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Sail Date: March 2019
We chose this trip because we are from Boston and it's a great port to leave from. This was the first trip on the Gem out of Boston. The previous 7 years we had the Dawn. We were looking forward to having a new ship for a change. ... Read More
We chose this trip because we are from Boston and it's a great port to leave from. This was the first trip on the Gem out of Boston. The previous 7 years we had the Dawn. We were looking forward to having a new ship for a change. Embarkation was very smooth, although the ship was late arriving in Boston from New York. The good thing was that since no one was disembarking we were able to go straight to our rooms. this was a 14-day cruise. The first week the entertainment was great. The ship band was wonderful. The singers and dancers were great. The second week , in my opinion, was not as good for entertainment. They never repeated a show which was fine but I just don't care for the magician, juggler, acrobatic shows or the other shows they chose for the second week. We were in a two-bedroom haven room and were able to have lunch and breakfast in Moderno which was really nice although during a two-week cruise it would be nice to have a little variation in the choices especially at lunch time. We did the specialty restaurants , Cagney's was not as good as other ships we've been on. It was never full yet it said it was if you looked on line. The staff was very slow. They didn't seem to have enough staff on hand. One of our meals was a slow roasted prime rib but the prime rib was grilled which basically made it a steak. Moderno was wonderful, LaCuchina was fabulous and Teppanyaki great. We really enjoyed the entertainment in the atrium and Magnums, particularly Leo Jostol and the Vibz Quartet. Both were awesome and you wanted to go back and see them again and again. We enjoyed the casino especially meeting Angelo one of the hosts and Rodel, one of the slot attendants. Our Butler Ronald was wonderful, easy to talk to and took care of our every need. The concierge, Jahira was great. We had a couple of hiccups in the room but she addressed them immediately and they were taken care of promptly. The Haven pool area had a few tables and was attended by Made. He worked very hard but truly for a haven area there needed to be one or two more people working since both food and drinks had to be retrieved from different locations and brought back. He had to take care of two floors all by himself. He did a great job and always had a smile. Our steward, Komang, was efficient, pleasant and kept everything spotless. We've been to most of these islands so we only took three shore excursions and they were wonderful. If you take the train ride on St Kitts be sure to sit upstairs outside and you'll see more of what they're explaining. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
Gem Review The Norwegian Gem—and NCL in general—have lost a lot of its sparkle. We booked this cruise because the departure and arrival out of Boston was convenient. I had another NCL cruise out of Boston booked, but I’m ... Read More
Gem Review The Norwegian Gem—and NCL in general—have lost a lot of its sparkle. We booked this cruise because the departure and arrival out of Boston was convenient. I had another NCL cruise out of Boston booked, but I’m canceling it. Our 14 day April-May 2019 cruise on the Gem put NCL on the bottom of our cruise choices. THE GOOD: • The entertainment was very good. The production shows were a notch above. The show band was superlative • The cabin shower was spacious! • “Freestyle” service in the main dining rooms was better than expected. And wait times--even during prime-time--were minimal. • The quality of NCL’s drinks is excellent. They tasted great and looked even better. And their drink cards are some of the best afloat (but come with a VERY steep price). • Like most cruise ships, there was an excellent selection of live music throughout the ship, especially at night. • Shore excursions were good without a lot of hurry-up-and-wait. THE BAD: • Many of the Oceanview staterooms have TINY portholes that are set a foot or so into the ship. Very difficult to see much through them unless you’re a contortionist. • The cabins are TINY. Most cabins have absolutely no room for a chair or sofa in them. • There was ONE closet in our cabin. • We had ONE 110 volt electrical outlet in our cabin. • Service is the specialty restaurants was only fair. It seemed the wait staff was stretched way too thin. • Food in the specialty restaurants was good, but most portions were beyond tiny and disappointing. • The main buffet was small, and the different stations often had the same food. The main salads could be seen in about three different places on the buffet. • The buffet was a huge dumping ground for leftovers—not so creatively disguised. Breakfast too often included many leftover vegetable dishes from days gone by. • Duty free liquor prices were more expensive on board than buying them at home. Do your homework. • The staff in the buffet area was sub-standard and not at all friendly. They often ran around like there was a fire in the galley. They avoided eye contact and rarely returned a smile. • It was sometimes difficult to get reservations in some of the specialty restaurants…but they were NEVER more than ½ to 2/3 full. They make you feel like there’s a huge rush or wait to get in. There isn’t. • NCL supposedly has an hour limit on reserved chairs in the pool area. I asked the pool deck staff to clear lounge chairs that had been reserved with towels and books for over two hours and they refused. I had pictures to back up my claim, but they didn’t seem to care. • The lunch menu in the main dining rooms never changes. It’s gets boring and repetitive quickly. • The NCL app is severely lacking. Only the daily activities were uploaded. Nothing else. Other cruise lines upload menus and opening and closing times for restaurants and bars. They offer a text and calling option for $10. No one seemed to use it. THE UGLY: • The outside chair cushions are threadbare and FILTHY. The plastic outdoor sun lounge chairs are way past their prime. • The main pool area is butt ugly and old. It’s flanked by 1960 style fake plastic palm trees. An enormous, unattractive bright blue slide tunnel takes up about 20% of the real estate. Hot tubs were occasionally closed with yellow caution tape. • Most bar areas have NO server. You usually have to belly-up to the bar if you want a drink. • NCL’s “perks” are costly and not competitive with other cruise lines. Internet is $25 per day and drink packages are $100 per day for unlimited. The Thermal Suite is also about $20 per day per person IF purchased for the entire cruise. • Many fares on NCL include “free” perks. The exorbitant gratuities for these “free” perks make them NOT free. The “free” internet was less than 20 minutes per day. Buyer beware. In summary, we enjoyed our cruise. There were some true vacation heroes. Our expensive “free” drink and dining package helped a lot, but I’m not sure it was worth the high cost. Some of the staff, especially in the buffet area, were not at all friendly. NCL has both new and aging ships. I was hoping that their “classic” ships would have classic service. Not the case. They need to polish their older gems. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2019
Value fantastic Value!!! service ,Itinerary, great food ,staff, .We enjoyed all the ports of call,entertainment , drink package..A incredable value for a amazing two week vacation! Friendly professional crew and entertainment director .The ... Read More
Value fantastic Value!!! service ,Itinerary, great food ,staff, .We enjoyed all the ports of call,entertainment , drink package..A incredable value for a amazing two week vacation! Friendly professional crew and entertainment director .The shows we very much looked forward to .The gentalman in charge of internet Outstanding customer service!! If we had somthing we could say need improvement hmmm..some meals ify we are not big foodies but a few ehh...washy washy crew happy happy all day !!The comitment of the crew to cater to pepole with disabilities Outstanding and a joy to witness really inspiring very inclusive. Overall we can not wait to cruise again and are very much looking forward to booking several more with this progressive cruise line and have our cruise next deposits purchased and have begun telling all our coworkers froends and family about our Amazing vacation experience with Norwegian cruise line !!Thank you All for a perfect vacation memory Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
I'll start by saying that this is my 10th NCL cruise in the last 3 years. I'll probably do this cruise again on the October 25 to Nov 08 sailing. The first person I'd like to compliment is the cruise director Ferdie! He ... Read More
