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A reluctant DCL cruiser finally tries RC


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I writing my thoughts here cause it took a few years and a few rc canceled cruises to finally try RC. Yes we were reluctant to cruise RC. When we finally started our drive to Port Liberty I must say I had my mental clipboard in my mind ready to rate negatively every issue we encounted onboard RC Anthem of the Seas.    So for my fellow dcl'ers heres my review:

Checking In for Cruise:      RC  about 5 min         DCL   about 20 min

Parking:                             Easy at both

Entering ship: Very Impressive atrium on dcl upon entering ship, plus visually amazing every time u pass through it. 

Adult Area on Ships:  RC seems about twice as large. 4 huge beautiful Jacuzzis. RC adult area on deck 14 is enclosed, which is a huge deal. Weather controlled. It doesn't matter if it rains, and is cold, etc. It's called the Solarium and that describes it. Warm, tropical and beautiful. Multi level mid size pools and u can just sit back and watch the path the ship takes.The Solarium is totally enclosed in glass There's even a very nice small cafe in this area. Very nice. DCL Jacuzzis are much smaller and "metal" looking. No where close to RC's. The RC Jacuzzis stay on all the time. Very rarely did we have to press the button. Jacuzzis open to midnight. Some pools open to midnight. 

For 10 and older:  RC has tons of activities. The rock climbing, the surfing area, the Ifly which is also super fun to watch, the NorthStar. How about the FunPlex area: Huge inside area that has a full court basketball area, that turns into a skating area, also a bumper car area. However the dodgeball game held here was hilarious. Each side had about 50 adults/kids playing. The game I saw, a younger female adult dressed in formal outfit ending up beating everyone. It was amazing to see her catch the balls thrown at her in her outfit. Fun!

Main Theater Show:  The RC shows were extravagant with special effects, lighting, singing, etc, but for us, the shows were weird. However, everyone we spoke with loved them. So I guess we'll give it another chance next cruise. Disney Shows are of course Fantastic. 

Dining: Here of course was one of our main concerns. I didn't like that we couldn't visit all 4 of the different dining areas. Oh well. Quality of dinner I thought was about the same between RC and DCL. DCL does present it a little better, but no big deal. DCL has a bit more variety for the dinner menu as well. 

Service: I found the staff at RC to be very friendly and willing to assist. Of course DCL is pretty much fantastic, but after 7 cruises on dcl, maybe they are over the top! Too much. And dcl always hints to please give them a top rating, like almost every day. 

Windjammer vs. DCL buffet forgot the name The first day dcl has the shrimp and crab legs and Windjammer doesn't. After that they are pretty much the same with these few exceptions: Windjammer has way more variety. The omlet station is much easy to deal with. A few different people are making omelets. I found I had to wait at dcl for a few people before me all the time on dcl. RC also had a few staff making spaggetti with vegetables of your choice and it was really good. Windjammer seemed larger as well, more international type foods. On the last full day of the cruise, Windjammer had "special" desserts. That was a nice touch as well. 

Pay for soft drinks:   Not even a big deal for us. Besides ice tea, juice is available in the morning, plus flavored water drinks that were really, really good. Didn't miss the soda at all. 

Stateroom: Very, very nice. I think the size was 198 sq ft, a little smaller than the 214 stateroom were usually reserve on dcl. We reserved a bed topper months before so the bed was fine. Sheets were very comfortable similar to dcl. We did miss the split bathroom a bit, but did enjoy the glass shower. 

Night Entertainment:  RC seemed to have way more and a better variety. At least 2 comedians during the cruise. Also the ship has 3 bars or clubs which rotated different bands on different nights. They were really good to watch and listen to. 

Public Restrooms:  Ok here is the place where RC needs lots of work. The Men's Restrooms around the ship are dirty most of the time. My wife said the Lady's room was fine. I'm glad for that, or she might have jumped off the ship. Not sure if this is a male thing...but the public restrooms don't have a little button to override the automatic flush, when the auto flush doesn't know that someone has left. I think it is also confused by the fact that sometimes the seat isn't closed. I don't know what it was, but RC put the little button on the toilets, so guests can manually flush the toilets. I hated that and so no need for that at all. 

Rebooking:  RC absolutely kills DCL on this. They have 4 or 5 stations for this. Plus a book to reserve a time slot. DCL used to have a drop off box. I always researched and knew my next cruise info, and when dcl discontinued that box, I had to wait a long time in line while people who didn't research would ask begining level questions like "What ship is cruising from what port???  All stuff u can find online before u take up 2 hours just chatting. Last dcl cruise I just left my info on the managers desk and said "book this or not and getting rid of that mailbox for next cruises is a disaster from those of us who know what we want to do. I don't want to give up 2 hrs of my vacation time, cause someone higher up isn't smart enough to make the right decision."

 

All in all, forgetting the public bathrooms, we had a great time on the Anthem of the Seas. I went in trying thinking it would be horrible, but we had a great time, like strolling around the ship at night and watch all the people having fun.   (ps- I don't know how so many people drink so much. I was so full from the meals, I couldn't keep up with the drinking. But everyone was having a great time. 

