To begin with, my wife and I have cruised more than 20 times, on ships from 7,000 to 91,000 tonnes. We recently took a 4 nite cruise on the Monarch,oneoftheearly "Superships", she has a crew of approx 820 to service approx 2400 passengers, a poor ratio of 3/1 and it shows in the level of service and maintenance. Coming down the "Gangway" you enter the Centrum, a cross between a shopping mall and the lobby of the Hyatt. Unfortunately, there are no Stewards to assist you to your cabin. The cabins are tiny, about 130 sq ft. The cabin stewards do their job, but are neither accommodating or happy i what they do. Ours needed constany reminders for Ice and other expected amenities.
The ship's public areas are shabby, dullbrightwork, dirty glass, used dishes and glassware lying about, and chairs and tables not promptly replaced in proper order. The shortage of staff os obvious. However, what staff there was tried to be pleasant and helpful. The shore activities were varied and plentiful. The shows, production and acts,excellent. The onboard activities were not good at all. The food in the Dining room was acceptable but the presentation poor, the staff was great. RCI's economy measures certainly show. The pastries and deserts were excellent, both in quality and appearance. The Buffet was ruined by the "One Plate For All" concept. Bread, Salad, Entree, etc.,all on one dish? Disgusting. Also, must ladies carry their own trays?
This is a cruise,and the passengers are passengers, not motel guests. RCI should reconsider tying towels into animal shapes, instead they should replace the shabby bedspreads, keep ice in the buckets, replace my bar of soap, and certainly don't tell me to throw wet, soiled towels on the floor to get fresh ones. In summation, we don't think we will sail with RCI again. It may be a great line for younger less experienced cruisers, but not for us. Of course, my opinions and perspective is influenced by past experience but I think that RCI is hurting itself with these penny-ante economies,we shall continue to cruise, but with Celebrity and HAL, both quality, reasonably priced, big ship lines.