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Cruise Ratings
Sail Date: March 2006
We just returned home today after cruising the Eastern Caribbean on the Mediterranean and I wanted to write this while the cruise was fresh in my mind. We booked last minute on this ship on the advice of our travel agent because of the ... Read More
We just returned home today after cruising the Eastern Caribbean on the Mediterranean and I wanted to write this while the cruise was fresh in my mind. We booked last minute on this ship on the advice of our travel agent because of the fire and subsequent cancellation of the Star Princess cruise, which we were supposed to be on. This is our second cruise&our last was 9 years ago on Norwegian and we found this one to be very disappointing in comparison. To be fair, it seems to me that much of the experience aboard a Costa Cruise has to do with your personal tastes when it comes to the overall ambiance of the ship. By this, I mean that the ship has a definite European flair to it from the over-the-top decorations to the singers on board who rarely sing anything in English. Many people like this type of thing. I dont. I was expecting an Italian flavor on the ship but I figured it would be tempered for the primarily North American passengers. I was wrong. Embarkation: There were a couple of problems with getting on the ship which included long delay times due to security and luggage which was put into shipping containers for transfer to the ship without having the proper tags put on. While this was annoying, the fault here was not Costa's but had more to do with Sunquest, our tour operator and the port authority. The annoying part here was that there was an additional holdup of about 15 minutes at the Costa ticket desk. It looked like the computers were down and the agents just stood there talking to each other while we waited. There was no mention from anyone from Costa as to why we were waiting or for how long we may have to wait. When we finally arrived on the ship, the most striking thing to me was the noticeable absence of any type of customer assistance. There was plenty of crew around but nobody expressed any type of greeting and most stood around looking confused as to what to do. The passengers were pretty much left to fend for themselves to find their rooms, etc. Once we found the stateroom, we decided to look around the ship. I wanted to find the buffet and so we went up to deck 9 and found a crew member working at one of the bars. I approached and said how are you doing? He replied Im working and proceeded to glare at me until I asked where the buffet was. He then obliged by pointing in the direction I needed to go. I should point out that this rudeness wasnt a common problem on the ship. Most of the crew we encountered were quite pleasant and the ones we had the most contact with such as the wait staff and the cabin steward were very courteous and professional. However, we encountered rudeness on a few occasions and found such behavior surprising in that we could not recall any incidents of rudeness from our previous cruise on Norwegian. The room: Our room had a balcony large enough for 2 deck chairs and a small table. The bed was a queen size with a very thin mattress which was not particularly comfortable. The room was reasonably spacious with quite a bit of closet space and a safe for keeping valuables. There was also a bar fridge with a small quantity of pop, beer and liquor. This bar is locked on arrival and opened by the cabin steward shortly after arrival. The washroom was small with a stand-up shower but it did the job and the shower was good with lots of pressure and plenty of heat. The ship: If you like European design, you will be impressed with the decor of this ship. It isn't my particular taste but I was also impressed with the craftsmanship that went into the construction. The ship is very well maintained and very clean. It is also relatively easy to get around. There are plenty of bars and gathering areas and some very impressive looking facilities such as the gym, the theatre and the main atrium. There are three small pools and hot tubs (actually "lukewarm tubs")on the ship but two were filled with kids with the exception of the pool and hot tub at the stern of the ship which is reserved for adults. Getting a spot in a hot tub wasn't easy nor was getting a deck chair in the sun on a nice day. Go early if your objective is to lay in the sun. One thing I need to mention is that this ship rocked badly through pretty much the entire voyage, even though the sea was not particulars rough. Many of the passengers were sick and even the crew complained about the rough trip. This is a fairly new ship, and I would think it would have stabilizers. I can only assume they were not used in order to keep fuel costs down. Because of the constant motion it was difficult to sleep and the constant creaking noises in the cabin didn't help. The food: This area is the cause of most of my disappointment with this cruise. I'm a big fan of italian food and I had hoped that the food on this ship would represent the best that Italy had to offer. Boy, was I wrong. First, the buffets on the ship featured a lot of bland fare such as stale tasting buns with a piece of mozzarella cheese and a sliced grape inside. Breakfast at both the buffet and the formal dining was the same every morning and was really no better than anything found at the local Denny's and, in some cases, much worse. Two notable sore points were the coffee and the orange juice. Both of these items at the buffet were completely undrinkable. The coffee was incredibly strong and the orange juice tasted bitter, like it was made from lemons. The coffee at the formal dining area was better, but the orange juice was just as bad. A notable exception at the buffet were the pizza slices, which I thought were very good. There was also a Mexican buffet which I didn't try. It was nothing too special and had basic taco's etc. The formal lunches and dinners were better but still not great. And really, if I pay a good buck to go on a cruise, I expect great food. There were a number of times when we or the people seated with us had to send our food back because it was not hot or because it was not what the menu stated. For example, one night the salad selection from the menu was tomato and caramelized onion. What actually showed up was a bowl of lettuce with a tomato slice and two small pieces of caramelized onions. On the last formal night, lobster was on the menu. All the people at our table who ordered it were unable to eat it as it was rubbery and tasteless. One other thing that bugged me was the lack of thought that went into the menu planning. Note to Chef: When planning a menu for "Italian Night" you may want to change the soup from Louisiana Gumbo to something italian. I'm not Italian, or a chef and I could design a better menu for "Italian Night". Entertainment: I'll make this short. The entertainment was garbage that any high school drama class student could have organized. Compared to our cruise on Norwegian, the idiotic charades played by the group on this ship looked like a pre-school play. Let me give you a for-instance. On one particular night, they had an international evening followed by a buffet. For the Greek portion of the show, one of the crew dressed in a stupid looking wig insisted that members of the audience join hands in a circle and dance around yelling "opa!" One particular lady was coerced into participating against her better judgement and in the process of performing the required footwork, got tangled up with another woman, both of whom fell, almost smashing their heads against the ceramic step on the bar. Nobody from the crew lifted a finger to assist either of these woman or said anything to them as far as I could see. The singers in the various bars all sang in a language other than English or sang english badly and with a heavy italian accent. This could have sufficed for comedy but it wasn't intended as such. The spa: My wife and I both utilized the spa services. One great aspect of this spa is the free Turkish bath and sauna area, which I used regularly. The showers in the spa for use after the sauna were also particularly good. Both my wife and I also had massage appointments. Mine was quite enjoyable although I wasn't impressed that the "Health Questionnaire" I filled out before my massage was used to try to upsell me a bunch of product when the massage was over. My wife's massage wasn't so good. She had stated that she wanted a Swedish massage for relaxation purposes. The Massage therapist first gave her a sob story about having 4 kids to support and then proceeded to massage my wife's legs so roughly that she actually had bruising. This lady claimed that she needed to remove "toxins" from my wife's body and then proceeded to try to sell her on a $300.00 detoxification program. I wasn't entirely sure that I believed her at first about how rough the massage was until I saw the bruises and until we spoke with one of our dinner companions later that week who also had a massages she felt was excessively rough. The lady at our table claimed to have told the masseuse to ease up and was told "no pain no gain." Disembarkation: Disembarkation from this ship was, in a word "disastrous." On the morning of the disembarkation, we were told to be out of our rooms at 8:00 am. Each of our luggage was marked with a colored tag. A letter was given to everyone stating what time to disembark from the ship based on the color of your tag. We were to wait in the Osiris Theatre until our color group was asked to leave. Our group was to leave at 9:15 am. At 11:30 am we finally got to leave. Now, to be fair the holdup was with customs. The thing that bugged me is that we were flying back to Canada that day along with a large group of other people. Our flight was at 1:00 pm. I couldn't understand why we waited for over 2 hours for Customs when we didn't need to. When we finally got out of the ship we were quickly ushered past a U.S. Customs agent in a special line set aside for us simply by showing our passports since we had nothing to declare in the U.S. as we were leaving that day, all on the same flight. In conclusion: I read quite a few reviews about this ship before I left. Some were very negative and frankly, I felt that some of these people probably needed to lighten up a bit. The reason I felt that way was that I also heard people complaining while we were on our Norwegian cruise 9 years ago. I couldn't believe what I was hearing as our experience on Norwegian was absolutely fantastic. After having experienced Costa however, these negative reviews now seem fully reasonable. I am starting to think from reading reviews of other ships that possibly the problems are systemic throughout the industry. The more people choose cruising for their vacations, the cruise ship companies compete by lowering prices to attract guests and then, out of necessity cut back on the quality of their offerings. It wasn't any large problem that made this trip less enjoyable than it should have been. Rather, it was the small things. It was things like charging for cappuccino coffee and having to deal with crew members who obviously are not properly trained or familiar with the english language. Perhaps the problems on Costa are simply an indicator of an industry wide phenomenon. I would make the suggestion however, that there is a reason there were so many empty spaces on the ship one day before sailing that were filled with patrons from the cancelled Star Princess cruise. I certainly will not be coming back. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2006
Radiance of The Seas: Less than Expected!! For this special anniversary trip we decided to start our trip early in Miami with a one night pre-cruise stay in a big Miami Beach hotel. We were assigned the Fountainbleau- sounded great on ... Read More
Radiance of The Seas: Less than Expected!! For this special anniversary trip we decided to start our trip early in Miami with a one night pre-cruise stay in a big Miami Beach hotel. We were assigned the Fountainbleau- sounded great on the internet. Turned out our room was in the soon to be rehabbed old wing. There were broken mirrors and pictures were ripped off the walls-- for $400 a night it looked like a tenement ! Our room over looked a garbage strewn roof. We complained to the management-who said "Those are RCCL's pre-cruise rooms !" They did agree to move us to another room which was more satisfactory- with a small balcony overlooking the waterway. We never did overlook the ocean ! The transfer to the ship was the next day- he didn't announce he was there and we almost missed our ride to the Radiance of the Seas. This truly beautiful ship was such a joy to see from the dock.. unfortunately we boarded it !!! To a beautiful cabin on deck 9.. with a balcony. Thus this should have been the start of a "fairy-tale" cruise experience. ... Unfortunately as experienced and long time cruisers we were really disappointed with RAS and RCCL. As we arrived our travel agent had sent us a bottle of wine to celebrate our 25th Anniversary- this was never delivered nor arrived during the cruise. We were to get an invitation to some sort of Anniversary Party- which never arrived. As it turned out we called Guest Relations -who know nothing of our anniversary- it HAD been on the booking slip as I did see a copy of this ! - and told us- "Hey- there is a Honeymoon and Anniversary party tonight at the Starquest= come if you want to!" We did- with only about 20 other people- food and arrangements were set for at least 40-50 people-- later we met 2 other anniversary couples on a day tour who said they hadn't heard a thing either and were never invited either. Needless to say- so went the way of our Anniversary Cake and we eventually got a price of Key Lime pie and our waiters sang to us-- not the special made chef cake or anything like that !!!!Really when you have a celebration it IS important and RAS should treat customers a lot better! The other guests we met were ok generally. Nice people. There were two couples at our table who had eating "orgies" every night. They ordered 3 and 4 entrees- and acted like stuffing animals-gluttonizing grossly every dinner. Some nights we left the table early- we just couldn't stand watching another gross display . The ship was crowded and there was no place for the head waiter to move us or we would have moved. Then in the midst of things - I got sick- with a bronchial type infection. The ship has a real ER. no kidding. There was a real doctor- unfortunately they do NOT take real medical insurance. So one of my souvenirs of the cruise was a nearly $500.00 medical bill- for 2 visits to the ship's medical facility. I have to pay this out of pocket and wait until my insurance company will send me a check for some of it. The ports of call were Coco Cay- really a big waste of time. A sandbar in the ocean near the Bahamas where RCCL owns the island and you sit on the hot sands and drink more expensive drinks supplied by the ship. Then there was St. Thomas- which is a wonderful place for beaches- we went to Magen's Bay- great. and Fantastic shopping !!! I highly recomment St. Thomas USVI. On an earlier trip we went to St. John's- great too. The last port on the list was St. Maarten where the beaches are great. We went to Divi Beach/ Little Bay- and loved it- also heard from others EVERY beach is good on St. Maarten. The shopping was terrible- despite what the cruise shopping "expert" said- it was mostly jewelry stores little else. Spend your money in St. Thomas or Miami! At the end of the cruise, we had purchased several bottles of liquor which were confiscated when we returned to the ship from St. Maarten and which we never saw again.- Something which has NEVER happened to us on any other cruise line. (Exactly like our "gift" bottle which never also appeared in our cabin on day 1 and which our travel agent paid for and can't get the money back for! ) We were given SOME other liquor as a replacement- for the "lost bottles" which were "checked" but we had purchased gourmet liquor which the ship's bar didn't have- so we were out on this. The service on RCCL 's RAS was outstanding but the food generally was mediocre. The ports ok. The guests-some were nice -some were gross. The medical facility good- but expensive. The shows ok. The bands ok. The photographers were all short guys- so all photos were taken "looking up" - and for tall people it makes you look "fat" so they weren't selling a lot of photos- unless of other shorter people. The coupe de grace of all of this was a we left- we noticed our steward had just made the bed and changed the pillow cases- he did not appear to strip the bed after we were checking out. So only my bronchial infected pillowcases were removed from the room. What lucky passengers got the room next- with my germs all over the place???There was also no major washing down or disinfecting going on of the room or the ship either as we left. No wonder there is a lot of sickness on some of these RCCL ships. I think the health services should be doing greater "spot checking" of these cabins and this line. Previous years we have taken cruises on CARNIVAL and CELEBRITY and had somewhat better experiences on these lines. We anticipate cruising again but really aren't sure we will ever do RCCL again. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2006
