This is my second Carnival Cruise, first on Magic. We had a group of 21. Where do I begin? We sailed on June 16th. The pros, the service people work hard, the balcony cabin was nice but (see cons), food was decent, white hot party and ... Read More
This is my second Carnival Cruise, first on Magic. We had a group of 21. Where do I begin? We sailed on June 16th. The pros, the service people work hard, the balcony cabin was nice but (see cons), food was decent, white hot party and mega deck party were fabulous fun and cruise director Simon was awesome. Negatives - ship is poorly designed. Having the majority of the food choices at the same place as the popular pools is just dumb. It caused mobs to gather in one location. They are incredibly understaffed and expect too much from their employees who work hard but can’t meet the demand for service causing long waits for everything. We got the soda package, note that we would never do it again! No soda machines or souvenir cup like RCCL provides. Have to order from the bar which means a 20 minute wait. Frozen drinks are no longer frozen when they finally get to you, food often lukewarm at best. We had four connecting balcony rooms with the intention to have partitions unlocked for one large party balcony except the partitions don’t fold back so they either block your window or your door and they bounce around keeping you up all night. No night service on cabin like we had with RCCL. No real theatrical shows for family to enjoy,
Iike Mamma Mia on RCCL’s Allure. (Yes we are spoiled by and love RCCL as is obvious by our comparisons). On board Shops were uninspired, casinos non smoking machines were overrun with smokers with no one enforcing the rules. Seriously in this day and age how difficult is it to implement a non smoking casino? Trust me people will still gamble! Amber Cove was a pleasant surprise (though none of us drank due to the recent death toll}, Grand Turk was disappointing. Have to walk a bit to get away from the water filled with limestone and the locals rob you blind on chairs and umbrellas (free ones are at the ugliest part of the beach and fill quickly) and locals were smoking weed around Cruise families, unbelievable the lack of respect for those providing tourism income, nephew offered cocaine while walking thru one of the shops. Unfortunately bad weather made us skip half moon cay which was disappointing but understandable. We had a great cabin steward, Ricky. However I need to make one last note on a Carnival team member named Brandon. We unfortunately had him as host for trivia several times and for karaoke, regardless how many times he was told he could not be heard, he would not speak up instead just was in his own world oblivious on how to engage guests. At the end of the trip there was delay in getting off boat causing unsafe conditions near elevators. He was clearly given a task to clear areas near elevators, again using his low voice he half heartedly tried to advise people then immediately said I give up and walked away. I don’t say this ever but he should be fired. His arrogance was beyond words. Read Less
Trip details: This was our third cruise on a Carnival Fantasy-class ship and we will likely do it again. Despite their age, Carnival’s refurbishment program has done a good job at maintaining and updating these vessels. Having done ... Read More
Trip details: This was our third cruise on a Carnival Fantasy-class ship and we will likely do it again. Despite their age, Carnival’s refurbishment program has done a good job at maintaining and updating these vessels. Having done our pre-cruise homework, we knew exactly what to expect and were not surprised by anything.
Getting to the port terminal: We stayed at the Residence Inn by Marriott Cape Canaveral Cocoa Beach the night before sailing, which is about one-mile from the cruise terminal. Thus getting to the terminal was a breeze. Signage at the Port Canaveral terminal is excellent in directing you to your ship, luggage drop-off and parking – traffic was very light at 11:00 AM.
Embarkation: We were dropped off in the covered luggage area at 11:06 AM and drug our bags up a short ramp (100 feet away) into the terminal facility. We were immediately greeted and directed to an empty security line. After clearing security, we were likewise directed to a check-in station with no line. Our documents were scanned and Carnival pulled our photos from our embedded passport RFID – no photos to take. We were then directed to the waiting area and found seats proximately adjacent to the boarding gate. There were several hundred guests already waiting and Platinum/FTTF boarding was underway. With an 11:30 – 12:00 check-in appointment, and boarding group A01, they called us to board at 11:26 AM. 20 minutes from arriving to boarding – UNBELIEVABLE! Needless to say, embarkation was the best we have ever experienced for any ship at any port. FTTF would have been a complete waste of money for this cruise given the ease of access at Port Canaveral and both of our Ports of Call.
Settling-in: Once onboard, we found seats in an air-conditioned area near Blue Iguana/Guy’s Burgers and enjoyed our leisurely Mexican food lunch. Lines were short to non-existent and food was good/plentiful. After lunch we casually strolled around the atrium decks and ended up next to the Coffee Shop on Deck 9, where comfortable seating was plentiful. Cabins were available at 1:30 PM as advertised and we were fully moved in prior to the obligatory safety briefing.
Underway: We were underway on time and all of the cruise was so smooth (typically Beaufort 4) that it was hard to know you were moving at 19+ knots unless you were up on an open deck. Elation was the first cruise ship to be equipped with an Azipod propulsion system. The pods give Elation better maneuverability compared with her sister ships. Our course was direct to Amber Cove and Grand Turk, making each right on time. The weather was excellent and rain virtually non-existent; we had headwinds heading south and quartering tailwinds returning. One should be so lucky every cruise.
Port & shore excursion reviews:
Our first port was Amber Cove, DR. The 25 acre port complex developed by Carnival is secure and quite comfortable. We did not plan an outside excursion, opting to stay in the Amber Cove Aqua Zone, with swim-up bar and lazy river. Being one of the first to disembark, we found loungers in the shade of a palm tree. Umbrellas were available to rent for $20, but if you are early, you can find shaded seating. There is the usual port shopping, but the nice thing is there are no ‘locals’ trying to get you to but their T-shirts or take a tour to see their cousin’s chicken farm.
We were the only ship in Grand Turk on the day we ported there and thus it did not feel crowded. The Grand Turk Cruise Center is a world-class, beach front cruise facility nestled among nearly 18 acres of landscaped grounds. The beaches are public, and the clamshells, beach chairs and umbrellas at the Grand Turk cruise center are free to use, so a beach tour, to us, seemed superfluous. Following the guidance of past visitors, upon entering the center, we went to the beach on the right and had our choice of clamshells in which to relax. The water was semi cloudy from swirling sand, but you could still see a few fish and swimming was easy. Hint: Get off the ship early for best seating and wear water-shoes at the beach.
Food: We selected early dining and had the same table-for-two for the full cruise. Because we did our homework, we knew what the Main Dining Room (MDR) would offer and were again not surprised. There was always an entrée we wanted and multiple appetizers. Staff were OK, but not top-shelf. A few mistakes were made in our orders, but always corrected. Hint: About two weeks before you cruise, send an email to the Maître’d with any seating requests. As to Blue Iguana and Guy’s Burgers, the food was good, but be ready for lines at peak times that can move a bit slow. We timed our visits to be while others were ashore when lines were short. Tiffany’s is a small buffet, but the deli toward the back was quite efficient. Chris Anne (from St. Lucia) was wonderful at the coffee shop and we visited her often for iced tea and cappuccino.
Entertainment: The stage shows were disappointing and we elected not to attend the last one. The comedians were a bit repetitive and the late shows laced with lots of unnecessary profanity. Because we have enjoyed the dueling pianos on NCL we hoped that Duke’s Piano Bar would offer something similar. Regrettably, it is not scheduled to open until 10:00 PM and even by 11:00 PM, we never saw a pianist in the bar. I think he missed the cruise.
The Elation has a cute mini-golf course up on Deck 14, but was closed for high wind on our southern sailing. When we found it open, it was typically busy. There is a club and ball rack as you enter, but it was always empty. We came to learn that you had to check these out at the towel station on the Lido deck.
Final Notes: One of the Atrium elevators was non-functional for the entirety of our cruise. The other had to be repaired mid-cruise. This was a minor inconvenience as there are forward elevators nearby. Finally, we had a pool towel fiasco as we were preparing to disembark. Upon boarding, our room steward provided two pool/beach towels. We turned in the dirty ones to him after Amber Cove, but only got one clean towel back. We borrowed two from the pool for Grand Turk and informed her of the situation. Again our steward collected the dirty towels upon our return. Minutes before disembarking, I got an alert from my bank that Carnival was charging us $44 for two missing towels. No one on the ship had bothered to inquire of us about the towels; just billed us minutes before leaving. It took 45 minutes with Guest Services to challenge this charge, who refused to issue an immediate credit. It took a call to my bank from Guest Services to dispute the charge, where they finally relented and agreed to take it off my final bill. Lesson to the wise – review your account right up to the final minutes on-board lest you get stung with an improper charge as you leave. Read Less
We choose the Caribbean Princess based on recommendations from some friend who are big time cruisers. This was our first cruise so we really had no idea what to expect. We set off for a two week East/West Caribbean cruise to celebrate our ... Read More
We choose the Caribbean Princess based on recommendations from some friend who are big time cruisers. This was our first cruise so we really had no idea what to expect. We set off for a two week East/West Caribbean cruise to celebrate our 40th Anniversary. Here are a few things that we'd like to share.
The Caribbean is absolutly beautiful!
The ship was beautiful and dang big. Takes days to see it all!
We had smooth sailing even in somewhat rough seas.
You're going to be around people from all over the world and our country, we really enjoyed this!
The food was much, much better than we expected in every restaurant!
The wait staff was exceptional!
The nightly entertainment was much better than expected.
There was always something going on. No matter what age, you'll find something fun to do!
Loved the workout room, the sauna and steam rooms.
There is a adult only "sanctuary" area for some quite pool/sun time.
The high energy band "Static" was incredible!
Most all entertainment was really good!
We received $600 in onboard spending money. They took back $420 in mandatory tips for the hotel staff. Essentially, you're paying their wages for Princess Lines
We had really good service and really lousy service. Regardless you're going to pay an additional 18% mandatory tip on all purchases regardless of service. We didn't like this.
Spa prices are way over priced, especially the facials.
The rooms are really small, showers are even smaller!
Off shore excursions are over priced. Do your research and you'll find better for less.
Our excursion to Xcaret was time limited and missed the best shows
If you do a facial, a massage or acupuncture be prepared for the sales pitch to buy the over priced products.
Getting through to the front desk on the phone will drive you nuts.
You're going to be nickel and dimed to death.
We have traveled the world, I traveled for a living for 30+ years. This was big event for us, so we did it all. We had the balcony room, did the spa, acupuncture, facial, ate at a nice restaurant a couple of times. Drank some good wine and a lot of margarita's. After two weeks onboard, we had a great time but to be honest when I got the final bill, I just don't think the value was there. Paid a premium for above average vacation. Will make some changes and do more research for the next cruise. Read Less
Princess provides just a little more sophistication than some other cruise in today's more mixed cruise passenger clientele. By that I mean there is a more diversified passenger which require different styles on many lines. Tank top ... Read More
Princess provides just a little more sophistication than some other cruise in today's more mixed cruise passenger clientele. By that I mean there is a more diversified passenger which require different styles on many lines. Tank top versus suit jacket simply. We prefer the latter when possible so Princess offers a better possibility of having that on a particular cruise.
