Sail Date: March 2019
My friend and I booked this cruise last year while on MSC Seaside. I had been to most of the Far East ports, but my travel friend, Judy, had not seen them. We flew from Tampa to Toronto and on to Dubai enjoying business class all the ... Read More
My friend and I booked this cruise last year while on MSC Seaside. I had been to most of the Far East ports, but my travel friend, Judy, had not seen them. We flew from Tampa to Toronto and on to Dubai enjoying business class all the way. One night was spent at the Dubai Marriott, and the following morning we taxied to the port. And there the problems began! There was a "time to board" listed on your information, but most of the 3500 passengers were already in the very crowded check-in area. Those in Yacht Club were given a place to sit and wait - we commoners just stood in line for nearly two hours. Not a good impression!. Once on board, we found our adjoining balcony cabins to be nicely furnished. I requested my duvet be replaced by a light blanket, and it was quickly done. My "bath tube" as noted on the reservation was a lovely large tub with shower - and all the really hot water one could ask for. Storage space was wonderful, and would have been fine for two guests in the room. The TV was mounted at ceiling height and quite small. We were out of range for English speaking stations much of the time, so it didn't matter too much. We had requested early dining, and found ourselves seated with folks who had limited English. We asked for a change, and were assigned to another dining room where we shared a table for six with an English couple and a couple from Australia. We had a grand time comparing countries and cruises for the entire 28-day cruise. Entertainment was based on opera most evenings. A soloist or duo or quartet sang with piano and flute or violin. There were a few song and dance shows, but due to the passengers' many languages we had no comedians or acts that required a good understanding of English. Food in the dining room tended to be about average rather than great. Always sufficient for any normal appetite, and enough selection to suit almost all passengers. The beverage package that included cocktails, wine, specialty coffee, water and soda in unlimited quantity was a true bargain at $28 per day. We had prepaid for excursions in all ports, and found many were not worth the price paid. Passengers with excursion vouchers had to congregate in the theater, and the staff sent out four or five busses (speaking various languages) at the same time to the same destination. We were late arriving at many sights, and waited in lines for up to an hour to board an elevator in some buildings. There was a library that had about 500 books in German, a hundred or so in French, Spanish, Italian and Chinese, and NONE in English - although there was a shelf with a sign that said English. There was almost no TV, and no daily news sheet was every printed. We had little idea of what was happening in the world during our cruise. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
Go on this cruise for the ports, not for the cruise ship experience. This should not be anyone’s first cruise. This is a cruise for adventurous, experienced cruisers. Let me explain what I mean. This is not the cruise to take if ... Read More
Go on this cruise for the ports, not for the cruise ship experience. This should not be anyone’s first cruise. This is a cruise for adventurous, experienced cruisers. Let me explain what I mean. This is not the cruise to take if you are looking for the ultimate cruise ship experience. One of the topics that united everyone I spoke to on the ship was that the ship was, "adequate/competent" at best and to be honest, I heard a few "utilitarian" comments, It is not an over the top ship experience by any means and if that is your expectation take another ship. What makes this trip really nice however is the ports and the travelers who are attracted to this trip. The vast majority of people on the ship were confident, experienced travelers who knew how to, "Roll with the punches". You could always find a group of people who had decided to walk around the port rather than take the scheduled tour. Many of the passengers were familiar with the area and contributed information that made the trip memorable. You could typically find a group of people who had identified a museum that they really wanted to go to. People had done their research and came prepared knowing what was here to see. This is very much a "learning" cruise. There is only 1 day at sea and with the exception of Dubai and Muscat, each day is a different port. If you tire easily, take this into consideration. I like a smaller ship so the size and "vintage" experience didn't bother me. There were 3 formal nights although often people just came as they chose. The dining room seems confused in some ways. I couldn't understand some the choices that were made. For example, the after dinner coffee was eliminated from the MDR and put as part of a drink package. Why would one do this in a European market? Additionally, the traditional "Surf and turf" was cut out and made available only for an additional charge, as was a, "Steak and a glass of Barolo". Again, I wondered why? Additionally, I was kind of disappointed at the limited offering of Italian wine on a ship with Italian heritage. I was looking forward to a wider selection. Overall, I found the food to be simple, straight-forward and satisfying. I was pretty surprised at the lackadaisical attitude towards to hand sanitizers. On other ships I can remember being forbidden to enter the buffet unless I used the sanitizers. On this ship the sanitizer machines were there, but no one enforced their usage. I saw a lot of bad behavior at the buffet during breakfast, people cutting in front of the queue, it wasn't really necessary, in my opinion. Embarkation/Disembarkation was really smooth, when I arrived there was no one there and I just walked on. One thing that really bothered me was the mis-information I received about the visas. My travel agent very clearly stated that I needed visas as an american citizen and it was my responsibility to acquire them. Additionally, she indicated that the potential to be denied boarding existed if I did not have them. When I arrived at the check in desk, they just started laughing and assured me that I needed NO visas to take the cruise. I received additional confirmation of this from the Immigration officer once I got on board. This needs to be clarified. Towards the end, I became somewhat annoyed at the daily "shuttle fee" for what was a short walk. It just seemed to be necessary nickel and dimeing of the passengers. The ship spends time in Dubai. There is a free shuttle from the cruise port to the Dubai Mall in the center of the city. It stops right in front of the ship and is usually right next to the big bus location. It is marked. It is supposed to come every hour on the hour but sometimes that does not happen. The alternative is the big bus hop on hop off, but that is not free. It is very comprehensive however