I'll start by saying that this is my 10th NCL cruise in the last 3 years. I'll probably do this cruise again on the October 25 to Nov 08 sailing. The first person I'd like to compliment is the cruise director Ferdie! He is the best I've seen. He probably said hi to me three times a day. This man is always working! The people at guest services were very helpful and friendly. Cristina and the ladies at Cruise Next were friendly and informative. Aris, Camille, Millie, Josh, Zeng were some of the cruise staff that helped make the cruise great. Simone and Rose in Photography were fabulous! The restaurant staff was very accomodating with my special diet requests. Xia Lu and Afirin were a delight to see in the shops. The Ship was My destination! I spent all 14 days on the ship. I enjoyed the 7 port days in a row with most folks leaving the $700 million dollar ship to me! Lying out on the quiet sundeck listening to a book. Pure relaxation! The production show cast with excellent. I enjoyed outstanding singers Sarah and Nick. The Spinnaker lounge is awesome. It's on deck 13 forward and has 3 walls of windows for a great view. The Bliss lounge was fun for karaoke, and dancing. I was always able to find a treadmill in the fitness center. The painting classes were fun. Lastly I must say that the other guests were great. Almost everyone was cheerful and friendly! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2019
this cruise left from Boston MA which meant no flying, just a drive to the dock and the added advantage of 6 at sea days which are my favorites. it took a couple of days to get a feel for the ship and where things were in relationship ... Read More
this cruise left from Boston MA which meant no flying, just a drive to the dock and the added advantage of 6 at sea days which are my favorites. it took a couple of days to get a feel for the ship and where things were in relationship to our cabin. but once we worked that out all was well. the at sea days were filled with games and music and a small note in the schedule was a knitting and needlework informal gathering...we ended up being 25 or so knitters, tatters, chrochetters, cross stichers, and quilters. it was a very nice way to meet people. dining was ok the kind of food you can get at any steakhouse or good restarunt. the beef (once we got the idea that there was a cooked version between rare and medium) was delicious. I had a few fish dishes and they were excelent. Breakfast the first day out was a very big dissapointment as I truly HATE Starbucks coffee and that is all the had on this ship. or I believe it was an Italian rosat similar to Starbucks. I was very glad to get home to DD. the newsletter that you get with your turndown at nightis another story. it had the basics (day, date, temp, sunrise and set, as well as the drink of the day) and writeups about the shows and a schedule of the things going on around the ship, maps of the ports for the following day and stuff like that. However the editor of the newsletter (if there was one) had so many errors in spelling and grammar, as well as typos...it got to be a game with my roommate as to what we would find. the staff varied from "by the book" follow the rules kind of people to cutie happy happy types and the captain and his crew were on the aloof side. but all I have to compare them to is the staff on Disney cruise ships so I might not be as fair as I could be. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
This was my 27th cruise with NCL since 2004. They have progressively gotten worse since that time. Specifically the food, service, and loyalty to their returning customers. Lobster use to be available in the main dining room and ... Read More
This was my 27th cruise with NCL since 2004. They have progressively gotten worse since that time. Specifically the food, service, and loyalty to their returning customers. Lobster use to be available in the main dining room and specialty restaurants. Not anymore! The desserts used to be something to look forward to. Not anymore! The desserts are made for the masses now. You know every day in the buffet there will be some flavored sheet cake moose/gelatin cut into rectangles with a piece of chocolate stuck into it to look fancy! So disappointing! The service is much different now. We used to feel special. Now we are just another number. You would assume being a “platinum plus” member NCL would elevate you to a higher level. NOPE! NCL keeps taking away and taking away to make their numbers work at the expense of their customers and with a smile on their faces! So disappointing! So this cruise the jacuzzis didn’t open until 8am! WHAT!!! On past cruises I looked forward to watch sunrises from the jacuzzi. Now NCL has ruined that!!! So disappointing!!! NCL should be ashamed! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2019
We LOVED that it was round trip from Boston! This made it a pleasure for us..as we live in Framingham, just west of Boston. An Uber took us to and from the pier! We loved the idea of two full weeks vacay! Sea days are great for us: so ... Read More
We LOVED that it was round trip from Boston! This made it a pleasure for us..as we live in Framingham, just west of Boston. An Uber took us to and from the pier! We loved the idea of two full weeks vacay! Sea days are great for us: so relaxing! Getting to the So. Caribbean islands was fun. We loved Magen’s Bay to which we took a taxi, had a swim in the heavenly water, and taxied ‘home’ to the ship. The heat and humidity was too much for us ‘oldies’, so we mostly stayed on the ship. We loved our routine: my husband did his early morning run every single day. After showering and enjoying coffee picked up by my husband, we went to the buffet for our leisurely breakfast - so many healthy, fresh, and delicious choices! Then we visited the library for about an hour of reading in that lovely atmosphere. Afternoon naps were lovely; afternoon bite and a cocktail in the shade by the pool, we’re always enjoyed! We loved the tremendous choice of wonderful food! No way we didn’t find MANY favorites to try...and the desserts...delicious! My favorite was the hot bread pudding with vanilla sauce! The soft serve cones...Mmm! Every single night we enjoyed the entertainment! From dance and song extravaganzas to a juggler, the variety and quality of the talent - awesome! We purchased a three-meals pkg for dinners at the specialty restaurants! They were fantastic! Cagney’s, Teppanyaki, and Cucina were equally ‘over the top.’ I look back st those two weeks as my husband/best friend and I getting to go to an elite overnight camp together! We had pure relaxation and fun, free style sailing and all the fun-filled activities made us feel gifted to get to attend such a great ‘camp’ for adults: Luxury and togetherness! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2019
Believe in second chances so we thought, why not . We are so wrong. Right from the start, we ran into issues with the hotel in Boston. Shutter bus took an hour to pick us up at the airport. Then, the next day, the driver dropped us off way ... Read More
Believe in second chances so we thought, why not . We are so wrong. Right from the start, we ran into issues with the hotel in Boston. Shutter bus took an hour to pick us up at the airport. Then, the next day, the driver dropped us off way outside the cruise terminal and we had to walk 20 minutes to the entrance. We will never book with Comfort Inn baysidel if we are in Boston again. Checked in at the terminal, long wait because Gem was not ready to receive the passengers even though embarkation began. Below are the following why we will never given Gem a third chance: - Food was still bad. It was cold most of the time and morning coffee at Grand Pacific was not fresh. Services are non existence 80% of the time. Table was never set right and waitresses, and waiters looked angry all the time. Menu selections were bad too and the special nights at fine dinning do not include lobsters nor prawns or better steaks. - Services at Guest Service, OMG. Three issues, they know everything, argumentative and poor oral communication. They have no people skill. - Cabin steward, most part he was okay but there are times we needed to chase him down for supplies because he insufficiently stocking up the supplies after cleaning. - Cruise director is like a ghost. Didn't see him much. Saw him twice the first 4 days of the cruise. Two members of his team, how shall I put it, English was not their first language. - Entertainments was okay from the independent performers but Gem dances and singers, oh gosh, they are bad and loud. Either that they cranked the volume too high. - Orchid Garden food was bad. No taste and took a long tine to be served. - Staff at Trade Wind shops, same thing too. They know it all and they didn't seem to understand when there was a promotional that involved complimentary items, give them to the guests. There should not be hassling just because they wanted to sell. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
