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Sail Date: February 2011
My family and i traveled on the Celebrity Summit last February vacation,and lets just say we will be going on the Celebrity Summit next month (February) again! The service was quite exceptional,and all staff had great recommendations,from ... Read More
My family and i traveled on the Celebrity Summit last February vacation,and lets just say we will be going on the Celebrity Summit next month (February) again! The service was quite exceptional,and all staff had great recommendations,from a good appetizer dish,to a wonderful on-land excursion. The food was good,but from previous experience on the Celebrity Solstice it wasn't as impressive,however was fairly tasty and recommendable. The children's program was decent,they did lots of things from games such as basketball on the outdoor court,or even doing scavenger hunts,sometimes they even watched movies,and played video games. Despite the vast amount of children on the ship,the children's program made sure,that not only the kids enjoyed the activities,but that the adults on board got the relaxation. We did enjoy the entertainment on boar,and they sure had a lot of it! They had comedians,cooking shows,projected movies,and professional dancers and singers.We did lots of things on board each day besides visiting the gorgeous Caribbean,such as swimming in the pools,relaxing in the aqua lounge,taking jogs around the sky deck,grabbing snacks from the all-day buffet. Overall,it was an amazing experience,that included many fine memories,that we look forward to experiencing next month. By the way,before traveling the Celebrity Summit we had also gone on the Carnival Cruise Line a few years ago,and two years ago we traveled on the Celebrity Solstice which was completely fantastic,but the favorite cruise was with out a doubt the Celebrity Summit. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
We had a fantastic 24 hours in Fort Lauderdale staying at the Hilton after a long flight. Having no idea what to expect as first time cruisers - when we arrived at the quayside it seemed a long queue snaking round the block - but hey maybe ... Read More
We had a fantastic 24 hours in Fort Lauderdale staying at the Hilton after a long flight. Having no idea what to expect as first time cruisers - when we arrived at the quayside it seemed a long queue snaking round the block - but hey maybe this was normal - seeing the luggage dumped all round the quayside looked like a shambles and we were amongst the last on board. There was no welcome and no access to the cabins. My suitcase arrived about 11.00pm. However the dining room knocked your socks off and the food/service was great. More by luck than judgement we had booked a flexible eating time which I would definately recommend. Sailing out of Fort Lauderdale at sunset was a memory that will stay with me forever. As we relaxed we enjoyed the trip more. We only found out about the services available in the cabin from other diners who were experienced cruisers. The cabin was very comfortable and the shower v.good. Some good films available by chance on the TV. It was good to be able to see the state of your bar bill on screen - again a lucky chance hit on the remote control. The carpet was not hoovered all 7 days because of the deepcleanse the vacuum cleaners were out of commission. Speaking of which we had no notification of the novovirus prior to the trip. If there was a little bit of meet and greet - a welcome and a run through we would have got more out of it. The breakfasts on Deck 14 were great. Fresh fruit, hot breakfasts if you like them. The staff looked worn out,and after reading previous reviews I can see why now. The ones who could speak very little english were under great pressure. We enjoyed the shows, the theatre looked good and the seats were comfortable. The variety and quality of live music throughout the cruise was memorable and one reason I would think of booking again. The central part of the boat is a show stopper - great design and the addition of live music in the attrium gave an opportunity to sit down and enjoy it instead of simply walking past. Did I mention the casino? This was a great eye opener to prim and proper Brits! we walked through every evening just to take it in. The daily newsletter printed how much had been paid out and by the end of the week I think it was around $140,000.00 - Wow! The sunbeds and rows of bodies laid out on them looked deeply unpleasant - I only ever went along that deck to get to somewhere else. Much preferred the seating area and grass on Deck 14. It was the only time you were really aware of how many people were on the boat. Megans Bay is a must swim destination. The pelicans were diving for fish around us - best swim I've ever had. It was a lot more choppy at St Martins - not in the same league. It might be a rich Island but not much wealth is perculating down to the people who live there. It felt very safe using the shared taxi's on both Islands. Getting off the boat we had a day before a night flight so we went to the Art Deco District, Miami Beach. Great day out - can thoroughly recommend. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
Much has been said and written about Allure. A few observations from a RCI Diamond Plus member. Let me get the negatives out of the way first. The decor of the cabins is incredibly bad and old fashioned. How on earth can you build ... Read More
Much has been said and written about Allure. A few observations from a RCI Diamond Plus member. Let me get the negatives out of the way first. The decor of the cabins is incredibly bad and old fashioned. How on earth can you build a new state of the art vessel with such old-fashioned and downright ugly standard cabins? What did the think? If you have a cabin with bed by the cabinet/wardrobe, then your cabin looks also very small. It´s much better if your bed is by the window. The bed is very comfy though. The Sauna and Spa. Again, what did they think? In times, where all new cruise ships feature bigger and better spas and saunas, Oasis class has a little hidden something inside the ship, which does not earn the word Spa. Offered at a price where most people say "No" without regrets. The price is ridiculous and the space used is a joke. That was my biggest disappointment on the ship! No free sauna? What is it with that? Cheap. Now the positives: Never, and I literally mean that, never a cue or line. Even at guest relations they managed to work the lines fast, due to having staff available before the desk, asking people in line already for their requests and issues. Kudos! Getting on and off the ship has never on all my cruises been faster. Food was mostly good, except for Windjammer, but there are so many other choices that this did not matter. Still, RCL needs to change menus for the main dining room urgently. Most menus and items are 6 plus years old. Especially good the food at the Solarium. Healthier and light, just what most people like these days. The Suites are great in both decor and space. 3 Lounges, one for the high end Suites and top tier guest (Pinnacle), one for the regular high end suites GS and up to OS incl D+ members (Concierge Lounge) and one diamond lounge with nice views and outside sitting overlooking the promenade. Staff outstanding throughout the ship. The shows were great, especially Blue Planet. Most shows we saw where specially hired for our cruise by Atlantis. They were all outstanding and cannot be compared to what regular cruisers see on RCL. Much fun. Both cruise directors, yes we had two, one from Atlantis (Malcolm) and the regular one from the Allure were outstanding and incredibly good together. The positives outweigh the negatives by far but still. There is room for improvement. Overall a great week on a great ship. Would I go on the Oasis class again? No, not on a regular cruise. Heard today, that the new ship generation called Sunshine will not be, what I hoped it would be, nested somewhere between Freedom and Radiance Class. Instead it will be of a size, somewhere between Freedom and Oasis Class with over 4000 passengers. I was hoping for a rather "Solstice Class" size , RCI style. That is a bit too big for my taste, to be honest, but I guess the right size for RCI to make money and offer all the new features thew want to offer. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
We finally took our first cruise on a Solstice Class ship! Celebrity is our line of choice; we had been on M-Class ships four times, and were looking forward to checking out the Solstice. We flew into Fort Lauderdale the night ... Read More
We finally took our first cruise on a Solstice Class ship! Celebrity is our line of choice; we had been on M-Class ships four times, and were looking forward to checking out the Solstice. We flew into Fort Lauderdale the night before the cruise, and stayed at the Atlantic Hotel and Spa right on Fort Lauderdale Beach. This hotel was recommended by our travel agent and was absolutely beautiful, with a very spacious bedroom, massive bathroom, and a terrace with an unobstructed view of the ocean. On Sunday we took a taxi to the pier at noon, and were boarded by 12:30pm. We were advised as we boarded that the cabins may not be available until 3:00pm, so we took our complimentary champagne into Bistro on Five for a wonderful, leisurely lunch. This venue was perfect for lunch: uncrowded, plenty of room for our carry-on bags, and located right beside where we boarded. The five dollar per person upcharge is well worth it, and we were stuffed when we left! Between four of us we shared a beef panini, chicken caesar salad, leek and potato soup, a Cowboy crepe, Chef salad, and four desserts: a French crepe (Grand Marnier flavoured), Spanish crepe (with Dulce de Leche), English trifle and an almond cake. Everything was amazing, and we ended up going back again later in the cruise! Just after 2:00pm we were able to access our staterooms, and we headed up to deck 10 to CC2 stateroom 1194. We were the last stateroom on the starboard side of the ship, and our friends were in the exact same location port side. These cabins had slightly oversized balconies, and our strategy was that with cabins on both sides of the ship we'd never miss a sailaway or a sunset. We love the layout of the new staterooms. A lot of people have written in their reviews that there is not enough storage in the S-Class cabins, but we found the layout even better for us than the storage on the M-Class ships. I can see how the over the bed storage would be difficult for some people to access, but as I'm 5' 9", and my husband is even taller we had no problems utilizing this space to the max. The desk/bar area is much more user friendly then on the M-Class ships, and we loved all the bathroom storage. The large flat screen interactive TV was also a welcome addition. And we especially loved the balcony furniture: it's comfortable enough to sleep on, which I did several afternoons after dozing off reading a novel. Our room steward and assistant, Nyoman and Malcolm, were true professionals, and one of the best teams we've experienced on any ship. The same goes for our dining room team, Ersin and Rado; a great pair of guys, and so good that we understand Rado is soon to be promoted from assistant to waiter. We ate in the MDR every night except one, and had traditional late seating. We found the food to be exceptional; even better than we had on the Summit in Feb 2010. Standout dishes were the Prime Rib on the first night, the rack of lamb on the second night (first formal night), and the pork in mustard sauce. I also stuffed myself silly on escargots and french onion soup from the "Available Anytime" menu, as well as any salad I could get with Celerity's yummy terragon dressing. We tried Tuscan Grill as our one night not in the MDR. We loved the antipasti, arugula salad, and spaghetti bolognese, but were a little disappointed in the rib-eye steak. Three of the four of us had it, and it was not as good as everyone had said. However, we were not disappointed in our experience, and will probably try it again on a future cruise, but order a different entree. We did not eat in the buffet very much, but when we did we found the food to be excellent, and I especially liked the curry station. We found the number of choices to be larger than on the M-Class ships, and the station layout made getting food much faster than the traditional single line. Also, we never had a problem finding a table. The Aqua Spa Cafe was great for breakfast, and I was pleased to see that still have my favourite yogurt parfaits. We did not spend a lot of time in the bars, but did go to the Martini Bar one night. I had the martini flight of six different varieties, which was a lot of fun to try, and even more fun to watch being made! We had a cocktail in Michael's Club before dinner one night and loved it. The bartender, Brian, was a lot of fun, and he seemed to have quite a following of regulars. We liked the layout, and thought the L-shape was cozy, though it might turn some people off. We also went to Cellar Masters twice; once for a glass of wine, and once for a wine tasting event. The tasting event was $20 per person, and you could taste as much as you wanted of 12 wines being offered within an hour. We had a great time, and one of my traveling companions compared it to speed dating: you had to keep moving and keep focused to get maximum value. We watched the hot glass show a couple of times, but we found it was always crowded. It was amazing to see, and we thought the glass blowing and narrating team were very friendly and welcoming. We also enjoyed bocci, ring toss and beanbag toss on the Lawn Club, which we feel is a great addition to the ship. We also loved the new look and locations of the library and card room, and found them much more inviting than on the M-Class ships. We did not use the main pools, but did use the spa pool a couple of times, and found it to be almost as nice as the T-Pools on the M-Class ships. We really liked that they have moved the hot tubs to beside the windows in the spa area, which gives a great view of the passing scenery. The only two shows we saw were both on the same night. We went to the Cirque-style show on the second formal night, followed by the comedy show at midnight. The Cirque-style show was excellent, much like Cirque du Soleil's traditional touring shows, rather than the ones they have in Las Vegas. The comedian, Kevin Flynn, was great, and I wish I had seen more of his routines. Our three ports this cruise were San Juan, St. Thomas and St. Maarten. We did not do any excursions having been to all three islands a number of times before, so I'll leave this aspect of the cruise to another reviewer. Overall, this was a fantastic cruise, and the Solstice is our new favourite ship. That is at least until we sail Eclipse in June! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
My wife and i just got back from our 2 week cruise on the sun and here is my review. embarkation- very easy, almost to easy, get there early to avoid lines! disembarkation- very easy! the room- we had 0015 a BA balcony... it was a ... Read More
My wife and i just got back from our 2 week cruise on the sun and here is my review. embarkation- very easy, almost to easy, get there early to avoid lines! disembarkation- very easy! the room- we had 0015 a BA balcony... it was a nice size lots of storage room and would sleep 3-4 people as the couch pulls out into a bed. the balcony was fine, two chairs and a small table. it does make a loud noise when u move the chairs on the balcony and we heard that sound alot. the room in right below the fitness center... so we heard loud bangs from 630 am till 11 pm, we complained and after a couple days they moved us to room 0262 . also the door to the balcony( room 0015) made a loud whistle noise when the wind blew and i t was very annoying. both rooms had a bad smell of moldy shower curtain but it wasnt that bad as we had some air freshener. the food- breakfast- lunch- the buffets was very crowed and the ice cream was in the way of people trying to get in the dining room. the buffet was just fair, the food was ok, but very repetative, i had curry chicken like 8 times out of a 14 day cruise. i loved the pretzel rolls. The desserts were very poor compared to our other 2 cruises on the buffet. we only ate one time in the MDR for lunch and didnt care for it so we never went back dinner- the mdr was good nothing to complain about, desserts were good, we loved the creme brulee with chocolate ganache in it. specialty rest- we loved moderno the brazillian steakhouse. the salad bar alone was worth the 20 buck surcharge! the beed was good and the smoked bacon wrapped around chicken breast was our favorite. we ate at le bistro two times, once for valentines day (45 per person cover). it was pretty good but i dont think worth the cover charges. we ate at the east west steakhouse once and the shrimp cocktail was great and the steaks were very good. we enjoyed the sports bar and had the chicken wings and burger and fries. its a great place to go! Entertainment comedian rod long was very good , another comedian andrew kennedy was not very funny but good at impressions. juggler romono frediani was a treat to watch as we watched his show like 3 times since we did the back to back cruise. elvy rose was a singer and she was the best singer on a cruise we have seen. the suns on board production entertainment and dancers was not very good . the worst on the 3 cruises we have been on. cruise directer was shona blair, assistant cd was johnny cash and he was great! also juan who did bingo some was funny! did the white hot party one night and had fun but it didnt last very long. ports of call nassau- very crowded, someone always trying to sell things. wifi at the port building. st thomas- we did the sea lion swim and had fun! st martin- went to orient beach and had a blast, wave runners, and a nice beach, got crowed by midday as 5 ships were in port. cozumel- went to paradise beach, lots of water activities, slides, snorkel gear, floats, trampolines, wave runners, nice pools, bathrooms, all for 14 bucks guatemala- the port is just a shipping port, did the los escobas water fall excersion, interesting rainforest.. the city of santo thomas de castilla was very poor and is sad to ride through it. enjoyed the port though because we were the only ship and those people were so nice and want cruises to come there so bad! they even do a send off to the ship when you leave port BELIZE- did the raiders of the mayan cave excersion- long ride on bus, the cave was neat and the zip lines and rappeling were fun but short. lots of knockoff brands of bags and clothing at the port. key west- nice place - we just walked around and ate some key lime pie on a stick. we had to go through immigration before going on the island, it took forever, many people were upset. the ship- was nice size, looked to be in great shape, two pools, 4 hottubs, golf net, basketball court, ping pong tables overall i'd give the cruise a B Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