We have sailed Caribbean Princess before, last being 2014. We were sailing with friends that we have cruised with since 1992 when we met and stood up for them marrying on St Thomas. They wanted to re-visit Paradise Point, the location of the ceremony 27 years ago.
We took Jr. Suites we were in D614. Found the location and condition of the cabin good. Bed extremely comfortable.
We had been put off the Medallion program simply because of the incessant harassment of Princess to pre-participate in in it. Worse than robo calling. Emails, phone calls, texts, by time we got to pier we all hated the word Medallions. Medallion class more a market tool than a real boon to the world of cruising. Basically it is a half dollar size Medallian that houses an RFD chip. Chip readers everywhere including in your cabin. A gps locater and grocery store type tracking system, door key and pay for it card. No magic there but it worked well and we actually liked it in many ways. Opening cabin door via electronic lock, using it on slot machines instead of having to put a card in.
We had traditional dining, staff were excellent, food, soso. They, like most lines still call medium shrimp Jumbo, large shrimp prawns, total bs. Lobster really no more, they are really prawns or rock lobster. Steak okay nothing to brag about. Of course continue to have option of BUYING better food even at main dining.
We had complimentary dining evening at extra pay steak house. The ribeye was excellent, everything else run of the mill. Service staff masquerading as high end wait staff, basically NOT! I would equate main dining to high end diner, extra pay, to decent small restaurant in moderate sized community. Example in extra pay restaurant. Replacement silverware for main course placed, one fork dirty. Asked fancy waitress to replace since was dirty, answer " are you sure ? " Of course I am sure, matters not should be simply replaced. Steals came cooked perfectly no complaint but no one ever asked as served for us to check. A good restaurant would do that, a high end restaurant would never fail to check with you if our steak was properly cooked. Plus, you must be kidding me, extra charges if you want lobster in an already up charge restaurant? What a joke, if this had not been complimentary I wouldn't have even bothered going there.
The buffet area same as always they simply changed decor and added cutesy signs. Food as good as any cafeteria I have been in. As with most lines now and Princess no exception, marketing gimmicks is where the money goes not food and service.
Pool area, Pizza and outstanding Stromboli. Hamburgers, hotdogs and fries etc good. BUT GEEZ even there they have an up sale hamburger for $5. No I didn't try it nor did I see anyone else order one.
Entertainment, was good mix comedy and show, magician was good but close hand magic hard sell in a large theatre. Moved slow and far from exciting though appreciated at least different. The comedy was excellent!
Overall a very good cruise made so more by great initial deal, onboard credits etc. My wife spent several hundreds in spa and raved about the two head to toe whatever's she got and raved about their spa staff, excellent! Also excellent weather and smooth sialing never hurts.
Ports we stayed on ship except for short trip to Paradise Point. Sadly yet another crazy place now, expanded, $21 pp to go up tram, 2 beers 2 Bushwackers, $36 a round. But still has great picture view of harbor.
Internet, fastest I have ever seen on sea. Just as fast as my home network. I took unlimited 1 device, on first day with discount $56 for the week. Works for us, you can use different devices but only one at a time can be signed in. Families I could see this getting $$$ for needing multiple devices and unlimited.
We did have interesting call for blood donors midway through the cruise for a sick or injured patient. The need was quickly filled. Never saw that before in almost 80 cruises. Also on way home we were advised we were going top speed for yet another patient to get back to Fort Lauderdale. However we slowed and arrived normal time, hopefully because they got better and refrigerated.
BEST system on Princess out of Fort Lauderdale. For $25 a bag, they will take your bag last night and you don't see it again until final destination. They also get your airline boarding pass. Love that, no getting bags at pier and taking them through customs and bringing them to cab etc. There are restrictions, airline and flight times.
One caveat this cruise, ship seemed to have some problems balancing air conditioning through out the ship. Both in cabin area and public area. The Explorer lounge area was always pretty warm section of ship.
Wife really enjoyed the Parrots demo brought onboard in St Thomas. Used to be on Paradise point and she was disappointed not to see them there anymore.
We had friends cabin decorated for anniversary. Good thing it's the thought that counts because for $49 the decorations were worth about three bucks. Some card on strings and a paper congrats sign on door, what a rip off.
George in NY Read Less
Family Went for my son's graduation trip and had a good time. Plenty to do on board. Many friendly staff. Good food. This was our 2nd cruise with RC and won't be our last. Kids (9,13,17) had a great time at the pool, arcade, ... Read More
Family Went for my son's graduation trip and had a good time. Plenty to do on board. Many friendly staff. Good food. This was our 2nd cruise with RC and won't be our last. Kids (9,13,17) had a great time at the pool, arcade, loved Sorento's and laser tag. We didn't catch the shows as they were bad timing for us and my boys really didn't care for them. Slides were awesome at the pool. Lifeguards at every area. Walk slow on deck around pool, many people slipped and fell. Rooms were clean and roomy. We had an interior promenade with window very nice. Bring earplugs if you're a lighter sleeper. The beds were horrible! So hard. The oasis had awesome beds. The symphony does not. Heard that complaint quite a bit around the ship. We enjoyed the food thought it was great. My boys aren't picky eaters. We really didn't care for Coco cay. Thrill park is overrated and small for the amount of people on island. Young and elderly had issues getting around. Tram is only for the pier. Should also provide it for the island. Overall great trip for us. Read Less
Embarkation was swift and easy as well as the disembarkation. A nice surprise was the addition of Carrot Juice for breakfast as well as different types of pizza including deep dish varieties at other times. The singers and dancers ... Read More
Embarkation was swift and easy as well as the disembarkation. A nice surprise was the addition of Carrot Juice for breakfast as well as different types of pizza including deep dish varieties at other times. The singers and dancers performances were superb. They were always in sync, graceful and elegant. Don’t miss “Bravo” & “Fantastic Journey”
We had a large number of first time cruisers of varying ages and there was always an activity to cater to everyone. And the courteous decorum of everyone was apparent.
The Caribbean Princess is a Medallion Class Ship. There are still a few kinks to iron out but overall it was a great experience especially being able to wear your Medallion instead of carrying your card. As you approach your cabin, the door automatically unlocks.
You can play games, locate your shipmates, and order drinks with the apps.
From the dining room menus to the exceptional service we hated for our cruise to end.
We will be back! Read Less
I booked Princess because of the reputation of service and quality
I am not kidding when I say the majority of staff had attitude our room was
Dirty, found shoes in the bathroom (not ours). Work
Was done on balcony they left a ... Read More
I booked Princess because of the reputation of service and quality
I am not kidding when I say the majority of staff had attitude our room was
Dirty, found shoes in the bathroom (not ours). Work
Was done on balcony they left a mess and the steward did not clean it.
We are also nickel and dimes for everything
We also had a prepaid dinner in the paid restaurant. We went to book in the steakhouse and was told they were all booked and we could eat in the seafood restaurant. I asked to speak to a manager and was told there wasn’t one and I didn’t have a choice
Princess, I DO have a choice. There are many other cruise lines out there. If you think Princess will give you great service, think again. Chose Celebration
The rooms are great. We had a mini suite
Other passengers felt the same as us Read Less
First, some personal background. I am a 63 year old widower cruising with my 34 year old son. This was my 6th cruise with Carnival to go with 2 on Royal Caribbean, 1 on Princess, and 1 on Norweigian. This was his 4th with Carnival to go ... Read More
First, some personal background. I am a 63 year old widower cruising with my 34 year old son. This was my 6th cruise with Carnival to go with 2 on Royal Caribbean, 1 on Princess, and 1 on Norweigian. This was his 4th with Carnival to go with 2 on Royal Caribbean and 1 on Princess.We try to go on a cruise together once a year as he lives in another state and we only see each other a few times a year.
Here is my review:
The Sunrise is the new name for the refurbished Triumph (which I sailed on in 2007).
There were only a few things I noticed different from the Triumph, a main difference was a very poorly designed Marketplace Grand Buffet. The design created very long and slow lines, a problem that I spoke to an officer about several days into the cruise (he informed me that Carnival was aware of the problem and was looking at their options). Otherwise, the other food venues and the main dining room were quite good, with many options and delicious food..
There were a couple of problems with the layout of some of the public areas. Some of the "routes" through the ship were confusing, requiring some roundabout travels to get to some of the public places.Nothing that would constitute a crisis, but annoying anyway.
The entertainment aboard ship was terrific. Oh sure, it had the usual Carnival stuff like trivia, bingo, multiple comedians, stage productions, etc., but it had an absolutely AMAZING cruise director, Chris Williams AKA The Flying Scotsman (and yes he wears a kilt all day every day). This man may very well be the BEST cruise director on any ship today. He is an electric bundle of energy and talent and it is obvious he loves his job.He keeps the crowd rocking every day, leads parties and activities, lingers and interacts with the passengers all day long. He sings, dances,and even has his own show 1 night in the big showroom.(sometimes I wondered if there was more than 1 of him on the ship as he seems to be everywhere at once). You can see some of him on his Facebook site.
I have nothing but great things to say about the ENTIRE crew, staff, entertainment people, etc. on this cruise. Without exception, they were all terrific. A special call out to our room steward Javier, waitstaff Ferdinand/Dennis/Landomar, and bartender Neenee for their wonderful and attentive efforts to make us happy...they were nothing less than perfect.
Now to the ports and excursions:
San Juan: Just walked the Old City area, we had been there the year before and did the same thing. Shops, restaurants, nothing noteworthy.
Tortola: We went on a Jost Van Dyke beach excursion consisting of a 20 minute boat ride from the port to a very beautiful and picturesque beach for a couple of hours of swimming, sunning, etc. that included a light lunch (burger or hot dog, bag of chips, and a beer/soda/or water). Very enjoyable, highly recommend.
St. Maarten: We went on a "Beach Break With Lunch" excursion. A 45 minute bus ride to a pleasant enough beach for a couple of hours sunning and swimming and watching small lizards scamper across the sand. Lunch consisted of fish, chicken, or bbq ribs with rice, and included unlimited fruit or rum punch during the entire stay at the beach. Also a nice excursion.
St. Thomas: We went on the "Kon Tiki" beach excursion which consisted of a 30 minute boat ride (with a live steel band) to another beautiful beach and also unlimited fruit or rum punch.(no lunch though). This boat also stops over a reef for a few minutes and opens up to multiple glass bottom sections of the deck to observe the reef life (some fish, nothing shocking). What makes this excursion unique is that on the return trip, it becomes sorta a party boat - dancing and a limbo contest to go along with the steel band and punch.Highly recommend.
Grand Turk: We took a 15 minute walk down the beach from the port to " Jack's Shack", a family owned bar with a limited food menu and enjoyed the ambiance of the non-cruise environment. (even some of the cruise staff go here to avoid the hustle and bustle of the overcrowded port).(note: $10 gets an umbrella and 2 lounge chairs) There even are a couple of friendly pooches that are part of "the family" that roam and interact with the visitors. (Jack's Shack has a website if you want to look at it).
