In the conclusion to all of this, I was contacted by guest services by telephone. It is their job to fix things that go wrong when a customer leaves the ship with an issue and subsequently contacts the cruise line.
This did answer many of my questions, and to Royal Caribbean's credit they did offer to "make things right" in ways that I believed the head waiter was going to do - adjust my final bill. But let me tell you what I learned in this follow up.
First of all, most surprising and relevent, I learned that an RCI head waiter DOES NOT HAVE THE POWER to credit a passenger's drinks if it arrives to the table 25 minutes late, even if he knows for a fact service is bad. This explains why he did nothing when he saw our problem with his own eyes.
The rep who called says the ship was contacted for responses to my concerns; They said they DO keep white wines refrigerated, but no, they do not have sommeliers or provide ice buckets.
Here is what I didn't like. In response to my concerns, the ship people replied that:
1. My contention the wine arrived late and sat unopened for 15 minutes was not true. Their response, as read to me on the phone was "the wine arrived and was opened within 5 minutes." OK, that is simply untrue, - we were putting ice in our wine to chill it. If the wine was properly chilled why did we do that? Because it sat on the tabkle unopened for so long. Is warm wine a big deal, no. Is lying about what really happened. Yes.
2. In response to my contention that I was skipped on the second pour and the waiter walked away with the wine: the ship replied, "Mr. Potter (sic) was served a little less than the lady sitting next to him." In other words, once again they lied in not admitting they had actually skipped me and walked away with wine in our bottle. Is being skipped a big deal? well yes, because I purchased another wine I didn't need. Is lying about it after the fact a bigger deal? absolutely. They were covering up, which makes me look like a jerk.
To RCI's credit, the lady on the phone did not automatically believe what the ship said. I told her it was not accurate and she said "well, I am not going to try to judge who is lying" which I found somewhat offensive in suggesting I could be lying. Note to RCI: A better thing to say is "I'm in no position to play judge and jury here." Still, she stuck with me and offered to adjust my final bill accordingly. I said that was not my point in pursuing this and politely declined.
The last question I had for her was why the anniversary cake we purchased was served to us after dessert, essentially making the surprise factor of having a cake to celebrate a moot point.
She said this did not sound right to her, either. A celebratory cake should be served for dessert, not after it. After all, no one wanted any cake after dessert, so we took it back to the cabin, made room in the minifridge, met in the Lido at a later time (because they have silverware there) and had our own celebration with the cake we had purchased. In other words, the ship played no part in actually helping us celebrate the anniversary in a meaningful way.
In this case, I did ask our head waiter well in advance why he was serving our cake after dessert instead of before? His reply was that was the way they always do it on their ships. Unforunately, I forgot to ask for a follow-up to this. I doubt it is true. if it is, it shouldn't be.
What sticks with me is that the headwaiter was insensitive to my concerns all along. He dismissed each one while onboard claiming either I was "too late" or "that's our policy". And when questioned after I left the ship he actually lied about what happened.
Do I know for a fact what he was thinking? of course not, but I was traveling in the lowest cabin category, I did not check my "Mariner's Club" box even though I have sailed RCI several times. As far as he knew I was a one-time, first-time cruiser he thought he could snow. Whether or not that is true, I would certainly hope a suite-buying, repeat passenger would get more respect on board than we did.
But once again, to RCI's credit, they did follow up with me with a phone call and offer to make things right. That is something, but it misses the point...
A cruise is the trip of a lifetime. Everything that happens onboard has significance. Most cruise lines go out of their way to assure a passenger is happy, especially when he complains. The staff person who fails to satisfy a passenger because he does things procedurally wrong and then does not respond when the passenger complains is creating a situation where the passenger is now brooding, and feels he is in a confrontational position with a staff member. leaving an unresolved negative feeling with a passenger is enough to ruin a cruise for many people. People do not easily forget being confronted or lied to, they obsess, just like I did.
Among the meager promises made by Rawaswami to me was "this will never happen to another passenger," and yet when I followed up after the fact to complain, he lied about what had happened in our case. So, in effect, he got me twice and proved his word that "this would never happen again" was just more untruth. It just goes to show you - a liar who really doesn't care will never change his spots.
I give RCI credit for the follow up, but they should realize that while late is better than nothing, it is not nearly as good as a timely resolution. I also have to say that the lies by the staff to my post-cruise query was also insulting, but I credit RCI follow up for sticking with me in the long run.