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Cruise Ratings
Sail Date: February 2003
I would have to say that my experience on the Navigator of the Seas was one of the most memorable vacations I've ever had. My husband and I booked this cruise to celebrate our anniversary and this was truly a great experience. We were ... Read More
I would have to say that my experience on the Navigator of the Seas was one of the most memorable vacations I've ever had. My husband and I booked this cruise to celebrate our anniversary and this was truly a great experience. We were first time cruisers and weren't sure exactly what to expect. We had been to all-inclusive resorts before, but this was even better. From day one we were given top-rate service by everyone. From the bartenders and the dining room staff, to our room attendant, we can't say enough about this experience. One of the best bartenders aboard this ship is Adrian in the Boleros Lounge. From the night we met Adrian, he would greet us by name everytime we would stop by. With thousands of passengers on this cruise, we thought this was amazing that he would remembers us by name. He was also fun to be around and took the time to tell some stories and laughs. Our dining experience was also exquisite. Our waiter, Jorge, from Portugal was great. He took the time to speak to us about some of his experiences aboard this ship and others. He gave us some great tips for our shore excursions also. He is definitely one of a kind. One of the things we noticed about our cruise was the how clean everything was kept. We didn't see one speck of dirt or dust anywhere on this ship. If we hadn't known this ship was over 1 year old, we would have thought it was brand new. It is a beautifully decorated vessel and definitely well designed. Some things not to miss on this cruise would be the ice show, and the nightly entertainment. We couldn't wait each day to find out what kind of show would be in the theater. The shows were very professional and entertaining. Overall, I would say this was the best vacation we ever had. Although we were traveling alone, we met some great people. We have two children that we will be bringing on the next cruise. We are all looking forward to it. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2003
Ms Oosterdam Eastern Caribbean February 08, 2004 - February 15, 2004 Voyage Number 26 Deluxe Veranda Suite Cabin 7058. We sailed on the Ms Oosterdam and returned on the 15th. It was a totally enjoyable cruise. The mean spirited reviews ... Read More
Ms Oosterdam Eastern Caribbean February 08, 2004 - February 15, 2004 Voyage Number 26 Deluxe Veranda Suite Cabin 7058. We sailed on the Ms Oosterdam and returned on the 15th. It was a totally enjoyable cruise. The mean spirited reviews We've read of her and of her sister Vista Class ship are totally and completely exaggerated and unfair. Our cruise last week on , the Ms Oosterdam was by far the best cruise experience we've had, this cruise has raised the Bar and probably spoiled us for ever. Where do We begin? Since we live in South Florida, we had a short drive to Port Everglades. Baggage drop-off was quick and friendly and the Port has excellent parking facilities just across from the HAL terminal. Since we had a Deluxe Veranda Suite, Embarkation was a breeze. We had our own area to check in, no line, no waiting. We simply walked up to the counter, provided the agent with our documents, had our picture taken, received our boarding cards, went through security and were on the ship within 15 minutes. We took advantage of HAL's 11:30 early boarding and were promptly escorted to the Neptune Lounge. We were greeted by two very charming young ladies, Arlene and Julie who welcomed us to the Oosterdam Family. Captain Mercer and HAL's management team should take pride in these two employees. Over the next seven days they made sure our every wish was taken care of. Arlene & Julie took care of our shore excursions, our private cabana on Half Moon Cay (well worth the extra charges), our dinner reservations, and even the complimentary laundry and dry cleaning. All guests in (S) Deluxe Verandah Suites enjoy the amenities of the Neptune lounge and its staff. A wonderful perk which included coffee/tea service all day, drinks, snacks, finger sandwiches, etc. Arlene and Julie who staff the lounge are a sweet, lovely and caring young ladies who will help you with anything you need. This was our first cruise with HAL's Deluxe Veranda Suite and we are spoiled. The stateroom suites are very spacious, nicely decorated, a changing area, and large bathroom with whirlpool tub and shower stall. Our room steward Si took pride in servicing the cabin and always made sure are room was clean, neat and well stocked. On days in Port Si could be found washing the Verandahs and making sure the cabin was always in tip top shape. The veranda is quite large and includes a small dining table, four chairs and 2 lounge chairs and ottomans. We enjoyed sitting on the veranda, as we enjoyed our morning room service. Room service was efficient and our food was delivered hot. The "S" cabin is well worth the few extra dollars you will spend if you like being treated like Queens & Kings. The ship is beautiful and the dEcor is timeless. The ship is easy to maneuver and well lit. The layout of this ship is well thought out. The food on the Lido was delicious and the service was terrific. Sammy one of the servers was often seen carrying trays for many of the older cruisers. The food choices were well varied and the desserts and ice cream were delicious. We were 2nd seating on deck 3 of the Vista dining room, right along the staircase railing. It is true that the room did vibrate for a moment or two and the ship did "rock and roll" However the winds were gale force and the waves were quite high, if Captain Mercer could control the weather he would have. We had the opportunity to meet Captain Mercer at both the Private Suite Cocktail Party and the Private Suite Brunch in the Crows Nest. Both events are additional special treats for guests in the Deluxe Verandah Suite. The food in the Vista Dining Room was fantastic, however the Captain and his crew made sure the food at the Suite Brunch was even better. We received exceptional service from our Head Waiter Freddy, our waiter Mohab, our assistant waiter, Heri, and our Wine Steward Ricardo. The food was excellent and the portions were in perfect amounts. Some appetizers/entrees/desserts were so good; we had second portions that were delivered immediately. We also had breakfast and lunch in the Vista, and although the servers were different due to the open seating we were always treated like royalty. We visited the alternative dining venue - The Pinnacle Grill. It's name says it all, the food was Fantastic!. Our server Atilo was superb (the $20/pp cover charge was well worth it). Pools are small, but never seemed overcrowded. However one of the few negatives on this ship was poolside service.. Poolside servers were sporadic, deck attendants were non existent. The ports of call Nassau, St. Martin and Tortola were great, and the ship's excursion staff made sure the excursions came off without a hitch. Half Moon Cay was our last port of call and HAL left the best for last. Half Moon is lovely, fantastic, wonderful, beautiful, dreamy, and the addition of the Private Cabana, made Half Moon Cay our little piece of paradise. Our last day was spent on one of the most beautiful beaches we've ever seen with soft white sand, in the warm sun, swimming in crystal clear aqua blue water. Along with the rental of the cabana comes the pampering staff of JoJo and Oliver who made sure we had plenty of food and drink. This port of call is the one reason why we wouldn't sail with anyone else but HAL or its parent Carnival who share this island. HAL and its Vista Class of Ships are truly the top of the Contemporary Cruise Lines. We have read many nit picky, moaning, whiny reviews and wonder why certain people are so critical. HAL is clearly not the equivalent of Crystal or Radisson however it is at the top of the Contemporary Lines along with Celebrity. HAL attracts a special group of passengers who are nice, friendly and yes the average age on the ship is sixty something. What we did not miss were hundred of cruisers who might have had a little too much too drink, HAL is a happy classy ship but not the party ship. The new cruise director Dane, the Senior Assistant Cruise Direct Jason along with Elizabeth, Cameron and DJ Mark did an excellent job making sure everything from BINGO to KARAOKE were enjoyable. It's too bad we did not win the $5,000 Bingo Jackpot!! The Oosterdam Singer and Dancers were fantastic, the headline acts were great and "The Mikes", were a special treat. If you like being spoiled on vacation book HAL and the Oosterdam. Bon Voyage. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2003
Let me start out by telling you that my husband I are in our mid fifties and from the midwest. We have been on 14 cruises over the last 14 years, and this cruise on the Millennium was our first with Celebrity. We had been in the Eastern ... Read More
