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  5. Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades) Cruise Reviews
Sail Date: March 2014
After cruising many times in the past, I finally convinced my sister and brother-in-law to join me and my parents on a cruise. It was the first for them. My parents are Elite status and I am platnium. It was so much fun traveling with ... Read More
After cruising many times in the past, I finally convinced my sister and brother-in-law to join me and my parents on a cruise. It was the first for them. My parents are Elite status and I am platnium. It was so much fun traveling with newbies!!! The ports were ok about what you would expect in the Caribbean. The highlight was obviously the Canal. It was spendid!! The Ship was nice. It is smaller which I enjoyed. There were always places to find a seat in the Horizon Court. Believe it or not the International Cafe was never very crowded. Not the case on many other cruises!! I loved that part. The food selection was good. We had traditional dining in the Provence dining room. Hated eating at 5:30 pm but the late seating at 7:45 pm was way too late. What happened to 6:00 pm??? All I ever hear is how people love the anytime dining. However, it seems like traditional time slots are always full. The entertainment was not enjoyable unless you include Movie Under the Stars. Dancer and singers were lack luster at best. I did enjoy popcorn during the movie. Embarkment and disembarkment were both efficient. Overall I would recommend this boat and this distination. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2013
We arrived at the terminal around 1:30 and was greeted with a check in line that snaked all over. For a ship with only 1150 people, taking 2 1/2 hours to check in is pretty bad. The line was just as long when we did get checked in as it ... Read More
We arrived at the terminal around 1:30 and was greeted with a check in line that snaked all over. For a ship with only 1150 people, taking 2 1/2 hours to check in is pretty bad. The line was just as long when we did get checked in as it was when we started. Felt the ship was fairly dirty when we got there and it took about a week for it to really look better. By the time we left 49 days later, it was looking really good. Experienced some of the same problems the lady from the previous cruise wrote about. Our commode over flowed several times, but they responded quickly each time. The ship was the coldest we have ever sailed on and there were MANY people sick with colds, etc. I swear you could almost see your breath in some of the spaces. Cabins in our area lost partial power several times but maintenance was right there. The food and service in both the dining room and the Lido deck were very good. The only complaint was that there were times when it seemed the dirty dishes would never be picked up, especially in the outdoor areas. Due to the length of the cruise, we may have had special entertainers, but all were very good. I couldn't have afforded to pay to see them on the outside. All of the staff were very friendly and the customer service people, ie. Future cruise, computer help,excursions, etc, kept longer hours than usual. We had several tender ports and in general, they went pretty smooth. Over all a pretty good cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2012
We traveled with Princess because of the itenerary. That was great; just what we wanted. We had a mini suite at the very back of the ship. We had no trouble with the location as we enjoyed the walk to the dining room, etc. The cabin ... Read More
We traveled with Princess because of the itenerary. That was great; just what we wanted. We had a mini suite at the very back of the ship. We had no trouble with the location as we enjoyed the walk to the dining room, etc. The cabin was very little larger than we were accustomed to in a balcony room. We had a tub with shower and my husband found it difficult to turn around without hitting the curtain. There was no top sheet on our bed. Out cabin steward (who was excellent) immediately placed one on the bed but why did we have to ask for something that shoulw be standard. They gave a welcome aboard party for those who had not said with Princess before. They served "hot" tea and "hot" coffee and pastries. I filled my cup with tea and walked to the tray of pastries where a waiter stood with tongs to serve. As I approached he said: "They are numbered 1, 2, 3 and 4; give me a number and do not touch!!" I shook my head, gave him a number and took my lukewarm tea and my numbered pastry to a seat beside another lady who was drinking her lukewarm coffee. Is this a way to encourage people to come back? Our dining waiter was rude; he would walk up between 2 people and in mid sentence stick the menu in their face and ask what they wanted. We were always late starting our dinner. The later hour did not bother us as we are used to late dining but it was irritating to stand in line for up to 20 minutes past time. The food was not up to the standard we are used to and when I ordered a steak medium rare and it came medium well and so tough I could not cut it I told the waiter and he just looked at me, looked at the steak and walked away. Tips are mandatory so why would any employee go the extra mile when they know the tips are coming anyway, On other lines we received envelopes with suggested amounts. Many times we gave more for excellent service and in rare instances gave less if we felt they were not doing their best. We had an excellent cabin steward, some excellent waiters at buffet upstairs and the shopping helper (her name was Greenwood) was also very good. We missed seeing the captain around the ship (he came to one event and stayed about 5 minutes). We are used to being offered the opportunity to have a picture with the captain. There was a lack of entertainment at an hour compatible with our dining hour. Only 2 days did they have an early show and it was only 30 minutes long. We were just relaxing and enjoying it when it was over!!! All in all we did not feel we had our money's worth. We took this cruise because it went to the Panama Canal leaving from Ft. Lauderdale and returning there. It seems I am looking for something good to say and the visit to the canal was it. Embarkation was very slow. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2012
My husband and I are experienced cruisers. We have sailed with Carnival, Princess, Celebrity and Royal and we just got back from a 7 night cruise on Allure of the Seas. I don't want to say anything negative about the ship but just ... Read More
My husband and I are experienced cruisers. We have sailed with Carnival, Princess, Celebrity and Royal and we just got back from a 7 night cruise on Allure of the Seas. I don't want to say anything negative about the ship but just provide an honest opinion. Based on the cost to cruise on this ship I found the service, food and entertainment very dissapointing. We read on cruise critic before we set sail there was a cafe in Central Park and the roast beef sandwiches were wonderful. I can tell you this was not the case. My roast beef was so tough I could not eat the sandwich. A few days later for lunch I decided to give the cafe in the Park another try and ordered a quesadilla, because I wanted something lite. The quesadilla was so bad I could not eat it. Basically had to throw two lunches away, roast beef sandwich and quesadilla. Our cabin was on deck 11 with an extended balcony. For the amount of money we paid to take this cruise our cabin was very disappointing. Compared to other ships this room had very little storage and the drawers in the bedroom 'dresser' area fell out when we opened them. The in room safe seemed about half the size we normally get. Food in the main dinning was good but not outstanding. Windjammer was crowded and the food just okay. The first night we paid to eat at the mexican restaurant on the 'Boardwalk' and it was very good. Since this was the only restaurant we ate at where we paid additional for our food I cannot speak for the other speciality restaurants on board. Given we paid about twice the amount for this cruise as compared to other cruises we've taken I expected the food in the 'complimentary' restaurants to be better. But sadly that was not the case. It seems you have to pay for your food if you want quality. As for the entertainment, they advertise and promote Shrek, Po the panda, and more friends in the DreamWorks Experience. I felt like we were on a Disney cruise. If you have kids you might enjoy this cruise. We will not be cruising on this ship again. Too many people and you have to sign up for everything. If you want to relax you might find it hard to find somewhere peaceful. The activities are not coordinated well. Too much going on at the same time in the same place. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2012
By itself, the Allure is packed with a great variety of venues for its guests. In combination with a crew that clearly strives to deliver the opportunity for happiness and relaxation to each individual, our visit was enjoyable. Captain ... Read More
By itself, the Allure is packed with a great variety of venues for its guests. In combination with a crew that clearly strives to deliver the opportunity for happiness and relaxation to each individual, our visit was enjoyable. Captain Johnny's log is delightful as is his sense of humor. Having programs to aid "make a wish" and the Royal 5 K are the reason we are looking already to book our next cruise on RCCL. By the way having crew members participate was fantastic! Naturally, while we were delighted, there are a opportunities for some modest improvements. Alas, this reviewer is an Engineer, and we always see such opportunities. Audio in Amber: In particular, the audio delivered in the Amber theater is challenging to adjust to avoid excessive bass notes delivered to the main floor and at the same time offer adequate bass in the balcony. This could be caused by headliner acts asking for specific sound profiles, yet many of us still have hearing, and would enjoy retaining it for our future. We did enjoy and appreciate the talent of these folks (in this case Mosaic) but know they would have been even better with a bit of moderation on the volume level. In the same venue and at the same location in the theater, Chicago had exceptionally good acoustic reproduction. the Chicago performance was utilizing the truly outstanding Allure of the Seas Orchestra, and there was much less bass in their audio profile. Solarium: A relaxing place with very nutritional food offered in the breakfast and lunch, of a lighter fare. The seating was often packed to 90% but usually one did not have difficulty finding a lounge chair. Central Park: Seeing real plants thriving and a combination of specialty shops as well as accommodating refreshment venues with the rather unique "rising tide" bar is quite memorable. The musicians provided excellent ambiance for folks enjoying the somewhat serene atmosphere. Promenade: With more activity and aggressive music venues, an excellent area to observe unique sculptures and art objects, opportunities to meet and enjoy friends both new and old as well as the central hub to plan offshore excursions. Locating the 24-hour snack venues and the guest services in this venue seemed very effective. the second floor of the area seemed to have opportunity for expansion or addition of some gaming tables for cards and/or individuals wishing to observe performances without being on the main floor. The Jog/Walk track is outstanding! Photo area: As we are all aware, one can now purchase a camera capable of high resolution photography at a fraction of the cost for only a few images captured by the professional photographers on-board ship with the current pricing strategy. If anything could be done to enable one to receive these images at a reasonable price instead of the current rather constricting option of only one price based on the "type of event" it is likely sales would skyrocket as folks would value the capabilities of these artists. It is felt they are probably the least effectively utilized team on the ship. The effort to reduce the number of prints and move toward images to select prior to printing is commended as it demonstrates a concern for waste reduction by the team. Hence, if one could select the images to consider solely from the video display or possibly from one's room video display unit and then review a smaller number of "proofs" of the desired size at the Photo spot on demand, things could be far superior in this cruiser's opinion.  we took a very long excursion to Chichen Itza and discovered that getting a breakfast was not trivial for that specific event as we did not want to eat at 7 to arrive at a meeting to start at 7:30. Possibly a buffet or something a bit more nutritional than a cheese blintz from the Cafe Promenade would be nice to invoke. It is possible we did not know where to find such a venue. It would be nice to have would be TV channel with the ship's course and identification of visible land forms and possibly including passing cruise ships, on a google map giving one an estimate of the ocean profile would be wonderful. How about a map set? How about a library....the spot on the ship isn't yet a library..it is very meager. Science/Oceanography experience? we did not find a pool that we could actually swim in, but the decision to not have it and have more "wading" pools was a good compromise, likley afforded due to the open "central park" environment. After all, there was plenty of swimming opportunity at the ports of call in that other thing around us, the Caribbean Sea....  Overall experience was both memorable and fantastic! Remember, I'm an engineer, so I can aways find things to improve...it's my job and I'm just lucky my wife can stand my focus of that nature. The acrobats, swimmers, skaters, dancers, musicians, "strong men" all were amazing. In closing, the crew were outstanding in every aspect. Captain Johnny, with his wit, openness, and exuberance set the stage for a exceptional voyage. One does not need to always be stern and serious when conversing with people. His expressions make us believe he truly trusts his crew and loves the seas...this infects us all aboard the ship. The ability of the crew to remember that we were on a cruise the previous week with them amazes me. They are all very attentive and greatly appreciated. We already hope to return! My Chinese friend tells me that: "man without wit is.... witless. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2012