We chose this cruise because of the convenience of leaving from Boston and the islands to be visited. The ship is very easy to get around on and the staff is pleasant. Some areas of the ship are in need of repair. In our stateroom ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the convenience of leaving from Boston and the islands to be visited. The ship is very easy to get around on and the staff is pleasant. Some areas of the ship are in need of repair. In our stateroom bathroom the mirror seemed to have a buildup of algae around the edges and after a brief rainstorm the floor of our balcony was covered in a muddy debris. The cabinets and table are scratched and worn and the bed not very comfortable. The biggest drawback was an extremely unpleasant odor in the hallway on our deck (8). It could only be described as the foulest of odors that one would find in a poorly maintained nursing home. Travel companions on deck 7 also noted this smell. Though it was not constant it was present daily at different times. Having sailed on Princess and NCL before I was expecting more from Royal Caribbean as I had always believed it was a step up. I was wrong. The entertainment, in my view, was extremely lacking compared to other ships I have been on. There was one Caribbean duo in the centrum who was very good and one night there was a Village People tribute band who were a lot of fun but otherwise none of the piano bar singers or musicians were appealing. The games, karaoke and trivia challenges were not conducted in any kind of organized manner and it was sometimes hard to understand the questions shouted over a microphone (on Princess the trivia challenge questions are usually displayed on a TV screen). I have a hearing deficit and because most of the hosts have some kind of accent I would be lost and would have to have my travel companions repeat the questions to me. I do enjoy the art auctions and did purchase a Peter Max that I love but don't feel that Park West was offering enough of a variety to appeal to a large number of people and that made the attendance rather scarce. As for the food, it was just ok. I was mostly satisfied with everything that I ordered in the dining room but some of my companions were not. Rubbery calamari and fatty beef are not desirable. If you can't make a creme brulee with a hard top then you might as well not make it at all. We did have great servers in Gerald and Hafifi in Reflections deck 5 and that made up for some mediocre food. Food on the buffet in the Windjammer is mostly salty and I stuck with hard boiled eggs, freshly made waffles, pizza or hamburgers and of course soft serve. All of the islands we visited have their own unique appeal. We took a private tour in St, Maarten which brought us to the shopping district where the same items were displayed over and over in booth after booth, and hour and a half stop at Orient beach ($15 for one chair and umbrella and constant harassment from illegal beach vendors). Antigua has the most beautiful beaches imo. We went to Valley Church Beach( the sand is not sand but made up only of crushed shells and te ones that are intact are just beautiful) where you can get a nice 1/2 hour massage for at Pam's Wellness Center (it's just a little hut but it was very inviting and relaxing) If you book online through Tripadvisor.com you can get a couples massage for $60. We didn't book ahead of time so my husband and I were only able to get separate massages but still it was good. In Barbados we went to Harbour Lights Beach at Carlisle Bay. Two chairs and umbrella were $20. Local vendors but not as intrusive as the ones in St. Maarten. Curacao, a tourist's mecca! Walk along the historical path to the moving bridge and into a great sopping district and don't forget to stop at the Renaissance Hotel for free wifi and some casino action. We skipped the beach in Aruba and went into town for more shopping and a little casino play($10 coupons were being given out for both the Crystal and Seaport casinos). All in all it was a relaxing and fun 12 days but in the future I will stick with Princess or NCL which have more to offer. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
One of the big things I like about a vacation is the planning I do upfront. It was difficult to do for this cruise since we didn't know till about 3 weeks before departure if and where we were going. That made it much more ... Read More
One of the big things I like about a vacation is the planning I do upfront. It was difficult to do for this cruise since we didn't know till about 3 weeks before departure if and where we were going. That made it much more difficult to feel excited about the ports we finally were going to. Embarkment - got there around 10:30 - had them take our luggage - went up stairs and only waited about 5 mins before we were being checked in. Found some seats and waited about an hour to get on-board. Actually we were with someone that was getting married so they let us board right after the platinum and handicap boarding. So we were having lunch at O'Sheehan's with a drink in hand within 15 mins of boarding. Note that the doors to get to the rooms was close but we saw people going in anyway so we did it and was able to leave our carry-ons in the room. Room - decent bed - pillow top on pull-out couch - but alway very very dark. It was so dark in the room I didn't find the light in the closet for the first few days. I would use my phone to try to see the cloths on the shelves. When I did find the light switch the light would blink off and on so still not so great. Left it on one morning and the steward must have seen the issue and had it fixed. Safe was not working so we had to have maintenance come reset it for us - they needed to have us in the room for them to reset it. Bathroom in room is fairly large - steward always had plenty of towels for the three of us. Of course as you know very small balcony. I wanted to mention our friends had room 11618 - it is a handicap room - OMG it is a very large room - great closet - you can see all the shelves - enormous balcony - two lounge chairs two tables and two regular chairs - I was so so jealous. I did use their balcony a couple of times to sit out and read. Much smaller bathroom but the room size and balcony made up for it. Entertainment - felt you could always have some fun during the day - dancing by the pool - the 'stupid' games they played were entertaining. Shows at night not bad. I was feeling sick by the 4th night so I missed many of the shows since I was asleep so early. Dining - Breakfast was decent - they couldn't get two eggs over medium right - I think the omelet pans were too hot - sometimes food was warm - sometimes cold at the buffet. Usually did quick lunch either eating food from the outside area near the pool or at buffet - nothing special. Ate in one of the two free dinning rooms every night. Sometimes with my large group which we had booked ahead and sometimes with just my husband and daughter. Never had an issue getting a seat immediately. Food was decent - first time on a cruise I loved the deserts. Missed the setup they use to have in the evening where they had chicken wings/chicken tenders out and you could help yourself. I didn't feel they were as good from O'Sheehans - maybe it was the wait for them. O'Sheehan's food on Dawn was not as good as the food on the Breakaway in O'Sheehan's - nacho cheese was runny as was the artichoke dip. Pool - luckily we had very few kids on this cruise so we could enjoy the pool most of the time. Sometimes it was overrun by kids but at least not every day. Loved the salt water and when there were waves. Hot Tub - had 17 of us in it one day - was lots of fun. Bar/Lounge- we didn't find a set bar in the evenings for the group to meet. Really missed the Pearly Kings that is replace with wine bar. Wine bar is pretty but limited. So felt this kept the full group from being together. Couple of times when there was a 'party; on the pool deck at night it worked better for us. Servers - found a good one at the pool area named Mark - he would try to keep up with our orders. Brought us shots when we were in the hot tub with the 17 people and the other 10 around the outside. Wedding - originally attending a wedding in St. Thomas - cruise people had to re-coordinate it due to hurricane keeping us from St. Thomas (though last day they changed us again and we actually made it to St. Thomas). They picked a very nice location for outside event next to beach in St. Lucia. In the evening the manager of the Venetian setup a few tables at the window for the wedding dinner. That was very nice of them since it was not planned ahead of the cruise but only after the 2nd day of the cruise. Ports - Antigua - too many ships in port - and it was our first stop - was crowded and hot and smelly. But got to the beach - Darkwood and it was the best beach of any of the islands beaches I went to this trip. Martinique - so so so pretty as you come into port. Walked over to the ferry and took it to the other side to a beach - this was what I guess someone mentioned to others in our group. The beach was ok - not really much of a beach - be careful letting anyone wander off on their own to the right of this area - seems like a couple of guys were living there - and one decided he had to pee when I was within eye shot! St. Lucia - this was the wedding day - took vans to Pigeon Island - very pretty area not sure if any public beaches here but did manage to dip in after the wedding. St Kitts - most of the group went shopping - there were tons of people with monkeys that they tried to get you to pay for taking a picture with them. I took a catamaran cruise from the ship excursions - was fun - though it poured just as we were getting into the water so difficult to see - cleared up and got to see a sea turtle - had some strong rum punch on the way back - had guys put monkeys on us as we headed back to ship - my daughter gave them $10.00 to get a picture - they tried to get $10.00 more for putting them on me but we just walked away. St. Thomas - the night before we were told we were going to St. Thomas - it was so quiet pulling into port - we took an