Let me start out by telling you that my husband I are in our mid fifties and from the midwest. We have been on 14 cruises over the last 14 years, and this cruise on the Millennium was our first with Celebrity. We had been in the Eastern Carib area twice before on other cruises, but wanted to experience Celebrity and got a good deal on a balcony cabin, a first for us. We are now spoiled for anything less. I especially loved the balcony just to let some fresh air in, and not having to run up on deck when we arrived in a port was so much more relaxing. We usually book our own air, it's cheaper, and stay at a hotel close to the port. We stayed at the Best Western Harbor & Marina Inn right by Port Everglades. The Inn had a shuttle to the port. We went over about 11:00am, and got thru the embarkation within a half hour. I loved the glass of champagne as you boarded, nice touch. We went ahead up to our cabin,though we were suppose to wait till 1:00pm and it was already cleaned, so we dropped off our carry on, met our cabin steward, and went to tour the ship and check out the lunch buffet. We tried to see where our table was in the dining room,but it was closed for a private party. We checked out where the library was, my hubby loves to read, and the aqua spa to see what was offered. There was a minibar in our cabin, and a small refrigerator. I'd fill an empty water bottle with OJ at breakfast time and keep it in the frig for our fuzzy navels and screwdrivers sipped on our balcony before dinner each evening. Lots of drawer and sufficient closet space, bathroom had a nice size shower and a hair dryer. We usually had a light breakfast brought to our cabin, I loved sitting on the balcony having my second cup of coffee. There was a specialty restaurant for an extra $25 per person, we decided to forgo this experience, and ate early seating dinner in the dining room at a table for six with great tablemates, and a wonderful waiter, Super Mario. The food was delicious, a great time to try some new things, but leave room for dessert. We usually went to the show, stopped in the casino briefly to make our donation, and finished the night at the Cova Cafe for a night cap and the wonderful sound of a string quartet that played there. The saltwater hot tubs and the aqua spa therapy pool was so relaxing, and we often ate a lighter lunch at the aqua spa cafe. There was always room to sunbathe up on the Pool Deck. We would bring two big insulated glasses with us and fill it with ice tea, too sip on while up sunbathing. The only new port of call on this cruise for us was the Dominican Republic, we took the shuttle to the re-creation of an artists colony, I think it's called Altos de Chavon. We opted to return to the ship for a quiet evening. Unfortunately when we docked in San Juan, PR, we didn't dock by the city but several miles inland. You had to take a taxi to and from the ship,$20.00 each way. If they were going to dock that far we thought the cruise line should have supplied free shuttles. St.Thomas is one of the prettiest harbors to sail into. There is lots to do. We had been here before, and had been on the Buck Island Sail & Snorkel, we decided to do this again, it was so much fun. Small sailboats, privately owned, take three couples each and sail out to Buck's Island, drop anchor, and snorkel for the next hour. Once back on board we sit on deck and enjoy beer, soda, cheese and crackers and have a wonderful sail back to the ship. If you enjoy a party cruise, take the Kon-tiki. Did that one in the past too. Our last port was the Bahamas, we did a beach trip and just soaked up the rays and did our own snorkeling. On our return to the ship as you wait in line to get back on board, Celebrity passes out icy cold washcloths to freshen up with, they also give them out when you are up on the pool deck sunbathing. We loved our time on Celebrity's Millennium, so much so we are booked on the Infinity in 2004. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2002
Age: 39 Occupation: Computer Support Number of Cruises: 14 Cruise Line: Norwegian Cruise Line Name of Ship: Norwegian Sun Sailing Date: August 30th, 2002 Itinerary: Western Caribbean We cruised the Norwegian Sun on 8/31/02 as a ... Read More
Age: 39 Occupation: Computer Support Number of Cruises: 14 Cruise Line: Norwegian Cruise Line Name of Ship: Norwegian Sun Sailing Date: August 30th, 2002 Itinerary: Western Caribbean We cruised the Norwegian Sun on 8/31/02 as a celebration of my mothers 60th birthday. There were 9 in our party occupying 4 deluxe staterooms with balconies. This was my 14th cruise (my first on NCL) and a first for my mother, her husband, and my brother and his family. Others in our party had also cruised before. Embarkation was a breeze and we were one of the first ones in the door. However, we did observe that embarkation gets a little more hectic if you arrive after 12 AM. The first meal we tried was served in the Garden Cafe and included self serve tacos which were delicious. There was also a wonderful curry served one day that was so delicious that we went back for seconds. It seems that on most cruises the desserts sometimes look fantastic but fall short on taste and this ship was no exception in that category although, there were a few desserts that were exceptionally delicious enough to mention. The crème bruelee that was served in the dinning room and a rhubarb pie served in the Garden Cafe were very delicious. We found the rooms to be very roomy with plenty of storage space and loved the bathroom shower that included an adjustable shower head. Having a room with a balcony was wonderful (a first for all of us) and a special treat that my mother really enjoyed! The sheets and duvet were exceptionally soft but there was always that annoying "hump" in the middle of the bed where the two twin beds were pushed together to make a double bed. The ship was lovely without being too gaudy and flashy. We were a little concerned about "Freestyle Cruising" since this was our first experience with that type of service. The service in our room was very good although I did miss the special touches such as the "towel art" that I was accustomed to on other ships. We asked for an extra bucket of ice in our room and from then on there were always two full buckets. The service in my sister's room was not as good as ours and they had a few complaints about the cleanliness a few times. My brother and his wife were very pleased with the Kids Crew program. Since school had already started there was not an abundance of children so there was plenty of staff to cater to the children's needs. We did not try any of the specialty restaurants that had an extra cost but we did try the Pacific Heights which used the Cooking Light menu and were so pleased with it that we ate there several nights. The calzone was delicious and could be ordered with or without meat. About half of our group are vegetarians and we found plenty to eat but wish there were even more to choose from. The meatloaf in the Pacific Heights got great raves and was ordered at more than one meal. We found the service in the Pacific Heights to be superb. Anything we asked for was answered with a smiling, friendly "certainly" by our waitress. The main dining rooms, the Four Seasons and the Seven Seas, were very similar and the service was very acceptable. We celebrated my mother's birthday at the Four Seasons one night. It was a fun and exciting time where we were greeted with a bottle of champagne (we chose bottled water) and a small birthday cake with her name on it while Happy Birthday was sung to her by the waiters. There were no extravagant Midnight Buffets which was a little disappointing but there was a Chocolate Extravaganza one night that was very eye appealing. The shore excursions were excellent. Our first day and our last day were at sea with the ports of call the four days in the middle. Our first stop was Grand Cayman. We booked a Stingray City tour on line through Captain Marvin's and it was a real highlight. It was a little cheaper than booking through the cruise and we got an extra snorkeling stop. Captain Kirk stopped in two different places to let us snorkel before arriving at Stingray City, he was very informative and we were the only party on his boat. Everyone loved swimming with the stingrays and Captain Kirk even knew their names. Our next stop was Honduras. A very poor and simple place but once we got off our bus at Tabyana Beach it was heaven! This was one of the most beautiful beaches that I have ever seen! We snorkeled with our cruise guide and he would dive down and get items, bring them up to the surface and tell us about them. Lunch was also served and I must say that the spaghetti was absolutely wonderful! They also served hamburgers, salad and fruit and the most different tea I have every tasted. My mother said it was a "dream day" for her. Our next stop was Belize. I cannot speak from experience here because my husband and I overslept and missed our excursion but we were told that it was very fun. We had booked the Cave Tubing and Jungle Walk tour which was 88 dollars a piece and we were told that we could not get our money back if we cancelled less than 24 hour ahead of time. When we got to the excursion desk we were treated very nicely and given several options and told we would get our money back. This really impressed us about Norwegian Cruise Lines and I hope they realize that it represented very good customer service. After that it was on to Cozumel. Many in our group had already been to Cozumel and after cave tubing we were ready for a rest. We shopped in the morning and found a beach called San Francisco Beach where we just laid out, swam and rented some jet skis. It rained a little but we still had fun. This was one of the calmest rides I have ever had on a cruise ship. Smooth sailing the whole way! The entertainment was excellent! The cruise director was one of the funniest that I have ever seen. There was a magician/juggler/comedian that was absolutely hilarious! He was on the first night and I would say that this is a show not to be missed! The singer Jane Powell was also very entertaining and funny. One night Jimmy "J.J." Walker did the show and it was fantastic! (Although, he was a special show and was only on board for two weeks.) Disembarkation was the best I have EVER had! You get color coded tags according to the time you want to disembark and let me recommend that if you want to stay on the ship and leave late to get your tickets early because the later ones run out the quickest. We wanted to be able to sleep in, have breakfast and visit some before leaving the ship. We were not crowded into some lounge and forced to sit there for hours before being allowed to leave the ship. It was very calm and leisurely and very quick! I believe we were the last passengers off the ship. Overall I would recommend the Norwegian Sun and NCL cruise lines and would sail with them again. The freestyle cruising and tipping turned out to be much better than I expected and it was a dream vacation for all of us. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2002
