RCI Navigator dropped the ball



This is the letter I wrote to RCI in response to time spent on a ship that we could not wait to get off of. I will say that this in no way is the usual behavior of RCI crew, which is why it was so distressing. I just hope you all have better experiences when you go.

In regards to: Navigator of the Seas
Sail date: 02/07/04

Dear Mr. Goldstein:
I am writing this letter to express our unease regarding the level of service that was received as well as to highlight some other behaviors of the crew that were practiced onboard.
We have cruised several times with you in the past and have always anticipated your style of cruising above all others. This also happens to be our second cruise aboard an Eagle Class ship in less than one year. This was the first time we have ever wanted to turn back time and be on a different ship or be just on an island. We doubted even if this was the right place for us to be. We doubted we received our monies worth.
It all began in the Dining Room. We were seated at table #449 for the second seating and were very excited to meet our table mates as well as the four crew members that would be taking care of us that week. The service made us feel like we were on an assembly line, not like we were on a ship that touts itself to be “like no vacation on earthâ€Â.
The wine steward never made him or herself known to us. As a result we never were offered after dinner shooters, nor suggested a nice wine pairing to make the meal more palatable. One member of our party asked for a second order of shrimp cocktail and did not receive it, nor was there any acknowledgement of the error. We never did meet the Head Waiter, not even on “lobster nightâ€Â. We began to realize if we waited for him or her to make his or her way over to our table, go over introductions, and take the tails out of the shells our meal would be cold, so we did it ourselves. As it was, by the time the drawn butter was brought to us, the lobster was already eaten. The tenderloin with the surf and turf was tough and chewy like it has been reheated several times, and the Grand Marnier soufflé was presented in a do-it-yourself manner which was unlike we had seen on prior RCI cruises.
One of the reasons we chose to return to the Eagle Class ship is due to the specialty dining options that are offered onboard. “Johnny Rockets†is one of those dining options. By the third day of the cruise, “Johnny Rockets†was no longer able to offer its patrons what we consider to be their signature menu item: onion rings. They never were able to have more shipped in even though we still had three more ports of call left on the itinerary. We found that to be inexcusable, especially when we found there was a crew party that was held after Cozumel, where there was loads of food items brought onto the ship with “no expense sparedâ€Â, according to one crew member. Not only did the lack of onion rings affect “Johnny Rocketsâ€Â, it also affected “Chops Grill†because they could not offer them with one of their dishes.
Another reason we choose RCI repeatedly is the way children and adults can enjoy themselves in the main pool/spa area and not infringe on the each others areas. At no time were the children told to stay in one pool. At no time were the rules enforced to have a parent or guardian of a child in the hot tubs. At no time were the children told to stay out of the “adult only†hot tub. It would have been nice to be able to have a soak in the main pool area without a splashing child in the hot tub with you. One child even was doing handstands in the hot tub! No bright yellow Deck Patrol shirts to be seen.
So we decided to go into the Solarium hot tubs to have a peaceful soak. There was no room in those tubs because one was closed for cleaning at a high traffic time of day! We found that to be extremely frustrating. Not to mention, parts of the pool deck were also roped off during high traffic times so they can be hosed down.
Guest Services was helpful, albeit up to a point. I had a spa treatment done and I forgot to bring my Crown and Anchor 5% coupon with me at the time of the service. I went to Guest Services to ask if anything could be done about that. After the Guest Services Clerk pulled himself back from the counter drawing his breath in as he did so, I was directed upstairs to speak the Spa Manager to see if there was any way I could be helped.. It was 10pm, the spa was closed and this was Wednesday evening. I was told I had to get it done before Friday if any adjustments were going to be made. The next day we docked at 10am and our Party Boat Tour left at 10:30am. There was no time to do such a thing.
However, the one thing that really got our goat was the abruptness and haughtiness of the Jewelry Store Sales Clerk. Seeing we were recently engaged, we wanted to have a nice picture taken with the sparkle of the ring in the foreground to use as our Engagement Picture. I went up to the counter and politely asked if it was possible for someone to clean my ring. The clerks back was turned when I asked the question because she was cleaning a case. Without even turning around fully her response was, “We sell gold cleaner for ten dollars.†Taken aback, I asked quietly, “You mean, you can’t just clean it for a picture?†She responded sharply, “We’re not allowed to.†My eyes felt like they were saucers, so I quickly said “thank you†turned on my heel and left. This woman had no idea if I was also about to spend thousands of dollars in her store, yet treated me as if I was intruding on her space and taking up her valuable time.
As a result of this mediocre cruise experience, that was in essence to celebrate one of the happiest times of our lives, we are questioning where our loyalties lie. The response to this letter will indeed help us uncover the answer as well as help us figure out who will assist us with the celebration of our upcoming wedding and honeymoon.
In closing, if this was our first cruise with RCI you can be assured we would not return to your line. With RCI, we are accustomed to unparallel service, fantastic food, and wonderful amenities with no questions asked which is why we have returned to you again and again. Members of our families have returned again and again for the same reasons. However, if this is an inkling of where RCI’s road is headed, you can be assured we will not return.