and you can get a nice overview of the city in the first pass. You can then hop on and hop off on the second pass. You can purchase multiple cities, (I purchased hop on/hop off for Dubai, Muscat, and Abu Dhabi together). Multiple cities will give you a discounted fare. If you are OK with the subway, I would strongly suggest using the subway instead of the big bus. If walking is not an issue the subway is cheap, fast and will give you a truly birds eye view of the city and its residents. The Dubai subway is new, clean and fast. You can get everywhere the big bus takes you on the subway; you just have to walk more. There is flea market in El-Zabeel Park on the first Saturday of every month. If you can make it, go. Dubai residents are big shoppers and the prices can get out of hand. The flea market brings you back to reality. It costs 5 dirhams to enter; either cash or you can use your subway card. If you plan to travel to the Burg Khalifa observation Deck, know that there is a sunrise viewing that includes breakfast on the weekend for the same amount of money that just the observation deck costs. You can reserve online in advance. The ship spends an overnight in Muscat. Its a good choice, although I found prices in Oman to be higher than in any other port for the same merchandise. Do not miss the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha. It is a gem and has its own library dedicated to the museum which should not be missed. The one thing that became arduous is that you navigate 3 different currencies. Make sure that you know what $20.00 equals in the currency that you are dealing with before you leave the ship. Additionally, if you plan to buy silver/gold, stop at the reception desk and find out the price of the day. Everything is weighed. I would take this cruise again. Even with the warts, it was an amazing, relaxing time at a reasonable price. We were welcomed everywhere we went. I learned a great deal about a different part of the world. I met like-minded travelers who don't get ruffled at the least little thing not going as planned. I met confident travelers who have seen a lot of the world and gave really interesting perspectives. It’s not for everyone, but it’s my type of travel and I enjoyed it. Pros • small ship • experienced travelers • easy embarkation • relaxed attitude • enthusiastic crew • interesting view of a different part of the world Cons • Unanticipated shuttle expenses towards the end of the trip • Mis-information regarding visas • Confusing choices in the Main Dining room • Lack of variety of Italian wine on ship Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
We boarded the Silver Spirit in Dubai and sailed over to the Seychelles - lovely itinerary with some nice sea days as well. Getting onboard the ship was easy and very fast and just no Q's at all. The ship looked lovely and the ... Read More
We boarded the Silver Spirit in Dubai and sailed over to the Seychelles - lovely itinerary with some nice sea days as well. Getting onboard the ship was easy and very fast and just no Q's at all. The ship looked lovely and the staff were amazing. We ate in most restuarants my favourite been the main dining room and Hot rocks which is up on the pool deck - gorgeous when you are in port to dine up here. The suite was gorgeous lots of space and very nice furnished with a great dressing room area for your clothes and shoes so it keeps your suite tidy. The butler and room attendant looked after us very well and kept our bar and toiletries stocked up. I would bring the butler home if I could. The beauty of Silversea after the lovely ships, staff and food is the size of the ships you sail right into the ports and some destinations you actually over night in which is lovely to do. However if you don't over night they seem to spend a lot longer in port than other cruise ships and the fact you sail right into the port with out getting on the tender boats is a big plus. We did some of the ships excursions which were excellent in Cochin we went on the River Boat and in the Maldives we did the beach visit to a resort - for such a wonderful destination we really needed more time. In Mumbai we took the private car trip with guide which we enjoyed as we could determine how long we were going to stop. Guests onboard are a mix so you find you are not dominated by any nation and a real nice European feel onboard the ship. Entertainment - there is a show each evening and the performs sing extremely well - we liked sitting in the bar and listening to the piano player or the Jazz bar was just excellent. Also enjoy going up to the DJ and sitting on the terrace listening to the music after dinner. Totally recommend for people who like the nicer things in life and enjoy real quality. Not much activities for children so you don't find children onboard really. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2017
I chose this cruise for its itinerary. Checking in and embarkation was excellent, however the first area I visited was the pool and I was disappointed as it looks tatty and the sunbeds are horrible. Never seen any thing like these before. ... Read More
I chose this cruise for its itinerary. Checking in and embarkation was excellent, however the first area I visited was the pool and I was disappointed as it looks tatty and the sunbeds are horrible. Never seen any thing like these before. Like wide elastic bands with gaps in between. Next was my room. A large outside, it was a good size and the bathroom was great. However, the room had dated old cupboards and scratched and dented wood. Dented old ceilings. Needs refurb for sure.The room attendant was very efficient and friendly. The food onboard was fairly good in the the windjammer although the toast is like cardboard. Aquarius is ok. I have to say though that I am still suffering with a bad stomach and have been home 4 days now. I only ate and drank on ship so something got me on the 5th day and spoilt the rest of my cruise. Entertainment is quite good. Comedian very funny. The centrium gets a bit boring with same Vicky and the Holding crew playing nightly. Beware also as they give you a cd to buy only to find out it is $20!! Music round the pool is loud and very off putting also football matches on big screen whilst you try to sun bathe so not at all peaceful! The luxury drink package is very expensive at £45 a day with an additional 18% surcharge! They also give small measures and loads of ice so you have to ask for more spirit in order to taste it. I didn't use the excursion service as I find it cheaper and just as easy to arrange my own. The staff are lovely and helpful all except one toilet attendant who was very rude. Disembarkation was very well organised. All in all I would not cruise on here again on any Royal Caribbean with same packages and noise around pool I'm afraid. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
After a terrible experience at the port I could not wait to get on to Vision of the Seas. I should explain that at this point that Royal have no involvement with the port authorities. When Mangesh our Concierge and the Guest services ... Read More