As a first time cruiser, I didn't know what to expect. I will just try to sum up my experience. Parking at the Port of Galveston Terminal is probably the best and safest way to park. It is very expensive at 70.00 for the 7 day ... Read More
As a first time cruiser, I didn't know what to expect. I will just try to sum up my experience. Parking at the Port of Galveston Terminal is probably the best and safest way to park. It is very expensive at 70.00 for the 7 day cruises. The embarkation process went smooth and fairly fast. Once we arrived at the terminal, we were on board in about an hour. Our bags arrived at our room about an hour after we arrived. The room we had was a balcony room on the 10th deck toward the front of the ship. It was nice. Right away I noticed a lot of ship movement. You are aware of the movement the whole time you are on board so be prepared and use all hand rails. As far as the onboard experience, the food was pretty bad and the servings were soooo small. Both the buffet and main dining room pretty much had the same awful food. The entertainment on board was pretty lame as well. The casino is tiny and always full. All decks are crowded. The ship is big but when you get 4000 passengers and crew, it is ALWAYS crowded. I don't like crowds and lines, and this ship had waaay two much of both. The drinks are expensive, especially when they automatically tack on a 15 percent gratuity on all drink purchases which is sooo much BS, Carnival should be ashamed. They had plenty of alcohol in the drinks, though I will say to their credit. They have daily drink specials too. It was hard to enjoy myself with the overhyped food, overpriced drinks, crowds, lines, and lame entertainment. I tried to sleep as much as possible to make the time go by faster. The fun parts came when we went on shore. Jamaica rocks (rumors about them having the best of the kind is true!) Grand Cayman pretty much sucked, and Cozumel was cool. The really only exciting thing to happen on board is that we picked up some Cuban refugees in route to Jamaica, and some poor lady had a heart attack on board and the Mexican navy had to take her on board one of their battleships and copter her to the mainland for treatment. So if it weren't for that, it would not have been much of some "Fun Days" at sea. My wife loved every minute from the time she set foot on board. Lucky for me, though, she is easy to please! Would I cruise again? Yes! Would I do it on a Carnival ship? Maybe, if the prices come down, less crowds, better food etc........ Read Less
Sail Date: February 2006
We have been on several cruises with various lines and have enjoyed each of them. This was our first with Carnival and undoubtedly our last. We experienced anything but a fun ship! Our VIP check in procedure consisted of being cut in ... Read More
We have been on several cruises with various lines and have enjoyed each of them. This was our first with Carnival and undoubtedly our last. We experienced anything but a fun ship! Our VIP check in procedure consisted of being cut in line to board the ship in front of people who had been waiting for some time. Our VIP attendant left us there with no explanation to the other passengers or us of what was going on. Needless to say the individuals that we were placed in front of were not pleased and let their feelings be known. The entire cruise was an adventure in what not to expect from staff and crew. We experienced bickering bartenders. Not friendly banter or jovial kidding around. This was name-calling and verbal combat at its best. We experienced a member of the crew that was intent on telling our fortune and stated this was how he subsidized his income. One waitress we encountered looked like she was very ill and we asked if she was all right. Her response was that she had partied very heavily the previous night and thought she may get sick. We had a member of the staff ask us if we could possibly bring them back a lobster tail from the main dining room because there was not ample time for this person to eat and still complete their assigned tasks. The smoke aboard this ship was unbelievable. The smoking guests that had inboard cabins left their doors open and most of the passageways looked like a fog filled ally. The majority of the nightclubs and deck areas were no better. My wife has an allergy to cigarette smoke and as a result of the continual exposure found us making a trip to the ships infirmary. Ironically this was one of the best experiences we had with the crew. The nursing staff was very courteous and understanding. The doctor was very direct, helpful and explained everything during exam and while rendering his diagnosis and prognosis. It appears that the staff and crew that has to work with you directly, i.e. cabin stewards and assigned waiters do whatever they can for you. What we encountered outside the staff directly assigned to us was completely unacceptable. Avoidance, curt responses, unprofessional behavior and a general, its not my problem attitude seemed to be the order of the day. A ship of this size cannot possibly have a one to one service ratio and we did not expect that. What we did hope for was a relaxing vacation on a fun ship. We believe that in order to have a good time on a cruise, participation is required by guests and staff. We arrived at the premise very quickly that it was much safer and less aggravating not to expect much from staff and the less involvement we had with shipboard activities the better. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2006
Embarkation: We arrived in SJU airport at 11:30. Pretty standard. We took public transportation to the ship. The driver was nice but spoke little english. Getting on the ship was very smooth. They were at the door showing where to go for ... Read More
Embarkation: We arrived in SJU airport at 11:30. Pretty standard. We took public transportation to the ship. The driver was nice but spoke little english. Getting on the ship was very smooth. They were at the door showing where to go for cabin location. Entertainment: Being in the entertainment business myself, I can say that the entertainment was poor at best. By the way, the cruise director, remember his face the first night, because after that, he disappears except for being on the TV every morning to read to you line by line the days activity even though you get the "Princess Patter" the night before from your room steward. The shows in the theater were OK but the music, in my opinion was "canned" (pre-recorded). I never once saw one musician on stage. I don't know that much about dance but the choreography and costumes seemed to be OK. The lounge groups were quite poor. They didn't play together and all sounded very amateurish; you could probably hear a better band at a wedding at your local Elks Club. The Reggae band was OK but their music was sequenced (no drummer) and although the instrumental music was, for the most part, programmed, their vocal harmonies were not together. I was quite disappointed. Service: Sporadic. Our room steward was good, the dining staff a little off. The rest kind of mediocre. Food: The Horizon buffet got old quick. The breakfast was old after two days. They have a Ice Cream Bar on the Pool Deck (don't forget there's a charge...). Probably good, but was only open 11-7. Who wouldn't want a sundae before they went to bed. We only ate in the dining rooms twice as the food was not that good. The specialty restaurants were good but at extra cost (of course). The best thing I can say about the food is that the pizza is fairly good (We are New Yorkers who are used to excellent pizza) by the pool, hamburgers and hot dogs are par. If you want a better hamburger, go to the dining room for lunch. Wife said her's was great. Itinerary: Good but not enough time in each port. By the time you get going, it's time to get back to the ship. Did not like getting up before 6AM to get ashore for excursions or whatever. We like to sleep in a bit after being up late. St. Thomas: Beautiful! Took catamaran lunch trip to St. John. Wife got seasick. St Kitts: Okay. We took the 4WD trip to the peninsula. Interesting... great views... cheesy beach stop with poor selection of snacks and drinks. Grenada: I felt a bit uncomfortable walking around town. Shops, people etc. very poor. I kept thinking I might get bopped in the head with my wallet taken. Isla Margarita, Venezuela: It was nice having the beach and shops adjacent to the ship. People are friendly and helpful. Aruba: Very Nice. The ship docks at the front step of downtown. We did a lot of shopping in quaint shops/strip-malls in town and had a great lunch at Iguana Joe's which is right near the ship. Day at Sea: Boring. If you go to the pool go early because we were unable to get chairs in the sun. My wife was very disappointed about that. We thought the ship was beautiful. We heard so many nice things about Princess from other people but were quite disappointed with the service, food, and entertainment. Since the wife got seasick on the catamaran in St. Thomas, we decided to back out of 3 of the 5 excursions we originally booked. We didn't drink that much and thus were extremely surprised at our $1100+ bill at the end of the cruise. It seemed that there were gratuities every time you turned around. We originally thought "How nice they clean the room so often." Little did we know that the cleaning of your stateroom 2 - 3 times a day has a gratuity attached. This was our first Princess Cruise and, most likely, our last. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2006
In February, we went on a cruise to celebrate our anniversary and my birthday. This was our fifth cruise in the nine years that we have been married, but the first on Norwegian. Since we returned, we have both agreed that the motto of this ... Read More
In February, we went on a cruise to celebrate our anniversary and my birthday. This was our fifth cruise in the nine years that we have been married, but the first on Norwegian. Since we returned, we have both agreed that the motto of this ship should be, We strive for mediocrity and we achieve it. Everything on the ship was mediocre, including the food, service, port facilities, entertainment, cleanliness, and casino. Our first night, we went to the specialty steak house, expecting the gourmet meal that is served in other cruise lines specialty restaurant. The food at the buffet was better than this meal, which cost us an additional $25 per person. They had a Caesar Salad that I expected to be made at the table. All they did was put some bottled dressing on lettuce, mix it up, put it on two plates and add a little parmesan cheese and a couple of croutons. I then ordered the surf and turf, which was listed as a fillet and ½ of a lobster. When it arrived, I was amazed at the tiny size of both the steak and the lobster. I live in a city with quite a few really good restaurants, and can get a much larger and better surf and turf for about the same price, without having to pay $1,000 for the cruise to get it. We ate in several of the restaurants and found the service below par in every one. I had a drink in one bar and then the next day, ordered the same drink in a restaurant. When it arrived, there was about 1/3 the amount of liquor in the glass. When I said something to the waiter, he said, That is just the way they serve it. The ventilation system in the casino was almost non-existent. The smoke was so bad that I could only play for short increments at one time. There was some kind of leak in the area of the bar, located in the rear of the casino, and the carpet was constantly wet and being dried with blowers. While in port, they changed out part of the carpet, but the blowers were still in place with the new carpet down. My wife caught her heel in a carpet seam in one of the restaurants and they had to replace it the next day also. Usually, cruise ships have a comedian do two shows a night, one for the family and another for the adults. On this ship, the comedian, who was very funny, only had one show a night and it was in a medium sized lounge, mid-ship. The room was so crowded with kids, that there was standing room only. Luckily, my wife and I got there early enough to get a seat, but, if there had been an emergency, there is no way the room could have been evacuated. Other cruises have the comedian in the large lounge and have a separate theater in the front of the ship for the extravaganza shows. This ship only had one large room, so the big dance show with the crew got the big room. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2006
We are seasoned cruisers, my husband has cruised over 30 times and I have cruised approximately 20. We were on the inaugural cruise 2/22/06 from NYC. Embarkation was long & tedious, very unorganized. The ship was beautiful, our ... Read More
We are seasoned cruisers, my husband has cruised over 30 times and I have cruised approximately 20. We were on the inaugural cruise 2/22/06 from NYC. Embarkation was long & tedious, very unorganized. The ship was beautiful, our stateroom was on Deck 8; large room (over 350 sq. ft). Our balcony was spacious and have lovely comfortable furniture. Bathroom was gorgeous! Loved the dual sinks, separate shower and jacuzzi tub. Tommy, the cabin steward did a fantastic job keeping the room clean. Wonderful service throughout the cruise..everyone was polite, friendly and helpful. Now, for the bad news!..........the food was HORRIBLE. Breakfast and lunch were ok, but dinner in the dining room was awful. Out of our 10-night cruise, we only had 2 good meals. Never saw such small, mushy lobster tails in my life, and who wants meat loaf? The quality of the food was poor and didn't have any flavor or taste. We thought the food on the maiden voyage would be wonderful but it wasn't. Disembarkation was probably the worst part! People were trying to enter the terminal while passengers were exiting through the same door! Luggage, passengers and porters were everywhere! It was a nightmare...Holland America needs to have a separate entrance and exit. It was confusing and chaotic. Overall, it was a good cruise. 10 night cruise is the way to go, very relaxing and unhurried but if they don't improve the quality of the food and their disembarking process they're going to lose customers. We probably won't sail with Holland America again. We prefer the QM2. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2006
I just cruised with a large group on the Dawn. The 1st timers thought the ship was very nice while those that had cruised before were very disappointed. We took a bus to NY and it was quite easy to get the luggage to and from the pier. We ... Read More
I just cruised with a large group on the Dawn. The 1st timers thought the ship was very nice while those that had cruised before were very disappointed. We took a bus to NY and it was quite easy to get the luggage to and from the pier. We got there around 11 and we had quite a long wait before we were able to check in. There were some older people and disabled people with us and the long wait standing up was difficult for them. We did get a wheelchair for two in the group and that made it much easier. We had a balcony stateroom and it was nice however smaller that what we were used to on other ships. It was adequate for the 2 of us but the night we had our grandchildren stay it was tight quarters. For anyone considering a 3rd person in a balcony room, beware because with the couch made up into a bed, there is no room to even walk. We could not get to the balcony with the couch out because it completely blocks the sliding door. It also seems as if you are in a super king bed because the couch is side to side with the bed without any room in between. Ok for sleeping with a 5 year old but would hate to have had another adult in the room. I like the new bathroom set up and my only complaint was that the lighting was bad over the sink. The storage space is very limited and we were forced to store some items in our suitcase under the bed. My husband's large suitcase would not fit under the bed and we too late discovered that the room steward would have stowed it for us. We were not impressed with the 3 main dining rooms. We had thought that we could request the same waitress every night but it only happened 1 other night. When we put in our request, we were told that it was impossible. I never found too many people on staff willing to go out of their way. The food in the main dining venues was poor to mediocre. There was the same strip steak on the menu 3 nights in a row, just named something else. The pasta was ok. I felt that the entire menu was a little heavy with fish, not seafood, fish! I missed shrimp cocktail. Last year on another line it was offered every night. We had it one night and they were mini shrimp. The breakfast buffet was boring. Very little fruit selections, unless you really like prunes. I missed the varied fruits that I am used to on cruises. I attributed that to the NYC departure but I am really not sure. Lunch buffets were not much better. They served different foods at different buffets but it was difficult to get to all of them at lunch without your other food getting ice cold. That should be looked into. We went 2 times to a dinner buffet (because of such poor selections in the dining rooms) and only ate there once because it was a Mexican buffet and I am not fond of Mexican. We ate once at Cagney's and while the food there was very good I am not sure it was any different than what other ships serve in their free dining rooms. We ate one dinner at the Blue Lagoon and it was typical fast food eating. If you can rate McDonalds you can rate the Blue Lagoon. I enjoyed having Fish and Chips at the Pearly Kings Pub. They ran out quickly and were not in any real hurry to replenish. I found the service on board to be less than desired. I have always admired service on board cruise ships and look forward to being "queen for a week". However this service really fell short. There were always dirty dishes around, whether you were in the buffet, at the pool or waiting for an elevator. One day there were dirty glasses in front of an elevator all day. People would eat lunch at the pool and the dishes would sit for a very long time. We would find at some dining venues that they would run out of plates, glasses and silverware. I have never experienced that on any other line. At the outdoor BBQ, people waited over 5 minutes for forks. I went inside, got a fork and when I came out people were still waiting. I find that to be inexcusable. The shows were all pretty good. I didn't go to all of them but those I saw were good. I was very disappointed in the activities the cruise staff sponsored. The pool games were a joke. We always have members of our group participate and the rest of us are avid audience members but every one of the 5 games they played over 10 days were a bust. The cruise director was Ricky and he couldn't buy a laugh. He was boring! The worst in 15 cruises. Disembarkation was a little slow but it was a full ship and so that is forgiven. Would I go again? Not unless they change a lot of things. I doubt if they will so I will be flying to Florida to catch a ship. It is too bad because I love the NYC departure in the winter. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2006
