where occasionally I wondered who the cruise director was after I left the ship. There were many more plusses than minuses on this unique cruise. In this instance smaller was better-our last two were Allure and Anthem. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2016
Arrived in San Paolo to chaos at 5 am. 1 guy trying to corral 500 passengers, tag them and get them on buses who had trouble speaking English. Arrival at Santos was even worse. 3 large ships turnover passengers at 8 am in a terminal ... Read More
Arrived in San Paolo to chaos at 5 am. 1 guy trying to corral 500 passengers, tag them and get them on buses who had trouble speaking English. Arrival at Santos was even worse. 3 large ships turnover passengers at 8 am in a terminal that accommodated maybe 500 people while 6000 were off loading and 6000 were getting on. Minimal bilingual people available to assist arriving passengers. RCCL passenger area once you got into the RCCL designated area was good, swift and helpful as most counter personnel were bilingual. Once onboard you received conflicting bad news- Rooms will not be available until 11:30(onboard at 10), then the time was pushed to 1:30. Cabin Stewards not available to greet you, no welcome onboard champaign nor someone to help you to your cabin- your were basically on your own until dinner. Dinner and the "ATTACK of the DRAGON LADY" when I approached my table I was verbally attacked by an Asian lady who said "You do not belong at this table anymore ONLY my friends are allowed here go find another table!!!!!!" Great personality and welcoming onboard for dinner. After going to the assigning Maitr'd I got my second table, also predominately Asians, and was almost told the same thing by a "Group Leader" Ms. Lee. But the table told her to get lost and initially welcomed me. At the completion of dinner and after ordering dessert the ENTIRE table left and I sat alone eating my dessert. I quickly checked my underarms and possible body odor problem but was "smelling like a rose" so I knew it wasn't anything offensive. I went back to the head Dining Room Maitr'd and requested another table and was accommodated. The third night out the table server came up to one of my table mates and said "You are not on my list for this table I'll finish serving you then you have to leave and get another table. I recommended they see the Dining Room Maitr'd and they were returned the next night. That same night we (4 table mates) ordered Escargot and scallops came instead without any explanation as to why they were substituted. We complained b/c if someone had had a fish allergy they would be dead b/c they weren't told. Others may have wanted another appetizer but were denied that option. At5 pm on Day 4 I get a call from the Dining Room Maitr'd Andreas who says "ALL OF YOUR TABLE MATES HAVE ASKED THAT YOU BE REMOVED FROM THE TABLE SO I AM PUTTING YOU IN "MY TIME DINING" AT 6:30." I was floored b/c I had spoken with my stablemates and they never said anything all day. Thinking this was a VINDICTIVE attempt to embarrass me I set out the next day to prove my point which I did- all 9 other people on the table stated to me that was a lie and I was welcomed at the table. I took my case to the Food and Beverage Manager, Markus and asked him to step in and verify my story or Andreas' and get back to me. Markus assured me he would speak the tablemates during dinner which he didn't do while sending me to an EMPTY TABLE in My Time Dining. At The Capt.'s Diamond Club reception that night Markus pointed thumbs up about the dinner and I told him I ate alone and moved on. By chance when I left the reception I saw the Bar Manager/Director who is under Markus. I told him to tell Markus that I was returning to the original table the following night and I expected to see my place setting there and I expected NOT to see Andreas the rest of the cruise. I resolved that problem w/o any help. I also put my complaints in writing and I received 2 meals in theSpeciality Restaurants as gifts for my problems with the hope I would NOT COMPLAIN. I talked to the Capt. about it also. The rest of the trip was good. Our Capt. in light of the recent problems incurred by Anthem off South Carolina, warned us of heavy and rough seas and high winds around Cape Horn and for that reason he altered course which we were grateful for. It happened another night when we entered the Chilean Fjords and again the Capt. altered course to make it safer for the passengers. The ports were extremely interesting and most of the excursions were in English only. But the entertainment was all in Portuguese as a large amount of the passengers were from Brazil. A very large portion of the dining room, wait and room staff were Brazilians making them the catered to population which meant everything was said in Portuguese first the Spanish then English then German making the Capt.'s morning reports take up to 20 minutes to complete (At Capt.'s roundtable was an hour and because of the multiple translations he only answered 6 questions). The entertainers spoke Portuguese first then translated to English and Spanish which detracted from their presentations. And I noted that when Portuguese was spoken not many audience participants clapped or responded to questions with applause or acknowledgement of any kind. As a matter of fact, the Dance Competition final round was so rigged/slanted that when the wrong couple in the audience's mind was selected for third everyone whistled, booed and very loudly so the host had trouble containing them. After the wrong couple was removed the people continued to whistle and boo their displeasure for the better part of 10 minutes. Speaking to many NON Brazilians it was obvious people were not happy. It was rumored on board that the RCI contract with Brazil would terminate when Rhapsody returned to Santos reversing the trip because of many demands of the Brazilian government to employ more Brazilians on the round trip. The Capt. DID verify that RCI will terminate the contract with Brazil for use of Santos at the end of the return trip BUT he never gave a reason. Rhapsody is a well maintained and clean ship. People take pride in their jobs and try to do them to the best of their ability but they are not well educated on People Skills and helping passengers without getting hostile when given negative information. Those people who were members of the Diamond Club had an excellent location for their nightly functions in the aft of the ship and "Shall we Dance" entertainment Room. MOST amenities available to Diamond and above members were available but had to be asked for or asked why they were NOT in my room when I arrived. A point here about lack of notification- When I boarded I had NOTHING in my EMAILS to tell me where