After a terrible experience at the port I could not wait to get on to Vision of the Seas. I should explain that at this point that Royal have no involvement with the port authorities. When Mangesh our Concierge and the Guest services manager found out what had happened the Royal Customer care wheel came in to play. I was treated so kindly and they both listened to what had happened to me and could not believe my experience. I was offered some compensation but I turned it down as I said before Royal have no control over the port authorities and I thought it unfair for Royal to compensate me. Now as for the rest of the ship and holiday it was great and with Captain Merek on board I new it was going to be a great time. I was on Vision in December and it was good to meet up with some staff from previous cruises some were still on board and welcomed me back it was so nice. Captain Merek was very visible through out the cruise and took time to speak to everyone and become involved in the activities and entertainment. Vision is getting on in age but I think still in great shape well maintained and cleaned constantly. My cabin steward was amazing and hard working thank you, my cabin was 7613 an inside ideal for me being a solo travel. The food was really good and our waiting staff on table 152 were just amazing and a lovely surprise for me was the wine waitress from Harmony. I do enjoy the Diamond lounge and the Concierge lounge and Mangesh works so hard spending time with everyone he has a great pride in his work I met so many nice people there. I also have to say the breakfast staff in the Main Dining room were truly amazing and caring. I did the bridge tour again and this time Captain Merek showed us around it was the best experience I have ever had on a tour. I should point out at this point that earlier in the day we had a very close fly past. It was a twin engine (Iranian I was told) transport plane the pilot must have been crazy especially when he flew very close to the pool deck on his return. The Captain and was taking a question time and was very calm and professional I have to say it was an experience I would not like to repeat again. Captain Merek is a real credit to Royal Caribbean. I have recently done this trip so I cannot share any experience on trips or shore excursions. The bands and the singers I saw were totally amazing and the Captains singing voice is fantastic. The staff and crew were always kind and friendly and work so hard thank you to you all Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
Very good cruise, love that Thompson are very organised and have excellent staff, from Airways to Cruise. Everything was as planned. Description of ports and itinerary was clear. Celebration is an oldish ship but has character and I ... Read More
Very good cruise, love that Thompson are very organised and have excellent staff, from Airways to Cruise. Everything was as planned. Description of ports and itinerary was clear. Celebration is an oldish ship but has character and I enjoyed the experience. I felt the itinerary of the cruise was worth it. One thing I would like though is white fluffy towels which, all American Cruise lines have. Thompson please ditch those towels, they should have gone in the bin a long time ago. Once I book a Thompson cruise I know I am in good hands. Lots of options on ship, which I like. Another suggestion I would make, which other cruise lines are now doing, is checking on unoccupied sun loungers where towels have been left on the sun beds. Unbelievably some people put their towels on the sun beds then go on excursions for a couple of hours. A member of Staff goes around and puts a note on any unattended sun beds, with the time on it and advises that if not occupied within 30-40 minutes the towel will be removed. This is only fair. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
we shared a mid ship cabin with balcony which was very comfortable , having a balcony was a big plus because the pool areas were always overcrowded with parents and their kids. the ship was spotless, the food was excellent in the ... Read More
we shared a mid ship cabin with balcony which was very comfortable , having a balcony was a big plus because the pool areas were always overcrowded with parents and their kids. the ship was spotless, the food was excellent in the restaurants and good in the Buffet given the numbers they cater for all day.The staff were in the main a credit to MSC with one exception we found the staff at reception very rude and abrupt. As smokers we were delighted to discover the Cigar lounge where like minded people could relax and have a drink and a smoke in comfort, the staff here Amadi ,Eddie and Abdul were legends for putting up with us ! There was entertainment each evening in the theatre but we didn't avail of it and there was always lovely music playing in the foyer pre dinner there were some issues with queues to get back onto the boat after excursions and organization of these could be better. Yes we would definitely go again Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
I had an overnight flight to Dubai I found out later that a lot of people on the flight were taking the cruise. I arrived at the airport picked up the case and after clearing customs were met out side in Arrivals by a Royal Caribbean rep. ... Read More
I had an overnight flight to Dubai I found out later that a lot of people on the flight were taking the cruise. I arrived at the airport picked up the case and after clearing customs were met out side in Arrivals by a Royal Caribbean rep. After checking everyone off we boarded the transfer coach to the port. This was an unusual cruise for me as I always travel alone, but this time I was meeting up with a couple of friends and some other people in their party. I met one of my friends at the port and we promptly boarded the ship. I have sailed on Vision before and as much as I loved being on Harmony I was looking forward to sailing on a smaller ship. The ship is quite old but still in great shape at the pool bar I was met with a friendly smiling face it was Kendrick from Ovation of the Seas it was great to see him again. As the morning passed we seemed to meet up with everyone within the next few hours. The time passed quickly and the cabins were ready in the early afternoon, I had a kind steward called Samuel who looked after the cabin. I had my time dining which was a bit hit and miss with the food and service but never mind it did not take anything away from my time on this lovely ship. A group of us did Chops on the second night it did not disappoint the food was amazing as was the service. I had breakfast every day in the main dining room with a section for members to sit at. The service and the food was very enjoyable as were the people I sat with. I also enjoyed the lunch twice on the cruise in the main dining room I do so love the salad they serve there. When we overnighted in Muscat we had an Arab themed party around the pool it was great I have never experienced anything like it. Everyone there seemed to really enjoy the evening and the staff worked so hard thank you to everyone. That really apart from the nation of flags ceremony with the Captain in the atrium was the only other entertainment that I saw. Talking with other people on the ship there seemed to be quite a mixed response regarding the other entertainment available. Service was generally excellent but My Time Dinning was a disappointment I have to say. The staff worked hard but I felt that the food was slow coming I did leave two meals but went to the Windjammer all turned out well. Mangesh Jambhulkar our concierge worked really hard in the lounge and everyone seemed to speak highly of him. Overall the cruise was really good, so good in fact I booked up to go back again in February to go back. I have sailed many times with Royal Caribbean which I enjoy and will continue I hope to do so for many years to come Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2016