Summary: a great staff and crew led by an amazing cruise director made this trip a rousing success, with only a flawed buffet set up and some weird routes required to navigate the ship keeping me from giving it 5 stars. Read Less
We are veteran cruisers and this was our return to Carnival after only cruising Royal and Celebrity for the last ten years. We chose this ship because it was a family vacation including grandchildren; it left out of Manhattan so no flying ... Read More
We are veteran cruisers and this was our return to Carnival after only cruising Royal and Celebrity for the last ten years. We chose this ship because it was a family vacation including grandchildren; it left out of Manhattan so no flying was involved and the length and ports were desirable.
Embarkation was the worst of all our 30+ cruises. It took us 3 hours waiting in line in a hot terminal before boarding. It was pandemonium and no one would tell us what the problem was. Carnival personnel were not very helpful. We were on the ship by 3:00 pm and it was supposed to sail at 4:00. Muster was postponed until 5:00 and we never left the pier until at least 7:00. No explanations given. Perhaps it was the rainy weather, but don't know why.
Our dining arrangements were supposed to be the same as the other family members, but Carnival gave us all different seating times. It was straightened out by the following night but it resulted in waiting in line yet again to correct it.
The food in the main dining room was just okay. I am not a fussy eater and enjoy not having to cook, serve and clean up but the selections were not to my taste and the food was just barely warm most of the time. We avoided the Lido buffet most days because the lines were tremendously long. The other eateries (and there were plenty of choices) were more to our liking and we made it a point to eat during off times to avoid those lines.
The cruise director was probably the best I have ever experienced. The Flying Dutchman (Chris Matthews) was everywhere on the ship and was absolutely fantastic. I don't think he ever slept. He was a definite asset to Carnival and must have a sweet future with them. I cannot say enough good things about him. He is the best thing I will remember about this cruise.
Having been to all of the ports previously, except for Grand Turk, we choose to do beach days rather than excursions. All the beaches we visited were gorgeous, especially Cane Garden Bay Beach in Tortola. We had so looked forward to Grand Turk but were very disappointed in it. We were the only ship in port yet it was still overcrowded. We could not find free beach chairs, and the pool was very crowded as well. The beach was full of seaweed, rocks and looked dirty. Not your typical Caribbean beach. We stayed 1/2 hour and returned to the ship.
Our biggest gripe was the extreme overcrowding on this ship. They supposedly added many cabins when it was in dry dock, and there were just too many passengers. Common areas on the ship were few and far between and everywhere you went there were hoards of people. The two pools were inadequate for the number of swimmers; all you could do was just stand there shoulder to shoulder with everyone. We did find that the number of lounge chairs was adequate and we never had a problem finding them poolside. Carnival pool attendants did make it a point to patrol chair hogs and left stickers on chairs warning them their possessions would be taken after 45 minutes if left unattended. Nice touch!
We chose to walk off with our luggage and that went pretty seamlessly. We were off the ship and in a taxi by 8:32.
All in all, any cruise is better than no cruise, and we had a good time being with family. However, I doubt I would choose to cruise with with Carnival again. Read Less
I am a male in my mid-30s and this was my fourth cruise with Carnival (I've also been on the Splendor, Pride, and Horizon), along with two from Royal Caribbean and one from Princess. I will be providing an extensive review below, in ... Read More
I am a male in my mid-30s and this was my fourth cruise with Carnival (I've also been on the Splendor, Pride, and Horizon), along with two from Royal Caribbean and one from Princess. I will be providing an extensive review below, in the hopes it proves helpful to those reading (I know I appreciate detailed specifics of positives and negatives others give in their reviews, so I like to be equally thorough). While I'll be providing some slight criticisms, mainly related to the ship's layout of certain things, I gave this cruise a full five stars, because for all ten days of this trip, I witnessed what I felt to be virtually-perfect execution of all things within the control of the personnel on board, from dining, to entertainment, to service, to fostering an unrivaled fun atmosphere.
Embarkation in Manhattan: Despite going through the same terminal last year at about the same arrival time and boarding the larger Horizon very quickly, this seemed to take a bit longer to get through security this time around. It appeared the line formed on a first come, first served basis, like an airport. No big deal, but it seemed not to make a difference what boarding time/group was arranged beforehand, despite Carnival asking passengers to indicate in advance such arrival times/preferences.
Ship Layout: The Sunrise certainly looks nice enough following the refurbishment; however, in transforming the eateries and public spaces from its dry dock as the Triumph, two key issues seemed to have developed. One, the lines at the main buffet itself, regardless of if it's during breakfast, lunch, dinner, or even during the Midnight Buffet this itinerary had, were way too long to be considered normal (the lines at all the other surrounding lunch stations were at least reasonable and moved plenty quickly, like on other ships Carnival has). Two, the placement of the Limelight Lounge (an important venue to get to, since it hosts not only the nightly popular comedy shows and the nightclub it converts to after hours, but also random activities during the day), sandwiched between the two main dining rooms on deck 4, was problematic and even crew members admitted it's hard to find when you're looking for it. You're expected to take one specific set of elevators/stairwell to get to it from a different deck, but no one will blame you if you feel like walking right through the restaurant before, during, or after dinner to avoid the maze. Those two things aside, the ship in general is easy to navigate and they did a good job adding/subtracting venues based on current demands. It's much better that the Promenade Deck has a large RedFrog Pub for popular trivia and games/live music performances instead of separate smaller lounges and library space other ships have had that aren't a good use of real estate, and it's smart that the higher decks now have the Serenity areas, sport square, ropes course, and sizable water park replacing skylights and glass domes that offer less benefit. This helps manage the crowds and keeps adults and kids alike further entertained.
Entertainment/Activities: This itinerary was unique in that it is considered a "Journeys" cruise, which means it's nine days or longer, and as a result includes some activities and entertainment options not normally found on shorter cruises Carnival does. Some examples of what this means is a designated 80's-themed day (they played throwback lido deck games that were popular back then, showed 80's movie classics on the poolside movie screen, and featured a lot of live 80's rock and pop music at the various venues at night, also encouraging people to wear costumes), more enrichment-type classes (including ones featuring different kinds of dance lessons for couples and larger groups), a quick walk-through of the galley for those interested in how the dining rooms run their operation, a Captain's Cocktail Party that included drinks and finger foods, and additional opportunities for guests to interact with cast and crew (there was an open Q&A with reps from different departments, a separate Q&A focused specifically on the Broadway-style performers, and most interactive of all, a special one-performance-only show in the main theatre that allows guests to sing and dance with the cast on stage). Without exception, the entertainment offerings were top-notch, not just what I mentioned above, but also each and every one of the musicians on board, all of whom were exceptional and versatile in their respective styles: the Black Diamonds electric violin trio, the Hip Stars and Have Mercy Horns bands, Piano Bar performer Scott, acoustic guitarist Tim, and Steel Drum player Keith. The music playlists were not tired and cliched; they were innovative, varied, and included something for everyone, regardless of age or preferred genre. I was actually having trouble deciding who I wanted to listen to each night, because they were all so good.
Dining/Bars: The rebranding as the Sunrise resulted in some upgrades here, including getting the popular Alchemy Bar, RedFrog Pub, and newer eateries such as Guy's BBQ (not to be confused with Guy's Burgers, which it already had as part of the previous Fun Ships 2.0 upgrade that saw the cruise line uniformly put it in along with the build-your-burrito/taco bar, rum bar, and tequila bar across most of the company's main pool decks), Bonsai Sushi, and Cucina Del Capitano (free create-your-own pasta lunch by day, fee-based Italian dinner by night). The one surprise worth pointing out that didn't seem to be talked about much is that there's a new free asian bowl lunch option on the Lido Deck the opposite side of the deli, and it's really good. It's not as customizable as Mongolian Wok, so the line moves faster than ships with the Wok, but it's good quality and fresh. Dining room food was excellent each night, as I usually find it to be, and my lunches mainly consisted of the taco/burrito bar, Guy's BBQ, Guy's Burger's, the deli for hot dogs, and the pasta at Cucina on Embarkation Day (hard for me to pick a favorite). As far as the bars, I went to where the action was at a given moment, but I often found myself at the lobby bar (especially when the electric violins and atrium parties were happening) and the piano bar (the aforementioned Scott was brilliant and kept the room lively enough where I constantly chose him over the nightclub for my late-night destination).
Staff/Service: This was, without a doubt, the best I've ever seen on any cruise I've ever been on. Every person, without exception, was fantastic, and it was like the stars aligned to bring this group of MVP-caliber cast and crew together. Here are just some of the things I witnessed during the time onboard: a member of the photography team volunteering to help a family of five complete a six-person "cheerleader pyramid" by getting on all fours herself for a photo op, a random crew member amusing a young kid on the elevator to keep him happy during the ride up, a bartender at Alchemy going all the way to the sous chef just to get more basil for a joke drink one passenger wanted to give someone, and the Playlist Productions cast singing "happy birthday" to a young boy during their Q&A. As far as how else the cast and crew went above and beyond: the electric violin players performed my dad's request (even though they had been sticking to a set playlist throughout), the Playlist Performers were constantly setting aside as much time as requested for passengers to speak to them, practice with them, and learn from them both randomly after performances in the atrium and related to the show that featured guest participation (shoutout to Jeremy and Paige for their work in teaching the singing and choreography to the larger group for the show, and especially to Jeremy for gladly arranging an impromptu backstage tour for me to see behind-the-scenes when he learned of my interest in such production details), and Scott at the piano bar was always up for chatting at the end of the night, no matter how late it was. I would be remiss if I didn't mention how great the dining room staff was, particularly my waiters Ferdinand, Landomar, and Dennis, as well as the personable and hardworking bar staff throughout the ship (though I want to specifically mention Neenee at the lobby bar, and Miguel at the piano bar, both of whom stood out to me, and in the case of Miguel, also doubled as a first-class Elvis impersonator for a contest during one of the shows and joined in sing-alongs at the piano bar). I cannot say enough about how great everyone was, and how much I wish I have the opportunity to see at least some of them again.
*I'm giving a separate note here for the cruise director, Chris "The Flying Scotsman" Williams, who as far as I'm concerned, has revolutionized the concept of what a CD can, and should, be. Not only was he the best cruise director I've ever seen, he falls into a category all his own. He didn't simply "make appearances" at events or "hype up" an act before they came on, Chris WAS the event and WAS the act (coming from a strong musical performance background, he even headlined his own main theatre show one night, singing everything from rock hits from bands like Whitesnake to the operatic Nessun Dorma to a heartfelt rendition of a Scottish song to share his roots). He was always around, he always stopped to talk with guests and take pictures, and he brought a level of energy and passion to his work that made you wish Carnival execs were present to see what all their other cruise directors fleetwide should be doing to truly capture the "Fun Ships" experience.
San Juan - Went here last year, and did the same thing: walked around the city and the nearby shops a bit, without doing an excursion. The port time was a bit odd, in that it got in late and left late, so I got some nice pics of the ship from the pier around sunset and after it got dark.