or when the Mixer was. I checked my email and the I asked at the Customer Relations Desk and was told RCL is not responsible for that party and we have nothing on it for you. OOOOPPPPPSSSSS missed the mixer b/c Cruise Critic didn't notify me. And yes I have been on a cruise before when I had a sign on my door and a note on my bed when I embarked to tell me where the Mixer was and at what time. Maybe I didn't get the message on how to find everything. Not even an email in my Trash or Spam email. My recommendation is that people look at the 4 and 5 star cruises that are ALL INCLUSIVE. Here is why- 1) Free included shore excursions, all inclusive premium bar drinks ALL DAY, some include free air and transfers to the ship from many big cities, NYC, Washington, DC, Atlanta, Miami, Houston, Dallas and LA., FRISCO, Seattle to name a few. If you add up what you paid on the Rhapsody it may be MORE than an all exclusive trip. 2) the 4 and 5 star trips have a smaller capacity so you get to know a lot more folks, 3) The ships used by the All-Inclusive cruises can get into a variety of different ports and make things more interesting. Also you might want to explore a RIVER CRUISE in Europe, Russia, China that also are "all inclusive." Each of the above cruises offers something different than the mass population cruise of 2200+by limiting the amount of people on the boat to under 400. RCCL has diminished it's service, food and entertainment over the last 20 years and is almost worse than Carnival. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2016
I had initially booked this cruise because because I wanted to visit new destinations withou having to take an extremely long flight to Asia or Europe. Royal Caribbean immediately notified me that this was a "cultural cruise". ... Read More
I had initially booked this cruise because because I wanted to visit new destinations withou having to take an extremely long flight to Asia or Europe. Royal Caribbean immediately notified me that this was a "cultural cruise". This is a nice way of saying that this cruise is catered to Brazilians and the primary language onboard is Portuguese (don't let this frighten you, all staff onboard speaks English). Starting with the embarkation - lets just say this is definitely not Port Evergaldes or Miami. There is one main cruise terminal serving several ships, so it can get a little busy. That said, like most cruises, there is a baggage drop off area with RCL signs. From there you proceed inside of the main terminal where you are directed to check in counters and receive your SeaPass card. After that you will most likely board a bus and be driven to the ship as it is docked further down the port. It's a similar process to the U.S. But the language barrier and crowds can be a little intimidating just go with the flow. Also, RCL employees do speak English but most of the port contractors do not - learning basic phrases in Portuguese can help. A previous post mentioned this as well. I don't speak Portuguese: eu nao falo portugues. Excuse me, do you speak English: desculpa, voce fala ingles? Once you are onboard you will notice a lot of the crew speaking Portuguese. Don't worry as they will immediately (and happily) speak English once hey realize you are not Brazilian. Because this cruise is over 90% Brazilian, the primary language spoken by the cruise director and staff is Portuguese. Don't let that scare you from enjoying the shows - the music and dancing were outstanding and there were some production shows in English. The onboard food and daily entertainment is what you would expect from RCL. If you have not traveled RCL, it is a nice moderate based cruise line. For the ports of call, I selected all of my excursions through recommendations on trip advisor as I was not too impressed with the ones offered by Royal Caribbean. The disembarking was pretty much the same as embarking, maybe a little easier as you have already experienced the port. Overall, I found the cruise to be very entertaining, the Brazilains are defiantly a bit more lively group and the fun "party" atmosphere was spread onboard more so than on US sailings. I should mention this was during the last weekend of Carnival so I am not sure if any of the entertainment and activities were related to this. Go in with an open mind and just "roll" with it - you will have a great time on this cruise. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2016
In advance of our 7-night South American cruise sailing from Santos, I read a lot of reviews from Americans complaining about various aspects of this sailing. Mostly, they seemed upset that not everything in Santos, Brazil is as ... Read More
In advance of our 7-night South American cruise sailing from Santos, I read a lot of reviews from Americans complaining about various aspects of this sailing. Mostly, they seemed upset that not everything in Santos, Brazil is as English-speaking, organized, and catered to their every whim as it would be in, say, Seattle. So let's talk about what it's like to do the sailing from Santos: First, don't expect your fellow passengers to be speaking English. 90% plus of the passengers are Brazillian, and so most of the ship's activities are in Portuguese. That said, the entire crew speaks English (and most even speak Spanish), and I thought they did an excellent job balancing the languages. We even went to a small event that was supposed to be in all Portuguese, and they brought out additional staff to essentially simulcast it in English just for us. Cruisers are well advised to learn some basic Portuguese, including the essential phrase "eu não falo português." Shore excursions will be few and far between in English. Some are bilingual, and there are more excursions available in Portuguese than English. If you're just in it for the experience (i.e. sea lion island at Punte del Este), go for the Portuguese excursion! If the guide and passengers know you speak English, they will make sure you understand the important things. Second, there are a lot of lines on this cruise. A weird amount. Lines form early, and they get really long. We checked in at the height of the process, and the line was pretty disorganized and long. That said, we rolled with it and figured it out. If you're worried, try to check in right at 10:30 AM. The line for the tender tickets in Punta del Este started like 45 minutes before they were supposed to be given out, and the line back to the ship's tenders was crazy long (we ended up leaving the port like an hour and a half late). So plan for lines. Third, some logistical information for those looking at how to get to and from the cruise. Santos is not in Sao Paulo - it's about 1-2 hours away by bus. You can take a bus from the GRU airport through a company called