We chose this cruise so we could visit India Maldives and Sri Lanka. Going by Azamara was great as we love sailing with this company. Also we figured we would more likely become sick travelling by sea than on land. Mumbai was a great ... Read More
We chose this cruise so we could visit India Maldives and Sri Lanka. Going by Azamara was great as we love sailing with this company. Also we figured we would more likely become sick travelling by sea than on land. Mumbai was a great eye opener for what was to come in India did a ship excursion to the dalla-wallahs ,train ride then onto the laundry dhobi ghats. great place to watch 22 million people. Goa own arranged shore excursion not as busy and more beaches and relaxed. Coochin organised tour with fellow cruise critics excellent sailing on the Backwaters of Alappuzha. Great Azamazing evening with the ship. lots of different activities other than drinking and eating. Had our palms read, a sketch of our faces an hand tattoo which is just starting to fade now.(2 weeks later). Next stop Maldives - What a picturesque spot snorkelled off a back of a catamaran with another couple from cruise critic very in expensive $65 US each for 6 hours sailing and snorkelling with lunch included.Remember to keep on applying sunscreen. Will come back again Sri Lanka - What a wonderful place and private tour with 7 couples from Cruise Critic TUK TUK SAFARI- Is an excellent and well run company with happy and great drivers and tour guide. It was the little things like having cold water, beer, coconut juice (fresh) peanuts cold wash towels, taking us to get fresh mango juice and many more things. We will definitely visit this place again and do a night tour with TUK TUK SAFARI. Chennai was a nightmare to get off the ship but once we sat and waited an hour on the bus and got to our hotel it was easy to adapt to the mad crazy drivers. really enjoyed visiting Manmallapuram - very unique and wonder in stone. A must see. Azamara Journey is an easy to get around but although there is only 600 passengers we found that by the end of 2 weeks we had not seen some passengers until the last day. We love this size ship. Our services onboard was excellent and nothing was too much to ask for from the crew. This was the first trip with Azamara that they allowed Bridge tours and engine room tours which was an eye-opener. Cooking demonstrations was great, dinning in all restaurants were of high quality food and waiters always willing to please you although their gratuities have already been paid for before we get on-board they were just great always smiling. we did a lot of reading and when I had finished my book we visited the ships library and borrowed another 2 from there. the captain and senior officers are always mingling with the passengers and taking questions when needed. The only disappointments is the repeat of shows from previous cruises which we choice sometime to miss. Enjoyed the Indian Buffet on pool deck and always the white night. Brunch is also a pleaser in Discovery. We love the whole Azamara Experience and feel like family oncer onboard. Read Less
29 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
Having previously cruised on the Queen Victoria and the Queen Elizabeth in 2013, I thought that I would 'complete the set' by joining the QM2 on the final leg of her 2016 World Cruise from Dubai to Southampton. How things ... Read More
Having previously cruised on the Queen Victoria and the Queen Elizabeth in 2013, I thought that I would 'complete the set' by joining the QM2 on the final leg of her 2016 World Cruise from Dubai to Southampton. How things have deteriorated in 3 years! My 2013 experience of Cunard was excellent service from friendly staff in all areas and excellent food - even during a Force 10 gale. Not so on the QM2. I had to find my own way to my cabin - it was a cabin, not a stateroom - on deck 11. My case arrived 5 hours later. Bathrobes are no longer standard - you have to request one. Pillows are no longer feather filled - lumpy man made fibre. Britannia Restaurant night one - menu thrown at me whilst slopping water into a glass and then demanding 'Had I chosen?' The food served was awful - I had only a starter and main - the starter was a couple of prawns in Marie-Rose sauce followed by a fillet of Baramundi that had given it's life in vain. It was so overcooked that I could have re-soled my shoe with it. I asked if I could have a drink with my meal and was told that the Sommelier was the only one that could take drink orders - he arrived half way through the main course. Night 2 in the Restaurant was no better, in fact, worse as the Sommelier did not even turn up. By now, the ship was in the grip of Norovirus and the Captain took great delight in making announcements including words such as vomiting and diarreah during lunch or dinner and I took the remainder of my meals in the Self Service Canteen on deck 7, where the food was unappealing and the staff were surly to rude. I stuck to pasta, cooked to order, toast and bananas. Cunard failed to control the Norovirus - if one person in a double occupied cabin was showing symptoms, they were confined but the other person was allowed to roam the ship at will, infecting anyone and everyone! We were denied access to the port of Dohar and we were also denied access to Jordanian Territorial Waters, meaning that Aqaba and Petra were off the list. This was my 15th cruise in 4 years and I chose to leave the ship in Cyprus, 10 days into the cruise, because I was so disappointed by every single aspect of the cruise. Something that I have never, ever considered before. The Carnival Cuts are apparent in every area of the ship - although I should qualify that because so many areas of the ship were restricted to 'normal' passengers and reserved only for World Class, Britannia Club, Queens Grill etc. passengers - perhaps the cuts are less evident there. Never again. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
Firstly, my first time flying with Emirates, but guaranteed it won’t be my last. I got a requested upgrade to fly out Business Class at what looked to be a heavily discounted price. What an experience- it’s the first time I’ve ever ... Read More
