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kowski 12-21-2009 05:12 PM

RCL Cruise Experience
Just returned from our 4th cruise. It was my wife and my Christmas present to each other. First 2 were with Carnival and the last 2 with RCL.

I'm sad to say the economy and poor management in my opinion have really hurt this industry. The entertainment first of all was tailored to an older crowd. Now I'm 56, so no kid but all jazz and Sinatra gets old fast. A little variety would be nice. The musicians were scheduled to play for and hour and fifteen minutes, they played for 30 minutes and took a break.

Finally they were scheduled to do an hour and a half of 50s and 60s rock and roll by the pool and it only lasted 50 minutes and they quit.

On formal night everyone is dressed at least an hour early and there was now music to be found in any of the bars. Just poor planning in my opinion.

Then the food in the main dinning room, now this is the main reason I go. Have fewer options than in the past and in addition fillet mignon was $14.95 extra.

When we got to Nassau the number of shops out of business was unbelievable. I would say 80%.

OK got that off my chest. Ha ha Just wondering if anyone else has had any similar or different experiences in the last 6 months or so?

Rich_by_the_Bay 12-21-2009 06:20 PM

We've had less than great experience with RCL, too, though that was a few years ago. We've generally been happy with Holland America, though once or twice it seemed like the average age was 80 or so.

Cruisinthru 12-21-2009 06:32 PM

My husband and I are frequent cruisers. Our last was in September on Celebrity. In January we are doing a Carnival and a Royal Caribbean back to back. In Feb. we are doing two Royal Caribbean back to back.

Royal Caribbean and Celebrity are our favorite lines. Of course, they are owned by the same corp. We have had only one really boring cruise and that was on Holland America. There was absolutely nothing to do on board at night and no entertainment above the likes of Lawrence Welk. Yicks! We decided after that one we would wait until we hit eighty (in about twenty years) before we try Holland America again.

I would love to know what ship you were on, and for how long. The longer cruises tend to get the older crowd (go retirees). The cruise lines usually do a great job determining who the crowd will be and what they will enjoy. If you are on a cruise longer than 7 days you will see more Sinatra type people.....

I have never paid extra for food in the dining room. Are you sure you aren't talking about a specialty restaurant? They do charge for those, but you know up front what the charges will be.

It sounds like you were a mismatch for that particular ship. You might try checking out Cruise Critic before booking another cruise. There you will see other peoples critic's of a ship and know what you can expect before booking. We always check the reviews there before booking. Even though we like certain cruise lines, some times there are great ships and not so great ships.

I don't think the economy is hurting the quality delivered by the cruise industry. I think it is definitely hurting them when it comes to numbers booked, but that means they have to try harder to fill the ships and keep people happy. They know that if they get you on one cruise and you have a great time you will come back.

Dreamer 12-21-2009 06:57 PM

Oh no. I am going on a Holland America cruise next month. We have been on Carnival and Royal Caribbean in the past and decided to try Holland America.

kumquat 12-21-2009 07:15 PM

We're trying out Princess Cruises in January. Anyone want to shatter our dreams?

Cruisinthru 12-21-2009 07:35 PM

Dreamer and Kumquat,

I hope you did your research and found the right ship and line for you. I can't wait to hear how you like them.

Kumquat, we have been on Princess a few times and for the most part they are a class act. Hope that doesn't shatter your dreams!

Rich_by_the_Bay 12-21-2009 07:53 PM


Originally Posted by Dreamer (Post 886112)
Oh no. I am going on a Holland America cruise next month. We have been on Carnival and Royal Caribbean in the past and decided to try Holland America.

Other than the possibility of a really senior crowd, I wouldn't worry -- and even then you can always meet up with a "younger group" and hang out with them. The HAL ships have been comfortable, meticulously maintained, etc. The have this NY Times designed reading library which is ideal for napping ;).

Food has been great and abundant, fitness rooms well equipped. You will have a ball.

What's your itinerary?

