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Cruise Ratings
Sail Date: January 2004
Traveled with six other people. It was our sixth cruise in as many years. Had previously been with Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, and Princess cruise lines. The Volendam was a complete disappointment. The food was poor to average. Not a ... Read More
Traveled with six other people. It was our sixth cruise in as many years. Had previously been with Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, and Princess cruise lines. The Volendam was a complete disappointment. The food was poor to average. Not a single meal could be called memorable in a positive manner. The entertainment was unimaginative. One night's entertainment consisted of a ventriloquist, another night was a pianist. The "special" Indonesian crew staff night was indescribable. Even the bingo board was broken for a day or two. For two days the ship smelled of raw sewage. The captain announced that they were having problems with the ship's waste management system. Toilet flushing was on again - off again. The seventh day out, all toilets on the sixth floor were out of use. Twice, I was grossly overcharged for purchases from on-board shops. Bought one watch - was charged for two. Bought three photographs - was charged for fourteen. However, the crew and staff were excellent. We all agreed that this would be our final cruise with Holland America. Had mixed feelings about the shore excursions. Swimming with the stingrays in Nassau was the highlight of the trip. However, swimming in the ocean on Dominica (where the sewage runs right into the ocean) was disgusting. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2003
We took our first cruise on the New Year's 7 day cruise from 12/28/03- 1/1/04. I was traveling with two teenagers -ages 13 and 16-so the sailing date coincided well with school vacation. The cruise was very crowded. 1900 people- 650 ... Read More
We took our first cruise on the New Year's 7 day cruise from 12/28/03- 1/1/04. I was traveling with two teenagers -ages 13 and 16-so the sailing date coincided well with school vacation. The cruise was very crowded. 1900 people- 650 children and 300 teenagers. The ship was large enough to accommodate large crowds but our overall experience was only fair. Fort Lauderdale lodging: We stayed at the Marriott Marina the night before embarkation and the hotel rooms and hotel lobby were very crowded with tourists leaving and arriving from a host of different cruise lines. The hotel does provide free transportation to the pier and it is recommended that you sign up with the concierge the night before and get a time and van #. It was a bit of a zoo getting to the vans and getting to the pier. Expect big crowds. Folks on the ship: Kids had a great time- met other kids from around the country and the world. Lots of activities. Fewer for adults who don't drink or party. Lesson learned: travel with another family or friends if you are an adult. Embarkation: Very smooth. Be sure to have your Celebrity documents filled out and you can breeze through. Once inside the terminal, the lines were a bit long- about a 10 minute wait at 2 p.m. Some Celebrity personnel check and double check your credit cards and passports prior to boarding. Before boarding, on board pics were taken. I couldn't tell if they were for security or for purchase (the latter). Boarding went quickly and we were greeted with champagne glasses filled with champagne or orange juice. A bit of an overdramatized entrance. Stateroom: We had a great stateroom staff- Lawrence and one assistant. Our room was mid ship on deck 7, port side. I'd recommend a port side room as you have a better view coming into the ports. One drawback is that the inside staterooms are across from some of the portside exterior rooms. Starboard rooms don't. We had a category 2B room- deluxe suite with a veranda. The veranda was definitely worthwhile and deck 6 and 7 are the best for stability. If I had to rebook, I would have reserved 2 rooms because my teenagers were out very late in the evening and had a tendency to wake me when they came in after midnight. The room was spotless, the bathroom very clean- all in all very, very clean. Shower was good. Dining: We had 3 formals on the cruise even though the promotional materials only listed 2. Because we had only brought 2 formal outfits, we ate one evening in the Sushi bar which was fairly good and very quiet. The dinners in the Metropolitan were good. The food was good but a bit overrated. Our waiter, Mauricio was excellent. Our request for a large table (in our reservation) was denied and guest services and the Maitre D' were unwilling to change our seating assignment. We ended up eating by ourselves. I complained to the concierge but he said there was nothing they could do; that the Maitre D' makes all decisions. As consolation, they sent a bottle of champagne and basket of fruit to my room. It would have been simpler to have changed the seating. I found the level of customer service above the wait staff and stateroom staff to be poor. Celebrity needs to train their other staff to be more customer oriented. Other food choices were limited. We were unable to get a reservation in the Olympic Restaurant. The buffets were crowded but the food selection was varied. Room service was excellent. Ask the stateroom attendant for the special menu of the day. Kids loved the pizza delivered to the room- even if the pizza was only