I booked this cruise over a year ago as part of a group of 32 and began reading reviews of the Oasis that day. I wanted to be well prepared and what I learned from this website really helped make this a memorable trip. I cannot, however, ... Read More
I booked this cruise over a year ago as part of a group of 32 and began reading reviews of the Oasis that day. I wanted to be well prepared and what I learned from this website really helped make this a memorable trip. I cannot, however, say that everything was perfect. Most everything went extremely well and I was not disappointed so I will save the negatives till the end of my review. I really wish I had a second week to be able to do all the things that I just didn't get to fit into my schedule while on board. We had stayed at our timeshare in Ft. Lauderdale which is only about three miles from the port. Embarking was the easiest of all the cruises I have been on to date. We were less than fifteen minutes from cab to the Promenade. We had lunch at the Windjammer and explored the ship until our cabin was ready at one. Our luggage came by three and my wife was unpacked by four. There was plenty of drawer and shelf space and the suitcases fit easily under the bed. I brought an extension cord and power strip which came in very handy. I also brought a small clock for the cabin. We were near the bow on the port side on deck eight. I wanted to be on the same deck as Central Park and near the gym for morning workouts. Unfortunately this location meant a bit more walking to get to all the venues on this huge ship. Next time I will try to get a cabin closer to midship. We took advantage of "My Time Dining" in order to be a bit more flexible in our dining times. This worked out very well for us. Our waiters were good, not the greatest , but proficient and courteous all the time. The assistant waiter never seemed to catch onto the fact that none at our table were ever interested in second rolls but he was good at remembering who wanted tea with the meal and coffee after. Food was always good but not outstanding. Selections were adequate to make sure that you could aways find something agreeable to choose. We ate at the Windjammer one evening because I wanted more than the meager amount of vegetables that were served in the MDR. Lunch and dinner were eaten at a variety of the complimentary restaurants. All the food was well prepared and certainly good to eat. I enjoyed the roast beef sandwiches from the Park Cafe. We had breakfast brought to us by room service one morning and that was great too. I can also recommend the Solarium Bistro and the Wipeout Cafe for lunch. We are not very big breakfast eaters but there was no problem finding something if we wanted it. My wife enjoyed the cupcakes and the donuts. Never a bad one in the bunch. The only bad experience with eating involved Johnny Rockets but I will save that till later in this review. The entertainment was the best we have seen on any ship so far. Hairspray was truly professional and thoroughly enjoyable. The aqua show, Oasis of Dreams, was unique, enthralling, and one of the highlights of the cruise. The headliner, Tony Tillman, is a must see. We had not heard of him prior to the cruise but he was outstanding and kept the audience fully engaged the entire time. I would gladly go to see him again. The comedians kept us laughing the entire time, even the emcee had some good lines. The ice show was better than the one we saw on the Liberty of the Seas and the sand lady is an amazing talent. Come Fly with Me was entertaining also and just a little too short. I could have stayed in the theater watching for another half hour. "Splish Splash", at the aqua theater, was not to my liking and I left halfway through the performance. Elvis, from Chile, did a very good job running the bingo games as did all the staff running the various daily activities during the days. Theresa was our cabin attendant. She was admirable, accommodating our irregular schedule and always helpful with information and a door key when needed. Her towel animals were great. She left chocolates on the pillows every night. The cabin was done well every day. The bed was extremely comfortable. We slept like rocks each night, even when the ship experienced some rough seas and was rocking a bit. The gym is outstanding. There are so many treadmills,ellipticals, and stair climbers you can always get one. There was a bit of a crowd by 7:30 am but it thinned out by 9:00. The collection of resistance machines is better than any I have ever seen in one place. The free weights are plentiful too. A variety of classes were available for those wanting a bit of structure to their workouts. We never had any problem getting towels or lounges for the pools. There was plenty of space on the upper decks and it was relaxing to lay out. The Solarium was another great place to relax. I got some heavy duty reading done there. Having the Bistro in the Solarium was convenient also. We were able to play miniature golf. It was fun but not too challenging. Before I start on the negatives let me say that the cruise director, Richard Spacey, was absolutely fabulous! He as everywhere. He was energetic. He was enthusiastic. He is a sight to be seen and experienced. From the opening night, through the 'Love and Marriage' game, to the last night farewell parade he was great. You won't find a better cruise director on any other ship. The first thing you should be aware of is that among the 5000 plus passengers you will find some who are just not as courteous as you are. There was some crowding around the elevators after some of the shows and near the MDR. Some people must think that they are more important than everyone else and therefore they deserve to go first no matter who is ahead of them at the time. Se' la vie. If you encounter this rude behavior just chalk it up to poor upbringing and don't let it spoil your vacation. Photos never came up on our cabin tv. We went to Focus to see our pictures. While there we found out that the price of the album option had been increased from $99 to $129. We did not see the value and opted to go with a few good single pictures in our folio. Using the coupons in our booklet helped make the prices more reasonable. The 'Cruise in Review' is no such thing. DO NOT BUY IT !! For $29.95 you get a compilation of the promotional videos that are available on the website that describe the neighborhoods,the captain's activities on the bridge, and the ports the Oasis visits. There is no footage from your cruise. Image photo will refund your money if you are suckered into buying this ripoff video. RCI has indicated to Image Photo that they will review this policy and possibly they will start doing an actual 'Cruise in Review' for the Oasis soon. Two minor things that could be addressed by RCI. The TV selections are poor. I know we are at sea but.... I think they could do a better job with the addition of some more sports and a weather channel and possibly a channel for news other than FOX. Another issue is the selection of venues for the muster drill. Several of those chosen by RCI are ones where smoking is permitted during the cruise. The residue and odors can be offensive to passengers with asthma, respiratory issues, or allergies. It would be better to have the passengers meet in non-smoking venues for there required meetings. Johnny Rockets was a huge disappointment. The service was snail paced and the food nowhere near as good as the fare from their land based restaurants. The tables outside are too small to hold meals and drinks for four customers. We waited far too long for mediocre food with a bill for sodas and a cover charge early in the cruise. We decided to give them another try because we wanted to try the milkshakes. Big mistake. Apparently the servers onboard go into a series of dance moves as part of their routine. Never mind that there are customers waiting, that all the tables are full, and that the food is getting cold. Dance routines come first!! We waited over half an hour for two milkshakes that were really nothing worth mentioning. One last thing before I close (I know it has been along review.) Dazzles is a fine place that I frequented several times. The band was great and the servers were not too pushy. I enjoyed my times there. But... the sight lines are terrible. There are very few seats (except the ones very close up) with a good view of the band and the dancers. The second floor is almost useless. Maybe a little redesign could make this a better venue for spending time there. At the end of this review I want to say that it was a great trip. I want to do it again. I have not done the Art Tour, the scavenger hunt, the Zipline, etc. So much to do you can't fit it into one week. I'll be back !!! The Cruise Critic M&M went as well as expected. We did a cabin crawl that allowed us to see some of the different types of accommodations available on board. Thanks to all that participated. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
We are veteran cruisers, with over 14 cruises under our belts. Check in: This was painless. We arrived in San Juan a day early and enjoyed the Marriott Resort on the Condado. The next day a $20 cab ride to the pier. In San Juan ... Read More
We are veteran cruisers, with over 14 cruises under our belts. Check in: This was painless. We arrived in San Juan a day early and enjoyed the Marriott Resort on the Condado. The next day a $20 cab ride to the pier. In San Juan these are fixed prices. We arrived at the pier at 11:30. Check in was smooth and without a hitch. We were on the ship in a matter of minutes. Having cruised before we knew that the cabins would not be ready until after 1PM. After a lunch we changed into swim suits that we carried in our carry one bags. The pool deck was open and we enjoyed the opportunity to relax and swim until the cabin was ready. Cabin: The cabin was ready at 1:30 and our checked luggage as delivered shortly after that. The cabin was standard with a veranda. Even thought this ship is 10 years old the cabin was in good shape, with the exception of a few cracked tiles in the bath room and some rust on the metal on the veranda. More storage space than we needed. Bed was firm but not to. As on all ships we slept very well Shore excursions: the less said about them the better. Nothing spectacular. Basically run of mill for the island that we visited. Dinning: Over all the food lived up to Celebrities standards. The Metropolitan dining room was over all excellent. The service was excellent. However, I missed the table side presentation of Cesar salad and the deserts. I know that the lines cite safety but they prepare the Banana Forster and Cherry Jubilee in the space outside the kitchen doors and not at the table. Lack of personnel is the real reason. The Ocean Cafe buffet was as expected. One thing that I missed was the Metropolitan dining room being open for lunch. Only on sea days was this done. The buffet was fine but I like to get my food hot and cafeteria style does not allow that. Entertainment: Typical cruise ship fare. However the production shows were excellent and the singer and dancers had lot of energy. I do miss some of the headline entertainers. The acts seem to be second line, though enjoyable. Attendance at most shows was low and this could affect the performance but didn't seem to. Two shows one a 7 and one at 9. On previous trips there was a late show for the second sitting not one early. My preference would be for a late show. General comments: First the good. The senior staff was very visible on this ship. From the Captain to the Hotel Manager and on down all were there to talk to guests and make notes to keep us happy. Additionally they, the senior staff, participated in activities that interacted with gussets. All the hotel staff had ready smiles and pleasant greeting whenever they were encounted. This made for a great experience. Not a cross word. Another great thing was the pool butlers. If you vacated a chair on the pool deck for over 30 minutes, they removed your stuff and made the chair available to other gusset. This was great on sea days, since there are never sufficient chairs on the pool deck on these days. Also, there were senior dining room personnel turning away people who were following the dress code. This was true on formal nights and made the dinning experience that much better. The Bad. There seemed to be more things to nickel and dime us. Fresh squeezed orange Juice is now $2.50. Espresso in the dining room is extra, a bar costs, not part of dinner. These things could be added to the overall cruise cost with minimal impact on the gusset choosing Celebrity. Overall and very good experience and I would recommend Celebrity to anyone who wants an upscale experience at reasonable cost. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
The cruising world is one unparalleled by others. A world immense and diverse, yet still linked together in final goal: to amuse the people. In this review I will explain what makes the epic so epic, and why this is an amazing ship. ... Read More
The cruising world is one unparalleled by others. A world immense and diverse, yet still linked together in final goal: to amuse the people. In this review I will explain what makes the epic so epic, and why this is an amazing ship. Background Information Hi, my name is Jacob. Though I am only thirteen, I am a cruise extraordinaire... I eat sleep breath cruising. I draw them, and book them, and my favorite, go on them. I have managed in my short years to go on over 20 ships on 8 cruise lines. I am part of a family of four, with one sister age 16. On this trip we were lucky enough to bring one friend each. Before the cruise We stayed at the Fairfield Inn & Suites Miami Airport South. It was an all right hotel... we stayed for the night and in the morning used the free shuttle to the port. Once we arrived we were immediately taken to the suite check in area. Here we received special treatment, comfy chairs, and beverages. We were through the whole process in a mere 10 minutes (extra time for larger groups), and onto the boat. Once on the boat we were taken by priority service elevator to the suites area. We were now onboard the epic. The villas complex We were immediately in the world of the suites. We waited in the epic club were our butler raul took us on a tour of the suite complex... let me just say this is truly an incredible space. The courtyard pool and hot tubs were of decent size, and were heated (unlike on royal Caribbean). Next we came to the spa area. Inside there is a beautiful sauna, showers, a fitness center, and two steam rooms. Also accessible through here is the magnificent courtyard sundeck. With its comfy chairs, raining shower and unparalleled views it was a sight to behold. The stateroom The only problem we ever had in the villa area. When we got there the room smelled intensely of smoke. The concierge took care of everything. Once we got into room 16012 it smelled brand new. The room is absolutely gorgeous. With colored lighting, flower arrangements, beautiful painting and great layout. The room was plenty big enough for 6, maybe even 7. the best part was the master bath. bathing while looking at the sun set over the caribbean, a once in a lifetime experience. Activities The ship is amazing. It has activities galore. We'll start at the slides. These were very fun (though can be up to an hour wait on hot days for the epic plunge). My personal favorite is the green slide. Next is bowling. This was always fun, though the ship sometimes affected our game. It is a very fun space. The rock and rappelling walls. These are both very exhilarating. The rappelling wall is a long climb for ten seconds going down and the climbing wall is rather short. The spider web is just a tangled mess though it is fun. Restaurants After experimenting with for fee restaurants we came to a conclusion. If you are in a suite, always eat at the epic club. The food here is superb. The best here however was the truffle fries. Here we met the most helpful employee on the ship. Ramona, who works at the epic club would get us anything we wanted, weather she knew what it was or not we got it. We did however try many specialty restaurants. La cuchina: good food, good service, and good price Moderno churiscaria: good meet, not for vegetarians Teppanyaki: alright food, smaller portions, too loud to talk The noodle bar: excellent food, good service But here it gets ugly... we decided to go to the Spiegel tent. This was the worst decision of the cruise. It was incredibly boring (and downright weird) with horrible food, that they seemed to advertise throughout the whole show... weird. The teen club This was very absurd. I was too old to be in the younger group and Connor was too young to be in the older group (by a few months) they would not make any objections. The epic was a world-class experience that I would never trade. I would definitely recommend this ship. So what makes the epic so epic? The suites. If you do have the money book a room that has access to the courtyard, because that alone can make your trip. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
