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Sail Date: May 2012
I've never cruised on my own before but would definitely do it again. Started in Rome and left out of Civitavecchia port, next day we were in Scilly (Messina). I had booked a tour through the ship to see Taormina. I found the guide ... Read More
I've never cruised on my own before but would definitely do it again. Started in Rome and left out of Civitavecchia port, next day we were in Scilly (Messina). I had booked a tour through the ship to see Taormina. I found the guide very organized and informative and enjoyed seeing the ancient city, originating in 1440's. Even though I was the only person not "coupled up" I was welcomed and treated friendly by other guests. After a long day traveling it was a delight to go back to my balcony room all clean and tidy. My cabin steward was an angel, I miss him now I'm home. My room was extra large as the balcony bowed out from the ship I was starboard aft and could see the bridge at the front but also close to the end of the ship. My only complaint about the balcony was my neighbors were heavy smokers and it drifted into my room whenever I opened the balcony. I choose late dining as we were in port fairly early, the service was top notch and attentive but had a friendly tone. The food was average, none of the meals stood out even on formal nights. I think the RCCL could improve in this area. That being said, the entertainment was wonderful. Second night was a BeeGee's tribute show that had everyone dancing in the isles. I saw the ice show and it was very entertaining, I still don't know how the performers managed such high jumps! In the promenade one evening everyone was dancing to a group of dancers doing the Village People impression. I didn't join in the conga line but maybe I would have if I was drinking. There broadway rendition was also first rate. The entire atmosphere of the ship was calm and efficient. Another port of call I booked with the ship was the ruins of Ephesus. We left Kusadasi port early and the excursion lasted 5 hours exploring the ancient Roman ruins dating back to the 11th century. A lot of walking on marbled streets filled with chariot ruts but well worth the 3 mile trek. The tour guide had the frailest guest set the pace. Day 4 was Athens which I did on my own but wasn't impressed. Got ripped off for $160 eu for a lunch I didn't order, I only wanted a snack. Wouldn't bother with Athens again. My all time favorite is Chania, Crete. I rented a convertible and drove up around the mountains with the beautiful turquoise waters following me. The only traffic I saw was a few mountain goats. Followed the road along the Northwest coast up to ancient Monasteries, tranquil little villages with the sound of birds calling me further up. I stopped at the British Commonwealth War Cemetary, which lies on a small plateau, just above sea level on the Souda Bay.Along the winding "old road" of Crete I saw many honey farms. The last day out was a sea day, so I took advantage of the saltwater pool on board, it was cold, but refreshing. Overall a great experience. What I would like to see improved would be the food, the spa, the pursers desk (not helpful), and disembarkation process. I was thrown out 3 hours prior to my transfer. Still I would recommend this to any solo travelers or couples. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2011
We went on the holiday (Dec 24-31) cruise on the Oasis with my 3 boys (18-23yo) and my parents in their 80's. It was wonderful. The best part was the crew. Everyone we passed in the hall or anyone we had contact with had a smile ... Read More
We went on the holiday (Dec 24-31) cruise on the Oasis with my 3 boys (18-23yo) and my parents in their 80's. It was wonderful. The best part was the crew. Everyone we passed in the hall or anyone we had contact with had a smile on their face. They made eye contact, said hello and asked how they could help. What wonderful training RCI has for their staff! The ship is big and we had 6200 passengers on board but honestly we never really felt crowded. There are so many venues to hang out and people do so many different things that there are no crowds. Even the check in at the terminal was incredibly efficient. (btw, we got on at 11am. Don't believe the 2pm arrival time. You can start your vacation 3 hours earlier!). The only time we had an issue with crowds was waiting for an elevator at dinner. That took quite some time but I can think of no other time we felt overwhelmed with people. Again, the staff was great. My dad was having trouble walking around so we asked for a wheelchair. With no questions asked, we received one from Guest Relations. When it didn't work well, one of the cabin attendants noticed (not our attendant) and called on his walkie talkie and another one was sent to the room. The dining room food and service was wonderful. We ate there every night. Our waiter was great and entertained us with card tricks on a few nights. Amazing