Let me just start by saying that when I was younger, my parents took me on the Big Red Boat one time on a three night sailing. At the time of five years old, I remember not being very impressed with the old, dirty ship. The characters ... Read More
Let me just start by saying that when I was younger, my parents took me on the Big Red Boat one time on a three night sailing. At the time of five years old, I remember not being very impressed with the old, dirty ship. The characters provided by Warner Brothers probably made up for it at the time, but whatever. My parents have always been frequent cruisers, but often times without my sister and I. When they would tell us how great the cruise ships truly are on the inside (everything you can't see on the outside), we would kind of just nod and go along with it. That is, until my sister and I ventured on the Millennium with my parents in the Spring of '02. From the second we arrived on the ship in Fort Lauderdale and were served champagne by the man who led us to our cabin, we started to realize why our parents would rave so much about cruises. I shared an oceanview stateroom with my sister, and it wasn't too small, it was perfect sized. I don't remember ever feeling cramped, even while sharing one bathroom with a 16 year old sister. At the time, my sister and I were younger and we weren't sure what there was for teenagers to do on a monstrosity of a "boat" like this one, but it was great because the first night, there was a teenagers' hangout session in the ESPN SportsBar on the SkyDeck. It was great because we met about 15 kids who we continue to keep contact with three years later. If you're worried about kids or teenagers having a hard time enjoying the cruise atmosphere, the Millennium is the perfect ship because I can not remember seeing any bored teens or kids on the ship. Everyone seemed to have friends and fun for 7 nights! The dining was excellent, the entertainment was mediocre and the ports mostly sucked. On this particular sailing, the contract with Catalina Island had just expired, so they sent us to Casa de Campo instead which is even a waste for the natives who inhabit the area, but that's a whole other argument. Fortunately for our particular sailing, there were not two, but THREE days at sea, and every one of them was priceless. Our parents had nothing but great memories to walk off the ship with, and I distinctly remember everyone in my family hugging and crying with each other the night we returned from the ship. Now, I'm still not sure to this very day if we were crying because it was such an amazing vacation experience onboard the ship or if it was because my sister and I had to go back to school and my parents back to work, but I still choose the first reason. This is because Celebrity's Millennium is the modern "ship of dreams." It's all-in-all a great vacation. A humbly gorgeous ship without being flamboyantly elegant is the way to go for an amazingly gratifying vacation experience onboard the Celebrity Millennium. Take the cruise, I'm sure you'll agree. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2002
For my first cruise, this ship was amazing. As soon as we entered Port Everglades to board the ship, I was amazed. As soon as we got into the ship, my first impression was "WOW". The grand foyer was breathtaking and elegant, we ... Read More
For my first cruise, this ship was amazing. As soon as we entered Port Everglades to board the ship, I was amazed. As soon as we got into the ship, my first impression was "WOW". The grand foyer was breathtaking and elegant, we were greeted by bartenders with champagne and orange juice, and we had our picture taken. Just before sailing, we ate at the "bon voyage" buffet, which was delicious. Our first stateroom, 7005, was a little small for four people, so we simply went to guest relations and had our room upgraded and ended up in 8160. The staff was very helpful with this upgrade. They also made sure to have our luggage sent to our new room. As we left port, we sailed away to the sounds of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow", celebrity style, as well as the sounds their amazing "Energy Band". One of the best things about my experience onboard Millenium was the food and dining services. For breakfast, we ate in the Ocean Cafe, which offered a large selection of food, everything from fresh fruit to bacon and eggs, to cereal. For lunch, we alternated between eating at the Ocean Cafe's lunch buffet to having hamburgers and fries poolside. Both lunches were delicious, couldn't have asked for more. The best meal, by far, however were our dinners. It felt like course after course of food, all of them tasty. My favorites included the chicken dishes and the filet mignon. Our waiter and assistant waiter were both very friendly and helpful. Our bartender was also spectacular. I ordered at Diet Coke with my soda card on the first night and from then on our drinks were on the table waiting for us as soon as we sat down. Now that's services. The desserts are also highly recommended, particularly the chocolate cakes and the Baked Alaska (available on the 2nd formal night) along with a baked Alaska parade. You can also get free ice cream cones all day long and in the evening, there is a pizza buffet. My second favorite thing about sailing on Millenium was the entertainment. The first show I saw was "Spectacle of Broadway", which featured the celebrity singers and dancers performing bits of different broadway musicals. They were amazingly talented, especially when the finished up with "Les Miserables". I also saw their two other shows, "Classique", a classical music performance with them, which was good but not as great as the first, and "Fantasea" which was breathtaking. This show featured acrobatics and a guest performance by an aerialist duo. The last night's show was the comedy of Thien Fu, a hilarious comedian I highly recommended, as well as the Flagship Orchestra and the cruise in review video. The activities aboard Millenium are also very good. I went to arts and crafts, napkin folding, and several games, and all of them were fun. I recommend the napkin folding, it was very interesting to see how it was done. The activities staff was very helpful and friendly, and our cruise director, Dru, and assistant cruise director, Lance, always added life and humor to all of the games. "The Newlywed Game" was one of the most hilarious games, although for those who are easily offended it isn't recommended. Also check out the "Cosmos Nightclub" for great dancing and drinks all night long. The DJ plays all the latest dances hits late into the night and he takes requests too! The ports of call were good, my favorites were San Juan and St.Thomas. We took a bus tour in San Juan, which was great for hitting the highlights, especially if its really hot outsides and you don't want to walk. The shopping and the beaches in St. Thomas were amazing. Magen's Bay is one of the best sights there. I didn't like Nassau, Bahamas as much. We saw the Atlantis hotel, stopped by the beach and then returned to the ship. We also made a special stop at Catalina Island, where we swam and sunbathed. Be warned, the locals try and sell you alot of junk at high prices. I did get my hair braided, however, which turned out very nice. Also, the ship provided a BBQ lunch on shore. The other place I recommend on the ship is the Aqua Spa's thalassotherapy pool. It's an indoor, warm, bubbly pool (not a whirpool), and its relaxing to sit in after a long day on shore. I always came out feeling great. The outdoor pool was nice to look at, but it was a little chilly on most days. I went in it once, and it was beautiful, but the saltwater burnt my eyes. :) I'd definitely take the time to sit outside the pool at least once, however. And check out the outdoor "pillow pole" pool competition, that's fun to watch. The shopping onboard was decent, although alot of it was on your luxury items, such as jewelry and watches, liquor and perfume. Take advantage of the specials they have daily, those are good prices, and especially the Millenium apparel which you can't buy anywhere else. Daily items and sundries are a little expensive, so only buy those if you really must. Also, the photo shop takes a ton of formal portraits and pictures, which are great, but a little expensive. We did get our formal night pics, however, so if you like yours, get them while you can. Two more things one can't go on the Mille and not do: 1) Go to Island Night. It's a big island-themed party with food, music, dancing, drinking and its alot of fun! They even have a carved watermelon parade which was beautiful. They also teach you island dances and we did the limbo. It was great. 2) The Midnight Buffet. It's held on the last formal night and its spectacular. I've never seen anything like it. They have amazing ice sculptures, and a TON of food. Most of it is creatively done to look like flowers, decorations, etc. All of it is edible and quite delicious. You'll go to bed STUFFED. Debarkation was fairly easy and fast, however they did lose my garment bag at the port, and I had to fill out a claim form. We shall see if it turns up. If not, at least I get reimbursed. They were really nice about trying to find it, though. Overall, however, I give Millenium 4 stars and I highly recommend, especially for couples and/or first time cruises. It's beautiful ship and I was sad to leave it.Once you get the experience of being on the Mille, you'll never want to leave it. Lauren, Millenium, 1/11/04 Read Less