Just got back to the reality of another Canadian winter after 7 days on the Celebrity Solstice (Feb 6-13), in the Eastern Caribbean. Flying in Canada in the winter is always a challenge and despite missing 2 connections due to bad ... Read More
Just got back to the reality of another Canadian winter after 7 days on the Celebrity Solstice (Feb 6-13), in the Eastern Caribbean. Flying in Canada in the winter is always a challenge and despite missing 2 connections due to bad weather we made it to Fort Lauderdale thanks to a very helpful Air Canada agent at Toronto. The norovirus scare was just that, a scare. No sign of trouble on this cruise no doubt because of Celebrity's near constant cleaning and sanitizing of just about everything that stood still, including us. It took a bit of time to get into our staterooms while they finished the cleaning but once things got rolling we quickly settled into cruise mode. We had a starboard Aquaclass stateroom, with balcony, and enjoyed it's many perks, including champagne, daily fruit and bottled water, bathrobes, and chocolates on our pillows every night. I fear Aquaclass has spoiled us for all future cruising. The ship itself is quite spectacular, we took more than 50 pics just of the interior. The 5 story Grand Foyer, with it central staircase, glass elevators and skylight roof is just the beginning. Celebrity Central on 4 houses the Casino, Shops and Q Disco. The Library remained "bookless" but was a quiet place to relax or listen to the nightly entertainment in the Foyer below. The forward Sky Lounge became our favorite place to relax in the evenings and enjoy the music of the Great Ideas. The entertainment was varied and included a great Broadway musical show, in the Theatre; a fantastic Do Wop quartet Metro Park, a ten piece Big Band and a stand up comedy show. Aquaclass dining at Blu is exceptional, the menu is a bit daunting for us simple folk but the dishes are fantastic and the staff could not be more attentive. It is fine dining refined. Food at the other speciality venues aboard is equally impressive and we recommend visiting them throughout your cruise and to increase your adventure try foods you would not normally eat at home. We recommend the crepes at Bistro on 5, for a quick lunch, or the AquaSpa Cafe, in the solarium, for some great salads and sandwiches. The Oceanview Cafe Buffet offers a wide variety of more common foods and beverages but with Celebrity staff running the serving stations line ups turn it into a bit of a zoo at meal times. The Solstice appears to attract a more mature clientele, with Adult only solarium and pools, which we enjoyed greatly. Other than a stiff head wind the first day out, causing a good bit of swell, the weather was in the mid to high 70's everyday and we got our daily dose of vitamin D with ease. Sunscreen is a MUST. Our ports of call included Old San Juan, which was the site of a large protest against their governor, so some of the city was "off limits" and a extra large police presence was noticeable around the tourist area. Saint Thomas, USVI was by and large our favorite and my husband would move there in a heart beat. Check out Point Paradise look off and walk around Charlotte Amalie or grab a taxi at your leisure. We were uneasy in St. Maarten/St. Martin. Outside of the Philipsburg and Marigot waterfronts we found the island to be sadly neglected by it's colonial masters. We traveled through what we can only respectfully call slums and past a great number of discarded vehicles and debris and then past some of the most opulent gated estates and communities anywhere. Overall our 10th anniversary cruise was a trip of a lifetime and we cruise again in the future and recommend Celebrity without hesitation. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
This was the best of the four cruises we've been on to date. From embarkation to offload, everything went like clockwork. We onloaded at approximately 1145 after a whopping 10 minutes at check-in counter! On top of that, our ... Read More
This was the best of the four cruises we've been on to date. From embarkation to offload, everything went like clockwork. We onloaded at approximately 1145 after a whopping 10 minutes at check-in counter! On top of that, our room was ready immediately! We've never had that happen. The room was well appointed with a spacious balcony on the port side of the ship forward. Even though we were quite a ways forward, we didn't ever feel things were too far away. We actually enjoyed the distance and thought of the walk as part of our exercise regimen. Meals were typically top-notch Princess vintage with several choices. The quality was excellant. The wait staff was generally on top of things, but the meals sometimes ran long. We ate in the Da Vinci Room which apparently shares a kitchen with the Bottecelli Room. This was given as a reason for some of our delays. I'm not sure, but I think "anytime dining" might have slowed things up a bit as well. Sabatini's is a must, but be forewarned. Don't eat a big lunch or do too much snacking beforehand. They serve nearly all of their appetizers, etc. barely leaving room for the main course or dessert. The pools were were always accessable and very refreshing. Movies under the Stars were a nice feature of which we occasionally took advantage. It was sunny every single day! Our disembarkation was hassle free and efficiently run. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
We did back to back sailings on the Emerald in February - the 6th and 16th - and chose these cruises to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary on Valentine's Day. This review covers the second cruise - The Eastern Caribbean. Read my ... Read More
We did back to back sailings on the Emerald in February - the 6th and 16th - and chose these cruises to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary on Valentine's Day. This review covers the second cruise - The Eastern Caribbean. Read my earlier review on the Southern Caribbean if you wish as an introduction. This was our 47th cruise on Princess and 73rd overall. It was a very unusual cruise for us on Princess as there were many changes to what we had come to expect from a cruise on Princess- the most extreme one being the single Captain's Circle Party held in the atrium where everyone on the ship could attend. And then there were the little things that went wrong. Of course on every cruise some things go wrong and we all expect it to happen and let it pass. But on this cruise every day brought an increasing number of "little things" so the pile of "little things" grew every day (sort of a death by a thousand cuts but fewer). It was still an enjoyable cruise but not up to the standard we have experienced on other Princess ships. For the first time ever on a Princess cruise we started looking forward to disembarkation. Embarkation Since we were doing a B2B we were in-transit passengers. We were B2B on the Crown in January so had recently experienced the process at Fort Lauderdale which took about 30 minutes overall. There was a very large group of B2B cruisers on the Emerald and perhaps that is why the process took much longer (maybe 90 minutes) with multiple sit and wait sessions. Back in the cabin we unpacked again and being "real in-transit passengers" had no problem going to the dining room for lunch. Itinerary This is the third year in a row we have done this 10 day itinerary so you might correctly guess we like it. We've been to all these islands before but still enjoy them. Our first stop was Princess Cay. We have become more pool oriented than beach oriented, so on the Princess Cay stop we usually stay onboard and enjoy what for a few hours is our "semi-private huge yacht" where we have our choice of loungers by the pool. On St Thomas we continued our anniversary celebration of seeking out the jewelry pieces we wanted to buy and were again successful. We've seen the major attractions on Antigua yet still considered taking one of the tours they offer after you leave the ship and get in the shopping area - the "only need two more people and we will leave immediately and have a very good tour and see everything on the island" type. We chose to pass and just wandered around; since it was Sunday a number of the shops were closed. Our favorite island on this itinerary is St Lucia, beginning with the absolutely beautiful entrance to the harbor. This time we did the ship's land and sea tour - drive down to Soufriere with intermediate stops in a few towns, see the sulfur springs, lunch at an old estate turned into a delightful tourist attraction and a catamaran ride back to the harbor complete with a beach stop and many rum punches. It was a beautiful day and a great tour. In Barbados we passed on the Mount Gay rum tour this time, wandered through the terminal tasting rum cake and getting our charm at Diamonds International, then a nice walk back to the ship and some time on the sun deck. At St Kitts my priority was to find another Rima (brand name) tropical shirt, seems they always have the best selection there. The Ship and Cabin We had an inside cabin again on this cruise but this time on the starboard side. It was close to the amidships elevator and stairs so it was a very convenient location. Beds were not as comfortable as our last cabin. Our cabin steward was sort of less than average - we probably noticed it even more since our first cabin steward was super excellent. For a little detail, at the Captain's Circle party we talked with the Executive Housekeeper who asked how we were enjoying our trip - and we gave him a little feedback about our cabin steward. The next day our cabin steward was a bit frosty and that continued throughout the cruise. We went to a late night adult show by one of the comedians who made a joke about what cabin stewards do to people they don't like - and after that we hid our toothbrushes! On departure day we had a wonderful goodbye with our first cabin steward; we waved to our last cabin steward who was down the hall and he waved back - but it was too far to see if his finger was extended. The Emerald was oversold for this cruise as well and it felt very crowded - especially around the pool and at the buffet. They continued to do things differently on the Emerald this cruise - the Captain's Circle party was again in the atrium and all the other changes we didn't like last cruise were still the same (see my earlier review for the details). We had filled out those "Let Us Know" forms and let them know we thought the single Captain's Circle party at 7:30 pm in the atrium was an extremely bad idea - but they didn't even acknowledge our comments. But they apparently tried to make an improvement over last cruise with the Captain's Circle Party - this time all 3 atrium decks were used. Although invitations were sent out they were not collected so anyone wandering by could try to get a free drink. Only the standard tray drinks were offered - no wine available this time, and the three most traveled couples were kept in a roped off area on deck 6 where the ceremonies apparently took place. It was hard to see or hear what was going on so we never learned how many cruises or days they had. The Food Food on the Emerald continued to be inconsistent - sometimes great and sometimes not so much. Some of our favorite dishes weren't as good as they were on other Princess ships. For example, one of my favorite items at lunch in the dining room is Frito Misto - better quality seafood lightly breaded or battered, one of my absolute favorites on Princess. But on the Emerald it is more like what you get at Long John Silvers. Rather than sea scallops you get bay scallops with more breading than scallop. Rather than a nice piece of fish you get a heavily battered and soggy mushy fish stick. Rather than butterflied shrimp you get something that looks like it came out of a box of frozen Mrs. Paul's Fried Shrimp. Lunch in the Horizon Court was pretty good - even at times really good - for lunch unless you came later in the afternoon when all the pretty good selections were apparently gone. Breakfast at the buffet became rather boring - I'm an egg and sausage guy in the mornings and on most ships there is some variety from day to day, but on the Emerald you had better like regular link sausages because that is all they offer - no Polish, no Italian, no chorizo, no bangers, no andouille - just plain link sausage. Well that was the case until morning 8 when there were three varieties offered plus cut up hot dogs, but next day it was back to usual. But on departure day the three different varieties were back again! Service in the dining room and the buffet was good to excellent - super excellent from the waiters we had gotten to know before on this cruise and even those from other sailings. (We spent 50 days on the Grand in the Med when we first retired and typically see some staff members we got to know on that ship - always a special pleasure when we recognize each other.) The Entertainment The Emerald has the usual cruise ship entertainment - it is what it is. If you are new to Princess you will probably find most of it enjoyable. If you have sailed on Princess before you probably have seen it before (or something very similar). Whether or not you like a particular comedian or hypnotist or juggler is really a case of personal opinion - when we read on cruise critic that someone thinks some comedian is really super we make a special effort to see him, and sometimes find them not so good. And of course I'm sure that operates in reverse as well. But again the Emerald does things differently - they only offered the production shows on one night, not two nights like other Princess ships. And they offered them at different times on different nights. Since they also don't provide the cruise planner at the start of the cruise it is hard to plan nightly activities until you get the Patter, and even then you don't know what might be repeated (or not) the next night. The band they used the most - piazza and poolside - was Icon and they played the usual mixture of everything. They were pretty good but the volume was cranked up so high you could hardly carry on a conversation with the person sitting next to you. Perhaps they are just responding to the Cruise Director and staff always yelling to "make some noise." We did get pretty tired of the CD admonishing passengers to quit complaining about not being able to find a seat in the Princess Theatre - and we got pretty tired of Billy London in general. He gets our vote for the most egocentric and self absorbed CD on Princess (actually all the other cruise lines we have sailed on as well.) It was all about him. We usually find the Wake Show informative and answer the question of the day but after a few days of it we decided to start the day without it. (He was in sharp contrast to the CD we had just sailed with on the Crown - she was fabulous!) Disembarkation This was the best disembarkation we have ever experienced - wish it could always be like this! Perhaps it was because we were at Terminal 4? Highlights We met some very nice people and had a great cruise critic group. We enjoyed catching up with some staff members we knew from previous cruises. We found some excellent anniversary celebration jewelry in St Thomas. And the weather was wonderful for all 20 days! Last Thoughts Hopefully Princess management will obtain statistically valid feedback about the changes they are experimenting with on the Emerald. We spoke with some staff members who said "everybody loved the Captain's Circle party in the atrium." Perhaps they are just telling management what they think management wants to hear. We'll be on 4 more Princess ships between now and December - hopefully they will still provide the complete Princess experience we know and love. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
I have read several cruise reviews from people who, by the dates they list, were on the same cruise I was on. But their negativity makes me wonder...One person says his and his wife's luggage was rifled through, another mentioned ... Read More
I have read several cruise reviews from people who, by the dates they list, were on the same cruise I was on. But their negativity makes me wonder...One person says his and his wife's luggage was rifled through, another mentioned staff standing around talking to each other ignoring the cruisers. Someone else had cold tasteless food in the same dining room I was in. Number one...The Carnival paperwork and website says to leave your luggage unlock for security purposes. This should be a heads-up to you that they may go through your luggage. You should not be surprised that this happens. Were any of your belongings damaged? Your room steward is in your room at least twice a day...your stuff is right there for him/her to see. If you are not hiding something, don't worry about it!! Number two....When you saw staff talking in groups, did you say "excuse me but I have a question/need/etc.?" On the entire 7 day cruise, I never had a problem talking to staff for any reason/need. Number three...Were you not aware that if the food is cold, you could send it back to be re-heated? And if something was "tasteless", did you order something else to eat? Only one night of the seven was dining room service less than stellar, and mentioning it to only one person remedied the situation the rest of the trip. A lot of time, the attitude of the cruiser is the main problem. What was your attitude? Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
