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The Worst Vacation I’ve Ever Taken Was a Royal Caribbean Cruise

  • May 15, 2023
  • By Stephanie, The Roving Fox
The Worst Vacation I’ve Ever Taken Was a Royal Caribbean Cruise

You know those trips where nothing goes right? Everything seems difficult? Well, I just had the worst vacation of my life on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

As a seasoned traveler and travel blogger, I like to think that planning trips filled with interesting activities and new fun places is one of my strengths. I like “points hacking,” and will try to get the best value from each trip I plan. However, we just finished up the 6 night Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas cruise from Rome to Ravenna, and I have to say that the whole experience was terrible from start to finish.

Let me preface by saying…maybe cruises aren’t for me, and I made a mistake thinking that I could do this and enjoy it. I certainly won’t place the blame 100% on the cruise operator. Part of these problems have got to be “me”, since it seemed like plenty of people were having the time of their life.

But let’s get started.

Cruise Capacity

The capacity of the Explorer of the Seas is 4,290 passengers, and a crew capacity of 1,185, with a total number of 5,475 people on board. Our cruise was sold out, so every nook and cranny of the boat constantly felt crammed with a sea of people everywhere. Unless we went into our room, there was really not a quiet place to sit. Every deck was full, every lounge had someone watching a YouTube video full blast. It was impossible to feel a bit of privacy without completely removing ourselves entirely.

Price changes

We originally booked the cruise last year, and pushed it to this year since last year we were still a little worried about Covid. The price doubled, but we stuck with it. Over the months, the price would drop here and there, so we would call and get the price adjusted. However, once you make your final payment, you can’t do any more price drops. You are locked in.

Well, the price of our room (ocean view) dropped by about $400 right after the final payment. They would not budge on price, a room upgrade, or even onboard credit. It felt very much like a cash grab, and not customer service focused.

The Rooms

We stayed in an Ocean View room on Deck 2. I didn’t know much about the importance of locations, so I was just happy when they said we could stay in the room for the back to back cruises we had booked.

Deck 2 is…in short…trash.

Yes, there’s a window. But what is rarely discussed is the volume of noise coming from the waves during sailing. Those things crashed so hard into the side of the ship that our room shook, and we would hear loud banging every night. It’s a real disappointment to spend thousands of dollars on what is supposed to be a relaxing vacation, only to be in tears from sleep deprivation.

Finally, Royal Caribbean placed our room in between a family of 11. That means they had 5 people in one room and 6 in another (including a baby). I don’t know who could comfortably sleep with that many people next to them, but they did it. I am not sure why Royal Caribbean didn’t trade our room with one of theirs so they could be next to each other. Instead, we were literally in the middle of every family discussion they had.

Excursions and Leaving the Ship

Is there a bigger time waster than a cruise? It takes at least an hour to get off the ship if you buy an excursion. And since our ship was the first sailing of the season, everything related to disembarkation seemed like an absolute cluster.

Then, you leave the ship and are in a time crunch to explore the port city before rushing back on board.

Honestly, this was one of the worst parts. 5,000 people flood into a town for a couple hours, everywhere is packed and crowded, the cities are over-run, then you leave before you even have a chance to enjoy a place. I love walking around new places all day, and enjoying the local cuisine. However, some of our port calls were as short as 6 hours, which impacts the time you can spend in town or on an excursion.

Then, you have to go through lines and security checks to re-board. It’s all too much to handle.

Lines, lines, lines

People everywhere. Lines everywhere. Lines for food. Lines for drinks. Lines to get on. Lines to get off. Crowded cities. Crowded restaurants. Crowded museums.


I think you get the point.

Guest Services

I had a few questions and needs from guest services throughout the trip. The ship advertises that you can call Guest Services and they will answer and help you on the phone. Despite calling a number of times, they never answered.

So, I waited in…more lines…to speak with reps, who never seemed to be able to help. The line “come back later” became a running joke between my husband and I. The questions weren’t complicated, but the lines added up. I probably waited for 3 hours just in service lines over the week.

The Good Things

What did I like? The entertainment was very fun. I especially enjoyed the ice show and the Elton John tribute at the piano bar. The housekeeping and dining staff were very nice the entire time, and you can tell how hard they all work each day.

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By Stephanie, The Roving Fox, May 15, 2023
Stephanie Janes The Roving Fox blog
Hi, I’m Stephanie

Hey there, I am Stephanie, aka “The Roving Fox!” I started this blog to share travel tips with friends, and eventually started incorporating more info about my hip labrum surgery, beauty products I love, and restaurant reviews. Please say hi here on the blog, on Instagram, or Facebook!

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