My wife and I (mid 30s) recently took the 8 day Southern Caribbean Cruise (3/1/12 - 3/9/12) on the Carnival Miracle. Kind of a second honeymoon. Though we travel together often, (as I enjoy her company, which I find best for the ... Read More
My wife and I (mid 30s) recently took the 8 day Southern Caribbean Cruise (3/1/12 - 3/9/12) on the Carnival Miracle. Kind of a second honeymoon. Though we travel together often, (as I enjoy her company, which I find best for the marriage) neither of us have been on a cruise in our lives. Carnival did the big picture things really well for us. Food, in particular, seems to be the area most of concern for review seekers and writers. I found it pleasantly surprising in all terms of variety, availability, and quality. We are not really picky people, though. I have extensive experience in the food service industry, so my expectations are usually tempered. I was quickly impressed. My wife was occasionally disappointed in the temperature of the food itself (she was right), but being primarily buffet (even the Bacchus room is a fancy buffet service), there's very little you can do about that. They weren't using real eggs or butter, the hallmark symbols of some serious food coming your way. But, as far as needing to feed thousands of people every eight hours, I was seriously amazed at the amount of quality and variety they were able to offer day after day. For instance, my favorite dish all week (we ate all over ports and paid additional for a night at the Miracle steakhouse, Nick & Noras) was an appetizer at the Bacchus; Smoked Duck with Pomegranate reduction over Thai Rice Noodles. It blew my mind. Another thing Carnival does well is people. Our steward, Fernandy, knew our names without us even introducing ourselves and called us by them every time he saw us. He was quick to answer questions, even ones not related to his specific job. We absolutely qualified the level of service we got as "borderline creepy". It seems we would go to breakfast and come back to the room to prepare for the pool or an excursion and the bed would be made, the bathroom like it did when we first opened the door. We went to breakfast at all hours, too. Like I said, kind of creepy. Servers at the Bacchus were pleasant and attentive, almost offended when you didnt eat. We had occasional general quasiness from the boat, not nausea or anything. Just some nights, you didnt feel like eating an entire half rack of ribs. I did mention the situation to the waiter when he asked, and he was quick to bring fruit and sherbet to the table, which really helped. During an elegant night at the Bacchus, I was asked to remove my hat by the maitre d', which I planned to do at the table. I had some sunburn issues, and didnt want gross anyone out with my peeling at their dinner. It was a nice hat and matched my sportcoat, button down shirt and slacks I wore, but I took it off because she asked. Moments later she sat a guy with a Larry the Cable Guy t-shirt directly next to me, and I was a little offended. Not that he was allowed in, or anything, just that her standards had dissolved so quickly. Someones pride shouldnt be valued or expendable based on the amount of disappointment you are going to hear about, is my point. Have an Elegant night or don't. Have a bathrobe night, you gave one to everyone. Let us wear that to dinner. There were some issues with accents and asking someone in uniform a question and getting an answer to an unrelated, more common, question would happen occasionally. But mostly they were about food or directions on the boat and not about what will get you arrested or involved hundreds of dollars, so good casting on Carnivals part. Not coincidentally, the sales people spoke GREAT ENGLISH. Try not to be surprised at just how well the jewelry salespeople speak English. Overall, everyone was great. Smiles and hellos, knowledgeable, friendly, understanding, understandable. So noticeable was the pleasantness, it was like seeing Bigfoot ride a Unicorn while eating a bowl of mac n cheese when the late night pizza guy openly sighed at us for asking if he had something other than pepperoni at 3am. Again, though, if you asked an engineer who happened to stop at the urinal next to you what time your boat to Sanoa Island was going to stop to pet giant starfish next Tuesday, I'd give you even money he'd know the answer. The room itself was half awesome and half a problem. My review might not help you since it seemed we got a jack of all trades kind of room. Giant bathroom for a handicapped person, but the bed was like two fancy cots put together. The pillows were probably real nice if you sleep on your back, but I sleep on my side and literally felt kind of choked trying to use it. Usually when four pillows are in a hotel bed, 2 are soft and 2 are firm, but these were all basketball shaped marshmallows. We saw an advertisement on the TV that the towels, and bathrobes were for sale and we were considering it. But then the mattresses and bedding were for sale too and we both burst out laughing. The TV itself also was like someone had the turned the brightness all the way down and there was no way to fix that. Not that we watched much TV, but some people might like to not miss shows or feel at home for a night. But the balcony is where we spent most of our time in our room, because what we got was exactly what we wanted there. I have three situations I'm counting as disappointments. Negative events we came across on more than one occasion. One of their casino games is rigged. That a serious charge, and I'd feel strange accusing them of it if I didnt have proof. After paying $60 over three days into the "Casino Vault" machine trying to win an iPad, I noticed strange coincidences. So I used the ships satellite internet (at outrageous cost) to download the owners manual. They changed the name of the machine (actually Sega's "Key Master" which I found out only by suspecting they'd have one in arcade to scam kids, which they did.) They market the game as a skill game, but it's not exactly. You can only win after the payoff lines have been "unlocked", or you miss the skill shot by the default amount set by the casino manager. The way to unlock the payoff line, is to put more credits into the machine than the item is worth (set by the casino manager). I have the owners manual available to any interested parties, please feel free to contact me if you'd like a copy. I stuck to table games until even that felt dirty. At the Serenity deck, people would save cabana seats empty for hours. We went to watch the sunrise at 5:30am and found one woman had gaffled sunrise corner by herself for people that didnt show up until 8. We would have been gone by then to have breakfast and start our day. One woman said she complained to an attendant and the attendant told her that he would go claim one for them, but then she would have felt uncomfortable being neighbors with an asshole for the next couple hours. I can understand that. There should be someone there supervising independently of complaints or a waiting system. They really put the screws to our wallets. Coffee was free, but cappuccinos were $4. Ice cream was free, but milkshakes were $6. Sea queasuiness was free, but Dramamine was $8. One game of Bingo was $30 and they must have paid back around 33% of the winnings with some simple head counting and math. On the last day at sea, they were selling $30 watches for $20 and you'd think they were selling gazelles to lions. People were buying dozens for Christmas presents, like they were savvy. Why not have these deals throughout the cruise and not cause a scene? Because they may not buy a higher priced watch earlier instead, of course. Why do you have to walk through the casino and shops to get to the free entertainment? HAHAHAHAHA It just seemed at every opportunity available, there was a price tag attached. Though, we took those small bummers in stride. Overall, the money was worth the experience and we will cruise again. Might try another company, but I'd still recommend Carnival to family, friends, and you, who read my novel. Thanks for your time. Good Luck on your adventures. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2012
Cabin - we like the plexiglass balconies on deck 4 aft of the lifeboats. Big balconies, close to MDR steps, no noises from below or from the elevators. The beds and pillows on HAL are my favorite. Plenty of storage space for the too, too ... Read More
Cabin - we like the plexiglass balconies on deck 4 aft of the lifeboats. Big balconies, close to MDR steps, no noises from below or from the elevators. The beds and pillows on HAL are my favorite. Plenty of storage space for the too, too many clothes we both brought. Meals - We ate most breakfasts in our room and always had coffee there. It was always, always delivered within the first few minutes of our time frame. We ate in the MDR every nite but one - went to the Caneletto then. The Lido was for lunch. Every meal was great. We had Anytime Dining and really enjoyed meeting new people. The first formal night there was a long line with many of us given pagers. It was annoying but only about a half hour wait. It never happened again. We made a reservation only one night. Entertainment - was the best I have seen on any cruise. The Zuiderdam singers and dancers were really talented and the shows were very well done. The costumes were striking and there were a lot of costume changes. The comedian was really funny and the steel drum band was quite good. Journey South played two nights and we liked them. We missed the magician and his dog "Indy" but I hear they were very good too. Mario in the Northern Lights lounge was a highlight. We enjoyed his music trivia and line dancing. Stryker in the piano bar was both a good singer and pianist. We only play video poker in the casino so I have no comments other than it's smokey. Cruise director, Dave, was the best CD we have ever had. His personality and professionalism are apparent from the first time he speaks. He really was terrific. The ports and excursions were all good. Highlights for us were the Panama Canal Experience and the Aerial Tram in the Rainforest. Snorkeling in Bonaire was excellent. Overall this was a great cruise. Any criticism about the Zuiderdam is unfounded as far as we could determine. She is a wonderful ship with a wonderful crew. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2012
On February 24, 2012, my wife and I left on a 10-day Celebrity Equinox cruise out of Ft Lauderdale. We stayed in a balcony room overlooking one of the lifeboats. We knew about the restricted view so that wasn't really a surprise. ... Read More