Tortola - Did a beach/lunch excursion at nearby Jost Van Dyke. The beach over there was beautiful, somewhat secluded, and had a few bars nearby, including the Soggy Dollar (supposedly the place that created the Painkiller cocktail). Lunch was basic hot dog or hamburger and chips, but it is noteworthy that unlike other places that might give you one ticket or voucher to redeem, they didn't have any issue if you wanted a second hot dog or hamburger or more chips; they weren't being cheap or strict about that.
St. Maarten - Did a beach/lunch excursion at a beach on the Dutch side near the airport (not the famous beach directly under where planes lanes, but adjacent). The beach was nice enough too, though I had hoped Orient Beach had recovered sooner from the hurricane so I could have also experienced the French side of the island (Carnival had apparently just started offering a similar excursion there again, but didn't really promote it leading up the cruise, and only a few passengers found out about it in time to book that one instead). Lunch was a little nicer than hot dogs/hamburgers (ex: ribs was an option)
St. Thomas - Did the Kon Tiki beach excursion, which was the most fun during the trip to the beach, as they offered unlimited rum punch both to and from the beach, and the vessel included a glass bottom to briefly see marine life (plus they fed yellow snapper off the side to get them to surface). Additionally, they had a steel drum band, a dance lesson, and a limbo contest. The beach they took us to was Honeymoon Beach, very secluded, and even better than Magen's Bay.
Grand Turk - Stayed at Margaritaville last year, went down the beach to Jack's Shack this year. The owner's daughter was cool and thanked us for adding a license plate to their collection. Had a couple drinks, some wings, and rented an umbrella for the free chairs out front. The dogs roaming the area were adorable and were living the dream. Read Less
My wife and I have traveled many times with Carnival and like the upbeat atmosphere. Although the cruise started off rough due to the port fiasco (arrived at 11:00 a.m., got onboard at 3:00 p.m.), we ended up having a great time. Dinner ... Read More
My wife and I have traveled many times with Carnival and like the upbeat atmosphere. Although the cruise started off rough due to the port fiasco (arrived at 11:00 a.m., got onboard at 3:00 p.m.), we ended up having a great time. Dinner seating (early with friends) was not correct but Maitre D fixed it first night for us. This was a Journey cruise with an 80's theme. The Flying Scotsman was excellent as far as entertaining everyone (and a great singer too!). Food at the restaurant seemed to have fewer choices than normal. Looks like Carnival is trying to cut back as a way to save money. Food was decent just the choices were much less than it has been over the years. Cabin was nice (room 2340) and has been recently redone. Stewards did a good job cleaning although took till late morning on some days to get done. Guys Pig and Anchor good but not as good as on Horizon. Guys burgers was excellent. Breakfast/lunch on lido was average. Serenity lounge is in front of ship and was quite windy. No pool, 2 Jacuzzis and had a prevalent garbage smell on one side. Read Less
after getting off to a rocky start getting on the ship, cruise was great. I was on 2nd floor, thought room was nice. Food was good, many places to eat. I ate at burrito bar, guys burgers, the buffet, sit down dinners, pizza...and lots ... Read More
after getting off to a rocky start getting on the ship, cruise was great. I was on 2nd floor, thought room was nice. Food was good, many places to eat. I ate at burrito bar, guys burgers, the buffet, sit down dinners, pizza...and lots of ice cream !! Liked the shows, band was great, singers and dancers, just ok. comedians were very funny. Had the usual on board, trivia, bingo etc. Played in the casino, actually one a cruise on my last day !! so excited. went to St Thomas...loved it...grab a cab right off the ship, theres a whole list and lots of cabs. good shopping right near ship. Went to St Maartin...been there before..did the beach near the airport excursion (planes fly over you head). this time got off and walked around to beach ( first guy was 25$ for chair and umbrella...2nd guy 20 feet away was $20 for chairs and umbrella...and another 20 feet was 10$ chairs and umbrella) and did shopping. Puerto Rico we did rainforest last time. this time got off and walked around...In Tortola we did the Gorda Rock excursion..could of been much longer, felt rushed ..35 minutes on first beach. then climbed through the Gorda rocks, and then I think around 1 hour on next beach. Margaritaville. we love, but there was another cruise ship there for 6 hours before ours, so pool was very dirty. walk down the beach a little further for less rocks and people. Employees are very kind. A lot of people using scooters. Hey listen i'm not knocking the people that really need them, but some we saw strolling all around the excursions, all around town without them. I don't know..just so many of them. Read Less
GREAT ENTERTAINMENT, BAD SERVICE AND MEDIOCRE FOOD
RC has gone to new depths to encourage you to spend money. There is no comfortable seating anywhere in the ship, including your cabin, except in the bars. There is no place ... Read More
GREAT ENTERTAINMENT, BAD SERVICE AND MEDIOCRE FOOD
RC has gone to new depths to encourage you to spend money. There is no comfortable seating anywhere in the ship, including your cabin, except in the bars. There is no place to sit and read a book. Indeed, there is no library on board. The only half decent food is in the specialty restaurants. So if you do plan to go, despite my warnings herein, add the cost of specialty restaurants to the price of the cruise and make your reservations early. Their on ship app is awful and frustrating, it has limited information, doesn’t always work, and doesn’t notify you if you get a message. So....you will have to buy the WiFi package. The upsell is constant and they must be under a lot of pressure to make quota because they won’t take no for an answer......so very annoying. The shops are over-priced, you can get the same thing in the overpriced tourist traps on shore cheaper. One thing of note, an 18% tip is added to all the bills and called a “service charge”. . So when you are contemplating a tip keep in mind that you have already given them 18%. For myself, I don’t appreciate the deliberate deception. Give great service for a great tip.
MEDIOCRE FOOD. Looking forward to great food on your cruise? You won’t find it here. This ship falls way below standards. In main dining the chef does a decent job of cooking the meat properly, but the meat is of the poorer cuts and such low quality that it is tough to cut and chew. The sauces are watery and served skimpily, perhaps a tablespoon. I can’t say if they are tasty as there is not enough served on your plate to make a determination. I don’t know what the eggs are, but they are not real eggs....powder maybe? Note: if you still take a cruise on this ship, there is a fried egg station hidden aft ..... we found it on Day 6. OJ is simply disgusting, not made from oranges. I could go on. Most of the alternatives for lunch, such as Johnny Rockets, aren't worth paying extra for.
BAD SERVICE. The wait service in main dining is non-existent. They are quick to take your drink order and charge your account, but you can wait up to 17 minutes (we timed it one night) to have your food order taken.
WONDERLAND SPECIALTY RESTAURANT
In contrast, we ate at Wonderland one evening and experienced the best meal we had of our life. We have traveled around Europe and the US to some of the best restaurants, so that is saying something. The creativity, the imagination...and I’m talking about the food, not just the surroundings. Bread made into foam, clear tomato juice, meringue dessert in the shape of toadstools. The explosion of flavors as they hit your palette. I won’t spoil the awesome surprise with the smoking eggs and chocolate dessert. Don’t let the menu dissuade you, this is an experience not to be missed and be prepared for the gastronomic experience of your life!
GREAT ENTERTAINMENT. I was very impressed with the variety of entertainment and quality of the performers. The ice shows were spectacular. We saw 1887 and the iSkate show, the latter being one put together by the performers themselves. They are world class champions skating for your entertainment pleasure. The aqua show was equally outstanding. The stage rises and falls, the choreography is wonderful.....high divers, tight rope walkers, and a guy who twirls for 10 minutes. We asked, because we had to know, but apparently he meditates and that’s how he can do it for so long.
The thing to keep in mind is that they are doing all this on a ship that rocks back and forth!
There is also a lot to be said about the cool things on the ship. Imagine the elevator doors opening up and there before you in the elevator is a funky guy with a funky hat, singing and playing the piano.... a piano in the elevator! I rode up and down with him and had a jolly good time. So cool! Or you can order a drink and watch a robot make it for you! Too cool! Or you go sit at a bar in Central Park to have a drink and the entire bar rises and falls three stories! Or ride a carousel....on a cruise ship. Or how about watching a replica of the kinetic sculpture of Kafka in Prague (a silver head that turns around in sections). Hard to describe. Zip lines, water slides, this ship has it all.
For us, this was our first and last RC cruise, even if they did improve the service and the food. In addition to the things discussed above, there is music everywhere. You cannot get away from it. Music in one area competing with music in another area. Then on top of that, the many passengers trying to talk above it all. Waiting long periods of time for the elevator because of the masses of people waiting for one.The lack of comfortable seating. The void of a place to go an sit quietly and talk or read. The awful food and service. I can spend my money on a ship far more enjoyable that doesn't confront you with a sales pitch at every turn Read Less
This was a family trip with my Dad and Sister. Every bit of it was perfect. I enjoyed the serenity pool and hot tub. My room steward was very nice and prompt. The room was clean and comfortable. Best sleep I've had in a very long ... Read More
This was a family trip with my Dad and Sister. Every bit of it was perfect. I enjoyed the serenity pool and hot tub. My room steward was very nice and prompt. The room was clean and comfortable. Best sleep I've had in a very long time. I wanted to take the mattress home. The shows were very good...we saw movies on the deck, comedy shows and variety shows. I was unable to book any excursions due to an injury prior to the cruise, but there was shopping and swimming right off the ship. I have to admit, I had all but given up on Carnival's food before this trip, but they did a fantastic job. It was definitely up to par this time. I would book on this ship again as the staff was very welcoming and attentive. The only complaint that I could muster is that the shower did not maintain temperature throughout. It would go from a little too hot to a little too cold. Read Less
My son, daughter-in-law, two granddaughters, wife and I sailed on the Harmony of the Seas departing on June 9, 2019 returning on June 16, 2019. The itinerary was Perfect Day at Coco Cay, day at sea, St. Thomas, St. Maarten, and two ... Read More
My son, daughter-in-law, two granddaughters, wife and I sailed on the Harmony of the Seas departing on June 9, 2019 returning on June 16, 2019. The itinerary was Perfect Day at Coco Cay, day at sea, St. Thomas, St. Maarten, and two additional days at sea. Our staterooms were 7630 and 7632, adjoining Jr. Suites. Note that my wife and I are experienced cruisers with more than 20 cruises, most with Celebrity and Royal but with others as well. This cruise vacation is summarized below.
We live in Orlando so getting to Port Canaveral is an easy drive. We left the house at 9:45 and arrived at the port about an hour later. I dropped off our bags passengers and parked in the onsite garage which was very convenient though a little pricey. Check-in was very quick as we used the Royal App and had all information on our cell phones. I purchased the digital photo package on-line prior to the cruise so we had numerous photos taken on boarding. The on-line price for the package was $249, onboard it was over $300 (although Royal had different promotions for it throughout the week). Our rooms were obviously not ready so we headed to Park Café for lunch and to make our home base until the rooms were opened up which occurred at 1:00 as advertised.