BunsGettingFirm 12-21-2009 08:41 PM

Please define "younger crowd". The only cruise videos I have seen are the ones hosted by Samantha Brown on the Travel Channel. Her shows seem to make cruises look like there is nothing but a bunch of screaming kids running around, but you guys make it sound as if cruising is for the true blue hair crowd. There doesn't seem to be a happy middle ground.

bssc 12-21-2009 09:01 PM

Just got back from a 13 day Norwegian cruise through the Panama Canal. While there were older people on board, they had a 70s disco performance show. The pool area had a Jamaican group and a rock cover band although both were playing Christmas tunes too. There were a variety of people although there were a much higher percentage of non-Americans than on other cruises because of the weak dollar.

Norwegian doesn't charge for the main dining room but they have specialty restaurants that do. We don't mind since we got a great price plus a on board credit which covered it.

Dreamer 12-21-2009 09:02 PM

I did not do any research. There are six women going and one of the ladies said she would like to go to Aruba and the rest of us said that sounded good to us. We go every other year and try out different places. I am the youngest of the six. We always have a good time simply because we enjoy being with each other. I am sure that I will eat too much, even if it is not the best food and especially if they have the soft serve ice cream machines.

deserat 12-22-2009 04:55 AM

We've been on two cruises -one Holland America and the other Royal Carribbean - we preferred the Holland America - the ship was nicer, the food was better, the organization was better. Holland America was to Alaska, Royal Carribbean was an eastern Mediterranean cruise. The Holland America was an older crowd *however* they had lots of different activities available - my husband went to all of the little athletic competitions and we won enough Dam Dollars to get a nice sweatshirt.

We pick our cruises by where the port stops are and then we build our own excursions using travel guides and internet searches. The cruise lines use the 'extras and excursions' to make money. We would usually buy the smallest drink card - you are trapped on the ship during non-port call days, so a nice beverage around the pool is good. We usually did the buffet for all meals with the dining room one night during the cruise.

We just finished a Club Med skiing trip and it is just like a cruise ship except it's land-bound - the food was not quite as good as our last Club-Med trip, although the skiing with the instruction was awesome (St Moritz). The hotel was very bland, but then that's the way Club Med works.

Cruises are one way to travel and one just needs to know how to maximize the experience to what they value - some people love sitting around drinking adult beverages, some people like hitting the gym, some like to read, some like the shows, some like to gamble. For us, we prefer to participate in athletic activities, read and then when in port, visit as much as possible: example, when we were in Ephesus, they offered tours to the ruins in a bus for $85 a person. Through research, I found that you could take a local taxi-bus from the center of town to the ruins for about 8 Turkish Lira a person. From there you would walk to the entrance and then walk through the ruins (paying 30-40 Turkish Lira to enter). After that you could take a 3-5 km walk to the town where the museum was (Celsuk) - it was a palm-lined wide sidewalk. While there we bought some souveniers and had lunch. We then picked up the bus-taxi there to the same place we started. We walked through the town of Ephesus, stopped and had a Turkish Bath, and got our fill of the Turkish market experience. Then we went to a bar near the port and bought drinks while watching the cruise ship - much cheaper to purchase booze on land than on the ship and using up our Turkish Lira. So, for about $20 apiece, we had a much broader experience of Ephesus than that which could be had by the 'excursions' racket. Now, if you have trouble ambulating, then the excursion would probably work better - but if you don't, with a little bit of research, you can have a great day and experience. We did something like this for every port call (hiked from Fira to Oia - 12 km) along the atoll edge - beautiful! Ate awesome Greek food in Oia - the postcards are how it really looks. Bought T-shirts (of course) and just enjoyed Santorini - saw parts while hiking that the excursions wouldn't have covered.

Did the same with Alaska - found local hikes/etc. Did do one excursion, a hike to a glacier. All else was self-directed. If you wanted to kayak or helicopter in, yes, that would have been best as an excursion, however, you can use a non-cruise company and possibly save money.

Good luck - cruises can be fun if you know what you want and direct that.

freebird5825 12-22-2009 06:37 AM

I've been on 5 cruises...here are my impressions.

