My wife, daughter and I returned from a cruise on the Imperial Majesty Regal Empress today. We were contacted by Ramada Plaza Resorts a couple of months ago stating that we had been chosen for a "familiarzation trip" in which we only had to pay "port charges" which were $59.00 per person. I have never been on a cruise so I decided to go ahead and do it. The initial charges were $119.00. This was only for my wife and I. For some reason which is still unknown they insisted that I pay for my daughter later. During the call they offered a "cabin upgrade" for an additional $100.00. They stated that the upgrade was for an outer room and led me to beleive that the room was nice and had the expected balcony. I didn't have time to research and realize that NO rooms on this ship have balconies.
In fact, the "upgrade" was probably worse than all of the inner rooms. The only thing it offered was a tiny porthole in a corner of the room that is virtually inaccesable (you wouldn't have wanted to look out of it anyway as it was filthy). The room was so small that the three of us, one of which is 7 months old, could hardly move. These people who you speak to who call themselves "travel coordinators" or whatever are merely telemarketers. I was actually a bit apprehensive about taking this deal because of the way that the people I talked to on the phone spoke. They were obviously uneducated people who were just saying what the script told them to.
With all of that said, I will take you through a timeline of our journey. We departed our home in west Florida the morning that we were to depart. We arrived at the Ramada Plaza Resort Welcome Center in Ft Lauderdale. This place is by no means a "Resort". I didn't stay there and thank god I didn't after simply going there to pick up our tickets. This brings up another point. I couldn't figure out why they didn't just mail me the tickets when the mailed me the confirmation. The reason is that you have to go there to give them a $40.00 cash deposit which relates to the timeshare meeting - nightmare that they do not mention. It is stated on the original offer you receive in small print. If I recall correctly it says something about a short information session regarding timeshares. Anyway, it didn't take too long at the welcome center. We left the Welcome Center for the "15 minute drive" (hahaha) to Port Everglades. This is more like a 30-45 minute drive. We finally arrive at the Port and figured out the parking nightmare which costs $15.00 per day (they will charge you for two days). So then we board the ship. As I stated earlier, this cruise was our first so perhaps the the "prior to boarding" is always this horrible. Essentially it was just a lot of waiting and dealing with incompetent employees. Also, at this point they charge you their $30.00 per person fuel charge and charge your credit card $300.00 saying that they will credit back anything you don't spend. They didn't mention any of this prior to my arrival to the port. If you don't have access this money on your card you can pay it in cash. If you don't have the cash of the credit, you are screwed and won't be going.
After about an hour of sweating and filling out paperwork we boarded the ship. This ship is about 50 years old so don't expect too much. I didn't mind the ship too much but my wife hated it. It does kind of smell and the staterooms are terrible. I doubt that they have replaced the linen since 1970. The bathrooms are so small that you cannot even move much less have a decent shower. These are the drawbacks about older ships but some people prefer history as opposed to convenience so if that is your thing, you would probably like the Regal Empress. With the exception of the help desk, the ships staff were all really nice and helpful (I realize that makes no sense but it is true). I assume the the women at the help desk are asked so many questions that they simply become annoyed. The staff is almost all Philipino and are very nice but can be difficult to understand but, for the most part, the people you deal with speak fluent english.
I have always heard stories of the incredible food on cruise ships. This must be the exception. While it certainly wasn't bad, it wasn't what I expected from all of the stories I have heard about other ships. The wait staff were excellent although they forgot my wifes salad and my glass of wine on the first nights dinner. In their defense, there were so many people in the dining room that it was simply chaos. It would be nearly impossible for anyone to keep up with. They had a buffet at "La Tratorria" which was just average
food but if you are hungry did the trick.
We arrived in Nassau at 9:00 am on day two. It was interesting to see for the first time and to walk around for. a few hours. It was also REALLY expensive. They have really taken advantage of the the tourist industry which supports them. We went to a restaurant called "Conch Fritters". My wife had a grouper sandwich (didn't even come with fries), I had a baked potato and 2 heinekens, total bill $28.00 and some change. I didn't leave a tip because I literally had to go get my bill after I asked for it and waited 10 minutes. We then reboarded the ship and waited around.
The second night they have another dinner which wasn't bad. Other than that they have some bingo, dance shows and some sort of disco that opens at 11 pm which we didn't go to at all. You can go out on the sundeck and watch the sea which is nice. As on all cruises drinks are extremely expensive (8-10 dollars).
On day three we arrived back to Ft Lauderdaly at about 9 am. We got off of the ship fairly easily because we were able to take the elevator because of the baby stroller. For everyone else it was probably horrible waiting in a line going up three floors and down many hallways.
We got out of customs fast and with no problems. After leaving the port we went to the "2 hour max timeshare meeting". This is where it gets ugly. I cannot describe it any better than being a complete living hell. They say 2 hours maximum. That two hours starts when one of the salesmen finally calls your name from the waiting room. The only reason we even attended was to get our $40.00 cash deposit back. They actually give you some vouchers and an additional $75.00 in cash back if you can manage to make it through it all ($115.00 total). We had this woman dragging us all a town in te middle of nowhere, showing us parks we didn't care about all the while we have a screaming 7 month old baby. I felt like I was being held hostage there as did many others. I must have told the pushy salesperson 100 times that I was not the least bit interested but she went on and on and on and on about how I was wrong and making a foolish decision by not buying a timeshare from them. Then, after three and a half hours, I thought it was all finally over and another woman comes over with some "better and cheaper offers". I was so mad that I wanted to kill someone. Then after dealing with this idiot and her line of crap and telling her no about another 50 times I thought it was finally done.
WRONG!!!! Then some "corporate" man comes to the table. The saleswomen said he would just have a couple other questions about their performance.....a complete lie. He started with the whole "how were they" thing and within 1 minute was trying to again sell us that stupid timeshare. At this point I was so mad that I had had enough and insisted that we leave and not hear another word.
You could just not go to this hell meeting and lose your $40.00 cash deposit but I don't know if in the end they might try to charge you what they feel is the "full rate" because you didn't comply to the terms which they don't tell you. That is an unknown but I wouldn't be surprised.
Would I recommend? Absolutely not
Unhappy with rpr
U.S.A. Click here to read other Rip Off Reports on Ramada