Cometa. They have a little window at Terminal 2 where you can pick up or buy tickets (we bought in advance on line with the help of Google Translate). The tickets are really cheap - my recollection is about 8 dollars. When you check in for the cruise, they take your passport and don't give it back until the last day. Behind the scenes, they're working with border patrol in every country and clearing everyone that way rather than creating yet another line. It's a bit disconcerting not to have your passport with you ashore, but we felt pretty secure with just our driver's licenses. The rest of the cruise - the food, the cabin, the fitness center, the entertainment - was pretty much par for the course for a ship of this size. We had an all-English speaking dinner table, which was pretty nice, and our state room attendant knew to speak to us in English and give us the English cruise compass. All in all, it was a fun experience in some foreign countries, with what I thought was a typical amount of "roll with it" moments where we were confused or frustrated because everything wasn't laid our perfectly for us. This will not be one of the cruises where you're in your wheelhouse 100% of the time. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2015
We decided over a year ago to spend our New Year’s with RCCL on the Rhapsody of the Seas in Brazil with New Year’s Eve in Rio De Janeiro. We were in Cabin 8525 and finally landed at table 444 for early 7:30 Seating. I must say that ... Read More
We decided over a year ago to spend our New Year’s with RCCL on the Rhapsody of the Seas in Brazil with New Year’s Eve in Rio De Janeiro. We were in Cabin 8525 and finally landed at table 444 for early 7:30 Seating. I must say that of the 87 cruises we have taken with various cruise lines over the years, this was amongst the worst overall cruise experiences we have encountered, allow me to detail why: • We purchased transfers from the Sao Paulo Airport (GRU) to Santos. We were not provided with any vouchers/tickets nor were we provided with written documentation as to where or how to meet the transfer personnel at GRU. We scoured the website and found nothing. Our travel agent inquired in late November and was informed by RCCL that we should meet at Terminal 1 – Arrivals. Unbeknownst to us in early December, GRU re-numbered their terminals and Terminal 1 was in-fact a separate domestic terminal from terminals 2 and 3 – the International terminals. This discrepancy became noticeable to us upon our arrival on December 25 (the day prior to meeting the transfer). From the Marriott Hotel at the airport we attempted to clarify but given the Christmas holiday this was difficult. The RCCL.BR website was silent on the matter so we noted the phone numbers listed. The number for “Day of Assistance” was noted but proved on 12/26 to be inoperable and erroneous – mind you this is on the RCCL website. We sent e-mails to help desks listed and when we received a response the next morning we were told that there were no transfers for this cruise and we would need to find our own way to Santos. Two days later I received an e-mail from Florida RCCL indicating that we should meet at luggage claim (impossible because luggage claim is behind customs and immigration). We took the advice of the Hotel Concierge, who had been unsuccessful in contacting RCCL Brazil, and arrived at Terminal 2 arrivals where we thankfully met up with an RCCL transfer Representative. We sent his picture back to RCCL Brazil to show them that, in fact, transfers were being provided. This lack of updated and correct information caused undue stress, a sleepless Christmas night, and just started the whole experience off badly. • Pier side Santos can only be described as absolute chaos. Our luggage was pulled from the bus and placed on a patch of concrete along with the luggage for three other ships before we disembarked the bus. As we exited the bus it became apparent that we needed to shift our luggage to a group of luggage handlers. However, there was nobody from RCCL providing information or direction in this mayhem. We ended up acting on a hunch and following the group by shifting our luggage 50 feet away and handing it to men who were tossing bags into a white box truck. There was neither RCCL signage nor staff to confirm this was the correct process. For all we knew our luggage could wind up on the ship or the weekend Santos flea market. We made our way to the terminal building where passengers for all ships were processed. Again no signage until you took a hard left turn upon entry and found the reception hall for RCCL accessed by a single door. Once in the hall we were barred from the Diamond Lane by a non-English speaking RCCL badged worker because we did not have our Eboli paperwork. ???? We determined what he meant was the “Health Questionnaire” which we had completed and held in our hands. I finally stepped around him and accessed the Diamond Check- In line and we were quickly processed, provided key cards and sent on our way. Another packed bus ride, with no RCCL Rep visible, finally deposited us at the side of the gleaming Rhapsody. We and our fellow non- Brazilian cruisers felt like we had just enacted a scene from Exodus! Overwhelmed, exhausted, sweat soaked, we made our way onboard. • Disembarkation: We purchased the “Best of Sao Paulo Tour” and we were told to meet in the Theater at 7:30am which we did; however, nobody from the tour/excursions desk was there. We were then notified via loud speaker that our luggage tags (assigned to this tour had been called) so we proceeded to disembark the ship. We made our way via another bus ride to the terminal claimed our luggage and out to the awaiting buses (for the four different ships arriving that day). Again, there was nobody from the Excursions Staff visibly and there were no directions. We ended up surveying the accumulated tour guides and finally found a buss for RCCL Best of Sao Paulo and boarded. We sat for 40 minutes and could see the Excursion staff scurrying from bus to bus. Out tour guide informed us that we needed number stickers because we had left the ship too early as the Excursion staff thought the meeting time was 8:00 am – obvious disconnect between the excursion staff and the people conducting the ship disembarkation – chaos! • Excursions: We booked over $500.00 worth of excursions and they were not worth the amount paid. But the most expensive and worst was the aforementioned “Best of Sao Paulo ending at the International Airport”. I feel totally ripped off by this tour!! While the first two stops were “ok” and the churascaria lunch was “good” the afternoon portion of the tour to downtown and the final museum was horrible. The tour should have been called the “Worst of Sao Paulo” our