While others were getting their lunch I headed up to Country Kitchen to make our dinner reservations for a party of 6. This was my first disappointment on the cruise. I asked for reservations at 6:00 each night but was informed the restaurant opens at 5:15 so I could have 5:15 or after 7:00. They told me that they only had two tables for 6 so that was my only option. After much haggling they gave me 5:45 for the first 3 nights but 5:15 for the remaining nights. I chose to chill and explain the situation to my son and daughter-in-law but they were not happy as 5:15 as it was way too early for them. 5:15 was too early for my wife and I as well for that matter. Getting two young children (5 & 23 months) and themselves ready by that time would significantly eat into their afternoons. In hindsight I should have bumped up my issue to a higher authority above the restaurant manager. This situation resulted in much stress each afternoon but we all coped the best we could. I am not sure why they couldn’t accommodate my request as the restaurant was half empty each night and they easily could have created a table for 6 as they did one night.
After lunch we headed to staterooms and met our stateroom attendant. As always the rooms were very nice and spacious with lots of storage space. If within your budget I would highly recommend booking a Jr. Suite as it just makes the cruising experience a little more pleasant. We had the divider opened between our two rooms making it essentially a two room suite. The grandchildren enjoyed being able to come over at will. Our stateroom attendant was friendly and did a great job doing his job. I would say he exceeded my expectations for service.
Day two was supposed to be our Perfect Day at Coco Cay. It turned out to be anything but perfect. I bought tickets to the Thrill Water Park for all (the 23 month old was free) paying a little over $300 on-line prior to the cruise. I did my research and both my son and I clearly understood the restrictions for the 5 year old and what she could ride. However once inside the park what we thought the 5 year old could ride she could not even though she was well over the lower height restriction. The problem, we did not put a life preserver on her, our bad. But the life guards did not advise or direct us to do so either. They simply said she could not ride. Also for the adults the wait times on the rides were anywhere from 1 to 2 hours. They also closed the rides for 2+ hours do to lightening in the area (10 mile radius) although it never rained on site. Bottom line is that in a best case you could get maybe 5 rides in. In our case after taking time out for lunch and letting the kids play in the areas outside the water park none of the adults rode any of the thrill rides. The next day I received a message asking me to review the Perfect Day at Coco Cay and I gave it a very negative review. Subsequently I was contacted by guest services to clarify my review and in that conversation I requested compensation for my dissatisfaction. At first they offered 25% refund, which they were refunding everyone because of the weather closing, but I was adamant that I received zero value for my money. After two additional conversations with guest services and the manager of shore excursions they refunded me my total amount. I am happy that Royal eventually took my complaint seriously and did what I believe is right but I am disappointed that it took so long to do so. Bottom line is make sure you are willing to wait on long lines and maybe get only a few rides in. Also if you have a young ones over 40 inches but not yet 48 inches put a life vest on them (note though I only saw a 48 inch height gauges no 40 inch gauges). Also RCL should figure out how to accommodate chaperones who do not ride on the attractions such as older grandparents, why charge someone who is not using the facility. Will I use the facility again, maybe, but at least I will go in with full knowledge that I am just giving Royal my money with little value in return.
Other ports were essentially noneventful. Getting off and boarding at each was easy and quick. We didn’t take any tours and simply made them beach days. In St. Thomas we took a taxi to Emerald beach which worked well for us. In St. Maarten we took the water taxi to town and rented chairs and beach umbrellas. We also had a great lunch in town in a restaurant along the boardwalk. The water taxi worked out well so I would recommend it if it works into your plans. On previous cruises to St. Maarten we simply walked into town which is an easy walk.
Our dining experience onboard was mixed. We only used Windjammer for breakfast and lunch a few times. I was very disappointed in the breakfast served there. In the past on Harmony you could get eggs benedict there but not on this cruise. Also in the past you could get omelets made to order, no more, only pre made omelets. Pancakes and waffles were also pre made and were cold and dried out. You could get fried eggs to order though. Lunch in Windjammer was a little better. Windjammer food quality and choices though are simply declining. We went to American Icon twice for breakfast and it was ok but not great. I ordered eggs benedict and the eggs were over cooked and the Hollandaise Sause was dried out on top. Second time I simply ordered eggs over medium and they came out as you would expect. They also had a very good French toast that I enjoyed. In short I would say everyone in our party enjoyed their breakfasts in American Icon. The best breakfasts we had on the ship however was at Johnny Rockets, killer omelets with nice country fried potatoes in a nice location on the ship. Also Johnny Rockets had plenty of seating and service was quick and friendly. We also used Mini Bites a few times for lunch and snacks and were pleased with the offerings there.
We ate dinner the second night of the cruise in Wonderland as my wife and I enjoyed it on our last cruise on Harmony. No so much this time. We simply remember the dining experience being much better. The meal was ok but nothing to write home about. We used a specialty dining coupon we had from our TA and in retrospect we should have eaten at Park 150, we have never been disappointed there.
All other dinners were in Coastal Kitchen. The reservation times aside the staff there was spectacular. They honored our every request including asking for several items from the MDR. They were great with the children. The food offerings there however were not as good as I remember it on past cruises. One of the reasons I book a Jr. Suite is to dine in Coastal Kitchen. In the past we found it better than any specialty restaurant on the ship, but not on this sailing. We found the menu selections ordinary, nothing special. The head chef came by each evening and one night I asked him if the menu was his or Miami’s, he said Miami. Too bad, I think in the past the chef may have been given more flexibility to use their creativity in creating dishes. The food was not bad, just not the exceptional dining experience I have become accustomed to. One big mistake serve what is on the menu, one night they said they had Pear Salad but when it was served it was apple salad with a different dressing. The server should have known that the Pear salad was not available. No killer nightly dessert either, just ho-hum. As with Windjammer dinner in Country Kitchen appears to be on the decline, at least on this ship.
The nightly entertainment was enjoyable. We have been on Harmony in the last 18 months so the shows have not changed. Make sure you make reservations online well in advance on line, we did and it worked out great. Although we enjoyed the shows we look forward to RCL rolling out some new shows on Harmony. I found the musicians on this cruise to be outstanding, better than I have been accustomed too. The two comedians onboard Nery Saenz and Heath Harmison were fantastic, very funny guys. The Headliner Showtime act, Tribute Band, Private Stock, was ok but not a great show although many in the audience enjoyed them more than I. Another new item I did not appreciate was the large number of reserved seats for suites (Grand and above), Diamond Plus (not there yet, maybe never) and Pinnacle as well as seats for those that purchased The Key. It used to be that the first couple of rows were reserved for Suite guests, now 2/3 of the seats in the center section are reserved for the above, very disturbing. It simply means getting in line early at the front so you can run to get your seats when the doors open. This simply creates more stress and watch watching during dinner. Guess it is just another indication of the cruise line going back to the class system; regular paying customers are not as appreciated as they were in the recent past.
Daytime activities onboard were very good and what have become accustomed to. Note however a change in the procedures on the Flow Rider. My son is a very experienced Flow Rider having sailed on Freedom, Independence and Harmony. He signed the waiver, got his wrist band and was in line for about 30 minutes for the standup Flow Rider when the attendant told him he needed to ride the knee board Flow Rider first and get a different colored wrist band. So this cost him about an hour of wasted time in total. He should have been advised of the change in procedure when he signed the waiver. He complained and they began making announcements to this requirement, it would have been nice if they were making announcements prior to his complaint. Apparently this is a new procedure implemented a few months back, not sure what its purpose it has.
I do not like writing what is mostly a negative review, particularly since my past sailings on RCCL have been outstanding. So what is my take away, will I sail with Royal again, sail on Harmony again? Probably yes to both depending on value and the itinerary. As I live in Orlando I will likely sail on whichever Oasis class ship Royal is sailing from Port Canaveral, not sure it is worth the drive to Fort Lauderdale or Miami for me. But given the value of the cruise and itinerary driving south is always an option. Will probably only sail RCL though with grandchildren, for me Celebrity is still my go to cruise line and ships. But I will also be looking more closely at Princess as I have had good past experiences with them as well. Read Less
My family traveled on the Divina 5 years ago and enjoyed it immensely. We cruise a lot and wanted to try a different line so we chose MSC. This time we took 20 guests for our 60th wedding anniversary, 12 of them I paid for myself. We ... Read More
My family traveled on the Divina 5 years ago and enjoyed it immensely. We cruise a lot and wanted to try a different line so we chose MSC. This time we took 20 guests for our 60th wedding anniversary, 12 of them I paid for myself. We liked the new ship, free drink package, price was good as I booked early. Embarkation was very smooth. disembarkation was a chaos because of waiting on transportation but not the ship's fault. The ship is just beautiful and so many areas to choose from. Entertainment was awesome with aerialists, particularly the Michael Jackson show. Super! Food wasn't the best we have had on ships and varieties were limited and somewhat bland but we aren't ones to complain about things like that. Cheesecake and a nice fish would have been nice each night. The children's areas are fabulous and our two little ones loved it all, particularly Kids Club. We loved everything about the Seaside except the ship did not recognize our 60th anniversary and 20 people in any way.That disappointed me since we were returning guests from 5 years ago. We liked the bars to get your own drinks and not wait on a waiter. No tissues are in the rooms now, had to ask for them. Only 2 washcloths but we had a wonderful room steward.
The best part was Melvin, Head Waiter, from Hungary? He was wonderful, funny and danced with me two nights. Read Less
I have cruised with Carnival 3 times in the past 19 years. On June_2018 we took the Magic leaving Fort Lauderdale. The food quality at the buffet was very disappointing, menus were repeated over and over. We tried the assigned restaurant ... Read More
I have cruised with Carnival 3 times in the past 19 years. On June_2018 we took the Magic leaving Fort Lauderdale. The food quality at the buffet was very disappointing, menus were repeated over and over. We tried the assigned restaurant once and it was hell, server was messing out order all the time, the food took over 1 hour to be served and even like that, ti came out wrong again. There was also poor entertainment, theater's stage was supper small. Main pool was very often without music. Room's carpet was not clean, bathroom sick clogged, refrigerator making loud noise non-stop. The room's attendant was OK but my 2 requests were never fixed. We were supposed to have a KING bed but all they had were 2 super small personal bed put together. Why offering KING when they know that is not an option?! We had a balcony room, the roof in the balcony was extremely rusted, the door to the balcony had the door lock broken, night lamp also falling apart. Mid ship, deck 11 had very comfy seats with cushions but sadly they were assigned for smokers only... seriously? Smoking section should be assigned to the back side of the ship so the smoke doesn't get anywhere else, it was disgusting passing thru so many areas and having to smell that. The casino's cigar smell was so strong that you could smell it outside of it, they need some serious extractors in there. I got charged me for a protection plan I didn't sign-up for and refused to refund my money, they took the prepaid gratuities' money toward the protection and charged me gratuities again and refuse to adjust my folio. They failed to provide proof of the protection plan policy claiming I added it. I called several times and all they say is SORRY, asked to speak with CEO and they refused too. THEY ARE STEALING MONEY FROM ME AND REFUSE TO COOPERATE ... NEVER AGAIN WILL CRUISE WITH CARNIVAL! Read Less
We choose this cruise because we were looking for a cruise to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. We got a great price on a Fantansica experience balcony deck 12. With the easy drink package. We stayed overnight in Miami at the Hampton ... Read More
We choose this cruise because we were looking for a cruise to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. We got a great price on a Fantansica experience balcony deck 12. With the easy drink package. We stayed overnight in Miami at the Hampton inn Blue Lagoon. Very nice and convenient hotel. We parked our car at an offsite parking lot called safe cruise Miami. Great price to park, dropped off and picked up quickly. Their shuttle is free so i can't complain about the ride. If you want to experience Miami I would stay at a downtown hotel or Port of Miami hotel it will cost more for that.