open air taxi with 12 of our group to Megan's bay - was so sad to see some of the damage - still some great views from above but many electric poles down - electric work trucks everywhere - saw one side road completely gone. OMG so so sad at the beach - tons and tons of trees down - really abit of a mess but they were really trying to give us a good experience. They had thrown together a 'bar' area so they could serve soda and drinks. They had people doing the lounge chairs and umbrellas. water was actually slightly cool here compared to the other islands. disembarkment in San Juan - we had a late flight at 5:45 - originally planned to try to see some of Old San Juan but had heard the airport had a power outage the day before and long lines. Our friends decided to pay $25.00 a person to do the airport transfer with Norwegian - a few of us decided to do taxis - we got into line same time they did and made it to the area to get luggage at the same time - they got into an elevator we took stairs - ended up at the same point. They got a porter (they had 7 people) and the porter took them right to the security desk - only cost them $5.00 so we decided to do this as well. Worked out great - he took our bags - grabbed some other peoples bags - had us thru security quickly - took our bags out to area to get a taxi - got us a taxi - two other of our friends were out there so it was 5 us in one taxi van - cost $28,00 for all of us (course we gave her $40. - she still didn't have power where she lived). Anyway my point here is just get a taxi - so so much cheaper and I am at least she is the one getting the money versus Norwegian. Plus we got through security - had pizza and got our bags checked before our friends taking the Norwegian transfer even got to the airport. San Juan airport is fine - plenty of places to seat and to eat - or drink. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
Chose this cruise because it fit my vacation dates. This was our 5th cruise with NCL, 2nd on the Dawn. Our previous cruises with NCL were great, but this one was not the same. Had we known, we would not have purchase another set of ... Read More
Chose this cruise because it fit my vacation dates. This was our 5th cruise with NCL, 2nd on the Dawn. Our previous cruises with NCL were great, but this one was not the same. Had we known, we would not have purchase another set of cruise next vouchers. We still have some from a previous purchase. Embarkation was very quick. The cabins and stewards are wonderful as always. The excursion desk and information presentation was terrific. The entertainment was great. but .... The lack of information for the cruise changes after the hurricanes was extremely poor. Nothing was said until last minute. We were nervous to not hear anything for so long. I was extremely disappointed that there were no theme nights to the buffet on this cruise (seafood night, sushi night, etc). Another passenger who took a tour of the ship had said she asked why no variety and they were informed by the food services that they were stream lining towards uniform food prep for the buffet area. What's next? Uniform food everyday in the Venetian and Aqua? And some of the washy-washy staff to spray sanitizer on your hands before entering the buffet area wasn't into what they were doing even. The fruit on this cruise was bad throughout the ship. The melons and pineapples all had translucent parts and we had bad ones served to us twice in the Aqua. We had shown a hostess the mold on 2 of the slices, and she offered an apology --- but no changes since we had the same problem again on another night. The photographer seemed in a rush. Does not provide more guidance to have a better picture. Just keeps snapping away quickly. Did not see one picture that I wanted to bring home. The Latitude welcome party was not even really an appreciation event, but one to push more cruise next vouchers. Raffles used to be just part of the event, but this one was tied into the number of cruise next purchases. Disembarkation was disorganized and took forever on a line to get out to meet our tour group. A service elevator was used by passengers that landed near the front of the line of people trying to get out already. It is meant for people with disabilities, but lots of people were able to use these. This lead to a very long wait for the rest of the line that went to the back of the staircase. This cruise is a drastic change to my great experience on the 1st NCL cruise on the Gem. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
This was my 6th cruise. 4th time with NCL. 1st time on a smaller ship. However, i think the ship is just the perfect size. It’s a 9-day cruise. Our itinerary changed 2 weeks before sailing because of Hurricane Irma and Maria. And it ... Read More
This was my 6th cruise. 4th time with NCL. 1st time on a smaller ship. However, i think the ship is just the perfect size. It’s a 9-day cruise. Our itinerary changed 2 weeks before sailing because of Hurricane Irma and Maria. And it changed again on the 7th day while we were on board. From St Croix to St Thomas. Debarking at Puerto Rico was not a good idea as there were still a lot of damage. When the ship arrived, it looked like a war zone there as the cruise port itself is severely damaged and it’s right next to a National Guard station where LOTS of military helicopters and airplanes were taking off and landing. I also felt weird that while most part of the island is still without electricity and probably still needed supplies, we just got off a fancy ship and took a cab using their valuable gasoline to get to the airport. Lots of traffic signals were still out and we saw lots of devastation on our way to airport. Pro: Recently refurbished so it feels new. Not too big so you don’t have to walk far to everything and you get to see the same people throughout the ship everyday. Good food in main dining room and in Cagney’s and Teppanyaki. Good youth programs. Attentive stewardess. Service is excellent overall. Both embarkation and debarkation were fast and smooth. Con: Very hard to navigate. Always need to use alternate hallway/elevator to go to different part/floor of ship. Our stateroom bathroom has a funny smell which wouldn’t go away. Maybe because of old piping. The ship is from 2002. Only one 110v outlet in stateroom. Ventilation in Casino is nonexistent. I feel sorry for the folks in Gatsby’s as it’s located between the casino and the cigar lounge. Smoking is not permitted at Gatsby’s but you always smell smoke there. Food in buffet is the worst I’ve ever eaten in a cruise ship. Always the same food especially during lunch. Always have 2 or more different kinds of curry on the same hot plate. Everything tasted meh. Beef is always tough. Food in Bamboo restaurant does not taste Asian at all. Moderno is not great. Meats are just so so. They’re actually cooked in the same kitchen as Cagney’s. Lots of public restrooms were out of order (again, maybe because of old piping). Unexpected water outage on the 7th night at about 11:30pm. Water was not restored again until 3am. No announcement or sign posted. I’d still cruise with NCL but will choose newer ships. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
Love Boarding in Boston easy to get to terminal is good , the only thing is the older white hair woman who is very rude and pushy at the Platinum/Platinum Plus Boarding area. This ship is an older ship and smaller compared to the other ... Read More
Love Boarding in Boston easy to get to terminal is good , the only thing is the older white hair woman who is very rude and pushy at the Platinum/Platinum Plus Boarding area. This ship is an older ship and smaller compared to the other ships in this fleet. there are no rock climbing walls ,no mini golf or water slides the pool is small and ofter over crowded, Children take it over and feel they can dive-jump all the time. some parents also thougth it was ok to take infants with diapers in the pool and hot tubs . older children thought it was ok to take them over as bath tubs, this ship is not a good ship for kids they seemed board. The Ports are ok Martinique needs to be replaced with Barbados. Martinique is not a real friendly port and it is dirty, Would love to have Cozumel or Grand Camen on the repositon out of Boston as something different . The Garden Cafe is great much better than the very slow service in the dining room. Due to the port changes not a lot of excersisions were offered however made the best of it . Love the entertainment . would like to see Amadeus on this ship loved them on the Majesty. Due to the overwhelming smoking in the casino many people could not go or enjoy it I am surprised NCL subjects the second hand smoke to their employees, need much better ventilation San Juan was hard to disembark at needed to use deck 4 not a lot of room for people to move . Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
This was the much discussed Nov 3, 2917 repositioning cruise from Boston to San Juan. It was the most stressfull vacation ever because of the lack of hotels in San Juan and not being able to trust any new reservations we tried to make. ... Read More