My wife and I have been on over 25 cruises including many of the Celebrity and Holland America ships as well as Cunard, Princess, and the older Home Line. Only one time on a Carnival Cruise and that still remains our worst experience. ... Read More
My wife and I have been on over 25 cruises including many of the Celebrity and Holland America ships as well as Cunard, Princess, and the older Home Line. Only one time on a Carnival Cruise and that still remains our worst experience. First the simple things. Embarkation and debarkation were by far the easiest and best organized of any of our cruises. We arrived at the pier a bit early (10:45) since we did not want to wait for the Courtyard shuttle and caught a cab direct to the pier. At 11:05 they opened the doors to security and registration. By 11:10 we were escorted up to the ship level at the terminal and at 11:20 we boarded the ship. We did have a bottle of vodka and sherry in our carry on bags. They went through the scanner with no issue what so ever. Again it is a case of if you don't flaunt it and it is for cabin use only I don't think MSC has an issue. They do collect the boxes of alcohol that people buy in the ports and hold it for you but it appeared that if you were only bring back a bottle in your beach bag there was not a problem. Some have said that if you buy in the ship's duty free you can bring a bottle back to your cabin but we don't know that for sure. We were escorted to our Cabin (8180), an outside room, no balcony. On the way up to the room I did put our name on the list at the registration desk for a possible upgrade to a balcony room. The room was very bright and clean. The configuration was set up with two twins. We knew it could be turned into a double but decided to wait until we found out about the upgrade. The ship is absolutely beautiful and as clean as any ship we have ever seen. Every public room is bright and well laid out. The lunch buffet opened about noon and was pretty typical for boarding day. We went for the pizza and Italian sandwiches at the pizza ovens. I think the sandwiches are called Stromboli's. The pizza was and continued for the cruise to be the best we have ever had aboard ship. Made by hand (no rolling machine) with 3 different types every day. Always had at least 4 pizzas in the oven so it was always fresh and hot. In the same area there was a pasta station every day. Again fresh to order with varied types every day. At 1:00 PM I went to check on the status of upgrades. The information desk said they might not know until departure. However when I went down to check on our luggage there was a note from the Head Housekeeper to see her about an upgrade. Next thing I knew we were moving everything to 10053, a balcony cabin at a very nominal fee. The room was identical to 8180 except for the balcony. It makes a great difference however. The cabin are undoubtedly the smallest we have ever sailed on except maybe an inside cabin on the old Oceanic. The storage space is adequate for a 7 day cruise. We really missed the lack of sitting space inside the cabin. Fortunately the weather for the week could not have been better and we used the balcony as a sitting area whenever we wanted. The bathroom is small with very small showers but the water pressure was great with plenty of hot water. I am 6 Ft. under 200 and was barely comfortable within the shower. We spent the afternoon wandering the ship and admiring the public areas. Access from deck to deck was very easy. For the most part food is in the stern area. Entertainment and lounges from the middle to the bow. The first night dinner set the pace so I will only comment on the dinners once.. We had late seating, table 42, Sergio from Romania was our waiter, he was great and we highly recommend him. Dinner quality was very good, 2-3 appetizers, 2 salads plus Caesar salad anytime, 2 soups usually 1 cold 1 hot, choice of a pasta or risotto every night. Our table was universal in how good this course was every night. I especially like the risotto and had a different one nearly every night. Main courses always had a meat, seafood, and vegetarian dish. Steak Chicken and grilled fish was always available. Contrary to other comments I have seen the beef was excellent 3 out of 4 times (1 time just OK) and never saw a strange gravy. They may have changed meat purveyors and are now using a US based provider. The fish was also outstanding and perfectly cooked. Desserts were OK. Always Ice Cream that was very good. In general desserts are good if you are not looking for sweet things. A little bland for American tastes. Some items we really enjoyed included Lobster Bisque, Smoked Duck appetizer, Shrimp Cocktail, Fettuccine Alfredo, Pear Risotto, Potato Gnocchi, Halibut with Hollandaise sauce, Salmon, any of the beef dishes including prime rib. Lack of a wine steward and recommendations from someone who knows wine was a definite disadvantage. However, they do have a very good, moderately priced wine list. Usually about 2 to 2 ½ US retail but remember all alcohol pricing included gratuities so if you want to compare to other cruise lines deduct at least 15% from the menu price. We did not meet the Maitre D', his Assistant, or a Head Waiter the 1st night, or the 2nd, or the 3rd, or the 4th, or the 5th or the 6th. In fact we did not see them the last night either. Expected them around looking for a tip but they never showed. There were couple of the carts normally used to prepare special dishes or table side preparations but they just collected cobwebs on our cruise. I will mention that we elected to NOT have tips automatically added to our bill. We believe in making our own decisions on amounts. We may have over-tipped our Waiter and his assistant but that is our prerogative, not the cruise line. I might as well mention now that our cabin was kept very clean except for not bringing fresh glasses each day, but we never met or even saw our cabin stewardess or her assistant. We know that it was a stewardess rather than a steward because it was written on our comment forms. We did not over-tip them. You have all seen reviews that indicate good entertainment and a good cruise activity group called Animation. Animation is their European name, here in NA they were just called the Entertainment Group. They are not good. THEY ARE GREAT. Evening entertainment is excellent, both in the lounges and in the main theater. The Animation group seems to be working 24 hours a day. I have never seen such passenger participation and it can be directly contributed to this group. Their multi-lingual capabilities are astounding. At one dance lesson I observed (didn't participate) the Animation leader was explaining the steps in 5 different languages, English, French, Italian, Spanish, and just a little bit of German. That will also give you a flavor for the passenger mix. Very few announcements but always multi-lingual. It was hard to estimate the mix but it might have been 50 % North America and 50% other if you include Puerto Rico. One thing that we did not experience was any rude group of passengers. Everyone we met or saw were there to have a good time. Very little rudeness in lines and few people with vocal complaints. There is a cruise director, Franco, however he does not seem to participate in very many passenger activities. Other than the initial ship introduction in the theater, the only time we saw him was at quick and sometimes hokey introductions of the evening show and then he disappeared. During the introduction to the ship he seemed like he didn't even know the ship very well and had to be constantly prompted by other cruise personnel to remind him to mention a ship's area or activity. Maybe his major tasks are administrative. The unusual evening stop at San Juan is also geared for discharging and embarking quite a few passengers. We wish we knew they did that. We may have opted to start and end our cruise in PR rather that Florida. We had been to San Juan many times and elected to leave the ship for an hour or so to use the Internet Cafe that is across from the pier and to have a margarita at Senor Frogs. The Internet Cafe is about 1/10th the cost of Internet access on the ship. Access on the ship is prohibitively expensive and I heard that it was very, very slow. The Breakfast buffet was very disappointing. There is definitely a European emphasis in the buffet. Salads, cold meats and cheeses, hard boiled eggs and hot dogs. The scrambled eggs were probably powdered but I only tried a couple of mouthfuls, The breads, rolls, and croissants were excellent but other than melon and baked apples, most of the fruits ere canned. They need to find someone who can cook bacon. It was either under or over cooked usually in the same pan. The sausages were typical precooked and heat, like you would find in the frozen food section of a grocery. There is an egg, pancake, and omelet station where the burgers and hot dogs are available during the day but it tends to have lines and limited ingredients for the omelets. There was never waffles or French toast available. We did not have breakfast in the dinning room but I believe it would be much better that the buffet. I usually went up and brought back a plate of croissants and melon to our cabin and sit on the balcony. We always travel with our own coffee maker and coffee so we did not have ship coffee in the morning nor did we ever need room service except for more ice. They were always amazingly fast in response to that request usually every afternoon. The luncheon buffet was also disappointing to us although we saw many, many people with heaping platefuls every day. Lots of salads, some of them strange. Usually 3 or 4 hot choices like a pasta dish, meat dish that looked a lot like one of the dinner entrees, and some type of fish. Always a carving station, beef, turkey, veal, and one day sucking pig, head and all. Again, we did not use the dining room for lunch. We usually opted for a green salad and some of the great pizza and pasta. My wife and I did not like the hamburgers. Some type of spice we could not determine. The hot dogs were good but no sauerkraut or chili. The grill and pizza stations are open all afternoon until just before dinner. There is a dinner buffet for those that do not want to use the dining room. We looked at it one evening and it appeared that many of the items on the dining room menu were also at the buffet. In general we were pleased with the quality of the dinners. They were comparable in quality and taste to latest Celebrity and Princess, (none of them are as good as they were 5 to 10 years ago) but not as many choices. The service from our waiter and his assistant was excellent. He had good recommendation of food selection, too bad he didn't know anything about wines. It was very unusual to have to refill our own wine glasses. Last Celebrity cruise I had my hand slapped for reaching for the bottle to refill my wife's glass. As I said we had late seating usually in the dining room from 8:15 to 10:15, just in time for the late show in the theater. The shows were very good. The only one that we decided to leave was a classical show that included a very good pianist, violin, soprano, and tenor. Heard they were excellent but it is not our cup of tea. Other nights included a decent magician and illusionist. It is hard to have great illusions on ship's stage but he did pretty good. Some great gymnasts and dancer for the variety shows. The lounge groups were pretty good. The piano bar is usually our favorite spot but this one used a synthesizer as well as the piano and it was too loud for easy conversation. We found the bartenders and drink servers very aloof. Never very friendly, never much for conversation, except among themselves. To say they don't push drinks is an understatement. Usually you had to solicit their service and some times interrupt their private conversations. We like a good martini bar but the choices at the La Cabala that serves as the martini bar on Opera left a lot to be desired. We were very disappointed that we were unable to satisfy our once a cruise extravagance of caviar. It is not offered at any price on the Opera. You probably have read that the lounge chairs at the pool area are a little different. They do not have a lot of choice in the angle of the chair but they do have a built in sun screen if desired. We never had a big problem finding a chair at any time. There are still an awful lot of chair hogs all day long but there are always more chairs stacked in the corners of the deck and an attendant will get them for you and help move them to a space of your choice. The pool activities run by the Animation group are great and surprising not too noisy at any time. In fact if you go to the opposite end of the pool area you can barely hear want is going on. I have never seen a group draw as much passenger participation as this group. As I said they are great. One hint, bring a 16 Oz. cold drink container and some Crystal-lite individual lemonade or iced tea portions. Every time we went to the pool we filled the container with ice and water and made our own drinks. Nothing is available during the day and the juice cups in the morning are extra small. We did not use the Spa services at all so can't comment on them. The ships shopping is very limited. It almost seemed drab compared to other ship shopping areas. Incidentally the Art Auctions are there, but not very obtrusive, many people went there just for a free glass of champagne. Inch of Gold was only on deck the last day of the cruise and took up about 10 feet of deck space. These items are really not an issue on the Opera and have not created a negative situation. The casino is small and not very busy. It is open a lot less often than most other cruises we have recently been on. For example it is usually always closed between 6:30 and 8:30. This is when I usually would go there while my wife is getting ready for dinner but not on this cruise. The ship itinerary could use a little change and/or explanation. We arrived in San Juan around 4 and I really think they go there for loading and unloading passengers and it is incidental to the itinerary. We did not participate in any activity related to San Juan so we can't comment on any excursions. We have been to St. Maarten many times. We elected to just walk around the town for an hour or so, buy some t-shirts and went back to the ship for lunch and the pool. From everything I heard, it is just as easy to get you own cab if you are going to the beach and it is a lot cheaper. I don't understand why they leave St. Maarten so early. It seemed to us they could stay a couple of hours longer with out impacting the rest of the itinerary. There were 4 other ships when we got there and they were all still there when we left. Our next visit was La Romana. We decided not to use any ship excursions. We took the shuttle service that provided transportation to either the Casa De Campo Marina or Altos De Chavon or both for $6 person. We thoroughly enjoyed walking around the Marina for an hour or so. The yachts in the Marina are overwhelming. There were a few multi-million examples that must cost a million or so per year to maintain. We then got back on the shuttle to Altos. This again was an enjoyable walk for an hour. Great Chapel and views of the river and golf courses. Back to the ship just in time for lunch and a few more hours at the pool. The highlight of the trip was the beach at Cayo Levantado. We have been to a few cruise line private islands and none compare to the Cayo. Too bad the barbecue was not of the same quality. It was very disappointing. Overcooked burgers, chicken breast, and hot dogs. A couple of salads and a little fruit. The people who went on the whale watch saw many whales but also had a lot of very sea sick passengers. When we got back on the ship my wife went up to deck 12 and saw some whales passing right along side the ship. General Conclusions Food  Be a little adventurous. Just because a dinner item has a strange name don't dismiss it out of hand. Ask your waiter what it is like and if he recommends it or not. They don't want you unhappy but remember you can always ask for something else. If you are a breakfast person either head to the dining room or plan on making the omelet station your last stop at the buffet. Check out the lunch buffet but don't forget the pizza and pasta station. Don't miss the entertainment. Check the Daily Program and follow the activities that are being run by the Animation Group and you can't go wrong day or night. If you find the ship excursions expensive do some investigation here the boards and plan ahead. San Juan, St. Martin, and La Romana have choices that are safe and less expensive. If you run into any problems tackle them head-on. Don't wait until it either can't be corrected or has prolonged your disappointment. An example would be that you were seated at dinner with someone who is not compatible. Don't wait, go to the Maitre D' and he will solve that problem in a heartbeat. Understand in advance that the cabins are small and may seem cramped to you. Unless you have a suite the rooms are essentially all the same. We believe that most people felt they got their money's worth. A lot depends on expectations. This is not a 5 or 6 Star ship. It is value priced and you get what you pay for. It needs some changes if it is going to depend on the US marketplace. Will we cruise MSC again? Not the Opera mainly because of cabin size and lack of food options such as alternative dining, even at extra cost.. We will reserve judgment until we can review the new ships on MSC's schedule. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2006