staff! The nice thing about the Oasis is all of the other restaurants available. My parents really liked going to the Park Cafe and just hanging out in the Central Park Area. It was very relaxing. A couple nights they had a violin and piano duo playing. It was very classy. In Labadee we went on the wave runners (our third time). It was great. The instructor/leader was really funny and made it lots of fun. A really fast ride! The shows were all top notch: Hairspray, Come Fly with Me, the Ice show and the comedy show. The Headliner was "The Nelsons" which I didn't think was quite up to the standards of the other shows. Half of the show was just video montages of their father, Ricky Nelson. All in all, a wonderful ship. Brand New. Tons to do. Great food and shows. Most of all, a wonderful, caring crew!! We would go again without question. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
Cruising was a lot more comfortable than taking trains, planes, and other methods of rushing across Europe, trying to get to different places. The Solstice was a beautiful ship and I was glad to go AquaClass, because it gave me access to ... Read More
Cruising was a lot more comfortable than taking trains, planes, and other methods of rushing across Europe, trying to get to different places. The Solstice was a beautiful ship and I was glad to go AquaClass, because it gave me access to Blu, a restaurant I'll solely miss, now I can no longer go there. The dining area was modern, but a lovely kind of modern, with walls carved in the shape of a rose and windows looking out at the sea. I could eat healthy, beautifully prepared food there. The other specialty restaurants didn't capture my heart the same way, although I did have a very lovely meal at Murano's. Everyone on the ship was courteous and attentive to my needs. Arthur, the attendant to our cabin, found out I preferred cheese to canapes and I got cheese every afternoon in my room. The shore excursions were excellent, especially Florence on Your Own, Rome on Your Own, the Kusadasi/Ephesus excursion, and the Malta walking tour. On the ship, I really enjoyed the lecture/presentations of both Miriam and Gordan. They gave us a lot of information relevant to the ports we were visiting in an interesting fashion that was easy to absorb. The shows were also excellent. There was a wonderful circus performance with acrobatics and contortionists, as well as an extremely talented magician. A lot more was going on that I didn't go to, but I was mostly interested in events that had to do with the ports we were visiting. Our cruise director, Lisa Richards, was very attentive to my questions and needs, pointing me in the right direction when I wanted to know more about the places we'd be passing by on our voyage. If I had one complaint, it was that things got crowded at times. It was hard finding a place to sit in the buffet and we missed one of the shows, because there were no seats. The buffet was, however, excellent, and I'll miss the pizza maker who made such wonderful pizza every day. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2011
Just returned from our first ever cruise on The Royal Carribean, Grandeur of the Seas. We thought the ship was lovely, just the right size, nicer than I expected after reading some reviews on trip advisor. There were plenty of ... Read More
Just returned from our first ever cruise on The Royal Carribean, Grandeur of the Seas. We thought the ship was lovely, just the right size, nicer than I expected after reading some reviews on trip advisor. There were plenty of activities provided on the ship in fact we didn't have time to participate in them all as we were off the ship for 4 days. The service was exceptional in all areas, particularly in the main dining hall where we had a fantastic waiter, Amel. Our 3 excursions were brilliant, when we booked initially we thought they were expensive but they were well worth the money. Our transfer from the airport to the ship was excellent with an added extra stop at a beautiful castle in Majorca. The return trip was just as well organised although there was a big queue for check in which is to be expected. Our stateroom although very small was designed very well with plenty of storage and made us realise you don't actually need a big room. Dining was excellent, plenty of places to get food whenever you wanted, from 6.00am to 2.00am. My son loved the fact he could get free ice cream whenever he wanted. The childrens club looked good with plenty to do but my son never actually went. The entertainment was good, in particular a Beatles tribute band. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2009
My husband and I did the Mediterranean/Greek Isles cruise on the Brilliance of the Seas, leaving out of Barcelona on June 3.  He is 31, I am 25; we have done 3 previous cruises together, one of which was on RCCL.  We returned because we ... Read More
