Royal Caribbean - No more Gold Anchor Service
To Whom It May Concern,
This letter is regarding our recent Royal Caribbean cruise sailing on December 13, 2009 to the Mexican Riviera. This was our third cruise with Royal Caribbean but the first time sailing on the Mariner of the Seas. I read reviews online about Royal Caribbean’s service and food quality going downhill over the last few years but the first two times we had such wonderful experiences we were sure that we would have another great cruise.
We set sail out of Los Angeles without a hitch. We headed back to our cabin around 8:30pm that night because the bags were supposed to have been delivered by that time. We received all of our bags except one. It happened to be my suitcase which had everything I packed in it. I called our cabin steward (Leo) and told him we were missing a suitcase. He told me to head down to Deck 1 or Deck 2 as that’s where the lost luggage is kept and I would need to identify the suitcase. My husband headed down and looked through over 100 suitcases but ours was not there. While he was down there looking, many other people came down there to bring bags because they had been delivered to the wrong stateroom or were just missing their suitcase. If this seems to be such a problem, maybe a new process should be implemented. My husband was told that it may have been delivered to the wrong stateroom and hopefully someone will bring it down there. He went to Guest Relations to see if there was anything that could be done. He explained that ALL the belongings I brought for the week were in that suitcase. They handed him a little pouch with a toothbrush, toothpaste and razor in it and said there was nothing else they could do. No concern shown at all. Approximately, 11pm that night we received a call saying that our bag may have been brought down so we needed to come and claim it. Thankfully, it was our suitcase.
Our two children were cruising with us and they were excited about the children’s activities that were advertised on the website. Our first disappointment came during the Open House for the 5-8 yr olds the first day. We walked in and there were a few parents and children looking around and the two childcare workers were on computers with their backs turned to the people in the room. After about 10 minutes and us seeing everything in the room, we had to interrupt their computer time to ask if there were any forms we needed to fill out. We completed the forms and then left feeling a little unsure about the week ahead. Being the week before Christmas there were less children on board than normal, which we thought would equate to better attention to our kids but it was just the opposite. Many teen activities never took place. My son would head to the activity to find no one there. Not even the teen worker. After this happening a couple of times, we went with him thinking maybe he wasn’t going to the right places or he was late, but sure enough…..no worker present. You can have a ping pong tournament with 3 kids, it just takes less time. Finally, the group of teens that kept showing up for activities that didn’t take place started doing things as a group as to not be bored. I mentioned this to the teen activities coordinator and his response was that the workers were there. I told him that they weren’t and he said that we must have been at the wrong place or the wrong time. I’m a professional working for a Fortune 50 company, I know how to make it to the right place on time.
We had to walk passed the service elevators to get to our stateroom and many times during the week there would be such a stench coming from there that we all learned to hold our breaths until we got to our cabin. The same putrid smell was on Deck 1 and you had to smell it when embarking and disembarking. It was to the point several times that I thought I was going to get sick before we could get on an elevator.
The food….Our previous cruises had amazing food at each meal and the mid-night buffet was well worth staying up for. Not so this time. I can honestly say there was nothing I ate on this cruise that was worth writing home about. The food was mediocre. I could name several restaurants that have better food than was served on our supposed 5 star cruise. And the mid-night buffet was a huge disappointment. My 8 yr old daughter has heard us talk about the ice sculptures and cheese sculptures and the chocolate. That is what she was looking forward to the most on this cruise and there wasn’t even any cheese offered. It was a mediocre buffet that you could probably get better food at most buffets in the states. Windjammer served the same food day after day after day. Come on….after 4 days of having the same choices you need some variety. Most nights at dinner at the Main Dining Room our glasses would sit empty waiting for the next time we would see the assistant waiter and twice the waitress forgot to take the order of someone in our party. I get better service at a chain restaurant like Olive Garden. Room service took over an hour no matter what time you ordered and the menu only had a handful of items on it. When we asked them to make something different, we were told you could only order what was on the menu. We couldn’t get a small bag of chips by themselves, we had to order the turkey sandwich that came with the chips even though we didn’t want a turkey sandwich.
No mints on the pillows, only had towel animals three out of the seven days and one day we couldn’t figure out what it was supposed to be. We untucked the blanket on one of the beds the first night because my daughter wanted to cover up while she was watching television on the couch. The whole week the blanket was never tucked in again on her bed. We have taken cruises because we like feeling pampered and taken care of just like when we are at a 5 star resort. Not once, since stepping on board did I feel like I was at a 5 start resort. I felt like I was staying at a Holiday Inn.
The final straw came several days into our cruise. I had purchased the Fountain Soda Package for my family. Please see the insert copied from royalcaribbean.com:
FOUNTAIN SODA PACKAGES
The fountain soda package entitles you to unlimited refills at any of our bars or lounges, Windjammer Café, Main Dining Room, and our private destinations. A complimentary Coca-Cola® souvenir cup is included as part of every fountain soda package
First onboard the ship we were told that the ship only served Coke, Diet Coke and Sprite. I didn’t see anywhere online that there was only going to be 3 choices but okay. Halfway through the cruise we find out that some bars and Johnny Rockets have other sodas, like Root Beer, Orange, etc. Completely sick of Sprite I take my daughter to one of the other places that had Root Beer in the fountain. I was told that the unlimited soda package only included Coke, Diet and Sprite. After a few minutes of not getting anywhere I went to Guest Relations and was told the same thing. NOWHERE on your website, nor on the documentation for the cruise does it say that you only get three choices, it says Unlimited Fountain Soda. I can understand if I was asking for bottled soda, but I only wanted soda from a fountain which I paid for unlimited refills of. I was told by Guest Relations “that is how it is” so I left. I found my husband and filled him in. He went down to Guest Relation and spoke to Stany Dias Sr. Asst. Beverage Manager. My husband explained our point of view and he was told, that’s how it is. He asked to speak to someone hire up and waited 45 minutes before Edgar Scott Asst. Manager of Guest Relations came out. I bet you can guess the response my husband got from Edgar….and this is Gold Anchor Service? Your slogan should be Royal Caribbean where “That’s how it is.” I paid for UNLIMITED FOUNTAIN SODA and was denied it. Nowhere does it state that it’s unlimited Coke, Diet and Sprite only. The sad thing is that all we wanted was the soda we paid for. Edgar or Stany could have offered some beverage vouchers for Root Beer and we would have been happy but they did not offer anything. We were told over and over, “That’s how it is.”
We talked to many people on the ship that were dissatisfied with the cruise for many different reasons and most said they would be trying a different cruise line next time. With the economy in the shape it is, you would think that a cruise line would do anything and everything to take care of its customers to keep them coming back. We are in the process of planning a huge family reunion cruise for 2010 and guess what cruise line we won’t be taking. We had such great experiences several years ago with Royal Caribbean and told thousands of people we talked to over the years that we would never take a Carnival cruise because they can’t compare to Royal Caribbean but I guess things have changed. We are already telling all our family and friends and coworkers (We both work in companies with over 100,000 employees) that we will never take another Royal Caribbean cruise. So much for that Gold Anchor Service. I will gladly pay more for a higher star cruise line to feel like a guest.