average in quality. Charging for sodas and bottled water ($2.00 a pop) was outrageous. Celebrity should include these charges as other cruise lines are beginning to do. Spa/Gym: Gym was great except when the seas were rough. I was unable to sign up for any classes or spa services. They were all full. Lesson learned: board very early and book all special services such as special restaurant, gym and spa. Entertainment: I went to one "broadway show". It was so poor that I had to leave 1/2 way through. The singers were off key; used microphones that covered their faces and massacred some of my favorite musical pieces. If you've seen the real thing, don't go to these shows. Skipped the casino altogether. Ports of call: San Juan was a fiasco. US immigration put the Millenium through lots of hoops because of heightened security status- code orange. It took many hours to clear immigration and the crew- including the cruise director- seemed completely stumped. The ship made announcements on the PA system that contradicted what the staff said. It was very confusing and almost amusing. The security exercise had many holes in it. The Dominican Republic and St Thomas did not put us through any of these exercises and the disembarkation went smoothly. A bit embarrassing for a US citizen. Best port of call: St. Thomas- we went on a beach snorkel tour to St. John. Great boat ride. St. John is gorgeous but the beach at Trunk Bay on New Year's Day was too crowded. Lesson learned: Don't take a big cruise line if you want small or intimate shore excursions. The shore excursions are a bit zooey and impersonal. Or book your own excursions if you know what you are doing. Or don't travel on a major holiday but this is hard to avoid with children. Disembarkation at Fort Lauderdale: Much smoother than the San Juan experience but still took several hours. Our stateroom attendants wanted us out at 8:30 a.m. even though we were told to report to the theatre to disembark at 10:30 a.m. Once off the boat, 9,000 people were in the Port because 4 other cruise ships had landed that morning. Getting a taxi was near to impossible. Lesson learned: get a porter. Don't start or end your cruise in FLL. It is simply too crowded. Our taxicab driver in FLL remarked that if the mayor could have seen the mess at the pier on that Sunday morning, "he would have had a heart attack." If we cruise again, we would fly to San Juan first and probably take a smaller ship. Post-Cruise- While we had a fairly good time on the cruise, the crowning blow came after we had returned home. First the cruise line (Royal Caribbean) mistakenly debited my checking account thousands of dollars which I'm still trying to collect. The cruise line has admitted that they made an error but did not reverse the charge for over 2 weeks. Secondly, they accidently charged my credit card twice for my onboard charges. My credit card company was able to deny the second charge after 3 calls. Celebrity/Royal Caribbean's post cruise customer service line is slow, confusing and bureaucratic. I was put on hold for over 2 hours on one Saturday and was then told that they couldn't help me until Monday. The cruise line has a long way to go in beefing up their customer service. I feel sorry for anyone that has a big dispute with them. Their poor service should be reported to the Better Business Bureau. I will not travel with them again. Lesson learned: NEVER give the cruise line a debit card number for online purchases. Always use a credit card so you can dispute charges that are wrong. I hope this review helps other travelers avoid the problems we encountered. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2003
We drove to the port of Miami and found the parking garage where to park our vehicle. It cost about $84 for us to park our vehicle for one week. Once we arrived, we got our bags together and walked to the terminal which was located about ... Read More
We drove to the port of Miami and found the parking garage where to park our vehicle. It cost about $84 for us to park our vehicle for one week. Once we arrived, we got our bags together and walked to the terminal which was located about 1/4 of a mile away. We have luggage with wheels and it makes it easy to walk any distance needed. Once we arrived at the front of the terminal, we dropped our bags off with cruise line representatives and proceeded inside the terminal for processing of paperwork and boarding. The M/S Paradise was set to sail at 4PM but we arrived a little after lunch so we could get settled early. We had registered on-line and had our paperwork in hand, yet it still took about one hour for us to get through all the lines and board the vessel. One comment about the terminal was the presence of escalators that were not in operation. Thus, travel lightly or be expected to lug your bags up stairs -- not too nice a thing to do! Once we arrived on the ship, we used the ship's layout map to find our deck and room. We had booked an inside cabin and were pleasantly surprised to find that we were upgraded to an ocean view cabin -- not bad! Once we had found our cabin, we dropped off our carry-on bags and went exploring. We walked from one end of the ship to the other and finally settled in the Lido Deck's open area near the Paris Cafe where we got a hamburger, French fries, and soft drink for lunch. During this time the waiters and waitresses were walking around offering complimentary champagne to all guests and there was live music being played by