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A Few Cruise Reactions (Food, Playmakers, Entertainment, etc.)


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Just got off Mariner over the weekend and wanted to provide a few takeaways I felt stood out.

First, the positive:

  • I hadn't been on the Mariner. For a 20-year-old ship, Royal has done a very good job keeping the public areas of the ship up-to-date, clean, nice-looking. It's still a great ship with a totally modern feel. 
  • Entertainment seems to continually improve whenever I cruise. I'm not much of an ice skating fan, but felt the ice show was really well done and enjoyable. 
  • The staff continues to be so helpful and friendly almost across the board. Somehow they really find a way to keep the staff upbeat and positive despite the tireless work schedules and repetitiveness of the job. This makes a huge difference in the overall experience of cruising Royal. 

A few negative notes:

  • The staterooms need a refresh. Both of our rooms smelled a little musty and were showing age. Also, having only two electric plugs in the entire stateroom in 2022 is just ridiculous at this point. Also, felt like public restrooms need to be updated. 
  • I feel like the food gets worse every time I cruise, and I think Royal needs to take a real look at the MDR experience overall. The selection in the MDR was repetitive and very uninteresting. I'd describe the food as average-at-best. Meanwhile, the Windjammer really lacks healthy options, particularly for breakfast. Honestly, the best food we had during the cruise was from the Promenade Cafe. It's the one aspect of Royal cruising overall that I feel has dropped in quality noticeably over the past 10+ years. I always enjoyed the experience of dinner in the MDR and the experience of dining overall on cruises. I hate that it's becoming less of something to look forward to.
  • Playmakers - There were all these fans of particular teams at Playmakers to watch NCAA tournament games but the weird version of ESPN they carry would bounce back and forth between the two games. I felt so bad for the people who went there to root for a team they really care about! And we're not talking about regular season baseball games or something. These are huge, mainstream, national sporting events. Their lack of access to live sports is just ancient at this point. But the real question is... why is Royal putting these sports bars onto every ship if they can't support it with the live programming sports fans are going to expect?? Why drive additional attention and devote more space to an area of weakness? It'd be like adding fancy Internet Cafes to every boat and only having dial-up modems at each computer terminal. 

All this said, we still really enjoyed ourselves and don't love cruising any less! 🙂

 

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Thanks for posting. You make some great points.

I agree on Playmakers, any legitimate sports bar can get pretty much any game that is televised.

I actually had the best MDR food I've had in a long time a few weeks ago on Liberty. It was on point all week.

 

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2 hours ago, jeffmw said:

Just got off Mariner over the weekend and wanted to provide a few takeaways I felt stood out.

First, the positive:

  • I hadn't been on the Mariner. For a 20-year-old ship, Royal has done a very good job keeping the public areas of the ship up-to-date, clean, nice-looking. It's still a great ship with a totally modern feel. 
  • Entertainment seems to continually improve whenever I cruise. I'm not much of an ice skating fan, but felt the ice show was really well done and enjoyable. 
  • The staff continues to be so helpful and friendly almost across the board. Somehow they really find a way to keep the staff upbeat and positive despite the tireless work schedules and repetitiveness of the job. This makes a huge difference in the overall experience of cruising Royal. 

A few negative notes:

  • The staterooms need a refresh. Both of our rooms smelled a little musty and were showing age. Also, having only two electric plugs in the entire stateroom in 2022 is just ridiculous at this point. Also, felt like public restrooms need to be updated. 
  • I feel like the food gets worse every time I cruise, and I think Royal needs to take a real look at the MDR experience overall. The selection in the MDR was repetitive and very uninteresting. I'd describe the food as average-at-best. Meanwhile, the Windjammer really lacks healthy options, particularly for breakfast. Honestly, the best food we had during the cruise was from the Promenade Cafe. It's the one aspect of Royal cruising overall that I feel has dropped in quality noticeably over the past 10+ years. I always enjoyed the experience of dinner in the MDR and the experience of dining overall on cruises. I hate that it's becoming less of something to look forward to.
  • Playmakers - There were all these fans of particular teams at Playmakers to watch NCAA tournament games but the weird version of ESPN they carry would bounce back and forth between the two games. I felt so bad for the people who went there to root for a team they really care about! And we're not talking about regular season baseball games or something. These are huge, mainstream, national sporting events. Their lack of access to live sports is just ancient at this point. But the real question is... why is Royal putting these sports bars onto every ship if they can't support it with the live programming sports fans are going to expect?? Why drive additional attention and devote more space to an area of weakness? It'd be like adding fancy Internet Cafes to every boat and only having dial-up modems at each computer terminal. 

