We have just returned from our 8th cruise - 2nd with RCL. We boarded Liberty of the Seas with relative ease at Barcelona. We had booked a suite and were looking forward to the extras that all the $ had purchased. Sadly these didn't really materialise. There was no welcome drink in the room, no fruit, no personalised messages as with other cruise lines. They're trivial things maybe, but after paying several thousand dollars in total for just 7 days - you are entitled to expect some extras. There was of course access to The Concierge Club..but that didn't fit in either long days in port & an early enough meal to see a show etc...
Our room attendant finally introduced themselves, but only to tell us to go to the safety drill. Still no feeling of welcome. Some of the staff were barely polite & mostly looked dispirited. Others were charming & did their best, but it all felt very 'gratuity related' on this cruise. We overheard two staff complaining about the way they were treated by the company. This is upsetting, as staff work incredibly hard, long hours & are desperately keen to send money back home. Maybe that explains why the overall feeling on this cruise was that passengers were seen as cash machines & the aim is to squeeze as much money out of each customer during their stay as possible. The cost of some services are beyond a joke. That's always been the underlying agenda on cruises we have found, but generally more subtle than on the LoS!
Back to the day to day stuff: The TV channels were very poor compared with other cruise lines. We we're disappointed in this lost opportunity to engage with & inform passengers. It's astonishing to report that on port days, we had to GUESS where the exit point was - no signs! This twice involved us walking, with others, the length of the ship (& it's very long!) How hard would it be to put signs on each landing? Wrong turns resulted in sharp words from staff (if you could find them!) We aren't new to cruising by any stretch of the imagination, but we found this 'work it out for yourself' approach astonishing.
We decided to do 'our own thing' in Marseille. Lots of options here, but just a word of warning about 'the Little Train'. It will take you on a tour through the very bumpy & steep streets up to the cathedral, which we thought was a round trip when we bought the tickets. When we got there, we were all ordered (rather rudely) off the train, even though some people didn't have time (or physical ability to climb the many steps up to the cathedral. The guys running this were not very pleasant to one woman who had mobility issues & who'd only wanted a a ride around the city before going back to the ship. It was difficult to watch. We got a taxi back down.
When you disembark at Civitaveccia, if you're not on an organised trip, you'll be met by dozens of guys holding up pictures of local attractions. It's a bit overwhelming, but we did want a driver to explore the local area, as we had already visited Rome several times. Suggest you ignore the first waves of pushy drivers.....and towards the back is a group of older drivers. They all speak quite good English and are genuinely helpful. We found one called Stephano (friend of Mario, who was warning us about handbag thefts at the next port of Naples!). Stephano took us on a day trip to surrounding coastal towns of historic interest & to a fab restaurant, where we had the best possible fish meal. He was a great guide. & really informative & passionate about Etruscan history. He's only one driver, but it shows the ones at the front of the 'throng' might not necessarily always be the best! He was also half the price the others were quoting! A DIY day ashore that goes this well is a great feeling!