My husband and I did the Mediterranean/Greek Isles cruise on the Brilliance of the Seas, leaving out of Barcelona on June 3.  He is 31, I am 25; we have done 3 previous cruises together, one of which was on RCCL.  We returned because we liked the quality of service with RCCL and enjoyed their selection of onboard activities.  Plus, when Carnival cancelled their 2009 Mediterranean itinerary, this was the next best itinerary we could find for the price.  We admittedly chose this cruise more for the ports than the ship/cruise line. Embarkation and Rooms: We stayed in Barcelona for 2 nights before the cruise began.  We had the hotel concierge call us a cab, and we were at the pier in no time.  Porters were quick to take our bags, and the line inside took us maybe 20 minutes to get through.  I believe we arrived at the port around 1pm, and we were on board by 1:30pm.  Very smooth process.  The only thing I would note is that they took our passports away for the week.  Because Turkey is not part of the EU, Greek customs required RCCL to present all of our passports when we left Turkey and arrived in Athens.  Kind of threw us off (every traveler knows not to go without a passport!) but we had no problem getting them back after the Athens stop. We stayed in a balcony cabin on deck 7.  The room was your typical cruise ship accommodations.  The only complaint I had was that the shower had a curtain, not a sliding door (as we've seen on other ships).  This was super annoying, since the curtain would stick to you throughout your entire shower.  The location on deck 7 is nice because you can get to the Centrum activities easily, but there is not a lot of noise on this deck. Entertainment: Our cruise director was Kieran, he was great.  Very funny and friendly guy.  We also saw him out and about at many of the ports, which was nice.  Brilliance had your typical production shows...we did not attend all of them, but the ones we saw were pretty good.  There was a Beatles cover band one night that everyone LOVED, as well as a very good magician.  There were 2-3 stage performers that we thought were just so-so; they did musical and comedy routines that were definitely geared towards the older people in our audience.  Though we were admittedly in the minority as far as age range goes, we were hoping for some of the more fun and risquE comedians we've seen on other ships. The Pacifica Theater was a good spot for the shows, not a bad seat in the house.  We visited the Schooner Bar quite a bit for the live music, and the Colony Club was good for the karaoke-type events, though there were a lot of obstructed views there.  We enjoyed the sports bar—lots of TVs, plus the bartender there really knew how to make a strong drink!  The Champagne Bar is great—visit them after 6pm for free appetizers. The one thing about onboard activities that we didn't like—most of the entertainment was done by 11pm.  Really the only thing open late was the Starquest Disco, which was quickly taken over by the small group of teenagers on board.  Not much for the 20-something set after hours. Other Amenities: We took advantage of both the 24-hour mini golf, and the rock climbing wall—good fun!  The pools were always quite crowded, with all the seats claimed no later than 9am.  Get up early if you want a fighting chance.  We tended to stay in the Solarium pool area...quieter, less sun (good for those of us not working on a tan), and the bar isn't as busy as the main pool bar.  Also, it's adults only, so no screaming and yelling. Food: Overall we enjoyed our dining experience.  RCCL did an EXCELLENT job with the seating arrangements.  We were at an 8-person table at the later dining time (9pm).  Honestly, we were afraid we would be the only young couple at the table, but we were paired with 3 others nearly our age, as well as a wonderful middle-age couple from the UK.  We had fun with them all week.  Our waiters, Worawit and Miro, were great, some of the best we've had on a cruise.  Wit was especially helpful with his hints on the ports, we often got better information from him than from the Cruise Compass! The food itself was good, though there is a difference from our past cruises.  They seemed to rely on pasta dishes a lot more than usual, and of course there was no lobster or filet mignon.  All the food was good quality, we just felt that the selection was not as great. The Windjammer was typical buffet fare, nothing special to note.  Be aware that the food at the Latte-tudes Coffee Bar is FREE.  A lot of people assumed there was a charge there (because the coffee is not free), but we were happy to figure out that we were free to eat all the brownies and cookies we wanted. PORTS: Barcelona: We arrived here on June 1 and stayed at the Hotel Banys Orientals for 2 nights pre-cruise.  We booked this on our own, not through RCCL.  We had an excellent experience with Banys.  The price is amazing (99 euro/night), the staff is friendly, and the location can't be beat in the Barri Gotic.  I would much rather stay here than La Rambla, which I thought was overrated anyway.  