Rhapsody of the Seas
June 4, 2006
This was our first cruise, so we really didn't go into it with much expectation, but it was certainly very disappointing for us. If you want a good family cruise, you are better off booking with Carnival (or Disney on a splurge!) which is what I should have done. We booked about 2 days prior to the sailing after being told that our 2 year, 10 month old daughter who is potty trained would have no problem getting into the kid's program onboard, although their website states that it is for kids 3 and up. I asked the reservations person about this and was advised to just tell them that our daughter is 3 and they would let her in. Well, the second day of the cruise, a sea day, we took her up to the kids program area, signed the paperwork and then they checked a roster to find that her third birthday is still a month away and told us she could not participate since they have a very strict policy.
Well, already out at sea with our cruise paid for in full, we had no choice but to accept the situation the way it was. We love our daughter very much, but it is very hard to relax at all on a vacation when you are constantly parenting and having to keep a toddler out of trouble. Also, we were unable to enjoy any adult related activities onboard (the casino, lounge, several shows, etc) so it seemed like a huge waste. We also had to take her to all of the formal meals with us, which is very difficult for a child that age. Fortunately, the dining group next to us was large and rowdy so they made her look well behaved (thank goodness for small favors!). I did address the issue of the kids camp with the manager who was very apologetic, but still would not allow her to attend.
We enjoyed the shore excursions and had good weather for most of the cruise, although we also had to find out the hard way that Royal Caribbean does not offer a stroller rental onboard (most lines do). My lucky husband got to carry 30 lbs all around Key West, Cozumel and Grand Cayman. Most unpleasant, so be sure to pack a stroller. The crew was very nice to our daughter and very accommodating with all requests, but it just wasn't as family friendly as we were looking for.
The food was so-so, I think they sacrificed quality over quantity- you could eat all day and all night if you wanted to, but it all kind of tasted the same after awhile! The dining room food was better, we went to several dinners there and their lobster was outstanding as well as the service, but it was just too hard to do a long sit down dinner every evening, so we did a lot of meals at the Windjammer (which is buffet style).
In any case, I called the 1-800 customer service number today to voice my complaint over the kids camp issue and was offered a $100 off coupon for our next cruise with them, good for a year. If I do happen to book a cruise within the next year (or ever for that matter) it certainly won't be with Royal Caribbean. I was pretty dissatisfied with what they considered to be a “fair” resolution; their customer service was definitely lacking as all the rep did was repeatedly apologize and offer the insult of a coupon; she could not even give me the assurance that this type of incident would not happen again with another family. The other problem I repeatedly encountered was that we were constantly being reminded by cruise staff that the cruise was booked to capacity so it was almost like they were telling us not to expect too much from them. I feel like our money is just as good as anyone's sailing on a half empty cruise, so this was also rude and frustrating. Had some problems when I tried to talk with guest relations as well. Watch out if you value good customer service, once they have your money, they don't go out of their way for anything.