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Review of Carnival Legend Cruise Saturday, August 9, 2003 - Sunday, August 17, 2003 Itinerary: New York - San Juan - St. Thomas - Tortola - New York About us - We are in our very early 50's with a 21 year old son. We've each ... Read More
Review of Carnival Legend Cruise Saturday, August 9, 2003 - Sunday, August 17, 2003 Itinerary: New York - San Juan - St. Thomas - Tortola - New York About us - We are in our very early 50's with a 21 year old son. We've each been on 10 previous cruises. The three of us went on this cruise. The itinerary and the convenience of sailing out of NY really appealed to us. If you were on board - I was the guy wearing the Cruise Critic hat all week. Getting there and embarkation - We had sailed out of NY 5 times before this cruise and thought we had the routine down pretty well. Figured we would leave the house about 11:30 AM and be on board by around 1:00 PM. Wow, were we wrong! There were 5 ships in port that day and traffic was a nightmare. I was finally able to drop off my wife and son with the luggage around 1:30 PM and go park on the roof of the terminal. The line inside the terminal led first to the "Welcome Aboard Picture" and then snaked around to the actual check-in lines. The lines were long and moving slowly. The Carnival reps were checking paperwork as we got on line, but somehow the ladies who wound up ahead of us on the check-in line got that far without filling out any paperwork. So we had to wait while they stood there filling out the forms. We finally boarded a little after 3:00 PM, and for the first time ever, all our luggage had gotten to our room before us. We were in cabin 5299, which is an aft facing cabin on the upper deck, with an extended balcony. The cabin was very nice, had two twin beds pushed together plus a sofa bed. Closet space was ample for the three of us. We had a bite to eat and went off to explore the ship. The ship - The Carnival Legend is a beautiful ship! I had read about "the urns" but found that all the dEcor was really nice, including the urns. There are more lounges than I can remember, a nice size casino, a library, a chapel, and the fastest elevators on the seven seas! The layout and design were generally pretty good, but there were a few things I did not care for. In the Follies lounge, where the nightly shows are presented, there are several poles which obstruct the lines of sight; there is very little, if any, slope to the main floor so viewing from the rear of the lounge can be somewhat difficult at times with all the heads in front of you; and there is no bar service on the upper level due to the layout and design of that level. The Truffles dining room is two levels and the majority of the seating is designed for 2's and 4's. There were not that many large tables and the ones they had were taken by larger groups. We were disappointed by this design because we enjoy sitting at a large table and meeting people. We had a booth which sat just the three of us. On the outside, there is a lack of lounge chairs in the shade, which is something we have always enjoyed on other ships. But all in all, we really liked this ship! Service - This is an area where I feel Carnival is lacking. Most of the service we received (purser, cabin steward, dining room, Lido buffet, and bar waiters) I can only describe as adequate but very perfunctory. On other lines (Royal Caribbean and Celebrity in particular) we have always felt pampered. I don't know whether this has anything to do with the automatic tipping, but the attitude of many of the staff was not very caring or hospitable. Our cabin steward was a complete idiot. Other than cleaning the room and turning down the beds at night she obviously didn't want to be bothered with anything else. We asked her several times to unlock the mini-bar, but she never did. After the second request, I went to the purser and removed all the automatic tips for the cabin steward from our account. We asked the steward why there were no bathrobes in the cabin and after 2 days of stories and excuses we went to the purser to find out why there were no bathrobes in the cabin. It was news to the purser, and after making a few phone calls the purser had room service deliver bathrobes to our cabin. Carnival also provides beach towels each day to take ashore if you are going to the beach. One night she took the used beach towels from our room but didn't replace them. Unfortunately we didn't find out until about 11:30 PM when we came back to the room. The problem was we had to be off the ship and on the pier in Tortola at 8:00 AM the next morning for our excursion. We paged her, but since she was off duty the call was rerouted to room service who told us the laundry was closed and they couldn't help us. So, it was back to the purser who also didn't want to be bothered. At this point I asked for the hotel manager but he was also unavailable, so I left a message. I also asked the purser to inform the cabin steward that if we did not have beach towels when we left the ship then I planned to purchases towels from the gift shop at the beach and the cost was coming off her tip. I went back to the room and not 15 minutes later there was a knock at the door and someone from room service was standing there with 3 beach towels. Finally, on the last night, I had to call to find out where the liquor was that we had purchased and she was supposed to deliver to our room. She gave us some lame excuse about the "do not disturb" sign hanging on the door. I pointed out to her that was the "please make up room" sign which had been hanging there since the morning. I was going to leave her no tip at all, but my wife and son made me feel a little guilty so we agreed to put back some of it on the account. Food - The dining room food was not spectacular but was pretty good. Unfortunately, the dining room service was very inconsistent. Our head waiter and assistant at our assigned table for dinner were superb! However, at the open seating for lunch, the service left a bit to be desired. We had to continually ask to have our water or iced tea refilled, and had to request coffee with the dessert. One afternoon the waiter actually brought coffee for my wife and me and ignored the other 4 people at the table. I'm still waiting for the salad that guy was supposed to bring me. The Lido buffet was good, but we found it repetitious and it became boring after a few days. The burgers and hot dogs were good and the pizza was very good. It seemed that whenever we went to get lunch there, the lines were long and weren't moving very well, so more often than any cruise before we ate lunch in the dining room. We did not try the Golden Fleece or the midnight buffets so I can't offer any opinion on those. Room service had us laughing the whole week. I give them an A+ for promptness and C for accuracy. We ordered room service breakfast five times and some occasional snacks. Breakfast always arrived at the exact time we requested and the snacks came very quickly. The only problem was we never knew exactly what they were going to actually deliver. They would leave out items, add items, forget cups or napkins or silverware. On three mornings they came back a second time (on their own) with the missing cups or food. It became pretty funny. Upon uncovering the dishes one morning we discovered that they delivered enough food to feed a small army. They must have combined our order with 2 or 3 others and delivered it all to us. We had enough fruit to fill an orchard and a platter of Danish and croissants big enough to open our own bakery. They did get the cereal correct. The eight coffee cups should have tipped us off (since there were only 3 of us) but we were still half asleep when it arrived. I would be remiss if I didn't mention the Legends cafe where they serve (for a small charge) specialty coffees and some yummy desserts. I particularly liked the black forest cake. Activities - The assortment of activities on board were fun but I felt there should have been more, especially geared toward adults. Maybe after 10 previous cruises a lot of this stuff is old hat, but at times I was actually a little bored. It felt like they took the activities from a typical 7 day cruise and stretched them into 8 days instead of adding some extras considering all the time we had at sea.. Entertainment - The entertainment was great! From the shows in the Follies lounge to the music in the various other lounges. Whatever your taste in music it seemed there was something for everyone. Fellow passengers - We had a very diverse group of passengers and everyone we talked to was really nice. In our section of the dining room, the dress code seemed to be anything goes. On formal night most men wore suits and some tuxes. But there were quite a few wearing dockers and polo shirts and a few with jeans. On nights designated as "casual elegance" quite a few interpreted that to mean clean jeans. There were a lot of little kids on board, but we hardly noticed them. I wonder where camp Carnival hid them? Some of the older kids were running around the ship and at times were a bit obnoxious. On the last night, around 10:00 PM, as we were packing we heard a series of loud banging/crashing noises outside. We went out on our balcony to see what had happened and it turned out that someone had attempted to throw a lounge chair overboard. It hit several balconies on the way down and came to rest hanging over the rail of the balcony next door to us. Thank goodness nobody was hurt! We called security to report it and we later heard that there was a bunch of drunk teens up on the Lido deck creating a ruckus. It's a shame security couldn't throw them overboard. The ports - We were lazy this time around and booked all our tours through the ship. San Juan - We arrived in the afternoon which limited what we could do. We took the Bacardi Rum Factory tour since we had never done that before. It was actually pretty interesting and of course we bought a few bottles. After bringing the liquor back to the ship, we walked over to Senor Frogs for a few drinks and appetizers. Then it was back to the ship for dinner. St. Thomas - We decided on the St. John island tour, which was basically a trip to Trunk Bay. Trunk Bay was beautiful! Wish we would have had a little more time there. Back on St. Thomas we took a taxi downtown for some shopping and got back on board about an hour before sailing. Tortola - My wife and I took the excursion to Virgin Gorda and the Baths. It was well worth the money! The walk down the path to the beach (and back up) could be an excursion all by itself! The beach is beautiful and the boulders and rock formations are spectacular. We explored "the caves" and also found a nice shady spot on the beach to lay out and relax. My son did the dolphin swim excursion and loved it. A word of advice - the dolphin swim sells out fast. If you want to do this excursion, book it as soon as you get on board. Summary - The ship is beautiful and the itinerary was great and we had a truly wonderful time. The only downside is the subtle differences we felt with Carnival compared to other lines we have sailed. Would I sail on the Carnival Legend (or any Carnival ship) again? It wouldn't be my first choice, but if the itinerary and price were right - yes I would! Read Less
EMBARKING: = A This was incredibly easy. We arrived around 11:30 AM and were on the ship by 12:15 PM. It was a smooth-easy process and the quickest embarkation we have ever experienced. SHIP: = A The ship was absolutely the best thing ... Read More
EMBARKING: = A This was incredibly easy. We arrived around 11:30 AM and were on the ship by 12:15 PM. It was a smooth-easy process and the quickest embarkation we have ever experienced. SHIP: = A The ship was absolutely the best thing about this cruise. We enjoyed most of the perks of sailing on a larger vessel. The miniature golf, basketball court, children's water slide (Yes-It is fixed!) and the Explorer lab kept us busy on the days at sea. On previous cruises we found ourselves bored on the days at sea. This ship simply offers too many choices for anyone to be bored! We had a balcony room on deck 8 and loved the balcony. It was great for sitting and unwinding each night, not to mention the beautiful sunsets we saw each morning while relaxing and drinking our morning coffee (room service). FOOD: = C The food was not very good in my opinion. The choices in the dining room were extremely limited and not really the standard we have enjoyed on previous cruises (through another cruiseline). It wasn't the worst food we have ever had and we certainly did not go hungry. I think all cruiselines have lowered their standards and sadly the "fine dining" has become a thing of the past. We did taste the ranch steak--after hearing so much about it we felt we should try it and see. The verdict was in our group of six only one liked it. He tends to order his meat well done so I think he is just accustomed to tough meat. SERVICE: I will break it up into categories. DINING ROOM: = A The dining room staff were very attentive and friendly. We only ate in the dining room three times (due to the menu selection) but during that time we received wonderful service. WINDJAMMER: = D We ate in the Windjammer frequently and only ONCE was anyone at our table provided with a drink. They clear your table but that is about all the service we received. It would have been nice to have them walking around refilling coffee, water, juice but I guess this simply not done? Since this was our first Royal Caribbean cruise I cannot say if all ships are like this or if it was just our luck of the draw. On our cruises with Carnival drinks were always refilled and it was something I expected from the Windjammer. There was a great deal of staff walking around but they basically cleared the tables. One morning I grabbed a coffee cup and finding it dirty I tried another--and another....15 cups later I finally found a clean one. I brought it to the attention of one of the waiters and he simply shrugged his shoulders and walked away. JOHNNY ROCKETS: = B My husband says the shakes are well worth the $4.00 charge. I never drank them so I cannot offer my opinion. He had a vanilla and chocolate and enjoyed them both. My children loved the chili fries and my husband the double rocket burgers. Myself--onion rings all the way. We had Johnny Rockets 3 times. Twice we ordered to go and once we sat down and ate lunch. The "to go" order was received with-in minutes. We waited around 15 minutes to be seated (the day at sea) when we ate lunch there. It was noon when we had lunch. Around 1-2 PM I would guess the wait time would have been double-- as the long was extremely long. ROOM STEWARD: = D Once again, I find myself comparing to previous cruises and perhaps Royal Caribbean does things different or we just didn't have luck with the people? I expected to find the usual towel animals, mints, etc., in our room each night. It was not to be. My children were quite disappointed. The final 3 days we did receive them but not the first 4? Our