a Caribbean band. Since we don't drink, I was beginning to get annoyed at all the requests for me to consume champagne or other alcoholic beverage. However, I brushed it off and went about exploring the ship. Before the ship set sail we were told to get out life jackets (traditional bulky orange type) and meet by our designated lifeboat. With all the scrambling and confusion this exercise took about one hour. The ship finally set sail around 5PM and we were on the rear deck watching as we left Miami harbor. As the light of day became less and less and Miami was beginning to recede in the distance, we walked to our cabin to drop off our life jackets and decide what to do for the evening. Since we didn't feel like dressing up for anything formal, we decided to eat dinner in the Paris Cafe near the rear of the ship. This is a restaurant where you can serve yourself (like a buffet) and the staff picks up your plates, cups, etc. when you are done. After dinner, we continued to explore the ship and engaged in some time-passing activities (i.e., played ping pong). The wind was pretty strong (about 30 knots) and the ship was rocking quite a bit. I noticed from time to time that several passengers were craning over the edge feeding the fish. Thus, if you might be subject to motion sickness, please take something or wear a patch behind your ear with motion sickness medicine. Anyway, we decided to turn in relatively early so that we would be fresh for the next day -- a port stop at Nassau, Bahamas. My wife found the cabins to be a bit small and was a little claustrophobic -- be warned! The night at sea was uneventful, just a little bit rocky (I'm surprised that a ship this size moves so much). We arrived in Nassau in the morning, got ready, ate breakfast in the Paris Cafe, and went ashore. Make sure you carry all your documentation with you -- you will probably be checked. We decided to get our passports and it came in very handy. Once in Nassau, we walked around the town, took a ride on a horse drawn buggy, and shopped in the straw market. We had an enjoyable time in Nassau and don't recommend any tours provided by the cruise line (you dock in the middle of town and everything is nearby for you to walk to). While shopping in the straw market, feel free to haggle price -- never pay what they initially ask for the item. Also, there are plenty of people who will want to braid you hair (be careful -- each braid will cost quite a bit). After exploring Nassau for a good portion of the day, we decided to return to the ship, store our purchased souvenirs, and get ready for the ship to sail. On our way back to the ship we were asked by Bahamian immigration personnel for our passports and then were allowed to proceed to the dock. At the gangplank we were asked for our sail and sign cards to be allowed back on the ship. Again we decided to eat in the Paris Restaurant and watched the ship leave Nassau for the Dominican Republic. The next day we spent at sea and it was uneventful. We arrived in the Dominican Republic in the morning and I looked out our cabin window to be surprised by an old working port -- nothing fancy! After breakfast, we went up on deck and checked out our new location and noted that it was very underdeveloped. We were the only cruise ship docked in port and there were no easily accessible areas (i.e., on foot like in Nassau). In fact, people who got off the ship to go to the nearby town of La Romana were taken by locals on the back of their mopeds from the dock area to the main road. Other than the tours offered by the cruise line, there didn't seem to be anything going on in this port. I was disappointed with the port and its lack of amenities. In my opinion, stopping at La Romana, Dominican Republic was a total waste of time. My family and I decided to stay on the ship, watch what was going on, listen to the stories of those who spent a load of money to go on cruise line sponsored tours (not worth it), and just relax. The next night we spent at sea and arrived in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands in the morning. After breakfast we got off the ship and met with our tour guide -- Godfrey Renal. We had booked the tour on-line with him as a result of many recommendations from other individuals who had been to St. Thomas. Godfrey was superb and his tour was great!! We were picked up at the dock and taken to the downtown shopping area for several hours of shopping. At the designated time and location, we met Godfrey and he took us on a tour of the beautiful Island of St. Thomas. We went from one end to the other and from the base to the top of the mountain. As we were traveling about, Godfrey narrated and told us what we saw, stopped for photographs, etc. At the end of the island tour we were asked if we wanted to go swimming and, if so, he gave us an option of several beaches. We chose Coki Beach by Coral World but didn't stay because it was very crowded. We decided to return to the ship and were taken there by Godfrey. Those who decided to swim were later picked up by Godfrey and returned to the ship in plenty of time for sailing. The tour we took with Godfrey was practically all day (10AM to about 4PM) and it only cost $20 per person -- a great deal! Further, if anyone who is reading this review is going to St. Thomas, book with Godfrey -- you will not be disappointed!! To get the same thing from the cruise line you'll end up paying twice as much or more! The next two days were at sea and we watched