Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Royal Caribbean Cruise Scorecard - A Review

It has been over a week since Chris's Retirement Cruise was completed and think it is time to do some critical reviews of the cruise and ports of call. I need to get these thoughts out for other travelers and to record what I remember about the various portions of the cruise.

The comments below relate to my experiences sailing with Royal Caribbean on Allure of the Seas from August 26 - September 2, 2018. the ship departed and returned to Port Everglades, Florida, near Ft Lauderdale.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line

Pre-Cruise Support - A

 Calling the cruise line is recommended if there are changes or when looking for pricing improvements. The agents on the phone are knowledgeable and helpful. Sometimes the process takes a long time, but in the end they worked to help us get the best deal. This was a complicated trip given that there were four cabins and family units involved. And there were changes. The agents handled the changes and were able to keep the cruise on track for everyone. I was a bit sad that given we were reserving four cabins that we were not offered an upgrade.

Boarding Process in Ft Lauderdale - A

  It was smooth and efficient. I think it took less than 20 minutes from when the taxi dropped us off with our luggage until we were on the ship and ready to cruise. The process was smooth and efficient. It really helped that we had completed all of our required paperwork beforehand. The addition of the picture submission during the pre-arrival registration process made the boarding process smoother.

Royal Caribbean Web Page 
Royal Caribbean Web Site - C

  The site is complex and not user friendly. It was easy to get lost in the site and not complete the proper forms. That written, the site is comprehensive and contains nearly everything to ensure a successful cruise. There are some things that the site does not make clear enough, especially the need to make reservations for shows on the Oasis-class ships. While there is no cost, the need for reservations for some activities needs to be clearer.

Smartphone App
Royal Caribbean Smartphone App - C

  The app has so much promise, but it just doesn't get the job done. I did not purchase wifi for the cruise, but the app was supposed to work despite that. It did have some basic functionality, but it did not display my daily activity and reservations and the ships activities differed from those actually provided.

Debarkation in Ft Lauderdale - F

  On September 2, 2018, this was a disaster. I am sure that there must have been a problem with the computers that Customs was using, but our projected departure time was delayed from 8:45 AM until 10:30 AM. The real problem was the lack of transparency in understanding the problem. The boards just continues to move the projected debarkation times back without explanation. I assess that Royal Caribbean may need to separate domestic from foreign travelers because once we actually got out of the lines and into the baggage and customs app it took only a few minutes to clear and be outside ready to head off to the airport. There apparently was a problem processing international returnees. Mind you, everyone got on the ship in Ft Lauderdale. How hard can it be?

Will I Sail with Royal Caribbean Again?

 Definitely! Overall the experience was great. I have sailed on three other cruise lines and from four other ports so I do have a small basis for comparison.


I will review the ship and each port of call during the next few days.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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