All this said, we still really enjoyed ourselves and don't love cruising any less! 🙂

 

How was the food in Playmakers?  The upcharge worth the bar food options?  Subjective I know, just looking for your opinion.  Thanks.

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13 minutes ago, DublinFC said:

How was the food in Playmakers?  The upcharge worth the bar food options?  Subjective I know, just looking for your opinion.  Thanks.

 

I didn't eat there. Food looked pretty good, though. The wings looked tasty. 

The other issue is it's not big enough inside. There are so few tables and very little standing room so everyone ends up standing in the Promenade to watch. It never got too congested there, but it's not just kind of awkward. 

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7 minutes ago, YouthD said:

Royal Caribbean only has a contract with ESPN I believe, so they'll show whatever ESPN is showing at the time.

But it's some weird international version of ESPN. For example, the NCAA basketball games were on TBS (not an ESPN network), so it was the TBS broadcast (the TBS logo was in the corner) but it was technically ESPN and had the ESPN ticker at the bottom. And it would switch back and forth between the two basketball games, and it showed a lot of cricket when there wasn't a major event on. So it wasn't the regular US ESPN you'd get on your cable service. 

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main dining room used to be great, built up a relationship with your servers, drinks waiting for you, they knew your favorites, asked about what you did that day.  we've been on all of the voyager class, loved them.  sailed an oasis class pre covid in 2019 and just again last week, both were progressively the worth MDR experiences we've had in 10+ cruises.  

all about $pecialty $pend and $uite guests anymore.  

yes spring break and yes short handed post covid and yes many other things, but lots of us don't get to work from home or be half retired and thus pick and choose when we or our kids can be available, very happy for all of you who are.  we will not be cruising oasis class again, i can very confidently tell you that much.  

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1 hour ago, jeffmw said:

 

I didn't eat there. Food looked pretty good, though. The wings looked tasty. 

The other issue is it's not big enough inside. There are so few tables and very little standing room so everyone ends up standing in the Promenade to watch. It never got too congested there, but it's not just kind of awkward. 

I agree on the size and setup.  I was not impressed with Playmakers on Symphony at all.  Not a lot of room to sit, they have the pool tables and what not but it's a waste of space in my opinion.  There are some tables outside, but it had rained recently and even though the chairs looked dry, when you sat down the cushion oozed water.  Not sure who thought chairs that absorb water would be a good idea in an outdoor setting.  They need to lose the pool tables and what not, add more seating, and turn the volume down on the games a little.  It just didn't seem like a good setup to sit with friends and watch a game.   

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ive seen a lot of posts lately about the downgrade in quality in the MDR. i have a question for you guys...

how would you rate the current level of quality in MDR relative to other cruise lines?
i ask because ive been cruising for a bit but it will be my 1st time on RCL (SOS may 22) & want to have a better understanding as to what to expect

thanks in advance.

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1 hour ago, luiiismdo said:

how would you rate the current level of quality in MDR relative to other cruise lines?
 

I imagine it's on par with other cruise lines of similar cost. However, I would say the food in the main dining room(s) is far better on Disney Cruises.

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58 minutes ago, luiiismdo said:

ive seen a lot of posts lately about the downgrade in quality in the MDR. i have a question for you guys...

how would you rate the current level of quality in MDR relative to other cruise lines?
i ask because ive been cruising for a bit but it will be my 1st time on RCL (SOS may 22) & want to have a better understanding as to what to expect

thanks in advance.

Quality varies ship to ship and cruise to cruise. Was on Allure in April 2019 and again in Dec '19. Food and service was marginal in April, better in Dec.  Was on Oasis last Dec after a 2 year hiatus. I thought the food was better than on the Allure two years prior.  Was on Celebrity Summit in Feb and Celebrity Equinox in March. Food was worse on the Summit than on the Oasis but better on the Equinox than the Summit.  Pretty much the same menu on all the ships.

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1 hour ago, dr martini said:

main dining room used to be great, built up a relationship with your servers, drinks waiting for you, they knew your favorites, asked about what you did that day. 