Sail Date: January 2001
Now, 1. this was my first cruise in a long long long time. 2. I am used to a certain quality (imagination 1995 cough cough) 3. Keep that in mind while you read this review: Embarkation: Ok, we got there around 10:30. We finally got on ... Read More
Now, 1. this was my first cruise in a long long long time. 2. I am used to a certain quality (imagination 1995 cough cough) 3. Keep that in mind while you read this review: Embarkation: Ok, we got there around 10:30. We finally got on the boat around 1. Everyone was helpful, but there was SOOOO long line, and maybe it was too helpful. Everyone was happy and could give 2 $*#!s about the time. But hey, you pay for what you get. Cabin: As we walked into our Cabin we almost had a heart attack. This room is the secret of all secret rooms. We walk in there and we see immediate floor to ceiling windows. We see the beds already folded down, and we go to leave the room. We find the door outside extremely heavy for some idiot reason. Our room servant was very nice, very helpful, and seemed to almost always be there whenever we needed him. Public Rooms: The pools, the bars, and the buffet seemed too good to be true. The pools were just great, one being under cover, one being deeper, and they all didn't seem to be too unruly. And during the day, the security guards are really caring about the no drinks or food in the Jacuzzi. But if you go around dinner time, they could care less. We had 2 pies of pizza around the Jacuzzi, 6 drinks, and some plates floating through the water, and they just told us to make sure we take the plates out when were done, the rest the pool staff will pick up. We eventually, being there before and right after dinner, became very good friends with the guards, and they really were only mean during the day about the food, because it really is for your safety, and not to disgust the other guests. Where when you go between 6 and 9, you are the last guests before they empty it for the night. But, the security guards were very negotiable, and really just care about your security. Shore Excursions: Some excursions were good but most of the ones that we went on weren't as good as other cruises. The Kon Tiki (forget what city it was in) was the most horrible one I have been on,it is a boos cruise, but a very cheap one, and they bring you to an island that looks like it was passed down for 7,000,000 generations and no money was sent into it. Dining: Very good food, and they were very nice crew people. They were all promptly bringing food so I could get back to my jacuzzi. The other food on the ship was great, although in the afternoons, the lines got very long. But hey, 3500+ people what'd you expect? But overall the food and the lines (most of the time) were very good. Entertainment: The shows were just ok, although the magic act was better then some other ones i have seen. The rest was great. That is all I have to say about the entertainment. Fitness & Recreation: I only used the jogging desk, did about 2 laps. It seemed very nice, and had a nice view. I did have a message if you put that under this, and it was great. The price seemed to me pretty steep, and for the price of it you did not get much value, but it definitely was great. Value For Price: Overall the room upgrade to the room we were in was totally worth it. Every last dime. But, I thought that the drink were also slightly too expensive, but hey everything else was good. Basically the prices were too high for some things but perfect for other things. Overall Cruise: Ranged from very good prices to high, also the shows were just ok. Embarkation took too long. Everything else was great if only all cruises had great service like this. Final Rating: A- Read Less
Sail Date: December 2000
Instead of re-iterating what has been said before in other reviews, I hope to bring a new perspective to the Explorer of the Seas experience. I hope you enjoy. This was the first time my husband and I cruised with my parents. It was the ... Read More
Instead of re-iterating what has been said before in other reviews, I hope to bring a new perspective to the Explorer of the Seas experience. I hope you enjoy. This was the first time my husband and I cruised with my parents. It was the second for my Mom (Song of America) and the first for my Dad. We both booked Category I guarantee cabins 7 months in advance, and were delighted to find out that we had been upgraded - we were assigned a category E family stateroom and my parents had a category F larger outside. CABINS There have been many questions concerning these 2 stateroom categories on the various message boards, and I hope to shed some light. The Category F stateroom is 211 square feet, making it larger than a category D balcony cabin (DA-DB = 173 ft2; D1-D9 = 188 ft2). The room was very spacious, there was plenty of closet, drawer and storage space, as well as a fold out sofa bed. There was one very large round window, keeping the room sunny during the days. As is found in all Explorer staterooms, there was a safe, hairdryer, 19" interactive television and mini-bar. The standard sized bathroom was very well designed, with even more storage space behind the side mirrors. The now famous clam-shell shower doors really were incredible compared to the old, invasive shower curtain. Our category E family stateroom was 265 square feet, and is designed to sleep up to six people. The room itself has one king/queen sized bed, a fold-out sofa bed, and a side "room" with a bunkbed. There was also a curtain to separate the bed from the sofa which we left open. There was certainly no lack of storage space in this stateroom - there were 3 good sized closets, one with closet organizers, plenty of drawer space, additional storage behind a few mirrors, as well as wood cabinets. We kept on finding more storage space! There were also 2 sofa chairs with matching ottomans, which opened up for, you guessed it, additional storage. Our room was in the very front of the ship, overlooking the bow through two 2 large windows. It was great when pulling into port. With respect to motion, we felt no more movement than if we were standing in the center of the ship. SOLARIUM / POOL / SHIPSHAPE CENTER The Solarium was magnificent. You could see that RCI paid attention to detail here. The theme of Spanish Matadors was evident from the huge sculpture of a bull down to the exquisite tiling on the floor. Instead of just a ladder, the salt water pool had majestic steps to guide you in, and there were fountains of water spraying into the pool every 30 seconds or so. The lounge chairs were padded and very comfortable. This area is adults only, and the staff made sure that this rule was obeyed. We found the Solarium pool was a great place to relax, read a book, and take it easy. There were also 2 quite large whirlpools on either side of the pool. The polar opposite of the peaceful serenity of the Solarium is found at the Main Pool area! There are 2 oversized pools, 4 or 5 whirlpools, a mist station that sprays cool mist on you at the press of a button, and plenty of deck chairs. As to be expected, there were many children in the pool area, and they all seemed to be having a wonderful time. Of course, what Caribbean cruise is complete without a reggae band, and the one on Explorer played all the classics. The cruise staff also conducted pool games here, including Mr Sexy Legs (which is hysterical - definitely NOT to be missed!), 70's line dancing and horse racing. We didn't mind if we did not find a lounge chair right next to the pool... it was pretty noisy, and we had a great view of the sea from one deck higher. Ultimately, we were happy wherever we settled. For any fitness buffs out there, the Shipshape Center will not disappoint. At home, I work out at least 3 times a week so a good gym is a necessity for me. In addition to being esthetically pleasing, the gym on Explorer of the Seas was fully loaded, complete with dozens of cross trainers, stairmasters, treadmills and stationary bicycles. They also had a large variety of free weights, as well as traditional exercise weight machines. While on the cardio equipment, you have the choice of either looking out to the sea, or watching the overhead televisions. The machines are equipped with personal earphones jacks (you need to ask the staff for the earphones), so that only those who want to hear the television will actually hear it. Of course, they also offered aerobics, step, body sculpting, etc... classes in the large and airy aerobics room. There was also a large thallasotherapy pool which was free to use. Apparently, one is to spend a few minutes in the pool before and after working out, in order to replenish the minerals in your skin. Who