tour guide took us through what can be described as a physical manifestation of Dante’s Inferno. Crack addicts everywhere – the tour guide pointed this out along with the prostitutes and we were constantly told we could not stop at the beautiful cathedral because it was a “security issue”. When we finished the “crack tour” of central Sao Paulo and ended at the final museum where we were told to walk quickly and directly to the museum and to not linger out front nor in the adjacent gardens as this area was very unsafe. If this was so unsafe and unseemly, one questions why RCCL would place their passengers in this environment? We felt unsafe and very uncomfortable – this is not a question of an area not meeting American or European centric standards – the afternoon portion of the tour appeared to place us in peril and it made it obvious to the criminals that we were tourists – big buses full of RCCL passengers. Has anyone from RCCL ever taken this tour? Obviously nobody from the ship’s Excursions office was there as they would not make it back to the ship in time for the next sailing. Horrible experience I was never so happy to arrive at an airport 10 hours before my flight as I was last Sunday. Overall, I feel totally “ripped-off” by the excursions – waste of money. • Dining Room Service and food: Our server worked very hard and was very pleasant. What she could not overcome was the fact that she had 26 diners assigned to her at the furthest point away from the galley. Food was consistently lukewarm and most dishes were of basic food service quality and variety. It is obvious that RCCL has cut staff in the dining room (this was experienced as well on the Independence of the Seas over Thanksgiving). Very disappointing. Again, our server was very pleasant and the fault does not rest with her nor the assistant but rather on staffing and restaurant management. Open seating breakfast was slow and waiting 20 minutes to be seated is inexcusable. A few good notes: • The Ship was spotlessly clean inside and out • Giovanni’s Table was exceptionally good both times we dined there – Dinner & lunch • Chops was very good and made for a memorable New Year’s Eve in Rio De Janeiro. Anchoring off of Copocabana for the fireworks was very memorable!!! • Our Cabin Steward was exceptional • The Air Conditioning worked without fail and this was critical given the itinerary. We cruise 3-4 times per year and we enjoy exotic cruising which we have done primarily with Princess, Holland America, and Cunard in the past. We thought we would give RCCL a test with this cruise to Brazil and we now regret that decision. While we will probably sail with RCCL in North America and the Caribbean in the future (assuming the obvious cutbacks don’t hit the USA market); However; we will not consider exotic cruising. Read Less
23 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2015
This was the most disappointing cruise that we have ever experience on Royal Caribbean! It was a disgrace to the Royal Caribbean WOW vacation. Here are a list of disappointments and conflicts we had on this cruise. ULTIMATE PACKAGE ... Read More
This was the most disappointing cruise that we have ever experience on Royal Caribbean! It was a disgrace to the Royal Caribbean WOW vacation. Here are a list of disappointments and conflicts we had on this cruise. ULTIMATE PACKAGE and ROYAL REFRESHMENT PACKAGE -NO fresh squeeze available on ship except if you went to the suites restaurant for breakfast -Only provide us with small bottles of water, which seems to be new to your package, however it was always a struggle to find water. -The ran out of strawberry mix a few days into the cruise -The bars ran out of Pinot Gris wine 2 days before the cruise ended -No powerade on package (this in the past was always included) BUFFET -First day arrived at 12.00 noon floors were full of crumbs and chairs were dirty-several times during the cruise we would have to get napkins to clean off the chairs as they were full of food or spills -Food was horrific (the worst we have ever experienced on all the cruises we have taken, and we have cruised 30 + times in 10 years) -Staff on the ship told us that they base the staff food on .78 cents per meal, a number of staff members told us that they are serving the same food to the guests as they are to staff. -No service in buffet for drinks, it was like begging to get a drink with lunch -Water was locked down, when asking for a bottle the waiter had to ask for a manager to open the cabinet that was under lock and key to get a bottle of water in the morning, this always took 10 to 15 minutes -Buffet shut down by 330 each day. They stopped putting out food ie. Pizza, fries, etc. by 3.00. You had to eat what was left over. -Bar service in the buffet at lunch was always set up but no one there to serve DINING ROOM -Food was the worst we have ever experienced on RC -Quality of food very poor -Quantity of food was minimal -Mostly came cold ie. Soup, lasagna, meat etc. -The worst Caesar salad ever had on any ship, could not even eat it, it was really wet and not fresh at all -Quality of meat very poor (we are in Brazil its Beef country!) SPECIALITY RESTAURANT (GIAOVANNES) -We went first day with 7 people for my sons Birthday. We arrived at 7.15 only ¼ of the restaurant full all evening however our appetizer, and meal, took 3 HOURS to serve. We gave up on ordering dessert! -Forgot 2 people on our table’s appetizers, told us they would re-order never got them! -At this point we gave up on booking another specialty restaurant, as we were extremely disappointed with the experience ROYAL FAMILY SUITE EXTRAS and DIAMOND CLUB LOUNGE EXTRAS -We were allowed to use the suites lounge on the 11 floor, we went up there several times, no service available, nothing available to drink or eat, no cards available. -We did not see any difference between suites experiences compared to the regular balcony rooms we normally booked -We were told we could use the diamond lounge 24 hours a day, we went in several times, no coffee or tea, no cups, no food, nothing, just an empty room THE TOURS -We wanted to get 3 bottles of water in theatre, the lady servicing the theatre with water told us one per family. We had 2 ULTIMATE PAKAGES AND 1 ROYAL REPLENSISH PACKAGE, the lady argued with us, after us insisting we wanted 3 bottles, she threw them at us, took the cart and left the theatre, after this she REFUSED to serve us at the pool bar or any other venue for the rest of the trip. -On one tour for the beach we booked a transfer. The people on the excursion desk recommended the transfer. On the way back the bus driver dropped the whole bus off about 1.5 kilometers away from the drop off area, then drove by us and drove by the drop off area (where there was lots