This also is sorely missing. All of that is virtually gone. Many of the waiters barely speak English (I don't fault them for hiring these people, but in this particular role servers should be able to serve their clientele effectively,) so it's very difficult to develop that relationship, both as it pertains to the rapport and the service-level (getting knowing what you want, etc.) Drinks take forever sometimes, particularly when you order hard liquor. Wine comes relatively quickly but whenever I've ordered a bourbon the past couple cruises at the MDR it takes forever, not to mention the server has no concept of the selection, no list, etc.

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3 hours ago, jeffmw said:

But it's some weird international version of ESPN. For example, the NCAA basketball games were on TBS (not an ESPN network), so it was the TBS broadcast (the TBS logo was in the corner) but it was technically ESPN and had the ESPN ticker at the bottom. And it would switch back and forth between the two basketball games, and it showed a lot of cricket when there wasn't a major event on. So it wasn't the regular US ESPN you'd get on your cable service. 

My son has a “down day” recovering from too much DBP (sure don’t listen to your mother!!!) and he said he was beginning to understand cricket!  Caribbean ESPN definitely shows sports we in the US don’t follow.  At least the March Madness games were on if not all at once.

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I sometimes wonder if the MDR food is really going down hill or are we just getting use to it the more we cruise. Overall I have been happy with the food and service in the MDR on all the ships that I have been on. We will be on Mariner in a couple of weeks so we will see how it all plays out. It's still a cruise and a vacation so very excited.

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4 hours ago, jeffmw said:

But it's some weird international version of ESPN. For example, the NCAA basketball games were on TBS (not an ESPN network), so it was the TBS broadcast (the TBS logo was in the corner) but it was technically ESPN and had the ESPN ticker at the bottom. And it would switch back and forth between the two basketball games, and it showed a lot of cricket when there wasn't a major event on. So it wasn't the regular US ESPN you'd get on your cable service. 

Different syndication rules outside the USA.

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I’m in agreement on the MDR. Precovid the staff would get to know my kids, do magic tricks, chat, and have all of their favorites ready to go. In December that was not the case and it just didn’t feel the same. We’re headed out on our third cruise in 6 months and the menu in the MDR is exactly the same as it was the last two cruises every single night. Nothing is different. All out of different ports: Seattle, Los Angeles, and Miami. I used to get multiple apps, and desserts but the quality just isn’t as good as it used to be. I also felt like our stateroom attendants haven’t been as great. On navigator he told us what his hours are. It’s fine and great to set those boundaries, just not what I’ve ever experienced before and definitely made me feel like I needed to be out of my room during those times so he could do what he needed to. Twice he cleaned the room while we were hanging out on the balcony. Just much less personable, not much chit chat in the hall, things like that. I’d never give any of the staff bad reviews because I don’t want to effect their jobs. I hope possibly more staff can be hired so there is better morale.

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I firmly believe that decrease in interaction with guests is due to staffing shortages. We were on Oasis in December and had a conversation with our stateroom attendant about it. She explained how their schedules were working due to COVID protocols. They were assigned more staterooms that usual and there was a weird week by week rotation that they were on. My guess is that servers in the MDR are being assigned to more tables than usual and that leads to them simply not having time to build a relationship. As a former waiter and front manager in a land based restaurant, I can attest that it is much easier to manage a 4 table section than it is a 6 or 8 table section. 

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I want to be clear on this, though. I did not feel that the staff overall was an issue. Overall, I felt like the staff was relatively plentiful. I can think of several examples (guest services, Coco Cay bars and food stands, rock climbing wall, Adventure Ocean, bingo, just off the top of my head) where I was honestly surprised to see so many workers there. And I felt the staff was honestly very friendly and enthusiastic. At no point did I get the impression people were unhappy or unhelpful or rude.

My primary complaint was about the food. .But if I did have one complaint about staffing it's that specifically in the MDR, both our waiter and our server's assistant were less interactive and attentive and, frankly, didn't speak great English. 

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If is matters, we did the Oasis in December and two Celebrity ships since then. The menus in the MDR were virtually the same.  The Oasis cruise was about half full. The food was good and the service was very good. The first X cruise was a smaller charter cruise. The service and food were sub par likely caused by the disruption of dining hours. The MDR was a madhouse.  The last X cruise was about 2/3 full. Food and service were both pretty good... about what is was on the Oasis.

I think some of the dissatisfaction with the food is that it's always the same. Same menu on the same day week in and week out on every ship.  It would be good once i.e, first time. Kind of same/same boring the third time.

Oh, the first world problems we have to contend with.😄

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