Wow, I have only been on one cruise and it was on RCI. And when I read reviews such as this I almost can't believe it's true. And yet it must be, because you are not the only one who has posted such an experience.

I can only imagine how you must feel. A cruise to me is the ultimate experience - a chance to completely step out of your reality and live a week of luxury and experience total free time. How hugely disappointing to have the service you did! That defeats the whole novelty of cruising!

Please post when you get RCI's response. I'm very curious to see how much they care about their guests.

We are getting married through RCI this spring and they are nickel and diming us to death on this ceremony. No breaks at all. For anything. For that, I am expecting the ultimate experience for our ultimate day. Hearing things like this makes me nervous...


OK to keep it short...........................call the custimner service line and ask to speak with elenor in the miami office...............i cant say to much but she will compensate you well!.....................keep asking for her and dont take no for an answer


Thanks toronto, although in all honesty I am not really looking for compensation. I am mearly pointing out areas of improvement. There is actually an intersting series of comments related to this letter on another site: www.cruisecritic.com which really runs the gammut of opinions from total agreement to total sarcastic disagreement. I will call her however, but I will wait sometime before I do that. I would like to see if my letter actually gets read first, then I will take it to the next level.

Please do not be nervous. I am sure (I hope) that this is a one time thing. We have cruised with them in the past and have had WONDERFUL times. I usually walk off the ship bawling like a baby because of the great time I had and am so incredibly sad it is over. This time was, well, different, couldn't wait to get off. :( Things like this have NEVER happened to me before on RCI. But then again, I used to work for Walt Disney, my standards are a little high because I know what is expected out of a quality guest experience. So, don't be nervous. The most important thing is you are going to marry the most incredible person in the world, and in my book, that is priceless. :)

I will keep you all posted.


Sorry your cruise wasn't what you had hoped it would be. You did a wonderful job on your letter to RCI. It was precise without the "yelling and screaming" that some do when they write letters. In all the times that I sailed with RCI I had one less than "memorable"cruise and I did write to them when I returned home. I wasn't looking for anything, I was just giving them my thoughts on how the ship had gone down hill since the prior times that I sailed on it. I included my email address in the letter and I did receive an email back from a customer service rep when my letter was received. I also received a letter in the mail a few weeks later advising me that they were looking into the things that I had mentioned in my letter. Another few weeks had passed when I received yet another letter in the mail from RCI, apologizing for the things that occured on my cruise and it also included 2 certificates for $300.00 each off of my next cruise with them. The certificates were good for any rate that I received, not the book price.

RCI's customer service has improved so much in the last 5 years. I'm sure they will do something for you.


We were on the Navigator in Sept. and thankfully did not have the same problems as you had. I would really have missed the onion rings at Johnny Rockets :thumb We enjoyed the service and food in the dinning room, but found the dinner we had at Chops to be more like we were used to in our earlier years sailing on RCCL. Hope you hear from them about your letter.