of parking and other buses parked) we had our 73 year old mother with us, who had to walk all this way in very hot temperatures, this was the main reason we took the ship transfer. This action was completely unacceptable. THE PORT EXPERIENCE -Checking in was ok -Leaving the port was a disaster, no one to help out either from the port or Royal Caribbean. -The port would not let any drivers into the port for pick up, no waiting area for the transfer pick ups -If royal Caribbean wants to continuing using Santos as a main port, they need to have a few English speaking assistances outside in the port area to help out, it took us 2 hours to get out of the port with our transfer company, because he could not make contact with us, he was not allow to walk into the port area OVERALL EMPLOYEE SERVICE and MAINTANCE OF THE SHIP -Most employees on this ship complained that they hated this ship and could not wait to get off. -Many new employees were not happy, had very bad attitudes. -There was much tension between employees, many of the seasoned employees were very frustrated as new employees as they did not pull there weight or left exactly when there shift ended even though there was a line up of customers, especially at the pool bar and other high service areas like coffee bar. -Brazilian employees served Brazilian customers first, often they passed me by, even when they told me I will be with you in a moment, once a Brazilian came they would take there order first or serve there food first (this happened in the salad bar in the New Years day buffet 2 times to me) -The crew did tell us that this ship was under very strict financial restrains, as it has not made any money for several months, this is the main reason that the food quality and quantity was poor. Crew has been instructed to keep all the costs down. However, by doing this Royal Caribbean made many customers unhappy with their wow experience. -We found there was no one maintaining this ship, usually someone is painting or cleaning windows or fixing little things, no one was up keeping any thing on this cruise Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2015
We are experienced travellers and cruisers with about 25+ cruises. A large group of use got 10 balcony and junior suites for a cruise from 12/19/15-12/26/15 WORST EXPERIENCE CRUISING EVER! For starters, the cruise was almost ... Read More
We are experienced travellers and cruisers with about 25+ cruises. A large group of use got 10 balcony and junior suites for a cruise from 12/19/15-12/26/15 WORST EXPERIENCE CRUISING EVER! For starters, the cruise was almost double the price of Caribbean/European/Alaskan tours we have done in the past; Not included (nor mentioned by the cruise line) was almost $1600 per family of visas for Brazil and Argentina on top of the price. The check in was horrendous (and we are platinum level travellers); The luggage check in was chaotic; Lines extremely long and no AC while it was 90 degrees outside. They ask for a documents that they don't specify to bring with you (luckily we had them) despite the fact that we had done our electronic checkins. They also hold your passports when you check in so lord forbid you run into an issue in a foreign country because you will be stuck there without a passport. The crew was half brazillian; Most of the crew did not speak English (a first for us); The food in the Lido Deck areas was always subpar compared to other cruises. When you return from an excursion at 4-5pm, there are NO dining areas OPEN! God forbid you like iced-tea because it was rarer than 18year old scotch. Having said that though, will say that they did have much better quality coffee than we have seen on any other cruise. Formal dining area service was extremely slow and English menus were not always available. Sent Laundry out ($30 Service in which you fill a bag for wash and dry); There are no washers and dryers available for Do it yourself. They brought the laundry back 72 hours later at 7pm the night before disembarkation; We packed it and discovered after disembarkation that either the clothes was super heated or had a chemical put in that literally turned all high end cotton garments to paper. These undergarments literally tore with minimal effort. Cruise line said that since we didn't report it immediately that there is no recourse. Casino reeked of smoke with active smoking allowed (no separate non smoking areas) 2 out of the 3 excursions were for 6 hours or less (and one required tenders!) Uruguay was very nice; Had many people have pickpocket issues in Buenos Aires. Entertainment was non existent in the large theaters; They were mostly involve the cruisers in games etc. No formal comedian shows, dance shows, magic, music etc. Balcony cabin room was fine though the shower was literally 4 square feet. Room service options were very minimal. Disembarkation, strangely enough was very smooth; Not sure whether they were efficient or we just wanted to eagerly get the hell off the ship; VERY EXPENSIVE, VERY POOR overall Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2015
We were part of a group of 5 families (19 members). The trouble started right from the port for embarkation. There are no signs or persons that direct those with priority boarding to the proper areas; either at the long luggage drop off ... Read More
We were part of a group of 5 families (19 members). The trouble started right from the port for embarkation. There are no signs or persons that direct those with priority boarding to the proper areas; either at the long luggage drop off lines or the even longer documentation line. 3 hours later and we are passing through the final security screening to board the ship: half our party has cleared when one of the security guard asks the youngest member of our group to stop and remove his head covering so they can search him. We are Sikhs and the adults wear a turban while the children have a cloth wrapped around their head to keep the hair covered. Anyhow, he had gone through the metal detector and no problems like everyone else who had passed before him. But from there on, everyone one of us with a turban thereafter was detained unless we would remove our turbans. When asked what the problem was? Not a single one of them could speak proper english or any english for that matter. Their response was "no english". When we asked them to call the manager or person in charge, they said we are calling the Federally. As if that was supposed to scare us or something. After half an hour of hanging around at the security area, they just told us to go. No apologies or explanation for the behaviour. As a group, this would be collectively our 4th or 5th cruise in the last 6 years. An FYI: your passports are kept by the cruise ship from the