room steward had to be asked several times a day to get us a bucket of ice. We even asked where the ice was so we could get it ourselves--he would not tell us and it would take over an hour for him to get it for us. We would have gladly gotten our own since he seemed so put out by the request. This seemed odd to us as we had always received ice each morning on previous cruises. We had two children with us and asked for a second blanket (as we were only given one) it took two days to get the blanket. Other passengers had wonderful room stewards so I believe we just got a room steward whom either hates his job or was having a bad week. Regardless, we had a great cruise in spite of his poor service. PORTS: SAN JUAN: We took the rain forest tour. It was AWESOME! After reading so many mixed reviews I was a bit worried about this tour. Our guide was informative, friendly and just plain fun. The bus was air conditioned and extremely comfortable. The stop at the rest area was simply that- a stop so everyone could stretch their legs and use the restrooms. Yes, there were shops/venders but no-one pressured or even asked us to buy anything. The rain forest itself was very pretty and we had many photo opportunities. We learned a lot about the area and felt it was one of the best tours we have gone on. This was my children's favorite tour. When we returned home my son called his best friend and told him all about the frogs in the rain forest and how cool our guide was. ST. MAARTEN: The guys took the America's Cup sailing Regatta tour and loved it. They said it was an experience of a lifetime and were glad they went on it. The rest of our group took the Explorer cruise & grand island tour. It was an easy relaxing day. We Took a bus to the shopping area and after drinking our rum punch were given time to shop before going on the boat tour. We didn't find anything we absolutely needed to purchase but did enjoy some yummy croissants in one of the open restaurants. If you get the opportunity try the chocolate croissant. Very yummy! The boat tour was informative but slightly boring. The tour guide told us several times that the French and Dutch side live in harmony and peace. Not quite sure why this had to be said so many times? Perhaps she had nothing more to tell us? On the way back we had a different tour guide and she was a bit more informative. We traveled throughout both sides and really got to see how they live. ST THOMAS: We took the Godfrey tour and I highly recommend him. He was outside waiting for us (with a sign with our name on it). We were a half an hour early and he was already waiting for us. He had the chance to take additional passengers and he turned them away stating he did not want to crowd his group. There was a total of 16 people on this tour-he could have easily taken another 4 people if he wanted to crowd everyone onto his vehicle. For this we tipped him even more (as it was so nice to not be crowded on a tour bus? not sure what to call his vehicle). We really enjoyed his tour! He took us to all the major landmarks and stopped for several photo opportunities. He was extremely informative and his knowledge of his area was extensive. We went to Coki beach and found it to be a beautiful clear beach--perfect for snorkeling. A few times (during our shopping time) people came up to us for donations/hair braiding/etc after telling them we were with Godfrey we were left alone. We did purchase the children sharks tooth necklaces and outfits in the shopping area. It was not necessary to bargain with the people as they offered us lower prices than what the items were marked and we felt we were given a fair price on the items we bought. Of all the tours we took this was the best value. At $20.00 per person you cannot go wrong with the Godfrey tour! NASSAU: We took the Blackbeards Cay Beach Break. It was a fun relaxing day. The beach was clear but very few fish to be seen so we really didn't use our snorkel gear. Be warned there is no shade or umbrellas so plan on applying sunscreen several times to avoid getting a sunburn. It is about a 25 minute boat ride to the beach so in reality you are only on the beach for approx. 2 hours. It wasn't too crowded when we arrived (we were on the 12:30 tour) but two more groups arrived just before we left so we were glad we chose the earlier tour as we almost had the beach to ourselves (a much smaller group than what arrived later) It was a great way to end our cruise (ports) by just relaxing on the beach but I am not sure that we would do it again. DEBARKATION: We had white tags and left the ship around 7:30 AM. We were in our vehicle by 7:50 so it was an extremely quick process. Well, That pretty much sums up our cruise. WE HAD A GREAT TIME AND ABSOLUTELY LOVED THE EXPLORER OF THE SEAS SHIP! Read Less
This was our 18th cruise. We have cruised on the Explorer, Adventure, Voyager and now the Navigator. As far as we are concerned, nothing beats the Voyager class ships. Royal Caribbean gives you a week of first class entertainment. After ... Read More
This was our 18th cruise. We have cruised on the Explorer, Adventure, Voyager and now the Navigator. As far as we are concerned, nothing beats the Voyager class ships. Royal Caribbean gives you a week of first class entertainment. After being on the Norwegian Wind in Hawaii last November, this was like moving up from a bus to a limousine. Royal Caribbean and Norwegian used to be close together in service and entertainment but Norwegian has excused themselves from competition with the implementation of "Freestyle Non-Service Cruising". We unfortunately missed the "Cruise Critic Party" because bingo was scheduled at the same time. We won Bingo 4 times during the week, split 1 time- 3 ways, 2 times- 4 ways, and during the final jackpot session, on the lucky 7, split 6 ways after 8 numbers called. With all of those splits, we did not win enough to pay for the bingo we played. We did have fun and that is what counts. We were not aware when we booked this cruise that it was actually a "Crown & Anchor" member cruise. We are at the Platinum level with Royal Caribbean and they went out of their way to make this a week to remember. They provided us several receptions and several nights they had left gifts for us in our cabin. Embarkation: When you hit the Platinum level with Royal Caribbean, you no longer wait in the cattle herd lines. You are taken to nice reception area with chairs and refreshments provided while you check in. Cabin: We had an inside cabin 7369. Typical, small inside cabin which suits our needs because we don't spend enough time in the cabin to take advantage of a balcony. By not wasting money on a balcony we don't use, gives us enough money to take more cruises. Our cabin attendant was Byron. Byron was the best cabin attendant we have had on a cruise. Byron was professional, courteous and demonstrated an unusual level of class. I believe Byron has the potential to move-up to something that suits him better. Byron would make a good manager in a service-related industry. He understands and knows how to provide service. Entertainment: Production shows, ice shows, promenade parades, comedians, jugglers, "Cruise Comics", etc. provided all first class entertainment. You can dance to about any kind of music you like somewhere on the ship. They have from Latin to ballroom and most types in between somewhere on the ship. The only entertainment I was not impressed with was the karaoke in the pub off of the promenade. I just don't enjoy hearing people screech. If you were in the promenade cafe late in the evening, or any where else near the promenade, the volume in the pub was so loud, you could hardy hear yourself think. The screeching would cause the hair on your back to stand-up. I just wish that they had a place this could be done in private so the rest of us would not have to listen to it. Let those who enjoy it enjoy it and spare the rest of us. The exercise facilities are nice. I try to jog at least 3 times during the week and 5 laps on the upper deck will give you a mile. If shade and reading is your thing, I suggest deck 4 promenade. That is a peaceful place to spend time while at sea. We made our usual donations to the slots in the casino. Those machines have an insatiable appetite. We did not spend much time in the casino because the cigarette smoke could choke a mule in that place. This was the only area we had problems with cigarette smoke and we just could not stand it in there. Food: We ate the buffet breakfast in the Windjammer each morning with fresh made omelets, bacon that was actually cooked, fresh fruit &just about anything you would want for breakfast. We had first seating in the dining room at table for 8. We had a group ranging from a newly wed couple to the retired and we had a pleasant time each night in the dining room. The food, service and presentation were outstanding. We did not try Portofino's of Chop's grill so I cannot comment on those restaurants. The Cafe Promenade has an endless supply of sandwiches, cookies, desserts and pizza. It is probably unimaginable of how much ice cream is distributed by the machines in the promenade. You will see people all week long with ice cream cones in hand. If free soft serve ice cream is not your thing, look 40 degrees left and there is a Ben &Jerry's. The midnight buffet by poolside and the gala midnight buffet were both outstanding productions. Eight pounds gained in a week is the proof of the food quality. For booze, we purchased a drink card at one of the bars for $44 (including tip) that prepaid for 12 drinks. It was kind of nice just giving them the card when you ordered a drink. There are some limitations so be sure this suits your drink needs. It won't cover the special drinks, draft or foreign beer, or name brands. If you like margarita's, pina colada's, whiskey sours, domestic beer, etc. the card is a good choice. Cruise Director: I believe Royal Caribbean will have a hard time replacing Jeffery Arpin as cruise director, he is a good showman and that is what that job demands. He retired at the end of this cruise. He will be back for some fill-in work later on. Jeff received a well-deserved standing ovation at the farewell show. You could see tears in his eyes as he left the stage. Ports-of-Call: We were on the eastern route consisting of Nassau, Bahamas, St. Thomas, San Juan, and Labadee. Labadee is a premier beach day area, if you like spending time at beach, you will enjoy Labadee. St. Thomas is for shopping. We just briefly got off the ship in Nassau and San Juan. Both are nice ports to visit. Summary: There is so much to do on the Voyager class ships; you really do not need to leave the ship. As stated earlier, this is our 4th Voyager Class ship and we have not had time yet to get to Johnny Rockets, play miniature golf, even see the in-line skating area or see the rock climbing wall up close. There are trivia games, dance lessons, cooking demonstrations, bingo, napkin folding, the spa., etc, etc. There is just more to do than you can possibly accomplish in a week. You can do as much or as little as you want to do without ever leaving the ship. My wife is kind of disappointed now, we are back home and her nightly entertainment is back to me snoring in the recliner. Royal Caribbean stays at the top of our list. Read Less
Where to begin, From the point of embarkation until we arrived in New York 8 days later, my journey aboard the Carnival Legend was a moment in time that VISA would call, "priceless". The staff so energetic, polite, and vibrant ... Read More
Where to begin, From the point of embarkation until we arrived in New York 8 days later, my journey aboard the Carnival Legend was a moment in time that VISA would call, "priceless". The staff so energetic, polite, and vibrant which makes you feel 8 days of bliss is just to say the least. I have never experienced hospitality like it was on the Carnival Legend, even in five star hotels! Entertainment was second to none. Starting from the cruise director Christopher Jefferson, to the Wait staff Alex and Louise from Romania whose abilities are outstanding and gave impeccable service, with such vibrant personalities, right down to the stateroom-stewards who made the walk back to the cabin from the late seating in the Truffles Dining Room filled with curiosity! And, of course Dining...Dining aboard The Legend, well words do little justice for such an exquisite cuisine that just makes my mouth water thinking about it! The nightlife is one of the best I have encountered, yet not overpowering the ship, which brings no inconvenience at all to others. "Grazie Claudio per un viaggio pieno di sogni!" I guess all I have to say is "Thank you all on the Carnival Legend for making 8 days of my life memorable for the rest of my life!!!!!" Sincerely a Carnival Cruiser for life, Giuseppe Graziano Read Less
If you cruise with your children or are someone who has cruised before who is considering taking your kids on a cruise and you are considering DCL, PLEASE do yourself a favor and read this before making a decision. I must warn you folks ... Read More