On February 24, 2012, my wife and I left on a 10-day Celebrity Equinox cruise out of Ft Lauderdale. We stayed in a balcony room overlooking one of the lifeboats. We knew about the restricted view so that wasn't really a surprise. Before I go on I'd like to state that overall, the cruise to St Thomas, St Kitts, Barbados, Dominica and St Martin was mostly nice. While this was our eighth cruise, it was our first on Celebrity. With the exception of two items, one serious and the other cautionary, I'd have recommended Celebrity and the Equinox wholeheartedly. In particular, the entertainment was better than we'd experienced before on Royal Caribbean, Princess and Oceania. The food in the main dining room was as good as we've experienced on other cruises with the exception of Oceania which is a class above the other ships we've sailed. Our cabin was larger and more comfortable than we've had in the past although we've mostly opted for the cheapest cabins so we may not have a good basis for comparison. Nevertheless I feel compelled to write about a few items that should give one pause before booking on this ship. As is usually the case, we had a muster before we left port. Certainly, given the recent incident with the Costa Concordia, it would be reasonable to expect that Celebrity would want to make sure that this activity would instill confidence in the passengers. This was unfortunately not the case. We were told to gather without our life jackets in one of the common areas of the ship. As we entered, our names were checked off a list of those who sere supposed to be at that station. In our case it was "B" which we were told was shown on the back of our stateroom door. We then listened to a presentation on wide screen displays around the room. We were packed pretty close together. After the presentation, we were told to wait until told to leave. At that point, some names were called out but no one gave us any instructions on what was happening and why we were waiting. The crew didn't appear to know what it was doing nor did it have any answers to questions we had about what was going on. One can imagine how this would have played out if this was a real emergency. Finally we were dismissed. The experience was not a confidence builder. It was interesting that we were told during the muster that if there was an emergency we should take directions from the crew and not use our cell phones. As you may recall, the fact that there was something wrong with the Costa Concordia was only known on shore after someone was alerted by a passenger's cell phone call. In this day and age, for passengers to be instructed not to use their cell phones in a time of emergency is simply delusional. Shortly after the muster, my wife and I had reason to get our SeaPass reissued. It conveniently has on it your muster station. Unfortunately, when my wife's SeaPass was reprinted, it showed muster station "A" not "B". The crew member told my wife not to worry and just to go to muster station "A" instead even though she didn't know where it was. She finally got a correct card printed with muster station "B" shown. You have to wonder how serious the crew takes all of this if they are so lax about the rules to be followed in case of an emergency. So much for safety. The other caution to note about this ship has to do with food. There appear to be more options than there really are. As is usually the case, you can have breakfast, lunch and dinner in the dining room and partake in a nice breakfast and lunch buffet on deck 14. While breakfast is extensive, don't expect any changes over the course of the cruise. There is a grill that serves hamburgers, hot dogs and fries at lunch but nothing else. There is a small eating area near the spa that has a few self-described healthy items for breakfast and lunch that are of some interest. There is a buffet for dinner if you don't want to eat in the dining room but don't bother. The one night we went it had little more than leftovers from lunch and not even very many of them. Mostly, the buffet area was shut down for dinner. Of course there are 3 other restaurants you can visit but each costs from $25 to $40 a meal. I suspect most of us wouldn't spend that much if we were home unless it was a special occasion. You will also find two other places to go for food where you have to pay. We have not been on a ship before in our 7 previous cruises where the venues for food that comes with the price of the cruise have been so limited. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2012
great cruise overall .. the crew the crew make this ship and trip great!!! dinning as you wish turned out we stayed at table 181 lower level and at 6pm because of Yesir our steward .we did dine in Canaletto and again it was Dimas our ... Read More
great cruise overall .. the crew the crew make this ship and trip great!!! dinning as you wish turned out we stayed at table 181 lower level and at 6pm because of Yesir our steward .we did dine in Canaletto and again it was Dimas our dinning steward we came to admire for his great personality and the food was excellent. the activities on board are very good and that was good because there are lots of sea days we went to culinary talks to computer classes to games and more..the night shows are very good, the showroom not so good not many good seats I counted down stair only 499 good seats then your behind and under balcony then upstairs glass surround creates viewing issue, sound not a problem..seating not a problem if you are willing to go very early we tried to but most of the time we settled for upstairs rt front row.our room was 042 tenth floor nav deck .good location nice balcony only one plug so bring a power bar a fan would have been nice on those really hot days the room air gets behind at times.. only other concern I had was the smoking in the casino (its not very large) and on the seaview pool nav deck I just had to move away from the smoke because I have asthma.. I almost forgot the lido buffet we did eat most breakfast and lunch there. great selection and realy good food never a complaint except too many desserts and all where good.. we had to rate the cruise a 9 because they only but the 9 as the highest I would give all crew a 10+ Read Less
Sail Date: January 2012
Took first cruise on the Holland America line and was generall very pleased. Food was excellent, service in the main dining room was very good, ship was clean, deck chairs were readily available, pool warm, entertainment excellent and ... Read More
Took first cruise on the Holland America line and was generall very pleased. Food was excellent, service in the main dining room was very good, ship was clean, deck chairs were readily available, pool warm, entertainment excellent and lectures by Brett and Microsoft workshops by Molly great. Having a daily Catholic mass on board was a plus. I did not try the spa,bingo, gym or art auctions. There is a great deal on laundry but no self-service machines. You can put all you can in a bag for $20! We had so much in it that I wondered how they got it out! However, the shops on board were way overpriced and the service in the Italian (reservations needed but no extra charge) restaurant was awful. It left us wondering if this is where the line trains their waiters. Salads were forgotten one night and bread another. Wine had to be ordered three times one night and two the other. That said, the worst rip off was the internet - slow and expensive. In Aruba there is a very cheap internet cafe right on the dock at the terminal. Wait and walk around town and do it later when there are no lines. I think it was $6 for 90 minutes! The ship charged $50 for less time. In terms of side trips: the travel through the whole Panama Canal was expensive ($149) but worth it if you have never done it. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
Although we have over 110 days sailing on Princess Ships, this was our first cruise on the Pacific Princess. We waited in the terminal where we saw the ship for the first time. It really wasn't as small as I had somehow pictured. ... Read More
Although we have over 110 days sailing on Princess Ships, this was our first cruise on the Pacific Princess. We waited in the terminal where we saw the ship for the first time. It really wasn't as small as I had somehow pictured. We took a 28 day back to back cruise from Ft. Lauderdale to the Amazon River and back to Ft. Lauderdale. This cruise to the Amazon River made stops in Saint Maarten, St. Lucia, Tobago and Devil's Island before we entered the Amazon River. There were four more stops in the river, Santarem, Boca de Valeria, Parintins, and Manaus, Brazil. I won't make this a travelogue, except for the fact that the Amazon River is amazing! There were native Amazonians, monkeys, sloths, piranhas, pink fresh water dolphins and river waters that didn't mix. The ports and tours in the Caribbean were very nice even though the ship had to pass Devil's Island on the leg south due to windy conditions. When the ship returned north to Ft. Lauderdale, the water was smooth and the stop was enjoyed by all. The tours were reasonable and interesting on the Amazon. We did not encounter many mosquitoes at all (day or night) even though we had taken our malaria pills and had our Deet spray with us. The outside doors on the Panorama Buffett, however, remained closed while in the river to limit bug stowaways. On December 16th we checked in and got to our room -- an ocean view room on deck 4. The room was fairly good sized although the bed was "tired" so we had to have some foam added to the mattress. The bathroom and shower were tiny and the closets are poorly placed. There were floor to ceiling mirrors in the room to give it a much larger appearance. As this was a Christmas cruise the ship was adorned beautifully with trees, decorations and garland amid rich dark wood walls. The ship had the look of an exclusive English club at Christmas rather than the glitz of a larger ship. The ship had most of the things that you would expect...only smaller. The atrium was small and cozy, there were only two small shops, the dining room was smaller (only one set-seating dining room with early and late seating and no any-time dining rooms), the lounges were smaller, the casino was tiny, the pool was small and the buffet was much smaller. The Cruise staff did double duty with their usual duties that they customarily have during the day as well as being the dancers for the evening entertainment. The best thing was that this ship only holds 680 passengers and this cruise had only 570 (680 on the return trip) so there was always seating to be found at the shows, in the lounges, at the buffet and no backlog getting on or off the ship. Speaking of the lounges...forget the Vista, Explorer, Wheelhouse lounges and the Horizon Buffet. The main lounges were the Pacific Lounge, Cabaret Lounge, Club Bar and the Panorama Buffet. They were just as nice and the service was impeccable. Everything was there...only smaller. We tied up across the pier from the Caribbean Princess in St. Maarten and many came out on their balconies and looked down at us. I am sure they thought "Oh, look, a little ship! Isn't it cute". The ship took seas a bit rockier than some of the larger ships and one dance performance had to be postponed. The entertainment was typical but good with dancers, comedians, magicians, piano performances and more. There was no theater so all of the performances were held in the Cabaret Lounge on a bit smaller scale. Other bars had their own excellent entertainment. By the way, Bingo had fewer people so it seemed easier to win. We won four times including the snowball (shared). The food in the dining room was very good with elegant meals as well as home-style meals offered. I am not sure why anyone would want to cruise and eat meatloaf, but I am told it was good. The buffet had all of the fare that you would expect without the crowds. The coffee is typically awful! Princess has instituted a new coffee card for $29 which supercedes other cards and is only good for one cruise for regular coffee and specialty coffees can be obtained on that and the next cruise only for a punch. It's dated. **NEWS FLASH** I had heard that Princess, later this year, will institute a new policy whereas no company, like Vacations-To-Go, will be allowed to discount the price of a cruise lower than what Princess offers. We checked with Sandy, the Captain's Circle and future cruise hostess, and she said that the information is false. Princess will definitely allow discount rooms. I hope she is right. 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
I chose this itinerary last year because of the ports. Being an avid snorkeler, I was anxious to explore the aclaimed waters of Grand Turk and St. Thomas. Unfortunately, last year we happened upon a little storm called Hurricane Tomas ... Read More