This was the much discussed Nov 3, 2917 repositioning cruise from Boston to San Juan. It was the most stressfull vacation ever because of the lack of hotels in San Juan and not being able to trust any new reservations we tried to make. NCL gave us very little time for late air travel changes and we ended up spending 15 hours to just go from San Juan to Boston. Embarcation went fine and we were onboard by 11:45 and had lunch in O'sheehans and we had the drinks package and did pay about $8.00 in taxes while in port waters and for a couple of hours after sailing. Dining was still overall very good. We ate 7 dinners in Venetian and the food was good enough and we only had one bad waiter. We were never there too long and they did not cause us to miss any shows. One meal in Cagneys was excellent. One meas in Bamboo was good but we did not care for their fried rice and the menu lacks variety. Entertainment was excellent and we were blessed with Patti and Jose playing for us almost every night in the atrium which is a nice place to relax on three different levels all with at least decent to good drink service. We always found the variety of shows every night to be excellent and on two nights the early and late shows were not the same. We had two shows with an outstanding comedian and I am sorry I didnt save any of the daily's so I could look up his name. Drinks package promotion worked perfectly for us. I was able to order two drinks or one double any time I wanted to with just one stateroom card and always kept some beers in the room fridge for out on the balcony or for my cooler for shore excursions. My cousin who traveled with me does not drink and he found several good carribean non alcoholic drinks that he enjoyed but there is not a specific non-alcoholic menu so you have to ask. Also no bar would give me canned soda to keep in the room for him. He was only allowed fountain soda. If you want plenty of wine with dinner just order a double glass and they will bring both at once and you will have to do this when you first sit down because you will not see the wine steward again this easily. If you got to the Stardust a little early for your show you could order drinks there too. Service in the pool area was inconsistent especially if you were in a hot tub so call out when they come near and hold up your key. On the three sea days they came up to the hot tub in the bow on deck 13 very half hour or so. For some reason the Bimini bar on deck 13 was closed for the last day and a half of our cruise with no reason given so the pool bar was very over crowded on our last day. Be sure and read my cabin review below -this was the low point of the cruise.... My cousin went to bingo one sea day and he did not find it relaxing at all and about the least you can spend is $49.00 for a decent setup. He liked the old style cards where you just used a marker instead of the punch out cards they use now. This was my third time on the Dawn this season and the Stench of smoke in the casino was not so bad on this cruise yet it smelled real bad in the atrium area that has the champaign bar and the italian and french restaurants and the Bamboo area on deck 7 also smelled real bad on sea days. Disembarkation was the worst I have ever had in over a dozen cruises. We were told ahead of time that it would be difficult because of the lack of power in the Pan American port to work the heavy lifts for the regular gangways. We knew that we would have to line up for a single very small gangway like they use for port days on deck four. We had alot of people in wheel chairs and it was very hard to get them off in such a tight area. The port from the outside looks like a bomb hit it. Large portions of the tin roofs totally missing, especially at the other building that RCI usually uses. No air conditioning inside the terminal and the rest rooms could be found by just following the stench that made its way outside the bathrooms. We were pre-warned to expect a shortage of taxis but there were actually plenty there as well as some tour operators who took lots of people like us who needed to kill time before going to the airport. Went to Old San Juan and many things were no longer open even though that part of town has power . The airport was a mob scene but at least it was actually cold inside. Ladies were taking Boston warm clothes out of their bags and putting them on...Do not forget to go through Agricultural screening as soon as you enter the airport. My final thoughts....We did not want to go to San Juan even though the economy needs our money because crime is much higher now and there is also not alot to do there because most of the island still has no power and we saw no power crews anywhere even though most of the way to the airport there are some badly damaged sub stations with whole neighborhoods with power lines strewn everwhere. Yes they need our money but there is no hotel space and travel outside the city is less safe , you can reed online daily Puerto Rico newspapers to get an idea on how really bad they have it. We feel sorry for people taking cruises from San Juan on NCL because they will be now calling on St Thomas as we did (last minute port change with very poor onboard communication until the night before) We took a 2.5 hour island tour and it was depressing to say the least. The port area looked better than the rest of the island and most port shops are open.. There are thousands of shattered power poles and shreaded cell phone towers. They will tell you that Megans bay and some other beaches are open but you wont want to go there. RCI paid for new buildings/rest rooms and cleanup to reopen Megans bay but that area is one of the most badly damaged on the whole island and traffic is a nightmare due to power cables and poles everywhere and alot of power company crews actually working in convoys to get things fixed. They are going to start visiting St Martin again along with St Thomas on the NCL cruises from San Juan so they will get to see two examples of what the two storms have done and see poverty and devestation that just cannot be described. What a vacation that will be. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
I had been on the Dawn before but it didn't impress me to much. I went again because I was told it was refurbished. The Stardust still had broken seats and all I could see different was the carpeting. I also went because it was ... Read More
I had been on the Dawn before but it didn't impress me to much. I went again because I was told it was refurbished. The Stardust still had broken seats and all I could see different was the carpeting. I also went because it was going to islands I hadn't been to. At the last minute they changed St. Croix (which was one I hadn't seen) to St. Thomas. The staff was excellent except the Guest Service Desk. Due to Jet Blue changing our flt to an earlier one, Guest Service said we would have to see to our own luggage and find our own way to the airport in San Juan. Mind you, if said in black and white on the final notice that if we were leaving the ship after 8:00 we could leave out our bags and get passage to the airport. They (guest service) said no we had to do it on our own. I am 73 years old by the way. As for food, I was very disappointed because I bought a meal package and picked 2 nights at the Italian restaurant twice. What Italian place does not serve Chicken or Veal Parmesean? Food was never hot only warm. The best part was when I was in the shower all soaped up the water shuts off. I go down to the Guest service desk because they wouldn't answer the phone and asked why. Was assured that it would be on shortly (which was almost 4 hours later) plus I had to wait 10 minutes ringing the front desk bell till someone came out from the back. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
Compared to the mega ships that we've been on, it was a nice change to be on a smaller ship. It helped that it was not sold out. The food in the Main Dining Room was quite good most of the time. Cagney's and Moderno were ... Read More
Compared to the mega ships that we've been on, it was a nice change to be on a smaller ship. It helped that it was not sold out. The food in the Main Dining Room was quite good most of the time. Cagney's and Moderno were excellent. The buffet was so-so. It was nice to have crepes (Nutella!!!) in the evenings. There was a lot of entertainment. Several nights, the 7 pm and 9 pm shows were different. Jose & Patti in the atrium were fantastic. The comedian was good at the "all ages" show, but not very funny at the "adult" show. The hypno-therapist was good at the comedy shows, but really showed her talent during the two morning sessions. The Dawn band was excellent no matter who they were backing up. The dancers/singers were good but not excellent. We didn't know our itinerary until about 2 weeks prior to the cruise. It would have been nice to have more time to plan, but we did our best. They changed the St Croix stop to St Thomas just the afternoon before! They should have changed that before we even left. Our cabin stewardess was wonderful, and made the cutest towel animals. We will continue to sail on NCL even though there were several issues with this cruise. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