If you cruise with your children or are someone who has cruised before who is considering taking your kids on a cruise and you are considering DCL, PLEASE do yourself a favor and read this before making a decision. I must warn you folks this review be lengthy..... I recently returned from a 7 day voyage on the Disney Magic (sailing 9/18). This was my 9th cruise on my 6th cruise line so I have a pretty good idea of what is out there as far as cruising products go and also what I like (and don't). Since I have cruised on Celebrity more than any other cruise line (and thus far like them best) my thoughts on my DCL trip are based on a comparison of how they measure up (or don't) to Celebrity. In a nutshell, I felt that as a Disney experience this rated about a 3 (on a scale of 5) and as a cruise it rated a 2. And honestly, that opinion has nothing to do with Hurricane Jeanne. First let's start with what we liked. The cabin was perfect. For two adults and one child, our cabin was the perfect size. We booked an outside stateroom guarantee and were upgraded to a verandah cabin so we were fairly pleased with that. There was more storage and drawer space in this cabin than any other stateroom I have ever seen - including a suite on Celebrity. I liked the concept of the split bath (toilet and sink in one bathroom, tub and sink in another), however in practice, the toilet room was quite small and sometimes hard to maneuver especially if in a gown while making one last bathroom break on formal night. The shows: Hercules was probably the best show I have ever seen at sea, the Golden Mickey's was close behind. Lots of folks had raved about Disney Dreams - maybe it was too hyped up for me but I was pretty much underwhelmed by that particular show. Now on to the things I didn't like.... The layout of the ship: On a ship with 2700 people where every third person is pushing a stroller of some sort, it makes no sense to me to only be able to traverse the length of the ship on ONE side! On decks 3, 4 and 5, what I would call the "main" decks, that contain the dining rooms, the lounges, shops, theaters etc - one can only travel from the fore to the aft of the ship on the port side. There are no walkways to be found starboard. The walkways that are available on the port side are only maybe two or three people wide so if you are walking with your partner and another couple is coming from the opposite direction, the two couples must then walk single file in order to pass one another. And on deck 4, between mid ship and aft is the photo gallery which at various times during the cruise would be closed completely - meaning that on deck 4 you could NOT get to the aft of the ship - you had to back track to a stairwell and go either down to 3 or up to 5. More on the layout: I found the Lido/buffet area to be entirely too small for the number of people on this ship. There were 4 buffet lines up on deck nine and I would be surprised if there were 20 tables set up indoors for people to get out of the sun and heat and enjoy lunch - plenty of tables outside, but not nearly enough inside for the number of people on the ship. They did also serve buffet lunch on deck 3 in their Parrot Cay restaurant but if you and your family are enjoying a sea day in the pools, hiking 6 flights of stairs down to lunch is not really practical. The stairs, or more accurately the elevators. Very very very very slow. Not sure if it is due to the number of people maneuvering strollers in and out of them or what but the main theme of this cruise was pressing the button for the elevator, waiting 10 minutes then finally saying "screw it - let's just take the stairs". The tag in the elevators claims to hold 12 people. This may be true, if the 12 people are all under the age of 5. IMHO, these elevators hold 4, possibly 5 adults comfortably, as in, you are not concerned about stepping on anyone's toes or if you applied enough deodorant that day. The pools on DCL, unlike other cruise ships I have sailed, are fresh water. They are not however chlorinated, judging by the lack of visibility in the water. Unsure what method they employ (or don't) to keep their pools clean but what ever it is they need to consider another option because they were fairly dirty with very cloudy water most of the trip. The Mickey pool is certainly not big enough for the number of kids on this ship and even when not overcrowded you STILL couldn't see Mickey's face at the bottom because the water was so cloudy. The Goofy pool same thing only larger kids. The "Quiet" Cove adult pool? Hardly! While not crowded really it is located RIGHT BENEATH the ship's horn! So that means every day at noon, the adults trying to enjoy a QUIET relaxing sea day by the adults only pool get their ear drums ruptured by When You Wish Upon a Star! Quiet - yeah right. More on pools - or lack of. No Spa Pool! My husband and I completely enjoy the thalassotherapy pools on Celebrity and were disappointed to not find one or something similar on DCL. Also, the spa treatments did not really appeal to us, not a large variety and their prices seemed higher than other cruise lines...After a full summer with Hannah home with me all day everyday, I was looking forward to getting pampered in the spa and having a bit of respite and relaxation for me and didn't feel I would be getting a good value for my money and I would be better off getting my spa treatments on land. Ahhh......relaxation for Mommy. Let's talk about the children's activities. To say I was disappointed in the activities on DCL is a huge understatement. Five year old Hannah's first cruise was September 2003 on the Celebrity Galaxy. A 10 day Western Caribbean cruise out of Baltimore. Everyday on the Galaxy she woke up BEGGING to go to the kids club. When we picked her up at noon for lunch and a little nap, she could not wait to return. Every evening we asked her if she wanted to eat with Mommy and Daddy in the fancy restaurant or if she wanted to eat in kids club and every single night kids club beat out Mommy and Daddy - which was actually kind of nice because that means every night I got a nice quiet, romantic meal with my husband. Hannah never asked to go the kids club on DCL and often did not want to stay very long once there. One nice option on DCL was that every parent who registered their child for the programs received a pager. If Hannah wanted to leave the kids club she just let a counselor know and they would send us a text message. She wanted to be picked up, a lot. And honestly, I can't really blame her. It seemed like every time we went to get her the kids were all lined up in front of a giant TV screen watching a movie! Maybe my expectations were too high for the DCL kids club. Based on their advertising and the fact everyone gives them 4 or 5 stars in their reviews AND the fact they don't have to pay licensing fees, I figured the Disney Characters would be an integral part of the kids club activities. Maybe a Princess Story Hour where each day a different Princess comes in a reads her story to the children or leads them in a craft related to their story. Or have Goofy do some "Olympics" type games. Or at least have Captain Hook run the How to Be a Pirate activity. In order for Hannah to have any kind of character interaction I had to stop what I was doing, go retrieve her from the kids club and wait in line to see a character often for 20 minutes or more. The character appearances, IMHO were more about the photographers taking pictures for people to buy than about children having a once in a lifetime moment with their favorites. As far as the more traditional aspects of cruising go, food and service, I was also completely unimpressed and downright displeased with most of it. I have decided I do not like the policy of only having my stateroom tended twice a day, morning and night. I like on X how if I leave my room for five minutes someone has gone in and re-hung towels, replenished water and ice, etc. It took us a total of FIVE phone calls our first day on DCL to establish that we wanted water and ice in our stateroom all day every day. Apparently our room steward can only handle ice and not a pitcher of water as well, that must come from room service. And then once we established with room service to just bring the ice water every day they wouldn't stop bringing it - even at 11 o'clock at night with the Privacy Please sign on our door. Why even have these signs if they are ignored? On DCL, as on HAL, I am not sure I could pick my room steward out of a police line up. He/she (not even sure which it was) never took a moment to introduce themself to us and let us know they would be taking care of us and if we needed anything to call. If you want to receive above the suggested tip amount then spend less time making towel animals and more time making sure I know at least what you look like! Our service in the dining room was very good and in line with what I expect to receive on a cruise ship however the food very much was not. Breakfast was fine and dandy and lunch was okay. Dinner, except for the specialty restaurant, was disappointing. When I dine on a cruise ship, I have to come to expect a meal that I would normally pay around $100-$150 per couple on land. A Ruth's Chris experience if you will. The choices were unimaginative and poorly prepared. I loathe the rotating dining concept. The only restaurant who's dEcor was even close to being what I expect on a cruise was Lumiere's. Parrot Cay was like eating in a Bahama Breeze's or tropical themed Outback Steakhouse. The light show in Animators Palate? Please spend more time and money on the cuisine and less on this "show". In all three restaurants, my rear was treated to vinyl seats. I understand the number of young children who may spill food or not control their bladders but when I am wearing a silk formal gown, I would prefer to sit someplace that does NOT make my butt sweat! Palo's - now THIS was more like it! We were able to dine there on two separate nights and both were heavenly. The first night I had a rack of lamb that was so good I ate it very slowly because I did not want the meal to end! I am unsure why this level of cuisine is reserved only for the specialty restaurant. Can't you just make Palo's executive chef in charge of everything else too so I can have more than 2 nights of wonderful dining?!?!? I missed afternoon tea. We did not attend tea at Palo's and I am sorry to have missed it, it may have been more like what I expect. We did wait on line the first day to get tickets for Tea with Wendy Darling. I am not sure I can put into words what a complete waste of time this event was. The "tea" was cold, as in iced tea. And rather than little cucumber sandwiches and proscuitto (sp?) wrapped melon balls and other tea like foods I have come to expect from Celebrity and even the Royal Dutch tea on HAL there was a plate with 3 or 4 overcooked, unflavorful chocolate chip cookies. Again this event was about the ship's photo crew taking pictures for you to purchase. As mentioned, our cruise was affected by Hurricane Jeanne. We hit 8-13 ft seas and even though our cabin was great in size it was horrible for noise, as we tossed and turned with the seas our room creaked so much I was afraid it was going to come apart at the seams! On Thursday the Captain announced we would not be calling on Castaway Cay on Friday due to Jeanne's proximity to the Bahamas. I was mildly disappointed, but it is what it is, this was not something that could be controlled by anyone on earth. By Friday afternoon the Captain announced that Port Canaveral would be closing at midnight that night and we would be disembarking the ship around 10:30 pm that night. DCL provided lodging for all passengers at the Walt Disney World Dolphin and Swan resorts and provided bus transportation to WDW and breakfast Saturday morning. DCL has offered us 50% off of our next voyage which I find generous considering we paid for, and received, 7 nights of lodging and food. It just so happens the final nights lodging was at the Dolphin (in a Sweet Sleeper bed - BONUS!) I understand and appreciate the need to get us off the ship so they could put back out to sea for the safety of the crew and the vessel BUT, I am unsure if disembarking a ship full of young children, toddlers and infants at 11:00pm was the best idea. It was 2 am before we got into bed that evening and a good portion of the children on board we poorly behaved even with a full 8 hours of sleep! I am unsure if we will take DCL up on their offer for 50% off our next cruise. Even at half price I feel it may be too high. Maybe a 3 night to get to see Castaway Cay. But honestly for my money, if we want to give Hannah a Disney experience we will take her to the parks for a week and if we want to go on a cruise, we will go on a real cruise line that we know will meet or exceed our expectations Read Less
Sail Date: January 2000
We sailed on the Jan 1st voyage of the Norwegian Jewel. The ship is a gem, but in need of polishing. The boat is beautiful. Bright, large and what you would expect from a new ship. Our room, a mini suite with a balcony was spacious, and ... Read More
We sailed on the Jan 1st voyage of the Norwegian Jewel. The ship is a gem, but in need of polishing. The boat is beautiful. Bright, large and what you would expect from a new ship. Our room, a mini suite with a balcony was spacious, and contained more than enough storage for my family of four to stow belongings - with room to spare. The Jewel was the first experience we had with Freestyle cruising. In fact, the Freestyle concept is what led us to try NCL. With two children (ages 11 & 7), we thought the freestyle dining would provide us with additional flexibility. It really wasn't the case. While you get to pick and choose where you dine each night, it is extremely important to do homework in advance to know where you'd like to dine, and then make sure you book reservations that first day to ensure you get a time to your liking. While the main dining hall is always available, the 'better' restaurants book up fast. It's not early versus late seating options, but you do find yourself locked into a set of times. A big downfall to Freestyle cruising is the service. You no longer have the same wait staff for every meal. Each meal a new set of faces. We really missed the pampering: having our waiter know this one prefers chocolate milk, that one white and I drink lots of coffee without ever having to ask (beyond that first day). With Freestyle, it's more like dining at any basic restaurant at home - basic service. On past cruises we often received great tips from our waiters on what to do and where to go. That rapport never surfaced with the Jewel. And on the subject of food, we're not sure but suspect all the dining comes from a central kitchen. Feeding thousands is a big task, so don't expect gourmet dining. Basic at best. I do give thumbs up to the Cooking Lite menu available in the main dining room. Breakfast especially, was very tasty. Great flavor and not your average items. Thumbs down to charging for the 'specialty' restaurants. If you're going to charge, offer above and beyond. We dined at the steakhouse one night. My husband's steak was average. My salmon tasted just like the one I had two nights before. For $10 extra per person, we expected more - much more. On a cruise with Disney, we dined in its Palo restaurant. There we felt the extra fee well worth it as the restaurant had its own kitchen, and the food could compete with the best restaurants we had at home. An experience rather than another meal! Positives on the Jewel: our stewards for the cruise were wonderful. Like your traditional cruise, they remained the same. A request for an extra padding for the pull-out couch (my daughters complained it was too hard) appeared night two along with an extra blanket. They learned quickly we were early risers (and our youngest not an night owl) and had the clean up/ turn down cycle timed perfectly to match us. Also kudos to the kids club. Both of my children loved it. The activities age appropriate, and the staff terrific. If I had a request it would be for some type of pager system - especially for the younger kids. At check in you provided a location you planned to be in, but what happens if there's an emergency and you've decided to visit the casino rather than the dance floor? Overall our experience wasn't bad. We were able to enjoy the sun, had fun and relax. A jewel in the making, but polish needed. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2000
We have cruised 5 times 4 of which were on Carnival . We gave Royal Caribbean a try this time. We stayed at the Raddisson Miami May 29th, it seemed when we said we were with Royal Caribbean we were treated poorly. We were promised a sleep ... Read More