I highly recommend using the tourist bus to help you get around to many of the sights.  It runs frequently and on time.  In 2.5 days we were able to see all of the major highlights that we wanted.  Must sees include: Sagrada Familia, Parc Guell, Picasso Museum, Barcelona Cathedral, beaches at Barceloneta, and the FC Barcelona Stadium.  If you want great tapas, try Cal Pep (best meal I've had in a long time), or Taller de Tapas. One recommendation: if you plan to spend extra time in Barcelona, I'd do it before the trip.  We were so exhausted by the end of the cruise, I don't think we could have done half of what we did in Barcelona by that point.  We actually ate with a couple who cancelled their post-cruise stay in Barcelona because they were just too tired to do it. Villefranche: We did not schedule an excursion for this port.  We got tickets for an early tender (hint: when they are giving out tender tickets, if you want a low number, get in line at least 30-45 minutes before they start handing them out).  We took the easy walk to the train station, and bought tickets to Nice (only a 10 minute train ride).  Nice was beautiful, definitely a beachy resort town.  We explored the shopping areas and the Promenade d'Anglais, and made a stop at Castle Hill.  There is a great food/craft market near the Castle Hill end of the promenade—we ate lunch at a great little restaurant in the middle of it.  Overall this was a really relaxing day, bring your bathing suit if you visit Nice.  You can also take the train to Monte Carlo (20 minutes) or Cannes, though I believe Cannes was further away. When we finished in Nice, we did get about 2 hours in Villefranche, which is a very quaint little fishing village.  It's good to give yourself some time to explore it and get lost in the winding streets. Florence: One of my favorite ports.  We booked the "Florence on your own" tour for this excursion.  Essentially this is just a bus taking you the 90 minutes from Livorno to Florence, and they bring you back at the end of the day.  We started off with a bang as our bus driver plowed into the car in front of us on the Italian highway...yikes!  We were delayed about an hour waiting for another bus, but we were given extra time at the end of the day to make up for it.  Well handled.  We were dropped off at the Basilica of Santa Croce and given about 6 hours on our own.  My husband and I visited all the major sights, and I highly recommend climbing to the top of the Duomo—amazing!  A long climb but worth it.  We didn't have time to go into the Galleria d'Accademia to see the David, or the Uffizi gallery...you will need to spend your day doing just those things if you really want to see them, in my opinion.  We did have a great lunch at Antico Fattore, the pasta and wine were amazing. A note about the "on your own" tours: they are pricy (usually at least $80 a person) but we felt they were very much worth it.  We always got more time in town than our friends who took trains in, because we didn't have to waste time finding the station, and at the end of the day, we didn't have to leave early in fear of missing a train.  A good deal if you want to maximize time and not worry about missing the boat. Rome: We did "Rome on your own" this day.  No bus crashes on the 90 minute drive in, thank goodness.  We were dropped off near St. Peter's; my husband and I immediately took a cab over to the Roman Forum to begin our whirlwind day.  We got a 3-site ticket at the Forum to see it, Palatine Hill, and the Colosseum.  DEFINITELY buy this ticket at the Forum, there was no line at all, whereas the line at the Colosseum was massive.  We visited all three sights, then walked towards the Trevi Fountain.  Stopped there, had some pizza, and threw in our coins (we will be back!).  Made a stop at the Piazza Navona before heading back towards the Vatican, crossing the Ponte Sant'Angelo (gorgeous).  We made a beeline for the Vatican Museum so that we could see the Sistine Chapel, which is absolutely a MUST see.  Breathtaking.  Afterwards we walked around St. Peter's Square, but we weren't left with enough time to go into St. Peter's.  This was truly a crazy, fast-paced day, but you can see both sides of Rome if you really hustle.  We had a lot of fun though we were quite exhausted at the end. Santorini: We didn't book an excursion here.  First off, Santorini is gorgeous.  Take your time here, and take in the scenery.  We took the cable car up to Fira and explored some of the shopping areas for a while.  We then took a city bus (quite reliable, and cheap) over to Perissa, and stopped at the black sand beaches (warning: black sand is hot!).  This was a nice relaxing way to start the day.  We thought about taking the bus to Oia as well—we would have had time, but barely, so we just decided to head back to Fira for some relaxation.  We had a long, leisurely lunch at a rooftop restaurant, sampling all the classic Greek fare: souvlaki, Greek salad, saganaki, Greek wine, baklava.  