knows. It was very comfortable, with plenty of jets all around. FOOD My husband and I were actually a bit ill on the cruise, so we didn't have the appetite we normally would. That said, in general I really do not cruise for the food and I have yet to go hungry. I have heard a lot of negative reviews about RCI food, and have decided it really is a matter of personal choice. For any given cruise, on any line, I have heard vastly different culinary experiences, and have decided not to pay attention. If there is something you do not like, send it back and get something else. The dining room service was excellent, as usual. Both our waiter and assistant waitress were very competent. With respect to the meal choices, we found that there was enough of a variety to keep everyone happy. There were days when the fish wasn't as tasty as I would have liked, so I ordered something else. It really did not bother me. We ate most of our breakfasts and lunches at the Windjammer Cafe. I found that the selections were plentiful, and am surprised when I read reviews criticizing the choices, especially for breakfast. They offered around 8 types of cold cereal, oatmeal, porridge, bacon, sausage, hash browns, french fries, pancakes, waffles, toast (with jam, butter, peanut butter), muffins, danishes, english muffins, bagels/cream cheese/ and HUGE platters of smoked salmon, scrambled eggs, fresh sliced pineapple, honeydew, cantaloupe, watermelon, strawberries, grapes, oranges, bananas... I think you catch my drift. There was also an omelet station in the Island Grill, which is the back part of the Windjammer, where a chef cooks up made-to-order omelets. Yes, they offered these choices every day so that the variety was not changing, but let's be realistic, what more could you possibly want?? The lunches in the Windjammer / Island Grill did vary daily, and there was a good variety of hot and cold food to choose from. I never had any complaints, except maybe finding a seat. The afternoon daily "snack" was more like lunch part 2, and again there was a huge variety of offerings to tempt any palate. My parents chose to eat breakfast and lunch in the dining room when not in port. My Mom actually thought that some of the lunches were better than the dinners! She only had positive things to say about the food in the dining room. Breakfast and lunch was open seating, which suited my parents fine as the both liked meeting new and interesting people. The Cafe Promenade was truly an oasis. We inevitably ended up here at least once a day, be it for a quick sandwich on our way out to port, a cup of herbal tea and cookies in the afternoon, or a late nite piece of pizza. The selection was always fresh and plentiful, and you usually did not need to wait long to be served, even when there were great crowds. The cafe itself was very tastefully decorated, with Capiello posters lining the walls, and a single red rose on each table. Truth be told, I was disappointed in the food once - and that was at Johnny Rockets. When the waiter finally got around to serving us, he requested our SuperCharge card, even though the hamburger and chili fries we ordered were free or charge. He insisted that we turn it over to him, since that was part of their procedure. After over 10 minutes of waiting, he hadn't returned our card yet. The city girl in me became a bit paranoid, since the Supercharge card is also our room key, and room was now empty... We finally had to ask for it back, and even then he was slow returning it. Upon speaking with others, nobody else had to give in their card unless they were ordering an item with a supplemental charge, such as a milkshake. When our food finally arrived, we were very disappointed. The chili fries looked very unappealing and had a taste to match, and we found the burgers in the Island Grill to be way superior to Johnny Rockets'. That said, from an esthetic point of view, the 50's dinner theme was done very well, and was fun to look at. Also, the staff kept the area spotless. EVENTS Hanukkah The first night of the Jewish festival of Hanukkah happened to fall during our cruise. Royal Caribbean had arranged for a cantor to be onboard, and all those interested met in the Palace theater. The main floor of the theater was full, and we estimate around 500-600 people joined in the festivities. There was a large Menorah onstage, in front of which the cantor recited the Hebrew religious blessings. Everyone got involved, especially when he followed up with traditional folk songs. To celebrate, the chef prepared Hanukkah latkes, and the staff gave out dreidels to the kids. This was very done very classily, and hats off to Royal Caribbean for recognizing the occasion. Repeater's Party There were actually 3 repeater's parties on our cruise, as over 50% of the guests were prior RCI passengers. We had the usual complimentary champagne or cocktails, hors d'oeuvres, and delightful chocolate treats. The party was held at the Maharaja lounge, and was by invitation only (invites were checked at the door). The captain opened up the floor for questions, and which inevitably is an invitation for all the clods in the audience to speak up. Some gems included a man getting visibly upset saying he was disappointed there was no chandelier in the dining room as on Voyager, another man complained about open seating for breakfast and lunch (he must have repeated that he always treats his waiters VERY well about a dozen times), while someone else thought that open seating for dinner is the way RCI should go. Can't please everyone all the time, I guess. Captain's Cocktail Party Interestingly, they held the Captain's welcome aboard cocktail party in the Royal Promenade. It was done very well, and the blue-tinged overhead lights gave the impression of being outside at dusk. It was all very elegant, albeit a bit crowded for some. 50's/60's/70's Night Instead of having these on 2 separate nights, there was one giant dance party where we passed though 3 decades in an hour and a half. The party was held in the Studio B ice rink, which was boarded over for the occasion. The 50's was my Dad's decade, and he was quite excited about the night. It turns out that the 50's portion of the night coincided with the late seating's entertainment, which happened to be Mickey Dolenz of the Monkees. By the time the show let out, the party was already into the 60's... and my Dad (and many others) were disappointed to have missed it. This should have been scheduled a bit better as there were many who would have enjoyed the entire experience, especially given the evening's retro theme. I found the party to be much duller and more 'rushed' than on previous cruises. The staff really was not into it, and appeared to be going through motions. More on the staff later. PUBLIC AREAS Rather than go over every room in detail, I will highlight some key areas. Bow of the Ship This was my favorite spot on the ship. The guests on Explorer of the Seas are allowed to go to the very front of the ship, located all the way forward on deck 5. To be exact, you need to exit on deck 4 and climb the outdoor steps to deck 5. There are benches to relax on, and enjoy the serenity of the seas. It is beautiful at night, and a romantic place to stargaze. However, it is unlit at night so be careful. Chamber Nightclub Very cool club atmosphere. It is 2 floor with a medieval goth theme. The party only started happening around 11:00-11:30 at night, and on my cruise the crowd was dominated mostly by 18-21 year olds. At 28, I felt old. I went to the Chamber on several occasions, and each time the DJ was playing hip-hop music - not my favorite to dance too. As a result, I ended up really not as much time as I would have liked in the club. Sports Area Rock-climbing wall, basketball court, miniature golf, roller blading - what more is there to say? All activities were complimentary, although there was usually a line for the rock-climbing wall. The roller blade track was very small, so do not pack your blades unless you plan on using them in the islands. Being Canadian, I was excited about ice skating in the middle of the Caribbean. However, the daily Compass stated that advanced skaters needed to supply their own skates (who packs ice skates on a cruise?), while beginners needed to sit through a half hour lesson, which I did not need. I never bothered to investigate it any further, and ended up missing the ice-skating. Maharaja's Lounge Although I personally did not experience it, my parents loved the ballroom dancing in the evenings in the Maharaja's lounge. They were surprised that it wasn't better announced. ENTERTAINMENT / STAFF Headliner - Mickey Dolenz It's always a bit sad to see once famous entertainers years later... but that was not the case with Mickey Dolenz. I was actually surprised by how good he was, singing all the Monkees' old songs such as Daydream Believer and Last Train to Clarkesville. His sister joined him on stage, and together they put on a great show. In between songs he did a pseudo self-deprecating standup comedy act, griping about his old age, which elicited many laughs from the audience. Headliner - Roger Behr Who is this guy? From the way cruise director Ken Rush was hyping his performance for days, you would have thought he was like Jim Carrey or some other top-notch comedian. Well, you could not get further from the truth then that. This guy embodied the phrase "washed up", telling jokes that were outdated in the 80's. I would honestly be surprised if he modified his act in over 20 years, if not ever. He even did the bit about how on a cruise, the shower curtain sticks to you while you are trying