We have cruised 5 times 4 of which were on Carnival . We gave Royal Caribbean a try this time. We stayed at the Raddisson Miami May 29th, it seemed when we said we were with Royal Caribbean we were treated poorly. We were promised a sleep number bed and never got one, the wallpaper was falling off the walls, no smoke alarm and the carpet smelled like the toilet overflowed and was never cleaned up. We consulted the manager and was told that was the room Royal caribbean booked for us. The Explorer of the Seas is a beautiful ship embarkation didn't take long at all and went smoothly. The activities were all good, the parades and ice skating show were wonderful. Our balcony room was worn and soiled. They were in the middle of renovations with the rooms so hopefully this will be corrected. The room steward was always around and left his cart in the hall. The fold down bed never was completely made. One sheet thrown over the fold down couch. Carnival's stewards came and went without seeing them and we always had clean well stocked rooms. Soft fold down beds. No bathrobes either that are standard w Carnival. The swim towels were only worn towels and not very big. The shore excursion we choose in St. Maarten was the 4x4 jeep and was a lot of fun, the BOB underwater excursion in St. Thomas is not to be missed, San Juan city/rum factory tour was good too. They let us off the bus to shop also in old San Juan. Bahamas we did the Breezes day, Not really worth the money we didn't leave until 1 only had 3 hours and was very crowded. On Carnival you were given a meeting room to meet for tours then got off the ship together. Royal caribbean just lets you off and you must find a small 5x7 sign to meet the tour. Many people were angry. totally disorganized. Dining was not what we were used to with Carnival we had to wait up to 10 min between courses. My son asked for milk with dinner every nite only got it the first night. It seemed too much trouble. The cocktail waiter never came by and the photographers never showed either. The grand buffet where they really fix up food was a big disappointment. Carnival's is so much better. We booked an after cruise excursion because our flight was at 4pm. we were told this would take up the time after disembarkation before the plane. Big mistake we had to get off the ship at 7a and there was no food available room service or dining room before then. The excursion was over at noon. We sat at the airport 4 hours. Carnival does things differently, more parties more organization and better service. Being a seasoned traveler it could be just in the wrong place at the wrong time. But I think we will stick with Carnival. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2000
My family and I just got back from our 7 night cruise on CostaMagica. It was an amazing experience!!! After reading so many mixed reviews, we were afraid of what to expect. The ship was very spacious and we did not experience the long ... Read More
My family and I just got back from our 7 night cruise on CostaMagica. It was an amazing experience!!! After reading so many mixed reviews, we were afraid of what to expect. The ship was very spacious and we did not experience the long lines or rudeness of the Europeans. For the contrary, people were very nice and just relaxed. The atmosphere was friendly and once again just very relaxed. The crew members were very attentive to the needs of everyone. If you are looking for a ship with rock climbing walls or other things to that matter, this is not for you. But there was plenty to do. The children in our group were very entertained at the squok club. They had various activities and were very good with the kids. Anyway, I am not much of a writer, but felt the need to give this cruise its justice. It is great, and I would book it again. The only thing I would really recommend is that you make sure they list everyone in our party to the credit card in the begriming of the cruise. The Costa cashless system works great, but at the time of paying your bill you may have problems as we did. The cruise line did not list our 16 year old daughter on our credit card, when we went to pay at the last day, they would not take the same card (which we did not have another one), so we had to pay cash or sign a promissory note with a 12% rate. That was the only major problem we found with this cruise. I highly recommend it. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2000
General Information -- The following is a detailed account of our cruise on the Zuiderdam from May 14-21, 2005. We are two professionals in our early 50's who are on our fourth cruise in only 24 months. Our first three trips took ... Read More
General Information -- The following is a detailed account of our cruise on the Zuiderdam from May 14-21, 2005. We are two professionals in our early 50's who are on our fourth cruise in only 24 months. Our first three trips took place on Princess ships to Alaska, Western Caribbean, and the Panama Canal. We found both positive and negative points on the Zuiderdam and will point them out in this review. The Zuiderdam is a large beautiful ship built in 2002. The interior color scheme is very unusual with oranges, blues and purples galore. These colors and the shape of the ceilings reminded us of the set using for the cartoon show, the Jetsons. There are a lot of nooks and crannies so we got the feeling we were almost alone on the ship. The atrium seemed smaller than on previous ships we had been on and did not go from the top to the bottom of the ship. There was an abundance of elevators - four each in the bow and aft and six in the center. Four of these center elevators were glass-enclosed and allowed us to see outside the ship as we traveled vertically. Very seldom did we have to wait long to use one of these elevators. Signage was also strategically placed to help us find our bearings. We did find some unusual artwork scattered throughout the ship. Embarkment -- We flew into Fort Lauderdale the day before and stayed at our favorite motel in Dania, the Sleep Inn. This motel provides free transportation to and from the airport and the ship port. They also have good rates, an excellent breakfast and there is a Walgreen's and Publix store across the street for all the last minute items we needed (like pop and water). There is also a mom and pop-style Italian restaurant across the street with excellent garlic rolls and ice cream desserts. We took the hotel shuttle to the ship port at 10:00 on Saturday and were in line by 10:30. The porters try to get us to tip them, but there is a sign on the building stating that the porters were salaried and that tipping is not necessary. The ticket process started at 11:00 and 30 minutes later we were on board. Because we could not get into our stateroom until 1:30, we ate lunch on the Lido deck, took a short orientation walk and then ended up on the Crows' Nest where we rested in some nice captains chairs. There is also a facility onboard we could have stored our hand-carried luggage if we wanted until we got into our cabin. At 1:30, we were allowed to go to the cabin, but the luggage did not arrive until 4:30. We almost missed the muster drill because there was no announcement on the TV to go directly to our station. After 10 minutes of silence on our desk, we hurried down to our station and got our life jackets on. We came back to unpack our belongings and to participate in our Cruise Critic bon voyage party. Cabin and Surroundings -- We were in cabin SS 6064 which was on the port side of the ship between the bow and mid-point. This room was much larger than the mini-suite we had on a Princess ship. It included a queen-size bed, television, DVD player, vanity table, lots of closet space, a safe, and room to put the empty luggage under the bed. The bathroom too was spacious having a tub, a shower, and two sinks. We didn't feel like being in an MRI tube to shower like we had on previous trips. We loved the Royal Dutch soap and shampoo that was provided. The verandah was spacious as it contained two lounge chairs and a small table as well as another large eating table and two upright chairs. We opened the divider between the other cabins next to us (all Cruise Critic members) and had a six-cabin open veranda. Our cabin steward from Indonesia was called Harry and he kept our room in spotless shape. Walking down the hallway to our cabin was a chore. It seems that the "Z" is the first Vista ship to be built and they used poured concrete for the floors. This concrete is now breaking up and makes walking on it difficult (especially with high heels). HAL really needs to tear up the carpeting, patch up the cement and replace it with new carpeting. Perhaps they will perform this task at their next dry-dock. Food -- In general, the "lack of refrigeration" became the key phrase for the cruise. The ship was without a major refrigerator which malfunctioned most of the week and we were without ice cream, whole eggs and a lot of other foods. One official told us that over $250,000 worth of food was lost because of this problem. HAL brought in several portable refrigerators in St. Thomas and hopefully, got the problem fixed by the time the next cruise began. We went to the upscale Pinnacle restaurant on the first night (the price is reduced from $20 to $10 per person that evening). There were multiple courses, the food was tasty, and the service was superb. In fact it really spoils you for the rest of the cruise. We had filet minion and rib eye steaks for the main course, both made from the finest cuts of beef. We both favored the crème brulee over their famous chocolate volcano cake. Eating here is an experience all cruisers must indulge in at least once. Our breakfasts and lunches were all eaten at the buffet on the Lido deck. Instead of a long straight line like on the Princess ships, there were various stations which open and close at different times of the day. There were stations for Italian food, a bistro, express food, salad bar, etc. Also, instead of serving yourself, the food was dished out by the staff members. Tea and coffee was served with every meal as well as fresh squeezed orange juice in the morning and lemonade in the afternoon. A similar but limited meal found in the main dining room was provided for evening diners on the Lido deck. One afternoon, there were chocolate dipped strawberries available as well as giant prawns which we thoroughly enjoyed. During the afternoon upon arriving from a short excursion, we would go to the Lido deck and get something to eat to hold us over until dinner. However, sometimes we were disappointed as the desserts were not made by hand. This was verified by guests who told us the saw the cakes and pies bring taken out of store-brand boxes. I personally don't think the chefs onboard actually baked any desserts while we were there. We ate our evening meals in the Vista Dining Room. There are four different times scheduled and we were at the 6:15 setting on the lower level. We sat at a table with four ladies - a retired WWII nurse and her daughter and another nurse with her 93-year old aunt. With my wife being a nurse, you know what we talked about! The food in the Vista was tasty and we were able to sample a variety of different foods. We particularly liked the appetizers and cold soups and had several of each per meal. However, some of the desserts were not so appealing. The last night we had the signature dish - Baked Alaska as the ship brought onboard new ice cream that day when docked at Nassau. Another night we had lobster tales and I had read you needed to order at least two of them, which we did. Being from Kansas City, we like our barbecue. However, we found the food at the ship's barbecue was unappetizing. In fact, it tasted similar to the food served at lunch at Half Moon Cay. We did like the hamburgers and brats at the grill next to the pool area and ate there several times. Overall, we felt the food on the Princess ships was more tasty, there was more variety, and the presentation was better than on the Zuiderdam. But at least we were able to go a week without having to prepare meals and do the dishes, so that was a plus. Entertainment -- The nightly entertainment onboard ship was excellent. There was a female comedian Julie Barr who performed several nights, along with singer Alfreda Gerald, and James Cielen an illusionist. We really enjoyed the tricks Mr. Cielen performed and he used several animals in his act (including a white poodle). Several days earlier while on the fourth deck, we came across a white poodle prancing down the hall and it confused us. We knew there was a rule that no animals were allowed onboard and here there was a poodle in front of us. It didn't look like a seeing-eye dog and it wasn't until it was brought out during the show that it was the same poodle we had seen earlier. We also enjoyed the two shows done by the ship's professional dancers - one on the 50's and 60's and the other doing show tunes. Unfortunately, this is the last week these dancers were to perform on our ship. Ship Activities -- There were many activities onboard the ship each day for us to partake. We walked around the deck of the ship the mornings we did not have any shore excursions. It takes three complete laps for a mile and this is done on Deck 3. Beware that the decks can be wet and slippery and the winds could make your jogging/walking a real task. We did not use either the gym or the spa on this voyage. We visited the library and found a poor selection of books. Being a university library director, Ray scanned the titles and found very few current books available. Also, seldom was there a staff member available to assist us with accessing the collection. The ship photographers snapped our pictures at every port, formal dining room seating, etc. and then tried to sell us the pictures. We didn't like any of the poses so did not purchase any prints. Another activity we did not try on this cruise was to use the Internet. To do E-mail, it costs 50 cents a minute (slightly cheaper if you buy blocks of time), whereas it is only 35 cents a minute on the Princess ships. We believe HAL should reduce the rate for this service. We watched television programs in our cabin and enjoyed the selection provided by HAL. We enjoyed both the views from the bow and aft of the ship but did not care for the accompanied music selection. There were several movie channels, CNN international, and ESPN sports (usually soccer which we liked). We spent time attending the two art auctions and won several prints which we had framed and sent home. The auction included artists not shown on Princess ships and was performed in a slightly different manner. We brought our laptop computer onboard ship and took hundreds of photographs with our digital cameras. Then at night, we would download these pictures onto the computer and then make a backup onto CD's. We ended up with almost 1,000 pictures showing all aspects of our trip and some of these will end up on our Web page on the Internet. We also brought along a small stuffed Garfield cat and took many pictures of him around the ship. These photos will be developed into a cruise album starring "Garfield the Cat Taking a Cruise". Daily Activities -- For the most part, the weather was overcast and we had some rain throughout the week. The waves were also somewhat choppy while traveling to and from