 

 

 

 

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Thanks for sharing!

What's your opinion on specialty dining on DCL vs RCI (I've cruised both multiple times on multiple ships but am curious your opinion).

 

Edit: One more question.  What was it that made you reluctant to try a different cruise line?  Do you think that DCL shaped your perception of cruising in a way that you couldn't imagine someone else executing on the conept that you discovered with your first cruise or did you think the experience would be similar but the overall quality higher based on Disney reputation?  Maybe something different entirely?

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Thanks for the review! I'm doing a "trial cruise" on Anthem next October with just my wife, partly to see how she might stack up as a ship for the full family. Sounds like your kids are a bit younger than mine, but if yours had a blast then I don't see how mine wouldn't! Makes me look forward to next October all the more, hopefully followed up with another trip with the whole family.

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Thanks so much for the comparison.   As a self-proclaimed mickey and disney freak,  i hope someday to try dcl.  Until they do process significantly (haha) or my teacher husband retires and we can go during hurricane season,  i will enjoy my rc cruises.   I love hearing how the 2 lines compare though!  Jane

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13 minutes ago, monorailmedic said:

Thanks for sharing!

What's your opinion on specialty dining on DCL vs RCI (I've cruised both multiple times on multiple ships but am curious your opinion).

 

Edit: One more question.  What was it that made you reluctant to try a different cruise line?  Do you think that DCL shaped your perception of cruising in a way that you couldn't imagine someone else executing on the conept that you discovered with your first cruise or did you think the experience would be similar but the overall quality higher based on Disney reputation?  Maybe something different entirely?

Didn't try specialty dining. Since it was our first cruise on RC, I wanted to try all 5 nts in the main dining to evaluate variety of the menu, etc. 

"One more question"  you stated it exactly, didn't think another cruiseline could match up and being a Disney Vacation Club member, I have never really been disappointed in my experience with them. Over 20 years of vacationing in Disney and DCL, if I've ever mentioned a problem at the resorts or anywhere else I have been reimbursed financially very well for any inconvenience.

I didn't want to spend $2000 to be disappointed in any way on another cruiseline. However leaving out of NJ, and the ability to skip flying, plus not wanting to be a person who wouldn't try another cruiseline push me in this direction. Leaving out of Bayonne and going under the Veranzano Bridge was really cool. Then cruising north, dcl doesn't do that much and when they do it, like twice a year or so, they can charge a bundle, so this worked for us.

 

Rebooking a cruise next year for 7 nts to Bermuda and a stop at Boston, was perfect for us. The rebook was easy. The price dropped about $150 and i made a call to RC and they credited me right away. 

Calling RC to make changes and adjustments over the last year or so, is always easy. Hardly wait. They are very helpful. So in a way, the entire experience surprised me. 

Getting a balcony for the same price as a dcl inside room, is also a plus. .....It's the men's bathroom that needs to be addressed. Really no excuse for that.

After the trip I know sometimes things go wrong, like I tried to do early walk off on disembarkment day, wow that was a mess. But people we ate w/ just walked off at the time they were suppose to, so I'll do that next time. Tendering to Bar Harbor was also a huge pain, but I decided not to focus on the negative, which is weird for me. Too many surprisingly nice things happened for us.  

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7 minutes ago, chrisd596 said:

Getting a balcony for the same price as a dcl inside room, is also a plus. .....It's the men's bathroom that needs to be addressed. Really no excuse for that.

Be sure to fill out the comment section of the online review form if you haven't already. By all accounts, RCL does read that feedback and take it seriously.

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Chrisd596...thank you so much for posting this. This is something that has been on my mind for quite a while. My husband and I fell in love with RC years ago and have taken many cruises with them. However, a few years ago when our kids were 4 & 6 we decided to take them cruising and left RC for DCL mainly for better shows for the kids and activities for them.  We have sailed with DCL twice now with the kids (3rd one booked for this December) and have also gone back to RCL (without the kids) and I completely agree with everything that you have posted, except for the men's washroom part cause I would have no clue about that :8_laughing:.  Anyway, our kids are now 9 & 11 and we are giving some serious thoughts to taking them on RCL but still worried they will be bored. They are not big into sports. What they love on DCL is the pools, the shows, and the free disney movies available in the staterooms. The ship we are looking at is Anthem in March. I guess what I am asking is this for anyone out there who might have suggestions....is Anthem a good choice for the whole family or should I be looking at Oasis class (which we have been on many times but kids have not) or the Freedom class (which we have never been on)? Any input or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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We were on the Anthem and I thought it was a very nice ship. Look wise, it's a lot of WHITE! You'll be very comfortable on it, cause it's laid out interior wise, like the Disney's Dream. Deck 14 forward adult section, Mid and Back of Deck 14 kid pools and buffet Windjammer... decks 3 4 are the dining areas, forward is the theater. Pretty much similar layout. 