Thanks to both of you for understanding the deeper meanings behind the issues. I have seen responses where i"it was onion rings, get over it". And it really goes a bit deeper than that. To me that means they were cutting corners and I am sure there were other things that did not happen that afffected other guests as well- please read on..
One woman in my Cruise Critic Meet and Mingle party said the chicken was bloody in JR, and in the Dining Room her prime rib was also quite pink after she asked them 2 times for one that was well done. Also, the food was served to her and her son lukewarm and late! She did say something to the Maitre'd but service did not improve, in fact, she recieved what she called a "surley" phone call from him wondering why they had not been in the dining room the past 3 nights. He apparently had a bottle of wine he "needed" to serve her provided by her travel agent. This was also her 2nd less-than-spectacular experience with RCI, not to mention she travelled all the way from Scotland to give it another go!
Another woman's children-from thr UK also btw- had trouble in the Adventure Ocean program when they cancelled activities for lack of participation. No place does it state that activities will be cancelled for such things. She was also uspet at the quality of the food. I found that bothersome as well.
Someone told me there is no "adults only" hot tub and pool on NOS in the main pool area. Well, there certainly was on Explorer and Enchantment. It was on the port side of the ship. The other side had 2 hot tubs and part of the pool was gated off for the smaller kids, so they wouldn't go into deeper water.
There were others that I spoke to who seemed to have other "odd" experiences. One lady and her friend ordered the drink of the day but did not recieve the "take home galss". But got charged for it, more than once. One man neeeded more ice for his beer bucket, walked up to SkyBar and asked if he could, and the Bar Server told him they were cleaning up and that he couldn't have any, while of course he was closing the grate-I saw this happen.
Our room was also next to what seemed to be the Room Steward's (who by the wasy was the saving grace of this entire trip- and nother letter will follow about how fabulous she was) rubbish disposal. Sounded like a GIANT vacuum at 1am, 1:30am, 1:45am, 2am, 2:15am..etc..you get the picture. you would have thought they would have used extra insulation on those walls to decrease the noise level. My other half works in commercial contruction- he was livid.
Poor placement of Adventure Ocean (or poor placement of Portofino's)- it was situated right over Portofino's. As fabulous as their meal and service was, elephants upstairs. Oh well. However, it was what it was, and there is no changing that. However, any Guest Service Manager worth their weight will see this as areas of improvement. There is a book that I was required to read called, "A Compliant is a Gift" and I think this personifies that entire book.

Thank you for your words. I have always belived there is no need to become a screaming mimi about things like this. I have worked in the service industry for about 11 years, so I know how hard they work as well as the best way to make one's point when you are unhappy for what you have paid for. Disney is what taught me that (before of course they began to get greedy and the like).

So at any rate, I will keep you all posted and let you know what transpires. Hopefully next time will be better.


Post Edited (02-20-04 10:44)


This is so weird. We were on the same cruise with you and were seated at table #445 for second seating. We were the round table of 8. Although, we had a good cruise, I do feel the same in regards to the head waiter. He never paid any attention to us until it was time for the tip. Only one couple in our group tipped him. He literally saw us all get up to leave and came running over practically jumping through the dining room and said " you are leaving us so soon".

I posted a review if you are interested in reading it. I heard someone at Johnny Rockets complaining about the onion rings. We had them the first day at sea, but not when the rest of the week.

We had Amelia and Peamkuit for waiter and asst. Not sure if you had the same pair or not. I'd be interested to know.

Hope you next cruise is better.


Hello to the original poster - I am sorry you had some negative things happen on your cruise and I certainly hope it won't stop you from cruising again. I read your post on the other board and it demonstrates why I spend much more time on this board. You are completely entitled to voice your opinions and disappointments with the cruise. I was turned off by the ring cleaning situation - I've noticed many times that the people who work in the shops in the ships often give very poor customer service. I've run into may rude salespeople in the areas that sell perfume - as well as in the jewelry stores. I also find it interesting that the menu planners, or people who do the ordering for the ships, cannot order appropriately for the cruise. A couple years back, we were on a ship that ran out of butter. I can't stand margerine. After the first 4 or 5 days, there was no butter to be found on the ship - you have to wonder how that happens. The same thing with the onion ring issue - how do you not have proper plans for the order and shipment of onion rings? (Though I am sure they won't hold up the ships' departure for onion rings!) Regardless, I just wanted to say that I am sorry your cruise didn't meet your expecations, and you have every right to state your problems with your cruise. I hope you get an exceptable response from RCCL and will share it here on these boards. Sheree



Yikes, NO butter? As an avid Atkins eater, that is my worst nightmare. :) Margarine is like eating poison. I NEED my butter. Maybe I should bring my own just in case. :D


You know, I need butter because I love all the delicious bread on board - that doesn't help the Atkins crowd!!!


We were on the navigator and thankfully never had those problems. I know exactly how you feel, you can read my post on the NCL board about my NCL Majesty cruise (look for "NCL/Majesty a Joke". The little things add up.

As for head waiters. When given the option, I throw away the tip envelope for him. I have an aversion to tipping management. Interestingly, most ships that charge auto gratuities only charge for the table waiter, asst waiter, and room steward.