to shower. Well, we all know that there are no shower curtains on Explorer of the Seas... maybe he forgot to shower all week. Either way, he stunk. Wave Revue Dancers / Ice Show Again, I do not want to re-iterate what has already been said. We thought the shows were fantastic, very well choreographed and with beautiful costumes. The ice show is not to be missed. Cruise Director / Staff We heard a lot of great things about Ken Rush prior to boarding this cruise, and our expectations were very high. We found him to be not as 'polished' as some of the other CD's out there (Kyle Dodson, for example), but that ended up being refreshing change. He seemed more human and personable, and not cut from the same game-show-host mold as some of the others. His staff on the other hand, lacked any of the professionalism needed to perform their jobs. We usually become friendly with the cruise staff, but on this cruise, we could not understand how Royal Caribbean could hire such dull people. They were rude, snobbish, immature and gave the impression that they would rather be anywhere but on the ship. Compared to the excellent and outgoing cruise directing staff on my prior RCI cruises, these clowns were a real disappointment. I did however hear that the kids' staff was pretty good. PORTS OF CALL Labadee There is really nothing more I can add about Labadee that has not been said before. It's a great island for relaxing, really scenic. Snorkeling is very poor though. San Juan This was our second time in San Juan. The last time we were there, we spent a few days on the island and we rented a car to go to the El Yunque rainforest. The rainforest is lush and beautiful, and was the highlight of our vacation. We definitely wanted to go back, especially to take my parents along. Given our tight schedule of 12:30 -8:00 p.m. in port, we were unsure of what to do. We did not want to take an organized tour, as they only give you a half hour to walk around, and do not take you to the out-of-the-way Mina falls. The only way to explore the Mina falls is to hike down, which the tours do not offer. The Mina falls are, in our opinion, the jewel of the rainforest and to miss it is like going to Rome and missing the Coliseum. Before I left, I spoke with a Puerto Rican car rental agency and arranged with them to pick us up at the pier and shuttle us to their lot. The shuttle was complimentary, and it meant that we did not have to negotiate the hectic Old San Juan traffic. Also, their agency was just off the main highway, so it was easy to find them on the way back. As promised, we called them when we arrived in port and the shuttle bus came within 20 minutes. We arrived at the rainforest just as the Explorer of the Seas tour bus was pulling in! We were chatting with some friends while snapping photos in front of the pretty Coca falls. But while those on the tour had to leave soon after, we hiked down to the Mina falls where my husband swam under the refreshingly cool waterfall. It really is breathtaking, and it is a shame there are not any tours that explore this area of the forest. To be on the safe side, we left El Yunque by 5:00 p.m. The rental agency shuttled us back to the pier, and we were in Old San Juan by 6:30. We toured the city for a bit, bought a bit of booze, and boarded the ship at 7:30. St Thomas / St John Having been to St Thomas before, and being under whelmed by Magen's Bay, we decided to see what St John had to offer. Prior to leaving for the cruise, I researched the ferry schedules from Red Hook, St Thomas, to Cruz Bay, St John. They leave every hour on the hour SHARP, so if you are late you are stuck at the not so pretty ferry terminal. We almost did not make it as the 20-person cab by the pier did not want to make a run to Red Hook with only 4 people, but we spoke with the dispatcher who insisted. Also, the price of $5 per person that RCI quoted us as the going rate was upped to $8 pp by the taxi authority. Due to ocean swells, the ferry ride to St John was quite bumpy and I was actually worried that we might capsize. It would certainly make for an interesting story, huh? Once in St John, we caught a cab to Cinnamon Bay. We chose Cinnamon Bay over the more popular Trunk Bay, as we heard that recently Trunk Bay was too crowded with cruisers and shore excursions. In fact, our thoughts were confirmed when we drove past Trunk Bay, which was absolutely packed. Cinnamon Bay is also part of the US National Parks, there were facilities on site, and the admission was free. We brought our own equipment so I am unsure of whether they rent snorkel gear. Not to sound clichEd, but the beach was a little piece of paradise. The water was crystal clear, and the sand was like powder. Alongside Bermuda, this was probably the nicest beach I have been on. The snorkeling was fabulous - we saw schools of different kinds of colorful fish as well as a couple of stingrays. It did take a while to find the good snorkeling 'spot', though, but once we found it we were in heaven. Also, the beach was relatively empty, with only a few other couples. I need to add that the strangest thing I think I ever saw on a beach was at Cinnamon Bay - out of nowhere, we saw a pair of wild donkeys galloping along the beach. They ended up settling under some trees, and did not appear dangerous, but certainly out of place! We caught the afternoon ferry back to downtown Charlotte Amalie, instead of Red Hook pier, and spent the rest of the day shopping. Nassau We decided to take a water taxi across the bay to Paradise Island for the day. It was very overcast, and it looked like it would rain any minute. Sure enough, the downpour hit as we were crossing over to Paradise Island, and all those on the top deck of the boat ran down for cover... not very comfortable. The rain subsided soon after we arrived, and we decided to see the famous Atlantis resort. In order to gain access to the grounds, all guests must pay a $25.00 fee per person. This fee does not include use of any of the pools or waterslides, which only resort guests can use, and wristbands are checked diligently. We actually walked in the front door of the resort and no one stopped us to told us where to pay. We were able to tour the grounds, which are amazing. The casino is glitzy and expansive, with huge aquatic themed sculptures throughout. The aquarium had all kinds of sea animals, including manta rays, stingrays, lobster, shrimp, crabs, sand sharks... Outside, there are a few pools, a Mayan Temple with waterslides, and an inclosed lazy-river ride which takes guests through a sharks den. As I mentioned before, there were many guards by the pools and waterslides checking for wristbands, so we did not try to go on. When we got back to the ship, we met many people who were stopped by the guards and had to pay the $25 entrance fee. I don't know why we weren't stopped, but I am certainly not complaining! GENERAL COMMENTS We had people of all ages on our cruise. There were many families, seniors, and younger couples, and at no time did it ever feel 'too big'. In fact, we were amazed at how uncrowded it felt. It was very easy to find our way around, and we never felt lost. I would recommend this cruise for anyone who wants a classy but fun experience. Throughout the cruise we overheard people marveling at how this was the nicest ship they were on. I would do Explorer's sister ships, Voyager, Adventure, Navigator or Mariner in a heartbeat. Happy Sailing! --Jacquelyn Hyde :) Read Less
Sail Date: May 2000
General Information -- The following is a detailed account of our cruise on the Zuiderdam from May 14-21, 2005. We are two professionals in our early 50's who are on our fourth cruise in only 24 months. Our first three trips took ... Read More
General Information -- The following is a detailed account of our cruise on the Zuiderdam from May 14-21, 2005. We are two professionals in our early 50's who are on our fourth cruise in only 24 months. Our first three trips took place on Princess ships to Alaska, Western Caribbean, and the Panama Canal. We found both positive and negative points on the Zuiderdam and will point them out in this review. The Zuiderdam is a large beautiful ship built in 2002. The interior color scheme is very unusual with oranges, blues and purples galore. These colors and the shape of the ceilings reminded us of the set using for the cartoon show, the Jetsons. There are a lot of nooks and crannies so we got the feeling we were almost alone on the ship. The atrium seemed smaller than on previous ships we had been on and did not go from the top to the bottom of the ship. There was an abundance of elevators - four each in the bow and aft and six in the center. Four of these center elevators were glass-enclosed and allowed us to see outside the ship as we traveled vertically. Very seldom did we have to wait long to use one of these elevators. Signage was also strategically placed to help us find our bearings. We did find some unusual artwork scattered throughout the ship. Embarkment -- We flew into Fort Lauderdale the day before and stayed at our favorite motel in Dania, the Sleep Inn. This motel provides free transportation to and from the airport and the ship port. They also have good rates, an excellent breakfast and there is a Walgreen's and Publix store across the street for all the last minute items we needed (like pop and water). There is also a mom and pop-style Italian restaurant across the street with excellent garlic rolls and ice cream desserts. We took the hotel shuttle to the ship port at 10:00 on Saturday and were in line by 10:30. The porters try to get us to tip them, but there is a sign on