shows, stayed busy, and waited to reach Miami. Two days and three nights at sea are just a little too much for me! I wish that the ship had made at least one more stop at another port, a place where we could get out and about and enjoy ourselves -- no such luck!! ACTIVITIES FOR CHILDREN: We traveled with my 10 year old son and found that activities for him were lacking. I saw plenty of stuff for the little tikes and the older teenagers, but very little for the kids in my son's age group. I was disappointed with this scenario and feel that this is a big problem that should be corrected by Carnival! FOOD: I was not impressed with the quality of food that was served on the ship. The food served in the Paris Restaurant where we ate most of our meals was average. We were led to believe that there would be grand feasts and this was not the case. You can dine better in most typical restaurants in the United States (i.e., Golden Corral, Ryan's, Western Sizzlin, etc.). For example, we were informed in the Carnival Capers (local activities publication) that one evening we were going to have a Mexican buffet at midnight. Well, we decided to eat light and save our appetite for the Mexican cuisine. We were expecting tacos, burritos, enchiladas, fajitas, etc. but to our surprise we found none of the above. We found a buffet with about a half dozen items and none of them looked Mexican in origin or preparation technique. We were very disappointed by this! On another occasion, we decided to eat in the formal dining room and dressed accordingly (male: suit and tie; female: evening gown). Well, to our surprise they allowed guests wearing shorts to eat in the dining room. Further, after we ordered our food (i.e., appetizer, main course, and dessert); it took a very long time to be served each component of our meal -- almost two hours from start to finish. Further, our dining partners never showed up for a meal at the formal dining restaurant. As a final note about the food, I was pretty disappointed!!! PORTS OF CALL: Nassau and St. Thomas were enjoyable experiences. However, La Romana, Dominican Republic should be eliminated from their itinerary. There is nothing to walk to nearby where the ship docks (unless you want to ride in the back of a local's moped and risk your safety). The only game in town is a series of shore tours offered by the cruise line -- designed to overcharge you and not give you a good value for what you've paid (see other comments by fellow cruisers on this topic and La Romana). IRRITANTS: Neither I nor my wife drink alcoholic beverages and it is an irritant for you to be asked to buy an alcoholic beverage 40 or 50 times each and every day. Further, if you do drink, be aware of the prices for your drinks -- significantly higher that you would pay stateside! In addition, it seems that any little thing you may want beyond normal food and beverages costs something extra. For example, if you want a chocolate chip cookie or a milk shake from the La France serving area, you have to pay for it. If you want to drink a soda pop, you have to pay for it ($2.50 for a plastic 20 oz bottle). If you want to play bingo, you have to pay extra money to do so...and on, and on, and on. This was rampant throughout the ship and I was extremely irritated and disappointed!! Come on people, we've already paid a hefty sum to be on the ship, the least you could do is provide free of charge soda pop, chocolate chip cookies, milk shakes, and other little things! POSITIVES: I enjoyed the "smoke free" atmosphere on the ship and some of the shows. It is really nice to be able to walk about and not have to smell stale smoke which embeds itself into everything. Unfortunately, in one session of the "meet/get to know your crew" we were told that Carnival was going to discontinue the smoke free ship because it did not make as much profit as the smoking vessels. This is terrible!! Carnival needs to look beyond the just the bottom line. Yes, the ship is profitable, but smoking ships are more profitable. Where did customer satisfaction go? Where is the concept of give the customer what he/she wants? I'm saddened by this turn of events!! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2003
I just came back from a not so nice experience. My first trip with Carnival, I have been in RCCL and Celebrity. We waited approx 3.5 hrs to get on board at the Port of Ft. Lauderdale, very disorganized, no wheelchairs available for the 2 ... Read More
I just came back from a not so nice experience. My first trip with Carnival, I have been in RCCL and Celebrity. We waited approx 3.5 hrs to get on board at the Port of Ft. Lauderdale, very disorganized, no wheelchairs available for the 2 grandmas in my group of 13 people. The cabin was spacious, however the carpet throughout the 2nd floor had water stains all over and it smelled like mildew. The Paris restaurant was ok. Extremely noisy and loud. I got table 521 near the water and soda station, glasses and silverware were falling all the time, dishes... I just wanted to eat. We felt like we were at a diner. The 24 hrs Pizza and grill was fine. However the Gala Show with the Ice sculptures was HORRIBLE. It was not the show I have had with RCCL and Celebrity. The Breakfast at the SOBE Rest/buffet and lunches were not impressive. Our cabin steward was fine but most of the crew have a difficult time understanding English. Our head Waiter was ok, just doing his job. They placed the napkin on my lap the first night, after that they