I chose this itinerary last year because of the ports. Being an avid snorkeler, I was anxious to explore the aclaimed waters of Grand Turk and St. Thomas. Unfortunately, last year we happened upon a little storm called Hurricane Tomas and there would be no Grand Turk and all the beaches at St. Thomas were closed. So---we decided to try again this Nov. As it turned out, our daughter was going to be flying home from San Juan the day we ported there, so we joked that she should cancel her flight and sail back with us. She thought that was a good idea, so I started the several calls to Holland America to see if it could be done. At first we were told yes. Then when I called back to go ahead with it, the Jones Act was brought up and we were told that since she wouldn't be going to a foreign port (Halfmoon Cay didn't count and Grand Turk was the day before San Juan), that she wouldn't be able to go. After some research, I found out that San Juan and USVI were exempt and I called again. They said they would send off a letter to see if it would be approved, but I'd have to get a room assigned first (we had reserved an SZ guarantee). I was told to call the room inventory department and talk to them. This was about 6 weeks before our cruise and they kindly assigned us to a SS category room and took the information to send whereever to get approval for "delayed embarkation" (or something like that). A few days later I got the approval letter by email and was then able to add her to our cabin. About 2 weeks before our cruise, I got an email from Holland America offering an upsell to an SA suite for $199 @ for my husband and myself (our daughter wasn't charged). I immediately took it. Having read about the extra emenities and extra space (and having never had a suite before), I figured this was a great time to experience the "suite life"! Since I was vacationing in Ft. Lauderdale for the week before the cruise, I rented a car from Budget and we returned it to the Quay Center right by the port and took the free shuttle to the port on Nov. 5, 2011. Embarkation: Being in a suite made it a breeze! Quite a contrast from our embarkation a year before! As soon as we got past security, we were whisked away to a check in area for suite passengers only. After filling out the medical questionaire and getting our ship cards, we were sent upstairs and taken to the front of the line. Once on the ship (about 11:30), our room was already ready so we went there and unpacked our carry-ons. SA Suite: I was impressed! It was twice the size of the veranda room we had last year. Loved the couch with the curved side (almost like a sectional) that folded out into a bed for 2. Our daughter said the bed was comfortable. The 2 side chairs were ample in size and comfort. The coffee table was a good size (the 3 of us had a complete dinner on it twice) and it was adjustable (although ours wasn't working right and we had to hold it up with our knees if we had 3 plates of food on it). The bed was king size and very comfortable and loved that we could leave the curtains open above the desk and see the ocean from the bed. The deck was also twice the size of our deck last year. Loved having a table and 4 chairs around it. Plus there were comfortable cushioned whicker lounge chairs and ottomans and a side table or 2. There was even a clock on the wall! Also loved the larger bathroom and the changing/vanity room. The bathroom had 2 sinks and 2 showers. I was afraid the stand up shower would be small, but it was a decent size. The tub was a jacuzzi tub and it worked well. We even had a free bottle of champagne and a large bottle of water as a gift from the hotel manager. I also loved the free flowers that arrived the next day. Our cabin stewarts, Putu and Wayan, were fantastic---thorough, fast, and very personable. Dining: We had our first returning Mariners lunch on embarkation day. It was very good, although it understandably took a long time. Most of our lunches were in the Lido. The first 2 days we had breakfast in Lido, then decided to try Pinnacle which was a benefit of our suite. Pinnacle for breakfast was fantastic! Service was fast, food was great, servers were great--we really appreciated this benefit. We only went to the Rembrandt 3 times. It was good all 3 times, even had a waiter who made my daughter and myself a rose out of paper. Ate at Tamerind one lunch. We aren't huge Asian food fans but heard so much about it that we wanted to try it. We did enjoy it. Ate at Canaletto once and really enjoyed that. Service in Canaletto seemed much faster then in the Rembrandt. Ate from the Lido deck bar b q the first night---it was pretty good, too, although I think I would opt for prime rib in the Rembrandt next time. Had reservations for Pinnacle for dinner on the last night, but our daughter ended up sick and throwing up, so we had room service and stayed with her that night. Also had room service dinner one other night and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was nice having our whole meal right there and not waiting between courses. We have no complaints about the food. Some was better then others, but we certainly didn't go hungry. Service; Outstanding everywhere we went! Although I really didn't think I'd use it, I found the conceirges in the Neptune lounge very helpful, too. They made our dinner reservations, printed out our boarding passes, and even checked my daughter in when we were in San Juan. Entertainment: We only went to the main stage 3 nights. We were spoiled by Joel Mason last year and he wasn't there this year. The illusionist was very good. We even enjoyed the staff show. Activities: Went to the digital creative photo editing class and really enjoyed it. Also loved the cooking demos. Would have done the cooking class, but they were cooking shrimp and my daughter and I as allergic to shrimp, so we passed on that. Did the card making class and made 2 really nice cards. I even participated in the Classic Volleyball match. My team won and when I got back to my room, there was a prize on the bed---a Holland America thermal glass. We also enjoyed the pool a couple of times. It always amazes me that there can be that many people on board and the adult pool is often empty. I also love that the adult pool is really for adults and kids are sent to the family pool---a couple other cruise lines didn't do that and I find jumping, splashing, screaming kids annoying when I'm trying to lounge in the pool. Ports and excursions: Again our plans for Grand Turk were foiled! There was a north surge hitting the beaches that day and all the snorkel excursions were cancelled. We hung out at the beach by the ship and actually found the snorkeling there to be much better then I expected. Not very clear, but there were a lot of fish there. In San Juan we encountered heavy rains again. In St. Thomas we rented a car and headed to Cowpet bay. The snorkeling there was exceptional, but it was cut short by a lightening storm. We had hoped to check out several beaches, but the overcast and storms didn't help out. After 3 hours, the lightening stopped and we did snorkel a bit more, but I was glad we didn't pay for a snorkeling excursion that day. Halfmoon Cay was beautiful, even the weather. Disembarkation: Apparently not very many employees showed up for customs and it took a bit longer then expected to get off the ship. But we were still at the airport by 9:30. There was no wait for a taxi to the airport and it was only $14. Again we didn't have the time we expected, but we had a great time none the less. Good enough that we did the onboard deposit for a future trip again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2011
I heard lots of complaints about the lack of the Wow factor however the service, food,shows and ports of call more than made up for it. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express on the State rd. It took 10 minutes to get to the port and thanks ... Read More
I heard lots of complaints about the lack of the Wow factor however the service, food,shows and ports of call more than made up for it. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express on the State rd. It took 10 minutes to get to the port and thanks to All Star transport, we were picked up after the cruise within 5 minutes of our call. You need to be aware of the port charges (if not included in your charge) We paid over $500. each in port fees and taxes-quite a chunk. In addition there is a service charge of $11.00 per day per person-not a huge amount but it adds up. If you drink don't expect a hefty one. They carefully measure each drink to the tune of 4 to 6.50 each with a 15% gratuity added on. You are not permitted to carry on hard liquer but can take as much wine as you wish. The excurisions were good but for me I chose to stay on board during the actual canal trip. We actually saw more on the way out so we're glad we did it. We would do it again and loved the experience. The low point of course was deimbarkation which is always the case. Long lines, finding the luggage and getting your transportaion-however this one was well organized and efficient. Do at least one dinner in the Pinnicle and one in the Italian(free) restaurant. Our favorite was the zip line in Costa Rica. No matter what age you are you will love it. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
This was a 24 night cruise - Roundtrip down the Amazon River to Manaus with return to Ft. Lauderdale. Ports of call were: St. Lucia, Devils Island, French Guiana; Amazon River ports: Macapa, Boca da Valeria, Manaus, Parintins, Alter da ... Read More
This was a 24 night cruise - Roundtrip down the Amazon River to Manaus with return to Ft. Lauderdale. Ports of call were: St. Lucia, Devils Island, French Guiana; Amazon River ports: Macapa, Boca da Valeria, Manaus, Parintins, Alter da Chao, Santarem; after exiting the Amazon ports were Barbados and Aruba. Let me preface this review by stating that I loved this cruise. It was an exceptional experience to witness life on the Amazon River and visit the ports of call. I hadn't done any recent research on the Amazon River (shame on me) so proceeded with the impression that I would experience jungle views from the ship and see lots of jungle wildlife during the cruise. Much land along the banks of the Amazon River has been deforested. There are urban areas surrounding many of the ports of call. The urban area of Manaus is home to close to 3 million people. To experience what I had anticipated, one would need to travel inland. That stated continue I will continue with review of cruise. I traveled solo and met some folks I'd love to travel with again. The Prisendam was touted as the "best" of the Holland America ships. This is not true. The Prisendam is starting to show her age and members of the staff were not all veterans -- some were spanking new employees of Holland America. The cabins are spacious. I had an ocean view category E which included a walk-in closet and a bath tub. Furniture throughout the ship could use new upholstery. . There were issues with air conditioning during this cruise. Some cabins had no air conditioning for the first 11 days, and because the ship was pretty much sold out passengers without air conditioning were offered fans (which from complaints I heard just didn't relieve the heat of the cabin). My cabin had some strange water leak from behind the toilet -- it was fixed twice before it stopped leaking. (Later during the cruise the carpeting outside of the bathroom door was always wet. I reported this to my cabin steward and for the remainder of the cruise I put a towel from the pool on it. The room steward removed it daily and I replaced dry towels daily.) The limited Spa offers sauna and steam baths without the purchase of a spa pass, and there is a gym with exercise equipment. It's an old ship and is showing its' age. Embarkation: Was extremely slow. Verification of Yellow Fever vaccinations and Brazilian visas slowed the process to a crawl. Apparently, some passengers were clueless that these were requirements. Classes were offered of Word 7, related photo microsoft software and using all the features on cameras. Classes were well attended and had great content! Lectures on ports were offered. Some misinformation and helpful information was provided during these lectures. There were also a few lectures on topics unrelated to the cruise itinerary. They were ok. Culinary classes were offered and were well attended. Sea days tours of the ship were provided and well attended. Please be advised that "Anytime Dining" on this ship requires a reservation. This caused major unpleasant issues for a number of hungry passengers during the first week of the cruise. The maitre de was rude (I am being kind; I assume he was new and will be replaced after the dry-docking of the ship.) The first two days of the cruise "Code Red" was implemented as a preventive measure to avoid the spread of illnesses during the cruise. The Lido buffet isn't really spacious enough to accommodate roped off sections of the space generally used for traversing the buffet sections. This was an acceptable inconvenience. Who wants to be quarantined during a cruise? Because the ship cannot filter the muddy water of the Amazon, there were some water restrictions during the cruise. The self serve laundries were closed for about a week, the ships laundry was closed for a few days and there was a day or two when the Lido buffet used paper napkins. The hot tubs were emptied and not refilled for this portion of the cruise (Brazilian law prohibits the emptying of water from the ship). The salt water pool was also emptied and not refilled until departing the Amazon River. Temperatures were in the mid 80's for the duration of the cruise and the humidity was high. There were insects attracted to the lights from the ship at night, but during the day insect annoyance was non-existent. (This included eco tours out of Manaus.) Most passengers had prescriptions for Malarone as did I, but I personally never saw one mosquito. The night before entering the Amazon River, I laid out all my clothes by the back pool and drenched them with some super insect repellent that unfortunately, lasts through 5 washings! Totally unnecessary for this cruise. There were a couple of great excursions arranged through the CC roll call; one for St. Lucia and the second for Manaus. [Please read the roll call for detailed information; http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1235455]. Ports of call: St. Lucia: Took an excellent excursion arranged by a member of CC. Highlights: Traveled by van and boat. Food and beverages were provided during this excursion, with a blue beverage van appearing at most of the scheduled stops. Swam beneath the Pitons, viewed the old volcano, sulphur springs, banana plantation, and a meditation garden. Devil's Island (Ile Royale) French Guiana: No sharks visible. Required to tender into this port of call, waited for open call to go over. It was definitely worth the tender ride over. One can hike a couple of miles and view indigenous rodents, birds and buildings from the old prison. There is also a small hotel on the property. Macapa: Port of entry for ships entering the Amazon. The excursion ride into Macapa revealed views similar to most Latin American