We just returned from the 7 day Eastern Caribbean Cruise, and found it to be the worst cruise we ever have taken. Although the cabin was lovely with a balcony, the bed was hard and uncomfortable, much like a folding bed. There were no ... Read More
We just returned from the 7 day Eastern Caribbean Cruise, and found it to be the worst cruise we ever have taken. Although the cabin was lovely with a balcony, the bed was hard and uncomfortable, much like a folding bed. There were no amenities in the cabin like shampoo, conditioner, hand cream, and only one bar of cheap soap was provided. Several nights the cabin steward (who was excellent) left us a small tube of a supermarket brand of hand cream. The towels were flimsy and worn, and looked to be older than the ship (one year old). The entertainment was mediocre, canned music and an "Ed Sullivan" style format of variety show. Max the cruise director was all over the TV, but I never actually saw him anywhere on the ship except on stage (but then again, it is a HUGE ship). There were lots of Europeans smoking everywhere, and pushing and shoving to get in front of you on lines or in and out of the elevators. The Off-Roading tour of the Dominican Republic was a waste of money, although the tour guide was informative and funny. We saw a sugar cane plantation , a smelly cigar factory, and a lunch stop where we had cold frozen pizza and fruit. (my stomach bothered me for 2 days after that meal). We also stopped in the parking lot of the Hotel Romana and looked at it for about 2 minutes, then the tour was over. The worst part of this cruise was the food. We have been on Princess Cruises, where the food and customer service was always impeccable. The service on the Costa Magica, however, was completely unacceptable. The waiter and his assistant tried their best, but had too many tables to attend to. The food choices, except for some of the pasta dishes were just plain bad. My impression was that the food was pre-cut into portion sizes, pre-cooked, frozen and then re-heated with a sauce thrown on. The desserts were awful. Several of them tasted like the recipes came from the back of a jello box. The sorbet was completely watered down and flavorless. When I gave up on the coffee after dinner and asked for tea with milk on the side, I was given (every time) a pint container of milk (never in a creamer) to serve myself from. Although we were told this was for health reasons of spoilage, the last container I was given was curdled. The disembarkation process went smoothly until we had to board the busses for the airport. Then, no on seemed to know what was going on. Several Costa employees, especially one named Ullee was downright rude, and actually shoved and elbowed several passengers. My husband and I will NEVER travel this cruise line again. The lack of attention to important details mentioned above, along with an itinerary that didn't provide enough port time in places like San Juan (4 hrs) and too much time in the Dominican Republic (the beach for the day would have been sufficient) have soured us on this expensive mistake of a cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2006
Good value for a second tier cruise line. The entertainment on the ship was awful. They used an acrobat show (just OK) as their headliner for their main show. They also use extensive lasers and strobe lights to cover-up for the low talent ... Read More
Good value for a second tier cruise line. The entertainment on the ship was awful. They used an acrobat show (just OK) as their headliner for their main show. They also use extensive lasers and strobe lights to cover-up for the low talent level. There are few activities on board. There were no on board movies in the theater. There were no lectures or talks and little variety of entertainment. Shows start really late in comparison to dinner times. Food is good, but the variety of food is limited. Service was excellent both in the dinning room and the buffet. The cabin service was also excellent. The pools are fine and well cared for. The interior of the ship and facilities are gorgeous. Shore excursions have good tour guides and the procedures for loading and getting to the excursions were fine. The itinerary of the trips left one wondering what you were missing that should have been included and was not. There was too little to do on the trips in comparison to the cost. However this often can be said of other cruise lines and is not a knock at Costa. The overall price was good, but is not up to higher standards of Princess, Holland America or Celebrity. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2006
We've cruised on HAL, NCL (married on the Sun in 2003) and other lines. We chose the NCL Jewel for the aft suite and perks, Eastern caribbean route and embarkation in Miami. Embarkation: Arrived at 10:45am and parked car in first ... Read More
We've cruised on HAL, NCL (married on the Sun in 2003) and other lines. We chose the NCL Jewel for the aft suite and perks, Eastern caribbean route and embarkation in Miami. Embarkation: Arrived at 10:45am and parked car in first row of open lot right across from the NCL check-in. Be sure to have cash to pay up front in this lot- no cards. We walked right in through the suite VIP entrance at 11am and had no wait to check-in. Excellent service at the desk and escort to the Concierge VIP lounge area at the terminal which had coffee, tea, sandwiches and cookies. We were able to book our first two night restaurant reservations with Ruth (concierge) before boarding since other guests had not arrived and she was available in the area. Cabin: The aft location of the AE 9170 was perfect for us and we highly recommend this cabin. The table and chairs for dining were used by us several times. The wild decor colors were fine but I found the use of a velvet bedspread odd for the Caribbean. The in-suite espresso/cappuccino maker ground fresh beans and made excellent morning wake-up coffees for us. The bed was very comfortable, we never used the sofa and chair other than holding hats or a beach bag, and the dressing area and bath were much less appealing than on the Sun. The storage was adequate but lots of tiny drawers for some reason. A light switch for the dressing area would also turn on a huge overhead light over the bed....not good if someone was up early and the other in bed with a rude "spotlight" awakening. The desktop area under the flat screen TV was half covered with mini-bar juice and soda cans which we ignored but could've asked to have removed. The balcony chairs were great for relaxing and sunning-very comfortable and the area private. We noticed the cabin balcony above us (AD deck 10) had a lot less "coverage" and much of the balcony could be viewed easily from the Great Outdoor restaurant on Deck 12. Food: Everyone's favorite topic! We thought the food was excellent overall for a mainstream line. Service in all of the restaurants was 5 star. Everyone had a smile and a pleasant word for us. Tsar's Palace lunches were well done. As suite guests we also were offered lunch at Chin-Chin, Le Bistro and Cagney's each day at no additional charge. The bento box lunch at Chin-Chin (I had teriyaki salmon, sushi, dumplings, miso soup and fresh fruit with a pot of green tea) was absolutely delicious. Le Bistro's layout, food and service were impeccable. Cagney's steaks and lamb rack were delicious but the side dishes were more like S&S cafeteria....3 half the width of a pencil asparagus tips, 1 large mushroom sliced and these were billed on the menu and regular side dishes to order, not samplings. Tango's had live music and fresh, delicious quesadillas. Blue Lagoon's food was perfect for a quick lunch or snack. Suite Perks/Staff: The Butler, Amit, was outstanding. His response was always positive, friendly and very professional. We had several breakfasts in the cabin and dinner twice. Our cabin steward team was very friendly but hit or miss on the cabin "check sheet". Sometimes we got ice, sometimes the melted ice water was left. Some soot (sometimes aft cabins get this) began accumulating on the balcony and went uncleaned until we mentioned. We did ask for an extra towel each day which we received. Compared to the Sun, the suite snacks delivered late afternoon were boring or poor choices except for the dessert types. One day we had a mini dried out pita filled with 2 tiny asparagus wrapped with a shaved piece of ham. It seemed to go down hill as the week went on. The captain's party was not intimate with the large number of suite and garden villa guests. We had a quick handshake and one drink. Never saw the captain or officers after that. We did speak with the delightful Asst. Cruise Director. Again, the Sun spoiled us with the smaller VIP party and everyone had a chance to chat with the captain and officers. The concierge, Ruth, was not the quality concierge we expected. If you had Ray Williams on the Sun, there is no comparison. She was very nice the first day and then we never saw or heard from her again other than a mid-week message to call her if we need anything. At Disembarkation, we were to gather at 7:45am and she showed up at 7:55 which we thought very unprofessional. Her asst. was efficient and did take care of things for us when we stopped by her office to book reservations. My husband had an incident where a plastic glass fell from the Outdoor Restaurant railing (a careless woman leaning over dropped it) and hit our balcony railing sending pieces and splinters everywhere. My husband fortunately had just sat down away from the balcony railing and missed being cut by the sharp pieces. We called housekeeping and the butler and the clean up was done but we also left a message for Ruth to let her know what happened from a "safety" standpoint and hoped the ship would be able to take steps to prevent this (perhaps netting at the restaurant railing to catch things as we've seen on other ships). Instead of contacting us personally or notifying the Hotel Director, she sent two people to apologize to us from the staff who had done nothing to apologize for. Afterwards she didn't call to check on us again. Ship overall: There are many beautiful things about the ship and decor. Artwork, photos, fun things displayed but they are definitely changing many things with the newer ships. Spinnakers is wonderful for viewing and drinks but the Bingo sessions were held twice a day and other programs, loud and annoying so Spinnakers couldn't be used as much. There was no place to step outside to the forward ship area as on the Sun. Bar central may have looked good on paper but for us again it was a cattle call. Crowd as many people as possible into an open area instead of having a couple of intimate rooms with subdued lighting. The pianists were excellent but the area had a small number of tables and chairs and was so open that people going to eat at Le Bistro had to walk through the tables to get there and passengers walking the deck had to walk between rows as well. We found that 2500 passengers was too much for us. We felt crowded many times but fortunately could relax on our balcony and suite. We walked one time only through the pool area and didn't stay. It was so loud, crowded and seemed like every inch of the deck was covered with people, chairs and towels. More of a YMCA feel than any sense of relaxation. I have cruised 6 times on NCL in the past 7 years but I'm not sure we will continue given the direction they are taking their ships. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2006
The embarkation experience for the Mediterranea was a disaster. The ship was so far away from the parking garage that we had to unload our luggage at the parking garage to the street ,had it loaded onto a shuttle and then to the ship. the ... Read More
The embarkation experience for the Mediterranea was a disaster. The ship was so far away from the parking garage that we had to unload our luggage at the parking garage to the street ,had it loaded onto a shuttle and then to the ship. the ship was suppose to leave the port at 4:30 P.M. but didn't get underway until 6:00P.M. (No explanation.) The food was fair at best (with the exception of Pizza, which was good). On our last formal night they served lobster which was just plain awful, very dry and rubbery. They had the worst display of Pastry that I have ever seen on and cruise line (I've been on three other cruise lines) Pancakes and waffles were hard and rubbery ( Italians where I come from are noted for their good pastries. Not so on the Mediterranea. The itinerary left a lot to be desired. We got into San Juan around 4:30 P.M but all the stores closed at 6P.M. Any stores that were open were not quality stores. We had gone on a tour but it got so dark we couldn't see anything. The tendering at La Romana in the Dominican Republic was a 35-40 Minute trip one way which I didn't appreciate. On the plus side the staff was very good especially our waiters and cabin stewards. Which brings me to the cabins. They were too small and the beds were god awful it was like sleeping on bare springs. I don't think I will book another cruise on Costa. Oh,by the way trying to get through to Costa Cruise lines on the telephone was a complete joke. I would advise anyone trying it to bring their lunch your going to be on hold for a loooong time. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2006
Husband and I in late 30s. 9th cruise (1 Carnival, 1 Disney, 2 Princess, 2 Norwegian, 2 Celebrity), first RCCL. Flew direct on Spirit Air (never again, more later) direct from Washington, DC to Fort Lauderdale. Once in FLL we took the ... Read More