We chose this cruise because it was a nice 9 day cruise out of Boston ending in San Juan with terrific ports of call. Of course the hurricane changed our itinerary drastically. We ended up with an OK list of islands. We are able to get ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it was a nice 9 day cruise out of Boston ending in San Juan with terrific ports of call. Of course the hurricane changed our itinerary drastically. We ended up with an OK list of islands. We are able to get non stop flights from Chicago at $56 one way to Logan, so it is a nice change to sail from the east coast. The ship is very nicely decorated in mute tones with elegant lighting and interesting carpeting throughout. The service was spotty but mostly good. We never met our cabin steward which has never happened to us in the 45 cruises that we have taken prior to this one. Our cabin was on deck 8 near the O'Sheehans restaurant. This was both a blessing and a nightmare. Two nights we had to call security as we had drunk adults running and yelling down the hallways. They then went into O'Sheehans and proceeded to scream there. At 3 O'Clock a.m. we called the front desk and asked that security get rid of them. The second night, the same screaming adults were back this time with their two girls (looked to be about 8 and 10 yrs old) the girls were knocking on doors at 2am REALLY? The up side is that we were close to the restaurant in the a.m. and we could walk down the hall to breakfast. We had loud obnoxious passengers seated next to us in Cagney's as well as at Le Bistro. We thought we were just picky, but we ran into 2 ladies in the elevator that walked out of Tempanyaki as they could not hear each other talk due to the loud inebriated passengers seated next to them. The perk of unlimited alcohol is just not something that should be offered. Most of the passengers drink sensibly, but there is about 20% who must be raging alcoholics. This was by far the most out of control cruise we have ever been on. The ships pool is beautiful, but it is the only one on the ship, so it fills up fast in the afternoons. Luckily we usually get out to the pool around 8am and leave about 1pm. The headliner entertainment was pretty good and the singers and dancers tried their best. All in all it was a good cruise, but we feel we like RCCL, Carnival and Celebrity better. This was our 4th NCL cruise, probably our last. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
NCL did a great job finding ports that they had to replace because of the hurricanes. The trip was fun, the food was great in all the restaurants. We were on a 16 day cruise and ate in every restaurant. We enjoyed every minute of the ... Read More
NCL did a great job finding ports that they had to replace because of the hurricanes. The trip was fun, the food was great in all the restaurants. We were on a 16 day cruise and ate in every restaurant. We enjoyed every minute of the cruises. The entertainment was first rate. The staff was friendly and helpful. On the second cruise NCL gave discounts to the people of Puerto Rico so that they could have a pleasant vacation. It was great seeing the kids face light up when they came aboard. NCL kept the kids very busy and we would see them with their faces painted and having a great time. It was sad talking to them and hearing what they went through. Also, St. Thomas was badly hit, and it was great that we went there also but also sad to hear their stories. We have gone on 10 cruises with NCL and have enjoyed everyone including Alaska and Panama Canal. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
A little background first, then a bit long, but ultimately fair review. I am a 61 year old widower with a decent amount of cruise experience.This was my 2nd with RCCL (although the 1st one was some 25+ years ago) to go with 4 on Carnival, ... Read More
A little background first, then a bit long, but ultimately fair review. I am a 61 year old widower with a decent amount of cruise experience.This was my 2nd with RCCL (although the 1st one was some 25+ years ago) to go with 4 on Carnival, 1 on Princess, and 1 on NCL. I traveled with my 32 year old single son. This was also his 2nd on RCCL to go with 2 on Carnival and 1 on Princess (all with me). We try to go on these cruises as often as possible as we don't live together and we don't see each other as often as we would like. We chose this cruise for many reasons...length, itinerary, and our schedules being the main reasons. We have been very happy with Carnival, but with RCCL having a good reputation we booked this 12 day repositioning cruise. Due to RCCL's reputation we expected a (slightly) superior experience than Carniva.This is where our disappointment originates. There were many areas that the cruise lines were equal, with Carnival superior in some areas.There were NO areas that we thought RCCL was better than Carnival. Plus there were several glitches/snafus that also contributed to this middling review. Let me first say, even though the remainder of this review will have the negatives, especially compared to Carnival, we still had a great time and given the variables of itinerary, cost, etc. we would not hesitate to take another RCCL cruise. Also, our cruise last year on Carnival was on a similar ship (size, age, etc.) so that it is a fair apples to apples comparison. Let me also say that the staff and crew were wonderful and faultless. All this being said, lets go to the review: Transfer from airport to ship: We prepaid for this transfer. Landing in Boston we found no one meeting us. We asked at information booth where the RCCL transfer people were, and were pointed to a couple of ladies nearby. Introducing ourselves, they said our names were not on the pick-up manifest.After a very short, pleasant discussion they said it happens every now and then, and it was no problem to bring us to the ship...Glitch #1. Embarkation/Check-in: Major line, very slow moving, took around an hour (maybe more)...in all of my previous cruises never more than 15 minutes. In later conversations aboard ship with other passengers, this opinion was pretty much consistent...Glitch #2. Dining Room: In booking this cruise we arranged for a table for 2, we were put at a table for 8 with 6 other passengers...glitch #3. (fortunately it was a great group and we all became very friendly). Informal (buffet) dining: While RCCL Windjammer buffet is basically adequate, Carnival has, in addition to the usual type buffet, "action" stations: Deli, Indian , make your own burritos, 24 hour pizza, a burger station (with tie in to Guy Fieri), a fresh Mongolian wok station, plus others...Major advantage to Carnival. Main dining room: Basically equal to Carnival....reasonable quantity of choices, well prepared, tasty, etc. One difference with Carnival, which may or may not matter to you: Carnival main dining experience much more festive...wait staff usually in aloha-type dress (except on formal nights) with a silly, nightly dance and/or song number with the guests. RCCL dressed in informal dress twice (of 12 nights), and sang on 2 nights...personally I really enjoy the festivity of the Carnival dining room. Room service: We didn't use it, but at the same time would have been disappointed to find out that except for the continental breakfast, it now contained a $7.95 fee... first time I've seen a cruise charge for room service . I wonder if the profit made on this will overcome the negative image it gives the cruise line. Beverages:Again an area where RCCL takes a back seat to Carnival. First, soda ....Where Carnival charged $2.25 for a soda, and a bit over $5/day for its unlimited package, RCCL charges over $8/day for its package. I had no intention of getting the RCCL unlimited package until I discovered they were charging $4 per soda. So I bought the package anyway. Later on I discovered my preferred soda, Coke Zero, was only available in a few of the venues. (available at all Carnival venues)...a day or 2 later I complained and was able to cancel the package (prorated). As for alcohol...I'm not much of a drinker, consuming less than a dozen alcoholic drinks in a year. I usually will have a couple or 3 drinks on a cruise. Day 2 I ordered a banana daquiari....only to be told that RCCL doesn't do them.Really???, not exactly an exotic drink! I had a strawberry daquari instead, which was my only alcoholic drink of the cruise . For the remainder of the cruise it was the free lemonade and iced tea....no soda, no alcohol... One plus for RCCL...they offered a 10 for $75 discount card for drinks, which my son bought. Activities: On par with Carnival, however could be scheduled better to limit conflicts, with some venues underutilized and others overcrowded (especially the "Centrum", the main center atrium of the ship...Too many activities there with minimal seating/standing space.) Entertainment: Another area RCCL inferior to Carnival. Where Carnival uses a lounge specifically for comics and each night has at least 1, and sometimes 2 comics, each sometimes doing a family show as well as an adult late night show...RCCL had I think 5 comics with only 1 doing a 2nd show for the entirety of the cruise, all in main theatre. The other "talent" is pretty much equal...a few "production" shows, a singer or 2, etc. Also, most shows only done once, creating conflicts with scheduling. Movies: While Carnival usually showed 2 movies on the big outside screen nightly (usually themed, with popcorn available), RCCL rotated maybe 6 movies for the 12 nights (same ones in multiple venues). Also, except for the movies, some football games and baseball play-offs, big outdoor screen usually displayed screen saver...on