forgot. Carnival has a problem enforcing the rules on the ship. Smokers were at the non-smoking section, and even I complained a few times to the crew. The guy at the pool never mentioned that one side was the smoking area and the other non-smoking. Kids were running at 700 am and after midnight through the hallways and my parents, my friends and myself also complained. WE never heard any "reminder to the passengers". The teen camp was a fiasco. My 12y/o daughter who I thought was going to be with the 10-12 y/o was sent to the 12-15 y/o group (they change the age group) and she was able to sign herself in and out of camp at any time. 16 and over is the age for the CLub, meaning you are dancing with a bunch of kids. The wine tasting experience was very disappointing. A wine tasting should educate. It's not about selling you the glass of wine. In general, I would not go back to the Triumph and probably not any other Carnival ship either. The rock singers were ok but extremely loud. The Spa treatment I got, was more of a sales push than a relaxing experience. The girls are in a rush and they sell, sell, sell. The fitness classes were very limited and the pilates and yoga had a $10.00 fee per class. The whirlpool yesterday smelled like rotten eggs and it was not hot enough. The only thing I really enjoyed was the shows. The magic show was great and the musical shows were fantastic. Hygiene was not at its best around the ship. The pics were horrible. They take your pics at the port of calls with other peoples heads and backs included. Well, I can go on more but I think I'll stop. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2003
We sailed on the Zuiderdam in August 2003 with our two children ages 10 and 15. This was our eighth HAL voyage and our children's fourth. I was expecting such a wonderful ship and couldn't wait. Wow, what a disappointment. Our ... Read More
We sailed on the Zuiderdam in August 2003 with our two children ages 10 and 15. This was our eighth HAL voyage and our children's fourth. I was expecting such a wonderful ship and couldn't wait. Wow, what a disappointment. Our cruise was booked to capacity and contained well over 2,000 people. There were a huge number of kids and teens. We had a Suite, which was by far the best part of the voyage. The concierge desk for the Suite occupants was also a nice feature. The new Lido configuration tends to be confusing and the lines do not run smoothly. People cutting in and out of the line was really problematic. There was a lack of available seating on both the inside and outside of the Lido area. Many people were leaving personal items in order to "reserve" Lido tables for hours at a time. This is the first time I have seen something like that on a HAL ship. The Lido was not keep as clean as it is on other ships either, the carpet was constantly dirty and many tables needed to be bused. Forget about getting a chaise by the pool. These were "reserved" from dawn to dusk. We found the same problem with the hot tub. While others complained about service being too fast in the diningroom, we found ours to be monotonously SLOW...we always have second seating and numerous times we were left waiting to order while others around us were already eating (and no, we weren't late for dinner) Finally, the head waiter took over our service and it improved on the fourth night. We found the food in the Odyssey restaurant oddly lacking. It didn't seem to be any different than the food in the diningroom and for $80 (4 of us) we'll pass next time. The ship was way too large and seemed to be poorly configured. It was not as easy to get around as it is on other HAL ships. There were far too many people and for some reason there seemed to be an unusually large number of rude people on this particular voyage. Disembarkation from this ship was a disaster. We had priority disembarkation and could not get through some of the stairwells and hallways when our number was called. An "excuse me" or "pardon me" did not have any impact on this crowd. I think we will stick to the smaller ships and some of the more obscure ports in order to a avoid such crowds. Overall, I think we'll pass on any future Zuiderdam cruises. When I think of the Zuiderdam, I imagine it is what a Carnival cruise ship would be like. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2003
Well, as our first cruise, I don't think we could of picked a worse one. The Disney Magic gave no "cruise ship feeling" like when youre relaxed and out at sea. Well of course, we were literally blown away by how much stuff ... Read More
Well, as our first cruise, I don't think we could of picked a worse one. The Disney Magic gave no "cruise ship feeling" like when youre relaxed and out at sea. Well of course, we were literally blown away by how much stuff they threw at us everyday. Well, here is the full explanation. Day 1: Port Canaveral We took a bus from our rental car place into the terminal and signed it. Since we were "foreign" aka Canadians, we had to stand in 1 huge line winding around the front of the terminal with 3 tellers. After a half an hour, we finally got to the front and found that the people there were very inexperienced and couldn't read our "foreign passports" properly. Shortly after, we boarded and we had a man announce our last name was the band played which was quite enjoyable. After that, a swarm of people came rushing at us to offer us different Disney deals, to visit the Disney shop, different Disney contests. After