Embarkation was amazing!! Fastest I've ever got on a ship. Disembarkation the same! Maybe because they have the face scanners I D going through customs!
The seaside is a beautiful ship! our cabin was very nice. A little more storage space and a little bigger shower would have been perfect. The balcony was very large, so that made up for the smaller shower! Our room steward was amazing, Roxanne. She greeted us and asked us our names! Always made it a point to greet us using our names everyday. I found it interesting the room stewards were woman, I have never had a women room steward before.
The dining room was ok. We have become use to anytime dining,so the first night everyone waiting for the dining room to open created a big line,and people going up and cutting in front of you. After the first night, we just arrived 10 minutes late and avoided the mad rush to your tables. Unfortunately we encountered a lot more people that would not be considerate of others. Alot of passengers from other countries is all we could figure. The food in the main dining room did not leave a lasting impression on any of us. We did enjoy the buffet. Again the food was more Mediterranean then American. The pizza was very good and the burgers were the best I had on a cruise. i ordered a pizza from room service one day, for a charge, it was well worth the price to have a fresh pizza, delicious! We were never hungry.
We never had a problem finding a place to sit outside. Only by the main pool if you wanted to see an activity. We didn't find much to do for us in the daytime on a sea day. A lot of shopping events not enough entertainment events on the sea day afternoon. So I enjoyed relaxing outside with a coco loco with rum on the side. They really need to change up the drinks available, it was easier for the bartender to make a frozen drink with the alcohol then give a shot of alcohol on the side. The service on the ship was very good
We didn't do any excursion with MSC we just explored on our own. The port times were not enough at some of the stops and too much time at other ports.
The cruise critic meet & greet was very nice that MSC put together for the group. The captain expressed wanting to hear the American feedback since they are moving into the United States with more ships. Read Less
We were in the Mac hatch club, so this experience is very different if you were not in the hatch club. It was a nice, quiet, and fun experience. We had a deluxe sweet on the 18 floor. It was good size and sleeps 5. The yatch club gets ... Read More
We were in the Mac hatch club, so this experience is very different if you were not in the hatch club. It was a nice, quiet, and fun experience. We had a deluxe sweet on the 18 floor. It was good size and sleeps 5. The yatch club gets butlers, unlimited food, and drink, and gets escorted to shows, dinner, and off the ship. You have a private deck, pool, lounge, restaurant, and bars. Only around 150 other people so it is nice and not crowded. You get a priority elevator which skips all other floors. Also you get priority boarding at each port. Our butler helped so much. And I would recommend getting a cabana on the top deck for 100$. It comes with a cooler filled with any drink, food delivered the whole day, and a nice shaded and private area. The shows are great. (Michael Jackson show is a must, tickets sell fast). For shows the hatch club has private seating in the theater and don’t need to book tickets. But tickets if you are not in yatch club sell fast. Awesome cruise and only way to cruise. Read Less
“That was the s————- s—- show I ever saw…”
This is a quote I overheard from a fellow passenger on the MSC Seaside during our recent cruise vacation, and I couldn’t help but think… “That sums up this experience ... Read More
“That was the s————- s—- show I ever saw…”
This is a quote I overheard from a fellow passenger on the MSC Seaside during our recent cruise vacation, and I couldn’t help but think… “That sums up this experience perfectly.”
I have to admit, I was going to use the famous quote from Charles Dickens, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” but I didn’t want to be so dramatic.
Let’s get right down to it. I traveled with a group of people on the MSC Seaside from June 8th to June 15th 2019. This was my second cruise, but the first with MSC. Boy, was I disappointed in this company.
There was on SMALL thing that I liked about MSC. I will mention that before getting to the nitty gritty.
I have a gluten allergy, and I felt as if the staff in the dining room was amazing with that. Plus, I got a little gluten-free treat every day in my stateroom. HOWEVER, the buffets, were lacking. Nothing was labeled gluten-free, so it was impossible to tell what I could safely eat and what I couldn't.
So...that was it. The ports were nice, but MSC has nothing to do with the beauty of St. Thomas or the fun spirt in Nassau. That being said, if you are considering MSC, PLEASE, for the love of everything holy...keep reading. I would hate that someone else would fall victim to this horrendous company....
Booking -- How hard is it to book a cruise? We booked with a booking agent, and then we couldn't log into the website. MSC blamed it on website updates...for FIVE MONTHS???? Ridiculous. Once we finally figured out how to log into the most confusing website in the world, we noticed that our names were spelled incorrectly. "Okay, we will just call them..." Good luck with that! After several times of being put on hold for 20 minutes, 30 minutes, and more with no pick up, I requested a call back via the MSC website. That was about six weeks ago, my cruise has come and gone, and I still haven't gotten a call.
Embarkation -- I don't have much bad to say about this. It was smooth...I would consider waiting in line for the next customer service representative one of the big highlights of my MSC Seaside experience...and no, I'm not being sarcastic. Nothing bad happened, so I'll count this as a win.
Ship -- The ship is beautiful...yes. It's big, it's spacious, and it was clean...if you don't count the consistent nostril burning sewage smell that lingers in certain areas. Once you look past the beauty and grandeur of the ship, however, there are MAJOR issues. For example, on Deck 8, if you walk around enough, you will find the chair graveyard. There were approximately 12 deck chairs that had broken...yes, broken with people actually sitting in them. We saw one, average sized man, fall right out of his chair during breakfast when the chair broke from underneath them. Obviously this is a problem on the Seaside because there were a lot of broken chairs and a lot of pissed off people.
Cabin -- Our cabin...9158...straight up...smelled like someone had peed all over the floor, let it soak into the carpet, and then placed the room in the hot, Caribbean sun for a week or so just to make sure that the odor would really stay in there. We DID complain about it, and our room steward sprayed something in there, but it only masked the smell for a short time.
Dining -- My gluten-free food was good. They did cater to my needs. The rest of our group, however, didn't have the best experience all of the time. For instance, my mother's salad was in a bowl, and at the bottom of the bowl was about a quarter inch of water. Gross.
Entertainment and Activities -- “That was the sh*ttiest sh*t show I ever saw…” I heard this as we left Country/Western night. It lasted a whole 15 minutes, and then it changed to latin night, with hours of latin dancing. The rest of the entertainment on the ship was poor, too. Nothing ever caught our eyes...or our ears, for that matter...and I was traveling with a group of about 25 people. I will give props to the Michael Jackson show...my second highlight of this cruise. It was pretty great.
Service -- Here's where MSC really fails, flunks, falters, etc. The customer service is almost non-existent. The company simply doesn't care. We literally had drinks shoved at us, we had bartenders rolling their eyes when ordering simple drinks like rum and coke, and you just have to wait until they feel like serving you...oh, and don't be surprised if people who come after you get served first. It happened to us time and time again. Rajbir in the Jungle Bar was a great example of this. He caught my eye several times, and passed me over not once, not twice, but SIX times for people who came up to the bar after me. I finally had to say "EXCUSE ME" and he STILL didn't come to me. Another bartender, Reinan, stepped up and apologized for my wait, and said if I need anything else to please come to him...which I did.
Some of these people really acted like it was a chore to serve. Well guess what? That is your JOB. If you don't want to be a bartender, then find another vocation. These bartenders also don't seem to know what they are serving. We got the MSC promotion "Drinks on Us." There are literally seven mixed drinks to choose from. it's not that difficult to get right. Vodka Lemon is one of the drinks. It's Bitter Lemon soda and vodka. Simple, delicious, refreshing. These people KNOW you have this drink package, and I can't even tell you all of the times that they messed that drink up by putting lemonade instead of Bitter Lemon, or Sprite instead of Bitter Lemon, or just plain club soda with a lemon...it was seriously mind-boggling. If you can't make the drink right, take it off the menu.
Ports and Shore Excursions -- The ports were all fabulous, and I am not giving MSC an ounce of praise for them. They just chose where to stop. That's it. Good job at picking ports that every other cruise line also goes to. Here's your gold star for the day, MSC!
Disembarkation --- This was the absolute WORST. After a week of misery and dealing with broken chairs, terrible customer service, and smell like pee and sewage, finally we could get off of this hell hole on water. The disembarkation is simple. You get a colored tag on your luggage, you go to that color area, and you get your suitcase. Easy peasy, right? Except when you have a red tag and your luggage is not in the red area. This is exactly what happened to me. We looked for about 15 minutes, and then asked someone. They didn't really care. The response was, "Well, sometimes the colors get mixed up. Look in similar colored areas." So, I did. We looked in fuchsia, brown, and purple...no luggage. I asked a second person. This person told me to "walk up and down all of the aisles to see if it's in another color." (Mind you, there are 5,000+ people on this ship, all with luggage...) No success there, so I asked a third person. He said the same thing...look in other areas. At this point, I started yelling to everyone, including my poor dad and some random people, about how much I hate MSC...and I meant it from the bottom of my heart. Yes, people stared, but I was done.
I then went to another customer service rep. She said that it's possible the luggage is in the next area, which wasn't open yet. I asked when it would open and she said "Well, one person has the key, so it will open when he is ready to open it." At this point, it had been well over an hour since we had stepped off of the ship. About 10 minutes later, even as I huffed and puffed over this insane lack of customer service, the door opened. I pushed my way through the scores of travelers waiting to get THEIR luggage, and I saw my suitcase as soon as I walked in. Why? Because a bright red tag really stands out when it's in the light pink color area.
I walked over and took my bag, and began to roll it out. My traveling companion was waiting for me, and as soon as she saw it, she gasped. I looked down and there was a HUGE dent in my BRAND NEW suitcase. If you thought I had lost my mind before, I hadn't...this was when I really lost my mind. I pushed my way back through and I was advised to go to this little desk where a woman was surrounded by people who had ALSO gotten their luggage damaged. I had to fill out a form, take photos, and she said, "Well, that luggage looks totaled." She gave me a card with some contact information on it, and said they would reimburse me for the damage, I just had to email them the information.
So, I did...and this is the response I got back --- We are so sorry to hear that your bag was damaged during disembarkation. We make every effort to handle our guests’ belongings carefully and to deliver everything safely, so it’s disappointing that things went awry this time. As stated in our ticket contract, MSC is not liable for any damage to guests’ luggage.
Now...here I am. Writing this review and trying to warn everyone out there about how terrible MSC was to us.