Carnival, most "dead time" filled in with music videos. Some comments on the ports, not really specific to RCCL: St. Kitts: We just walked the port area, shopped a bit, had lunch ashore. Pleasant enough. Antigua: Beach excursion with lunch included...pretty beach, adequate lunch, shopping at port. no problem. St. Lucia: BIG PROBLEM: another beach excursion, no lunch though. Asked tour guide if it was safe to leave stuff on beach chairs. She said no, and told us to leave wallets on bus where driver would be hanging out. While returning to ship, my son and I discovered we both had cash removed from our wallets (we figure $100-$140 total). I suspect driver, can't prove it though.Reported it to guest services, filled out paperwork, interviewed by ship security, but I expect nothing will come of report. Another, more minor issue, locals selling cheap trinkets to the tourists. Every few seconds another "vendor" would approach with his/her wares.A polite, "no" would send them away, only to be pestered a few moments later by another. Curacao: another beach excursion, prettiest beach of the 3...some more shopping, no problem. Aruba: submarine excursion.Went 150 ft. down, around reef, sunken ships....awesome...pricey, but worth it. Disembakation: went fine, no problems. To summarize: Surprised that RCCL gave me an inferior experience compared to Carnival, but none the less even with issues stated, had a great time, made new friends of former strangers sitting at table. Great staff and crew. Won't hesitate to cruise on RCCL in future, but if all things being equal, still would lean to Carnival.....until RCCL steps up its game. 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5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
First off, let me say that I'm a male in my early 30s, and this is my 5th cruise (2nd with Royal Caribbean; the 1st being while I was a little kid), with the 2 most-recent cruises I've been on having been Carnival ships (the ... Read More
First off, let me say that I'm a male in my early 30s, and this is my 5th cruise (2nd with Royal Caribbean; the 1st being while I was a little kid), with the 2 most-recent cruises I've been on having been Carnival ships (the Splendor and the Pride). Therefore, my reference point for comparison will be from my experiences with Carnival, and not necessarily a different Royal Caribbean cruise. Also, my review will be fairly comprehensive, so hopefully it will prove very informative (and a good read). While I had an excellent time and definitely would cruise with Royal Caribbean again (same with Carnival; I never met a cruise I didn't like, but I can see the pros and cons of each one I've taken), there were several noticeable areas where improvements could be made. In actuality, it probably would have been more accurate for me to give the overall cruise rating a 3 out of 5. However, I gave it a 4 out of 5 for one reason, and one reason alone: THE BEST CRUISE DIRECTOR AND ACTIVITIES TEAM I'VE EVER CRUISED WITH. More on that in a bit. Embarkation: They were short-staffed with the security personnel in Boston, and as such, the line to get into the terminal itself and security checkpoint was ridiculously long (to the point where an elderly passenger in front of me got so tired from standing for so long, that her legs literally buckled from under her, and she had to be helped into a chair that was brought to her). Once through the metal detector though, there were ample employees at the desk to process the actual paperwork and get people onto the ship to start their vacation. Ship: The Serenade of the Seas is on the older side of the fleet, and at about 2,100 passengers, it has a very cozy, intimate feel. It's the kind of ship that you feel like you've memorized its layout before first night's dinner. For many, that's a positive; for me, I'd rather be on a larger ship where I'm still discovering new public spaces and activities to do a few days into the trip. With the "hot spots" essentially limited to the Centrum (the atrium) and the main pool deck, it became evident that the same concerns about crowds on the 4,000+ person megaships can easily be applied to ships like this with half the population - when there was a popular event in the Centrum, there were not enough seats or standing areas to get a good view (you'd have to go up 3 or 4 decks before you can find space at a railing, and then look straight down), and my dinner tablemate told me they started hitting the pool deck at 6:00/7:00 AM, simply because all the lounge chairs circling the main pool would be claimed soon after. On the plus side, the ship boasts a decent design if aesthetics are important to you; the elevators look out over the ocean and the atrium while you ride them, the nightclub on the top deck has a great layout (with the "snowbirds" traveling to their winter homes on this itinerary however, the nightclub, along with the rock-climbing wall, proved to be underutilized assets with the decidedly-older clientele), and the Schooner Bar/Safari Club area of the ship has a nice, classic feel to it (the Safari Club also seemed underutilized, given the ample seating available). Dining: A tale of two experiences - the casual buffet with the Windjammer and the main dining room. The 8-year-old version of me would've been content with the Windjammer's lunch, which was pretty much hot dogs/hamburgers/chicken burgers under a warming lamp, a couple pasta choices and indian choices in one area, salads, breads, basic vegetable and starch side dishes, and only a couple truly inspired entrees that got rotated in; the adult version of me would've liked to see greater variety here, with more unique hot entrees in the main buffet, and the kind of complimentary made-to-order stations that Carnival has no issue fitting in to the same space (their ships now are uniformly putting in Guy Fieri-branded custom burger bars and build-your-own burrito bars with countless toppings to choose from, plus 24-hour pizza and at least 2-4 other action stations among deli, asian, rotisserie, indian, and pasta, all of which produce hotter, fresher food). Also wished that even if the "midnight buffet" is becoming a thing of the past, there should be a few more choices for late-night snacks beyond what "leftovers" remained at the Park Cafe. The dining room, however, was very good, and I have no complaints for any of the dinners there or the one sit-down lunch I had there, either in terms of choices or quality (in fact, if I didn't want to be so mobile during the day to watch or participate in activities, I probably would've done more lunches in the dining room). Desserts were great at each place, and bonus points for the strawberry kiwi and tropical mango-flavored waters, which were a nice addition to the usual lemonade and iced tea among the free drinks. I also appreciated the 10-drink punchcard for $75, which I found to be a nice middle ground between the $50+ per day all-inclusive drink package (which I probably would never have made my money back on) and paying $12 per cocktail a la carte. Entertainment/Activities: Starting with the negatives, there seemed to be a general lack of choices to really draw people to different parts of the ship over the course of the day, and that carried over into the night, where with the exception of some overly-packed featured events that made space and good views hard to come by, there would be so many dead areas of the ship and missed opportunities to keep things lively (I heard one fellow passenger complaint that they closed the pool bar halfway into one of the football games on the big screen, which might explain why with the baseball playoffs and football season in full-swing, poolside viewing of the games weren't as popular as they could have been; also, the movies shown on the poolside screen were repetitious, unlike Carnival, who would have 2 new movies each night, and even did an R-rated Deadpool showing at 11 PM one night). Basically, if there wasn't a themed deck party going on, or the main theater show featured an act that wasn't your taste, you really didn't have much after dinner as an alternative (Carnival has stand up comedy most of their nights, in addition to the main theater act having 2 showings, plus the movies on the pool screen, plus trivia, etc.). However, and here is where they really shined, the cruise director (Carly B), her second-in-command (Tino), the DJ (James), and the rest of the activities staff (particularly Karoline, who hosted many of the dancing, Zumba, and trivia/games-based events) were EXCEPTIONAL and I can't praise them enough. They all brought an enthusiasm and energy to everything they did, and I never felt more connected to a cruise staff than I did with them, as they were all very approachable, fun, and present, even when they were just sitting in lounges during their "down" time, conversing with passengers. My participation in their events, rather than just sitting on the sidelines as a spectator, was largely because of them and their ability to generate excitement for getting involved. Ports: St. Kitts - Didn't do anything beyond walking the immediate port area and a few blocks of the main city, before returning to the ship with a few souvenirs. Nothing of note. Antigua - Did a beach excursion that included a lunch of some salad, BBQ chicken, a rib, and a couple other sides, as well as a couple drinks. The