the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. The following is a sampling of what we did on our excursions: Half Moon Cay - We tendered over to HAL's private island about 9 a.m. and walked around the island. There were lockers on the island, but the majority of them were broken, so we ended up carrying our equipment with us all day. After cooling off in the shade for awhile, we ate their barbecue lunch and then snorkeled at the left side of the island near the children's area. We found that the hut above the rocks to be a great place to put our gear while we snorkeled as it was cool and not crowded. We had brought some small bits of dog food with us and that brought the fish in where we could take some photographs. About 2:30 p.m., we then tendered back to the ship. The water here was cooler than the other ports and there were not as many fish as we had hoped to see. It was a relaxing day and helped us prepare for the rest of the trip. Tortola - We had booked a catamaran/snorkeling cruise through Patouche and was their guests from 9 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. We got on a 49 foot catamaran with 10 other vacationers and sailed to Virgin Gorda where the famed Rocks are located. We walked through the rocks, snorkeled some in the area and then went to Cooper Island for some more snorkeling. They feed us onboard the ship, provided drinks, gave us a history of the region; all for only $90 per person. The weather was overcast and that kept the temperature down some and helped us not to burn so much. We highly recommend this tour. St. Thomas - We took a taxi to Coral World and Coki Beach ($7 per person) and received a $3 off coupon to Coral World from the cab driver. We rented a locker at Coral World for $3 and put our snorkeling gear in it and toured the facilities. There is a large sphere which allowed us to look into the outside coral reefs and see all the fish. There were also several other buildings with various marine life and a nature trail with larger animals. Special pools housed turtles, stingrays and there were iguana all around. One special treat we did was to pet a nurse shark. We then changed into our snorkeling gear and walked several hundred yards to Coki Beach. There were thousands of fish along the coral reef and they all loved my dog food pellets we provided. After snorkeling, we stopped at Havensight Shopping Mall and walked to the Kmart store (10 minutes away). However, we did not take the gondola up to Paradise Point as the cost was $16 each and the sky was overcast and you could not get a very good view. Nassau -We packed our luggage in the morning and watched as we sailed into Nassau around noon. There was a Disney ship, Carnival ship and the Norwegian Dawn which recently was hit with a huge wave. We walked around the town, visited the busy Straw Market, climbed the 66 steps of the Queen's Steps and visited the fort nearby. We could see the huge Atlantis Hotel on Paradise Island but did not have time to see her. Our opinion of Nassau was that it was a noisy, busy city and we did not feel very comfortable there. Cruise Critic -- One of the best features of this cruise was being involved with other members of Cruise Critic. We had a roll call of over 30 cruisers and have posted 600-plus messages. We talked about our trip for months and helped each other get ready for the voyage. There were cruisers from Washington DC, California, Louisiana, Florida, Boston, New Jersey, Kansas, and even New Zealand. There were even six groups who had cabins next to each other (we had Cruise Critic people from Washington DC and New Zealand on the two sides of us) and we opened up the verandah between our cabins and made one extremely long balcony. We invited Mr. James Deering, Hotel Manager for the "Z" to attend our bon voyage party and he spent over 30 minutes getting to know each and every Cruise Critic member. He took down our names, gave us his card in case we needed anything, and provided us tips on how to enjoy our tour. Mr. Deering also invited us to a reception with Mr. John Scott, the ship's captain. We found Mr. Scott to be very friendly and he took pictures will all of us. Our group has corresponded since our return and we are sure this will continue for many months to come. I highly recommend joining a Cruise Critic roll call and carry it through to the end of the cruise. Do's and Don'ts -- 1. Bring an extension cord with you. There are only two outlets: one in the cabin and one in the bathroom. If you have any technical equipment that needs charging up, you will need this cord to handle your needs. 2. Go to the bow of the ship for great photographs. If you walk to the front of deck four, there are two separate entrances to the bow. Photographs can be taken there without any Plexiglas barriers. Beware; it can be windy out there. 3. On surf and turf night in at dinner, orders at least two lobster tales - one is not enough. 4. Read the crisecritic.com religiously before you consider a cruise and before the cruise begins. We read it at least once a week all year round. 5. After lunch on the first day, go up to the Crows Nest where it is air conditioned, the scenery is great and the captains chairs are comfortable. We almost fell asleep before they called us to our cabins at 1:30 p.m. 6. Don't let taxi drivers try to sell your tours you don't want. Ask for the price of a specific location before you get out, have the exact change ready when you get to your destination, and say no for an extended rides (unless you want to). 7. There are no self-service laundry services available on the ship. Either you bring enough clothes to wear for the week (we did!) or you pay to have the ship's personnel do it for you. Disembarkment -- We arrived in port at 6:30 a.m. and docked a half hour later. After breakfast, we went up to our cabin for some final packing and waited until our number was called (which was the final group at 9:45 a.m.) All of our packed luggage had been placed in our hallway before 1 a.m. the night before and had been taken to the hull of the ship. I liked the idea of being able to stay in our room rather than the hallways, especially if you have to wait for over an hour. Getting off the ship with our luggage went smoothly and took less than 15 minutes. We took a cab to the airport which is only a $10 fare. We had until 5:30 p.m. for our plane to take off so had looked for possible shore excursions to fill up time. The one we wanted was cancelled and the other was over $70, so we decided to spend our time in the airport. We just camped out and visited with our Cruise Critic friends and made some new friends also just off their cruises. We discovered that there is a Chili's sit-down restaurant in Terminal 3 (as well as take-out) and storage space ($5 per bag) where you can leave your luggage. Finally, our plane took off in the middle of a torrential rainstorm. We visited Atlanta and then got home by 10 p.m. in Kansas City. Overall, we enjoyed our cruise on the "Z" and will go cruising again soon. It was a great vacation, with some nice scenery, great friends, and a new appreciation for the Eastern Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2000
Instead of re-iterating what has been said before in other reviews, I hope to bring a new perspective to the Explorer of the Seas experience. I hope you enjoy. This was the first time my husband and I cruised with my parents. It was the ... Read More
Instead of re-iterating what has been said before in other reviews, I hope to bring a new perspective to the Explorer of the Seas experience. I hope you enjoy. This was the first time my husband and I cruised with my parents. It was the second for my Mom (Song of America) and the first for my Dad. We both booked Category I guarantee cabins 7 months in advance, and were delighted to find out that we had been upgraded - we were assigned a category E family stateroom and my parents had a category F larger outside. CABINS There have been many questions concerning these 2 stateroom categories on the various message boards, and I hope to shed some light. The Category F stateroom is 211 square feet, making it larger than a category D balcony cabin (DA-DB = 173 ft2; D1-D9 = 188 ft2). The room was very spacious, there was plenty of closet, drawer and storage space, as well as a fold out sofa bed. There was one very large round window, keeping the room sunny during the days. As is found in all Explorer staterooms, there was a safe, hairdryer, 19" interactive television and mini-bar. The standard sized bathroom was very well designed, with even more storage space behind the side mirrors. The now famous clam-shell shower doors really were incredible compared to the old, invasive shower curtain. Our category E family stateroom was 265 square feet, and is designed to sleep up to six people. The room itself has one king/queen sized bed, a fold-out sofa bed, and a side "room" with a bunkbed. There was also a curtain to separate the bed from the sofa which we left open. There was certainly no lack of storage space in this stateroom - there were 3 good sized closets, one with closet organizers, plenty of drawer space, additional storage behind a few mirrors, as well as wood cabinets. We kept on finding more storage space! There were also 2 sofa chairs with matching ottomans, which opened up for, you guessed it, additional storage. Our room was in the very front of the ship, overlooking the bow through two 2 large windows. It was great when pulling into port. With respect to motion, we felt no more movement than if we were standing in the center of the ship. SOLARIUM / POOL / SHIPSHAPE CENTER The Solarium was magnificent. You could see that RCI paid attention to detail here. The theme of Spanish Matadors was evident from the huge sculpture of a bull down to the exquisite tiling on the floor. Instead of just a ladder, the salt water pool had majestic steps to guide you in, and there were fountains of water spraying into the pool every 30 seconds or so. The lounge chairs were padded and very comfortable. This area is adults only, and the staff made sure that this rule was obeyed. We found the Solarium pool was a great place to relax, read a book, and take it easy. There were also 2 quite large whirlpools on either side of the pool. The polar opposite of the peaceful serenity of the Solarium is found at the Main Pool area! There are 2 oversized pools, 4 or 5 whirlpools, a mist station that sprays cool mist on you at the press of a button, and plenty of deck chairs. As to be expected, there were many children in the pool area, and they all seemed to be having a wonderful time. Of course, what Caribbean cruise is complete without a reggae band, and the one on Explorer played all the classics. The cruise staff also conducted pool games here, including Mr Sexy Legs (which is hysterical - definitely NOT to be missed!), 70's line dancing and horse racing. We didn't mind if we did not find a lounge chair right next to the pool... it was pretty noisy, and we had a great view of the sea from one deck higher. Ultimately, we were happy wherever we settled. For any fitness buffs out there, the Shipshape Center will not disappoint. At home, I work out at least 3 times a week so a good gym is a necessity for me. In addition to being esthetically pleasing, the gym on Explorer of the Seas was fully loaded, complete with dozens of cross trainers, stairmasters, treadmills and stationary bicycles. They also had a large variety of free weights, as well as traditional exercise weight machines. While on the cardio equipment, you have the choice of either looking out to the sea, or watching the overhead televisions. The machines are equipped with personal earphones jacks (you need to ask the staff for the earphones), so that only those who want to hear the television will actually hear it. Of course, they also offered aerobics, step, body sculpting, etc... classes in the large and airy aerobics room. There was also a large thallasotherapy pool which was free to use. Apparently, one is to spend a few minutes in the pool before and after working out, in order to replenish the minerals in your skin. Who knows. It was very comfortable, with plenty of jets all around. FOOD My husband and I were actually a bit ill on the cruise, so we didn't have the appetite we normally would. That said, in general I really do not cruise for the food and I have yet to go hungry. I have heard a lot of negative reviews about RCI food, and have decided it really is a matter of personal choice. For any given cruise, on any line, I have heard vastly different culinary experiences, and have decided not to pay attention. If there is something you do not like, send it back and get something else. The dining room service was excellent, as usual. Both our waiter and assistant waitress were very competent. With respect to the meal choices, we found that there was enough of a variety to keep everyone happy. There were days when the fish wasn't as tasty as I would have liked, so I ordered something else. It really did not bother me. We ate most of our breakfasts and lunches at the Windjammer Cafe. I found that the selections were plentiful, and am surprised when I read reviews criticizing the choices, especially for breakfast. They offered around 8 types of cold cereal, oatmeal, porridge, bacon, sausage, hash browns, french fries, pancakes, waffles, toast (with jam, butter, peanut butter), muffins, danishes, english muffins, bagels/cream cheese/ and HUGE platters of smoked salmon, scrambled eggs, fresh sliced pineapple, honeydew, cantaloupe, watermelon, strawberries, grapes, oranges, bananas... I think you catch my drift. There was also an omelet station in the Island Grill, which is the back part of the Windjammer, where a chef cooks up made-to-order omelets. Yes, they offered these choices every day so that the variety was not changing, but let's be realistic, what more could you possibly want?? The lunches in the Windjammer / Island Grill did vary daily, and there was a good variety of hot and cold food to choose from. I never had any complaints, except maybe finding a seat. The afternoon daily "snack" was more like lunch part 2, and again there was a huge variety of offerings to tempt any palate. My parents chose to eat breakfast and lunch in the dining room when not in port. My Mom actually thought that some of the lunches were better than the dinners! She only had positive things to say about the food in the dining room. Breakfast and lunch was open seating, which suited my parents fine as the both liked meeting new and interesting people. The Cafe Promenade was truly an oasis. We inevitably ended up here at least once a day, be it for a quick sandwich on our way out to port, a cup of herbal tea and cookies in the afternoon, or a late nite piece of pizza. The selection was always fresh and plentiful, and you usually did not need to wait long to be served, even when there were great crowds. The cafe itself was very tastefully decorated, with Capiello posters lining the walls, and a single red rose on each table. Truth be told, I was disappointed in