I wrote RCCL's executive team. My letter and their response follows:
To whom it may concern:
I have waited a few weeks to see if my disappointment in our latest cruise would subside, but it hasn’t.
We have cruised with Royal Caribbean at least 12 times and a few that are not shown on our account. Royal Caribbean has been our preferred cruise line – even though we have cruised with: Cunard, Carnival, Celebrity, Norwegian and Holland America. We noticed earlier this year that services/experiences were changing – not in favor of the guests. This caused us to approach this past cruise with thoughts of needing to try other cruise lines in the future. No, we didn’t arrive expecting disasters, but we did arrive with our radar up.
We cruised with two other couples: one being frequent travelers with us; the second being our son and new daughter-in-law. We were expecting to expose our son and daughter-in-law to the wonderful world of cruising. Hmmm… it was not as expected.
I admire the attempt to encourage better sanitation, but when you do things like described below, you failed… especially when I witnessed on several occasions many staff persons sneezing into their hands rather than their sleeve or elbow AND THEN NOT WASHING THEIR HANDS!
Upon arriving onboard, we decided to dine at the Windjammer within the first hour. We soon realized that entry was different from past cruises. Rather than using the alcohol hand wash that seemed to be effective and speedy, on the Harmony, there are two entrances with 4 sinks at each entrance. The requirement that everyone wash their hands for 20 seconds (after applying soap) prior to entering the Windjammer created VERY LONG lines. When you consider that it takes about 60 seconds per passenger to enter the sink area, wet your hands and apply soap, wash for 20 seconds, then dry your hands and move out of the way for the next guest to enter – the delay is way beyond acceptable. The lines were slow moving and frustrating. Clearly you are trying to push guests to eat elsewhere. We prefer to eat breakfast and lunch in the Windjammer, but after two additional attempts and finding the same aggravating lines, we choose to dine elsewhere – where the food selection is much more limited. We simply were not going to wait in the lines and didn’t. Poor, poor planning/design!
We ate in the main dining room 6 nights. During our first day walking the ship to get familiar with it we came upon Wonderland and made reservations for Sunday night.
Saturday night was our first evening in the dining room and our experience was very good, James and Nirage could not have been more accommodating. We informed them that we would not be dining with them Sunday (because of our reservations at Wonderland) and that we wanted to be sure that we could have the same table on Monday and the remainder of the cruise. They said they were looking forward to seeing us Monday.
Monday evening, we were seated in the same section, but a different table. That was fine since James and Nirage would be our servers.
The next three evenings we were seated in a different section. Note that we always arrived early or on time. Once we were seated to the left just upon entering and adjacent the entry/exit into the kitchen area. Twice we were seated to the right just upon entering and adjacent the entry/exit into the kitchen area. On all three occasions the high traffic flow of servers was made even more intrusive when some servers passed on our side of the curtain bumping our chairs frequently. The noise was not appealing either. Attempts (after the first high-traffic night) to gain seating in the same section we started with were ignored.
Further, gaining bar service (a highly profitable opportunity) was challenging. Yes, we did get some drinks, but some drink orders were met with deer-in-the-headlights stares. That never used to happen. We gave up on our full table nightly drink shot as a traditional and celebratory event.
LUGGAGE TO THE ROOM UPON ARRIVAL
Delivery of our luggage was actually quicker this cruise when compared to others. Well, all but one! My wife’s luggage piece – most everything she brought – was not delivered before muster. We didn’t worry and expected it to arrive later that evening. It didn’t. We returned to our cabin around 10:30pm’ish. Discovering that the luggage was still not in the hallway, my wife called guest services. She was told they didn’t know anything about it, but assured her it would be delivered soon. “Be patient” she was told. Morning comes and no luggage!
Calling back to guest services my wife is told her bag was being held because it appeared to have an electronic device that was not allowed. Upon her arrival and inspection the culprit was an extension cord for her CPAP. Thankfully she packs her CPAP in her carry-on so she does not have to spend a night without it in the event of a baggage loss.
Why did they not bring this to her attention when she called or even before upon discovery?! Why did they hold the luggage for almost 24 hours? I understand the safety concern, but our extension cord was like brand new, not a safety concern, however, was certainly not worthy of a luggage delay of this magnitude!
Our room would not get comfortable – even with the thermostat turned fully counterclockwise to the coldest position. Finally, we call maintenance Monday morning. They came by when we were not present and worked on the system. The improvement was about 5-10%. We could not open the curtains to our balcony because the heat radiated in. Yes, we kept the door closed. Complaining again (I think on Thursday) maintenance came by while my wife was in the room. They apologized and told her they had just adjusted the AC to the highest level. WHAT?! Why was that not done after the first notice of poor cooling? If the highest thermostat level would not allow us to open the curtains, why only attempt a minimal improvement at the first attempt? I paid for a balcony cabin and couldn’t even open the curtains! It’s July in the Caribbean for goodness sake! Thankfully, the highest unit level made the room more comfortable, but only for the last 36 hours of the cruise. No, we are not overweight. We are fit and have normal temperature expectations.
We spent extra (as we typically do) to get a balcony room. It was a WASTE OF MONEY since we couldn’t enjoy the view because the curtains needed to stay closed to keep the room from becoming an oven.