time you check-in and given back only when you are about to leave on your last day at check-out. Finally on the ship, rooms are clean and our suite attendant(s) are great. Get down to the dining room on the first night and discover that half the party is scheduled for 7:30 dining whilst the other half is at 10 pm and not necessarily at the same table(s). We had booked back in early March and requested through the travel agent that all the diners be together. It really can't be that difficult can it? It would take another day to sort this out after a call from me to my travel agent and her to customer service at Royal Caribbean and an email from them to the ship. The food was average fare, we have tasted much better on other cruises and this included the buffet upstairs. At times, you have to literally flag a server down to take your order after half an hour of sitting or ask them for a glass of water or to have someone send over the drink server. Did I mention that most of them don't speak any english ? Only Brazilian Portuguese ! There were 3 ports of call; Monte del Este, Uruguay ~ tender to the port : nice stop. Buenos Aires, Argentina: dock in the middle of a huge container yard and get bussed to terminal which is about 2-3 km away. Have the whole day to sight see here. Montevideo, Uruguay: really nice town to walk around in and enjoy the day. The only place that has a proper docking facility for a cruise ship where you walk off the ship and into the city. We did our own private shore excursions from the ports. The activities on board were numerous, though I did notice that in their daily newsletter, there appeared to be more in the Portuguese version than the english version. Also, there seemed to be more announcements made in Portuguese than in English during this cruise. Our kids kept themselves busy as a group so can't really say what was available to their age group. Every night after dinner, there would always be something happening in the Centrum and the theatre would have a show going on as well. I tried the casino one day but found it way too smokey to be able to stay there for any length of time. The disembarkation went okay after spending a bit over an hour in line to get our passports back from 7am on the day of disembarkation. Since we'd all arrived by private taxis from Sao Paulo , we had asked the same drivers to come back and pick us up. This made things a lot easier as some of us had earlier flights out. In summary, overall I and others of my group were generally very disappointed with this cruise. Having been on numerous other cruises as a group and individually, we have a pretty good idea of what the norms should be and what is reasonable to expect. This cruise didn't meet most of those expectations. I don't think my family and I will ever consider going with Royal Caribbean again after this experience. We would have been better off doing just a two week and land trip to South America. Would have spent the same, perhaps even less. Fortunately, the week after has left us with fond memories of South America. For those of you that have done the European, Mediterranean, North American, and Caribbean cruises ~ don't expect the same level of service or foods. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2010
Embarkation: A disgrace to any cruiseline, and after 30 cruises the worst I ever experienced. It took over 2.5 hours to finally get to the ship. We were left in the rain for most of that time. Between the embarkation area and the ship, a ... Read More
Embarkation: A disgrace to any cruiseline, and after 30 cruises the worst I ever experienced. It took over 2.5 hours to finally get to the ship. We were left in the rain for most of that time. Between the embarkation area and the ship, a few hundred yards, we were left on a bus for about 45 minutes (some people for 2 hours) while we waited to get on the ship. No staff member came to afford us an explanation. Food: Very poor. The meat was of dubious quality, in the Windjammer we were served a lot of brisket, and the menu was geared towards Brazilian tastes. Pre cruise we were given a dining time choice and chose 8.45, the actual dining time turned out to be 9.30, with us leaving the dining room after dessert at about 11pm, much too late for comfort. Even after days at sea we were told that a certain item was not available - most bizarre, did the chef not know what was in his store? Also on a few occasions we ordered an item to find it had been substituted and were given no explanation or apology. Perhaps they didn't think we'd know the difference between prawns ans clams, or a greek salad with feta cheese and a cheddar cheese salad!! On 3 occasions our table was given a very dirty glass. They even ran out of cheese for the cheese plate. The Windjammer food varied between poor and mediocre and had little variety, how often can they offer beef and olive casserole? Seats were highly prized on the many sea days. Around 3pm a nice pudding was served along with scones. Any food served on deck was accompanied by plastic cutlery!! Entertainment: We had been disappointed to realise that this was a Brazilian cruise with maybe 150 English speaking guests. Had I realised that English would not be the 1sr language I would have gone with Costa or MSC where English is liberally translated. The shows were mainly orientated towards Brazilian tastes. At all entertainment the staff spoke at length in to the Brazilians and we got a 20 second synopsis and in some cases, as in the smaller venues when say 'Name that Tune' was held, we were totally ignored. This was downright rude and inconsiderate. There was very little music in the bars, one night we were not interested in the show as it catered for the Brazilians and trawled the bars looking for an alternative, there was absolutely no entertainment anywhere else on the ship. There were no gala evenings, no midnight buffet, no chocolate buffet, no ice carvings, no tit bits served in lounges around midnight. Ship: Very attractive, bright areas, plenty of bars and nice seating areas. Outside decks were well laid out and the solarium was great for cooler days. Cabins: I had an inside and then an outside cabin and was very happy with both. A decent size with good pillows and lighting. Some cosmetic amenities might have been welcome. My first steward was excellent, inconspicuous and highly efficient, the second one less so. Minor problems such as with the TV were efficiently handled by Guest Services. Hygiene: Going into the Windjammer hand sanitation was strictly monitored but not in the MDR. The ship seemed clean but I saw what seemed to be faeces on the wall of the ladies toilet 2 days in a row and reported it to guest services, 2 days later I wrote to the cruise director and after another 