the food once - and that was at Johnny Rockets. When the waiter finally got around to serving us, he requested our SuperCharge card, even though the hamburger and chili fries we ordered were free or charge. He insisted that we turn it over to him, since that was part of their procedure. After over 10 minutes of waiting, he hadn't returned our card yet. The city girl in me became a bit paranoid, since the Supercharge card is also our room key, and room was now empty... We finally had to ask for it back, and even then he was slow returning it. Upon speaking with others, nobody else had to give in their card unless they were ordering an item with a supplemental charge, such as a milkshake. When our food finally arrived, we were very disappointed. The chili fries looked very unappealing and had a taste to match, and we found the burgers in the Island Grill to be way superior to Johnny Rockets'. That said, from an esthetic point of view, the 50's dinner theme was done very well, and was fun to look at. Also, the staff kept the area spotless. EVENTS Hanukkah The first night of the Jewish festival of Hanukkah happened to fall during our cruise. Royal Caribbean had arranged for a cantor to be onboard, and all those interested met in the Palace theater. The main floor of the theater was full, and we estimate around 500-600 people joined in the festivities. There was a large Menorah onstage, in front of which the cantor recited the Hebrew religious blessings. Everyone got involved, especially when he followed up with traditional folk songs. To celebrate, the chef prepared Hanukkah latkes, and the staff gave out dreidels to the kids. This was very done very classily, and hats off to Royal Caribbean for recognizing the occasion. Repeater's Party There were actually 3 repeater's parties on our cruise, as over 50% of the guests were prior RCI passengers. We had the usual complimentary champagne or cocktails, hors d'oeuvres, and delightful chocolate treats. The party was held at the Maharaja lounge, and was by invitation only (invites were checked at the door). The captain opened up the floor for questions, and which inevitably is an invitation for all the clods in the audience to speak up. Some gems included a man getting visibly upset saying he was disappointed there was no chandelier in the dining room as on Voyager, another man complained about open seating for breakfast and lunch (he must have repeated that he always treats his waiters VERY well about a dozen times), while someone else thought that open seating for dinner is the way RCI should go. Can't please everyone all the time, I guess. Captain's Cocktail Party Interestingly, they held the Captain's welcome aboard cocktail party in the Royal Promenade. It was done very well, and the blue-tinged overhead lights gave the impression of being outside at dusk. It was all very elegant, albeit a bit crowded for some. 50's/60's/70's Night Instead of having these on 2 separate nights, there was one giant dance party where we passed though 3 decades in an hour and a half. The party was held in the Studio B ice rink, which was boarded over for the occasion. The 50's was my Dad's decade, and he was quite excited about the night. It turns out that the 50's portion of the night coincided with the late seating's entertainment, which happened to be Mickey Dolenz of the Monkees. By the time the show let out, the party was already into the 60's... and my Dad (and many others) were disappointed to have missed it. This should have been scheduled a bit better as there were many who would have enjoyed the entire experience, especially given the evening's retro theme. I found the party to be much duller and more 'rushed' than on previous cruises. The staff really was not into it, and appeared to be going through motions. More on the staff later. PUBLIC AREAS Rather than go over every room in detail, I will highlight some key areas. Bow of the Ship This was my favorite spot on the ship. The guests on Explorer of the Seas are allowed to go to the very front of the ship, located all the way forward on deck 5. To be exact, you need to exit on deck 4 and climb the outdoor steps to deck 5. There are benches to relax on, and enjoy the serenity of the seas. It is beautiful at night, and a romantic place to stargaze. However, it is unlit at night so be careful. Chamber Nightclub Very cool club atmosphere. It is 2 floor with a medieval goth theme. The party only started happening around 11:00-11:30 at night, and on my cruise the crowd was dominated mostly by 18-21 year olds. At 28, I felt old. I went to the Chamber on several occasions, and each time the DJ was playing hip-hop music - not my favorite to dance too. As a result, I ended up really not as much time as I would have liked in the club. Sports Area Rock-climbing wall, basketball court, miniature golf, roller blading - what more is there to say? All activities were complimentary, although there was usually a line for the rock-climbing wall. The roller blade track was very small, so do not pack your blades unless you plan on using them in the islands. Being Canadian, I was excited about ice skating in the middle of the Caribbean. However, the daily Compass stated that advanced skaters needed to supply their own skates (who packs ice skates on a cruise?), while beginners needed to sit through a half hour lesson, which I did not need. I never bothered to investigate it any further, and ended up missing the ice-skating. Maharaja's Lounge Although I personally did not experience it, my parents loved the ballroom dancing in the evenings in the Maharaja's lounge. They were surprised that it wasn't better announced. ENTERTAINMENT / STAFF Headliner - Mickey Dolenz It's always a bit sad to see once famous entertainers years later... but that was not the case with Mickey Dolenz. I was actually surprised by how good he was, singing all the Monkees' old songs such as Daydream Believer and Last Train to Clarkesville. His sister joined him on stage, and together they put on a great show. In between songs he did a pseudo self-deprecating standup comedy act, griping about his old age, which elicited many laughs from the audience. Headliner - Roger Behr Who is this guy? From the way cruise director Ken Rush was hyping his performance for days, you would have thought he was like Jim Carrey or some other top-notch comedian. Well, you could not get further from the truth then that. This guy embodied the phrase "washed up", telling jokes that were outdated in the 80's. I would honestly be surprised if he modified his act in over 20 years, if not ever. He even did the bit about how on a cruise, the shower curtain sticks to you while you are trying to shower. Well, we all know that there are no shower curtains on Explorer of the Seas... maybe he forgot to shower all week. Either way, he stunk. Wave Revue Dancers / Ice Show Again, I do not want to re-iterate what has already been said. We thought the shows were fantastic, very well choreographed and with beautiful costumes. The ice show is not to be missed. Cruise Director / Staff We heard a lot of great things about Ken Rush prior to boarding this cruise, and our expectations were very high. We found him to be not as 'polished' as some of the other CD's out there (Kyle Dodson, for example), but that ended up being refreshing change. He seemed more human and personable, and not cut from the same game-show-host mold as some of the others. His staff on the other hand, lacked any of the professionalism needed to perform their jobs. We usually become friendly with the cruise staff, but on this cruise, we could not understand how Royal Caribbean could hire such dull people. They were rude, snobbish, immature and gave the impression that they would rather be anywhere but on the ship. Compared to the excellent and outgoing cruise directing staff on my prior RCI cruises, these clowns were a real disappointment. I did however hear that the kids' staff was pretty good. PORTS OF CALL Labadee There is really nothing more I can add about Labadee that has not been said before. It's a great island for relaxing, really scenic. Snorkeling is very poor though. San Juan This was our second time in San Juan. The last time we were there, we spent a few days on the island and we rented a car to go to the El Yunque rainforest. The rainforest is lush and beautiful, and was the highlight of our vacation. We definitely wanted to go back, especially to take my parents along. Given our tight schedule of 12:30 -8:00 p.m. in port, we were unsure of what to do. We did not want to take an organized tour, as they only give you a half hour to walk around, and do not take you to the out-of-the-way Mina falls. The only way to explore the Mina falls is to hike down, which the tours do not offer. The Mina falls are, in our opinion, the jewel of the rainforest and to miss it is like going to Rome and missing the Coliseum. Before I left, I spoke with a Puerto Rican car rental agency and arranged with them to pick us up at the pier and shuttle us to their lot. The shuttle was complimentary, and it meant that we did not have to negotiate the hectic Old San Juan traffic. Also, their agency was just off the main highway, so it was easy to find them on the way back. As promised, we called them when we arrived in port and the shuttle bus came within 20 minutes. We arrived at the rainforest just as the Explorer of the Seas tour bus was pulling in! We were chatting with some friends while snapping photos in front of the pretty Coca falls. But while those on the tour had to leave soon after, we hiked down to the Mina falls where my husband swam under the refreshingly cool waterfall. It really is breathtaking, and it is a shame there are not any tours that explore this area of the forest. To be on the safe side, we left El Yunque by 5:00 p.m. The rental agency shuttled us back to the pier, and we were in Old San Juan by 6:30. We toured the city for a bit, bought a bit of booze, and boarded the ship at 7:30. St Thomas / St John Having been to St Thomas before, and being under whelmed by Magen's Bay, we decided to see what St John had to offer. Prior to leaving for the cruise, I researched the ferry schedules from Red Hook, St Thomas, to Cruz Bay, St John. They leave every hour on the hour SHARP, so if you are late you are stuck at the not so pretty ferry terminal. We almost did not make it as the 20-person cab by the pier did not want to make a run to Red Hook with only 4 people, but we spoke with the dispatcher who insisted. Also, the price of $5 per person that RCI quoted us as the going rate was upped to $8 pp by the taxi authority. Due to ocean swells, the ferry ride to St John was quite bumpy and I was actually worried that we might capsize. It would certainly make for an interesting story, huh? Once in St John, we caught a cab to Cinnamon Bay. We chose Cinnamon Bay over the more popular Trunk Bay, as we heard that recently Trunk Bay was too crowded with cruisers and shore excursions. In fact, our thoughts were confirmed when we drove past Trunk Bay, which was absolutely packed. Cinnamon Bay is also part of the US National Parks, there were facilities on site, and the admission was free. We brought our own equipment so I am unsure of whether they rent snorkel gear. Not to sound clichEd, but the beach was a little piece of paradise. The water was crystal clear, and the sand was like powder. Alongside Bermuda, this was probably the nicest beach I have been on. The snorkeling was fabulous - we saw schools of different kinds of colorful fish as well as a couple of stingrays. It did take a while to find the good snorkeling 'spot', though, but once we found it we were in heaven. Also, the beach was relatively empty, with only a few other couples. I need to add that the strangest thing I think I ever saw on a beach was at Cinnamon Bay - out of nowhere, we saw a pair of wild donkeys galloping along the beach. They ended up settling under some trees, and did not appear dangerous, but certainly out of place! We caught the afternoon ferry back to downtown Charlotte Amalie, instead of Red Hook pier, and spent the rest of the day shopping. Nassau We decided to take a water taxi across the bay to Paradise Island for the day. It was very overcast, and it looked like it would rain any minute. Sure enough, the downpour hit as we were crossing over to Paradise Island, and all those on the top deck of the boat ran down for cover... not very comfortable. The rain subsided soon after we arrived, and we decided to see the famous Atlantis resort. In order to gain access to the grounds, all guests must pay a $25.00 fee per person. This fee does not include use of any of the pools or waterslides, which only resort guests can use, and wristbands are checked diligently. We actually walked in the front door of the resort and no one stopped us to told us where to pay. We were able to tour the grounds, which are amazing. The casino is glitzy and expansive, with huge aquatic themed sculptures throughout. The aquarium had all kinds of sea animals, including manta rays, stingrays, lobster, shrimp, crabs, sand sharks... Outside, there are a few pools, a Mayan Temple with waterslides, and an inclosed lazy-river ride which takes guests through a sharks den. As I mentioned before, there were many guards by the pools and waterslides checking for wristbands, so we did not try to go on. When we got back to the ship, we met many people who were stopped by the guards and had to pay the $25 entrance fee. I don't know why we weren't stopped, but I am certainly not complaining! GENERAL COMMENTS We had people of all ages on our cruise. There were many families, seniors, and younger couples, and at no time did it ever feel 'too big'. In fact, we were amazed at how uncrowded it felt. It was very easy to find our way around, and we never felt lost. I would recommend this cruise for anyone who wants a classy but fun experience. Throughout the cruise we overheard people marveling at how this was the nicest ship they were on. I would do Explorer's sister ships, Voyager, Adventure, Navigator or Mariner in a heartbeat. Happy Sailing! --Jacquelyn Hyde :) Read Less
Sail Date: January 2001
Now, 1. this was my first cruise in a long long long time. 2. I am used to a certain quality (imagination 1995 cough cough) 3. Keep that in mind while you read this review: Embarkation: Ok, we got there around 10:30. We finally got on ... Read More