countries. Macapa is a great sized urban area. I've never seen so many shoe stores in my life!! (Minimum heels were probably 6 inches). Local police are also Brazilian military -- carry side arms and are never alone. Most shocking: Saw a trashed Dunhill package of cigarettes--on the back side has a photo of a foot minus a toe and a couple of black toes and letters stating "Gangrena." It's an effective deterrent to smoking. Definitely got my attention. Santarem, Brazil: Santarem is the third largest city along the Amazon....I never left the port to visit the city; I boarded a small boat (24 passengers) from the dock! Today was the piranha fishing excursion.......it turned out to be a wonderful opportunity to visit a couple of tributaries, view a number of "meetings of the water," view water crafts that local folks utilize to visit shopping areas, view a couple small ranches, a number of local fishermen, lots of different birds, a funny orange butterfly and what is considered the Amazon jungle. Boca da Valeria, Brazil: Boca da Valeria, a tiny village of the original native Indians. It appeared to be a poverty stricken area -- it felt like Tijuana, Mexico25 years ago with all the children asking for money. Some adults and children were dressed in costumes, others held odd pet animals that originally came from the jungle...sloths, a couple monkeys, a huge snake, various lizards...if passengers took their photos they wanted $1 payment. They had a small school, church and a one room bar specifically for tourists. The passengers loved it. $2 ice cold beers and water which beat the cruise ship prices. There were small fishing boats, built like canoes but with 5 horse engines that offered rides up the tributary to the village of Valeria. The ride was fun. I hooked up with another single woman that wanted to go -off we went. We traveled about 2 miles--lots of water birds visible. We didn't pass any housing. When we stopped, the guy waved for us to follow him up a 30 degree incline...it was muggy and warm...the perspiration is just dripping off of us. We get to the top and there is the larger village Valeria. The school looked new and had the red clay roof tile; the main street had street lights...and pretty much every house had a satellite dish out front. There was one pole with all kinds of wires going to and from a solar energy panel. Turns out the solar panel was providing energy for the telephone lines in the community. I was a little surprised....most of the houses had little electric meters out front. Manaus, Brazil: [Free wifi at port office] Another excellent excursion arranged by a CC member. (Weather was rainy for a large part of the day.) First we traveled to an Indian community housed on Federal Protected land. A prayer ceremonial dance/performance was provided. Costumes (or lack thereof) and odd musical instruments entertained us. Next we visited the Pink Dolphin Research facility (a lengthy small boat ride). We couldn't actually swim with the dolphins, we could stand on an underwater platform and the folk that work there attracted the dolphins near us with food...The water was toasty warm which encouraged most everyone to participate. Sneaky mammals. The dolphins would stay underwater and swim behind you and push your legs to terrorize you, and then pop up to receive their treats. After visiting with the pink dolphins it was about 2 hours (because of heavy rain) to get to the lunch on a floating restaurant. The buffet of local foods provided was excellent and included piranha. . The best part of the excursion for me occurred behind the restaurant. What a delight! We were able to view monkeys in the trees, and caiman (smaller alligators) in the water. Multiple types of birds. This for me was the highlight of the day. (I didn't like the dolphins swimming behind me and pushing at my legs. Day 2 I had planned to meet with a couple of other passengers and walk around Manaus city center. Coming off the ship, I saw the driver of the little boat the previous day; his boat was available to provide tours, so another great day of boating up and down Amazon River tributaries. Parintins, Brazil: As an excursion offered by the ship, Holland America leased the convention center and had a mini performance of the Boi Bumba Festival performance. God! What a party for the eyes. The costumes were fantastic...most of the lead roles in the performance had huge feathers...two of the costumes must have been 20 feet wide and high...they guys were like harnessed in them.... Then they had 30 foot high snakes coming out the sides of a face that had to be 30 feet high, a fish that had to be longer than my house...after the chorus sang and danced, each opened and the most festively dressed female important character was revealed....came down to floor level and was harnessed into the most outrageously beautiful feathered back costume. This undoubtedly was the best ship excursion offered, both in value and passenger satisfaction. Alter do Chao, Brazil: Small little port we had to tender into... the small dock was too small to accommodate easy docking of the tender boats e so they had a small vessel docked and the ship tender pulls along side, passengers transfer to the smaller vessel then out to the ramp. It's like a pass through. Very very small town, looked like it may be a vacation area of Santarem, Brazil. We were only there a few hours--enough time to swim in the Rio Tapajos (tributary to Amazon...clearer water--brownish tint but not muddy) and walk 10 minutes into town to see what trinkets were available. Seems like all of the street vendors along the Amazon buy their products from the same company! There was one nice shop, which had art work from a number of Tribes. I believe the name of the shop was Arariba. I could have spent a full day in there just looking. Bridgetown, Barbados: Went to the Boatyard Beach. Taxi was $10 entrance with chair, umbrella and drink with taxi back to cruise port every 15 minutes $12. Water and weather were perfect! Other passengers raved about the Green Monkey excursion offered by HAL. Bequia, one of the Grenadines Islands: Tiny little island, from which one can view St. Vincent (7-9 miles north depending on the source of the information.) The ship anchored off of Port Elizabeth. It is a "port" because the ferry runs to St. Vincent multiple times a day. Gorgeous, not actually geared up for tourists or at least not for ships full of passengers. Interesting fact: There are fisher people that hunt whales during our late winter/early spring. It wasn't clear if each boat could be licensed for two a year or the island of Bequia was allowed two per year. Aruba: Free wifi from the Renaissance Hotel lobby next to the coffee shop. I spent the short time here in the Crystal casino. The food was good...not as outstanding as past Holland America cruises. Lamb was on the menu every day and defrosted crème puffs (similar to those available at Sam's Club or COSTCO stores) were laid out twice daily as dessert options. Pasta and pizza were available on the Lido deck afternoons between meals. One excellent option that Holland America continues to provide is ordering from the dining room menu for room service. Afternoon tea was provided daily with various themes. An added attraction was the String Band that played daily. They were excellent! I dined at the Pinnacle Grill one time with some friends I made onboard. It was enjoyable. Service was choppy (new staff), the entrees satisfactory, and the desert fabulous! The experience fell short of past experiences of dining in Holland America ships in the Pinnacle Grill. It was a very relaxing cruise. Early nights for most passengers. Internet access through the ship was costly and not worth purchasing. It was better to find free wife at ports or internet cafes. The best entertainment on the Prinsendam was performed by a group called Rosario Strings, this group consists of three musicians, one played the piano, another played the cello and another played the violin. They played during tea and in the evening in the lounge across from the backdoor of the casino. You can read my blog on (scroll back to day one): marzerks.wordpress.com You can view my photos: https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/sredir?uname=107639993556552852051&target=ALBUM&id=5694332682474933409&authkey=Gv1sRgCK3Fl-GixeXbtwE&feat=email Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
Just recently finished our sailing with Allure of the Seas for the October 16th 2011 sailing. Here is my review being as objective as possible: - Food in main dining room was of low quality. Lackluster dish presentation, bland tasting ... Read More
Just recently finished our sailing with Allure of the Seas for the October 16th 2011 sailing. Here is my review being as objective as possible: - Food in main dining room was of low quality. Lackluster dish presentation, bland tasting food, and limited menu. We ended up tired of going there and skipped the same at the end. - Food in specialty restaurants were of great quality, great presentation, and very tasty, especially Chops Grille! Highly recommended. If you have the money I would skip the main dining all together. - Having sailed in other cruises, including other RC ships, we found most shows to be boring. Chicago though was very good. - Although the Cruise had several entertainment options and activities, we found these completely lacking, especially for a ship that spends 3 days at sea. One does really get bored. Being a couple in their 30's and early 40's, we found most activities and entertainment targeted to an older population, specifically american, for a ship carrying such a culturally diverse crowd. For a ship with so many bars were one would expect a lively nightlife, these were dead most of the time. Our sailing unfortunately was filled with rainy days and many cancelled outdoor activities. Although we understand that weather is unexpected, there should have been a plan B for indoor entertainment. - Not all was dissapointing, beautiful cruise ship, so many different places to be and see, excellent ambience, Central Park is beautiful, Promenade is awesome. In sum, beautiful ship with lots of potential to correct the flaws. But so far not worth the higher premium. Never feels cramped until you need help or get in an elevator. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
Introduction A friend and I were on the Emerald Princess for its Southern Caribbean Cruise from September 29 to 8 October 2010 out of Ft. Lauderdale with Ports of Call at Princess Caye, Bahamas; St. Thomas, USVI; Dominica; Grenada; ... Read More
Introduction A friend and I were on the Emerald Princess for its Southern Caribbean Cruise from September 29 to 8 October 2010 out of Ft. Lauderdale with Ports of Call at Princess Caye, Bahamas; St. Thomas, USVI; Dominica; Grenada; Bonaire and Aruba. I am a 55 year old male and my friend is a 48 year old female from Mexico that speaks little English. We are new to cruising with only one other seven day cruise on Carnival Conquest out of Galveston in May of this year. Arrival We flew from Dallas/Ft. Worth to Ft. Lauderdale, arriving at 3:30 p.m. on the 28, a day before the scheduled cruise departure because I no longer trust the airlines. Flight was uneventful. I had done quite a bit of research on Ft. Lauderdale, the location of the cruise terminal and hotels and other amenities in the area of the cruise terminal. The cruise terminal is very close to Ft. Lauderdale International Airport and about a 15 minute taxi cab ride from the airport which costs $12. Departure Port Hotel We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express at 1500 SE 17th Street Causeway, 954.728.2577. I had booked the hotel about a month before our stay and had no trouble with getting a room. The hotel was fairly new, comfortable and moderately priced at 109.89 with taxes. It is two blocks west of a Walgreens if you need any last minute items for the cruise and there are a number of shops and restaurants in the area, as well as a number of hotel choices. Best of all it was only an $8 taxi ride to the cruise terminal from the hotel. We had dinner at Kellys Landing, 1305 Southeast 17th Street, without reservations and the food was outstanding and the service excellent. It is an Irish Pub with an excellent seafood menu. Coming from Texas, the seafood was a great change of pace from BBQ and Mexican food! Embarkation Process The next day we slept in and headed to the cruise terminal at 11:30 a.m. which took only ten minutes from the hotel. There were many people already there and I wished I had gotten there two hours earlier to beat the rush. Princess says to be there at noon on the day of embarkation. The process went very smoothly. I had filled out all forms immigration and boarding pass - before the cruise on-line. After going through security, we were given a colored piece of plastic and you could only go to a service desk when your color was called. We waited for about ten minutes before our color was called and preceded to the service desk and waited in line for about 15 minutes to get our Cruise Cards, and then preceded to another line to board this ship. From the time we arrived at the cruise terminal to the time we had our pictures taken on the cruise ship and were free to explore took about an hour and fifteen minutes, but keep in mind we did arrive