2 days it was removed!! Disgusting!! Is it any wonder this ship was not allowed to dock at Santos earlier in the year because of Norovirus!! Disembarkation: We were to disembark in Lisbon on 19 April in the midst of the volcanic ash crisis. Many Brits asked at guest services if we would be afforded any assistance and were told it was not their problem. After phoning Miami and been told help would be given the ship staff refused to assist us. The 36 Brits arranged a meeting and 4 crew members were sent to tell us that we were displaying mutinous behavior and convening a riot!!! Honestly if you had seen the age group involved!! No help was given to people who had been at sea for days, had no 'live' information and were frightened about what lay ahead. That evening they agreed to let us sail on a daily rate (with ' as small amount of tax') to pick up ferries in France and elsewhere. We were told we had until 7pm the next evening to decide as the ship would not be leaving until 9pm. We cancelled our Lisbon hotels deciding to avail of this. Next morning they put up the prices by 25% and were charging $164 taxes and fees. Disgraceful again!! We were told to recheck in at 10 am and this was put back until most people got checking in at 12pm. After trying to argue the unfairness of increasing the cost when passengers were at their most vulnerable we were left with no option but to rebook. One diamond member was told by staff that if he did not rebook immediately he would call port side security to escort him off the ship. The ship sailed that afternoon at 5pm (we were not informed of this and just by luck were on board) with 650 passengers on board, the captain said they had expected 1900 and 36 children. Lots of cabins were vacant and RCI had received full fare for all those who didn't turn up plus the extra for those who remained onboard. What a rip off!!! We were told to leave the ship at midday and were given no help with luggage or information on where the ferry terminal at Le Harve was located. 18 of us had to haul our luggage approximately 1 mile, 1 man was aged 71 and his 69 year old wife had been to the doctor 2 days before with pneumonia. We were then left to wait outside the terminal at the side of the road until we could book in at 5pm. Thompson cruises, the British line put their cruise guests with travel issue getting home to UK and Europe up in a 5 star hotel and provided representatives several times a day to update their customers on the travel situation. This puts RCI to shame. A terrible time and a disgrace to cruising. I will never cruise with RCI again. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2010
We board the Vision of the Seas in Santos ( located about 50 min from Sao Paulo). Embarkation started on schedule and we were able to board the vessel at 11:30 ( staterooms were ready by 13:00).The windjammer cafe ( lunch buffet ) opened ... Read More
We board the Vision of the Seas in Santos ( located about 50 min from Sao Paulo). Embarkation started on schedule and we were able to board the vessel at 11:30 ( staterooms were ready by 13:00).The windjammer cafe ( lunch buffet ) opened at 12:00 for the early embarked guests. Our stateroom , an outside stateroom on deck 2 was clean and spacious. Tough the beds were placed separately and the fridge requested to store special medication was not there , we were pleased in general ( bed and fridge were placed as requested after a call to housekeeping). A few calls to the Purser's Desk was placed in the early afternoon and again and again the lines were busy ( usually you're put on hold automatically if lines are engaged) so that gave me the impression that in Brazil during embarkation day, pursers leave their phones out of the hook due to amount of guests at their desk. We sailed from Santos in full carnaval atmosphere . Pool bar was overcrowded as there were not enough bar staff to deal with the demand of guests trying to buy drinks. Speaking of bars, The Service at Schooner bar and the Viking Crown during early evening was horrible. At the Schooner bar twice we had bar staff greeting us by the door and disappearing right after. so at the end nobody would take our order. Same bar tender would appear to say good-bye to us. It seems he was there to greet people instead of making money. At the Viking Crown , we actually had to go to the bar and ask the bar tender to come to our table and serve us. It would be understandable if the Disco was packed but we were the only ones there as guests were partying by the pool deck. Best choice was the champagne bar them . Superior quality on drinks and impeccable service . D. Room : My time dining is the best thing you can ask for. Dining seats in Brazil are later than usual ( 07:30 pm and 10:30 pm ) We had a nice table for 2 by the window using the my time dining system . It worked perfect and we were there at 8 om every day. The service at the Dining Room was impeccable... real gold anchor standard as they like to call . 2 Brazilian gents waiter ed our table during the whole cruise and they just went above and beyond all the time compensating the lack of taste in some of the dishes offered on board. Public Areas : Unlike other RCCL ships, vision was quite dirty in public areas. Not only the elevators but all golden metal on board were filthy , greasy and full of fingerprints . Not the normal cleanliness standard that RCCL had in the past. Ports: Sunny weather helped us during the cruise. Ports were amazing for those who likes to eat fresh seafood and enjoy pristine beaches. Buzios was the top of the trip and Salvador was worth it by its architecture and colonial beauty . Many people left the ship to go dance and enjoy carnaval in Salvador as the ship overnight ed there but we decided to enjoy one of the many parties held by the pool deck. Overall : We enjoyed this cruise and the carnaval atmosphere on board. It was a nice way to celebrate it and fell safe at same time. Tough 20 different nationalities were on board, 99% were Brazilians so bare in mind that Portuguese is the spoken language on board ( even tough most of the announcements are done in English too) Read Less
Sail Date: December 2009
Royal Caribbean, Vision of the Seas- December 14-18, 2009 By Ken Burdett This cruise embarked from Sao Paulo (Santos), Brazil. The port was not at all streamlined. There was a building to check your baggage and another (about 200 yards ... Read More