beach and the lunch were more than adequate, though I did a similar beach/lunch excursion on the French side of St. Maarten a few cruises prior with Princess, and that beach and that lunch were far superior. Also did a little souvenir shopping in the port area before returning to the ship. St. Lucia - Worst stop of all the ports. Did a beach excursion there and while the beach itself was as nice as the Antigua beach, this beach was overrun by locals desperate to sell any product or service they could to the arriving cruise passengers (aloe, necklaces, fruit, massages, etc). Now, being asked repeatedly to buy something from various people approaching me wasn't the problem. The problem was the company that Royal Caribbean partnered with for the excursion, as money was stolen from our wallets by the tour guide, trainee, and/or driver that brought us to the beach (the tour guide ENCOURAGED us to put our belongings back on the bus that they were staying by for safekeeping, when we asked if our stuff was safer on their bus instead of the beach chair when we were about to go swimming). This certainly didn't ruin the vacation, but it left a bad taste in my mouth and no real interest in doing much shopping at the port, considering we discovered most of our 20s were taken when we boarded the bus to leave the beach. A report was filed with Royal Caribbean, but its unlikely anything will come from it. Curacao - To me, the best port we visited. The excursion included a brief trip to the Blue Curacao factory (with 3 ketchup-cup-sized tastings), followed by a couple hours at the beach at Mambo Boulevard. The beach was the most beautiful of the trip, and the only real issue to me is there simply wasn't enough time there, as I could have spent hours between swimming, sunning, and visiting the bars and shops lining the rear side of the beach. Upon returning to the main city from the excursion, I found the area very walkable as well, and even got to stand on the famous "floating bridge" as it opened up for vessels to go through the bay. I hope to visit again in the future. Aruba - Between the fact that we had to be back on the ship by 2:30, and also that it rained heavily even before then, there was unfortunately very little time to really enjoy exploring the area. Did a cool underwater submarine expedition and got some great pics of various schools of fish and 2 shipwrecks, but didn't see much of Aruba above water because of the schedule and the storm. Got soaked hustling back to the ship. All in all, a great trip with lasting memories and new friends (dinners were a blast because of the tablemates I had the privilege of meeting, and would ultimately join up with for evening shows, trivia, and games). The only real regret is how improbable it is that I will see those I grew attached to, both passengers and cruise staff, on a future voyage, but only time will tell. Already looking forward to planning my next cruise. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2017
Love repo's and this cruise started in my hometown of Boston. An hours ride and we were in the cruiseport. Been to all the islands and have cruised on Serenade before. Her and Freedom are my favorites. What made this cruise special ... Read More
Love repo's and this cruise started in my hometown of Boston. An hours ride and we were in the cruiseport. Been to all the islands and have cruised on Serenade before. Her and Freedom are my favorites. What made this cruise special was the crew. Outstanding crew throughout the ship from the MDR to the bars. Plenty of entertainment onboard. Food was very good and plenty of variety. Disembarkation went smoothly however embarkation didn't. Apparently security team didn't show up so had to send another team over which meant long lines outside the terminal and porters were non existent. Just a small blip. Once onboard everything was fabulous. For the few shows we went to the entertainment was really good. Band from Toronto, Rookie, sang all old songs and I knew all the words! Danny Lucas (I think that was his name) juggler and comic was amazing. Laugh out loud funny. All in all a great cruise. Would do it again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2017
We like the cruise because it was convenient for us leaving from Boston. This was our third time doing this repositioning cruise. The stops are really good. We booked again for next year. The ship was in need of a facelift and was ... Read More
We like the cruise because it was convenient for us leaving from Boston. This was our third time doing this repositioning cruise. The stops are really good. We booked again for next year. The ship was in need of a facelift and was heading to dry dock for some work after this cruise. They now have life guards that hover at the edge of the pool. I was swimming alone in the solarium pool and the guard stood over me. As I swam 20 feet to the other side he walked along with me. It felt very intrusive and could have been done better with some common sense. I saw eight people slip and fall on the pool deck. That seems to be the much bigger hazard. We had a great time at the Diamond Lounge. There were many fun loving people there and the bar tenders were great. We normally like to gamble every day but the table games that they had weren't great. There were several Black Jack tables that were always empty and the Caribbean Stud table was almost always empty. There was one 3 card Poker table that the dealer had to maker out a waiting list for. They could easily swap out one of the Black Jack tables for a Let It Ride Table. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2017
Annual trek to Boston for the Beantown to Beaches reposition sailing. Ship is showing wear BUT the crew moral is fantastic and doing its best to be SURE the passengers are given exceptional service. The addition of lifeguards are a welcome ... Read More
Annual trek to Boston for the Beantown to Beaches reposition sailing. Ship is showing wear BUT the crew moral is fantastic and doing its best to be SURE the passengers are given exceptional service. The addition of lifeguards are a welcome sight as too many parents do not watch their children closely enough. This was evident on this sailing as a tyke even interrupted the main dining room kitchen dancers on their great performance one night. The entertainment was good but not exceptional. The one outstanding act was the 4 men that call themselves the Rookies, catch this high energy bands great show. We had 500 Diamonds, 350 D+ and 175 Pinnacle on board which overwhelmed the main dining room breakfast and lunch staff. Ships shopping was terrible, Shoddy overpriced merchandise on "SALE". This is common on most Royal ships and this ship just came back from Europe and has not been restocked yet as it will be in dry dock in 2 weeks. Crews were painting and varnishing most days to get back to Royal standards. Stateroom was worn, bedding was unacceptable. mattress is long overdo replacing. Again, Great crew Great staff Overall a great sail for 12 days. We will be back on her Dec 4-15 to see if things have improved. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2017
12 day repositioning cruise from Boston to Fort Lauderdale ~ I loved the Itinerary, food, shows, dancing, pool games and lobster night. Ideal balcony cabin on deck 10, lots of storage and one deck below pool and buffet. The staff in ... Read More
12 day repositioning cruise from Boston to Fort Lauderdale ~ I loved the Itinerary, food, shows, dancing, pool games and lobster night. Ideal balcony cabin on deck 10, lots of storage and one deck below pool and buffet. The staff in Reflections MDR was outstanding at dinner and reminiscent of days gone by. Zhelu and Oksana made our dining most enjoyable. The Windjammer Buffet was also very good. All of the staff on board was friendly, professional and helpful. I would consider Royal Caribbean again but not the Serenade Of The Seas unless the pool area was completely refurbished assuring safety. The pool area was far too slippery. I fell 3 times and saw at least 9 other people fall. It is a dangerous surface. After falling the third time I put duct tape on the bottom of all of my shoes. Loved having so many sea days and only got off in each port briefly except for The Hato Caves Tour in Curacao which was fantastic! What I missed ~ There was no food available poolside on and no 24 hour restaurant available. I also missed the pillow mints and nightly towel animals. Little touches that meant alot. Our post stay of 4 days at The Sea Lord in Lauderdale By The Sea was amazing! I am so happy I chose The Sea Lord for our stay! The location and room was fantastic but more than that so was the friendly, helpful welcoming staff! Their sincere effort to make you feel as though you mattered greatly was immediately apparent and very much appreciated! We enjoyed meeting and talking with Dana, Tatiana, Emil, Zikka and Consuelo very, very much! We would love to return some day! The location was perfect and safe! Right on the ocean with shops and restaurants a short walk away with fantastic food and friendly people. Our room was spacious, comfortable and clean. We loved sitting by the pool, gazing at the ocean and walking it each day. A wonderful car ride to Key West completed our trip. Time to plan another one! Read Less

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