Firstly, my first time flying with Emirates, but guaranteed it won’t be my last. I got a requested upgrade to fly out Business Class at what looked to be a heavily discounted price. What an experience- it’s the first time I’ve ever been on a plane, had a holiday and could not wait to do the return flight! The added bonus was that Business Class also entitled me to a free chauffeur driven car from my home 70 miles away to Gatwick and back, as well as return Chauffeur transfers both ways in Dubai. Add that into the amount of lovely free champagne and booze I quaffed and it started to look like a bargain! Virgin and ESPECIALLY BA need to look to their laurels regarding this competitor- I recently flew longhaul with BA Premier Economy and it was awful… From what I can ascertain, Emirates Business Class is easily equivalent to BA and Virgin First Class. Anyway having arrived in Dubai a couple of days early, I spent some time just getting used to the warmth of the sun on the creaking bones again- wonderful- I’d not considered the Emirates as a winter destination before but at between 6.5 and 7.5 hours direct flight it’s nearer than the Caribbean, and from what I have experienced of both, the weather seems more dependable.. They laughed at me in Dubai when I mentioned snow, saying they only get about 4 days rain a year! Anyway, onto the cruise… there is not much about the destinations because I picked up bronchitis the day I left home, so this ended up being a very laid back chill holiday..because I KNOW I’m going back! Another rather wonderful thing- I had booked a balcony but found just before going that Costa had upgraded me to a mini-suite- as a solo traveller I don’t tend to get such nice upgrades, so well done Costa! Day 1 & 2 First impressions- strangely wonderful embarkation process- walk up to the deserted check in desk, they put a room number sticker on your passport,and fill in the health questionnaire- you walk through to the ship, they take questionnaire and your passport which you don't see again until the end of the cruise ( I think! If anyone spots a dodgy looking Deco wandering around Dubai, you'll know it's not me!), and you go to your cabin where your cabin key awaits. Painless.And no queues. I did spend the first few days chuckling at what I thought was the Captain’s name - "Cordiali Saluti" , until it was pointed out to me that his welcome signed off with that greeting, followed by the words “Cordiali Saluti”! Doh! The cabin is great and spacious- can't fault it at all. Nice touch that every door had a Christmas tree decoration.Slept perfectly when I eventually got to bed. The room has a coffee pod machine which is nice, if I can work it out- you only get 2 free pods however, so I shall be selective when I use them.. I live life to the edge eh?! Nice that the cabin had a bath as well as a shower, and more storage space than I’ve ever seen in a cabin before! It's very eerie getting on Costa ships because people embark quite leisurely..our embarkation time was from between 3.30pm and 07.30am the following morning- no queues to embark or disembark. But it does the impression of a ghost ship at times! Last night I unpacked and headed to the bar, to test out the all inclusive drinks package, which at 19€ a day still works out at the best drinks package at sea, incorporating coffees, teas, alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks. It seems impossible to walk more than about 20 feet without finding a bar with music playing, which is nice.Last night they must have felt they were playing to the guests of the Marie Celeste! I'm sure tonight will be busier as we are at sea through the night. I've just been down to the a la carte restaurant for breakfast expecting it to be heaving with people.. There were maybe 15 guests, and approximately 25 waiting staff! Needless to say, no sooner was I seated than this procession of people appeared- the bread man, the croissant and pastry lady, the assorted juices lady, the cereals man, the coffee man, the man who took my breakfast order.. If it carries on like this, I'll be dead impressed! I'm more used to avoiding the buffet breakfast scrums on most ships! As most of you know, I tend to be a 2 meal ( breakfast and dinner) person onboard, so I settled for a very beautifully cooked cheese and herb omelette which should see me through to dinner. This ship has done away with early and late sittings so at meal times, the choices are buffet- which I had last night, ( tasty and fresh salady stuff mostly) , a Pizzeria with a small additional charge ,or open seating in the main restaurant . Looking at the restaurant this morning, it seems mostly set up with smaller tables, but I did like the fact that in the daily programme, there is an option to meet others who don't wish to dine alone ,at 6.30 each night. Having said that,knowing my luck, I'd get paired up with Fred Munster and Nigel Farage.. So maybe for tonight at least, I'll dine with my trusty Kindle for company! Currently it's 9.30am here and I'm waiting for the lifeboat drill to occur in about 10 minutes, before we depart Dubai for Bahrain at 10.30. Just heard the first of the obligatory 5 language cabin announcements, but as it's for the safety drill, I guess they can't afford to miss anyone out! Well that was fun- I've never been on a ship where we had to line up in groups before- "and move to the left, move to the right".. I was expecting to be asked to do-si-do! I'd lost the will to live by the time we'd reached the 5th translation! However, it's done now. After this, only the essential announcements are relayed to cabins in all 5 main languages. Ok- 20 minutes later and I'm out by the pool- it's deserted!!! Hurrah! Unless they all know something I don't.. Bye bye Dubai, bring on Bahrain... I was sitting right by the ship's hooter when it went off!!! Jump?!!!! How high?!!!!!! Now to chillax.... Later that day… A nice day in the sun- the ear that wasn't affected by my headcold has now been wind blasted within an inch of its hearing life- being ever the resourceful Brit, I resorted to wrapping my caribbean kaftan thing round my head to protect what's left of my hearing- I actually really don't CARE what it looked like! It worked. Deck entertainment that I saw ( there was more but I only write what I see) was a deck side morning disco masquerading as an aerobics class-Gangnam Style was never Jane Fonda(!) and later they dragged a few holiday makers up, presented them with about 15 ingredients and challenged them to come up with the most innovative cocktail.. Lolol! Class or what?!!! Funny to watch the reaction of the tasters. Got slightly distracted on way back to cabin by a coffee / tea bar offering 16 different teas ( yawn!) but a variety of coffees including Marzipan infused! Well, that was lunch sorted, together with my lemsip/ whisky hot toddy.. Decided to a la carte the dinner tonight - no problem getting a table although I think allocating me table 111 for 1 was rubbing it in a bit! 5 courses on offer- went for just 3- roast beef with artichoke, italian cheese and finally, "diplomatic