As an experienced cruiser on several lines(and a Diamond member with RCCL's loyalty program)I've seen many changes in the overall cruising experience as the various companies merged and sometimes changed their philosophies on customer service, ship size, etc.
Navigator was the largest ship I've been on to date, and I was concerned that the increased number of passengers would result in additional demands on the staff - ultimately resulting in poorer service. I firmly believe this to be the case. Examples include longer lines at bars, less waiters on the pool deck, poorer training and English comprehension by dining room wait staff, far more clutter in common areas - particularly Windjammer buffet "cafe", and overall a far diluted experience from cruises on smaller ships and certainly a step down from Celebrity. Granted some of my prior cruises took place several years ago when RCCL's philosophy seemed to be "the customer always comes first" and all I ever heard from staff was "No problem, sir." I'm not sure what their philosophy is now, but it seemed to be more like,"Explain to the customer how it's really their fault" and "It's not my problem". And at times worse.
Here's an example of every cruiser's customer service desk nightmare: Partner N. and I went to the Purser's desk to get the tips for her children (in a separate cabin) pre-paid on the 2nd to last day. Ours (2 occupants of "my" cabin) were paid in cash. We were very clear. With the direct supervision of the clerk "Put a #2 right there...", we filled out the appropriate form with a very clear #2 at the end of the bolded print saying, "Total number of guests charging customary gratuities to my seapass account".
When 3 gratuities were charged to her account (a $40 error in their favor) I was furious and was told they'd look into it but couldn't change it because the accountants weren't there! At my insistance I spoke with the desk manager (O. from Turkey I believe), who assured me that if the original form had a #2 on it, we'd get the refund. I wanted to believe him and hoped the issue would be resolved as I had already generously (over)paid the cash tips.
The next morning I received a photocopy of the original form which had CLEARLY been altered from a 2 to a (practically illegible) #3 - changed with a different pen! THE ALTERATION WAS OBVIOUS AND THEY STILL DENIED THAT SUCH A THING COULD HAPPEN! Not only did they make an incompetent error in their favor, they TRIED TO COVER IT UP RATHER THAN FIX IT!
Where I come from they call such rascals thieves and I went back and very loudly said so in front of a long line of dissatisfied cruisers. After a lot of "no way" head nodding from the individuals visible in the back "accounting" room, and at the last minute (precluding breakfast on disembarkation day...) another clerk found a way around the "can't undo the tip" problem and credited her account an equal amount under a different code, but only after my very loud and public continued expression of my displeasure. This is not the kind of training, leadership, and customer service I expect from ANY cruise line, let alone one I once owned stock in. Fortunately I no longer do, as I am disgusted by the "capture the herd" mentality.
Partner N. was on her first cruise and while she and the kids generally had a good time, she has told me that the crowded, noisy experience was unpleasant enough that it will likely be her last. I've never heard that before after an RCCL cruise - only after cruises on the "other" big line. Seems like both major companies employ clowns now. Maybe they should just merge and get it over with because the experience on RCCL has been degraded to what I once associated with the big "C."
Hmm, they could change the name of the big club on top of the RCCL ships to the Viking "Clown" lounge...
Dining room selections have been greatly reduced, and Chops grill selections now grace the inside menu for only "14.95" additional. I met several cruisers who ONLY do the specialty restaurants every night. Geez... Just choose a better line with better food already!
Cozumel was just fine by the way, we hired a cab to drive us around the island, toured some ruins (bring bug spray!), and stopped at San Franciso beach - highly recommended. Best day I've had in Mexico on many trips. Stick with the Ceviche and avoid the larger and more expensive seafood platters and you'll be ok. Good cigars from the hawkers on the beach too. N. and kids loved the water rock climing wall and other features ($10 each wristband to use) at the beach nextdoor. Otherwise Mexico still is what it is.
I can say I've had a worse time on a cruise but not with RCCL. Very disappointing to see that bigger clearly does NOT mean better if you're concerned with service and quality. Personally I'm switching back to Celebrity or smaller "sailing" ships. But after this experience, I'm concerned about what corporate changes I might encounter there as well. I guess I'll have to keep reading other's cruisemates reviews before booking, eh? One more cruise like this and I'll just fly down and charter instead.