We spent high into the four digits at the Blackjack tables and Slot machines. At the tables and to the drink servers we tipped well into the upper 3 digits. We have a habit of enjoying ourselves, attracting more players to our tables and tipping good dealers and servers. Our desire is to have fun. We hope to win, yet frequently leave a cruise several thousands of dollars down – all in the hopes of hitting the big payoff. We only play with money we can afford to throw away. You lose nothing by having us in your ship casinos.
All dealers prior to Thursday evening (late) were superb and fun. No, they didn’t always deal us winning hands, but they smiled with us when we lost and when we won. High fives are not unusual. Late Thursday after the comedy show in The ATTIC we returned to the casino. Our three guys joined at a Blackjack table. There was a short-haired, blonde female dealing. It was quickly apparent that she had limited personality and limited (slow) dealing skills. I was seated at the first dealing position. We had been seated less than 30 minutes and I had a $25 chip on the table. Cards were dealt, and I made my routine waive from left to right then resting my hand on the table. I did not want a hit. The dealer dealt me a card and I immediately protested (calmly) that I did not ask for a hit. She said I did… that I have tapped the table. I explained and even showed her what I did. She again disagreed. I repeated that I did not ask for a hit, but rather waived off a hit. She and I continued a couple of more times. I looked, but the pit boss was not obviously present. I took my $300 and cashed out at the cashier cage. I returned to the area, found the familiar pit boss and explained to him that since I had walked away I was not going to contest the dealer failure further, but he needed to watch the dealer as she is not capable of being an appropriate dealer. I turned and left. I have seen similar events occur on your ships and in Las Vegas. Typically, the dealer stops and summons the pit boss for remedy. It was this dealer’s lack of attempting a remedy and/or amicable resolution that was disappointing. I vowed to not spend another dime in the casino for the remainder of the cruise – even if it was just 36 more hours to go (a long time for my wife and I to not enter the casino!). The others in our small group chose to not spend additional money in the casino as well. How much money did y’all loose then?
Earlier in the week I had qualified for the Friday Final Slot Tournament. Since it was not going to cost me any additional money, I played in the finals. Guess what… I won! Having over 50 people play the prize was a free cruise in December rather than a cash prize. More on this later.
The bright spot of the cruise (other than our brief encounters with James and Nirage in the dining room) was SEN RUNGHEN (Housekeeping) from Mauritius. He was always smiling, yet genuine. He was happy and willing to do anything for us even though we asked for little. Our room was always cleaned/neatened in a timely manner. He always greeted us as if we were a long-lost friend. Quite a joy to have him service our room.
I find it interesting that none of your Board Committees reflect a goal of guest attention/retention:
Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee
Safety, Environment and Health Committee
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH
Sailing with Royal Caribbean so many times we have achieved Diamond status. Services on the past few cruises have been slipping – as if RCCL is being managed by bean counters. As time progressed during the week, we decided that cruising with other lines would not just be considered but would become a must. The Thursday night casino experience was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
As I wrote above, I won a cruise for two in the slot tournament. We will not be redeeming the voucher for that free December cruise. Our faith in Royal Caribbean has been damaged to the point we simply can’t cruise with y’all again anytime soon and maybe ever. Instead, we will sail other cruise lines in order to compare their service to yours. My suspicion is that they will outshine you.
Thank you for taking the time to read my comments. I hope that as a result, for other guests things will improve.
11270 xxxxxxxxx Ln
Xxxxxxxx, XX #####-####
CC:Richard D. Fain – Chairman and Chief Executive Officer – Royal Caribbean Cruises LTD
Michael Bayley – President and Chief Executive Officer – Royal Caribbean International
Adam Goldstein – Vice Chairman - Royal Caribbean Cruise LTD
-------REALLY! THIS IS YOUR BEST RESPONSE?-------
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Xxxxxxx,
Thank you for contacting the Executive Office of Royal Caribbean International. On behalf of Mr. Bayley, President & CEO, I am pleased to serve as your dedicated contact person and will be handling your concerns.
I would like to take a moment and thank you for your continuous loyalty as a Diamond member with Royal Caribbean International. We realize you were not completely satisfied with your experience and we appreciate this opportunity to restore your confidence in our company.
I understand and appreciate your honest expression of your most recent sailing with us. Great measures are taken in all areas of operation to ensure that our guests’ cruising expectations are completely fulfilled and it is especially disconcerting when circumstances threaten to disrupt the voyage despite all our best efforts. I assure you that your comments regarding your experience are of the upmost importance to us and will be shared with the appropriate departments for improvements.
We genuinely apologize for any inconvenience experienced on the Harmony of the Seas on July 07, 2018. As a gesture of goodwill, I would like to offer Onboard Credit in the amount of $75.00 USD per person.
Mr. and Mrs. Xxxxxxx, we realize we must earn your business by providing the best possible service both on and off our ships. Again, it is my pleasure to be your personal contact, please feel free to direct any additional questions or concerns to me and I will be happy to help.
If you would like to discuss this further, please feel free to call me at the number below.
Reason of review: Poor customer service.
Monetary Loss: $6000.
Preferred solution: Some remorse from RCCL that they failed..