We just got back on 11/3 from Explorer. My husband and I went on 18 cruises with RCCL since 1984 (but have not sailed the past 4 years). That makes us "Diamond Members" of Crown & Anchor Society. We did not recieve robes in our cabin as promised if you are a member, and what made me furious was that you are entitled to a 20% off purchases from the ship's gift shops. Well, when I went to purchase t-shirts, the clerk told me that they were a "special price" already and I couldn't have 20% off the special price. I then went to their jewelry store and picked out a ring. Conveniently this ring was "specially" priced already also. As a matter of fact, everything in all their stores had signs that said "special price". Every piece of jewelry was priced on sale, every t-shirt, gifts, etc. had some type of "sale sign". I asked "what" in the store did not have a "special"price, and they said nothing. So, I was not able to purchase anything and receive a 20% discount. I went to guest relations and asked to speak to someone from Crown and Anchor Society but was told no one was on the ship to talk to. I would like to comment on other things we noticed that changed since our last cruise with RCCL 4 years ago: Food was excellant, improved. Windjammer now has a bigger variety each meal to choose from - all excellent. Our waiter in the dining room was good, but the assistant waiter was a pain _____. In the past, they were polite but didn't bother you while you were eating trying to hold a conversation with you. It really got to be annoying. I'm surprised the head waiter didn't notice.I noticed the same at other tables. The waiters in Windjammer were good at ignoring you to get drinks. The ice show was fantastic. The main showroom had very entertaining shows. Being a dance teacher for 26 years, I can tell you that the dancers are technically much better. The shows are not as "Las Vegas" style as in the past, but the dancers were much more talented technically. The ship is beautiful - lots to do. We noticed so much more is commericalized than before. They try to sell products with more of their activities. After my massage, I felt really pressured to purchase products. That kind of ruined the atmosphere. The same thing happened with a few other activities. I know your not obligated to purchase, but I feel they take advantage of passengers that get "caught up in the moment" and purchase. Disembarkment went smoothly, off by 9AM. We enjoyed the change where you can have breakfast the last day anytime at Windjammer. Before you had to have breakfast at 6AM if you had main seating in the Dining Room. Before the cruise I was concerned about security, but felt safe on the ship. There were a lot of security checks. Just missed the hurricane "Michelle" by one day. Glad to be home. Good trip.
We were on Explorer a week before you and didn't experience your problems. We too, are diamond members and while on this cruise we didn't make a lot of expensive purchases, those we did make received an automatic 20% discount and our status was acknowledged by the clerks who welcomed us back. We did receive robes, but whether this was due to our diamond status or to the fact that we upgraded to a suite at the pier, I do not know. Steiner which operates the spas on most cruiselines is notorious for its hard sell tactics. I have a simple solution to their approach: I give them a very firm "NO" when the first solicitation is made and make it clear to them that no further solicitations are welcome. It works for me. Sorry about your experiences with the bar waiters in Windjammer and assistant waiter in the dining room. Both our waiter, who also worked in Johnny Rocket's, and assistant waiter who was in Windjammer during the day, were most attentive and solicitous whereever we encountered them. (Our waiter even came over while we were lunching in Johnny Rockets to make certain that we were being taken care of.) Bar waiters seemed to be available if you needed them but were not pushy, which I, for one, appreciate. I certainly agree with you about the fantastic ice show and the athletic ability of the dancers in the production shows, All in all, I was very pleased with our cruise on Explorer. To borrow from Celebrity Cruises, Explorer far exceeded our expectations and we would cruise on her or her sisters again in a heartbeat.
RCI really does need to add more perks for it's frequent cruisers. We heard, while on the Radiance a few weeks ago, that they were eliminating some of the lower levels of the Crown & Anchor Society and combining them. Since we moved up, this wasn't a problem for us. We forgot to use our discount, so I can't comment about that. Sorry to hear you had such an aggravating experience. Sounds like RCI needs to be more consistent if Bill didn't have a problem using his and you did. Something is wrong there.
Overall though, we really do feel that RCI makes an awesome product! Their ships are absolutely beautiful and the crew, service and food we experienced on the Radiance were the best we've ever had.
According to the latest issue of Crown & Anchor magazine, which arrived yesterday, improvements are coming with the C&A program. Unfortunately the magazine is a bit vague as to what these might be and since it went to print prior to September 11, much of the information concerning future itineraries is out of date and incorrect. Perhaps by the time the next issue is published, we will know more and be better able to judge the value of the program.
Bill - Do you know if they are mailed out according to Crown & Anchor level? I always seem to get mine later than other people. I hope they elaborate on the upgrades to their program. Maybe they will on their website?