It is sad that after 5 previous cruises with HAL my wife and I agree that we should not take anymore with this cruiseline. LIDO Meals were chaotic,counter service understaffed and seemed to lack training.Perhaps if they copied ... Read More
It is sad that after 5 previous cruises with HAL my wife and I agree that we should not take anymore with this cruiseline. LIDO Meals were chaotic,counter service understaffed and seemed to lack training.Perhaps if they copied the MAASDAM it would work much better. VISTA DINING ROOM. Very average food. Maitre 'D and all the waiters were very helpful and friendly. ALL BARS. Service seemed very nonchalant.BIG turnout during Happy Hours. ENTERTAINMENT. Poor and also repetitious if you are on the 14 day cruise. The cruise was marred by having to return to Fort Lauderdale before beginning the second week. In effect you loose 3 days.1 to sail back to port. 2.A full wasted day in Port 3. to sail back out to the Caribbean where you left off.This a big thing to avoid, compared to a straight 14 days sailing. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
This was my Husband and I in our mid 20's traveling alone for some relaxation. ports of call were Nassau, St. Martin, St. Thomas. Our Carnival Dream cruise started out hectic at the airport but we still landed in ... Read More
This was my Husband and I in our mid 20's traveling alone for some relaxation. ports of call were Nassau, St. Martin, St. Thomas. Our Carnival Dream cruise started out hectic at the airport but we still landed in Orlando on time and proceeded to the luggage claim area where we met a Carnival representative that escorted us to the Carnival desk. We were given little ticket and shown to a waiting area before boarding a bus to the Port. We left the airport at about 12:30p and we were on the ship bu 2:15p. (It's an hour bus ride. Embarkation was smooth and easy our luggage was already taken care of since we did the airport transportation. We arrived on the ship in the atrium and it was beautiful. The elevators were all glass and it did not take long to get one to the 10th floor to go to the Gathering for some lunch. For the most part we took the stairs, but when getting on after port visits we never had a problem waiting for an elevator. The food on the Dream was pretty good, With many options. i do have to say there were some line issues at breakfast and at lunch, but there are essentially 4 lines for the actual buffet (2 parts of the Gathering Aft, and Mid). At lunch they have salad bars on all ends of the buffet which is where most of the hold up was, if they could do 1 salad bar it would really cut down on the waiting times. I wasn't a personal fan of the actual lunch buffet and usually got food from the wok, grill, pizza station, deli, tandoori or the pasta station(which is upstairs towards the back and is a MUST, we went there 3 days). The odd thing is that at the buffet everything is served in small containers (Rachel Ray home cookware, for 4,000 people it seemed like they were running out of food and we always had to wait for something to be replaced. We did go to the main dining room for breakfast once and were sat with a group of 8, so if you'd prefer to sit alone make sure you specify that. The food there was good. I did notice that at the main buffet they only had waffles/french toast a few days, the rest only pancakes, but that wasn't bad because they always had them in the main dining room. The wok was really good, as was the grill and deli. the pizza was great, not at all like frozen. the Indian food, tandoori, was ok nothing amazing. Like I mentioned earlier the Pasta bar is amazing and they bring it right to you with huge portions. We did Your Time Dining in the MDR-crimson, it is on the 5th level and the was always wonderful. we preferred to sit alone and sometimes had to wait about 20 minutes, not a big deal because you could go to any of the multiple live music areas and your device would go off when they were ready for you. if you get there right when they open or after about 1 1/2 hours there wasn't usually an issue. The tables are close together though, some nights it was awkward because we would be sat near a person cruising alone who wanted to talk across tables. We preferred to sit alone so we wouldn't have to make small talk, but some people requested to sit near other tables for 2 so they could talk to strangers who had asked to sit alone. Desserts were delicious and I never had a complaint about any of them or the actual meals. The service was also great, it sometimes took a little longer for a drink from the bar, but they always knew what we were drinking without even telling them. The Shows were great and I enjoyed them thoroughly. The Fun Force hip hip dancers were AMAZING and really added to the whole experience, definitely go to their show in the atrium, its great. The only show I was disappointed with was the last night where they had karaoke winners perform and it was nothing that great. The comedians were awesome, we went to all the midnight shows with the 4 different comedians and I recommend them highly as long as you don't take offense to curse word or risky topics. The pool area always seemed busy on at sea days and yes people do go out at 8am and just leave their towels on chairs. We went out at 9 one morning and all chairs on both decks were taken so we went up above the golf course and unloaded stacks of chairs and sat up there, so essentially no big deal for us. On port days there were many empty chairs so also no big deal. The big screen at the pool was really nice and I enjoyed watching movies on them while laying out. The mini golf is 18 holes and a ton of fun! Same with the water slides, they are great and we went on them multiple times on at sea days since not many others were on the ship. The are for all ages so you should try them at least once. We didn't use the basketball area, spa or gym, but they all looked really nice, but not for us. We had a balcony room and it was really nice, lots of storage space, shelves in the bathroom and comfy bed. The balcony was great for relaxing and reading a book in the afternoons and in the evening, the only thing that bothered me was that there were small children in the room next to us who would scream and play on the balcony, really ruining the relaxation of having a balcony. People have complained of having rooms on the 9th floor and hearing a lot of noise. were were on port side and only occasionally heard noise from above, nothing to ruin my time. walls were pretty thin and you could hear others, but we never had major problems with it. Make sure to bring a power strip, only one outlet, not enough to charge everything we had. Also the hairdryer was great turned to high. i have a lot of hair and it didnt take me any longer than it does at home. We only got off at the ports and walked around but enjoyed ourselves otherwise, no big lines to get on or off the boat, but we usually waited an hour to get off and never had a line. One note make sure not to forget your sunscreen and aloe, we forgot ours at home and paid $15 dollars a piece for for 3ounces. The ship did rock. It wasn't that bad at the beginning, but on Friday our last day i was stuck in bed until 3pm because it was so rocky, when we finally got ready ate and went to the nightly shows it was sometimes difficult to walk. I was surprised by this, but had been warned in advance. Butch the Cruise Director is amazing! he is full of energy and really does make the cruise a lot more fun. Disembarkation was so fast and easy, much better than what we experience on Royal Caribbean. They really have it down and it was great. We took their airport shuttle back and it was still very easy. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2011
We just returned from a glorious week aboard the Oasis of the Seas. Everything good you have heard about this ship is absolutely true, including the incredible size, the almost flawless organization, the seemingly unlimited activities of ... Read More
We just returned from a glorious week aboard the Oasis of the Seas. Everything good you have heard about this ship is absolutely true, including the incredible size, the almost flawless organization, the seemingly unlimited activities of all kind, the fabulous service and the exquisite attention to every detail. Though people dwell on the immensity of the ship, what I read less often in the reviews is how really beautiful it is - the public and private spaces alike abound in quality materials, stylish fixtures and a look of real elegance. There were six of us travelling on this cruise - myself (53) and my mother (81), two sisters (52 and 50), brother-in-law (61) and 9 year-old niece. So you can put our opinions in perspective, we have cruised previously on Cunard, Carnival, Celebrity, Princess and NCL as well as several prior RCCL cruises, including aboard the Grandeur and Voyager of the Seas. We have loved something - in fact most things - about every ship we have sailed on, and with the exception of NCL, would not hesitate to travel again on any of the lines we've sailed in the past. Unlike some folks, for whom cabin size and amenities don't matter as much as other aspects of the cruise, the cabins are an important part of our cruise experience; we want room, comfort and a balcony, and would not sacrifice them in order to cruise more often. Aside from that, the most important things to us on a vacation, land or sea, are a broad variety of activities and entertainment, and quality - but not necessarily gourmet - food. For these reasons, we affirmatively LIKE mass market cruise lines, which we find best combine the level of comfort, quality and entertainment we want in a vacation. Cabins: While have typically cruised in junior level suites in the past, this vacation was special, as we were celebrating several once-in-a-lifetime family events, including my mother's 80th birthday. To mark those special celebrations, we decided to go all out and sail in the Royal Loft Suite and two Crown Loft Suites. Both types of cabins have two-level living, totally unique (as far as we know) in the cruise industry. The Crown Lofts downstairs have a living area, bathroom with small shower, a table that is on partial rollers so that it can be positioned as either a desk or a dining table with chairs on both sides, and a living area with couch, an incredibly comfortable side chair, lots of storage and a large TV. (And therein lies the first of what are a very few mild negatives for this ship - the selection of TV viewing. Many of the ships we have been on in the past, including on RCCL's sister company, Celebrity, always had a channel or two of taped TV sitcoms, free recent movies or other entertainment choices to while away a couple of recharging hours in the cabin. The Oasis really did not measure up in that regard, effectively forcing us to buy the pay-per-view movies at $12 a pop. Also, if you are going to broadcast one American news channel in the cabins, Fox News for many of us is frankly an offensive choice. CNN or CNN Headline news would have been a far more neutral companion to CNN International.) In the upstairs sleeping area, the Crown Lofts have still more storage, a place to sit and do makeup with a lighted mirror, and a generous (in fact, by cruise ship standards, huge) bathroom with a luxurious two-person shower that includes a great rain-head faucet and two hand-held sprays. A second TV folds down from the ceiling in front of the bed. Bedside controls allow you to operate the lights, the curtains that can be closed around the upstairs bed area for privacy, and of course the other curtains that open up to reveal a two-story wall of glass leading out the balcony, which is deep and has two padded, extremely comfortable lounge chairs and, naturally, a spectacular view. One point on that view: Crown Loft Suites are located either on the sides of the ship, giving you an all-ocean view, or along the back of the ship, overlooking the sports area, including the zip line, the mini-golf course, and the flow riders, and then to the ocean beyond. We had one Crown Loft in each of those two locations. It's a matter of choice, but we really liked the sports court view cabins. You still get a spectacular view of the ocean beyond the back of the ship, but it's also lots of fun to watch all the activity going on during the day and even into the evening back on the sports court. No question, however, that those balconies are a lot noisier than the more peaceful locations on the side of the ship, though the sound does not penetrate in any real way into the cabin itself when the balcony doors are closed. The Royal Loft Suite almost defies description. Downstairs is a massive living area with the RCCL signature luxury amenity - a baby grand player piano. There is also a library with mostly travel books and light reading (think Danielle Steele), and a separate bedroom and bath, much the same as the upstairs bath and bedroom in the Crown Loft. The living area has a couch, two again incredibly comfortable side chairs, and a dining table that seats 8. Upstairs is a master bedroom area that itself is larger than most cruise ship suites we have been in, backed by a dressing, closet and storage area that runs the length of that bedroom. The master bathroom is massive, with a Jacuzzi tub-for-two and a wall of full length windows in the shower/bath area (modestly frosted except for the top part) overlooking the deck. And as spectacular as the living area is, that deck area is the real crown jewel of the Royal Loft. It wraps around on two sides, so that you have both the view overlooking the sports court and the quieter view on the side of the ship. That side area contains a full-size hot tub which comfortably seats four and really could hold six people at once. There is no area on the ship, public or private, that has anything approaching the view off that huge balcony. On the day you're docked in St. Maarten, the Royal Loft Suite view is of the harbor and the full Phillipsburg beachfront; at sea, you have sweeping ocean views you usually can get only on the pool decks - better, really, because the loft suites are two decks above the pool deck. It's breathtaking. One odd thing, however, is that although there is plenty of seating on that massive deck, including another dining table, and an outdoor couch, almost all of it is straight chairs (and one oddly shaped, very uncomfortable, sort of circular lounge chair for two); the great lounge chairs on the Crown Loft balconies are nowhere to be found on the Royal Loft balcony. One or two of those chairs, providing a place to put your feet up while enjoying the view, would be terrific addition to the Royal Loft balcony. Service and Logistics: We found the service and organization on the Oasis to be absolutely unmatched, even by Cunard's Queen Mary II. As anyone who has read any Oasis review will already know, that organization and service begins with far and away the smoothest embarkation of any ship at sea. We arrived at the pier at 11:15, were escorted from the suite entrance to the check in counter where there was absolutely no line, and no more than 5-10 minutes later were walking on board the Oasis. That level of professionalism continued throughout the ship. Our cabin steward, Asep, and his assistant, Winston, were bar none the best we have ever had at sea. We have gotten used to seeing our cabin steward on the first day, and then seldom if ever after that. Asep managed that perfect balance of always being available and yet never being obtrusive; whenever we needed him for a question or a request he was there with a smile and the perfect answer or assistance. We found the dining room service equally spectacular; though we chose My Time Dining and thus the waiters were not dependent on establishing a "relationship" with us to ensure their tips, we found every dining room attendant to be incredibly personable, efficient and attentive. Also, we were relieved to discover that even without reservations (which we think kind of defeats the purpose of having My Time Dining in the first place), we never waited more than 5 or 10 minutes for a table for six in the dining room. We also had occasion to use the Guest Services desk once or twice, and really liked the fact that, when a line develops, they send a service rep down the line to sort of "triage" the guest requests - on two occasions, that agent was able to answer my question without me having to wait until someone behind the desk was available. Disembarkation was slightly less efficient than embarkation, but in part that was because we weren't aware of this one tip: there are two gangways by which you can exit, one fore and one aft. Everyone congregates in long lines at the aft gangway, but once you get off there, you have to turn left and go toward the front of the ship anyway to get to customs. If you use the forward gangway, you avoid the longest lines, and wind up in the same place you need to be. Facilities and Entertainment: As other reviews have noted, this is where the Oasis blows the competition out of the water. First, the "neighborhood" concept works extremely well, even better than I expected. You really get several very distinctly different atmospheres on the various areas of the ship, from the Boardwalk to Central Park to the Grand Promenade to the Sports Deck. Aside from enabling really anyone to find a "vibe" that suits them (the age