Husband and I in late 30s. 9th cruise (1 Carnival, 1 Disney, 2 Princess, 2 Norwegian, 2 Celebrity), first RCCL. Flew direct on Spirit Air (never again, more later) direct from Washington, DC to Fort Lauderdale. Once in FLL we took the Florida Limo Van ($38 for both one way) to port of Miami. Arrived around 12:00 noon, line was not long for check-in. Check-in agent wanted to keep my husband's ARC (which is to never leave his sight) and not his passport. The agent said the was the "rule". We requested a supervisor and the problem was quickly resolved (the check-in agent was incorrect). We tried to tell that check-in agent that he was supposed to keep my husband's passport, but he said that "he didn't need it" (my husband later was required to turn in his passport at guest relations due to "check-in agent mistake". Beautiful ship, not really showing its age. There is a lot of hype about the Voyager class ships, so we were eager to compare it to some of the smaller ships that we have been on. We had a inside cabin, no big deal, this was a last minute trip for us so we didn't mind saving some money by staying inside. THE GOOD: 1. We had a excellent stateroom attendant-- Steven from Jamaica. He was probably the best we have had in 9 cruises. He made us a different towel animal every night....really cute!!! Room was always clean, and our sheets were changed every night (I have a test for this!). 2. The selection for Windjammer breakfast was excellent. I was so happy that they had a omelet bar where we could get egg white omelets!!!Nice variety, but the buffet stayed the same everyday 3. Time in port was adequate for us, because we have been to all ports except Labadee before. 4. All of the staff was friendly and efficient! 5. Our return flight on JET BLUE!! WE LOVE JETBLUE!!! THE BAD: 1. We took the Ultimate tour in St. Thomas (it was free for us). This was a tour of the city and a trip to Megan's Bay. Which, REPORTEDLY, is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world...According to who???and WHEN was this determined??? I have traveled a lot and I have seen much more beautiful beaches...too much hype about this...OK tour, I am glad it was FREE! 2. Limited selection in the gift shops and walking thru the promenade often reminded me of a SIDEWALK SALE!! Not attractive at all! 3. Johnny Rockets is not worth the $3.95 per person charge. We have JR in our area and eat there frequently, it is NOT the same. The JR burgers on the Voyager are dry and the meat is questionable. 4. What is the deal with the shower? It was like you had to figure out a combination to get the correct water temperature. The pressure was weak. 5. Labadee was okay..but Castaway Cay (DISNEY) is MUCH MUCH BETTER!! THE UGLY: 1. What is the deal with the art auction. We tried to attend but the seating was pushed up in a small corner of deck 3. We were surprised that it wasn't held in one of the lounges. We love art auctions, but this one was AWFUL!. 2. I like the option of eating whenever I want, but this isn't the case with this cruise, unless you order room service. I hated waiting for windjammer to open. The promenade cafe was okay, if you like dry pizza and finger sandwiches. 3. Arriving flight by Spirit Air was leaking water above my seat. Return flight by Spirit Air was canceled due to snow in DC. The customer service was awful!!! We were able to get a flight out on Jetblue!! CONCLUSION We would travel on RCCL again, but not really I think the Voyager was a lot of hype! I am so glad that I didn't waste our money on one of those Promenade rooms!!! So this is my opinion about our travel on the VOYAGER OF THE SEAS!! We love Celebrity and Disney, Princess, Norwegian and RCCL run second and we will never do a Carnival cruise again! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2006
BIO: I along with my wife have been on 14 previous cruises. Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Princess, Norwegian, Century, and yes even Disney. By far this has been the worst cruise yet. EMBARKATION: First, the ship on the previous sailing had ... Read More
BIO: I along with my wife have been on 14 previous cruises. Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Princess, Norwegian, Century, and yes even Disney. By far this has been the worst cruise yet. EMBARKATION: First, the ship on the previous sailing had not arrived till 10 am. We always get to the ship early to beat the lines and unwind. However, as we got to the gate we were told we could not enter the port and was turned around. We were told that we would have to wait till 1 p.m. To add further insult to injury the port security told the cab driver a specific place to drop us off (the Causeway & 14th).Like we're locals and really know the area. We hailed another cab which took us another way to the port and we still had to wait in the sun in a parking lot. We were fortunate enough to find chairs to sit in and drink watered down juice that was offered from the cruise line. But the cruise line did not go out of their way to accommodate the many passengers who had no chairs to wait outside in the sun. Once inside the embarkation went pretty smooth. ON BOARD:The ship is very nicely decorated. They greet you with the white glove service upon the ship to escort you to your room. However, our escort got lost taking us to our room lol. ROOM: Room was spacious,clean and bright. Shower leaves much to be desired for anyone over 150 lbs. For all the men there is enough closet space for his and mostly hers. ENTERTAINMENT: Was not that bad. I would rate it a six. Lot of body parts showing (the European style and way of life). PUBLIC SPACES: Very spacious and many places just to sit and relax or talk. Never felt claustrophobic or contained. The casino is a disappointment, it's very small and the tables were hardly ever open and there were no denomination machines such as $.25, $.50, $.05. You just used tokens which I believe were equivalent to U.S. $.25. There were only about 20 slot machines. The best room was the relaxation room adjacent to the gym. A soundproof room with wicker chairs and subliminal style music playing subtly. FOOD: Was a big disappointment!!!!! Alternate dining served the same food as in the dining room at that moment. Food was the same day to day just garnished and prepared differently. Not a large assortment of products. Food for the most part was bland and over or under cooked. The lobster had more breadcrumbs than lobster (disgusting). The Neapolitan Grand Buffet was a joke!! First it was held in the galley and you did not get a chance to take pictures because they started carving and eating the layout before 1/4 of the people had the chance to see the designs. The Grand Buffet Magnifique proved lightning does strike twice. There was no order with the line and they opened the doors 1 hour later than scheduled. By the time you got to the layout half of it was already eaten, because as you go around you grab food at the same time. Overall, the appearance of the ship is a 10. Very elegant and a lot of marble and brightly toned. Entertainment a 6. If you're European it would be a 10. Food a 4 and that's being generous. Rooms a 8 cause they need a real shower otherwise the rooms were excellent. MSC service is good for the Mediterranean and Europe. But if they expect to run with the big boys in the North American market (RCL, CCL, NCL, HAL, Disney, Princess, etc.,.) they have to step it up a notch. Otherwise, they will not make it. I will never ever cruise MSC again. Even if I won it as a gift, I would trade it in for the cash value. If you have been on any other cruise line then don't waste your time you will be disappointed. You get what you pay for and MSC is the truth to that. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2006
Embarkation: We arrived at the pier around 11:30 and were on the ship by 12:15. It was a very smooth process. Upon arriving on the ship you are greeted with a line of white gloved crew members and one of them escorted you directly to your ... Read More
Embarkation: We arrived at the pier around 11:30 and were on the ship by 12:15. It was a very smooth process. Upon arriving on the ship you are greeted with a line of white gloved crew members and one of them escorted you directly to your cabin. You don't have to hunt for your cabin. We then went to the buffet for a lunch and had plenty of time to explore the ship before the lifeboat drill. The Ship: The Opera being new is very clean. All the public areas are large and very bright and clean with plenty of seats. The public rest rooms are large and were always very clean. Our cabin wasn't very large , but has plenty of storage space. The bathroom for a new ship was rather small. The shower was small and didn't give a normal size person room to turn around. The safe was hidden behind the mirror and was awhile before we found where it was. Our cabin was very clean and comfortable. We didn't get a towel animal or chocolate left on our pillow at night, but we did get fresh fruit left in our cabin every night. I found the daily program wasn't as informative as found on other ships and it was slipped under your door instead of being left on your bed. Itinerary: This wasn't the best times and places to be. We were in Old San Juan from 5PM -11 PM. This didn't give you much daylight time to explore the island . Then we went to St Maarten. Again we were only there from 9AM - 3 PM. We took a nice tour of the island, but didn't have any time to shop at the end of the tour. Had to be back on the ship by 2:30. Then they took us to La Romana in the Dominican Republic. We were there 12 hours and unless you went on a tour, there was NO place to walk to or go. The private Island of Cayo Levantado was the most wonderful place to go. It was the best part of the entire cruise. Food: The meals were not the best I have ever had. This was my 8th cruise and the worst food as far as selection goes. Being Italian cruise line, you get pasta every night, but the steaks weren't the best. The dining room is under staffed. Our waiter who worked very hard had to wait on you, do drinks, water etc. Most of the time we didn't get a refill o water and Never had a bar person come around for service. Unless you went to the dining room with a drink, which we learned to do, you didn't get one. The second formal night they did give you free champagne and they had flaming baked Alaska. The hours for breakfast at the buffet was over by 9:30 AM We had pizza that was excellent. They actually made it there. It was fresh pizza. Entertainment: The shows at night were the best I've seen on a cruise ship. The entire entertainment crew were just the best. The comedy team of young people were very entertaining before the main shows. They were so funny they made tears come down my face. The cruise: The pool area was very large with 2 full pools and hot tubs in between them. One pool was where a lot of pool side programs were held and the other one was rather quiet. The average age on this cruise was probably 60. There was only a handful of children on board. Debarkation: Debarkation was as smooth as getting on. All the same color tags were put in different lounges. They checked and our lounge every one had the same color tags. In 1 1/2 hours everyone was off the ship. Overall, I had a good time, but this wasn't the best cruise I have been on. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2006
There was a group of 44 of us who booked this cruise several months in advance having cruised to the Western Caribbean last year on the Carnival Glory and being very satisfied with that cruise. That was not the case this time. Our first ... Read More
There was a group of 44 of us who booked this cruise several months in advance having cruised to the Western Caribbean last year on the Carnival Glory and being very satisfied with that cruise. That was not the case this time. Our first complaint was the seating for the dinner. We requested 5 tables for eight people and one table for four. This seating arrangement was requested by our travel agent directly with Carnival after spending several hours setting up this cruise. However, that request was not honored this time. We received 3 tables for eight and 5 tables (booths) for four on the upper deck of the Golden Dining Room overlooking LIFE BOATS. (Most of the entertainment put on by the wait staff was on the lower level.) The evening meal should be the highlight of the day and enhance the socialization of the group. This seating arrangement was very unsatisfactory. The booths were separated by glass partitions so you could not even have a conversation with the people behind you. The service in the dining room was very inconsistent. Some tables were finishing their meal while others were just being served their entree. We were satisfied with our room accommodations. We had an oceanview room which was very spacious, kept clean and the bed was very comfortable. However, there were several occasions of having to pass dirty dishes outside doors from people who had ordered room service. Some of these dishes were there for SEVERAL hours. One of the couples on the cruise had a scaffold outside their cabin window the entire cruise. They complained about it several times, but nothing was ever done about it. We enjoyed the Fish & Chips and the Deli for lunch, although several times we were unable to find a clean table on the Lido Deck. The last couple of days some of the coffee and juice stands were either out of order or out of coffee/juice. One of the members of our groups had purchased 6 bottles of liquor in St. Thomas. When it was delivered to him the last night, there were only TWO bottles delivered with NO EXPLANATION as to where the other 4 were. He immediately went to the purser, and they replaced the 4 with 4 bottles from the ship, although he had purchased some items that the ship did not have. He told them how dissatisfied he was with this cruise, and the comment to him was, "I'm sorry to hear that". They did not even bother to ask any questions. Besides all the complaints, the ship was VERY ROCKY and several of the shows had to be cancelled and access was limited on the upper deck because of the windy conditions. I know Carnival can not control the weather, but it didn't make matters any better. This is a group of people who enjoy cruises and have cruised for the past three years. Last year on Carnival and the year before on Royal Caribbean. We are planning a cruise next year, but not on Carnival. I don't know if we will ever consider a Carnival cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2006
The good: service from the non-italian staff is fantastic! seafood and pasta dishes are excellent spotless ship. very very clean! entertainment is the best! Really vegas show quality!!!! entertainment team is really good. The not so bad: ... Read More
The good: service from the non-italian staff is fantastic! seafood and pasta dishes are excellent spotless ship. very very clean! entertainment is the best! Really vegas show quality!!!! entertainment team is really good. The not so bad: Other food dishes in the dining room are not prepared consistently well, but still acceptable. Ask for omelettes or other dishes made with real eggs. Outside of meal times not much is offered. Room service menu is limited and not good. Burgers and hot dogs are not good either (available 1200-2100hrs). Pizza is not bad, but not great. The bad: Dealing with the Italian staff (reception, excursions, etc). The tipping policy! : make sure you opt out of the mandatory tipping of 12.00/day/person that is added to your bill. This money is not given to the staff as a bonus for good service, it is merely used to pay the service staff their fixed salaries. Instead, give a cash tip at the end of the cruise. They work really hard for this money. Don't give it to the cruise line! 2 of 3 excursions cancelled at the discretion of MSC! Bioluminescent tour in San Juan and snorkeling at Cayo Laventado. Don't count on this line honouring any excursions that you book with them. Any complaints regarding the cancellation or mishandling of excursions will fall on deaf ears! The Italian staff at reception and at the excursion desk will do nothing to resolve the issue to the satisfaction of the customer! One of the excursions was taken to the wrong place in St. Maarten. snorkeling was supposed to be the excursion, but the tour group was only offered kayaking instead. Money for the excursion was not refunded even though the group paid for snorkeling and didn't get to snorkel!!!! Casino has limited hours of operation and is small The gym on board has crappy equipment, the location is nice. Embarkation is really slowed by the ship photographer trying to take everyone's picture. Many of us in the lineup bypassed this. All passengers are escorted to their rooms by staff- nice touch Read Less
Sail Date: January 2006
Opera  Back to the Caribbean  1/14/06 Preface: This was originally posted, on 1/22/06, on the Cruise Critic Community Board, which led to some questions and allowed for clarification based upon those questions. The biggest ... Read More
