If you are thinking of booking a holiday with Royal Caribbean Cruises, read our story and then look at every other option available, we would not want anyone else to go through the trauma of what Royal Caribbean have done to us.
We booked our honeymoon back in August 2012 and decided to go on our 4th cruise with Royal Caribbean. The holiday included flights from Heathrow to Newark,
3 night stay in New York, Flight to Miami and cruise around the Caribbean plus Transatlantic crossing back to Southampton at a cost of around £1700 per head + drinks package at £470 per head.
We decided to go on the Royal Caribbean Adventure of the Seas for our trip which would have left on the 21st April 2013. On looking at reviews, guests had mentioned the ship looked tired compared to some of the newer ships in the fleet, so we decided to change to Independence of the Seas which left on the 7th April instead. We had sailed on Independence twice before and loved the ship, so thought it would be best to stick with what we knew, especially as it was our Honeymoon.
We cancelled our booking on the Adventure and moved it to Independance, which was completed last August.
Then the issues start
Pre cruise -
I spoke to Royal Caribbean I think it was early February to ask how we could find out where we would be seated on the flight, at this point I was advised that we were sitting at opposite ends of the plane. Not only had I advised that my wife hates flying and had to get tablets from the doctors before flying, but why would we want to sit and opposite ends of the plane on a long haul flight. Royal Caribbean advised that this is standard practice and would have to see what they could do. They came back to me and said, their was nothing they could do unless we changed our flights to a later one, reluctantly we agreed and new flight tickets were issued for a flight approx 2.5 hours later.
We then arrived home late one evening to a message from Royal Caribbean finance stating that our holiday should have been paid 3 weeks earlier and if it was not paid immediately our holiday would be cancelled. After yet more phone calls and an apology, we find out that our paperwork has a different due date to the due date held by Royal Caribbean’s finance department. Our due date was 20/02/2013. At this point I was obviously not very impressed about being threatened, especially when we were 100% correct.
We then received all of our cruise documents, on closer inspection found that our transfer pickup in New York was booked for 5.30am for a flight which leaves at 6am. Its a 30 minute transfer to the airport on a good run, it can be anything upto 1.5 hours during rush hour. This in itself would have been a disaster, not only would we have missed the plane we would have also missed the cruise ship in Miami. The transfer paperwork also included inaccurate flight numbers, ship name was incorrect plus we were flying to totally the wrong airport. Yet more apologies from Royal Caribbean, “we have a new computer system and it’s not working 100% correctly currently”.
During Cruise Issues -
On arrival at Newark airport we waited for 2 hours for our transfer to arrive before calling holidaytaxis.com to be told that we had already been collected from the airport earlier in the day. They went away, came back and said actually, we don’t have a pick up for you at all, but we can get someone to you but it will be at least another hour. By this time we had been waiting well over 2 hours in the airport and decided to jump in a taxi ourselves to the hotel.
This cost me $100 plus various phone calls to both the UK and the taxi company at a cost of £1.50 per minute.
We were not alone in this situation either as other couples on the same cruise had similar issues regarding the transfer not being booked.
On arrival at the hotel I called head office in Miami who could not offer any help, I then called the UK 1st thing the following morning as our main concerns were, are the other transfers going to turn up.
By this point we had lost the best part of a day in New York due to the flight changes we had to make, plus the transfer not showing.
2.5 hours flight change, 2.5 hours in airport, 1.5 hour transfer to hotel in rush hour plus 2 further hours on the phone in the hotel trying to resolve the situation.
Arrival at the ship, checkin I was presented with our sea passes to be told only one of us had our Crown and Anchor points added. This meant I could have priory checkin but my wife could not, on haggling with the lady at checkin she eventually let us both have priority checkin.
We are both Gold Members but I was the only one showing Gold Membership.
Pre cruise we were offered an onboard package as a gesture of goodwill to say sorry for all the issues we had experienced. This package included Champagne, Bouquet of flowers on arrival and bath robes.
The Champagne and robes were in the room, no sign of the flowers, I had to go and specifically ask for them otherwise they would never have arrived. Considering this was a gesture to make up for the issues already experienced they could have at least made sure they got it right.
On the first evening on the cruise we found out that some decks were closed so work could be carried out on board. This included desk 2 including the conference center and movie room plus I was told deck 10 was also closed.
At this point this had not affected us really until day 3 when we got up to be presented with guys wearing blue t-shirts with lights on their heads all over our deck.
For 4 days we had ceilings down, cables all over the floors, cables hanging from the ceilings, banging, grinding and knocking, can I also point out with no barriers or warnings about the possible hazards. These guys were clearly doing their job but they had no interest in the fact we were on holiday so they were not exactly helping matters.
One afternoon we went to watch the ‘Story of Royal Caribbean’ in the theatre, all you could hear was drilling and banging the entire time.
On one evening we were in the Schooner bar at approx 11pm to suddenly be overcome with the smell of solvents through the air conditioning. One of our dining guests ended up in the medical center and my wife suffers from Asthma so not an ideal scenario. The smell was so bad the bar man requested the air con to be turned off until the issue was resolved.
We had to put up with this day after day, most evening entire gangways were closed while they recarpeted entire sections. The main restaurant main floor was also closed the entire cruise for breakfast and lunch while work went on. The ship also carried the smell of paint throughout it during the entire crossing.
Because we have sailed on this ship twice before we knew what to expect. To be presented with all of these issues on top of the issues before we went is simply not acceptable. We spent in excess of £5000 on this holiday to be stuck on a building site.
Following the issues we had already experienced both before and during the first part of the holiday, we were promised in writing that the ship was aware of our situation and we would be looked after once on board. We found out while on board some guests had been offered free drinks packages, cabin upgrades plus a host of other freebies, we received a speciality restaurant voucher, they did really look after us as you can see.
On top of this I was still receiving paperwork for the Adventure of the Seas cruise we moved to Independence until the day of sailing, even after various emails regarding this, the paperwork kept coming through.
I complained on board and spoke to a senier guest relations manager who refunded my money for the transfer, we also traded in our speciality restaurant vouchers for cash and received an extra $200 which was to compensate for the time and hassle in New York.
This was meant to be a holiday to remember, we will certainly remember it for all the wrong reasons. At no point were we advised that the ship was going through revitalisation during its sailing to the UK. Clearly we should have been advised of this pre cruise as we were stuck on board for 9 days while we crossed the Atlantic.
Since my return Royal Caribbean confirmed that they could only refund a % of the actual cruise, nothing else, I pointed out to them that this was booked as a package holiday through Royal Caribbean so surely its covered under the package holiday regulations act 1992, no response.
We are not alone with issues on this cruise as lots of other customers were complaining about similar problems.
Royal Caribbean have said sorry regarding the issues and offered me future cruise vouchers which if im honest, I don’t really want to cruise with Royal Caribbean again as it stands currently.
Royal Caribbean are meant to be a travel company offering premium holidays, from our experiences this time, I really would not trust them to organise anything.
I would also love to hear your experiences and any advice!