differences in those hanging out in the sports deck vs. those in Central Park was particularly noticeable), those different neighborhoods help bring the massive size of the ship into scale, so it does not become overwhelming. I've spent many a summer at the Jersey shore, and darned if the Boardwalk Area didn't recreate the feel of a night at the Ocean City Boardwalk to a tee; the Adirondack chairs outside of the Seafood Shack were a great place to people watch, and during the sea days in particular, the place was full of balloon and (temporary) tattoo artists, face painters and all sorts of entertainment. This is also where you will find the Pets at Sea boutique (a word of warning on that; if you intend to get a pet, do it early in the week, as they do run out of some types of stuffed animals and some outfits by week's end.) We didn't attend the headliner or comedy shows, but did see everything else, including the ice show, the regular Oasis of Dreams diving show, the comedy Splish Splash diving show later in the week, Hairspray and the Cirque-du-Soleil knock off "Come Fly With Me." Hairspray was very good - the other shows were just simply amazing. In particular, the ice show and the dive shows are not to be missed. We made reservations on line before sailing and were glad we did as some of the show did sell out. We also liked the seating reserved for suite passengers at the dive show, although for the shows in the Opal Theater and the ice rink that was less of an issue, either because the area of reserved seating wasn't really the greatest (Opal Theater) or because there were a multitude of empty seats (ice show, at least when we went). One tip on the ice show: if you are traveling with kids, be aware there are four seats marked "kid's seating" in the front row on the two sides of the theater. If your child sits here, they will at one point get to go out on the ice and become part of the show. Speaking of kids, this was my niece's sixth cruise, and we have never, ever been able to interest her in the kid's program on board any ship - until now. The Adventure Ocean facilities on this ship are absolutely incredible. There is a science lab, a theater, an art studio and all kinds of play areas. After her first visit, she wanted to spend every night there from 7-10. During the day, we couldn't keep her out of the kid's pool area - which was equally amazing, with its water cannons, fountains, and "lazy river" current pool - except to play ping pong, or miniature golf, or watch her Aunt Linda zip line (twice). Really, if you or your kids are bored on this ship you're not even trying to have fun. My mother and I really loved the adults-only Solarium. Aside from being a nice, quiet area to sunbathe or people watch, the pool in this area is entered by stairs, not a ladder. That was a big deal both for my 80 year-old mom and for me, as a significantly "plus-size" cruiser. Pools that don't have those stairs, and which can only be exited by climbing out on a ladder, are pretty much unusable for us, and so we were delighted with fact that the Solarium actually gave us an opportunity to spend a day IN, not just BY the pool. Finally, the vitality spa and exercise facility were first rate, though as some other reviews have mentioned, it's unfortunate that the treatment rooms are interior and don't have sea views. (There is nothing like having a massage while you can see that stunningly blue ocean go by). One thing: while I have cruised on several lines that allowed you to book your treatment on line before boarding, I've never before had to pay for the service at the time you booked, rather than after the appointment was complete. I did cancel one service that I had booked (with the requisite 24 hours' notice) and it was promptly credited to my sea pass account, but it still seems a bit odd that RCCL had my money for a few extra months. Also, if you upgrade the service once on board (I got talked into an additional treatment as part of the facial I had booked that cost an additional $50, and was very pleased with that extra service) be aware that the charge will be placed on a separate receipt with a separate automatic tip. In essence, by selling that additional service, the associate doubles their tip. I don't have a particular problem with that, but since I sometimes add an additional tip to the first receipt anyway, it would have been nice to know that the attendant giving me my facial was already going to receive double the standard amount. One final spa tip: if all you are going to book is a massage, as opposed to a wrap or other specialized treatment, I would wait for the in-port specials. I had booked a massage for $224 on line; on one of the port days, you could get a foot and leg, back and shoulders and head and neck massage (so what's really left anyway?) for $99. Fortunately, my original booking was for late in the week, so I was able to cancel it and go with the in-port special instead. Ports: I'd really love to tell you about the ports, but the fact is there was so much to do I never got off the ship! Food: There is certainly no shortage of places to get something to eat on the Oasis; between the dining room, the Windjammer, the specialty restaurants and the "noshing" places like the pizzeria and Cafe Promenade, which serves pre-made sandwiches and little desserts 24 hours a day, there is always some place to eat. In general, we thought the food was very good, with a couple of caveats. Contrary to what I have read in some reviews, we thought the dining room food was excellent every night (whatever you do, DO NOT miss the warm chocolate cake - it is to die for). However, we did think that the selection really tended toward the overly complex, frou-frou dishes. That was particularly true on the one day we went to lunch in the dining room; we would have expected that the menu would include some basic sandwiches or other simple lunch fare, rather than the fancier entrees that were offered. My brother-in-law went to the Windjammer every morning for breakfast and really enjoyed it; my mom, sister and I went there on the first port day for lunch and never went back. I have to say that I found the food, at least on that day, to be inedible. We liked the pizza at Sorrentos a lot, and also had a phenomenal lunch at Chops (two tips: first, the short ribs are spectacular; second, Chops books up extremely quickly, and if you want to have a dinner there, you had best make a reservation on line before you board or immediately upon boarding. However, on sea days, they open for lunch and serve the same menu as is served in the evenings. We had no trouble getting a lunch reservation, and found that the restaurant was not particularly busy at that time). Our real food find of the vacation, however, was the Concierge Lounge, which is open to suite (grand and above) and Diamond Plus passengers. They serve both breakfast and lunch, with a buffet of little noshes (pastries in the morning and little cruditEs and tea sandwiches at lunch) plus cooked-to-order items from a small menu. The breakfast menu includes things like Belgian Waffles and omelets, while the lunch menu had a killer club sandwich (which we didn't find anywhere else on board), soup, fried fish, burgers and the like. In addition to the nice, simple menu, we liked the fact that it was one of the quietest eating venues on the ship; there were never more than a handful of people there for any breakfast or lunch serving. If you are eligible to use the Concierge Lounge, we HIGHLY recommend it. One of the few negative comments we have for the ship, unfortunately, was room service. We know room service menus are always limited on board a ship, but have never seen one as limited as this. Again, usually, you can at least get a couple of different sandwiches (tuna, ham and cheese, turkey, etc) off a room service menu; here that was not the case. In addition, although suite passengers are supposed to be able to order off the full dining room menus in the evening when the dining room is open, the menus placed in the suites don't jibe with what is actually available. We spent one very frustrating evening trying to order dinner in the cabin only to be told that virtually everything we had chosen from the menu provided in our cabin was not available for order. Bottom line: We would sail again on this ship, or on her sister, the Allure, in a heartbeat (in fact, we're pretty sure it has spoiled us for any other ship). A few final tips: ? When you disembark, if you are going to the Fort Lauderdale Airport, DO NOT allow yourself to be talked into using a van. The ride to the airport is no more than 10 minutes and costs about $12 plus tips in the cabs that are lined up and waiting; the van drivers will charge you $10 A PERSON and will make you wait until they fill up the van with the requisite 10 passengers. For three people, a $12 plus tip trip becomes a $30 trip even if you don't tip the driver (which of course you will). ? When you first board, they will give you an activity planner for the week that highlights the main events, like the shows, etc. At first I thought this was pretty redundant of the nightly Cruise Compasses, but actually, it's not. While the Cruise Compass will show you what's happening the next day, its good to have a full week's perspective so that you know, for example, that Hairspray won't be shown after Tuesday, or that there are character breakfasts on certain mornings in the dining room that you need to make advance reservations for. ? If you are eligible to use it (which will depend on when and from where your flight home departs) we highly recommend that you take advantage of the Luggage Valet program. Its free to suite passengers, and a $20 fee for other folks, and in our opinion worth every penny. Under the program, after you put your bags outside your cabin on the last night, you don't see them again until you arrive at your destination airport. No searching through the terminal to identify your bags, no lugging them through customs, no checking in at the airport. It made going home almost enjoyable. ? Yes, the cupcakes really are that good, and yes, they really are worth paying for. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
before travelling got email from celebrity to say novovirus outbreak on previous cruise and boarding would be delayed. boarding was chaos as everyone turned up between 3pm and 4.30pm. the line for security went right around the ... Read More
before travelling got email from celebrity to say novovirus outbreak on previous cruise and boarding would be delayed. boarding was chaos as everyone turned up between 3pm and 4.30pm. the line for security went right around the block and boarding took about 1 hour. after this unpleasant start, everything else went smoothly. we were able to go into the cabin at 6pm and luggage arrived about 8pm so we had to go to dinner in shorts and t-shirt. the cabin is average size and the wardrobe is in an awkward place so not much room to get into it to put clothes away. the cabins could do with soundproofing as can hear people talking in next cabin. bed is very comfortable and in concierge class had luxury towelling robes and towels. also flowers and fruit in room with bottle of sparkling wine on arrival. the bathroom is much larger than usual with very nice shower and plenty of space for toiletries. the public areas are very clean and you never feel as if ship is crowded. always managed to get a sun lounger even on sea days. the shows are very good and we really enjoyed the entertainment.there is plenty of room in the beautiful theatre. the food in the main dining room was excellent. we chose anytime dining and the longest we ever had to wait for a table for two was 10 minutes. we had a different table every night and the service each time was very good- couldn't have been better. the seaview cafe, however, was not that good. the food was nearly always the same every day at breakfast and lunch - the bread is very good though as are the desserts. always found an empty table to sit at though. because of novovirus outbreak you had to be served the food rather than serve yourself- personally i found that better as you weren't eating food that everyone else had stuck their fingers in! ate at the murano one night- very overated. food was not that much better than in main dining room nor was the service - very pretentious. did not do any excursions as have been to puerto rico, st thomas and st maarten several times on previous cruises. would recommend this ship and would sail on it again Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
The only reason we booked with NCL this time, after having a not so great experience on Pride of America 2 years ago, was the destination availability for our school break week. And I am so glad we gave NCL another chance. This cruise was ... Read More
The only reason we booked with NCL this time, after having a not so great experience on Pride of America 2 years ago, was the destination availability for our school break week. And I am so glad we gave NCL another chance. This cruise was wonderful! We flew into Fort Lauderdale the night before the cruise and shuttled to the Port of Miami the next morning. We booked our shuttle online with SAS Transportation - we thought it was a very good deal - $13 pp from our hotel to the POM. And we were very pleased with SAS. When we got to the port we had lots of time for the embarkation process. The line was very long when we arrived, but the time spent in line wasn't long. The embarkation process went very smoothly. When we arrived on the ship our staterooms weren't ready, so we made our way up to the Buffet Area for a quick snack. We waited a couple hours for our room, but were able to explore the ship during that time. We were all very impressed with the crew - they were genuinely happy to be of service and assistance. The Pearl's crew was very friendly and accomodating. Our first stop was at Samana. We didn't book any excursions -we were tendered to Samana - that process went well too. Out of all our stops Samana was the 1 that we could have done without. It might have been a good idea to have booked an excursion for this one. The day after Samana we were in St. Thomas - I couldn't believe how many jewellery stores there were there. Tortola was our next stop the following day. We didn't stay on land too long - our teens both developed heat related headaches, so we went back to the ship. Great Stirrup Cay was better than I was expecting it to be. There seemed to be room for everyone from the ship. Our teens chose not to participate in the teen program, but we had lots of fun on the ship. The entertainment was excellent this cruise - not so on the Pride of America. The food on the ship was great too. We usually ate at the Indigo main dining room, but we experienced a great meal and entertainment at Teppanyaki. We used SAS to shuttle us back to Fort Lauderdale. We chose to fly the day after the cruise - by waiting 1 day we saved about $800 on flights. We did wait a little longer for SAS after debarkation, but that didn't matter to us as we had nothing planned for Sunday anyway. The debarkation process went very smoothly too! All in all, we were very pleased with our Eastern Caribbean Cruise on the Pearl! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
My wife and I have caught the cruise bug as this is our third cruise in a year. There were a lot of good things and a few annoyances, but for the most part we really enjoyed our cruise with on Glory. Bad news first. Having just sailed ... Read More
My wife and I have caught the cruise bug as this is our third cruise in a year. There were a lot of good things and a few annoyances, but for the most part we really enjoyed our cruise with on Glory. Bad news first. Having just sailed on RCI's Freedom of the Seas we are spoiled when it comes to activities to do on the ship. Its not a fair comparison since Glory is much older than Freedom, but when you are competing with that ship Glory falls short. There is a few things up on deck to enjoy such as the water slide as well as three pools. But the pools are small and placed in weird places on the Lido deck. The sports deck was a big downfall as my wife and I love sports, the basketball court is only a halfish court with a SMALL volleyball court on the other side but in between them is a glass roof sicking out to allow light into the restaurant below, making playing games impossible. But I will say we had a fun time playing mini golf. Another issue we had was the layout of the ship. We did eventually get used to it but it was frustrating at times. When Freedom felt open and easy to find your way around, Glory felt very cramped and small. In one bar I literally was only a few inches from hitting my head on the ceiling. On the positive side the entertainment was good. We were disappointed with the comedians but everything else was very well put together, we really enjoyed the magic show. The food is by far the best we have had yet and I strongly suggest the Warm Chocolate Melting Cake it is so die for!! The crew were all very friendly and effecient at their jobs. A few dealers in the casino were wound to tight but that is understandable. Overal we had a great time on our Cruise with our friends and family. If the price was right we would sail on Glory again but it wouldn't be our first choice. However we would not at all discourage anyone from sailing on Glory. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
Having watched "Undercover Boss" in January and seeing the CEO work with his ship-board teams, and really needing a cruise (we live in Montreal where it's freezing 5 months a year) we were super excited to book this 9-day ... Read More