Opera  Back to the Caribbean  1/14/06 Preface: This was originally posted, on 1/22/06, on the Cruise Critic Community Board, which led to some questions and allowed for clarification based upon those questions. The biggest clarification is that we did, in fact, have a great cruise! This was directly due to the group we were with. There are issues mentioned here specifically to help those who follow also have the best possible cruise. We returned late last night from the first Opera Caribbean cruise of the season (more on late last night later). A little background so our perspective can be understood  We are an almost mid-50s couple. We are Platinum on Princess and reached Select on Celebrity with the two day cruise just prior to boarding Opera. DH has schedule flexibility as long as he has internet access. Generally, vacation limitations are mine in both amount of time and when I can take that time. As of January 15th of this year we had managed 25 days at sea out of the last 365 starting with a 7 day Grand Princess Western then 14 day Galaxy TA, 2 day Century Bahamas and the first two days of MSC Opera. This is highly unusual for us since we generally do 3 cruises every 18 months due to my limited vacation time. When we look at cruises, our primary concern is ports, with either new or favorites winning. Opera had one favorite (St. Maarten) and two new ports (Dominican Republic). Booking MSC  we had two groups of friends who booked this cruise as soon as the schedules came out. Only 1 of the 14 others that booked had sailed MSC before. We planned to book it last season (its first) but the scheduling did not work due to other commitments. We received many reports from the first season cruisers and felt that this would be a good fit for us. We were looking forward to the European flavor of the cruise since we had enjoyed it on the MS Carousel a few years ago. We didnt book until mid December due to outrageous air costs from the Chicago/Milwaukee metro area. We finally hit a brief window with reasonable flight times and air prices and immediately booked. The original plan was to fly down on 1/13 and spend the night in FLL pre-boarding. However, we discovered that flying down on the 12th and taking a two day Century cruise pre-embarkation worked out to be the same price and put us up to Select so we jumped on it. Another friend on MSC with us did the same to be taken to Elite level on Celebrity. Expectations  Based upon last season reports, we had developed certain expectations for this cruise. During the interim, there was a top level management change that directly impacted those expectations. Of the expectations that did not work, we expected reasonably priced drinks along with multiple drink specials per day. We also expected real iced tea being served poolside along with gelato. Additionally, we had some other expectations based upon cruising both Princess and Celebrity, which did not work on this cruise (more later). Embarkation  We were off the Century by 9:15 which is the fastest that we have ever disembarked. Our original intention was to stay on Century as long as we could (we were close to the last group off) then drop off our luggage and take a cab to meet friends at their hotel. We took a cab over to the Opera terminal when we disembarked. Another Chicago area couple was already there and waiting when we arrived. Porters were not available so we decided to wait for them rather than lug our luggage all over FLL to meet friends who would be boarding later. Porters showed up at about 10:30 but we had to wait until the cabin assignment sheet came out so we could get the cabin number on our tags. We had two separate groups on this cruise. One member of the smaller (six of us) group was considered a VIP due to the number of cruises that she takes and our cabin assignments were based upon hers. We had all booked inside guarantee and we were given cabins 10218-10230 which were the top level of the inside cabins. Once luggage was handed over to the porter (Yes, we did tip), we proceeded to the terminal lounge and waited for processing. Once processed, we returned to our seats and waited for boarding. We followed the back to backers and the handicapped to board and were on the ship by 12:10. Our escort took us to our floor and left after pointing us in the right direction. Cabin  compact, attractive and generally workable. It definitely looked 30 sq. ft less than the Century inside cabin that we had just left. Century had two chairs and a table at the foot of the bed but this cabin only had room for 1 chair at the desk and it blocked getting off the bed when in use. Cabin came with mini bar set up in the refrigerator that actually kept things cold. Two power outlets above the desk meant that we did not need the power strip that we brought (however, it appears that they did not handle battery or cell phones chargers very well). Tiny bathroom and shower finished off the cabin. Blow dryer in the bathroom was moderately better than Century. Exploring the upper levels - Our luggage had not arrived yet so we proceeded to the upper deck to check out the public areas. Deck 11 holds the Cafeteria (directly above our cabin), the open air multi purpose seating area (also has the omelet station, grill and pizza station), the pool, the Spa, the health club and the relaxation room. While we were wandering, the cafeteria opened and we decided to get in line to have a quick lunch of typical first day buffet food. Of note, Opera has large oval plates rather than trays. As all of this is going on, our cell phones were very busy keeping track of the individual members of our group and allowing us to finally get together when everyone was on board. Dining arrangements  It was not long before we realized that our pre-arranged dining did not happen which required a trip down to see Mario to make corrections. Both separate groups had the same problem and ended up standing in line to make changes. It ended up that we managed to get the tables straightened out but wound up in different dining rooms, which we decided to live with. Sail away  We returned to our cabin and unpacked prior to muster. Muster and then sail away was upon us (at least we thought so). Muster was directly to the outside deck station and went rather quickly then we were off to meet everyone by the pool bar as planned. The day had started out cold and extremely windy but this was our pre-arranged party location so we bundled up and headed up. When we finally had everyone, we moved into Il Patio to escape the wind. We attempted to sail away on schedule only to end up moving back into our berth. The Zuiderdam was directly behind us and the winds were so strong that she had to leave first or we could have easily blown into her. The additional time spent waiting to pull out of FLL and rough seas on Saturday/Sunday ended up taken from the San Juan stop, which meant that we were only there 3 hours. Seas were rough enough that I actually put on the patch as a precaution (I havent worn it on the last six cruises). One of our dinner companions did not make it due to seasickness and another valiantly picked at her meal. Ports San Juan: Shortened time due to late sail away and a rough trip over. This night was open seating in the dining room so we went down early for dinner in preparation for getting off. Part of the group went to the buffet and felt it was unsatisfactory. We arrived in port at 8:00 PM and were off by 8:30 with a required return of 10:45 PM. Most of our group disembarked and headed to Walgreens to pick up Diet Coke (ship was still serving Coke light) and a few other necessities. St. Maarten: We all went in different directions. Some went to Orient Beach and had a great time. Others took a city tour then shopped. We took the water ferry over to the shopping area and wandered about then relaxed in a cafe and people watched. We were the smallest of 4 ships in port on the Dutch side which accounted for the huge crowds. We had to be back on board for an early departure. La Romana: The group again went separate ways. One stayed on ship and the other five from our dinner table headed to the beach (Bayahibe) by van which cost us a total of $60.00 for 4 ½ hours on the beach . ($45 round trip including the first two hours then a reduced additional fee the next two ½ hours since we told him not to wait but just come back and pick us up). Everything we read indicated that we would probably not meet anyone who spoke English but many at Bayahibe did. Chair rental $5.00/chair. Band was playing close by for the entire time and cold Presidente beer at $2.00 each. It was a great beach and a great day! One of the couples did have lunch at the small restaurant and said it was good. Bathroom facilities were provided by the restaurant and were primitive but clean. We returned to the ship to change and grab something to eat since we were doing the ships Kandela excursion and it left prior to late seating. Had pizza and cheesecake from the buffet which was quite good. The five of us really enjoyed the Kandela show though we thought it was a bit over-priced since it did not appear to be the full show (due to our sail away time). We returned to the sangria sail away party on pool deck which was very well received. It was so successful that they ran out of Sangria before the music stopped. The party was brought to an end by the only rain that we had during the entire trip. Cayo Levantado: Private island. Actually owned by a group and leased to various cruise lines. Set up quite nicely. This was a tender and seas were (again) very rough. We went over when tickets were no longer required and found the rest of our group and beach chairs to relax and enjoy the music and sun. Lots of vendors (requires cash). We waited in line for 25 minutes to get the tender back to the ship and we were definitely running late since it was very difficult to hook up so we could board. Some ate at the beach BBQ and said it was good. We waited until we boarded and had pizza. Shops  This is an area with much less focus than other cruise lines. The included a clothing store with a small selection of MSC logo items and upscale resort clothing, a small jewelry shop, a perfume shop and an equally small duty free shop. Liquor purchased is supposed to be held until the last night. Reports upon our return indicated that this policy was not being followed in at least part of the cases. Cigarettes can be taken immediately and are very low cost at $11.90/carton. Positives (please note that many of these are highly subjective): 1) The ship. New ship with beautiful public areas and constantly being maintained and cleaned. 2) Pizza. A definite highlight for us though others did not like it. We did always watch for the new to be brought out which may have helped. 3) Pasta and Risotto (lunch and dinner in the dining room). 4) Chilled soups. 5) Fish and seafood entrees. 6) Entertainment Team (previously known as animation team). High energy and fun. Wonderful at getting people involved. 7) Shows  only missed one of the main shows but the rest were great. Since this really was a multi national cruise, it was a challenge to come up with shows that pleased all and they appeared to succeed. 8) Cabin Steward  Unofficially met her in the hall outside the cabin. She was very good. All you had to do was ask once and it was done immediately. 9) Our waiter. Also never introduced himself and had very limited command of English. It was a very slow start but we really appreciated him by the end of the cruise. He was more than willing to do whatever was needed to keep us happy. 10) Lively and fun pool area with the entertainment team keeping the fun going. 11) Great pool lounges with sun shield. 12) No corkage fee on wine brought to the dining room. 13) Availability of reasonably priced ½ and full carafes of house wine. 14) The galley buffet. This was something we have never seen done. The galley for La Caravelle dining room was set up with a buffet (separate of Grand Buffet) and it was fun to see the area where food was prepared. 15) Small aft deck on each of the passenger floors for a quiet place to watch the wake and relax. The other side (keep in mind that we had developed some pre-conceptions based on experiences on other lines and information received about Operas first season. 1) Too many passengers for the size of the ship. Many public rooms became impassable when entertainment was performing. The buffet at full operation had two lines running that went well out the door whereas the comparable Celebrity ship (passenger count) had 4 lines running. 2) Coffee. Coffee urns in Il Patio were emptied at 6:00 PM promptly. After that, (outside of dinner or room service) you need to purchase coffee which started at $1.50 for the plain ordinary and went up from there. Coffee service was missing at the evening buffets also including the Pastry buffet but could be purchased from the bar. We choose not to sit in the cabin waiting for room service so purchased large insulated mugs to fill prior to the cut off time. 3) Decaf is Sanka instant. I would have really enjoyed the coffee bar if they had real decaf to make the specialty coffees with but was not worth it with Sanka as a base. Later report from MSC corporate was that brewed decaf is, in fact, available in the Coffee bar along with the main dining room and buffet. 4) Lack of included cold beverages other than water outside of meals. The included iced tea at poolside is gone and replaced by cans of iced tea at a charge. Juice is removed from passenger access and not replaced with tea/lemonade as on most cruise lines. 5) Cups  Extremely small coffee cups which are even bigger than the water glasses in Il Patio. Styrofoam cups in Il Patio. Fortunately, I had my Galaxy water bottle with and we were able to pick up travel mugs for coffee in San Juan. 6) Very limited breakfast hours. Both buffet and dining room stopped serving at 9:30. Croissants were available in several locations until noon when the Grill, Pizza Station, Dining Room and Buffet opened. This really put breakfast out of the question for those who enjoyed sleeping late since room service has very limited options. 7) Large gaps in snacks or light dining options with a very limited room service menu. An interesting aside was that the original room service menu in our cabin (dated 11/05) had prices in it for everything other than continental breakfast. We found out that this was in error and our cabin steward corrected it with the right menu. The morning gap is followed by a gap after 6:00 PM until 11:30 when either waiters bring around snacks or a buffet is set up. Due to rough weather and times in port, many missed dinner and were left with very limited choices when they felt better or returned to the ship. 8) Very disorganized. Appears to be directly related to level of training. Cabin steward did not introduce herself or show the cabin amenities. The layout of the cabin is extremely close to that of Celebrity so we did not have a problem locating the safe but have heard from newbies that they had to ask. Wait staff in the dining room did not introduce themselves either. First two nights in dining room and could not get through that we wanted iced tea. Our waiter finally understood on the third night and actually found large glasses for it by the fifth night. There was not a single dining room meal where everyone at our table got everything they asked for. In some cases, we received more than we asked for. One night had some getting their salads first while other received their soup first. We received an invitation to a special cocktail party less than two hours prior to the party. We did not see it until ½ hour after the party started since that is when we returned to our cabin to get ready for dinner. Our VIP friend was invited to a special cocktail party. When she got there she noticed that she was the only single female. She finally figured it out when she saw the picture of her and the captain with the Happy Honeymoon cake in front of them. 9) Confusing information. We were told that there was a 3% charge to get cash on your sea card and that it must be handled at the bank. After multiple attempts at the bank, we finally went to the casino. Not only was it not a problem but we increased the amount slightly and there was no surcharge. 10) Beef entrees  ok to not very good. 11) No wine steward available for those who preferred that method of ordering. 12) Time management. We went down to the duty free shop during their listed open hours and they said to come back later since they were re-stocking. We came back when they suggested and they told us to come back in another hour. This was during the hours that they were supposed to be open. 13) Things not happening as scheduled. A shop bazaar was scheduled for the last sea day but none of us ever found it. Sandwiches were scheduled after San Juan sail away but we finally went to bed after seeing no sight of them or waiters in any of the public lounges. 14) Lack of announcements when we were free to disembark in port. However, art auctions and other announcements were often made. 15) Excursion Desk. We did not receive info on tours until embarkation. We went to the excursion desk to get information on available tours and transportation in La Ramona and it took 15 minutes and many questions to finally get a copy of a price listing for cabs since they had no information on the tours that they were offering. 16) Casino. Very small and few chairs for slot machines. 17) Drink prices. MSC went from possibly the lowest in the industry to very high with drink specials at $6.50. Number of drink specials were also cut back from multiple choices to 1 mixed cocktail choice per day or 1 Martini choice per day at $6.50 in the martini bar (This does include the tip). There have been reports from some on Lirica that there were $4.00 drinks for Happy Hour prior to dinner but this did not exist or we all totally missed it on Opera. There were also a couple of times when Sangria was an additional special at $3.00/glass and a very big hit. One couple that we were with just got off Sea Princess where the same cocktail was 50% less. 18) No quiet location in the pool area for much of the day. There are other locations for those who wish peace and quiet. 19) $12.00 per day auto tipping. This is the highest of the mass market tipping amounts. In this case, the question is whether many of those getting auto tips deserves them at all while those that do may be shortchanged due to the amount given to others. Recent information brings this whole tipping issue up as questionable. Some have indicated that these tips go toward salary and are not given as additional tips to the staff. I can neither confirm or deny this. I do know that if you wish to remove auto tipping then you need to do it early in the cruise. 