I will never, ever, not in a bazillion years, EVER go on another MSC vacation, and I urge you to try any other cruise line in the world but MSC. My mom has gone on 16 cruises, and she said this was the worst out of every cruise she has been on. Read Less
We were looking forward to this cruise being we had cruised Celebrity 12 times before and were always satisfied with our cruise. This time was a real let-down.
We had an Aqua class room and ate at Blu restaurant. The quality of food ... Read More
We were looking forward to this cruise being we had cruised Celebrity 12 times before and were always satisfied with our cruise. This time was a real let-down.
We had an Aqua class room and ate at Blu restaurant. The quality of food was not good. We sent back a number of dishes. The staple salad (Caesar) came to the table limpe. As if it was laying out for some time. The strip steak was uneatable! One morning the bacon was so greasy and dry that it stuck together and was unable to cut.
The service in this restaurant was also not up to par. Recommended to us one night what to order and then came back after we took her suggestion, and told us they didn't have it. Took a creamer off a table next to us that they were cleaning and placed it on our table. I could go on and on.
Our room was always kept immaculate!. Our steward name was Francisco. Excellent job all week.
Didn't do much activity on port days being we were there before.
We had cruised 29 cruises and always returned to Celebrity. Sorry to say, we don't think we will again. Read Less
Departed out of Ft. Lauderdale which I LOVE. So much easier than Miami. We live in the area so we just drove down that morning. This was our 9th Carnival cruise (gold). With two kids (13 and 6) we go for the ocean suite and it makes ... Read More
Departed out of Ft. Lauderdale which I LOVE. So much easier than Miami. We live in the area so we just drove down that morning. This was our 9th Carnival cruise (gold). With two kids (13 and 6) we go for the ocean suite and it makes priority embarkation/debarkation worth it. We bypassed all the long lines and we were on the ship in about 15 minutes. Our room was already ready by 12:30.
The cabin itself was good (7277). To keep the lights on, you do need to keep a card in the slot upon entrance. I had no idea, until reading another post, that we could literally use ANY card to do this, including business cards! Ah well. Now you know! The room balcony is my favorite place on the ship. I read out there for hours. Keep in mind that on this floor (well, 6 and above), your balcony won't be directly above water. You will be looking at the edge of deck 5. Some rooms had a view of the hot tub on deck 5. I would have not enjoyed that at all, but our room just had lounge chairs and it was always quiet and didn't obstruct my view when sitting and looking out to sea.
Bring a ship approved adapter so you can have more outlets. I also bring a travel fan and digital alarm clock.
The muster drill was much better! We just met in a specified room based on our muster station and heard the safety instructions. No standing in rows in the hot sun on the decks!
I thought the ship was clean. There's always someone cleaning something. It never felt exceptionally crowded, except the first day on the lido when everyone's scrambling for lunches. After that, I never felt overwhelmed with people. We spent most of our time near the water slides which my kids absolutely loved. We mostly had breakfast in Northern Lights (sit down) which service was VERY slow, but we kept going because it was a nice way to start the day without the chaos and heat of a Lido breakfast., We ate lunch at Guys our the taco place (or deli) which is great. We did early dining.
The first couple of nights in the dining room were awful. Either they didn't take our drink order, or they did and they never came. Felt completely ignored. We even wondered if they were short staffed. Slow service. I'm talking 30 minutes to get the dinner rolls! And that's if we got to pick them. Sometimes they just handed you whatever kind without even asking you which break type you wanted. I know, it's little stuff. But we were so annoyed that for the first time, we booked a specialty restaurant (the Italian place) for the third night just hoping to get better service. The service was great at the specialty restaurant, though the location is a bit odd. I think the basketball court is right above it so there was a lot of banging.
Anyway, when we went back to the dining room the 4th night, service improved greatly and for the first time, everyone at the table got their drinks! Each night after that was perfect. The food itself is very good too. I gained 7 pounds! (Currently down 4 of those pounds tho!)
We never used the kids club even though I sign them up every time!
I actually thought the shows were pretty good! Especially compared to the last couple Carnival cruises we've been on. The director was great (British guy), the staff was great too! Having kids, our fav was the movies at night on the deck. You can get popcorn and rent a blanket.
St. Maarten: we did the Golden Eagle Catamaran tour and loved it! Very organized. Smooth ride. First stop was snorkeling. Even my 6 year old loved it. Second stop was a beach. Beautiful waters. They served a lot of beer and rum punch. The punch was awesome! Of course a few passengers over indulged (there's always a few!) but luckily they were happy drunks and nothing got too crazy. Would def do that excursion again.
St. Kitts: meh. To be fair, we didn't book an excursion because the only ones that interested us, the min age was older than 6. We just walked around the port and then tried to navigate the town a bit and it was just a little too much for us. The roads/drivers made me too nervous with my younger one. I didn't find it to be very friendly there, but if we were to ever go back, I'd def book an excursion because I am interested in the history of the island.
San Juan: We've been here a few times but it was the first time for my youngest. We always visit the National Historic Site. We read everything and explored. We also walked around the city/shops. It's such a cool city! We've never done an excursion here though.
Grand Turk: my husband's favorite. Honestly, we just enjoy the beach/Jimmy Buffets. Bring your water shoes and snorkel. We saw the most amazing fish just swimming on their beach. Rainbow parrot fish being our fav. We want to go back to Turks for a week just to snorkel!
Overall it was a great vacation and we were lucky to have amazing weather! I would def go on this ship again. Read Less
This was my 3rd cruise, but first time with Carnival. We went as a group of 9 for a family vacation. Five in my group were new to cruising. The 5 children ranged in age from 6 y.o to 14 y.o. Unfortunately, everyone in the group ... Read More
This was my 3rd cruise, but first time with Carnival. We went as a group of 9 for a family vacation. Five in my group were new to cruising. The 5 children ranged in age from 6 y.o to 14 y.o. Unfortunately, everyone in the group returned extremely disappointed.
The pools were remarkably small, barely larger than hot tubs, and were nowhere close to being able to accommodate the number of passengers on board. My husband and I weren't even interested in using the pools although we usually like to jump in.
The casino took up an extremely large space and made the entire 5th floor smell like stale cigarette smoke. The casino actually took up more space than all THREE children's areas combined!
My kids were so bored when we dropped them off at the child area, that they refused to go back. It actually took me 20 minutes to drop off my 2 kids, and another 20 waiting in line to pick them up an hour later. It was disheartening to not be able to drop them off to have fun so we could do "adult time".
The lines for food were equally as frustrating. After our first stop in Amber Cove, hungry, exhausted passengers returned on board to find that only pizza and burgers were available to eat; resulting in lines that were excruciatingly long. This was pretty much the recurring theme each time we wanted to eat. This was even true for the buffet lines...when it was open. It is like they purposely timed the food areas to be shut down or at half staff during the most inappropriate/busy times. We had never experienced lines like this on our other cruises.
Activities were mostly limited to sales, raffles and Bingo to encourage additional on-board spending. Two soccer tournaments were offered, but were limited to 18+. The one craft we attended was so short that the workers were actually taking supplies out from under my 6 y.o. daughter's hands to put them away. How disappointing. We enjoyed the live music, especially Liz and Lucas, who were AMAZING! I wish there would have been more on board to do other than just sitting in a bar listening to music. Even though we loved the band, we would have liked more family time on our family vacation.
The 2 teens in our group actually enjoyed hanging out with new friends. The 13-15 y.o. teen area facilitated the opportunity for them to all meet, but after 2 days they preferred to spend most of their time as a group outside of the monitored area.
There were some positives on our cruise. As I mentioned before, music by Liz and Lucas was amazing. Our group all liked the port locations; especially Grand Turk and San Juan.
We would have loved to spend more time in both places. Despite frequent long lines, Guy's Burgers, the BBQ place, 24/7 ice cream and the pizza place were delicious. We also liked the burrito shack. Red Frog pub had board games available that entertained us for an hour or so. My children liked the water slides when they were available, but they were always done within 30-45 minutes. The adults used the workout area and were pleased to find plenty of cardio and weight lifting equipment available during both visits.
Overall, the combination of minimal pool space, constant lines for food, lack of activities and boring childrens' areas, we will NEVER consider returning to Carnival. The negatives outweighed the positive by a HUGE margin. Our cruise was pretty much only enjoyable while we were off the ship or listening to Liz and Lucas. Read Less
We just got off a week-long Eastern Caribbean cruise on the MSC Seaside. This was my third cruise (I’ve done Holland America and Disney previously) and my husband’s first. I’ll break my review into categories to make it easier to ... Read More
We just got off a week-long Eastern Caribbean cruise on the MSC Seaside. This was my third cruise (I’ve done Holland America and Disney previously) and my husband’s first. I’ll break my review into categories to make it easier to find what you’re looking for.
The ship is absolutely immaculate. It is easy to navigate, super clean, and glamorous. There are TVs all over that have an interactive map, allow you to book shows, and show you daily activities. There are tons of lounge areas and bars, a little something for everyone. We never felt the boat rocking (our room was on the 14th floor).
There are several pools. We actually had the best luck at the jungle pool. We also enjoyed the adults-only South Beach pool. The Miami Beach pool is packed most of the time. My husband and I both with there were more hot tubs, ESPECIALLY in the adults-only pool section. Hot tubs are typically overrun by kids. I also wish they stayed open past 9!
FANTASTICA EXPERIENCE AND ROOM (14th FLOOR INTERIOR)
With the loss of the 12 drink vouchers, Fantastica basically gives you the option of “better” rooms and dining time choice. However, our room location wasn’t anything special and we requested early dining and were assigned a 9:30pm dinner time. Yes, we could have changed that, but who wants to wait 45 minutes in the dining room to change their dinner time when you just arrived? Not us. Unless you REALLY care about your room location.
Speaking of room, we were in interior room 14044. I thought our room was great. It was cleaned twice a day. We utilized some storage hacks (like the over the door hanger and pop-up laundry hanger) and I suggest doing the same. Water pressure was amazing. Splurge for a balcony if you can, but don’t worry if you can’t. Having an interior room makes you get out and explore the ship.
As is pretty typical of cruises, the food was good, not great. I know a lot of people complain about the buffet options, but honestly there are TONS of options, they just don’t change very often. The pizza is AMAZING. I also loved the cinnamon rolls at breakfast. The Marketplace buffet (deck 8) is way bigger than Biscayne Bay (deck 16). Plenty of places to sit; we liked to sit outside and enjoy the view. I wish drink classes were bigger; the cups for water were practically shot glasses haha. I would suggest bringing your own bigger cup.
We only ate in the MDR once. We dressed “smart,” but there was literally a guy in a tank top and hat…so clearly not strict on dress code. The food, again, was good, not great. The couple sat along with us at our table said they also had the fantastica package and requested the early dining time and were also assigned the latest time.
DRINKS ON US
We received this package as part of an Expedia promotion. Be aware: despite what you may have read in this group, this is NOT the “old version of the easy package.” It includes different things. The good part is it includes a wide range of beers (which Easy doesn’t.) My husband was happy about this. But it only includes basic mixed drinks made with well alcohol (vodka soda, rum and coke, etc.) and absolutely nothing blended. If you want blended drinks, you pay full price. You will pay a 15% tax on all drinks (even ones “included” on DOU.) MSC would be smart to just change over everyone’s DOU package to easy to avoid this continuous confusion.