Having watched "Undercover Boss" in January and seeing the CEO work with his ship-board teams, and really needing a cruise (we live in Montreal where it's freezing 5 months a year) we were super excited to book this 9-day cruise. My wife works for an airline, so we booked at the very last minute and managed to score a Penthouse Suite, so we had VIP embarkation and our "butler" met us right away and brought us to our 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom suite....no waiting...no line-ups...excellent!! At first glance, it was spectacular...huge, beautiful and amazing. We even took pictures right away as we were thrilled. Floor-to-ceiling windows even in the shower and hot tub...WOW!!! But upon closer examination, we noted that the suite furniture was worn, torn and threadbare and we were surprised. Going for a quick bite before sailing, we noted water buckets and water leaking from ceilings and light fixtures throughout the public areas....hmmm... Before we had even left the Port of Miami that Friday afternoon, the Captain announced that they had experienced engine trouble and that our first port of call, the Dominican Republic, would be cancelled and we would have an extra day at sea because we couldn't travel at our normal speed of about 24 knots. For that, every cabin would get an on-board credit of $100.00 We enrolled our 2½ year old into the Kids Program and we were happy to meet the crew and receive a Pager that allowed us to wander anywhere on the ship, and yet still be reached when our little guy needed a diaper change.... Our butler gave us a cell-phone that we used during the voyage...we got it on day 3 though... Saturday evening, Day 2 and we were invited to the Captain's Cocktail as were the other suites. The Captain & Chief Engineer explained that Engine 4 had gone down last year and Engine 3 was the trouble maker now. So no back-up until dry dock in May... Days 4 & 5 were warm and uneventful and we visited Tortola and Antigua. We don't normally book Shore Excursions thru the cruise liens as we have learnt that if you can walk a little bit, you will find taxi drivers who will take you to the same places for less....and we like to go to very uncrowded beaches. We do not want the crowded bus tours to those tacky tourist traps.... As the ship pulled away from Antigua, the Captain announced more cancellations. We would visit neither Barbados nor St. Kitts, as we couldn't travel fast enough at our reduced speeds (they still couldn't fix the engines) but would instead visit St. Maarten and St. Thomas....and we would get an additional $100 per cabin credit. I paid almost $6,000 for 5 ports of call and now 60% of them were cancelled...more time at sea and we had to make fast changes via ship-board Internet to cancel plans with friends that had already been made and make others... what a waste of time and energy. Was this ship really seaworthy to start with? Since we have been to St. Maarten and St. Thomas four times before, we were not very happy....and arriving in St. Maarten with 9 other ships there was a disaster! A tiny place with 30,000 other tourists...yikes!! To make matters worse, on the way back to Miami, a fire broke out in the incinerator on Deck 4 so the "BRAVO" call went out and woke everybody up at 11:30 at night! Decks 4, 5 and 6 were evacuated and my wife and son were pretty scared! As for the food...well...I am a chef so I am pretty hard to please. Thankfully, we enjoyed Cagney's for breakfast & lunch most days (a benefit of the suite) but the food in the specialty restaurants was fair at best. The Italian restaurant featured extremely salty food while the sushi place served defrosted fish...Ughhh! The two MDR, Aqua & Venetian were OK and the staff was friendly. But very average food...nothing out of the ordinary. All in all, this ship needed to go to dry dock in May of 2010 and not this year. She is tired and it shows. Will we ever again sail with NCL? Not at this point. We have contacted Customer Service and were blown off. I guess they just don't really care....too bad.... Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
We travelled on the Epic in February, 2011. Twenty-something travelers without children. This is our second cruise and first with Norwegian. We made all our reservations for entertainment and specialty dining prior to boarding. Ship was ... Read More
We travelled on the Epic in February, 2011. Twenty-something travelers without children. This is our second cruise and first with Norwegian. We made all our reservations for entertainment and specialty dining prior to boarding. Ship was sailing at full capacity. Overall, the experience was better than expected. Many of the complaints you hear about in these reviews are true, but the ship does redeem itself in several ways. Except the flaws, enjoy the cruise and just complain about improvements. Embarkation was straight forward and efficient boarding the ship in under twenty minutes. No grandiose entrance aboard this ship. Immediately one is in the casino upon boarding. This deck will remain congested throughout one's stay. The ship is very poorly designed with plenty of wasted space. Cabins were small as expected but adequate for two people. The shower/toilet issues were not a problem. Some previous reviewers have complained about using the key card to activate in-room lighting. If this is challenging to understand one shouldn't be traveling. Food service and quality was below average in the complimentary dining rooms but food was always hot on arrival. Ate one meal at Le Bistro ($20 cover charge gets one as much food as desired but some restaurants have two cover charges for premium items). Service was average and food was above average. Room service and room service food were both average. Staff in the buffet were always helpful and greeting passengers at every meal. This area of the ship shines. Bizarre how there was no lemonade on this cruise line but drinking only water for a week is a great way to detox! Complimentary liquids include: Coffee, tea, orange juice (morning only), water, and milk (morning). The spa and the gym are among the best areas of the ship (and largest at sea). The couples spa pass is a good value. Take the tour on the first day and buy it for $199 or buy a single pass for $119 and just share it with your friend/spouse on entry. This pass will get one access for the duration of the cruise, closing at 10pm daily. Only 60 couples passes are allotted for the voyage, so get it early. Entertainment was average but the clubs were above average. This is definitely a young party oriented cruise line. Don't forget your white pants and white shirt for the whiteparty!! Slides waits were between ten and thirty minutes at peak times. Go early or late to avoid the queues. Green slide rocks! Climbing walls (for beginners) and rappelling (lame) are open daily. "Extreme" climbing is open from 5-8 on port days only and allows more challenging climbs (good fun). If the rum runners were forgotten on this trip, buy wine at a 20% discount in the atrium cafe (6 bottles or more) and remember the runners next time. Confiscation will occur if placed in carry on baggage. Checked bags only, people! Room staff will empty the fridge so it can be stocked with one's own goodies. Near the forward end of the ship is a small 'freestyle' deck for nudists. Hard to find and very secluded. Up-selling on this ship was rife but appears to be an industry-wide practice. None of these up-sells are necessary for memorable cruising. Overall, there are so many ships and cruise lines to explore. We probably would not travel on this ship again but would travel with Norwegian aboard a future and presumably improved ship. Hope this review is helpful. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
On the positives, embarkation was smooth, food was decent as normal on Carnival,room was kept clean, dance shows were great, purser personel were friendly and helpful, dining and room personel were great, and the itinerary was good. The ... Read More
On the positives, embarkation was smooth, food was decent as normal on Carnival,room was kept clean, dance shows were great, purser personel were friendly and helpful, dining and room personel were great, and the itinerary was good. The captain's welcome party is no longer free drinks. Excursions: If you like guitars ands showgirls, in San Juan the Juan Carlos show is great. Juan Carlos is amazing, but the location is not great. Snorkeling at Coki Pt is okay for beginner,but no so great for experienced snorkelers. I took a cab there and local people working the beach will drag you in to rent their beach equipment (pushy). The Antigua excursion on the catamaran around the entire island was long, but alot of fun (free rum punches too). On Tortola we took a local excursion to Jost Van Dyke White Bay and Soggy Dollar Bar. The trip there was long but beautiful with island on both sides of the boat. The beach was absolutely beautiful and the snorkeling was decent. In Nassau, we shopped at the straw market and walked through part of Atlantis. A cab is only $4 over there and back. You get off at the Marina village and walk though shops and luxury yachts. At the end, you can go into the casino and also walk around it. This is all free. We did not go over to the waterpark. The ferry over to Atlantis is a hassle and cost $3. Avoid it! On the negative, except for the shows, we could not enjoy thte clubs and bars. There is a great Asian rock band in Habana, but you would hit heavy smoke before ever going in (none from cigars). The was smoke at all bars. There would be a few of the same smokers in each bar every night and all the rest of the people with nothing to do. If smoking is needed, then there needs smoking/non-smoking sections in each large lounge with good ventilation. Beware if you purchase liquor on or off the ship. They confiscate the liquor. The staff did not tell you that liquor would not be returned until the day of debarkation. This is the morning after they already took my luggage. I purchased 6 bottles that I had to carry off the ship and then find my luggage. I then had to get porter help and find a place out on the sidewalk by the taxis and repack my luggage to include the liquor. Bingo and "Morning Show" at pool is annoying for a pool atmosphere!The people working the lido buffets did not seem happy as on other cruises. I would never book this ship again. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
The school vacation for Presidents' Week ensured that this cruise was sold out and that many cabins were filled with families. Even though a near record 3600+ passengers were on the sailing, the ship seldom seemed overcrowded (aside ... Read More
The school vacation for Presidents' Week ensured that this cruise was sold out and that many cabins were filled with families. Even though a near record 3600+ passengers were on the sailing, the ship seldom seemed overcrowded (aside from children and teenagers "overusing" the elevators). There were usually deck chairs to be had in the sun or the shade. The pools were not overly full at most times. The ship offers a great range of children and youth programs combined with a variety of sports to keep the young passengers occupied. Meanwhile the many lounges, decks, bars, restaurants, promenade, shops and casino offer a variety of pastimes for everyone. There are also usual activities such as bingo, karaoke, etc. that the cruise director and his staff provide. One suggestion would be a little more emphasis on port and geography lectures (that have nothing to do with shopping). Embarkation was a little tedious with slow-moving lines going back and forth through tensa-barrier formed lanes. Seating passengers in a waiting room and then calling them up in group numbers would reduce this stress. The public rooms on the ship are magnificent. The Main Dining Room is three decks high with an open middle with a grand stairway connecting the levels. The theater is also three decks high with good sight lines from almost all of the seats, the exception being the obstruction caused by the necessary support pillars. The stage has a good-size fly space allowing the quick changing of sets. Other lounges all over the ship offer some good spaces to get away from the crowd. A great view can be enjoyed from Dizzy's on the 14th floor. The art work all over the ship is innovative and pleasing. The cabin we had was not large but well planned for our needs. There was more than enough space for everything we had. I can see that things would become cramped, however, if we had had children in the cabin with us. The bathroom, though small, is well-planned. The water pressure is good and the shower stall is round allowing for a 6'4" man to easily shower. During the cruise the suction function to flush the toilets failed twice in areas of the ship, but it was quickly repaired. Our room steward, Victor, did a great job keeping the room clean. There is a two-story fitness and spa area with enough exercise machines that one seldom had to wait to use one. There is an outdoor running track that is 1/5 of a mile around. Since it is also used for everyone using deck chairs in the area to access them, serious jogging during the later daytime is a challenge. It is best to rise early and use the track before the "sun bunnies" arrive on the scene. Enrichment is one area in which that Royal Caribbean has a mixed record. There are plenty of sports activities and games (trivia, bingo, etc.) but there could be more background and cultural presentations. There was a port lecturer who was very good, but her presentations were planned right in the middle of lunch with the consequence that few people showed up. Rates: Of course I wish they were cheaper. Supply and demand economics dictates that prices will be higher when more people can cruise, such as during school vacations. Overall, even though the price was higher for this 9 day cruise than for the 12 day one immediately following us, we were generally satisfied with the value for money we received. Dining in the Main Dining Room (MDR) was generally excellent. We had a late dinner seating at 8:00 pm. Since the ship's clocks were set ahead an hour during the first night of the cruise and not set back until the last night, this was actually akin to eating at 7:00. The ship also offers "My Time Dining" for those that wish to come when they want. We are not particular fans of this since we enjoy having the same wait staff and the same table mates each evening. We usually manage to make some friends with whom we retain contact after the cruise. We tried the buffet on deck 11, the Windjammer, twice for lunch. The food quality and selection was nowhere near the same as in the MDR at lunch. The quality and variety would be analogous to "Home Town Buffet" which is a cut below "Golden Corral". Also the tables were sticky and soiled even after having been cleared and wiped. So we had all of our meals in the MDR and found almost everything to be of excellent quality. Our evening waiters, Javier and Caesar, were attentive and knowledgeable. What was good in the Windjammer was the Sushi selection in the evenings that could serve as an appetizer before a late dinner. There is also a Cafe on the Promenade open day and night that offers a selection of fruit, sandwiches, rolls, cakes and cookies free for the taking. Tea and coffee are also available. Room service is also available day and night with a better selection than many other lines offer. We did not use the places that charge a cover for food such as Portofino's of Johnny Rocket's. Why pay extra when so much good food is available included in the cruise price? The entertainment on the ship is generally of high quality. Especially worth mentioning is the show band that performs mostly in the theater. This group, consisting of two saxes, two trumpets, a trombone, guitar, bass, keyboard and drums, was one of the best rehearsed and tight sounding groups I have heard anywhere. I waited to hear the lead trumpet player chip a high note, for example, or for an ensemble entrance to be slightly not together - it never happened! Otherwise there is live music all over the ship in different styles. There are 8 dancers and 4 solo singers for the shows. There is also a substantial and very good ice-skating team to put on one very impressive show in the ice-skating rink. Free tickets are given out for this in advance. They put the show on 3 times since the space only seats 400. The service level on the ship was generally very good. Everywhere, except in the Windjammer, was well-cared for and meticulously cleaned. Even thought the staff might not be as outwardly friendly, greeting everyone in the hallways all the time as is the case on Princess, the service itself - which is really the important thing - was outstanding. This is the biggest and most magnificent ship we have been on. We will certainly want to sail with the Explorer again in the future. Port Review for Samana, Dominican Republic (since it is not in the Port Review drop-down menu): Rating 5+ In the morning we did the "Cave and Mangrove" tour offered through the ship for $79/p. This provided excellent value for money. It was billed as a 3 hour tour, but they gave us 4 hours and never rushed anything. The town of Samana has no cruise ship pier so the passengers are tendered to land in small boats in a kind of all-day "water taxi" service. Our tour left in a boat directly from the ship so we did not need to tender ashore first. It also brought us back directly to the ship. Here is the accurate brochure description: "By speed boat, visit Lor Haitises National Park, a sanctuary where you will see many migratory and indigenous birds that inhabit the island and mangroves. Your guide will explore the cave system [with you] and tell you about the history and people that inhabited them." As we were viewing different birc sanctuaries from the boat, the pilot and guide were very conscientious about passing every viewing point twice so that each side of the boat had equal opportunity to see and photograph everything. We visited 2 caves, both of which contained drawings by the original (now extinct) inhabitants who were there when the Spanish arrived. I the afternoon we tendered to Samana and walked along the shore promenade. We walked about 25 minutes to get to the "Bridges to Nowhere", pedestrian bridges that offered great views of the water, the town and the little islands that they connected to. Port Review for Labadee, Haiti (since it is not in the Port Review drop-down menu): Rating 5 This is a small peninsula on the north coast of Haiti that Royal Caribbean has leased and turned into a private resort for their cruise ship guests. This area is fenced off from the rest of Haiti and passengers are not permitted to walk out of the area. There are a number of excursions available that take passengers various points of natural interest, but most passengers just enjoy the area of Labadee. There are beaches, walkways, cabanas, as well as a zipline and roller coaster (for a fee). The use of the beaches is free. A free barbecue is served in different picnic areas. Locals have some shops set up selling crafts. Expect to be subjected to aggressive marketing if you even look at a display. Haggling over the price is expected. Never pay more than 30-50% of the original asking price. Since we are not "beach people" we enjoyed the various walkways, some of which are nicely secluded in hilly, wooded areas, along with wonderful views. One thing we hope will be implemented in the future are some more extensive hiking paths on the same mountainside the zipline and roller coaster use. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