20) The line is supposed to be Italian style but most of the staff that passengers interface with are not Italian or even European as on other lines and have very limited command of English. We booked Opera originally with the idea that this would be a lower cost way to get an extra cruise in each winter and offer a different experience than our normal mass market cruises. Per diem at booking was comparable to the other mass market lines but last years pricing of extras indicated that we would, indeed, save money overall. The changes with the start of this Caribbean season (in drink pricing and tips) brought the overall costs up and put MSC in direct competition with X and Princess where we have accrued Captains Club benefits. Up until disembarkation all the above listed negatives were just nuisances which did not impact the enjoyment of our cruise and would not remove MSC from consideration when we booked our next cruise (based upon attractive pricing and itinerary). In reality, we thought many of them amusing to downright funny. We were told by Brits that were on with us (having made the transatlantic crossing) that things dramatically improved when we Americans boarded the ship. The improvements, in their opinion, covered not only the quality of food but, even, the hours that it was available. It seems that the grill and pizza shut down at 2:30 every day during the crossing. Disembarkation  this is where it alleviates MSC from our possible cruises. We were supposed to dock in FLL at 7:00 AM. None of us are sure of exactly what happened to change that. The official information from the bridge was that the harbormaster would not allow us in due to high cross winds. We did not reach the dock till close to 11:00 and were beaten in by Hal, Princess, Celebrity and Carnival that I could actually see. We had friends who had missed their early flights but we were still hoping to make our 12:40 flight at this point. Occasional announcements were made but didnt do much to clear up the question that all of us had about when we would be able to disembark. At 12:00, we realized that there was no chance that we would make our flight. Unfortunately, we had 3 cell phones and they were all dead. For some reason they did not charge correctly in the cabin. DH went down to the desk to ask to use a phone to contact our airline. He was told NO. He was told that there was a public phone for passenger use in the terminal, which he could use when we disembarked. However, he was given no indication of what time that disembarkation would take place. A lengthy discussion did not change their minds. He spotted a friend and was able to use their phone to notify our airline of the problem. The airline had seats available on the 1:45 and the 8:45 flights but we were advised to not do anything over the phone and to just see the rep at the airport. If we had not notified them in advance, we could have been out a considerable amount of money for a last minute booking. We were still on the ship when our original flight left and we made it to the airport 5 minutes too late to make the 1:45 flight. They booked us on the 8:45 at no extra charge and we ended up renting a car and going out to Sawgrass Mills until it was time for our late flight. We were in a similar situation with Royal Caribbean many years ago and the treatment was like night and day. Royal Caribbean handled everything even though we had booked our own air. Did we enjoy our cruise? Yes, definitely! We were with great old friends and made some great new ones. We had a wonderful time! Most of the negatives were actually amusing as they were happening. That said, based on our experience on Opera and with the increased costs and the disembarkation mess we are unlikely to forego our Captain Clubs benefits and consider them again. Our biggest disappointment was that we were looking for something different to provide competition to Celebrity and Princess but this doesnt seem to be at that point yet. MSC appears to be caught between two worlds and doesnt appear to be getting the best of either. Only time will tell! I would be happy to answer any questions. I can be reached at donnaw7471@yahoo.com. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2006
We went on the Carnival Glory Jan 21-28, 2006. If you are thinking about going on the Carnival Glory, DON'T. The ship had just come out of dry dock, and about half of the crew were new. Never could find out why a 2-yr old ship was ... Read More
We went on the Carnival Glory Jan 21-28, 2006. If you are thinking about going on the Carnival Glory, DON'T. The ship had just come out of dry dock, and about half of the crew were new. Never could find out why a 2-yr old ship was in dry dock, so suppose there was some problem. The ship was late leaving Pt. Canaveral; the life boat drill was late, so you did not get to see the ship leave. We were late getting to Nassau and St. Thomas. First nite dinner was a joke; no one knew what they were doing. We had to wait 30 minutes to get seated, and another 15 min to get a menu. Never did get dessert. Things did improve after the first nite. The seafood was excellent; the beef was like eating shoe leather. A large percentage of the ice machines did not work, nor did the ice cream machines, nor the water dispensers. Several shows were cancelled because of rough seas, although the waves were only about 5 ft. The Glory is a huge ship, but the most unstable ship I have ever been on, and this was my 17th cruise. There was at least a 10-20 degree roll, although the ship is supposed to have stabilizers. Carnival has started a "Platinum" card membership for guests that have traveled on Carnival more than 10 times. No one had a clue as to what this meant, as Carnival just started this. According to the current issue of Carnival's magazine, "Currents", a platinum guest is supposed to get the following: a special Carnival logo item, Canapes and petit fours delivered to your stateroom, personalized stationery, free laundry service, an escorted tour of the ship, priority spa reservations, priority tender tickets, and priority debarkation. The only thing we got was priority debarkation when we returned to Pt. Canaveral, and anyone who carried off their luggage could get the same thing. We did not get priority debarkation at any of the ports that we visited, only returning to Pt. Canaveral. After 3 phone calls to the purser's office, we did get a bottle of champagne, which tasted like vinegar, so we poured it down the drain. We did make reservations at the Emerald Club(where you are supposed to get a fantastic meal and service at an extra cost of $30/person), but we cancelled it after talking to other guests that said the food was good, but the service was horrible. Do not buy liquor at the ship's store. It is considerably cheaper in both St Thomas and St Maarten. A liter of Crown Royal is $20 at the ship's store, and we bought 2 liters for $30 in St Thomas, and got a free cooler bag thrown in. A liter of V.O. is $12 on the ship, and $6 in St Martin. If you like art, consider going to the art auctions. Not sure you get a good deal, but they give you free champagne the first and last day of the auction. When Park West ran it, the art selections were much better in my opinion. The art auctioneer was very knowledgeable--probably the best I have seen. Breakfast on the Lido deck was OK--but the same thing every morning. We never did eat breakfast or lunch at the dining room because it takes forever to get served. Carnival still has not figured out how to have a separate line for omelets at breakfast, so if you get behind someone who wants one, prepare to wait forever to get thru the line. Lunch on the Lido deck was usually pretty good, with a good selection of food. The seafood here was great too, but not the beef. Most of the land tours were very expensive in my opinion--you can do much better on your own. Only advantage I can see in taking a ship's tour, is that if it late coming back, Carnival will hold the boat for you. We were so late getting to Nassau, you would have had a problem doing a tour on you own. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2006
This was my first MSC Cruise, having sailed before on Holland America, Carnival, NCL, Royal Olympia and Commodore. Pros: beautiful ship, ample deck space for sunning, pool area, shows, itinerary. Cons: inconsistent service, ... Read More
This was my first MSC Cruise, having sailed before on Holland America, Carnival, NCL, Royal Olympia and Commodore. Pros: beautiful ship, ample deck space for sunning, pool area, shows, itinerary. Cons: inconsistent service, inconsistent food, scheduling snafus, language barrier, complaining passengers Embarkation The Opera uses Pier 29 which was recently transformed from a cargo dock to a combination cargo/passenger terminal. The set-up is less ideal than the more established terminals at Port Everglades with taxis, busses, passengers and luggage all congregating directly in front of the buildings entrance. Employees arranged passengers in groups who were allowed to enter the building at staggered times. Once inside the terminal, the process was fairly smooth and quick. We were on the ship within 30 minutes of entering the building. While we were pleasantly surprised to be upgraded to a full oceanview (from an obstructed view), our luggage was delivered to our first assigned cabin. I retrieved the luggage myself and transported the baggage to our new cabin. Cabin The cabin was small but with plenty of space for storage. The white and blue color scheme was pleasant enough but perhaps a bit boring. The tiny shower was the biggest complaint. An irritating shower curtain further reduces your workable space by sticking to your body as you shower. Solid glass doors would improve the perception of space and functionality of the shower. MSC provides tiny bottles of shampoo and shower gel. The gel is good for about one shower, and it never seemed that I had enough on hand. Soap/gel dispensers are strongly recommended. Cabin service was certainly adequate but nothing special. A definite language barrier reduced communication with the steward. MSC would do well by instructing cabin personnel to wear deodorant as there was a nearly constant body odor problem in the corridors. Ship Amenities Overall, the MSC opera is a clean, beautiful ship with intimate public areas and lounges. A large pool area (2 saltwater pools) and solarium provide ample deck space for sunning. Despite 40 knot winds, there always seemed to be areas protected from the strong winds. One could certainly make the argument that there are too many lounge areas on this ship, as many seemed completely empty much of the day. Perhaps expanded shopping opportunities and specialty restaurants could be a better use of the copious lounge space. Speaking of shopping opportunities, prepare to spend a bundle if youre interested in purchasing watches or jewelry onboard. Even discounted clothing at the boutique was expensive. Excellent prices on alcohol and cigarettes could be found in the duty-free shop. I estimate prices were nearly half of what can be found at the local ABC store here in North Carolina. Another bonus  alcohol purchased onboard CAN be brought back to your cabin for your enjoyment! With such cheap prices, dont bother trying to smuggle anything onboard. The gym space was larger than on some ships but could greatly benefit from additional free weights and adjustable benches. The facility always seemed to be on the hot side. Adjacent to the gym are steam/sauna facilities for men and women. Choose from a steam room or dry sauna lined with cedar. Relaxation rooms in this area provide a quiet respite following your time in the sauna. Cuisine Most of the food tasted in the dining room was acceptable, with a few items falling into both the very good and not so good range. Southern Italian pastas made with tomato sauce and cheese (lasagna, cannelloni, spaghetti Bolognese, etc.) were quite delicious and expertly prepared, while some of the highly acclaimed risottos failed to impress. Some entrees and side dishes were quite salty. The Baked Alaska (which usually doesnt impress me on cruises) was actually well prepared and enjoyable for a change. Accustomed to the creative and upscale dishes found on other lines, MSC's offering did seem to be a bit of a letdown. Eggs Benedict is not available for breakfast, and the so called ham steak is actually some type of a pressed cold cut. Even presentation was a disappointment at times. For example, a medallion of tuna was served with a steamed white potato, white risotto, and white pearl onions. What were they thinking??? I only visited the buffet twice, so I wont make many comments other that to say that the selection did seem to be lacking when compared to other cruise lines. Room service did arrive promptly, sometimes within 3 minutes! The selection of sandwiches offered here are obviously made well in advance, as the bread often arrived in a dried-out condition. Service Again, inconsistency is the word of the day. Our Indonesian waiter Umar was quite exceptional and hospitable, while some of the European wait staff seemed aloof and less than approachable. Cream and butter often seemed to be in short supply. When asked to provide additional cream or butter, some waiters would bring only one small packet to the table. On several occasions, I noticed passengers on scavenger hunts at adjacent tables scouting out their own supply of cream. This should be an easy problem to solve. Is anyone from MSC reading this? There is also confusion at times in the dining room. Ordered items never arrive, food is delivered to the wrong passenger, several waiters ask for your drink order. There is a language barrier between the wait staff and the passengers, so it is easy to assume there is also a language barrier between members of the wait staff. I also witnessed inconsistent service at Reception and the shore excursion desk. Some of the Italian hosts were quite helpful, while others seemed annoyed when answering questions. To be fair, the ship was loaded with demanding and difficult passengers, so perhaps the impatience on the part of the staff is somewhat understandable. Shore Excursions We booked excursions only at La Romana and Cayo Lavantado. The kayaking trip down the Chavon River in La Romana was overpriced, and in retrospect not worth the money. I would opt for snorkeling/sailing/beach adventure combined with an independent taxi tour of Altos de Chavon, La Romana and Casa de Campo. On the other hand, our horseback riding adventure to Salto de Limon in Cayo Levantado was the best shore excursion ever. Adventurous souls will enjoy riding the horses over rocky hills, through lush fields, and across idyllic, tropical streams. At the end of the trail a vigorous hike to the bottom of the impressive Limon falls awaits you. Those with bathing attire can swim underneath the falls to explore the hiding places behind the actual cascade. This is a serious adventure, so one should be in good shape, have a good back, and not be afraid of a little mud. If you fit this bill, you will enjoy this experience. Fellow Passengers The average age of passengers was a bit older than I expected. There were numerous scooters and wheelchairs for those with challenged mobility. The largest nationality represented seemed to be the USA with a large contingent of Italian-Americans and South Florida/New York residents. A surprising number of Italians were also on board, along with numerous English, Spanish, Germans and Eastern Europeans. A younger crowd did congregate after 11 pm in Byblos disco for drinking and dancing. I am somewhat embarrassed to say that some of the American passengers on board were demanding and somewhat loud. I also overheard lots of complaining about anything and everything; it doesnt appear that everyone had a good time on this cruise. Disembarkation This was a real disaster. For some reason, we were denied entry to Port Everglades until around 10:00 am (we should have been at the dock around 7:00 am). We sat offshore for several hours as passengers waited impatiently in their designated holding areas. Only one announcement about the situation was made with no indication as to what caused this problem. One can probably imagine the turmoil such a delay causes with missed flights and fidgety cruisers. The first group left the ship around 12:00 noon just as passengers for the next cruise were arriving. Terminal 29 is already inadequate, but with passengers leaving at the same time everyone else is arriving, the scene was chaotic. This surely wasnt the memorable sendoff MSC had in mind. Miscellaneous Comments Strong winds at Port Everglades on the day or our departure prevented our ship from safely exiting terminal 29. We waited over two hours for the Zuiderdam to pull away before we had enough clearance to exit the harbor. This delay placed us over two hours late in San Juan. There isnt much to see at night in Old San Juan. We took a long walk to the fortress at the opening of the harbor which was quite enjoyable. Those looking for good shopping and nightlife may be disappointed. We rented a car on St. Maarten. Driving is easy, but the roads can be somewhat congested. Be sure to leave yourself ample time to get back to the ship at your designated time. We underestimated and almost missed the boat! We found Bia Rouge on the French side to be quiet and enjoyable. This is a clothing optional location, so please be forewarned if you find nudity objectionable. The ship spends too much precious time in La Romana. Additional time would be better spent in Cayo Levantado. I very much enjoyed the quiet and rustic ports of La Romana and Cayo Levantado. Shopping at these locations is almost non-existent, so those looking to spend money should focus on St. Maarten. Cayo Levantado (Samana area of the D.R.) is rustic, unspoiled, and beautiful with rugged hillsides and lush tropical foliage. This is the most memorable stop on the entire cruise. The show performers on this cruise are fantastic  the best I have seen on any ship. Plan to take full advantage of their talents by seeing all the shows. The captains party was quite an affair with strong drinks, caviar canapEs, and live music/dancing. Despite 12 foot seas and strong winds, the Opera sliced through the water with ease. Given my experiences on other ships, I was surprised by the overall lack of rocking and rolling. A couple who sailed the Opera last year reported that the overall experience has gone downhill. They described a more sophisticated, European experience last year that they found lacking on this cruise. Perhaps the attempts at Americanizing this line are dumbing down the overall product. Conclusion You might be thinking from my comments that I did not enjoy the cruise  quite the contrary! While the ship experience itself left some to be desired, the combination of the itinerary, on-shore experiences and friends made on board really made for a memorable experience that I would not be interested in trading. Im just not sure Ill be doing it again on MSC anytime soon. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2006