 

 

Chris

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If you don't have an RC excursion then u have to wait until your number is called to go to the tender ships. When I researched this, people told me to get online for the tendering about 7:30am, since the ship docks at 7am. We'll we got there at 7:15am and there was already a Huge Line waiting for the tender #'s. Maybe we waited for 45 min just for the slip with our number on it. While waiting I kind of mentioned to my wife, why don't they just have someone passing the numbers out to us on the line instead of having us slowly proceed to a special station passing out the #'s. Funny thing was when we finally got to the station, one of the workers started walking down the line just passing out the slips w/out asking all the questions that the station was asking.

Now after that 45 minute wait, we waited at least another hour or so to be called to the tender boats. That led to going down a few decks, and then, guess what, another line for about 10 min. Then on the tender boats which took another 15 min. We had an excursion, not w/ RC, but at 10am and remember we starfted at 7:30. We arrived at Bar Harbors port at 9:50.

Like I mentioned earlier. I'm not into magnifying my complaints. It's just something I learned. Bar Harbor is absolutely beautiful and fun to walk around the shops and eateries. Coming bk to the ship was easy. And finally, any port that we've had to be tendered, I love eating a late lunch at the buffet area, while overlooking the harbor from the ship in the ocean. 

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Thanks for taking the time to reply to my questions - I'm always interested in the extra "loyalty pull" that DCL has when those not familair with cruising assume that the awesomeness of their experience was because it was Disney, not because cruising itself is awesome.

I asked about the specialty dining question becuase I find DCL's specialty dining to be second to none, including RCI specialty (which isn't bad, don't get me wrong).

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11 hours ago, monorailmedic said:

Thanks for taking the time to reply to my questions - I'm always interested in the extra "loyalty pull" that DCL has when those not familair with cruising assume that the awesomeness of their experience was because it was Disney, not because cruising itself is awesome.

I asked about the specialty dining question becuase I find DCL's specialty dining to be second to none, including RCI specialty (which isn't bad, don't get me wrong).

DCL has 2 specialty dining options...Palo and Remy's. Palo is relatively cheap compared to RC specialty dining. So one could get the experience of dining "in class" and not spend nearly as much as RC dining or the expensive Remy's. Years ago we did Palo and it was good, but maybe too fancy a food for us. I'm still ok with the main dinning rooms. I did mention that while both RC and DCL main dining quality is about the same, DCL does give the varied experience of rotating between the 3 "themed" dining rooms and also a more varied menu. Plus the presentation of the food, slightly better. But, to us, at this point, that really wouldn't make a difference in which cruiseline we decide on. BUT for a beginner in cruising, and with the ability to travel in the off season, outside a school schedule, i would suggest dcl, as a first time experience. 

 

For those who have done dcl many times, and are thinking about "trying" another cruiseline offering some different ports, I wouldn't hesitate trying RC. It wont be "Disney", but it's fine for a new experience. ....the dining cafe's it offers for a quick bite, the adult area being much bigger and nicer!!!  That was a huge shock to me. Plus the Solarium which isn't effected by weather... the Windjammer buffet, the music at night at the different bars, the middle school and older activities offered.... these are a few of the highlights of RC and that's coming from a Disney person. 

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2 hours ago, chrisd596 said:

DCL has 2 specialty dining options...Palo and Remy's. Palo is relatively cheap compared to RC specialty dining. So one could get the experience of dining "in class" and not spend nearly as much as RC dining or the expensive Remy's.

What I like about DCL specialty dining (aside from just the food quality) is that they have some distinctly different options.  For example, Palo Brunch - not just a modified menu, but a totally different experience (a great one at that) which if offered in say, Giovanni's Table, would definitely get me to pay up for something different.  Remy has brunch as well (do the champagne pairing, well worth it!), and now a dessert "meal" which I've not yet tried.  These seem like potentially easy ways for RCI to increase options, and in turn, revenue.

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I've loved my for Disney cruises, but now that my son is older and the price discrepancy between the two is so great, I just can't justify the price difference. In addition, I think Total has been upping their game to be more competitive. 

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7 minutes ago, DocLC said:

I've loved my for Disney cruises, but now that my son is older and the price discrepancy between the two is so great, I just can't justify the price difference. In addition, I think Total has been upping their game to be more competitive. 

Yes, the cereal industry is working hard to overtake the cruise giants.  Sorry, had to.

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Just discovered this site today and quickly registered...seems like good stuff!

My first cruise was on RCI on the Nordic Empress, now Empress of the Seas in 2004.  We then went on two DCL cruises on the Disney Magic in 2006 and 2009.  Last year, we cruised on Oasis of the Seas and are going again in October on Oasis.  I can summarize my experiences as follows.

Nordic Empress--Great time, cheap cruise, wish I paid more for more entertainment/food options onboard

Disney Magic--More options than Nordic Empress, great service, food was better in 2006 than 2009, quite costly overall

Oasis of the Seas--Perfect blend of everything!  Plenty of Wow factor, lots to do, food and entertainment options are endless, good bang for the buck.  

In my opinion the overall experience on the newer vessels in the RCI fleet give much more bang for the buck than DCL.

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