we finally escaped that, we took our elevator to the 8th deck where we entered our room. We found that the bathrooms where separated which was quite nice. The hallway at the entrance was too small for any one - two people to even get through. We found our room smallish with barely enough room to squeeze by the beds at night. The balcony was nice with a great view and, what looked like, sorta new patio furniture. For dinner that night, we had a little card that said: "Go to Parrot Cay and be seated at this table." We went and were directed to a table right in the middle of the humongous dining room. We then met our "drinks waiter" who was very friendly and was very experienced. Our "meal waiter" was a tad slow and there was major difficulty trying to order because he didnt speak English very well. The meal its self was so so, your average Disney meal. I found it tasty but not jumping into the amazing category. That night, we met our friendly maid who introduced herself very nicely. Day 2: At Sea This day was one of the 3 days at sea during our journey. We went to breakfast at Parrot Cay, and again, it was iffy. That day was nice and hot and we wanted to relax; however that was not the case. When we got up to the pool deck, the family pool AND the kids pool were both amazingly busy. We fought our way and finally got a 4-person table by the pizza place. This pizza and hotdog stands on the top were both fabulous (this is where Disney shines the most). So we decided to take a look at the kids pool, which was swarming with screaming kids and running around kids. The waterslide was lined up at least for 15 minutes and no tables or chairs were empty. All the while, there was a band playing extremely loud music that you could hear all throughout the deck, which prevented us from doing any relaxation. After about an hour on the deck, we decided to go back to our stateroom and just watch TV and relax on the deck until dinner. We had dinner at Lumieres that night which we got on another card. The menu this time had lavish and different choices. I went and ordered a large steak, and again, it wasnt that good at all. My brother, who was a child, had his worst meal there where his mash potatoes were cold. Day 3: At Sea Another day at sea would seem relaxing, however it was a repeat of day 2. We went for our character breakfast that day and the food was not very tasty. When the characters came around, they seemed to want to get away from our table to try and make it to someone else. After, my brother wanted to go into the kids program so we went in. At the time, I was a teen so I went into the teens club. This is where I think Disney really bombed. I got in and it was a 20-minute free time until we had to go to activities on deck, and then to a dance party for 30 minutes. I found that being pushed around and being told where to go was very bad. My parents, however, signed me up for a program where I can sign myself out whenever I want and go do something else. After activities on deck, I did do that, signed myself out, and then went back to our stateroom to relax. After about an hour, I headed back to the teens club and there were my parents and the manager of the teens program. Apparently, I had run off in the middle of the activity and I was being rude to other kids on activities. This was definitely not true; there were kids that I met there that told them over and over that I barely participated in them. So they took off my privilege to sign myself out. My parents wanted to keep me in that program so they had to pay an extra $250 to get it back. We never went back to the teens room. After that we saw a movie in the movie theatre, which was surprisingly not busy. After the movie, we went to pick up my brother and he said that the kids at the program teased him continuously. We talked to the managers and they said that my brother was the one who was teasing. And it was clear that my brother had a bruised knee and was limping. After that we, again, went back to our stateroom to just relax till dinner. At dinner, we went to Animators Palate, which we thought was quite neat because of the changing walls. The food, again, was not that great and we still had the same waiter/waitress, and the same table number. Day 4: St. Maarten/St. Marten We arrived at St.Maarten extremely early in the morning and had to get up at 5AM to get to customs. The lineup was at least an hour long and we, again, were singled out cause we were Canadians. After that we got out and had to wait in another line to get out of the ship. When we got off, it was really nice on the island, however chaos began shortly after. We had booked a See/Sea tour where we go on a bus and boat tour, and no one could find out bus. Well after the shore excursion, we came back to the ship early not to take the last leg of the journey. My mom went to the spa where there were discounts, and we just stayed in our stateroom again until dinner. We could hear loud music and tons of people above us. That night, we went to Parrot Cay again and got sat at the same table as before. The food pattern really continued throughout the whole trip, not very good  tasty. Day 5: St. Thomas We arrived at the island, again, extremely early in the morning and had to wake up, once again, extremely early. At customs, I forgot to mention, they came around serving muffins, however only one person could have 1 muffin, and 1 person could have 1 bagel. After all the craziness of customs, we got onto the island