We ended the day by watching the sunset over the caldera.  What a beautiful place! Kusadasi: We booked the Ancient Glories tour for this port.  The tour began quite early, and took us to the ruins of Ephesus, Miletus, Magnesia, and Didyma.  Beware: Turkey is HOT!  Nearly 100 degrees this day.  Bring water and dress cool if you are taking any of the tours.  The tour guide was very informative, which was great because we got a lot more out of the ruins by hearing about their history.  A buffet was also served at a Turkish restaurant near Didyma, which was excellent—lots of local fare and fresh fish.  The tour ended back in Kusadasi at a rug shop.  It was interesting to see how the rugs were made, but it was a little annoying to have to sit through their sales pitch—ah well.  We explored the Grand Bazaar for a while before heading back to the ship at the end of the day.  Lots of deals to be had at the bazaar, especially if you're into clothes, bags, watches, etc. Mykonos: No excursions for us this day.  We kept hearing how great the beaches were in Mykonos, so we decided to find them on our own—everyone said they were so easy to walk to.  This was not so!  We, along with many other confused-looking passengers, ended up giving up our search for the beaches after an hour of walking, trying to figure out the Mykonos buses, etc.  Very frustrating.  RCCL should either run buses to the beaches (they are on the other side of the island from the ship), or they should provide a better map to tell you how to get there.  But, this did not ruin our day.  We walked around town, which was great because the winding streets are so beautiful.  Had lunch at a little cafe, and explored the windmills near town.  Mykonos is definitely a relaxation destination. Athens:  Our plans were initially foiled by the Greek Tour Guides Union strike—all tours were cancelled for the day.  RCCL let all of us know this the day before we arrived in Athens, which was a sea day.  This was very poorly handled by RCCL.  We were told the day before that all tours were cancelled, but RCCL would be running a shuttle into the city if you just wanted to be dropped off in Athens.  If you wanted a ticket for the shuttle, it was $25, non refundable, and they went on sale that afternoon at the excursion desk.  We were also told that seats were limited.  So, of course everyone rushes to the desk that afternoon and buys the tickets.  Well, that night at the show, the cruise director tells us "a little secret": the train station is not a long walk from the ship, and train tickets to Athens are only 1-2 Euro.  Imagine how upset we all were!  RCCL clearly needed to make their money back from the cancelled tours, so they sent everyone into a panic over the shuttle tickets, and never said a word about the train.  (I'm sure Kieran was given a talking to about informing us later on, poor guy.)  In general, we found that RCCL staff were very reluctant to give out any information about a port that was non-excursion related.  We understand that they need to make their money, but we know many passengers were frustrated, not just by the Athens incident, but also because simple questions they had about other ports (where a train was, etc.) were skirted by RCCL employees in an effort to boost excursion sales.  Tsk tsk. Anyway, on to Athens.  My husband and I took the shuttle into town, and were dropped off near Hadrian's Arch.  We walked up to the Acropolis first—this was probably the hottest day of our cruise, so yet again, pack water and dress lightly for this city.  The Acropolis and Agora were close by each other and definitely worth the hike.  We also walked over to the old Olympic stadium, through the Botanical Gardens, and over to Syntagma Square to view the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  Had a great Greek lunch in the Plaka district as well.  All the major sights in Athens are fairly close together, so we had no problem exploring on our own this day. Naples: We booked the Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius tour for today.  We had not heard great things about Naples itself (other than the pizza), so we were okay with forgoing a trek into the city.  The Pompeii tour was good, though a bit shorter than we had hoped.  It would have been nice if we had some time on our own in the ruins, rather than just being guided the whole time.  Mt. Vesuvius was amazing though.  We were driven most of the way up the mountain, then given time to climb on our own to the peak.  The volcanic crater is very cool, and the views of Naples and the Mediterranean were great once the clouds lifted.  This is definitely worth it, especially if you enjoy hiking!  If you do this tour, be aware that you'll get quite dirty climbing up the mountain, there is volcanic ash all over the place and my shoes/pants were never the same! Overall this was an excellent cruise for two people who had never been to Europe.  We knew that we wouldn't be able to spend tons of time in each place, so we spent a lot of time before the trip planning out exactly what we wanted to see.  It's important to do this, or else you will just be overwhelmed by all that you can do in one day.  This is definitely not a relaxation vacation—we were exhausted by the end, and slept our way through most of the sea days.  But if you want a cruise with amazing ports, this is it. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2009