Now, 1. this was my first cruise in a long long long time. 2. I am used to a certain quality (imagination 1995 cough cough) 3. Keep that in mind while you read this review: Embarkation: Ok, we got there around 10:30. We finally got on the boat around 1. Everyone was helpful, but there was SOOOO long line, and maybe it was too helpful. Everyone was happy and could give 2 $*#!s about the time. But hey, you pay for what you get. Cabin: As we walked into our Cabin we almost had a heart attack. This room is the secret of all secret rooms. We walk in there and we see immediate floor to ceiling windows. We see the beds already folded down, and we go to leave the room. We find the door outside extremely heavy for some idiot reason. Our room servant was very nice, very helpful, and seemed to almost always be there whenever we needed him. Public Rooms: The pools, the bars, and the buffet seemed too good to be true. The pools were just great, one being under cover, one being deeper, and they all didn't seem to be too unruly. And during the day, the security guards are really caring about the no drinks or food in the Jacuzzi. But if you go around dinner time, they could care less. We had 2 pies of pizza around the Jacuzzi, 6 drinks, and some plates floating through the water, and they just told us to make sure we take the plates out when were done, the rest the pool staff will pick up. We eventually, being there before and right after dinner, became very good friends with the guards, and they really were only mean during the day about the food, because it really is for your safety, and not to disgust the other guests. Where when you go between 6 and 9, you are the last guests before they empty it for the night. But, the security guards were very negotiable, and really just care about your security. Shore Excursions: Some excursions were good but most of the ones that we went on weren't as good as other cruises. The Kon Tiki (forget what city it was in) was the most horrible one I have been on,it is a boos cruise, but a very cheap one, and they bring you to an island that looks like it was passed down for 7,000,000 generations and no money was sent into it. Dining: Very good food, and they were very nice crew people. They were all promptly bringing food so I could get back to my jacuzzi. The other food on the ship was great, although in the afternoons, the lines got very long. But hey, 3500+ people what'd you expect? But overall the food and the lines (most of the time) were very good. Entertainment: The shows were just ok, although the magic act was better then some other ones i have seen. The rest was great. That is all I have to say about the entertainment. Fitness & Recreation: I only used the jogging desk, did about 2 laps. It seemed very nice, and had a nice view. I did have a message if you put that under this, and it was great. The price seemed to me pretty steep, and for the price of it you did not get much value, but it definitely was great. Value For Price: Overall the room upgrade to the room we were in was totally worth it. Every last dime. But, I thought that the drink were also slightly too expensive, but hey everything else was good. Basically the prices were too high for some things but perfect for other things. Overall Cruise: Ranged from very good prices to high, also the shows were just ok. Embarkation took too long. Everything else was great if only all cruises had great service like this. Final Rating: A- Read Less
Sail Date: January 2002
For my first cruise, this ship was amazing. As soon as we entered Port Everglades to board the ship, I was amazed. As soon as we got into the ship, my first impression was "WOW". The grand foyer was breathtaking and elegant, we ... Read More
For my first cruise, this ship was amazing. As soon as we entered Port Everglades to board the ship, I was amazed. As soon as we got into the ship, my first impression was "WOW". The grand foyer was breathtaking and elegant, we were greeted by bartenders with champagne and orange juice, and we had our picture taken. Just before sailing, we ate at the "bon voyage" buffet, which was delicious. Our first stateroom, 7005, was a little small for four people, so we simply went to guest relations and had our room upgraded and ended up in 8160. The staff was very helpful with this upgrade. They also made sure to have our luggage sent to our new room. As we left port, we sailed away to the sounds of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow", celebrity style, as well as the sounds their amazing "Energy Band". One of the best things about my experience onboard Millenium was the food and dining services. For breakfast, we ate in the Ocean Cafe, which offered a large selection of food, everything from fresh fruit to bacon and eggs, to cereal. For lunch, we alternated between eating at the Ocean Cafe's lunch buffet to having hamburgers and fries poolside. Both lunches were delicious, couldn't have asked for more. The best meal, by far, however were our dinners. It felt like course after course of food, all of them tasty. My favorites included the chicken dishes and the filet mignon. Our waiter and assistant waiter were both very friendly and helpful. Our bartender was also spectacular. I ordered at Diet Coke with my soda card on the first night and from then on our drinks were on the table waiting for us as soon as we sat down. Now that's services. The desserts are also highly recommended, particularly the chocolate cakes and the Baked Alaska (available on the 2nd formal night) along with a baked Alaska parade. You can also get free ice cream cones all day long and in the evening, there is a pizza buffet. My second favorite thing about sailing on Millenium was the entertainment. The first show I saw was "Spectacle of Broadway", which featured the celebrity singers and dancers performing bits of different broadway musicals. They were amazingly talented, especially when the finished up with "Les Miserables". I also saw their two other shows, "Classique", a classical music performance with them, which was good but not as great as the first, and "Fantasea" which was breathtaking. This show featured acrobatics and a guest performance by an aerialist duo. The last night's show was the comedy of Thien Fu, a hilarious comedian I highly recommended, as well as the Flagship Orchestra and the cruise in review video. The activities aboard Millenium are also very good. I went to arts and crafts, napkin folding, and several games, and all of them were fun. I recommend the napkin folding, it was very interesting to see how it was done. The activities staff was very helpful and friendly, and our cruise director, Dru, and assistant cruise director, Lance, always added life and humor to all of the games. "The Newlywed Game" was one of the most hilarious games, although for those who are easily offended it isn't recommended. Also check out the "Cosmos Nightclub" for great dancing and drinks all night long. The DJ plays all the latest dances hits late into the night and he takes requests too! The ports of call were good, my favorites were San Juan and St.Thomas. We took a bus tour in San Juan, which was great for hitting the highlights, especially if its really hot outsides and you don't want to walk. The shopping and the beaches in St. Thomas were amazing. Magen's Bay is one of the best sights there. I didn't like Nassau, Bahamas as much. We saw the Atlantis hotel, stopped by the beach and then returned to the ship. We also made a special stop at Catalina Island, where we swam and sunbathed. Be warned, the locals try and sell you alot of junk at high prices. I did get my hair braided, however, which turned out very nice. Also, the ship provided a BBQ lunch on shore. The other place I recommend on the ship is the Aqua Spa's thalassotherapy pool. It's an indoor, warm, bubbly pool (not a whirpool), and its relaxing to sit in after a long day on shore. I always came out feeling great. The outdoor pool was nice to look at, but it was a little chilly on most days. I went in it once, and it was beautiful, but the saltwater burnt my eyes. :) I'd definitely take the time to sit outside the pool at least once, however. And check out the outdoor "pillow pole" pool competition, that's fun to watch. The shopping onboard was decent, although alot of it was on your luxury items, such as jewelry and watches, liquor and perfume. Take advantage of the specials they have daily, those are good prices, and especially the Millenium apparel which you can't buy anywhere else. Daily items and sundries are a little expensive, so only buy those if you really must. Also, the photo shop takes a ton of formal portraits and pictures, which are great, but a little expensive. We did get our formal night pics, however, so if you like yours, get them while you can. Two more things one can't go on the Mille and not do: 1) Go to Island Night. It's a big island-themed party with food, music, dancing, drinking and its alot of fun! They even have a carved watermelon parade which was beautiful. They also teach you island dances and we did the limbo. It was great. 2) The Midnight Buffet. It's held on the last formal night and its spectacular. I've never seen anything like it. They have amazing ice sculptures, and a TON of food. Most of it is creatively done to look like flowers, decorations, etc. All of it is edible and quite delicious. You'll go to bed STUFFED. Debarkation was fairly easy and fast, however they did lose my garment bag at the port, and I had to fill out a claim form. We shall see if it turns up. If not, at least I get reimbursed. They were really nice about trying to find it, though. Overall, however, I give Millenium 4 stars and I highly recommend, especially for couples and/or first time cruises. It's beautiful ship and I was sad to leave it.Once you get the experience of being on the Mille, you'll never want to leave it. Lauren, Millenium, 1/11/04 Read Less
Sail Date: April 2002
Let me just start by saying that when I was younger, my parents took me on the Big Red Boat one time on a three night sailing. At the time of five years old, I remember not being very impressed with the old, dirty ship. The characters ... Read More
Let me just start by saying that when I was younger, my parents took me on the Big Red Boat one time on a three night sailing. At the time of five years old, I remember not being very impressed with the old, dirty ship. The characters provided by Warner Brothers probably made up for it at the time, but whatever. My parents have always been frequent cruisers, but often times without my sister and I. When they would tell us how great the cruise ships truly are on the inside (everything you can't see on the outside), we would kind of just nod and go along with it. That is, until my sister and I ventured on the Millennium with my parents in the Spring of '02. From the second we arrived on the ship in Fort Lauderdale and were served champagne by the man who led us to our cabin, we started to realize why our parents would rave so much about cruises. I shared an oceanview stateroom with my sister, and it wasn't too small, it was perfect sized. I don't remember ever feeling cramped, even while sharing one bathroom with a 16 year old sister. At the time, my sister and I were younger and we weren't sure what there was for teenagers to do on a monstrosity of a "boat" like this one, but it was great because the first night, there was a teenagers' hangout session in the ESPN SportsBar on the SkyDeck. It was great because we met about 15 kids who we continue to keep contact with three years later. If you're worried about kids or teenagers having a hard time enjoying the cruise atmosphere, the Millennium is the perfect ship because I can not remember seeing any bored teens or kids on the ship. Everyone seemed to have friends and fun for 7 nights! The dining was excellent, the entertainment was mediocre and the ports mostly sucked. On this particular sailing, the contract with Catalina Island had just expired, so they sent us to Casa de Campo instead which is even a waste for the natives who inhabit the area, but that's a whole other argument. Fortunately for our particular sailing, there were not two, but THREE days at sea, and every one of them was priceless. Our parents had nothing but great memories to walk off the ship with, and I distinctly remember everyone in my family hugging and crying with each other the night we returned from the ship. Now, I'm still not sure to this very day if we were crying because it was such an amazing vacation experience onboard the ship or if it was because my sister and I had to go back to school and my parents back to work, but I still choose the first reason. This is because Celebrity's Millennium is the modern "ship of dreams." It's all-in-all a great vacation. A humbly gorgeous ship without being flamboyantly elegant is the way to go for an amazingly gratifying vacation experience onboard the Celebrity Millennium. Take the cruise, I'm sure you'll agree. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2002
My fiance and 3 of my children ages 16 - 19 accompanied us. We had side by side Balcony Rooms. When we arrived by a (Carnival) bus to the embarkment, it was raining and very hot and humid. We gave the bus boy a large tip to make sure our ... Read More
My fiance and 3 of my children ages 16 - 19 accompanied us. We had side by side Balcony Rooms. When we arrived by a (Carnival) bus to the embarkment, it was raining and very hot and humid. We gave the bus boy a large tip to make sure our luggage wouldn't sit out in the rain. He said that he would take care of it. Then we had to STAND out in the pouring RAIN (2 hours), until we finally got approved to go board the ship. Alot of people were getting dizzy and were led to go up into the front of the line. Some were offered wheel chairs. But, since we were healthy, we had to stand out and get soaking wet. We didn't bring an umbrella, we were offered shelter. I'm not sure why they didn't let us stand in the area where your luggage is to be picked up when you disembark. We had left CT at 6:30 am, we didn't eat any lunch, since as soon as we got off our plane we had get onto a Carnival Bus to take us to the ship. We thought that it wouldn't take long at all to get onto the ship, maybe 1/2 hr the most. But we were totally WRONG!!! So, here we are standing in the humidity, letting it pour on us, we're tired and we're hungry. Then after over 2 hours of standing in line, we get through. THen they want to take OUR PICTURE??? Are you kidding me? We looked like wet rats. Then I'm asking around to where we could go and get some lunch, and we were told NO LUNCH because we missed it and they had to show us how to use the life jackets and show us the life boats. I told someone that I needed to eat because I felt very faint, and I was told to go to the cafe. But, when I got there I was DENIED any kind of food or drink. THey told me that we needed to go to our assigned areas to learn about life saving tips. We left and went to the assigned area, all wet, tired, feeling faint and hungry. I couldn't even put on a life vest jacket because I thought I was going to pass out. Here we're all thinking....IS THIS A VACATION OR ARE WE ENLISTING FOR THE NAVY?????? I was getting really turned off really fast. When we were done we all were able to get some food and we were dried off and felt better. BUT then................when we got to our rooms to change and get our clothes.....my daughter who was in her separate Balcony Room, unpacked her clothes and found that her evening gown was RUINED!!!!! BY WATER!!!!!! It must of sat outside in a puddle for hours!!!!! because it was totally soaked with water. She started to cry. Ok, I'm asking myself, am I on vacation or is this a nightmare or what??????? I