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Old September 11th, 2014, 11:59 PM
Skirge Skirge is offline
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Question Returning Cruiser

My parents had me cruising around the age of 10 or so, back in the late 80's and early 90's, and I recall being on Carnival, RCCL, Princess, Norwegian, Holland America, and a couple of other minor lines (about 12 cruises in total). My last cruise from that era was when I was in my early 20's. My wife and I were recently taken on Explorer of the Seas (March sailing) as a gift and I quickly realized how much cruising has changed. (Please note that I was/am extremely grateful for the gift and am only mentioning all of this to improve my next experience.)

If possible, I'm looking to return to what I remember RCCL was like and would like some input from more seasoned cruisers regarding what cruise lines I should be looking at. The issues I had on the cruise include:

1. Food was terrible, both in the dining room and, especially, in the cafe; the pasta dishes being particularly disgusting. I get significantly better food at Bonefish Grill.
2. Dining room service was severely lacking from day one (10 family members at our table & all had similar issues); water glasses remained empty for extended periods; had to pour our own wine a number of times; food was frequently coming out at room temperature or cold (appetizers and entrees)
3. The ship was quite dated and there seemed to be minimal things to do onboard, other than trivia, gambling, and drinking.
4. Bands/musicians in the lounges were barely tolerable.
5. The shows were simply "ok".

About us: We're in our late 30's. Food and service are of paramount importance. We're comfortable striking up conversations with people of any age, so long as they're good people; if that means we need to cruise with seniors, that's fine.

My questions to the veterans are these:

1. Are my expectations too high for cruising nowadays?
2. Is there a way to get back to what I remember without spending $4k+/person?

I have begun doing a ton of research into the more "luxury" cruise lines, but I'm seeing an increase in complaints on lines like Celebrity. Given that they're now owned by RCCL, perhaps this is a sign.

Thanks for any input you might have.
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Old September 12th, 2014, 09:13 AM
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The likes of Cunard are inexpensive to travel with, although they rarely do much Stateside, so other than Transatlantic you would have to get a deal on a European flycruise.
Whilst even Cunard's service has dropped over the years, it has no way fallen as low as many of the lines who are more interested in bums on seats at any price in order to sell booze than in providing an experience for the passenger.

The other thought is, how long was your last voyage? on a lot of shorter ones, especially if they have auto-gratuities, the staff don't really have the time to provide the service that I am sure they each would like to.

Happy hunting,

Alan.
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Old September 12th, 2014, 12:09 PM
Skirge Skirge is offline
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Thanks for that info, Alan. It's along the lines of what I was noticing, as well. The higher rated cruises with top notch service and food were all seemingly across the pond. (Damn fellow Americans and their low expectations. Perhaps I was a weathly Brit in a former life...) I'll be sure to look into some flycruises; maybe I'll get lucky. The wife and I have wanted to visit Europe again, anyhow.

As far as my most recent cruise, it was a 7 day.
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Old September 12th, 2014, 03:11 PM
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Yes, as you noticed, many changes over the years with the major cruiselines, mostly cost savings and some great upgrades. I think if you had cruised on one of the newer ships, many of the things that were not great are much better, especially the alternative restaurants. The entertainment on both Oasis and Allure are totally different, very high tech type shows and more bells and whistles if you enjoy a more active cruise.


I wouldn't count out cruising at this point, just do some homework and find the right fit for you and your family.
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Old September 15th, 2014, 01:33 PM
Skirge Skirge is offline
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I've been researching the slightly more expensive lines like Celebrity, but I'm not really finding enough info about them to make a decision. More recent reviews seem to be difficult to find and those that I do are showing a decline in customer satisfaction. The ones I have found good, recent reviews for tend to be over in Europe. I wonder if that's my answer: Cruises out of the US simply aren't an option for someone like me. I was hoping someone on here would be able to convince me otherwise.
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Old September 15th, 2014, 06:03 PM
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Skirge - Can I asj you want you WANT in a cruise line? I see a lot of things you felt were wrong, biut not much about what you feel is good.

What is most important to you?

Destinations (ports of call?)

Good food

Good service

Entertainment

NO Kids?

Fun for young adults?

etc?

These days Royal Caribbean has come a LONG way - the food & entertainment options, especially on the newer & bigger ships are outstanding.

And it is still an affordable line.

Are you looking for great entertainment - especially for young adults? NCL has come a very long way - especially on its newest ships like Epic, Getaway and Breakaway. Carnival is also good, but a little more old school like you remember cruising (one big dining room, etc.)

Are you looking for something quieter, a little more sophisticated, but still at a decent price. You might like Holland America - lovely staterooms, good service, smaller & quieter ships.

Looking for something like Holland America, but a little more lively? Try Princess, or Celebrity.


Overall, I suggest looking fro newer ships for the best features.

Do you want something truly a cut above the average cruise ship - I suggest Oceania Marina or Riviera - fantastic food, great itineraries, comfy rooms.

Want the same but at a lower price & more intimate - try Azamara.