We were blown away by the MSC staff. There are over 2000 staff on board and they all work VERY hard literally all the time. There is never an idle worker. There is a reason the ship is so immaculate. They will go out of their way to help you.
One thing that bothered me is that on several occasions I saw the crew members dressed in the white official looking outfits (I have no idea what their title is) harshly reprimanding staff members for minuscule things. I saw one of them yelling at the poor kid who makes pizzas for 29384 hours a day because he had the tongs in the wrong spot and then at this super adorable, fun kitchen worker who was laughing (along with us) at the birds coming on the boat and trying to take the food. I understand that they are trying to make sure the boat is pristine, but I also don’t support that type of management of people who work incredibly hard, especially in front of guests.
I will say that bar service is very slow. However, this is NOT because the servers/bartenders themselves are slow. They work their butts off! They just need WAY more people working behind the bar. Often times during prime pool hours there were only 1-2 bartenders responsible for all at-bar orders AND orders placed by bar maids. MSC needs to put more bartenders behind the bar. Good news is that their pours were VERY heavy
We booked the experience that included two 30-min massages and week-long passes to the Thermal Area. The massages were nice (my husband had never had one and was VERY skeptical, but he said he would do it again) but not the best I’ve ever had. We visited the Thermal Area 3 times. It was nice, but honestly I probably would have been fine with one day. It was nice to get away from crowds and relax. I loved the steam room with the cold showers. It felt SO refreshing, as did the showers with the “rain storm,” “cold mist,” etc. The snow room was unbearable to me, but neat. The Jacuzzi honestly wasn’t worth it because it was more warm than the hot Jacuzzi experience I was looking for. There is a private deck area with a small hot tub and some sun chairs that only Thermal Area-goers can use, which was really nice. We were always the only ones out there. However, again, for some reason the hot tub out there was also just slightly warm.
I thought, overall, the entertainment was great. There were a couple bands and some solo singers that all sounded great. The only thing I’ll say is that it got kind of repetitive by the end. The entertainment staff who put on the parties and lead the dance classes were AWESOME. You MUST go to the White Party dance party at Miami Beach Pool. They put a cover on the pool and have an awesome party until 1am, and TONS of people go. This was the only theme we dressed up for, and trust me…you want to bring your white outfit! Everyone dressed up.
As far as shows, we went to the R-Rated Beerprov show and Starwalker. We were DYING laughing at Beerprov. We wanted to go to the other shows they put on but it just didn’t work with our schedule. Starwalker was very good as well. I feel very conflicted because, well, I’m not about to be cheering for Michael Jackson after all that has come out, but I just decided to appreciate the music and dancing, which was awesome.
The entertainment staff CLEARLY love their jobs and make sure everyone has a great time.
PORTS OF CALL
Puerto Rico – This is kind of an odd day because it is a basically a sea day combined with a port day. We got in at 5:00 and walked up to a nearby fort. However, all of the forts closed at 6:00, so if you want to see them you better hurry! We walked to dinner and had a pina colada (they were invented in PR, you have to have one!) and then strolled around. Although charming, this was probably our most boring stop.
St. Thomas – We did the Sail and Snokel experience on Castaway Girl 3. We had a great time! We didn’t see many fish and not other aquatic life, but it was fun nonetheless. On the way back you are given rum punch and we leisurely return to the port, just enjoying the ride. After that we went to the Fat Turtle by the port and drank beers and chatted with locals. If you want a beach you will need to take a taxi.
Sint Maarten – Ugh, such a gorgeous port. Leave the shopping area, take a left and keep walking until you reach the sign for the beach. About a 10-15 min walk. Beautiful beach, lots of shops and bars/restaurants. Find a deal for lawn chairs/umbrella. Most about $20 for 2 beach chairs, umbrella, 5 beers OR 2 frozen drinks, and wif. We got that deal sans the alcohol for $10 a ways down the beach. Do be prepared for lots of locals trying to sell hair braiding, massages, bags, etc. Just say no thank you and they will move on. This is a short port day (7am – 1:30pm) so I suggest just making it a beach day.
Nassau – If you want to pick a day to spend on the boat while in port, this is that day. If not, I suggest finding an excursion or riding to another beach. We went to Junkanoo Beach, and….well, it has Junk in the name for a reason. It’s a very rocky beach with lots of glass, at the top of the beach there is lots of trash, and the drinks and food are crazy expensive. We stayed for a short while and just took a dip and then walked to the Twisted Lime for some delicious cold drinks and then went back to the boat and enjoyed some breathing room while others were in port.
As many have mentioned, this is a very diverse boat. Having lived abroad, I loved being immersed among all of the different language and cultures. The ONLY drawback is that many things we consider polite or appropriate behavior is not the case in other countries. Lots of cutting in line, lots of talking/talk-yelling in public areas, and just what seemed to be a general unawareness of anyone besides themselves. This, of course, is not the fault of MSC, but is just a reality to be aware of.
I highly suggest hooking up a CREDIT card to your account. You can easily do this on a kiosk the first or second day there. If you use a credit card, you don’t have to settle your bill at guest services. I can’t even imagine waiting in that line to settle my bill!
I know some people have had charges on their account that were wrong. We didn’t have that happen, BUT we did have on two occasions the bartender pass us their little machine to sign only to see that they were charging us for four drinks instead of two (remember, we had the DOU package so each drink had about a ~90cent service charge added.) When we refused to sign they took it off, but it was still sketchy. Read Less
After not cruising for 7 years, I went on a cruise for the first time on NCL to try out a different cruise line. Last year, I thought NCL was terrible but after experiencing Celebrity Equinox it's really put that cruise line into ... Read More
After not cruising for 7 years, I went on a cruise for the first time on NCL to try out a different cruise line. Last year, I thought NCL was terrible but after experiencing Celebrity Equinox it's really put that cruise line into perspective. Just to give some clarification, I've been on two Celebrity Cruises but it's been over ten years since I've cruised with them. Our family was a loyal RC cruising family until we decided to branch out. So without further ado, let's jump into the review:
• Honestly, what made my cruise enjoyable was the dining staff I had in the main dining room. Our waiter was Reynaldo. M. and Carlos at table 166. Those two were fantastic waiters and were on top of everything. They were friendly and it was nice to form a bond with them. Reynaldo always made sure we were pleased and happy with everything from food to service. Carlos was overly friendly and accommodating to our table and was a laugh and joy to have. We will miss them dearly. We had no issues in the MDR.
The food was excellent on board. I always looked forward to eating in the MDR. I actually prefer Celebrities' chefs more so than the Moveable Feast chefs that came and prepared dishes that night. I found on the Moveable Feast night I greatly disliked the appetizers and main meals created by those two chefs. The only redeeming quality was the desert. If you do the MF again, get better chefs.
• I had no issues ever finding a seat on the pool deck to tan or sunbath. This is usually a common problem with cruises, but I did not have this issue. The pools were well kept and not crowded and were set at nice temperatures.
• I really enjoyed having Capt. Kate as our captain. I've been on at least 20+ cruises and I've never had a memorable cruise captain, but I can honestly say Kate is a memorable and fun one to have. I enjoyed listening to her morning riddles and hearing her sense of humor. There was something so humble about that and humanizing. Loved it.
• Our room steward was fantastic. He was super lovely and very consistent. He always had our room cleaned quickly and efficiently. I could see he worked super hard and wanted to make sure we were taking care of.
• I spent a lot of time in Sky 14 and I'm sorry, but the bartenders up there have to be some of the rudest people I have ever met. Day 1, for sail away, I went up there to get a drink. There were only two people at the bar, one who already had a drink, and another gentleman who was waiting to get served. There were two bartenders cleaning/stocking the bar and ignored both of us for eight minutes. Eventually, they acknowledged us after that time but seemed bothered by the fact that we wanted to order a drink. Then another bartender from the pool deck came down and got my drinks made. What made it worse though is that then he berated me about why I wouldn't want to get the drink package. I don't drink that much, in fact, I only had one drink the entire cruise, so why would I want to spend $50 a day only to drink once??
Basically, I found that most of the bartenders were rude anyway. They tended to look over your head and act like they didn't see you, which only further turned me off from utilizing them. I also hated that they were desperately trying to shove the drink package down our throats. If we didn't want it, we didn't want it!
Activities on board:
• There were not enough activities to keep people entertained on board. I would have loved to see more game show type of games on board. The last sea day was the most boring day I have ever experienced on a cruise. We had one trivia game at 10:15 AM and then a huge gap where nothing but seminars or paying ($$$) activities were available until 3:15 PM. I found that absurd because on NCL I was never bored with the entertainment. They always mixed up the activities or game show ideas, but on this cruise I found myself being bored many times. Why are there so many activities where you need to pay additional money or listen to people talk? We're already paying a lot as it is. (Most of the seminars are to get you to spend more money, like on wellness products)
Speaking of activities...I found the entertainment group to appear to look like they don't enjoy their jobs very much. They always looked super melancholy and would rush through the activities they did happen to provide as if they had better things to do. They'd speed through the trivia questions or show up late, etc. Darren and Charlotte were my favorites out of the group, but as a whole, they didn't look like they worked as a team. Also, the locations where they'd hold the activities were not suitable. I still don't understand why they'd host the interactive game shows on Deck 4 in that small entertainment court. It got too congested and there weren't any seats.
• I really enjoyed the layout and location of our room. We were located in room 8277 and it was right near the elevators. It was lovely and cool during the day but at night it felt like a sauna in there. Every night on board, my mother and I would wake up around 3 AM- 4 AM sweating like pigs. We did not have the duvets draped over us, just the mere thin sheet. It was terrible and we complained to guest relations and our steward and they said nothing could be done. Needless to say, I did not get the best sleep on board.
Another thing that was kind of annoying was the fact that the walls were paper thin. I could hear conversations from either side of my room. I would hear when people sneezed, coughed, or snored.
• Internet was pretty spotty most of the cruise. It wasn't great and would disconnect often.
• So one thing I was not planning was getting some sort of allergic reaction while visiting a beach. It happened the 4th day in and I was covered in an itchy, blotchy, red rash on my arms. I went to the infirmary to see if there was anything they could to alleviate it. I was greeted by one of the nurses or doctor, but I'm not sure since she didn't even introduce herself. She said, "What do you need?"
I said, "I have a rash I got from the beach and--"
"--What do you want me to do?" she cut off abruptly. I couldn't believe how short she was with me. She didn't even bother to look at my arms and proceeded to say. "Take some Benedryl."
"Um, I don't have any. I came here to see if I could get some."
"You want me to sell you some??"
That was the type of service I received...
Basically, there were some aspects I loved and some I just really did not care for. I will say this though, this does not make me want to run out and book another Celebrity cruise line. I will probably return to Royal Carribean next time. Read Less