cake"... I was really hoping that was a dessert telling me to embrace my curves and eat more.. Sadly this turned out not to be the case, but as a non pud eater it was luvverly!! Cream and some sort of pastry thing with a nod to health by the addition of a strawberry. On to the show "Made in Italy" prefaced by an introduction to the international hostesses- German, French,Spanish, and finally Hannah,the english hostess who spectacularly announced that she is the language interpreter for every other language than French, Italian Spanish and German- good luck with that luv! Still for my Costa doubting cruise friends, I think it's a really good facility to have. Showtime was great- a mixture of all things italian from opera to dance to pop- including a v innovative Formula One dance to The Race.. I'd forgotten the joys of "applauso applauso " on Costa ships- it just makes me smile. Sitting in one of the many lounges now, awaiting the "70s explosion"... Should be fun! Bahrain tomorrow and I'm afraid I've opted ( on most of this cruise) for beach resort days- hey ho. Day (non existent 3) & 4.. Oh well, after a fairly uneventful day 3 to due to this stupid cold, it looks like I shall be on board Xmas Day and Boxing Day- finally succumbed to the Doc today and he advised not to do my planned trips for next two days-bronchitis. Ho hum. At least he didn't confine me to cabin!!! Well at least I shall get to see Costa Christmas in all its glory- and let's face it, if you are going to be ill, you may as well be ill in the sun!! Not too impressed with his nurse that jumped back about 8 feet when I coughed!!!!! Although as backwards long jumps go, it was probably very proficient! So, yesterday - as said earlier, a peg out day by the pool which was fine. The show was an entertaining comedy acrobat team who did some amazing human "slinky" thing, which thankfully did NOT involve them tumbling down the stairs- which was the only thing I could do with my slinky! Back to the room last night to find this big box of panettone waiting- that and the prosecco will be coming home with me, otherwise I might explode before xmas day! We arrive in Abu Dhabi at 13.30 today and depart tomorrow at about 16.30, so I guess there will be a mass exodus this afternoon.Some are doing an overnight desert trip involving tents camels and bedouins. I don't think I was made for camels.. And I'm fairly sure they aren't made for me- girl has to know her limitations! My plan ( in the absence of shore trips!) is to enjoy the day in the sun- temperature is a lovely 25 degrees, and then tackle the Christmas Eve Dinner- I am interested to see what we receive- then the Hip Hop Burlesque Show ( there's a juxtaposition!) followed by the Midnight Mass if I'm still awake. I did this last year and it was lovely - mostly the Filipino staff and a few of us Roman Candles- it's about the only time of year I go to church and I must admit I do enjoy it. Signing off for now- I hope everyone has a happy and peaceful day- I may update later on Day 5. Costa NeoRiviera Firstly- MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! Thoughts for the day: 1) The hygiene and elf n safety standards on this ship are impeccable. I was watching today in the outdoor buffet area- if someone so much as drops a chip, someone is there to pick it up. The floors are constantly being mopped and all the buffet food has individual pick up tongs to reduce contamination 2) Sea water pools puts women like me at a severe disadvantage as regards swimming with any type of dignity.. No sooner am I in there then let's say my natural buoyancy takes over and the Mae Wests float to the top.. So you either go with that and float on your back looking like two atolls adrift at sea, or you fight it and people assume you are drowning... Just cold water showers poolside then for me.. 3) The quality and freshness of the food I've encountered on here surpasses anything I have had on the "posher" lines.. I did wonder if Costa Serena was unique in this, but no, seemingly not. 4)The entertainment has been fine for coping with so many nationalities- if I want a West End Show I'll go to London. But for what you get, the professionalism of the dancers and singers is top notch, the humour is by necessity " in yer face"( which I'm fine with!) and it is wonderful to sit in a theatre that is never more than 70% full with massive legroom and little tables for your drink(s)! 5) This has rekindled my love of smaller ships- it has about 1600 passengers and 900 rooms.. You can walk end to end in about 5 minutes flat. You don't need to queue for lifts, and despite the rumours about "foreigners" not queuing, I have not seen even one instance of anyone pushing in.The rumours of Costa ships being smoke filled dens appears to be unfounded too! 6) The beds are "awesome" on here and I have slept like a log! Aside from the fantastic unexpected free upgrade to a mini suite, the cabins are well fitted out, clean and well maintained. I have never had a cabin with so much storage space! I found another cupboard yesterday when I pressed the hairdryer button my mirror- only for the whole mirror to swing open to produce a further huge cupboard housing a safe ( I had wondered where that was!) as well as says hairdryer! I have not forgotten my P&O balcony complete with blue plastic webbing, rusty rails and paint flecks all over it! That was the same cabin where the handle came off in my hand if you recall! 7) Their inclusive drinks package is the best at sea, and means that since I've been on here, aside from a bottle of Cloudy Bay which I treated myself to for yesterday and today , and a packet of crisps ( because I could!) I have no other onboard spend at all. 8)I wasn't a fan of freedom dining, preferring to inflict myself on others at dinner, but actually it's been ok. I think it's led to me meeting less people than normal, but I also believe the vast array of nationalities by definition makes that harder. I've enjoyed the freedom to eat when I choose as opposed to when it's prescribed and as long as I have my Kindle, I've been a happy Billy No Mates in the corner! 