Royal Caribbean, Vision of the Seas- December 14-18, 2009 By Ken Burdett This cruise embarked from Sao Paulo (Santos), Brazil. The port was not at all streamlined. There was a building to check your baggage and another (about 200 yards down the street) for passenger check in. Then you had to board a bus to go to another terminal about 800 yards away. Of course this is not RCCL's fault, just something to look forward to if you choose to cruise from this port. After boarding the ship and settling into our stateroom, we set out to see the ship. Of course we started with the Lido deck. Compared to my last RCCL ship, the pool was rather small. There is a second pool in the solarium that was supposed to be reserved for adults but half the time it had unsupervised kids in it. The whirlpools worked well and actually had hot water. This was a refreshing surprise. The Windsail Buffet was average. There were 3 buffet lines, so there was almost no wait. The layout of the buffet lines need a little help because to leave the restaurant you had to swim against the tide of people entering, and on one line there was only space for one-way traffic. The desert layout was circular and in the center of the dining area. I bet it looked pretty on the designer's desk, but functionality is another story. They divided the circle into 2 halves and they met in the middle. There was only one entrance/exit. It was a little awkward. If they wanted to divide it and make two lines, it would be better to have both an entrance and an exit. The overall layout of the ship was the best I have seen. Everything was on levels radiating from the Centrum. All the ships that I had been on were like mazes. For example, if you want to go to the aft end of deck 5, you may have had to go down one floor and take a long corridor to take an elevator back up to deck 5. Kudos to the Vision of the Seas designer's on this one! The overall cleanliness and condition of the ship was fair to good. I saw people painting and performing other maintenance every day. The staff did a pretty good job at keeping after 2700 messy Marvins, quite a task! There were a few areas they should have spent more time on. All the windows were in need of cleaning. I didn't see even one window being washed. There are windows in the Windsail buffet that look down to the water. It is a nice view but these windows tend to get a lot of crumbs deposited in their frames. This was another area of "needs improvement". The room service was wonderful. They were fast to get the food there and quite courteous. There were a few times they didn't have all the things on their menu but there was sufficient variety to choose from. The quality was good too. By far, the highest marks have to be in the Aquarius dining room. The dinnertime food and service were impeccable. The breakfast however was very limited. They set up a buffet line in the dining room and told me to help myself. If I had wanted to be herded through a line I would have eaten at the buffet! I had to ask for a menu (this should have been presented to me upon seating.) Later I spoke to my dinnertime head waiter and he promised to address the issue. The entertainment was very high quality but lacked variety. There were 4 dance shows. Two were by their English troop and two by their Brazilian troop. They were very talented but the Broadway Rhythm and Rhyme needs improvement. I have lived in the states most of my life and I have seen hundreds of Broadway musicals. Out of the 20 or so songs they did, I recognized only 2 of them. There were a couple of game shows. There should have been more. They should have had a magician, a ventriloquist, or a comedian. I only remember laughing out loud maybe once or twice on the entire cruise. The sea day only had a few events, they really needed more. The Casino was OK. They didn't have a craps table. I did well on Roulette table though. The shopping, although better than some ships I have been on, could stand for a little improvement. They should have a greater variety and lower some of the prices. For example, I was on a 7 day Western Caribbean cruise out of Miami 2 weeks earlier and I bought a can of SPF-50 sunscreen for US$7.95. The same can was US$28.95 on this cruise. If they are duty-free, why are the prices so much higher? Many passengers commented to me about the high prices. The shore excursions were very limited. I can't blame RCCL for this; they are at the mercy of the locals. If anything, RCCL could bring some fresh ideas to the locals and partner up with them to improve the options. The tendering operation was done using the life boats. The lines were very long. They snaked up the stairwells for 4 floors. When the lines did move, they moved pretty fast. Final cruise disembarkation was by the colors. Unlike other cruises I have been on, carry offs were not scheduled. I fully expected to carry my own luggage (I pack light), from the ship. Not checking your bags is usually a big time saver. This ship didn't give you a priority time that you could get off the ship. It is however possible to contact the purser's desk to change your assigned color to get off earlier. Overall, the cruise was quite relaxing and well worth the money. As a frequent cruiser, I am a little discerning and my review may seem a little negative. I assure you that the cruise was a very good experience. I met several first-time cruisers onboard that were already making plans to come back. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2009
Besides the bad food in the ship, the ports it stopped were so small, that we had to stay hours waiting to disembark, the bill in the hospital inside the ship was outrageous, the new year that was supposed to be wonderful, in front of ... Read More
Besides the bad food in the ship, the ports it stopped were so small, that we had to stay hours waiting to disembark, the bill in the hospital inside the ship was outrageous, the new year that was supposed to be wonderful, in front of Copacabana beach, ended up being a FIASCO, we were so far away from the beach we could only see the fireworks smoke. And some people working there were so rude and unprofessional to us, that it was unbelievable. And besides all, I bought the soda and the wine package in the internet, a week before the trip, and I found out that the ship was selling cheapper if you bought inside it. So what advantage I got from buying before ? and I paid with my credit card in the internet, and I had to fight with the ship because they charged me AGAIN in my bill at the boat. They asked me to prove that it was in my credit card statement the purchase made in the internet..........how could I, if I was on the boat ?? So now I am asking for the difference of what I paid in the internet to the price in the boat, and I got no answer at all. And it has been already more than 15 days that I wrote them, so I think there is really nobody that cares about you after you make the cruise. And that was not my first cruise. I love doing cruises, but after this one, Royal Caribbean is erased from my choces. Read Less
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