early. We were very impressed after experiencing the Carnival boarding process. First Hours As soon as we boarded the ship we went to our stateroom. Before entering, I saw our stateroom steward, Fernando, in the hall and introduced myself and asked for a couple of ashtrays as my friend and I are both smokers. He proceeded to tell us that smoking was not allowed in the stateroom or on the balconies, but that he would look the other way if we smoked in the bathroom. I had checked out Princesses smoking policy on-line before booking the trip and again verified the policy with the Princess travel agent that took my reservation and booking. Needless to say, I went ballistic with Fernando. Fortunately, there was another steward in the hall that overheard our conversation and corrected Fernando by telling him the new policy of no smoking in staterooms and balconies did not take effect until 15 January 2012. This was not the way I had hoped to start off my cruise and left me very angry. Smoking Policy Princesss smoking policy states, Clearly marked Designated Smoking Areas are available onboard and include a sufficient number of ashtrays that are emptied regularly. Smoking areas were NOT clearly marked. Ashtrays were the only indicator as to where a smoking area was located. After my confrontation with Fernando, I asked three people at the service desk over a two day period to explain their smoking policy and provide me with a map of the designated smoking areas. I also asked three uniformed crew members and no two answers were the same. The only consistent answer I received was smoking was allowed on the Port side of the ship, but when I lit up there, other passengers complained and of course there were no signs or ashtrays to be found anywhere on the port side of the ship. When I tried to smoke in Skywalker Lounge, one of the areas of the ship where crew said I could smoke, smoking was only allowed on the starboard side and I know I offended some people who were on the Port side of the ship. I am a considerate smoker, but was extremely frustrated as I could never understand where smoking was allowed. I counted only 80 seats in public smoking areas (36 by Neptunes Reef Pool; 16 Speakeasy Cigar Lounge; 28 Horizon Terrace). I never did figure out whether Skywalker Lounge was smoking or not. In the day there were no ashtrays. At night, there were ashtrays on tables. And no one could tell me the policy. Its hard to be a respectful smoker when none of the crew could answer policy questions! The Ship The ship was big, laid out well, and never seemed crowded, even in the dining areas. My only complaint was on the Lido Deck by Neptunes Reef Pool there were structural steel members and tables and chairs making a very narrow corridor for those walking. It seemed like one in seven people on board were in wheel chairs or other mobility devices and if you got behind one of these, traffic jams occurred. The tables and chairs along the port and starboard side around Neptunes Pool should be removed to aid in wider and better pedestrian walk ways. I consider this a serious safety hazard in an emergency. Stateroom Although I had requested on my Special Requests form on-line I wanted two twin beds and not a queen, the queen bed had not been prepared as requested. When our steward broke the bed apart, he removed all linens and mattress pads and stuck them under each of the now separated twin beds allowing little room for our suite cases. After three days of tripping on my luggage protruding from under the bed, I tossed all of the bedding out in the hall and it magically disappeared. My twin bed had no mattress cover and was very uncomfortable. We were in Dolphin 115 (9115), a mini suite, and were three staterooms from the bow of the ship on the starboard side. We encountered small waves during the voyage and at night you could hear the waves slam into the ship and feel a shudder. I cant imagine what moderate to large waves would sound/feel like. I will never book a room that close to the bow for this reason. The balcony was good size with four chairs, but there was no ceiling and it was uncomfortable sitting outside when the sun was on that side of the ship. We also had like an island separating the beds from the small sitting area that I felt was wasted space. There were two TVs, one on each side of this island and the one remote controlled both TVs, so when youd try to turn the TV on or off, the other would come on or go off, too. Princess needs to automate their TV system so you can access your charges like almost all hotels do now. Dining Our seating for formal dining was for 8:15 p.m. in Botticellis. The food was good and the service was good, but it was very obvious the servers were overworked and it affected their attitudes. They were so busy and always in a rush that they never had time to be friendly and make you feel welcome. I blame this more on Princess and not the hard working staff. We dined in Botticellis for only three nights and then dined at Michelangelo for three nights and then in the Caf Caribe and Horizon Court the other nights. I thought the food was very good, but the service in the Caf Caribe and Horizon Court left much to be desired. One would load up with food and by the time the wait staff got to your table, took your drink order, and returned from the bar with a soda or other drink, you were almost finished with your meal. I just opted for the iced teas at the self-service bars. Orange juice in the morning was another ordeal. The wait staff would bring you this small 8 oz glass, filled to only five or six ounces, never to be seen again. When I asked for two glasses of OJ, the waiter said it was policy to bring only one juice at a time! And the coffee in Caf Caribe and Horizon Court just sucked. It was horrible! It had to be instant. Even though it bordered on putrid, I drank my fair share before I discovered the Calypso Coffee Bar on Deck 5. But at $2 to $6 a pop for a coffee or cappuccino, the costs added up. I do not understand why Princess would skimp on good coffee what a disappointment! Room service coffee and coffee in the dining rooms were very good. And I dont understand why they didnt have milk dispensers or cartoned milk or soda/juice fountains in the drink stations. I was not pleased with the drink accommodations on board. Of course, Princess does this for revenue. I am amazed at how Princess reaches into your pocket at every turn to make a quick buck. Talk about corporate greed on Wallstreet Princess is the epitome of profit maximization. If hotels can create all inclusive packages, why cant the cruise lines? Id easily pay more on the front end, rather than being nickeled and dimed every time I turned around. We really enjoyed the Pizza and Ice Cream Bar. The staff here were the friendliest on the entire ship. Kudos for the staff! The ice cream was good, but very rich. Carnival has a number of self-serve ice cream machines on the Conquest and their ice cream is yogurt which I enjoyed much more. Room service was OK but had a very limited selection of items. Two mornings we waited for room service way past the time we had designated on the cards we hung outside on the door the night before, and finally gave up and went to Caf Caribe or Horizon Court. I was very disappointed in room service compared to Carnivals room service. Kudos for Princess for having menus in other languages. My Mexican friend was very happy about that! Carnival only had menus in English. Soda Card I had purchased two soda packages at $11.75 each and was very dismayed when I found out the only diet soda you could get with the cards is Diet Coke! If you wanted Sprite Zero, you had to pay $2.00 a can! I spent several hours in ports trying to find any clear, diet soda and finally was able to buy some diet Mountain Dew in Bonaire, but this was another strike against Princess. I did, however, receive a full credit for each soda card at the end of the cruise, but never requested one. Not sure how that happened as I never complained or mentioned it to anyone. Entertainment Because my friend didt speak English, we didnt do too many of the Entertainment venues, however I did step in to the Beetles show for about ten minutes and it looked and sounded excellent. I very much enjoyed the String Quartet in the Piazza. We did attend a Big Band Concert, at least that was how it was billed in Princess Patter and the only Big Band Tune played was Moonlight Serenade, the very first song. Everything else was from the late 50s or 60s. Apparently, the band was not familiar with the era in which Big Band music was popular. I looked forward to this event all day and was very disappointed. Activities Because my friend doesnt speak English, we did not do many on-board activities. We did enjoy the swimming pools and hot tubs, but wished the ship had a water slide. I watched part of a movie at Movies under the Stars and wished I had seen more. It was really cool, but very loud. We didnt find too many good deals on board from a shopping perspective. They did hawk some neat T-Shirts but they all had Princess Cruises written on them and I wont be a walking billboard for any company. The perfume was priced the same as back home at Dillards. The jewelry was overpriced, but they did sell a lot of imitation stuff for cheap and my friend bought a lot of that. Shore Excursions 1. Princess Cayes One of the biggest tourist traps I have ever seen designed to get passengers to part with their dollars. All excursions were at least double the price of those in other ports. Princess hopes to cash in on your dollars by making this the first port of call on the cruise. Talk about corporate greed! I tried to take a picture of my friend in front of a plastic shark and was told I couldnt because the shark was private property. A Princess photographer would take your pic and try to sell it back to you for $25 bucks. Absolutely amazing. When I went to snap a pic of my friend in front of the shark, the lady photographer pushed (yes, pushed) my friend out of the way and stood in front of the shark to block the shot. Incredible! Absolutely incredible! 2. St. Thomas Castaway Girl Shipwreck Cove Sail and Snorkel. This was a great and inexpensive shore excursion. The crew and staff were more than friendly and helpful, plus they were happy. Not many of the crew and staff on Emerald Princess seemed genuinely happy. I would highly recommend this excursion. After the snorkel we taxied into Charlotte Amalie and went straight to AH Rise where I bought a Rolex watch. I dont think I got any kind of a deal, though, compared to anywhere else. Buyers beware. If you buy more than $1,600 in the Virgin Islands, it is subject to duty when you get back to the States. I had to pay $250 in duty for the Rolex. Had I bought it where I lived, the tax would have been $675, so I did save a little. For you smokers, AH Rise sells dirt cheap cigarettes. I paid $125 for five cartons, or a little under half the price per carton I pay in Texas. 3. Dominica Titou Gorge Swim and Hot Springs and Scenic Drive. This was another excursion I thought was well worth the money. At the Titou Gorge, you swim to a waterfall through steep canyon walls. I had my wallet and two cameras with me and did not want to leave them unattended, so we did not see the falls. The hot springs were awesome and I could have spent a couple of hours there very relaxing. (Left all valuables in the van this time.) We then shopped downtown and wasted about an hour trying to find clear, diet soda. 4. Grenada - Grand Etang Park, Ft. Frederick & Annadale Falls. Well worth the money. Ft. Frederick was like any other old fort but had excellent views of the island. Then we drove around the island and saw coco pods, passion fruit and breadfruit. We stopped in St. Andrew and I was able to buy 8 oz. of saffron for $4. Then we went up on a mountain and saw an extinct volcano crater good photo op. After the excursion we shopped downtown for a bit. 5. Bonaire I had not booked this in advance like all the other excursions and we were disappointed. We did a snorkeling cruise to Klien Bonaire dont have the exact name in front of me. We began at 3:30 p.m., sailed to Klien Bonaire and snorkeled. The lady in charge of the boat was a witch very bossy and not friendly at all. She treated my Mexican friend terribly to the point I had to tell her if she said another word to my friend, Id throw her overboard. She seemed to get the point. Skip this excursion. For years I have heard about how great Bonaire is for scuba and snorkeling, but we didnt see much of interest. Got back to the ship with just five minutes to spare. 6. Aruba I did the Certified Scuba Dive and it was excellent. Saw the Antilla ship wreck and a lot of wildlife and coral. My friend did the Snorkeling Cruise and Antilla Ship Wreck. She said it was a great experience. After the cruise were shopped in Aruba. We bought an underwater camera from the photo gallery for $23, and it seemed to work under water, but none of the pics came out. Im sure Princess bought these for $5 each and made a ton of money on faulty equipment. Disembarkation We had to be out of our staterooms at 8 am and were assigned to wait in the Windjammer Lounge until our group was called at 9:30 a.m. At 9:40 am our group was called and by 10:20 am we were off the ship, had our luggage and on our way to the airport by taxi. Princess really tries to get you to take their transfer to the airport for $18 per person. We took a cab for a total price to $12. Just one last attempt by Princess to separate you from your money. Dont fall for it. Overall Experience Overall, the cruise was very pleasant and we did enjoy ourselves. But several factors really detracted from the experience like the lack of a smoking policy, only one diet soda option on the soda card, the deplorable coffee, and not being able to get much to drink in Caf Caribe and Horizon Court. The ship was beautiful, the ports and islands were awesome, and most of the shore excursions were well worth the money. Overall, the staff were hard working folks, but seemed overworked and not happy. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