the building stating that the porters were salaried and that tipping is not necessary. The ticket process started at 11:00 and 30 minutes later we were on board. Because we could not get into our stateroom until 1:30, we ate lunch on the Lido deck, took a short orientation walk and then ended up on the Crows' Nest where we rested in some nice captains chairs. There is also a facility onboard we could have stored our hand-carried luggage if we wanted until we got into our cabin. At 1:30, we were allowed to go to the cabin, but the luggage did not arrive until 4:30. We almost missed the muster drill because there was no announcement on the TV to go directly to our station. After 10 minutes of silence on our desk, we hurried down to our station and got our life jackets on. We came back to unpack our belongings and to participate in our Cruise Critic bon voyage party. Cabin and Surroundings -- We were in cabin SS 6064 which was on the port side of the ship between the bow and mid-point. This room was much larger than the mini-suite we had on a Princess ship. It included a queen-size bed, television, DVD player, vanity table, lots of closet space, a safe, and room to put the empty luggage under the bed. The bathroom too was spacious having a tub, a shower, and two sinks. We didn't feel like being in an MRI tube to shower like we had on previous trips. We loved the Royal Dutch soap and shampoo that was provided. The verandah was spacious as it contained two lounge chairs and a small table as well as another large eating table and two upright chairs. We opened the divider between the other cabins next to us (all Cruise Critic members) and had a six-cabin open veranda. Our cabin steward from Indonesia was called Harry and he kept our room in spotless shape. Walking down the hallway to our cabin was a chore. It seems that the "Z" is the first Vista ship to be built and they used poured concrete for the floors. This concrete is now breaking up and makes walking on it difficult (especially with high heels). HAL really needs to tear up the carpeting, patch up the cement and replace it with new carpeting. Perhaps they will perform this task at their next dry-dock. Food -- In general, the "lack of refrigeration" became the key phrase for the cruise. The ship was without a major refrigerator which malfunctioned most of the week and we were without ice cream, whole eggs and a lot of other foods. One official told us that over $250,000 worth of food was lost because of this problem. HAL brought in several portable refrigerators in St. Thomas and hopefully, got the problem fixed by the time the next cruise began. We went to the upscale Pinnacle restaurant on the first night (the price is reduced from $20 to $10 per person that evening). There were multiple courses, the food was tasty, and the service was superb. In fact it really spoils you for the rest of the cruise. We had filet minion and rib eye steaks for the main course, both made from the finest cuts of beef. We both favored the crème brulee over their famous chocolate volcano cake. Eating here is an experience all cruisers must indulge in at least once. Our breakfasts and lunches were all eaten at the buffet on the Lido deck. Instead of a long straight line like on the Princess ships, there were various stations which open and close at different times of the day. There were stations for Italian food, a bistro, express food, salad bar, etc. Also, instead of serving yourself, the food was dished out by the staff members. Tea and coffee was served with every meal as well as fresh squeezed orange juice in the morning and lemonade in the afternoon. A similar but limited meal found in the main dining room was provided for evening diners on the Lido deck. One afternoon, there were chocolate dipped strawberries available as well as giant prawns which we thoroughly enjoyed. During the afternoon upon arriving from a short excursion, we would go to the Lido deck and get something to eat to hold us over until dinner. However, sometimes we were disappointed as the desserts were not made by hand. This was verified by guests who told us the saw the cakes and pies bring taken out of store-brand boxes. I personally don't think the chefs onboard actually baked any desserts while we were there. We ate our evening meals in the Vista Dining Room. There are four different times scheduled and we were at the 6:15 setting on the lower level. We sat at a table with four ladies - a retired WWII nurse and her daughter and another nurse with her 93-year old aunt. With my wife being a nurse, you know what we talked about! The food in the Vista was tasty and we were able to sample a variety of different foods. We particularly liked the appetizers and cold soups and had several of each per meal. However, some of the desserts were not so appealing. The last night we had the signature dish - Baked Alaska as the ship brought onboard new ice cream that day when docked at Nassau. Another night we had lobster tales and I had read you needed to order at least two of them, which we did. Being from Kansas City, we like our barbecue. However, we found the food at the ship's barbecue was unappetizing. In fact, it tasted similar to the food served at lunch at Half Moon Cay. We did like the hamburgers and brats at the grill next to the pool area and ate there several times. Overall, we felt the food on the Princess ships was more tasty, there was more variety, and the presentation was better than on the Zuiderdam. But at least we were able to go a week without having to prepare meals and do the dishes, so that was a plus. Entertainment -- The nightly entertainment onboard ship was excellent. There was a female comedian Julie Barr who performed several nights, along with singer Alfreda Gerald, and James Cielen an illusionist. We really enjoyed the tricks Mr. Cielen performed and he used several animals in his act (including a white poodle). Several days earlier while on the fourth deck, we came across a white poodle prancing down the hall and it confused us. We knew there was a rule that no animals were allowed onboard and here there was a poodle in front of us. It didn't look like a seeing-eye dog and it wasn't until it was brought out during the show that it was the same poodle we had seen earlier. We also enjoyed the two shows done by the ship's professional dancers - one on the 50's and 60's and the other doing show tunes. Unfortunately, this is the last week these dancers were to perform on our ship. Ship Activities -- There were many activities onboard the ship each day for us to partake. We walked around the deck of the ship the mornings we did not have any shore excursions. It takes three complete laps for a mile and this is done on Deck 3. Beware that the decks can be wet and slippery and the winds could make your jogging/walking a real task. We did not use either the gym or the spa on this voyage. We visited the library and found a poor selection of books. Being a university library director, Ray scanned the titles and found very few current books available. Also, seldom was there a staff member available to assist us with accessing the collection. The ship photographers snapped our pictures at every port, formal dining room seating, etc. and then tried to sell us the pictures. We didn't like any of the poses so did not purchase any prints. Another activity we did not try on this cruise was to use the Internet. To do E-mail, it costs 50 cents a minute (slightly cheaper if you buy blocks of time), whereas it is only 35 cents a minute on the Princess ships. We believe HAL should reduce the rate for this service. We watched television programs in our cabin and enjoyed the selection provided by HAL. We enjoyed both the views from the bow and aft of the ship but did not care for the accompanied music selection. There were several movie channels, CNN international, and ESPN sports (usually soccer which we liked). We spent time attending the two art auctions and won several prints which we had framed and sent home. The auction included artists not shown on Princess ships and was performed in a slightly different manner. We brought our laptop computer onboard ship and took hundreds of photographs with our digital cameras. Then at night, we would download these pictures onto the computer and then make a backup onto CD's. We ended up with almost 1,000 pictures showing all aspects of our trip and some of these will end up on our Web page on the Internet. We also brought along a small stuffed Garfield cat and took many pictures of him around the ship. These photos will be developed into a cruise album starring "Garfield the Cat Taking a Cruise". Daily Activities -- For the most part, the weather was overcast and we had some rain throughout the week. The waves were also somewhat choppy while traveling to and from the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. The following is a sampling of what we did on our excursions: Half Moon Cay - We tendered over to HAL's private island about 9 a.m. and walked around the island. There were lockers on the island, but the majority of them were broken, so we ended up carrying our equipment with us all day. After cooling off in the shade for awhile, we ate their barbecue lunch and then snorkeled at the left side of the island near the children's area. We found that the hut above the rocks to be a great place to put our gear while we snorkeled as it was cool and not crowded. We had brought some small bits of dog food with us and that brought the fish in where we could take some photographs. About 2:30 p.m., we then tendered back to the ship. The water here was cooler than the