9)Here's the thing... For all of the above plus more, I am starting to think that Costa may be my favourite cruise line.. I still have a lot to try out, but for value for money , I find them hard to beat. I'm interested in other opinions from fellow cruisers , and for non cruising friends, I'll shut up now!!!!! Today is a people watching day- it is the first time that I've seen the decks fairly full- this is a definite advantage of having almost every day as a port day- people clear off to explore! Having said, as I say, today ( at least for the next couple of hours) the world and his wife are here.. Yes there are plenty of children but they are "contained" reasonably within a) a children's pool on deck 12 with slides and stuff and b) in one of the two adult only pools.. Well, it's Christmas eh? And they are all being well behaved if a little noisy... The assorted deck walkers are funny to watch- there are the Sophia Loren and George Clooney beautiful people, the Middle aged stomach suckers-in squeezed into budgie smuggler speedos , the self conscious but willowy latinesque teenage beauties,giggling in little gaggles,and eying up the sullen moody boys, the sock wearing white hat & sandal brigade desperately seeking shade ( I wonder where they can be from?!), the dedicated yompers marching determinedly around the deck in anticipation of the Christmas dinner to come, eyes front and no deviation , the weary mothers who just look relieved that the sun is out and their children have playmates of all nationalities to play with, the teenage lads who really DO seem lost on here, and tend to sit quietly in corners scowling gently,pretending they can't see the giggly girls, the long suffering bar staff with their enforced uniform of Xmas hats which they wear with aplomb and a smile, dads pretending to read their papers and discreetly watching the girls go by without attracting the attention of their wives, who are watching them like hawks regardless anyhow..All the world is here.. I hear French, English, German, Arabic,Spanish, Italian as a gentle cacaphony of voices melding with the Christmas deck music.. It's strangely soothing.. I'm not a crowd lover, but even within all of this, it seems calm and peaceful... They say no man is an island.. I feel a little like one here, but surrounded by other islands, so it could be worse. Language is not hugely a barrier- smiles are universal and people are friendly enough. I'm not sure if I miss the big group table at dinner or not- I've met some interesting people by dining that way in the past, but actually , a table for one has been ok on this cruise.. Sad but true. I have my reindeer deely boppers ready to go tonight; bring it on! Day 6&7 Day 6 passed in a blur of sun sleep and .. Well that's it really! Oh except for the fact that I decided against my better nature to try italian Bingo.. Oh that's fun.. You push holes in the paper as opposed to using your dobber.. And you'd think , THINK, that with repeating each number in 5 languages, you'd have time to read a book Inbetween... Oh no sirree!!!! It was bloody hard to keep up and when I actually WON ( yes WON!!) I was so surprised and so slow that I nearly missed it! As it was, I had to go up front to "applauso applauso" in bare feet because I'd taken my shoes off... You could hear the tuts from the Jimmy Choo and Loboutin brigade.. I don't care- my tootsies looked lovely courtesy of my friend Angela at Image Salon so who cares?! Probably just jealous of my winning! The show "Myths & Legends" wasn't probably going to be my thing so I pottered off to see the Arabian Night floor show. Highly entertaining if very basic humour, culminating in the crowning of Mr NeoRiviera... I rather like this sort of simple humour- you look around the room and everyone is laughing- similar to the first time I watched Penguin Racing on Fred Olsen.. There's not a lot more designed to make me cry laughing than grown men strapped to 6 foot tall MDF penguins whilst assorted punters throw the huge dice to get their penguin over the finish line.. Call me childish but I LIKE that sort of thing! So, back to Mr Costa NeoRiviera.. Round one, basically a " You can take your hat off " routine to whittle from 20 down to 3.. Well a blind man could have worked out all 3.. There's been a fantastic Egyptian man who throws himself into everything, ( he really can dance like an Egyptian!), there was the obligatory italian stallion who just KNEW he was, ( not that I'm complaining!) and then this little tubby long haired grandad who was just hysterical to watch.. Ok.. So I guess before round two, you can already guess the winner? The game was to drag 3 (un ) willing women from the audience to act as Jane, to each man's Tarzan.. There was ONE extremely happy Jane there.. Then Tarzan had to beat up the cannibal with his fred flintstone cosh (applauso applauso) and swing through the jungle to rescue his jane.. Ok.. Silly but.. Egyptian man had either never heard of Tarzan or he'd been really badly dubbed in Egypt , as his cry came out like a cat with his bits caught in a mangle ( bye bye!), the Italian Stallion was so busy looking beautiful he forgot to act.. So step forward Mr Costa NeoRiviera- who threw himself into the part with what can only be described as gusto, and he looked totally in shock when he won .. Even though the animateurs had hoisted his Jane up between them and deposited her in his arms! Bloody funny- you had to be there to appreciate it! Last night,there was ( boring but worth mentioning for potential Costa cruisers) an offer to wash and iron up to 25 items for a total cost of €20.. Normally this is €11 an item and so REALLY not of interest.. But €20 to get 9 dresses and 2 tops returned ready to pack? Oh yes! Returned to my cabin at 6pm tonight and straight in the case.. Thankyou Costa! Dinner was tasty and I leave the ship at 9.30 tomorrow- interestingly at the disembarkation talk, you can keep your cabin on here until 3pm at no extra charge and even then you can continue to use the ship's facilities inc the restaurants until whatever time you are due to disembark. To sum up, this is my second Costa cruise, and no they're not the poshest but I do seriously believe they are fun.. Life is what you make it.. Holidays are what you choose to make them.. I didn't see any of the Emirates because of this bronchitis, but I had a totally relaxing chilled holiday in the most beautiful weather.. The cabin was the best designed and most spacious of any ship I've been on, and the staff can't do enough to help. And I KNOW I will be back here. With Costa too. For non cruising friends, I hope this hasn't bored you too much.. For cruise lovers friends, I hope you find this a useful honest review. Ciao!!!   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2013
We decided to take this trip as we had previously enjoyed cruising on Thompson cruises and fancied going 'upmarket.' We were really looking forward to experiencing the QM2 The organisation before the trip was good with a lot of ... Read More
We decided to take this trip as we had previously enjoyed cruising on Thompson cruises and fancied going 'upmarket.' We were really looking forward to experiencing the QM2 The organisation before the trip was good with a lot of information from Cunard but as we were using a tour agency we also,had excellent information from them which arrived before the information from Cunard and they arranged all our transfers. The embarkation was swift and trouble free and we were soon in our stateroom with our luggage and the welcoming bottle of sparkling wine. Although the ship itself was certainly a step up from others we have sailed on, that was where the difference ended. The ship was beautiful, very clean and well appointed with a large stateroom which gave us a lot of space but the ship seemed to lack the soul that smaller ships have and the size meant we spent a lot of time walking from one place to another and in the end tended to use just a small area of the ship rather than explore it all. Our steward was lovely and gave us super service and the waiters were also very attentive