and really enjoyed it. After we got back, we came onto the ship again. From this point on, we really didn't do much because of the mess we experienced before. So we didn't even bother even going anywhere else, we just went to our stateroom, relaxed, slept, and just enjoyed. For dinner we went to lumpier's and pretty much the same thing that has happened the other nights. Day 6: At Sea We woke up extra late because of the two previous days that were very early. We went for brunch at the Topsider Buffet and it was the best breakfast we had the whole cruise. That whole entire day, we stayed in our stateroom, saw a movie, and other things. We did see an extremely well done magic show in the theatre, and the magician was Canadian! For dinner this time, me and my brother stayed at Animators Palate and my parents went to Palo. When my parents got back, they said that Palo was very well done and was the best meal this whole voyage. Day 7: Castaway cagy Disney's private island in the Bahamas is nothing like the actual Bahamas itself. We got off again and took a very long tram from the dock to the family beach. The family beach was absolutely packed, we got a seat at the very far end of the beach. When we went for a swim, we found that the water was very cold. We finally decided to go snorkeling and when we did, we found that it was the only place in the Bahamas with no fish. There were no fish, just lame plastic models of coral, octopuses, and fish. For lunch, they served us pizza which was again, good. Everywhere you turned there were people trying to sell you stuff and tons of stores/shacks located all around the ship. After around 3Pm, there was almost no one there so for 30 mins we just sat on the beach to enjoy our only peace and quiet time. Our voyage overall wasn't that great, but if you are a returning cruiser, then this is a good choice for you. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2002
My fiance and 3 of my children ages 16 - 19 accompanied us. We had side by side Balcony Rooms. When we arrived by a (Carnival) bus to the embarkment, it was raining and very hot and humid. We gave the bus boy a large tip to make sure our ... Read More
My fiance and 3 of my children ages 16 - 19 accompanied us. We had side by side Balcony Rooms. When we arrived by a (Carnival) bus to the embarkment, it was raining and very hot and humid. We gave the bus boy a large tip to make sure our luggage wouldn't sit out in the rain. He said that he would take care of it. Then we had to STAND out in the pouring RAIN (2 hours), until we finally got approved to go board the ship. Alot of people were getting dizzy and were led to go up into the front of the line. Some were offered wheel chairs. But, since we were healthy, we had to stand out and get soaking wet. We didn't bring an umbrella, we were offered shelter. I'm not sure why they didn't let us stand in the area where your luggage is to be picked up when you disembark. We had left CT at 6:30 am, we didn't eat any lunch, since as soon as we got off our plane we had get onto a Carnival Bus to take us to the ship. We thought that it wouldn't take long at all to get onto the ship, maybe 1/2 hr the most. But we were totally WRONG!!! So, here we are standing in the humidity, letting it pour on us, we're tired and we're hungry. Then after over 2 hours of standing in line, we get through. THen they want to take OUR PICTURE??? Are you kidding me? We looked like wet rats. Then I'm asking around to where we could go and get some lunch, and we were told NO LUNCH because we missed it and they had to show us how to use the life jackets and show us the life boats. I told someone that I needed to eat because I felt very faint, and I was told to go to the cafe. But, when I got there I was DENIED any kind of food or drink. THey told me that we needed to go to our assigned areas to learn about life saving tips. We left and went to the assigned area, all wet, tired, feeling faint and hungry. I couldn't even put on a life vest jacket because I thought I was going to pass out. Here we're all thinking....IS THIS A VACATION OR ARE WE ENLISTING FOR THE NAVY?????? I was getting really turned off really fast. When we were done we all were able to get some food and we were dried off and felt better. BUT then................when we got to our rooms to change and get our clothes.....my daughter who was in her separate Balcony Room, unpacked her clothes and found that her evening gown was RUINED!!!!! BY WATER!!!!!! It must of sat outside in a puddle for hours!!!!! because it was totally soaked with water. She started to cry. Ok, I'm asking myself, am I on vacation or is this a nightmare or what??????? I went right to the purser's desk and told her what happened, at first she said they couldn't do anything. THen I talked to someone else and she said they'd offer me $20.00 to have it dry cleaned when we got home. Well, that doesn't offer me much. I even said that this was a water stain and it's a Dry CLean Only gown, that I think the gown was in total ruin and it was BRAND NEW!!!! Just for this cruise. She said that was the only thing she could do. We took the $20.00. When we got home, the first thing we did was have it dry cleaned, and they told us it was ruined!!!!!!!!!!!! Water should never touch Dry Cleaning Only. My daughter didn't wear it on Captain's night, she was very upset along with our whole family. $160.00 she saved out of her own money to purchase it along with paying her whole way on this cruise. This