other ports and there were not as many fish as we had hoped to see. It was a relaxing day and helped us prepare for the rest of the trip. Tortola - We had booked a catamaran/snorkeling cruise through Patouche and was their guests from 9 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. We got on a 49 foot catamaran with 10 other vacationers and sailed to Virgin Gorda where the famed Rocks are located. We walked through the rocks, snorkeled some in the area and then went to Cooper Island for some more snorkeling. They feed us onboard the ship, provided drinks, gave us a history of the region; all for only $90 per person. The weather was overcast and that kept the temperature down some and helped us not to burn so much. We highly recommend this tour. St. Thomas - We took a taxi to Coral World and Coki Beach ($7 per person) and received a $3 off coupon to Coral World from the cab driver. We rented a locker at Coral World for $3 and put our snorkeling gear in it and toured the facilities. There is a large sphere which allowed us to look into the outside coral reefs and see all the fish. There were also several other buildings with various marine life and a nature trail with larger animals. Special pools housed turtles, stingrays and there were iguana all around. One special treat we did was to pet a nurse shark. We then changed into our snorkeling gear and walked several hundred yards to Coki Beach. There were thousands of fish along the coral reef and they all loved my dog food pellets we provided. After snorkeling, we stopped at Havensight Shopping Mall and walked to the Kmart store (10 minutes away). However, we did not take the gondola up to Paradise Point as the cost was $16 each and the sky was overcast and you could not get a very good view. Nassau -We packed our luggage in the morning and watched as we sailed into Nassau around noon. There was a Disney ship, Carnival ship and the Norwegian Dawn which recently was hit with a huge wave. We walked around the town, visited the busy Straw Market, climbed the 66 steps of the Queen's Steps and visited the fort nearby. We could see the huge Atlantis Hotel on Paradise Island but did not have time to see her. Our opinion of Nassau was that it was a noisy, busy city and we did not feel very comfortable there. Cruise Critic -- One of the best features of this cruise was being involved with other members of Cruise Critic. We had a roll call of over 30 cruisers and have posted 600-plus messages. We talked about our trip for months and helped each other get ready for the voyage. There were cruisers from Washington DC, California, Louisiana, Florida, Boston, New Jersey, Kansas, and even New Zealand. There were even six groups who had cabins next to each other (we had Cruise Critic people from Washington DC and New Zealand on the two sides of us) and we opened up the verandah between our cabins and made one extremely long balcony. We invited Mr. James Deering, Hotel Manager for the "Z" to attend our bon voyage party and he spent over 30 minutes getting to know each and every Cruise Critic member. He took down our names, gave us his card in case we needed anything, and provided us tips on how to enjoy our tour. Mr. Deering also invited us to a reception with Mr. John Scott, the ship's captain. We found Mr. Scott to be very friendly and he took pictures will all of us. Our group has corresponded since our return and we are sure this will continue for many months to come. I highly recommend joining a Cruise Critic roll call and carry it through to the end of the cruise. Do's and Don'ts -- 1. Bring an extension cord with you. There are only two outlets: one in the cabin and one in the bathroom. If you have any technical equipment that needs charging up, you will need this cord to handle your needs. 2. Go to the bow of the ship for great photographs. If you walk to the front of deck four, there are two separate entrances to the bow. Photographs can be taken there without any Plexiglas barriers. Beware; it can be windy out there. 3. On surf and turf night in at dinner, orders at least two lobster tales - one is not enough. 4. Read the crisecritic.com religiously before you consider a cruise and before the cruise begins. We read it at least once a week all year round. 5. After lunch on the first day, go up to the Crows Nest where it is air conditioned, the scenery is great and the captains chairs are comfortable. We almost fell asleep before they called us to our cabins at 1:30 p.m. 6. Don't let taxi drivers try to sell your tours you don't want. Ask for the price of a specific location before you get out, have the exact change ready when you get to your destination, and say no for an extended rides (unless you want to). 7. There are no self-service laundry services available on the ship. Either you bring enough clothes to wear for the week (we did!) or you pay to have the ship's personnel do it for you. Disembarkment -- We arrived in port at 6:30 a.m. and docked a half hour later. After breakfast, we went up to our cabin for some final packing and waited until our number was called (which was the final group at 9:45 a.m.) All of our packed luggage had been placed in our hallway before 1 a.m. the night before and had been taken to the hull of the ship. I liked the idea of being able to stay in our room rather than the hallways, especially if you have to wait for over an hour. Getting off the ship with our luggage went smoothly and took less than 15 minutes. We took a cab to the airport which is only a $10 fare. We had until 5:30 p.m. for our plane to take off so had looked for possible shore excursions to fill up time. The one we wanted was cancelled and the other was over $70, so we decided to spend our time in the airport. We just camped out and visited with our Cruise Critic friends and made some new friends also just off their cruises. We discovered that there is a Chili's sit-down restaurant in Terminal 3 (as well as take-out) and storage space ($5 per bag) where you can leave your luggage. Finally, our plane took off in the middle of a torrential rainstorm. We visited Atlanta and then got home by 10 p.m. in Kansas City. Overall, we enjoyed our cruise on the "Z" and will go cruising again soon. It was a great vacation, with some nice scenery, great friends, and a new appreciation for the Eastern Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2000
My family and I just got back from our 7 night cruise on CostaMagica. It was an amazing experience!!! After reading so many mixed reviews, we were afraid of what to expect. The ship was very spacious and we did not experience the long ... Read More
My family and I just got back from our 7 night cruise on CostaMagica. It was an amazing experience!!! After reading so many mixed reviews, we were afraid of what to expect. The ship was very spacious and we did not experience the long lines or rudeness of the Europeans. For the contrary, people were very nice and just relaxed. The atmosphere was friendly and once again just very relaxed. The crew members were very attentive to the needs of everyone. If you are looking for a ship with rock climbing walls or other things to that matter, this is not for you. But there was plenty to do. The children in our group were very entertained at the squok club. They had various activities and were very good with the kids. Anyway, I am not much of a writer, but felt the need to give this cruise its justice. It is great, and I would book it again. The only thing I would really recommend is that you make sure they list everyone in our party to the credit card in the begriming of the cruise. The Costa cashless system works great, but at the time of paying your bill you may have problems as we did. The cruise line did not list our 16 year old daughter on our credit card, when we went to pay at the last day, they would not take the same card (which we did not have another one), so we had to pay cash or sign a promissory note with a 12% rate. That was the only major problem we found with this cruise. I highly recommend it. Read Less
Where to begin, From the point of embarkation until we arrived in New York 8 days later, my journey aboard the Carnival Legend was a moment in time that VISA would call, "priceless". The staff so energetic, polite, and vibrant ... Read More
Where to begin, From the point of embarkation until we arrived in New York 8 days later, my journey aboard the Carnival Legend was a moment in time that VISA would call, "priceless". The staff so energetic, polite, and vibrant which makes you feel 8 days of bliss is just to say the least. I have never experienced hospitality like it was on the Carnival Legend, even in five star hotels! Entertainment was second to none. Starting from the cruise director Christopher Jefferson, to the Wait staff Alex and Louise from Romania whose abilities are outstanding and gave impeccable service, with such vibrant personalities, right down to the stateroom-stewards who made the walk back to the cabin from the late seating in the Truffles Dining Room filled with curiosity! And, of course Dining...Dining aboard The Legend, well words do little justice for such an exquisite cuisine that just makes my mouth water thinking about it! The nightlife is one of the best I have encountered, yet not overpowering the ship, which brings no inconvenience at all to others. "Grazie Claudio per un viaggio pieno di sogni!" I guess all I have to say is "Thank you all on the Carnival Legend for making 8 days of my life memorable for the rest of my life!!!!!" Sincerely a Carnival Cruiser for life, Giuseppe Graziano Read Less

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