This was our first cruise with Azamara and it will be very difficult to cruise with any other line from now on. From the easiest embarkation process to the personable captain and senior crew members, we felt at home from the moment we ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Azamara and it will be very difficult to cruise with any other line from now on. From the easiest embarkation process to the personable captain and senior crew members, we felt at home from the moment we stepped on board. We were on the ship within 10 minutes of stepping out of the taxi and from there on in, it was smile after smile. The attitude of the crew is very important to us, and there really is none better than what we experienced. Where else will you find the captain and senior crew members mingling with the passengers on a daily basis and even serving gelato at the pool grill? Having a profession in the management field, I feel that this is the only way to run a business. Happy and personable administration means happy and motivated staff and ultimately happy and returning passengers. The staff was extremely complimentary about the Azamara Brand and that was all we needed to hear. The room attendants, servers, bartenders, and even the cleaning crew were so friendly and helpful. The casino staff was beyond compare! We truly left the ship with new friends from every department and sincerely hope to cruise with them again. We stayed in both a veranda stateroom and(hubby won the upgrade at Bingo, would you believe it?) in a continental suite. Both were very well maintained and IMHO, well decorated. Except for the extra walking space, larger balcony and bath, there really was no difference for us in the overall comfort and care of the rooms. Bed too hard? Just ask for a mattress pad for extra cushion and it will be there before your next sleep. The suite does have a few extra benefits such as the conveniences of a butler, more dining opportunities at the specialty restaurants, and DVDs, but to tell you the truth, we aren't butler-type people, the food was great in the regular dining, and we never had time for the DVDs. To each his own, as they say. We found the public areas quite nice. The size of the ship does make for less room, but we like that while cruising as it feels more intimate. I had read complaints about the artwork and furnishings being outdated, but we did not even realize that. They were definitely eclectic in taste, and who looks at them more than once anyway? The Internet cafe was staffed by the most patient and soft-spoken man I have ever met. Internet service was best in the cafe and very sporadic as wireless service. If you are a return passenger (Club Member), you receive free minutes, making the somewhat expensive Internet time quite reasonable! The fitness center was quite large with nice equipment. They offered many classes but we didn't opt for those. The walking track is 13 times around for a mile, but was expected. The Looking Glass Lounge was the game room and disco-type area at night. We felt it was large enough because the dance floor wasn't that crowded, although a couple of times there was dancing in the aisles (all in good fun!). The Cabaret Lounge was the theater area for music and shows and never seemed over crowded. We felt the pool area was well maintained although the chair situation is a bit tight. We sometimes had trouble getting four loungers together since we had two couples traveling together, but that was minor and hardly a complaint. There really isn't too much walking space between the loungers, but if you want more chairs, something has got to give. We found the food to be delicious wherever we ate. The pool grill had a surprisingly large selection of items made fresh to order and a great salad bar. Our only complaint here was that there was only one person to man the grill and although he never worked up a sweat, sometimes seemed a bit overloaded when there were too many people milling about. It is probably a space issue but some people were needlessly impatient. The breakfast and lunch offerings at the Windows Cafe were fantastic with plenty of options, although there could have been a few more coffee machines around. Mosaic's Cafe was a real treat with coffees, teas, liquors and pastries all day long. Dinner dining at Windows Cafe was excellent with great sushi, seafood, a stir fry station and pasta station with plenty of offerings. Their idea of shrimp on the special shrimp night were actually large prawns! And quite delicious! Discoveries main dining was very good, also. Again there were many choices and they would easily make changes to the dish with no hassle. The brunch at Discoveries that they had on one day was the best we had ever experienced. The specialty restaurants were superb. We dined at Aqualina first and fell in love with the souffles, both the Grand Marnier and the Chocolate-to die for! The Red Snapper was the best fish we had the entire cruise. Prime C was our favorite and we dined there for the Connoisseur's Wine Pairing Dinner. Wow! Every course was superb and the fillet was absolutely perfect. Of course, service was splendid everywhere we ate, taking into account the number of diners, time of day, and meal selections. The boutique wines were quite good at lunch and dinner and we were quite pleased with all the beverages. Our kuddos to the great chef Lisa and the sommeliers. My husband and our friend were the first and only two to purchase the new Beverage package offered. While they enjoyed it on this cruise, their opinion was that if the on-board credit hadn't paid for it, they would have been just as happy with the boutique wines and an occasional beer or specialty drink since the prices weren't that prohibitive. There were two specialty dinner outdoor buffets by the pool. The food was great, some prepared on a BBQ grill. Selections were varied but my favorite was all the seafood. They added tables to the walking track and it became romantic candlelight dining under the stars, in spite of the crowd around you. They had great entertainment, especially the steel drum band on the Caribbean Night. Entertainment overall was quite good. Cruise Director Tony Markey is a wonderful showman and we had the good fortune of having his lovely wife, Christine on board while we cruised. She is an absolute delight, and we tried to follow her wherever she was singing at the time. Dan Redner and the Journey Orchestra are absolutely wonderful. The Journey singers are okay, some better than others, but the sound system unfortunately made it worse sometimes. Again, a problem with space and acoustics that can't be helped. Carlos Avalon, on the piano, is a wonderful performer and a very nice man. We enjoyed listening to him in Mosaic's lounge. Guest performers were very good: a magician,a funny comedian, a wonderful vocalist, Jamila. The harpist in the Discoveries Lounge is also very good, and was a joy to listen to before dinner. I could go on yet for paragraphs about how much we enjoyed our journey on Journey. We really had no complaints and can't wait to set sail on Azamara again soon! (We are hoping that Miami becomes more available as a port option!) Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
Buying the Cruise We bought a 10 day all inclusive Hotel + East Caribbean Cruise holiday from a travel bureau in our hometown Espoo from our regular travel agent whose services we have used for many years. At first there was no ... Read More
Buying the Cruise We bought a 10 day all inclusive Hotel + East Caribbean Cruise holiday from a travel bureau in our hometown Espoo from our regular travel agent whose services we have used for many years. At first there was no more cabins with balconies left on the cruise ship although it was the 1:st of October almost 4 months before the Ship was going to sail. We decided not to go if we do not get a cabin with a balcony. Luckily our dear agent managed to the wished cabin with a balcony so we invested the 2315 EUR / person and started choosing excursions from the catalogue printed out from the Costa-Cruises website. The average monthly wage in a steady job in Finland is about 2800 EUR so it takes years of saving and planning to take the cruise. Day 5 Tuesday Bus to Cruise boat After sleeping 4 nights at the Hotel the bus to La Romana started at 8:30 so we had ample time to eat the breakfast. We had to take all our luggage with us and give away the room, towel cards and safety box lock. The bus driver stopped at some roadside pick nick cafe in Nagua where the new road across the Dominican Rrepublic over the central mountain to the Caribbean Ocean side started. After driving over some rice fields the road came to a check point gate where a soldier armed with a machine gun made sure that everyone paid their dues. Before arriving to La Romana the bus driver maid another stop at the "Three legged Dogs roadside cafe". People in the Dominican Republic are so poor that they do not bother to tidy up litter or any trash on their yards. Even the cars have license plates only on the back. Over 80% of the population are coloured , but the big roadside signs had pictures of president candidates that all had white faces. The bus made to the harbour some 13:10 where we had to sit and wait under an open air roof (with toilet) in a ribbon coral for an hour until the customs procedures took place. All food and alcohol was put into a safe for the duration of the cruise. After the checking of the pre filled papers and passports we got our Costa Cards and where ready to embark with our hand luggage. The heaviest suit case was tagged and delivered to our cabin. The Ship Costa Mediterranea was build in Helsinki 2003. It is a magnificent vessel about 300 meters long and 30 meters wide and 12 decks high. It can carry 2680 passengers. The interior is designed in Italy. One can feel the luxurious touch in the blending colours of fabrics and building material. The stairs have high lighted glass commutes for unique craft works of ceramics and silver. The lampets of the Orientale Lounge staircase fountain are colourful Murano glas. The Cabin We had the unbelievable luck in getting the first (front) cabin with a 5 meter wide balcony on deck 6 other cabins had only a 2,5 meter balcony some of them even with lifeboats limiting the view. The balcony is furnished with 2 fabric chairs and a small coffee table. The cabin it self is approximately 15 square meters. The floor space is occupied by the double bed a little table and 2 small chairs. There is a little bathroom with shower sink and toilet. What is more important there is a 230/110 V socket to charge the mobile phone and use the razor in the bathroom. There are also 3 closets and many drawers. There is no suitcase table so we kept the suitcases on the floor corner. Each cabin has a mini bar and TV. The floor is covered with a wall to wall carpet. Our Cabin servant Cedi was on an 8 months conract. Some 6 months was still left before he could trawel back to see her litle daughter back home in Indonesia. He was always polite friendly and smiling altouch he had 20 cabins to look after. Info Desk At firs we had to put some money on the Costa Card at the Info Desk. No money is used on the boat. Instead everything is debited from the Costa Card account. We had changed most of our currency to dollars but euros was used on the boat so we lost 40 EUR because of the bad exchange rate. So we deposited 1500 dollars on the other Costa Card and assigned the other Costa Card to Visa. Then we reserved a table for dinner on the first serving at 19:00 The Italian origin girl at the Info Desk was very arrogant and bored and was poorly acquainted with English language. It was about 20 minutes to 15:00 when we got us organized and decided to have a quick bite of something to eat before the self service cafeteria was closed at 15:00 on the Harmonia (Hamburger) deck 9. Again a bad synchronizing of eating times, and again missing the lunch. We could have had a good lunch at the Hotel before leaving the room at noon and still made it to the customs at 18:00 and to dinner at 19:00, because the boat was NOT leaving until midnight. Perhaps it would be a good idea to let some of the staff members participate on a Costa Cruise on some other Costa ship as "SPY"-passengers. Maybe they could get a better idea how it feels to be a passenger on the cruise. We are sure that they would come with lots of good new ideas how to develop the services. The Tax Free Shop There is a big Tax Free shop on deck 3. We did not buy anything from the shop because the buying was so difficult. It seems that the Italian origin shop clerks did not want to sell anything for English speaking passengers. One other reason, why the buying was so difficult, was that the shop was CLOSED from 11:00 to 17:00 when we would have had time to shop. One thing we can not understand why the shop selection included lots of Italian design articles, when most of the passengers where Italian so they could get the SAME stuff at home. Since the ship was built in Helsinki why not get a repertoire of Scandinavian design articles? Cruise Hostess for English speaking passengers A splended idea from Costa Cruises was to have an English speaking hostess Deborah Dalati on the ship. She belonged to the entertainment staff. She was keeping lectures about safety and how to fill the official documentation. We missed her great personality especially at the start of the excursions. Cruising is a big industry and the ship is like a floating city (with a grew of 900). Navigating , Hotel service , Customer service, Eexcursions, Eentertainment functions are all performed by separate entities that know nothing of each other. The only ones who experience the whole picture are the passengers and Captain Giancarlo Cha. It would be a great help to see the timelines of all functions on a single chart for the whole cruise. It would then be easier to see the time windows available for different events and tasks. The Tour office and the Tax free coud be open from 2 pm to 5 pm.. In the morning there is only a 15 minute timewindow to reserve an excursion after breakfast and before excursion meeting. The Lifts We used the lifts only 2 times during the cruise and maybe thanks to this we did not gain so much weight. There was 3 lifts side by side so that you could not see the other lifts coming if you where standing in front of one lift. Inside a lift there was an announcement in Italian that the doors where opening, but you could not hear this from the outside when you where waiting for another lift. From the outside you could hear again in Italian from the departing other lift, an announcement that the doors where closing, but then it was already too late to make it to that other lift. Sauna Of course if a passenger comes from Finland to a boat that is made in Finland the sauna is a must. The sauna interior was unfortunately also designed in Italy. The sitting height was too low. The sitting height is measured from the stones of the stove. Your feet should be on the stone level when you are sitting. The seat should be so high as you are sitting with straight back your fingers should touch the roof if you put your hand on top of your head. The sitting board was also too narrow. The lighting should have been dim, but the whole side wall was a milk-glass window to the deck day light. The only thing that was correct was the air ventilation with incoming air under the door and out going air from the roof hole. There was no thermometer on the wall only an hourglass for some mysterious reason? On the locker room wall there was an instruction written, to keep your swimming suit on at all times on the premises - also in the sauna. Keeping your swimming suit on in the sauna is considered unhealthy and it is therefore forbidden in every public sauna in Finland. On the corridor opposite the sauna door there was a row of nameless doors that led to private shower rooms that you could lock from inside. The shower was again nailed to the wall. You could not let out water with a temperature suitable for