After reading reviews, i was a little nervous about entertainment and customer service aboard this ship. I was gladly mistaken! Customer service was great! The staff, no matter what rank, would have conversations with the fellow cruisers. ... Read More
After reading reviews, i was a little nervous about entertainment and customer service aboard this ship. I was gladly mistaken! Customer service was great! The staff, no matter what rank, would have conversations with the fellow cruisers. Public areas were always clean and well kept. In the main dining rooms, were great. I did notice that the staff were more polite in Palace, not so much in Crossings. Il Idagio was very tasty. Although the tables in this restaurant were tiny, it was nicely set up. All the restaurants were never crowded. The buffet restaurants were always adequate with food and staff were always cleaning up all the time. The restrooms were always clean and stocked. Entertainment was good, not great. I thought the shows in stardust, that included dancers, could have been better, although husband liked them. My favorite were shows with comedian Rich Purpura. Trivias were very good. Interesting questions. Our favorite staff member was Elena from Romania and Erin. They were really polite and always helping out. The adult quest show was was good. The only thing i did not like about the entertainment is that they did big events in small areas of the ship, such as the adult quest show. The white hot party was a blast. Fun to watch and fun to join and dance. We did not get to go to the cruise line's private island due to high waves. This is not the cruise line's fault. They did do a good job by changing the itinerary to accommodate more shows and entertainment. Bbq buffet was moved to the pool deck. The $5 24/7 pizza was very good. The room service menu was indeed very short compared to other cruise lines, but delivered adequately fast. Room attendant did very well adjusting my personal sheets due to detergent allergies. Daily itineraries were delivered on time every night. Boarding and unboarding the ship was done very fast. No waiting long times. Overall, the ship exceeded our expectations of a small cruise ship. There was always something to do or relax. I would give this experience a 4/5 stars Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
I recently sailed on the Coral Princess, out of Ft Lauderdale, through the Panama Canal, and on to Los Angeles, sail date 10-11-11. Itinerary was main reason for booking Princess, ship went into Panama, and Aruba, two destinations I had ... Read More
I recently sailed on the Coral Princess, out of Ft Lauderdale, through the Panama Canal, and on to Los Angeles, sail date 10-11-11. Itinerary was main reason for booking Princess, ship went into Panama, and Aruba, two destinations I had not experienced before. Canal was on my 'bucket list'.. That being said, I need to impress on everyone, CHOOSE YOUR TRAVEL AGENT WISELY!!!!!! I used a 'friend', who advised me, when booking, to make it a 'final' booking, in other words, if ship didn't fill as expected, and price went DOWN, WE WOULD NOT GET A FEFUND OF FARE PAID, OVER AND ABOVE NEW FARE. Well, I talked to 30-40 people, conservatively, who not only got some HUGE refunds, but got 'upgraded'... beyond any of their wildest expectations. This would not have been such an issue, but, the ship is what I would classify as a sailing 'Howard Johnsons'... dating myself, but truly the room steward, the staff in general, and some of the entertainment, were all that I can say anything positive about. The cabin, (a balcony) had a shower that 90% of the passengers would not fit into. There was no 'shower gel', 'shower cap', or 'kleenex' in the room. Steward explained, only 'mini suites', and up, get such things. I attempted to purchase some 'Spa' Gel, 'Elemis' but, lo, they were out of it!!! Bear in mind that HAL provides all you need of that high end 'gel'... to inside cabins... everyone! I usually travel alone, and have had my share of remote cabins, should I supply my own toilet paper, should I cruise Princess again, alone in an inside cabin???? The food was really not very good. I went to the Dining room only 3 times, in the 14 day cruise, because nothing looked very good. Any seafood was dry(frozen too long), and tasteless. Meat, not high quality, steak, not tasting like 'steak' waiters very attentive, and caring, but could not make food better than what kitchen prepared. No l'escargot, French onion soup, creme brulee on the 'LEFT MENU', traditionally the daily offerings. Wow, the Buffet, at least there was visual choice, the things that I actually liked, the breakfast 'rice', the grits, and pastries, (were what put the 9 lbs. on my backside.) Scrambled eggs, out of a carton, were strange, but I got used to them, the bacon was delicious!!! Real eggs were available, but long waits, (not worth it.) No smoked salmon, with onion, capers, and a real bagel, not there. Bagels were 'white bread' in a round shape. Sounds like I'm being a picky jerk, but bear in mind we paid top dollar for this trip!!! Also, there was a fee, or charge for nearly everything. I was really affronted at every turn, with 'extra' charges, for everything. My trip into the 'Old City'... in Cartegena, Columbia was easy, because, you realized these people really needed the $$$$.... Princess, not so much, I had to even 'beg' for ice, and water in my cabin, What???????? And did I mention, another first. "anytime" dining, up to a 45 minute wait, with an 'Olive Garden' style vibrator? Normally I eat a 'good' diet on-board, salmon, chicken etc., that are cooked in a moist, and tasty way, then sauced or gravied well, not so on this ship. Just saying, if the quality, means anything to you, heed my advice, and decide what is right for you!!!!! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
As a seasoned cruise vacationer, I've come to the sad conclusion that Holland America, a self-proclaimed "Premium" cruiseline, unfortunately falls way short of it's mark. If you're expecting the Hilton, you're ... Read More
As a seasoned cruise vacationer, I've come to the sad conclusion that Holland America, a self-proclaimed "Premium" cruiseline, unfortunately falls way short of it's mark. If you're expecting the Hilton, you're likely to receive a Holiday Inn experience. Although many aspects of our recent cruise experience were delightful, such as the Vista Lounge entertainment, ports of call, shore excursions, and most planned ship-board activities, it is quite apparent that this company runs it's basic operations on a shoe-string budget, and is not considered a good value for the money. I attended this cruise in October 2011, along with my husband, and my elderly mother, with whom we shared our stateroom. After paying a hefty $3,000.00 for all 3 of us for our 11-day cruise to the Panama Canal & Central America, we found out that the cruise had later been discounted to many other guests at a rate of only $599.00 per person in order to "fill" the ship. Upon further inquiry with the ship's front desk, we were not offered any discounts, upgrades or incentives. Since there are so many comments to include, I've listed them in condensed bullets as follows: ~ There was a consistent, foul odor of sewage in some interior areas of the ship, which was very offensive. One of the elevators had a strong stench of urine! ~ The ship's architectural details were beautiful and elegant throughout, although age-worn and weather-beaten. The outdoor chaise lounges poolside at rear of ship were very dirty and worn. Upon our first visit to the Sports Bar, the vinyl covering on many chairs and sofas were very worn, cracked and peeling (although they were repaired and spray-painted by a maintenance person on the days following, out in the open public bar area during our cruise)! Other intrusive maintenance duties were also being performed during our cruise, such as power washing and painting, temporarily closing certain main areas of the ship, which annoyed and inconvenienced many guests. These operations should be conducted in-between sailings while the ship is not serving guests! ~ Although some crew members throughout were friendly and informative, many seemed apathetic and/or uninformed. The language barrier of the primarily Indonesian crew was tremendous (the worst I've ever encountered on a cruise), and we could not engage many in any in-depth conversation. In addition, each time we asked a passing staff member for directions to a particular event location on the ship, we received a different answer! ~ Our stateroom was spacious, clean with very comfortable bedding, although the bed for the third guest in our room--my elderly mother--was just a pull-out, cot-style bed. Our stateroom stewards were excellent, very efficient and accomodating as they could possibly be, but they could not provide an in-room clothing iron, and we needed a room fan since the A/C was not cool enough for our liking. ~ Food items in the Lido Buffet were fair-to-good at best, with unimpressive, limited, and repetitive utilization of ingredients and presentation. Instead of a traditional self-service buffet, we endured a demeaning soup-kitchen style of service for our main entrees, with meager portions being slung onto our plates. ~ "Cold" food items, such as seafood appetizers and salads, were served at room temperature. Most desserts were unimpressive and of institutional-quality, as you would find in the freezer section of your local grocer. ~ Guests are forced to traverse the entire Lido Buffet Dining Room, and back and forth to their table, in order to completely gather individual food and drink selections for each meal, as buffet serving trays are not provided! Many of the elderly and handicapped guests were very obviously annoyed with this. ~ Tables were not promptly cleaned between seatings in Lido Buffet Dining Room. Dishes and dirty ashtrays were a constant occurence at outdoor poolside deck tables. There were inadequate air-conditioning levels in the Lido Dining Room. ~ Food quality and presentation in the more formal Vista Dining Room was good-to-very good, but not outstanding. Service was very disorganized, and turned out to be a long, 2-hour ordeal to receive our full meal to it's fruition. In addition, with the Vista Dining Room location at the rear of the ship, we could feel and hear the tremendous rumble of the ship's engines beneath our feet---not very pleasant in a formal "5-Star" dining room setting! ~ Most specialty events were held during late evening hours, 9PM or later, after a long day of shore excursions, when everyone was too exhausted to attend! ~ We, as many other guests, were very disappointed in the quality of just one particular ship-board music venue, Amanda and the HalCats, who sang and performed top-40 style music in a very much off-key and amatuer manner, causing most of us in the audience to cringe! ~ Very limited indoor accomodations for smokers, with none for cigar smokers, except for the rear outdoor deck area. ~ Although many wonderful amenities were included in the cruise price, we've found exorbitant "nickel-and-dime" charges throughout the cruise for "extras" on board, such as a can of soda for $1.95 plus mandatory 15% gratuity, a $40 per day charge for use of the Hydro-Tub, and unreasonable charges for internet and cell phone use. When weighing the pros and cons of this particular cruise, I would not recommend Holland America Cruiseline if you have high expectations regarding daily operations and services. But, if you are willing to pay a premium price for this cruiseline and look past some or all of what we had endured on-board, then you'd probably enjoy the ports of call and shore excursions. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
The Holland America Zeiderdam is comparably smaller than our previous cruises, which made it much more comfortable to get around. Due to the size it also limited the activities that were offered. The majority of the passengers were older ... Read More