It has always been our dream to travel on the Cunard ships , and this year we finally got our chance .  We booked the "Mediterranean Delights " voyage for 11 days out of Southampton on May 14 . We flew into Heathrow at 8.30 a.m. ... Read More
It has always been our dream to travel on the Cunard ships , and this year we finally got our chance .  We booked the "Mediterranean Delights " voyage for 11 days out of Southampton on May 14 . We flew into Heathrow at 8.30 a.m. and were met by a Cunard representative at the airport . Our luggage was taken from us , and we didn't see it again until we were in our cabin . Nice touch ! A motorcoach took us to Southampton , about a 2 hour transfer . I had to laugh when the busdriver announced that he was due for his teabreak and had to stop for a while  . It took me right back to the year I spent in England way back when . After all , we were only half an hour away from the ship , but that's the Brits for you , and I love them anyway ! In Southampton check-in was a breeze ! From the time we arrived to our first step on the ship it took about half an hour . We had done our pre-registration on line , so everything was easy as pie . According to Cunard , the QM2 is the most magnificent oceanliner in the world , and we were not disappointed . The ship itself is just beautiful . The first day was at sea , and I used my time to explore she ship top to bottom . The murals just took my breath away ! Every corner oozed class and sophistication .  All public areas were beautiful and inviting . Our cabin was on Deck 12 , right behind the bridge . I guess cabins are always small compared to regular hotel rooms , but we had all the space we needed . Plenty of drawers and closet space , roomy balcony . We didn't spend much time in there anyway , mostly to change , shower , and sleep , and that very well . The beds were the most comfortable I had ever slept in . It was great that there was a way to see bridge operations through the observation window . On other ships you never got the chance to take a peek at the inside of the bridge . We were assigned to the  Britannia Club ,  so we could pretty much go for dinner whenever we wanted . Food and service were impeccable . We usually had lunch on Deck 7 at the buffets . Most of the time we had to wander a little for a table , but never had trouble finding one . The desserts just about did me in , they were so delicious I just could not resist . I also noticed that a lot of care was being directed towards passengers with disabilities or any kind of mobility problems , and there were quite a few . Being middle-aged ourselves , we quite enjoyed not being surrounded by a hoard of screaming teenagers . The average age of passengers is quite high , a plus in our eyes . On the whole voyage we never saw more that a couple of kids .  After supper we would be in the Queen's Room without fail , because we like to dance . The music was great for dancing , the bands were very accomplished . I could have done without the one singer they had a couple of times , his voice was a bit like fingernails on a chalkboard .  They also have a dance pro couple , who did beautiful presentations . They also gave lessons every day in the ballroom .  I have to admit that we never made it into the theatre  , we were having too much fun dancing . I heard from others that the shows were very good .  The shore excursions we took were very nice . There were plenty of choices for all activity levels . You could do a 10 hour walking tour of Rome like we did , or just a city tour of Barcelona by bus . All people who had booked tours were taken off the ship in groups to buses which were already at the pier by the time the ship docked . We had excellent guides every time who really knew their stuff . Disembarkation was very well organized . You could have breakfast at your leisure and just wait  , until you group was called up to leave the ship . The night before you got colour-coded labels for your luggage , and while you had your morning coffee the different colours were called on to leave .  In total , it was a fantastic experience . If I want to mention anything negative at all , be warned about the cash machine near the theatre . We decided to get some British Pounds for a cab before we left the ship to get to the airport , and ended up with one 5-Pound note , the rest were single US $ , which didn't help at all . Thankfully , the cab driver accepted our Euros after some grumbling .  Other than that , it was perfect . We will definitely go back . Read Less

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