was unbelievable to us. On our way back home, on the air flight, we talked to others who were coming back from their cruises. And, they said they had a wonderful experience. They weren't waiting out in the pouring rain like WE WERE and OUR LUGGAGE!!! THEY WERE SHOCKED TO HEAR OUR HORRIBLE EXPERIENCE and especially who Carnival didn't take care of us. I mean, what is $20.00 when you have a new gown that cost $160.00 and never got to wear it???????? When I got home, a friend told me to go online to see where I could make a complaint, and I just got the run around with calling different phone numbers. So I gave UP!! As far as the rest of the cruise, the food was good. The alcohol was pricey to drink in the bars. I would of liked it if we were able to at least purchase 1 bottle in the shop to at least just drink in our room. The shows were excellent. The atmosphere was beautiful. Entertainment was very good. They kept you busy all day long. I liked it that they offered you trip tours that you can book from your room. But, I didn't like the urgency you had to complete and make up your minds because of limited space. Bottom line is, would I return to take a Carnival Cruise? I don't know, can they guarantee me that we won't ever have to wait out in the rain while we wait to embark? Will they guarantee that my gowns for formal night won't be ruined by being neglected by their employees?? Vacations should be stress free, don't you agree? If they can guarantee that this won't happen again, I'd say, SURE!!!! I re-married the following year, and we were thinking about doing it on a cruise ship, but then I had the fear that my gown would get ruined, so I backed out of it. We were married at Sandals's Resort Royal Caribbean in Jamaica!!! We had 17 people accompany us! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2000
We sailed on the Jan 1st voyage of the Norwegian Jewel. The ship is a gem, but in need of polishing. The boat is beautiful. Bright, large and what you would expect from a new ship. Our room, a mini suite with a balcony was spacious, and ... Read More
We sailed on the Jan 1st voyage of the Norwegian Jewel. The ship is a gem, but in need of polishing. The boat is beautiful. Bright, large and what you would expect from a new ship. Our room, a mini suite with a balcony was spacious, and contained more than enough storage for my family of four to stow belongings - with room to spare. The Jewel was the first experience we had with Freestyle cruising. In fact, the Freestyle concept is what led us to try NCL. With two children (ages 11 & 7), we thought the freestyle dining would provide us with additional flexibility. It really wasn't the case. While you get to pick and choose where you dine each night, it is extremely important to do homework in advance to know where you'd like to dine, and then make sure you book reservations that first day to ensure you get a time to your liking. While the main dining hall is always available, the 'better' restaurants book up fast. It's not early versus late seating options, but you do find yourself locked into a set of times. A big downfall to Freestyle cruising is the service. You no longer have the same wait staff for every meal. Each meal a new set of faces. We really missed the pampering: having our waiter know this one prefers chocolate milk, that one white and I drink lots of coffee without ever having to ask (beyond that first day). With Freestyle, it's more like dining at any basic restaurant at home - basic service. On past cruises we often received great tips from our waiters on what to do and where to go. That rapport never surfaced with the Jewel. And on the subject of food, we're not sure but suspect all the dining comes from a central kitchen. Feeding thousands is a big task, so don't expect gourmet dining. Basic at best. I do give thumbs up to the Cooking Lite menu available in the main dining room. Breakfast especially, was very tasty. Great flavor and not your average items. Thumbs down to charging for the 'specialty' restaurants. If you're going to charge, offer above and beyond. We dined at the steakhouse one night. My husband's steak was average. My salmon tasted just like the one I had two nights before. For $10 extra per person, we expected more - much more. On a cruise with Disney, we dined in its Palo restaurant. There we felt the extra fee well worth it as the restaurant had its own kitchen, and the food could compete with the best restaurants we had at home. An experience rather than another meal! Positives on the Jewel: our stewards for the cruise were wonderful. Like your traditional cruise, they remained the same. A request for an extra padding for the pull-out couch (my daughters complained it was too hard) appeared night two along with an extra blanket. They learned quickly we were early risers (and our youngest not an night owl) and had the clean up/ turn down cycle timed perfectly to match us. Also kudos to the kids club. Both of my children loved it. The activities age appropriate, and the staff terrific. If I had a request it would be for some type of pager system - especially for the younger kids. At check in you provided a location you planned to be in, but what happens if there's an emergency and you've decided to visit the casino rather than the dance floor? Overall our experience wasn't bad. We were able to enjoy the sun, had fun and relax. A jewel in the making, but polish needed. Read Less

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