your use, with out getting a gold sprinkle on your shoulders first. Hot water was not hot enough as high as the deck 9. The Ships Hospital A family with 3 teenagers was among the passengers. The two boys where looking quite ill already on the bus to La Romana and the husband got the fever also. They had to stay in the ships hospital for 2 days. Although there is a doctor on the ship he can not prescribe any antibioses because there is no laboratory on the ship. Dining Breakfast 7:30 - 9:15, Lunch 11:30 - 13:00, Dinner 19:00 - 21:00 We ate most our meals at the restaurant at the back end deck 2. During the breakfast and lunch we where escorted to the nearest table (free seating). At lunch we always took the "Single Dish" because everything was pre selected on the same plate so it was quick and effective. At dinner we had the permanent table reserved with the other 6 passengers from Finland. We had bought the water and beer package and we drank from them during the Dinner.. At dinner everyone got to choose a 5 course dinner. About 3 alternatives per course. There was a different menu every night. It was a small miracle how the waiters got everyone served in 40 minutes. Only once in Guadeloupe the dinner was served so late that the angry people eating at the 21 serving where waiting at the restaurant door, when we where the last ones to leave the 19 serving at 21:10. At the info desk they did not know that you could buy beautiful Italian ice cream portions at the Armoinia pool bar on deck 9. We asked the bartender of the main hall opposite the info desk and the bartender knew. The Drink Packages Drink packages are sold and a logistic miracle is keeping track of the bottle count. Every time you get a zero priced receipt to sign. If You looked hard enough You could see the number of the remaining bottles on the receipt The meaning is to save a few Euros if you can forecast your consumption in forehand. Unfortunately the Beer package consisted of 20 bottles which we never managed to finish in a week. After spending thousands of euros to come on this cruise it does not make any sense to try to save some 20 euros. Consuming the drink package feels like work. You wind up drinking more than you really want to when you do not want to loose the 3 last free bottles. The Evening Shows Every evening there was a show in the Osiris Theatre after dinner. Every show was better than the previous one. The same artists performed, but it was always a different story and costumes. Some of the artist where exceptionally talented both to sing and dance. There was also a one man circus show by a multitalented man. One could honestly say that the shows where world class entertainment. One evening there was a show where all the performers where members of the ships own grew. At the end of the show they came to receive their applauses in their usual working clothes and went back to work. The Excursions There was a selection of excursions to attend to at each port of call. Usually the get together for the excursions was 30 minutes after the ship reached the port. We had in good faith used 2 months to choose the excursions of interest in forehand from the Web. The excursion tickets are reserved from the excursion counter that is CLOSED from 11:00 to 17:00 There is only 1 hour time window after breakfast or before dinner and a huge row of passengers at the counter aiming to reserve an excursion ticket for next day. The touch screen computer aided excursion reserving machines where broken. We never found the reserving system from the TV with the remote. There is something terribly wrong with the logistics and organising of the guests to an excursion. The guests do not know how to stand in a row or have forgotten how they used to do it in school. The excursion managers are waving their hands and speaking in tiny voices to get the guests to understand what they are trying to achieve. The English speaking guests do not have a clue what is going on. Finally somehow different number tags are clued to excursion guests chests, according to the selected excursion and language and the managers start leading the different groups to the waiting busses. The only way to find the busses is to follow where most of the guests are going, because the managers vanish at this stage. You are compelled to ask for the right bus when you get to them. We suggest that Costa Cruises gets the same kind of ribbon corals that are used in the airports where guest going to excursions destined to different places and guided in different languages know right away witch line to take. Perhaps the attendees would get a card (stating destination and language) that is collected at the bus to keep count that everyone is on board. If they would have told us in forehand that we had picked such an exotic excursion guided in such an exotic language as English that only a "MIXED excursion" (Italian/English 80/20) or (French/English 95/5) was possible we would have accepted that, but with a reasonable reduction in price. There was altogether 49 brave ones from Finland (Aurinkomatkat) on the Cruise. We think everyone would have gladly paid a 100 EUR more for the Cruise if we would have had an own Guide from Finland. Day 6 Wednesday Catalina Island (7,5 hours) Catalina island is a small uninhabited island with white sand beaches just 15 km from La Romana. The ship anchors nearby and the tender boats commute the guests to the shore and back to the ship every 15 minutes. There are hundreds of sun chairs on the beach and the guests are allowed only to stay on the stretch reserved for the Costa passengers. An armed guard is prohibiting to walk further along the shore. The 3 beach bars sell drinks debited to the Costa Card no potato chips are sold . Some souvenir shops accept dollars. Everybody can get a compliment lunch from the pick nick open air barbeque on a paper plate. We try to find a secluded place under the shade of a tree. We decide that this will be enough of laying on a beach on this holiday. In the evening we dress up formally for the captains Welcome Gala Cocktail before dinner. Day 7 Thursday Tortola - Road Town (9 hours) The ship stops on a pier opposite to another big cruise ship. The pier is located right at the centre of Road Town. We had not reserved any excursion on Tortola. We where thinking of going to an all day trip to Josh Van Dyke that allegedly has the most beautiful sand beaches in all of Caribbean. But the excursion has been removed from the list. So we decide to walk to the Botanic Garden in the city. The garden was a little bit dry because of the season. On the way back we found a fabulous intimate 3 table bakery "Bamboushay pottery" located behind the Sunny Caribbee Spice Co and had the best coffee and upside down cake we have ever tasted. On the way back we stopped at a block of little cabin shops built on the waterfront for the tourists. One man was playing a catching reggae tune with his self build electric guitar equipped with a rhythm machine. The feeling is so cool that we buy a Hawaii shirt with pictures of palms and parrots and a blue large transparent beach dress Day 8 Friday Antigua - Saint John´s (6 hours) The ship stops at the pier of Saint John´s centre. There are lots of pre advertised jewellery shops built just for tourists at the harbour. Antigua is the only island on the cruise where East Caribbean Dollars are accepted along with US Dollars. We walk along the streets lined with nicely painted wooden houses to St John´s Cathedral on the hill but it is closed for restoration. We find a marvellous shop called "Island Creations" on #3 Redcliffe Quay, where also big sized dresses made of batik fabric are sold. We buy 2 dresses and one shirt. In the harbour pier there is a charter sailing boat named Black Pearl. The Costa Mediterranea crew is constantly maintaining the ship in shape - the anchor is being painted. Day 9 Saturday Barbados - Bridgetown (9 hours) We have reserved tickets for the Orchid Garden - Sunbury Plantation English excursion. If the boat docks in the morning at 9:00 the excursion guests gather at the meeting point at 9:30. We have had ample time for breakfast delivered to our cabin. The usual hullabaloo commences at the meeting point, and we just follow the other guests along the long pier and trough the customs building to the busses. The excursion managers have clued a number sticker on each quests chest. We find the buss with the same number easily. The guide is a local girl who has studied Italian in the University of Barbados. She has even spent 4 months in Italy. She thinks that this is an Italian excursion and talks only Italian and is very surprised to find out that half of the quests have bought tickets for an English excursion. So the guide tries to make a mixed Italian/English tour in about 80% / 20% ratio. (Her native language is English). Another disappointment is revealed because the excursion is not going to the Orchid World like it says in the Web. The Orchid Garden is changed to Flower Forest although the number of the excursion is kept the same. The Flower Forest is still a fine place worth seeing. We are astonished by the size of the plants that grow wild here, when we are used to grow them in pots inside the house. ST John Parish church Next we stop at St John Parish church that has a wonderful view point from the cemetery terrace. Sunbury Plantation House Next in the program is the Sunbury Plantation House, which is like a doll house in real human scale. All the furniture and household things are left untouched, just like the folks would still be living there. We see the first gas stove ever used on Barbados. It is so soothing to sip fruit juice in the shade of the big platan trees in the Plantation House garden. You really can feel how the upper class life was at the time of the sugar cane industry. All over the countryside You can also see that people taking good care of their little houses. They all have a small garden. Romantic Dinner Back at the peer we buy a couple of rum cakes for souvenirs and a pretty orchid painted tray. In the evening we get a second change to wear our formal wear and dine at the Medusa restaurant at deck 10 and have a huge T-bone steak. It's a very romantic dinner with candle light and grand piano music. Day 10 Sunday Guadeloupe-Pointe a Pietre(12 hours) We arrive at this French town at 11:00. It is the ugliest city on the cruise but luckily we have reserved tickets for the Carbet Waterfalls English excursion. Again excursion hullabaloo at 13:00 and we find our selves on an French instead of an English excursion. The guide holds a mixed French/English tour in about 95% / 5% ratio. The waterfall (middle height one) is magnificent. The road to the buss parking place is steep, narrow and has many 180o curves. We make the rest 200 m along a boardwalk to the fall. It is forbidden to go under the fall because of the falling stone danger but every one wants to have a picture taken under the water fall anyway. On the way we see the bananas ripening inside blue plastic bags. The blue bags are kept on the bunches for 4 months because they don't lure so many insects. Day 11 Monday Sint Maarten - Philsburg (5 hours) When we arrived at Philsburg at 13:00 the harbour was filled with cruise liners. We where on the Dutch side of the island divided by the Dutch and French. US Dollars where accepted in the shops. We had reserved tickets for the "See and Sea Island Tour". A trip with a glass bottomed boat to view the corals. We had a note in our cabin the previous evening in Italian about the tickets. At the Info desk the man had a Websters Italian / English dictionary where we looked at the only word that was strange - it translated to "FORGET" . We could not understand the meaning that they could not deliver our tickets because the printer did not work. The excursion was postponed because of the bad weather. That meant we had ample time to watch the tourist shops on the pier. Before we went a shore we took the "Single Dish" again to save time. On the pier area there was a very good shop with quality beach clothes (US made) called "Island Living". We took a cold beer on the bench and listened to a steel pan orchestra playing in a gazebo on the square. We also bought a pirate calypso CD under the counter from a kiosk. The stores where built on a fenced tourist area. You could not walk along the beach even if the distance to the city was not far. Couple of brave ones took a private taxi to Maho Beach to watch the airplanes landing over the beach. They almost missed the boat because of the heavy traffic jam on the way back. When the boat was leaving the harbour we had a safety drill that everyone had to attend to. We stood at the lifeboat stations women and children in front and men in the back row in lifejackets while they announced what we had to do in case of an emergency. This was the only time the English announcement came first and the French announcement last after 6 other languages. The staff was inspecting the passengers with a hard look on their eyes when the announcement where played to emphasize that this was a serious matter. Day 12 Thuesday Bus trip back to Hotel In the morning we sat on the balcony admiring the beautiful white sanded beaches of the Saona island. At the horizon you could see the diesel generator smokes of La Romana . All the electricity on every Caribbean island is produced by huge diesel generator power plants pushing un cleaned carbon dioxide and micro-particles boldly in to the atmosphere. Caribbean islands would be an ideal place to try out small 70 MW under water nuclear power plants designed by Flexblue. After breakfast there was only one hour 9:30 - 10:30 at Dionysos Lounge deck 3 to settle the Costa Card account and get the unspent euros back. Euros were still accepted at the tax free shop before docking. The ship arrived at La Romana port at 13:00. The heaviest suit case was left outside the cabin door the night before. The passengers leaving the ship at La Romana where gathered to to the Osiris Theatre for passport and embarking document control at 13:15. On the pier we collected the heavy suit case at the customs. Everything went efficiently and smoothly. All 49 of us where sitting in the buss at 14:00 ready to return to Puerto Plata. The driver stopped at a tidy cafe right outside La Romana. I had reserved a smooth jazz CD to play during the buss journey. We where a bit tired of the loud meringue music. That was a mistake - the driver started to feel drowsy and would soon fallen asleep if one of the passenger would not have kept him awake by talking to him. We drove trough a dried up palm plantation and stopped for photos. It is forbidden to cut down living palm trees so the palms are deliberately left to dry standing to get timber. 2 stops one before the central sierra and one after. And then non-stop driving from Nagua to Puerto Plata 80 km/h trought the towns way over the speed limit with loud merengue music. We arrived tired and hungry just in time for dinner at 19:10. We requested for the most peaceful room and got the most noisiest room 2354 abowe the animators theatre. We went back to reception to complain and got a wonderful quiet room and went right to bed after dinner. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
This was my 6th cruise so I do have some experience. I have been on Carnival twice Princess twice, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean. We sailed with Carnival last year out of San Juan and were impressed so we decided to go with Carnival again. ... Read More
This was my 6th cruise so I do have some experience. I have been on Carnival twice Princess twice, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean. We sailed with Carnival last year out of San Juan and were impressed so we decided to go with Carnival again. Cruise was cheap, with 3 of us in an ocean view room it ended up being less then $400. Decent price for what you are getting. Was this the best cruise? No definitely not but I don't want to bash it by any means. The high points, the ocean view rooms were bigger then inside rooms, pretty spacious for 3 adults. Our room steward was really nice and did a great job. Our servers were good, on top of things always got us what we needed. The itinerary was good, it was nice to have at sea days both the first and last day with the two stops in the middle. Weather was great in Mexico and for the majority of the at sea days. Going out of NOLA has it's good and bad points. This wasn't the most organized smooth port we have sailed out of. Was nice to see a new city since I had never been there. We stayed at Harrah's night before. I would definitely recommend the hotel. The first thing I noticed when we got on the ship was that there were a lot of kids. This was the first cruise I have ever really noticed them and I did right off the bat. The crowd was a bit young as well. A lot of people in their 20's. I had read a lot of reviews about the smoking on the ship and yes this was a big downfall. Smoking seemed to be everywhere, and for a non smoker this is annoying. I just wanted to email my boyfriend one night and had to go to the Internet cafe which is right by a cigar bar and had to hold my breath. Not pleasant. The ship itself is ok, we docked by Royal Caribbeans Oasis of the Seas and it really made me want to spend double the $ to go on. The Triumph layout is frustrating because it just doesn't seem to flow well. Its hard to get from one end to the other easily. All and all, cruise of course was good because who wouldn't have a good time on a cruise, but just keep in mind if you book you are getting what you pay for. If you are like me and have champagne taste on a beer budget.... don't expect that high priced bottle of champagne and you won't be disappointed. Read Less

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