but the service in other areas of the ship was average and did not match the hype we had heard from Cunard about their ship and staff. It was good but certainly not exceptional. It was certainly not better than on much cheaper cruises we have had. This was also true of the food. The meals were nice but not exceptional and the menu was rather limited. I was however very impressed by the attention I received when I told the waiter I had an allergy as I was invited to chose my meals ahead of time to ensure they were free of the food I was allergic to. It was though, rather difficult to have to choose the following day's meals immediately after finishing my dinner! We were on a table that was right at the top of the Britannia Restaurant and right next to the kitchen door which was far from glamorous - even though the restaurant itself was lovely we were only able to see this while walking to and from our table and we could have been eating anywhere. We did enjoy the look of the room at lunchtime when we had a freer choice of where we sat and we would have preferred a better choice of table in the evening. We asked to move later in the cruise but were then put on to a table on the other side of the restaurant in the reciprocal position, next to the kitchen! My husband liked the Kings Court buffet where there was a very good choice of food available all day but I didn't like the atmosphere there as it reminded me of any high street department store restaurant. I would have loved the opportunity to eat on the deck but there were no outside eating areas. I was looking forward to the formal nights as I rarely get an opportunity to dress up and although the men looked wonderful in their black or white evening jackets, I felt the majority of ladies did not really dress up as I had imagined they would. This meant that the 'balls' I was expecting were more like any normal dance. I really did expect more glamour. There was little difference between the formal nights and the informal. Our main disappointment though was the feeling that Cunard was doing whatever it could to get as much additional cash out of us as possible. . The price of drinks was high and all had 15% added as well as an additional space on the ticket for yet another gratuity. The bottled water was nearly $4 a bottle which was extortionate and it has always been free on other cruises we have taken. Like most other people we spoke to, we asked for the $11 per day, per person gratuity to be taken off our bill as we preferred to tip the staff we had dealings with rather than have this amount taken by the company without knowing where it went. We also felt the tours were overpriced and that the person giving the tour information lectures was not very subtly trying to steer people away from doing their own thing on shore by warning that taxi drivers might overcharge or they might not get back to the ship in time so they would be better taking an organised tour. We only took one organised tour and wished we hadn't because we had a much better time and more value for money by hiring a local taxi driver who was in every case ready to take us wherever we wanted to go for a fraction of the cost of the organised tours and to give us lots of information about the places we saw. To be fair, I think this is true of most cruises and I would always prefer to arrange my own days on shore. The itinerary sounded really exciting but unfortunately we arrived in Cochin on Independence Day and everything was shut. This was especially annoying to many people as everyone had paid a lot of money for a visa to go there, even if they didn't want to go on shore, and of all the places we visited this was the most disappointing. Langkowi on the other hand was wonderful. We hired a local taxi and the driver spent the whole day taking us to all the points of interest, including a trip on the river to see the eagles and a bat cave . He was so pleased to tell us lots of information about his island. . Excluding the cost of the river trip we were only charged $85 for the whole day which was about six hours in all. Photographs on the ship were about $24 for a single print which was also very expensive and it seemed a shame to see so many prints that would obviously be destroyed as they were not being bought. If they had been less expensive they would have sold many more I suspect. We were photographed at every turn, as was everyone, so there must be a lot of photos destroyed at the end of every cruise. Although the ship was very clean and attention to hygiene was excellent, especially the efforts to avoid the spread of Norovirus by the implementation of a closed buffet for the first 48 hours and the constant use of hand gel, there was an awful smell.about the ship on several days, especially in the corridors and on deck 7 which seemed to be connected to the discharge of effluent. This was very unpleasant and on one occasion was very strong outside the restaurant. I'm not sure if there was something wrong with the equipment but a lot of people were complaining about it. Another extra Cunard didn't tell us about ,was the threat of pirates! We had to blackout the staterooms at dusk every evening and were not able to go on deck which was a shame. It reminded me of the war! On the last day we were told to wait in the Winter Garden for a member of staff to take us to disembark. Despite being there twenty minutes before the appointed time, we were left there along with a large number of others for nearly an hour and then told the staff member had taken people away half an hour before the allotted time. This was followed by us being asked for $300 tax for our 400 duty free cigarettes by the Singapore customs, despite having been assured by the staff in the duty free shop that the tax was only 7% of the purchase price on board. Of course we had to forfeit them as this tax was more than the purchase price. Cunard must have had people disembark in Singapore before but the information they provided about the custom rules there was woefully inadequate and could have caused us big problems if we had put our purchases in our suitcase as we intended, believing we had the right to take in 200 cigarettes each. This could have caused us a large fine or imprisonment according to the customs officers. The staff were giving out completely wrong information and I think this was unforgivable! I had expected to spend a lot of money on this cruise and am aware that this review sounds as if I am penny pinching but that isn't the case. I simply didn't feel we got value for money as far as the extras were concerned and that Cunard were taking advantage of a captive audience. All in all we did have a good time and we met some lovely people on this cruise but it was definitely not what I had expected, given the hype that Cunard gives out about their cruises over others. I would probably go on a similar cruise again but would check out the itinerary with more care ( public holidays en route etc.) and would be more prepared for the reality of what to expect next time.   Read Less

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