Want luxury? Seabourn, Silversea, Regent, Crystal....

tell us what you want!
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Old September 16th, 2014, 09:58 AM
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Default Azamara

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Motter View Post
Want the same but at a lower price & more intimate - try Azamara.
Hi there Paul, hope you are well. You comment on trying Azamara, and I am in the process of putting a cruise report together for our trip on Journey last month. It was very disappointing with more bad points than good. We would cruise Azamara again if the price was right as we now know what to expect, but it was certainly not the up-market experience we were anticipating.

Alan
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Then: =X= Silhouette Jun'19
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Golden, Grand(2), Caribbean, Royal, Sea(4+1 aborted)
Adonia(4+2), Arcadia, Artemis(2), Aurora(5), Azura(3), Britannia, Oceana(4), Oriana(13), Ventura(3), Victoria(5)
QM2(2), QE2(9), QV(8), QE, Caronia(2)
Oceania Nautica, Minerva, Minerva II, Fred.Olsen(8), NCL Jade(2), =X= Eclipse, HAL Ryndam, Aza.Journey, CMV Magellan, MSC Magnifica, MV Emanuel, Viking River
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Old September 29th, 2014, 04:49 PM
Skirge Skirge is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Motter View Post
Skirge - Can I asj you want you WANT in a cruise line? I see a lot of things you felt were wrong, biut not much about what you feel is good.
I tried to cover that with my complaints, but you're right, I could've gone into more detail.

Quote:
What is most important to you?
1. Service is paramount. I understand issues can and do happen, but I want to be treated with respect. When I bring something to their attention, I expect it to be fixed. I don't want excuses. Contrary to how that may sound, I'm not a jerk when it comes to service. When I know people are doing everything they can, I'm extremely patient and understanding (sometimes too much so).

2. Food should be no less than 3.5/5 stars. Dining rooms should be 4/5 stars with creative/higher-end options (e.g. escargot, steak tartare). Quality over quantity. I enjoy getting dressed up for dinner, so formal nights are welcome. It does irk me when people don't even attempt to get dressed up for the formal nights.

3. Entertainment should be of a higher caliber than the town playhouse puts on. Ice shows are almost always a lot of fun.

4. I'd like the ship to look like it's well-maintained, kept up to date in looks and technology, showing they care what image it presents to passengers. Onboard activities should be of a wide enough variety that most people could find something interesting to participate in. I don't care for drinking or belly flop contests.

Quote:
Destinations (ports of call?)
Nassau is terrible and I hope I never get back there. It's a slum with an overpriced resort. I enjoy window shopping and historical sites, such as Mayan ruins and old forts. I like hikes/tours through forests and enjoyed climbing the falls in Jamaica. Anywhere I can find things like this is a destination I'd probably enjoy.

Quote:
NO Kids?
I have no issue with kids, as long as they're semi-well-behaved. Again, as with service, I know kids will be kids and I'm extremely patient and understanding as long as the parents are doing something about a misbehaving child. If your child is being disruptive and isn't listening or is crying incessantly, it's your responsibility as a parent to show some courtesy to your fellow passengers and leave.

Quote:
Fun for young adults?
I'm not sure what you would put into this category. Drinking contests and belly flop contests, perhaps? Admittedly, we're probably a little more sophisticated* than other people our age. We enjoy art, museums, history, wine tastings, and five-star restaurants.

* I hate to use the word 'sophisticated' because it's usually associated with snobs, but that's probably the correct description.


Quote:
These days Royal Caribbean has come a LONG way - the food & entertainment options, especially on the newer & bigger ships are outstanding.
Maybe it was just the Explorer of the Seas ship which caused us an issue and other RCCL ships would be significantly better.

Quote:
Carnival is also good, but a little more old school like you remember cruising (one big dining room, etc.)
Really? Carnival isn't the "spring-break-party-ship" any longer?

Quote:
Are you looking for something quieter, a little more sophisticated, but still at a decent price. You might like Holland America - lovely staterooms, good service, smaller & quieter ships.

Looking for something like Holland America, but a little more lively? Try Princess, or Celebrity.
I forgot you had used that word. I feel better about having used it now. It sounds like Holland America, Princess or Celebrity is closer to what we're looking for. Based on what I've researched thus far, I'm leaning quite heavily towards Celebrity at this point.

Thanks for the insight so far, Paul.
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Old September 29th, 2014, 05:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skirge View Post
My questions to the veterans are these:

1. Are my expectations too high for cruising nowadays?
2. Is there a way to get back to what I remember without spending $4k+/person?
1-in general...Yes
2-in reality.... No

Things change...just as there are fewer Mom & Pop stores now...(we have gone to the 'Big Box' stores for savings)...I'm afraid the same is true for major cruise lines. You 'get what you pay for' as far as a cruise experience is concerned.
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Old October 2nd, 2014, 02:22 PM
Skirge Skirge is offline
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Thanks for the reply, Ray. It's good to get confirmation that my suspicions were correct. I'll have to figure out whether or not I can live with this drop in service and food quality or if I want to spring for the luxury lines.
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