As I always say.. A bad cruise is still better than a good day at work :)


I'm sorry you had such a bad experience on the Navigator. We sailed the Navigator in Oct. 2003 and had a wonderful time. We had first seating for dinner - don't know if that makes any difference. Our waiter/asst. waiter were wonderful. On lobster night, he had a second lobster already ordered for everyone at our table (how's that for anticipation). So when my DH & another gentleman called the waiter to order another lobster - withing a couple of min. there it was & hot too! The head waiter was a very nice lady who made a point of coming over & chatting with all of us for quite a long time. We didn't tip her, because like rshreib, we don't believe in tipping management. But I will say, she went beyond the call!

I can understand about the onion rings - even though I don't like onion rings. It's the principle - if something is offered, then it should be available. We never made it to Johnny Rockets (never heard of it before we came on board), so I can't comment on the food.

We only used the Solarium pools & hot tubs so can't comment on the main pool. Did notice in the main pool area that there wasn't as much music or excitement as in previous RC cruises. We'll be anxious to hear how RC responds to your letter.

We've always sailed on RC (going on 6th & 7th sailing this yr). We'll be sailing on the Mariner of the Seas June 27th and Explorer on Oct. 10th. Looking forward to both cruises.


WOW! We were on her in Oct. 2003. I will say I was disappointed in the service. It was our 5th cruise (2nd on Royal). I also didn't think the food was all that special. We went to Johnny Rockets and I was surprised that there was a fee for the shakes. When ice cream is free, why charge for shakes. Anyway, I'm glad you wrote to them as that is the only way they know when something is wrong. Please let us all know if you hear from them and what they had to say.


I totally agree with you. When one hing happens you sort of brush it off as a bad day, or an oversight, no big deal. When 2 things happen, you think, oh no biggie, I can just ask someone else, maybe they are new. When three things happen you begin to wonder, hmmmm...what else is going to happen???

It's funny you say that, it is unfortunate that maybe seating times did make a difference. I wish I could have found someone who sat at our table for the Main Seating so I could ask them how it was. However, I find that that should not matter because the level of service one receives should not depend on the time of day.

No butter??? How were they able to cook anything? Not even the cute little logo butter molds you get at Portofino's and Chops??? Not good. Speaking of dietary needs, on my cruise they also ran out of cottage cheese on day 4, which I forgot to mention.

I don't remeber their names to be honest. I just remeber they were both women. Where is your review posted, I am very interested in reading it. :)

Oh, I got a mailing address if anyone needs it for anything.

Royal Caribbean International
1050 Caribbean Way
Miami, FL 33132

Only took me 6 days to get it for them.

Lady Jag

I think you belong on another cruise line. Have you tried Celebrity, HAL or Princess?

I would never ask a jewelry store on a ship to clean my ring, despite the fact that I planned to buy jewelry there in the future. I'm sure the points you brought up were important to you, but they seem incredibly petty to me. A 5% off discount for the spa? How much did that really save you? ($5 if you spent $100.) Why not forget about ordering one of those shooters and save your $5?

I, for one, am thrilled with RCI not pushing those stupid shooters at dinner time!! :roll

Post Edited (02-23-04 18:53)


Actually, the reason why the 5% coupon was so important was b/c it wasn't my money that was being spent there. Besides, it is mostly principle to me.

It never crossed my mind NOT to ask for a service in their jewelry store that I have received elsewhere with no problems. However, it was her overall tone, attitude and sheer disgust at the request is what irritated me. Just say, oh I am sorry we can't..we don't want to loosen your setting by accident...not try and sell me something and act like I just intruded on your personal space.

Well, I am not here to defend myself, just to relay an experience.

Anyhoo...we are going to try Princess next time, we hear they are more like "traditional" cruising, you know, the way RCI used to be.

Lady Jag

The point I was making about the 5% off coupon was that if I had forgotten to bring the coupon, I would figure it's my fault. I wouldn't go down to the Purser's Desk after the spa had closed to try to get my money back. Next time, I'd be more careful and remember the coupon.

I wouldn't haggle (sp?) with the Purser's Desk over a very small amt. of money - I'd give that amt. to the person that was paying for my spa 'experience' out of my own pocket. You already said someone else was paying for it, so you were getting the whole thing for free. Giving the person $5 that paid for your service is peanuts compared to what it cost them.

Princess can 'nickel and dime' you even more than RCI, or so I've heard people comment. I hope you don't find as many negatives with them. Their food can be mediocre at times, I don't think they'd honor a coupon hours after a spa service and in my limited experience of 9-10 cruises, I've found their crew to be nowhere near the caliber of RCI's, especially the head waiters.

Good luck with the next one. I sincerely hope it's a better experience for you. :) :)


Listening to your complaints about RCL , I can't wait to read your letter to Princess after your next cruise.