Date of Trip: December 2007
TRANSPORTATION: My husband and I are senior citizens and love to cruise. We have been on several with HAL and one with Celebrity. We decided to try the 12 night RCCL – Brilliance of the Seas – Caribbean and Panama Canal cruise out of Miami on December 21st, and booked the transportation with the cruise line – 10AM flight from PHL. Since it was holiday travel time, it was hectic, however we arrived at MIA – 20 minutes late – at 1:30PM. There were 4 other groups on our plane from PHL. We were met at baggage pickup and had to wait for several other planes to arrive before going to the ship. Did not arrive at pier until 3:00PM. The bus let us off pretty far from the check in area, where we then waited some more. I had even gone through the cruise line’s on-line check-in. We arrived at our cabin – after another mile walk – at about 4PM – too late for lunch -and just in time for lifeboat drill. Did not receive our bags until after dinner, at about 7:30PM. Disembarkation went smoothly and we boarded the bus to the airport. The driver asked us all to remember to tip him generously, then he let everyone off at a midpoint instead of at each terminal. There we were with our bags and no carts in sight, quite a distance from the US Air terminal. Finally, an airport employee walked by, asked if we needed help, and found a porter for us. This left us with a pretty bad opinion of RCCL and I do intend to write to them regarding their poor quality of transportation service.
MINSTREL DINING ROOM: There were not that many selections on the dinner menu and we were not at all impressed with the quality of the food. WINDJAMMER CAFE: Breakfast was very good with a good variety of food. Lunch was not too good in selection or quality. OVERALL MEAL COMPARISON: HAL has the best food and many more selections to chose from. Their Lido has an excellent arrangement of counters and varied sections, such as: Asian, Italian, Deli, etc.
ON AND OFF SHIP: The ship went through one lock of the Panama Canal, and later that day we docked at Cristobal Pier for some shopping at the terminal. The lines to disembark snaked all around the 4th floor and took close to an hour to get the line moving off the ship. We shopped for only 30 minutes and then found that the line to return to the ship was even longer. There were 2 gangplanks and they would only use one of them. It was close to 5PM and at the rate they were going we would miss our early dining time. I walk with a cane so my husband went to speak with someone in charge. After about 15 minutes of many more passengers complaining, they finally opened the second gangplank. When we docked in Colombia, it was 11AM and most people were up and ready to go ashore. However, there was mass confusion as everyone crowded the elevators, stairways, and exit area. This was not handled well by the crew, but they were not entirely to blame, as passengers should have also followed instructions more closely.
CREW PERSONNEL: The crew on this ship were the best and friendliest we have ever seen on any cruise ship. HAL may have excellent food but this ship had the best crew ever.
POOL AREA: There seemed to be plenty of chairs available – even on sea days.
GENERAL AMBIANCE: The ship was beautiful, the dining room lovely, and again, all the crew were fantastic. We were a little annoyed with mid-ship elevators, though, which passed by floors because signal lights kept going out.
FINALLY: Not sure if we want to travel with RCCL again. Does anyone have any suggestions?