First Time With Holland America and Very Disappointed-Expected More I have sailed on Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Princess and Costa, and this was the worst cruise to date. A. The design of the ship was very poor, my wife did not ... Read More
First Time With Holland America and Very Disappointed-Expected More I have sailed on Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Princess and Costa, and this was the worst cruise to date. A. The design of the ship was very poor, my wife did not believe the ship was only 4 years old. B. Staff used passengers elevators to distribute luggage as the crew elevators were too small, this left the elevators very shabby. C. Lido Deck, When we first saw the pool deck with the removable covered roof it looked okay as we thought this was the secondary pool but it turned out to be the main pool area with the second pool area at the rear of the ship, which you had to go through the buffet area to get to. D. The Atrium was very unimpressive and the first time we walked past without realising that this was the centre point of the ship. E. The Bar areas had no atmosphere, the Ocean bar although the best of the bunch, allowed people to smoke. F. Vista Lounge: unless you had seats in the front there wasn't anywhere to place your drinks whilst watching the shows. G. Fitness centre very limited on aerobic machines and a number of them were out of use, they needed to upgrade the cybex machines. Entertainment A. Lido deck,we were travelling through the Caribbean and the music played on deck(between 12pm to 1pm) without doubt was the dullest music I have ever heard on a ship (where was the Caribbean music?). When we were docked next to other ships you could hear the music played on them but our ship was quiet, in fact I have been in a library with more noise and atmosphere. I don't like loud music and when the band played for that one hour it was far too loud, but please we are on holiday not a convalescent home. B. After the main show in the evening finished at approx 11.30 to 11.45 pm the ship became devoid of lively entertainment. C. This ship although it is trying to attract the younger person, really caters for the older generation who prefer a quiet uninspiring holiday. Dress code Men do not need to wear a Jacket on informal nights as it states in the brochure, there were plenty of men wearing short sleeve shirts and Jeans which we had been told were not allowed in the main restaurants. Even on formal nights the passengers wore what they wanted. Good points Cabins: Excellent -- Service: Excellent -- Food: Excellent -- itinerary: Half Moon Cay the best private island visited. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2006
Sailed on the Zuiderdam Jan 7-14.. First time with HAL. This was my 16th cruise... have sailed previously with Celebrity, RCCL, NCL, Carnival. Embarkment was a breeze. Arrived at the terminal around 12:15 and we were on the ship by 1pm. ... Read More
Sailed on the Zuiderdam Jan 7-14.. First time with HAL. This was my 16th cruise... have sailed previously with Celebrity, RCCL, NCL, Carnival. Embarkment was a breeze. Arrived at the terminal around 12:15 and we were on the ship by 1pm. During embarkment we were each given a questionnaire regarding whether or not we had been sick with fever, vomiting etc within the last week. We were aware that there had been approximately 2-300 passengers sick on the previous cruise. We also received a letter stating that there had been a number of people ill on the previous cruise and should we decide not to cruise we would receive a full refund and help in returning home. Measures had been taken to sanitize the ship plus additional measures would be in place throughout the cruise. Which did create a lot of additional work for the crew, plus they were also short handed as a number of them were also ill..... enough about that for now. Had really been expecting a super clean, updated ship since she had just returned from drydock. Were disappointed that there still seemed to be a lot of areas that had not received the attention they should have, but we were still happy to be onboard. We were in a VA Veranda Aft.. 5184. Cabin was a nice size with a small twin size sofa, queen size bed and a full bath with tub. Nice closet space but was lacking for drawer space.... in fact the only drawers were in the night tables. Balcony was a nice size..... narrow but extra deep as it was an aft cabin. Our aft cabin with RCCL was wider and did accommodate more outdoor furniture, also was more private.. but would still take an aft cabin any day compared to one on the side.. After we boarded, we went up to the Lido for lunch. Nice variety of food. Because of the extra safe guards in place, no one was allowed to serve themselves anything... also a crew member to assist you. Even with coffee, water etc. No salt and pepper shakers were on the tables etc. This did create more time in line, but we were pleased to see the extra effort being put forth. The crew really did do any excellent job throughout the whole cruise. And even though' they were working extra hours, they also maintained a cheerful attitude and we were always greeted with a smile. We found that while the food was good..... nothing was really "wow"... poor selection of desserts both in the Lido and the Dining Room at night too... We were fortunate to have received a table for 2... had an excellent server and his assistant. They were always more than happy to accommodate you in any way they could. Once again the food was consistently good, but nothing out of the ordinary. Did find the filet mignon to be dry and slightly tough both times.... Feel the food on Celebrity to be the finest at sea. Strictly our opinion... but every night was a true dining experience for us on the Century and the Millennium... One thing I really missed was that there was never any music during dinner... not even on the formal nights.. Room service for the most part was good.. Even when an error had been made, it was quickly corrected. Just would have liked to have had more room on our balcony to enjoy breakfast out there instead of in the cabin. Entertainment was fair... once again I have found that the entertainment was far better on Celebrity, RCCL and even Carnival. Did have some wonderful music for dancing in the Crow's Nest and the Ocean's Bar... And longer time periods than we had found on Celebrity and RCCL. This we truly enjoyed... Half Moon Cay was outstanding. One of the prettiest beaches I have ever seen. Very shallow and great for just wading. The BBQ was not the best and we found ourselves going back to the ship early to get something else to eat. Do get there early if you want to have a lounge chair. We had rented a clamshell online before our cruise and it was well worth the 9 dollars. We have been to St. Thomas frequently, so this was just another shopping day for us. I have noticed that during the last few years, St. Thomas seems to be deteriorating.... everything is more run down and not as clean as it once was.. Even Megan's Bay does not have the appeal it once had. We took a cab out just for a quick look after shopping and it was not worth the trip.... Tortola was wonderful. This was my 2nd visit to this charming Island. We rented a jeep for the day and drove all over the island. Beautiful views, foliage, beaches etc. My husband has decided he has found a new favorite place for us to revisit for a longer period of time.... We did not go to the Baths as the water was quite rough.. however, others said the cruise over was not nearly as bad as we had thought it would be... Now back to the ship..... Because of all the illness, the hot tubs never did open as well as the hydropool... We did peek in to the hydropool area and I must say the area on the Millennium is much larger and there is not an extra fee... At least there was not when we sailed a few years back... The main pool area was never over crowded, even on sea days.... I did miss the Caribbean music at poolside... Just adds to the overall feeling ...... There were also very few pool games etc... No late night buffets.... and the absolute worse casino we have ever been in whether it be on land or sea. We enjoy the casino... and spend a lot of time there after shows etc. We never had one winning night... in fact... there was not even "1" Royal Flush on any of the video poker machines during the whole cruise by anyone. Lots of people were commenting on the machines etc. and lack of them. So if you are like us, and enjoy a casino at sea... I would suggest you sail with another cruise line. I had really looked forward to Sailing with HAL... had read some excellent remarks by others on the HAL Board. However, I have come to the conclusion that those cruisers that are "Loyal HAL Cruisers" overlook a lot of areas that perhaps those that cruise on various other lines notice. I'm not sure we would cruise with HAL again. Price and circumstances would have to be very attractive for us to do so. Once again, I really do have to compliment the CREW..... they were excellent and really were one of the best we have had the pleasure to experience... . Read Less
Sail Date: January 2006
I just returned (Jan. 15) from a 7-day Eastern Caribbean cruise on the CostaMagica. The ship is only a little over a year old and is very well maintained. What hit me immediately is the gaudiness of the ships interior design. I know that ... Read More
I just returned (Jan. 15) from a 7-day Eastern Caribbean cruise on the CostaMagica. The ship is only a little over a year old and is very well maintained. What hit me immediately is the gaudiness of the ships interior design. I know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder but this was one of the most overstated interiors of a ship I have ever seen. Although there were some nicely decorated areas, the colors of gold and red dominate the interiors. On deck 9 where the Bellagio buffet is located, the light fixtures are molded arms holding bare light bulbs  much too crazy for my taste. If you enjoy the atmosphere of the old Las Vegas casinos this would be great. Also, many of the chairs in the various lounges were rather low and small scale and quite uncomfortable. This was not my first cruise and I have experienced the grandeur of the Queen Elizabeth ll to the tackiness of the Magica. One of my avocations is cooking and I really enjoy cruising because I am an adventurous eater. I can usually remember most dinners and what I had to eat. There were only two dishes on the cruise that I can say were memorable  one was a pasta dish of gorgonzola sauced gnocchi and the other was a risotto with mussels. Im not saying the food was bad, rather Im saying that the food lacked creativity and did not live up to my expectations based on what people had told me who had cruised on other Costa ships. Most disappointing were the pastries and desserts. Dessert at dinner was much improved over the offerings at the buffet which tended to be average in taste, unimaginative, repetitive, and sometimes scarce. The nice thing was I saved some calories from not eating them. I did enjoy, however, the bake shops rolls which were crusty and delicious. One thing that concerned me was the Bellagio buffet area did not have hand sanitizers for the passengers. This made me feel a little uneasy especially after all of the outbreaks that occur on many cruise ships. We mainly ate our meals in the full service restaurant. On all of my other cruises I never remember so much cigarette smoke on board. Perhaps this was due to the large number of Italians and other Europeans on the ship. The persons in the adjacent cabin did nothing but smoke and order room service. Every time they smoked I could smell it through the door. It wasnt pleasurable to be awakened during the night and smelling smoke. I was surprised that there are no rooms or group of rooms that are strictly for non smokers. Since my cabin was forward on deck two, I heard the rough seas bang against the bow which sounded like a gun firing and kept me awake the first night. We had an outside stateroom which was spacious, nice and very well kept by the cabin stewardess. CostaMagica needs to learn something about entertainment for American passengers. The shows consisted mainly of disjointed dance routines with bad canned music. They werent my cup of tea. The most entertaining night featured a newlywed and not so newlywed game which consisted of 4 couples from the audience. They were so funny I was almost crying from laughter. The final night of the cruise was a toga party and the ship supplied sheets and a paper crown for all to wear. The Roman night entertainment was a talent show of passengers singing and dancing, culminating in a finale with the ships singers and dancers. Great fun was had by all that attended. The ports on the Eastern Caribbean were San Juan (arrived at 6pm and it rained) St. Thomas, the shopping capital of the Caribbean, Catalina Island (beautiful all day beach island which Costa owned), and Casa De Campo (La Romana, Dominican Republic), and Nassau (seas too rough to pull into harbor). I would have preferred to spend more time in San Juan and St. Thomas  be sure to look at the itinerary carefully. Perhaps Costa should try to fine tune the itinerary so that the stay in San Juan is more than a few hours at night. The ships gym was adequately stocked with equipment. There were 4 ellipticals, 4 treadmills, 2 step machines, several stationary bikes, free weights, and weight machines. As a Navy veteran, what really impressed me on this ship was the way it handled the rough seas when we sailed through the Atlantic both going to Puerto Rico and then returning to Florida. From my estimation we had some 6 to 8 foot swells with white caps. The winds were up to 80 km per hour and this ship sailed through it with very little pitch and roll. I found the service aboard the ship to be very adequate, although not the most attentive that Ive encountered. I would probably sail again on Costa, but not on the Magica, unless it was a deal that was too good to be true. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2005
My family and I were disappointed with our Carnival Liberty cruise. We found the ship decor to be very chintzy and somewhat gaudy. Some of the decor was actually plastic instead of real material. Our room was nice, but small for three ... Read More
My family and I were disappointed with our Carnival Liberty cruise. We found the ship decor to be very chintzy and somewhat gaudy. Some of the decor was actually plastic instead of real material. Our room was nice, but small for three people. We had adequate closet space but not enough hangers. My son loved the towel animals left every night. Our room steward was pleasant, but forgetful and had to be given several reminders of items we needed ie: extra ice, robes etc. We found the food to be good in the main dining room, but were very disappointed in the quality of our desserts. Our head waiter was outshined by his assistant and they were both outshined by our bar maid, who had our drinks at our table before we even sat down. The quality of the on board activities and entertainment was fair. The day time activities seemed somewhat juvenile and EXACTLY the same as all our other Carnival cruises. The evening shows were better than the daytime activities but we still walked out of a couple shows early. My 8 year old son was not impressed with Camp Carnival and only attended during Play Station time. The activities were for a much younger age(he was one month from being able to attend the older age group, but it was STRICTLY forbidden). They did have an awesome arcade that kept him entertained. Had an excellent experience in the spa! The stylist who did my hair for formal nights was very good and even convinced me to cut my hair. My husband and I loved it. Debarking was a breeze and so much more pleasant than our first cruise experience. I think that the embarking process has also improved. There is a lot less wait time. We also found that arriving a little later really cut down on the wait time. Read Less

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