- RC, Eastern Caribbean, 1st cruise ever, age 35, had cheapest rooms (porthole level :laugh:), definite difference in treatment for scheduling of meal seating and dismebarkment. Very wild activities, too over the top sometimes. Mostly under 50 crowd.
- Princess, Alaska, age 40, midlevel room with window, excellent service and never made to feel like there was a hierarchy. Age group mixed.
- HAL, Western Caribbean, age 43, balcony room, top notch treatment, service standards and food quality were was best of all cruises taken. Age group mixed.
- Carnival, Southern Caribbean, age 47, balcony room, food was average. Very agressive sales marketing throughout cruise to the point of getting on our nerves. Age group mixed.
- Princess, Mediterranean Grand, age 51, balcony room, fabulous service, food very good but nowhere near HAL standards. Age group mixed.

Only HAL and Princess, in that exact order, will be my preferred cruise lines of choice forevermore. :flowers:

heyduke 12-22-2009 06:39 AM

I view cruising the same way I do vacationing on land to places like New Orleans and Las Vegas... If you can't find something to fo that you like and can't have a good time then that is your own faullt... My wife and I have been on Norwegian, Holland American, Royal Carribbean, Celebrity and Princess and although we have our favorites we had had a great time on all of them...

CyclingInvestor 12-22-2009 07:58 AM

A couple of pluses for Holland America - you can bring soda, wine, and champagne on board, and if you own at least 100 shares of CCL stock you get on-board ship credits for each cruise ($50 for <7 days, $100 for 7 days, $250 for 14+ days). You must jump thru some paperwork hoops to collect - start at the CCL website / shareholder benefits.

I believe that other CCL cruise lines and Royal Caribbean have similar programs for stockholders.

Cruisinthru 12-22-2009 07:59 AM

Deserat makes some very good points. We do not take the ship excursions as a rule. We usually are on Cruise Critic for a time prior to the cruise and we have had some great experiences on group tours put together by the fellow posters on Cruise Critic. We did Ephesus in September on a Cruise Critic bus tour. We saved about half price for an all day tour and had a great guide with us. That was one of the places we have been that I was certainly glad to have a guide. We also saw other things that we would probably have missed had it not been for the tour guide.

We have been on over 50 cruises in the last twenty or so years. What pleases me, may not please others. I found Holland American (we were on the Eurodam druing it's first year) very stuffy and boring, and the food was not up to the standards of other lines. Holland America is now owned by Carnival Cruises. I have had others tell me that the quality has declined from where it was a few years ago.

The secret to having a great experience on any cruise is picking the right cruise experience for you. You should definitely do your rersearch before booking.

I always have a good time on cruises. Some are just better than others.

Cruisinthru 12-22-2009 08:01 AM

You shouldn't have to jump thru hoops to get your stockholder credit from Carnival or RCCL. Just tell the travel agent. We have never had a problem getting the discount for being a stockholder. We own one hundred shares in both companies and have saved a lot of money on cruises.

CyclingInvestor 12-22-2009 08:05 AM


Originally Posted by Cruisinthru (Post 886217)
You shouldn't have to jump thru hoops to get your stockholder credit from Carnival or RCCL. Just tell the travel agent. We have never had a problem getting the discount for being a stockholder. We own one hundred shares in both companies and have saved a lot of money on cruises.

I did not realize the travel agent would do the work. We faxed in copies of the brokerage statement showing CCL stock ownership to CCL.

Cruisinthru 12-22-2009 08:08 AM

We use the same travel agent and she has the numbers to prove our ownership so when we book it is automatic.

kowski 12-22-2009 09:07 AM

Cruisinthru, The ship was the Monarch of the Seas and believe it or not the additional charge for the filet mignon was in the main dinning room, late seating and it was on every night. The crowd was unuasally young, many in thir 20's, must have been Christmas breaks? The younger crowd was the best entertainment on the ship. It was a 4 night cruise out of Port Canaveral to the Bahamas. Their private island is nice.

Kronk 12-22-2009 10:15 AM

Has anyone gone on a Norwegian coastal cruise (meaning the coast of Norway)?

That sounds awesome to me: glaciers, fjords, and going into the Arctic Circle...

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