ED Magedson – Founder
Royal Caribbean1050 Caribbean Way, Miami, FL Miami, Florida United States of America
RCCL Radiance "Scourge of the Seas"
I'm a Loyal Royal Caribbean Crown and Anchor Diamond cruiser. Really I have nothing but good things to say about every cruise I have taken with RCCL, then January 8, 2011, I cruised on Radiance of the Seas aka "Scourge of the Seas"
The night before the cruise Royal Caribbean called to alert me there had been a huge outbreak of Norovirus on Radiance so boarding the next day would be delayed while health authorities disinfected the ship. I didn't want to take health risks so I asked if I could reschedule to a later cruise. Their answer was no and I was assured the ship would be disinfected and cleared by health officials as safe to cruise.
When I arrived at the Tampa airport I was met by Royal Caribbean reps who said check in had been delayed to 4:30. I just wandered around the docks. At 2:00pm there were many passengers at the terminal. That's when I learned RCCL was assigning boarding numbers first come, first served. I was assigned group 8 to board sometime between 7:30 and 9:30pm!! Are you kidding me? Why didn't anyone mention this boarding number to us before now. Remembering Diamond members have priority boarding, I asked to speak to a supervisor. At first I heard a litany of excuses but I stood my ground and finally received a VIP paper. By now the terminal was overflowing with very upset people who had received no notification of novovirus or the departure delay.
To this chaos came the announcement boarding had been delayed again to begin at 6:00pm.
At 6:00pm the first group was allowed to board the ship and learned passengers were only allowed to go to Main Dining or Windjammer only for dinner. Disinfecting was continuing and absolutely no one would be allowed in other areas of the ship or into their cabin until after 9:00pm. At dinner we were not allowed to touch the menu or salt/pepper shakers because of the seriousness of the Novovirus outbreak. "You no touch!" would be the rule the rest of the week!
It was actually almost 10:00pm when I was allowed to go to my balcony cabin on deck 9. The ship hallway had not been cleaned very well and there was a strong sewage odor. The sewage smell was so overpowering I gagged when I opened the door to my cabin. The toilet had not been cleaned and towels/shower curtain were missing. I called housekeeping and about 11:30pm someone clean up the mess. Meanwhile I wondered about our linen. The steward arrived with a huge bottle of some disinfectant. The smell faded but by no means disappeared. The TV remote and information notebook had been removed for disinfection and reappeared two days later with a sticky residue on them. The balcony displayed "wet varnish" signs on the door, rails, and chair. There was New Year's celebration glitter embedded in the cabin carpet that wouldn't vacuum out but would stick to me. The steward put up a cloth shower curtain that didn't prevent water from covering the bathroom floor. I tried to put a positive spin on things and reasoned they were making the best of a bad situation. The truth of the matter is Radiance was not ready to sail.
Next day most everyone was up on deck because the sewage odors down below were overpowering. And most cruisers had horror stories of how they found their cabins. I won't gross anyone out, but I was made to feel fortunate my stateroom was in as good a shape as I had found it! All I can say is that there had been a whole lot of barfing on the previous cruise.
The Windjammer was scary! "You no touch!" anything. There was no salt or pepper available unless you asked someone to find some. Crew members clad in surgical garb and gloves were giving passengers a plate and silverware, dishing food servings and serving drinks. At the time I assumed they were thinking of our safety. What we weren't being told was there were problems aboard.
By the second day of the cruise a few passengers were getting sick and it was Novovirus. If there was a medical staff aboard, they were overwhelmed in the infirmary. From that point on I avoided crowds (hard to do on a ship), lived on my cabin balcony and made the most of room service (which by the way has the most limited menu choices, the smallest servings and often arrived lukewarm.)
Royal Caribbean offered everyone a $50 on board credit. It might sound generous, but $50 doesn't go very far in onboard shops and certainly does little to compensate inconveniences or the loss of the first day cruise experience.
I am convinced Royal Caribbean's corporate greed took priority over the safety of passengers aboard the Radiance. I suspect RCCL will be able to claim health officials cleared the vessel, but I can't help but also suspect worse. Radiance was not disinfected enough to sail. Any health official who had bothered to inspect my stateroom would have kept the ship in port. Finally, $50 on board credit does not compensate for the lost day of cruising, the inconveniences I endured throughout the cruise and my personal exposure risk to sickness.
At the end of the cruise I was told to vacate the cabin early and depart the ship. They finally announced what many already suspected days earlier, there was another outbreak of Novovirus on Radiance and the CDC had to come aboard to inspect the ship and disinfect everything. We should have been informed of this days earlier and Radiance should have returned to port before more people got ill. But an early returning ship would have created negative public relations issue. This confirms Royal Caribbean cares less about passenger health safety than even maintaining a positive public image. It is enough to cause me to rethink how much RCCL cares about cruisers after they take your money for a cruise.
Had this been my first cruise aboard Royal Caribbean, it would have been my last Royal Caribbean cruise. This 5 night cruise was actually a 3.5 day cruise when all was said and done. In spite of the advertisement, most were gyped out of that much cruise time. Royal Caribbean has not made adequate compensation. I am not alone feeling "Ripped Off". I am thankful I didn't get sick, but I know some people aboard who did.
To those wondering about taking a Royal Caribbean cruise I hate to have to warn from experience that your comfort, convenience and health can be sacrificed on the altar of corporate greed and image. Proceed with caution and care!
This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 01/24/2011 06:52 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/royal-caribbean/miami-florida-/cruise-shipsroyal-caribbeanroyal-caribbean-radiance-88f4fhtm-686082. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.
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