The Holland America Zeiderdam is comparably smaller than our previous cruises, which made it much more comfortable to get around. Due to the size it also limited the activities that were offered. The majority of the passengers were older than 60 years and there were only a handful of small children aboard. The food was good but not good enough to want seconds and contrary to most rumors, the dessert were OK. I personally had ice cream when I wanted dessert. All food service closes at 10 pm and there is not even drinks available later during the night. The customer service was lacking in attention. The one bright enjoyment was the digital seminars held free of charge on board by a certified Microsoft expert, 12 in total. He was superb. The night life on board is also lacking much. If you want a comfortable cruise with no excitement on board this is the cruise for you, but if you want some excitement particularly on the sea days, I would suggest you go with another cruise line. A plus was DVD movies were available for free to view in your room and return in 24 hours. Also there were numerous computers available in the library, which was one of the most beautiful I have seen on a ship and the best organized. The entire deck level with the library included a full liquor bar, and coffee bar, a wrap around observation area with reclining chairs. This was indeed a most relaxing area. Our cabin was on deck 8 (8028)with a veranda. We had a tub and a great shower. There was small spaces for personal items. Under the bed however were drawers to also space for suitcases. We also had a flat screen TV with good reception. The lights were a challenge. Overall the cabin was equal to others we had been. "The noise level was very low from the hallway. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
Just returned from a cruise on the Oasis of the Seas. Beautiful ship and had a wonderful time. It's a great cruise for active families or anyone who wants a lot of options of things to do. Shows were wonderful - the food couldn't ... Read More
Just returned from a cruise on the Oasis of the Seas. Beautiful ship and had a wonderful time. It's a great cruise for active families or anyone who wants a lot of options of things to do. Shows were wonderful - the food couldn't be better in my opinion. We had some wonderful meals and the wait staff was terrific. All of the staff are friendly, helpful and pleasant. The ship is so incredibly large that you never feel movement at all and the beds are fantastically comfortable. We were two women dressing for dinner every night and had no problem at all moving around the cabin. Improvements needed are few: for one, the coffee is absolutely terrible and by the end of the cruise I had to start watering it down just to drink it! Also - we so enjoyed the formal dinner nights (we had two) but the dress code is not enforced and one night we sat with a couple in tee shirts and shorts! It's not like there are not other options for dining if you don't choose to dress up! That was a little disappointing for us. Also, in this day and age, charging for wireless internet is disappointing - and expensive! For me personally, I think I would prefer a smaller, more intimate cruise experience on my next cruise. Oasis is an impressive ship - but it seems very "closed in" to me. Lots of glass enclosures but I would rather have the feeling of being outside more, not feel like I'm on the inside looking out! Pools are not that impressive and are rather small for such a big ship and passenger size - although there are many of them. The Solarium is beautiful, but again - you feel like you are inside looking out through glass. I would love to try another cruise line at some point and will do some searching of reviews on other lines - I've only cruised on Royal Caribbean (Jewel of the Seas five years ago) and would absolutely cruise with them again and highly recommend! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2010
Our December cruise on the Zuiderdam was our third, all on Holland America ships. The first two were on the Eurodam. My wife is in her mid 60s and I am 71. We are generally fit, like to visit new destinations and we enjoy meeting other ... Read More
Our December cruise on the Zuiderdam was our third, all on Holland America ships. The first two were on the Eurodam. My wife is in her mid 60s and I am 71. We are generally fit, like to visit new destinations and we enjoy meeting other travelers. On this cruise, we traveled with two cousins. Unfortunately, the cruise got off to a bit of a rough start as the Zuiderdam was late getting back into Port Everglades from its previous cruise. When we arrived at the ship at about 11 am, we found passengers from the previous cruise still disembarking. Apparently, the ship had had a mechanical problem the night before. This, of course, caused long lines and delayed embarkation. Surprisingly, however, luggage was in our rooms by around 4pm and the ship was only delayed in sailing by an hour or two. We found the Zuiderdam to be showing its age a bit - at least compared to the newer Eurodam. Rubberized flooring around the central pool had a few stains that apparently can not be removed and there was the occasional spot of rust. Wall coverings are getting a bit tired and in our cousin's room the refrigerator failed early in the cruise. The deck crew, however, was constantly on the job of polishing and repainting. We found the ship's crew as hard working and pleasant as always on Holland America. Our room stewards were delightful. However, drink service at both the main dining room and at the Crow's Nest during happy hours was a bit slow and appeared understaffed. Ships' officers were very involved with the cruise. I saw the captain almost as much as I saw my wife - well, not quite. The recent requirement that ship's staff must serve coffee, soft drinks and desserts (rather than self service) at the Lido Restaurant for the first two or three days of the cruise for health reasons took a bit of getting used to but when it reverted, lines were shorter. The only disappointment of the cruise occurred at the Panama Canal portion. Due to exceedingly heavy rains recently in Panama, day tours had to be cancelled due to flooded roads and that night the brief port call at Colon was cancelled because of heave winds off the Caribbean. We did get through the locks to Gatun Lake although the Canal had been closed completely the day before. Meals, as usual, were excellent. We dined most nights in the Vista dining room and enjoy getting dressed up for the formal nights - something we don't do at home. I even went so far as to buy a tux for this cruise (JC Penny has a great price on worsted wool tuxes). I figure I'll be able to save on rental costs for future cruises. Although there were four of us in our party, we usually asked for larger tables as that gave us the opportunity to meet other cruisers - most of whom we found informative and delightful to talk with. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2010
Embarkation: Was well done, even better than Carnival that we had sailed on in May of this year. The process was made very easy by checking in according to your cabin level. The ship: Very attractive on the inside. The colors were ... Read More
Embarkation: Was well done, even better than Carnival that we had sailed on in May of this year. The process was made very easy by checking in according to your cabin level. The ship: Very attractive on the inside. The colors were bright and appealing not dark like the Carnival Freedom. I was very surprised to see that the outside of the ship had rust showing in several places and places on the hull that looked like they were painted over with out sanding the rough spots. Carnival clearly does a better job at keeping the ship snow white and attractive on the outside. This was proven when we docked between the Carnival Freedom and another Carnival ship in the Virgin Islands. Dining: We were spoiled by Carnival early in the year. Princess started out slow but came on strong and I thought the food and the selection was good especially through out the latter part of the cruise. Two negatives were the lack luster service on refills unless green coated supervisors were around and the need to allow people to get their own refills if they wish to. On several occasions I attempted to get my own refills while the unsupervised servants stood around like zombies. The ice machines were almost always out of ice. Entertainment: What we saw was good although we are not hard to please in this area. The cruise director Marahscalh , a alabama traveler himself , kept every one informed and entertained to the best of his ability which I thought was done with class and professionalism. Cabin: Our cabin was satisfactory. You give some and you take some and Princess gave more closet space with less bathroom space than Carnival Freedom. The shower was so small that at six feet tall I almost had to shower half of my body at a time. To bend over and wash my feet or legs while in the shower I had to stick the upper part of my body out of the shower which caused my face to almost go into the toilet bowl. The balcony was larger than the last cruise ship but the seats did not recline which was a real disappointment for me since I spend a lot of time on the balcony. Room service: Our room servant missed changing the sheets and towels on one day and did not bring fruit but brought double on a later day. We understand that these people are very busy and are human and can forget , so no problem. Service: The lack of posting one's account on the TV screens was a big negative because you have to go all the way to the customer service counter for account information and my information was not correct or updated on more than on occasion when the public print out monitor and the customer service monitor are only feet away from each other. Ports of call: The Ports of call were the highlights of this cruise. The itinerary was well planned and laid out and none of the stops were disappointments to us. Over all the cruise was relaxing and affordable. We enjoyed it and appreciate the effort of Princess and staff. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2009
We had an inside cabin (Riviera 252)- having already done the balcony thing on the Eastern Caribbean. Stateroom was very nice, well laid out, and the bed was ready with an egg crate topper when we got on board, as we had pre-ordered / ... Read More
We had an inside cabin (Riviera 252)- having already done the balcony thing on the Eastern Caribbean. Stateroom was very nice, well laid out, and the bed was ready with an egg crate topper when we got on board, as we had pre-ordered / requested. Stateroom had a flat screen TV, which is a nice improvement over 3 years ago on the Caribbean Princess. TV channels during the cruise were adequate to keep inform of stateside news and sports as well as shipboard activities. Embarkation was delayed because of the ship coming in from the Baltic and USCG / Customs doing a bit of due diligence with the crew giving the ships first arrival in Port Everglades. At least, that was the explanation. Boarding began for everyone at 12:30 PM and we were assigned group # 3 and in our stateroom by 1:05 PM. I really like how Princess does the emergency drill by having passengers meet in designated areas (we were in the Princess Theatre) instead of lining the rails with the life jackets on. Fort Lauderdale was in the midst of an October heat wave (approx. 95 degrees when the EP departed) and it was much more comfortable inside than outside. We preferred the Horizon court breakfasts over the Main Dining Room (MDR), but split lunches between MDR, Horizon, and the Burger/Pizza bar. We always checked the menus posted outside the MDR before we went in for a meal to see if there were items we wanted to order. We also did the English Pub in the Wheelhouse bar and found it to be a nice diversion. Afternoon tea was fun with the strings playing, very enjoyable. The deserts in the Horizon Court for dinner were really plain. The dining room had much better deserts for dinner. In the evenings, we watched MUTS (Angels and Demons) and Football (being from Nashville, the Titans game sucked - but every Titans game has this season). The weather was great (but windy) so MUTS was full most evenings. They showed Star Trek, The Proposal among others. We also went to the see the Hypnotist show which was outstanding both evenings. The Princess Theater shows featured great musicians, but only marginal in regards to dancing and singing. The piano bar was fun as well sing a longs, etc Participated in the Art auctions and really enjoyed getting to know the art auctioneer / consultant onboard. Also was selected to do the Chef's Table, which was fantastic. Highly recommend you get your name on the list early for this outstanding evening of culinary adventures. Wifey got the coffee card and used about 1/3 of it. Good thing we get to keep it and use it again on our next cruise aboard the Ruby. Missed the "memo" about tips being auto charged to our account each day. Was stunned to see it on the bill when I previewed it the last sea day but when I realized what it was, I was ok. Next time, do not have to carry so much cash onboard for end of cruise. On board shopping was adequate, nothing out of the ordinary. Not a huge point, but now the cabin TVs got both ESPN and ESPN2. While at sea, ESPN2 becomes main ESPN at times (like Saturday for college football). Nice surprise. Internet was slow - at times, super slow, at other times, super frustrating slow. In summary, the main objective for us in this cruise was to relax, and that objective was accomplished in spades and diamonds! Thanks to the Sanctuary, the art gallery, and the Chef's Table event, this was a cruise we will not forget and we would cruise the EP next week if our employers would permit!!! Read Less

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