This is a story about my experience with Royal Caribbean Rewards- A royal mess by any measure…
It all begins with the Royal Caribbean Visa Reward card (similar to most rewards cards- one point for every dollar you spend, redeem the points for free cruises or cruise merchandise). My husband and I spent three and a half years racking up the points necessary for a 4 night cruise for two. Alas, the day finally came when we met our quota, set a date, chose a sailing, and called to make the reservation.
When I called to make the reservation, I explained to the “booking expert” that we would be redeeming our reward points for the cruise. I booked, and that would be the end of a very short, pleasant story, but that is not, of course, how it went at all…
I received a call a few days later from Royal Caribbean Rewards asking me why I booked an interior stateroom instead of the ocean view I was supposed to get with my rewards points.
I called back several times to the rewards department, getting the same answer each time…They couldn’t give me what I had spent three years to get- an free cruise for two with an ocean view stateroom. In addition to that, it came to light that I was responsible for paying the taxes and fees…so much for “free...” I wrote emails to notify Royal Caribbean and visa of the issues, but never received any response. Talk about batting a 1,000…
Finally, a week before my cruise, I call the rewards department in a last-ditch effort to get what I “paid for.” By some miraculous measure, I convinced the woman to put me through to a manager (something that had been refused in all previous calls). I was granted the ocean view stateroom…finally.
Indeed, my story would not be complete without a bit about the cruise experience itself-
As bad as booking this vacation was, Royal Caribbean did not do a great job of convincing us it was worth the effort. Getting onto the cruise ship involved waiting in two unfathomably long lines (all total it took nearly an hour and a half to get on the ship), with workers that seemed to absolutely despise their jobs. Once on the ship, things did not get much better (although the thought of a beach vacation around the corner smoothed some rough spots). Once we entered onto the ship, the only thing open was the café- which was out of nearly everything in the way of food (we had not had lunch yet, because we thought this would be open and fresh). As the cruise went on, we found the staff to be slow and sloppy. The few “free” places to eat on the ship were open when everyone was off the ship having a good time, and closed when you wanted to have that midnight snack. In addition, we were rushed from the dining room every night for the next round of guests to eat (our waiter was not only slow, but frazzled and looked like he may burst into tears at any moment).
One of the most frustrating things for us was that the staff tended to wait around like they were expecting a tip (this was particularly true for room service). Every time they so much as poured you a cup of water, they stood waiting. We actually were outright asked for a tip from the guy that…get this…took our luggage from the trunk of our cab (when we arrived), set it on the curb, and put a tag on it..So much for “all inclusive…” To put the cherry on top, on the last “day” of the trip, we were forced off the boat at 7:30am…Anything before 9 on a vacation, is too early to be awake… Needless to say, if I choose to cruise again, it will not be with Royal Caribbean.
My Recommendation: If you are looking for a true “all inclusive” cruising isn’t it (look for adults only or family friendly all-inclusive…I have never been but hear they are amazing). Most cruises do charge for almost everything “extra,” as well as expect tips upon concluding (Royal Caribbean actually gives out envelopes with suggested tips for its employees). All cruise lines are not equal, however, and it is best to do your research to find the one that best fits your style of vacationing. There are several cruise lines out there, and cruising can be a great way to see a multitude of destinations in one trip.
Overall Rating: 1