went right to the purser's desk and told her what happened, at first she said they couldn't do anything. THen I talked to someone else and she said they'd offer me $20.00 to have it dry cleaned when we got home. Well, that doesn't offer me much. I even said that this was a water stain and it's a Dry CLean Only gown, that I think the gown was in total ruin and it was BRAND NEW!!!! Just for this cruise. She said that was the only thing she could do. We took the $20.00. When we got home, the first thing we did was have it dry cleaned, and they told us it was ruined!!!!!!!!!!!! Water should never touch Dry Cleaning Only. My daughter didn't wear it on Captain's night, she was very upset along with our whole family. $160.00 she saved out of her own money to purchase it along with paying her whole way on this cruise. This was unbelievable to us. On our way back home, on the air flight, we talked to others who were coming back from their cruises. And, they said they had a wonderful experience. They weren't waiting out in the pouring rain like WE WERE and OUR LUGGAGE!!! THEY WERE SHOCKED TO HEAR OUR HORRIBLE EXPERIENCE and especially who Carnival didn't take care of us. I mean, what is $20.00 when you have a new gown that cost $160.00 and never got to wear it???????? When I got home, a friend told me to go online to see where I could make a complaint, and I just got the run around with calling different phone numbers. So I gave UP!! As far as the rest of the cruise, the food was good. The alcohol was pricey to drink in the bars. I would of liked it if we were able to at least purchase 1 bottle in the shop to at least just drink in our room. The shows were excellent. The atmosphere was beautiful. Entertainment was very good. They kept you busy all day long. I liked it that they offered you trip tours that you can book from your room. But, I didn't like the urgency you had to complete and make up your minds because of limited space. Bottom line is, would I return to take a Carnival Cruise? I don't know, can they guarantee me that we won't ever have to wait out in the rain while we wait to embark? Will they guarantee that my gowns for formal night won't be ruined by being neglected by their employees?? Vacations should be stress free, don't you agree? If they can guarantee that this won't happen again, I'd say, SURE!!!! I re-married the following year, and we were thinking about doing it on a cruise ship, but then I had the fear that my gown would get ruined, so I backed out of it. We were married at Sandals's Resort Royal Caribbean in Jamaica!!! We had 17 people accompany us! Read Less
Sail Date: August 2002
Age: 39 Occupation: Computer Support Number of Cruises: 14 Cruise Line: Norwegian Cruise Line Name of Ship: Norwegian Sun Sailing Date: August 30th, 2002 Itinerary: Western Caribbean We cruised the Norwegian Sun on 8/31/02 as a ... Read More
Age: 39 Occupation: Computer Support Number of Cruises: 14 Cruise Line: Norwegian Cruise Line Name of Ship: Norwegian Sun Sailing Date: August 30th, 2002 Itinerary: Western Caribbean We cruised the Norwegian Sun on 8/31/02 as a celebration of my mothers 60th birthday. There were 9 in our party occupying 4 deluxe staterooms with balconies. This was my 14th cruise (my first on NCL) and a first for my mother, her husband, and my brother and his family. Others in our party had also cruised before. Embarkation was a breeze and we were one of the first ones in the door. However, we did observe that embarkation gets a little more hectic if you arrive after 12 AM. The first meal we tried was served in the Garden Cafe and included self serve tacos which were delicious. There was also a wonderful curry served one day that was so delicious that we went back for seconds. It seems that on most cruises the desserts sometimes look fantastic but fall short on taste and this ship was no exception in that category although, there were a few desserts that were exceptionally delicious enough to mention. The crème bruelee that was served in the dinning room and a rhubarb pie served in the Garden Cafe were very delicious. We found the rooms to be very roomy with plenty of storage space and loved the bathroom shower that included an adjustable shower head. Having a room with a balcony was wonderful (a first for all of us) and a special treat that my mother really enjoyed! The sheets and duvet were exceptionally soft but there was always that annoying "hump" in the middle of the bed where the two twin beds were pushed together to make a double bed. The ship was lovely without being too gaudy and flashy. We were a little concerned about "Freestyle Cruising" since this was our first experience with that type of service. The service in our room was very good although I did miss the special touches such as the "towel art" that I was accustomed to on other ships. We asked for an extra bucket of ice in our room and from then on there were always two full buckets. The service in my sister's room was not as good as ours and they had a few complaints about the cleanliness a few times. My brother and his wife were very pleased with the Kids Crew program. Since school had already started there was not an abundance of children so there was plenty of staff to cater to the children's needs. We did not try any of the specialty restaurants that had an extra cost but we did try the Pacific Heights which used the Cooking Light menu and were so pleased with it that we ate there several nights. The calzone was delicious and could be ordered with or without meat. About half of our group are vegetarians and we found plenty to eat but wish there were even more to choose from. The meatloaf in the Pacific Heights got great raves and was ordered at more than one meal. We found the service in the Pacific Heights to be superb. Anything we asked for was answered with a smiling, friendly "certainly" by our waitress. The main dining rooms, the Four Seasons and the Seven Seas, were very similar and the service was very acceptable. We celebrated my mother's birthday at the Four Seasons one night. It was a fun and exciting time where we were greeted with a bottle of champagne (we chose bottled water) and a small birthday cake with her name on it while Happy Birthday was sung to her by the waiters. There were no extravagant Midnight Buffets which was a little disappointing but there was a Chocolate Extravaganza one night that was very eye appealing. The shore excursions were excellent. Our first day and our last day were at sea with the ports of call the four days in the middle. Our first stop was Grand Cayman. We booked a Stingray City tour on line through Captain Marvin's and it was a real highlight. It was a little cheaper than booking through the cruise and we got an extra snorkeling stop. Captain Kirk stopped in two different places to let us snorkel before arriving at Stingray City, he was very informative and we were the only party on his boat. Everyone loved swimming with the stingrays and Captain Kirk even knew their names. Our next stop was Honduras. A very poor and simple place but once we got off our bus at Tabyana Beach it was heaven! This was one of the most beautiful beaches that I have ever seen! We snorkeled with our cruise guide and he would dive down and get items, bring them up to the surface and tell us about them. Lunch was also served and I must say that the spaghetti was absolutely wonderful! They also served hamburgers, salad and fruit and the most different tea I have every tasted. My mother said it was a "dream day" for her. Our next stop was Belize. I cannot speak from experience here because my husband and I overslept and missed our excursion but we were told that it was very fun. We had booked the Cave Tubing and Jungle Walk tour which was 88 dollars a piece and we were told that we could not get our money back if we cancelled less than 24 hour ahead of time. When we got to the excursion desk we were treated very nicely and given several options and told we would get our money back. This really impressed us about Norwegian Cruise Lines and I hope they realize that it represented very good customer service. After that it was on to Cozumel. Many in our group had already been to Cozumel and after cave tubing we were ready for a rest. We shopped in the morning and found a beach called San Francisco Beach where we just laid out, swam and rented some jet skis. It rained a little but we still had fun. This was one of the calmest rides I have ever had on a cruise ship. Smooth sailing the whole way! The entertainment was excellent! The cruise director was one of the funniest that I have ever seen. There was a magician/juggler/comedian that was absolutely hilarious! He was on the first night and I would say that this is a show not to be missed! The singer Jane Powell was also very entertaining and funny. One night Jimmy "J.J." Walker did the show and it was fantastic! (Although, he was a special show and was only on board for two weeks.) Disembarkation was the best I have EVER had! You get color coded tags according to the time you want to disembark and let me recommend that if you want to stay on the ship and leave late to get your tickets early because the later ones run out the quickest. We wanted to be able to sleep in, have breakfast and visit some before leaving the ship. We were not crowded into some lounge and forced to sit there for hours before being allowed to leave the ship. It was very calm and leisurely and very quick! I believe we were the last passengers off the ship. Overall I would recommend the Norwegian Sun and NCL cruise lines and would sail with them again. The freestyle cruising and tipping turned out to be much better than I expected and it was a dream vacation for all of us. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2003
Our background- couple, married 31 years, both self-employed, travel frequently (a trip to New Zealand and 2 Caribbean cruises in last twelve months). This was my 6th HAL cruise and hubby's 3rd. The decision to go on this cruise was ... Read More
Our background- couple, married 31 years, both self-employed, travel frequently (a trip to New Zealand and 2 Caribbean cruises in last twelve months). This was my 6th HAL cruise and hubby's 3rd. The decision to go on this cruise was made at the last minute (Jan 3) and our choices were the Veendam out of Tampa, Zaandam out of Port Canaveral or the Zuiderdam out of Ft. Lauderdale. Destination didn't matter and airfare was about the same. Our choice of the Zuiderdam was based on the fact that we knew that Fort Lauderdale was an easy connection to the ship and we could get a verandah guarantee for less than a thousand dollars p.p. We normally take an "S" suite but thought we'd give this a shot. TA warned us this room would be small compared to what we're used to. About a week before sailing, we got an offer to upgrade to a "S" suite for an additional $275 pp. The only catch was, the suites available were either on the back corners or on the side right by the glass elevators. We chose #7132, aft, port side. A few days later, despite the chance to upgrade further to the penthouse for a fantastic price, we stayed with #7132. January 25 we awoke at 4:30 a.m. to get ready to go to the airport (DFW) for a 7:30 a.m. flight. We left home at 5:30 a.m. and arrived at the airport at 6 a.m. As hubby got out to check the bags curbside, we discovered the hanging bag with the formal clothes was still at home! Mad dash back home, back to airport arriving at 7 a.m. Despite a problem with one bag's ticket, we got checked in only to have me get selected for a "wanding" in security. While I was getting a good "once over" we heard them announce our flight for boarding. We just did make it! The flight on AA was fine and we had the most attentive flight attendant I've ever encountered. Got to FLL a little ahead of time, got our luggage and in a cab. Check in was easy, all our documents were filled out and we got in the "suite" line. We were given priority boarding passes and told we would be allowed to board about 1:00 p.m. Check-in has been moved into the luggage terminal due to the number of passengers. After room-keys were issued, security photos were taken. Found seats upstairs across from a nice couple from Georgia and passed the time talking cruises with them. At right about 1:00, they came for the wheel-chair passengers and priority passengers were next. Photographs were taken and we were on board. First big change, no officer greeting us and handing us off to an escort to our room. Once we arrived on deck 7, though, there was a steward to escort us to our room, and no, I didn't care much for the new uniforms, a little blah to my taste. The room itself was a little smaller than the usual suite but the verandah more than made up for it. The verandah was L-Shaped, with a table and 4 chairs, 2 lounge chairs with ottomans, and 2 chaise lounges. The bed was made up as a king, there was a full length couch, side chair, glass coffee table and a chair at the built in desk. The only electrical outlet was above the desk so I was glad I had brought my faithful extension cord. There was just enough room to walk between the table and bed and I can't imagine how you would function if the sofa were made out into a bed. Two nightstands had two drawers each (each one had one locking drawer). There were three sections of closet, one with a rod (lots of hangers), the other two had shelves (and rods) and the safe (combination, not credit card activated) was in one of those. The bed had two drawers at the foot (one with extra bedding) but plenty of room for the suitcases. The minibar was stocked and at our request some of the soft drinks were replaced with our favorite. A bottle of wine and a bottle of champagne as well as a basket of fruit were on the bar. Rubai, our steward, told us just to let him know when we wanted them iced down and we did. We went up to the Lido for lunch and to get familiar with the "food court" concept. Hubby opted for a sandwich (the first station we came to) and I had the salad bar and excellent prime rib with mashed potatoes. The new concept was confusing to most people for the first couple days. There were stations for sandwiches, hot entrees, pizza and pasta, oriental, desserts, etc. The famous bread pudding stood alone however, on the drink station! Didn't find it until the second or third day. The rest of the trip found me at the pasta station every day for lunch, those who tried the pizza raved about it. I missed having someone hand me my tray with the menu card on it, another change. We took the ship's tour to get familiar with the layout and it was okay but spent way too much time in the spa, selling their services. There was a separate spa tour you could take and we ended up with them. There are three banks of elevators on the ship (color-coded), red (forward), blue (mid) and wine (aft). There are also glass exterior elevators at mid-ship. Those were fun to ride but some of the railings were broken or missing altogether. Up to the aft deck for 5:00 p.m. Sail Away party. We had only brought shorts and short sleeved shirts----we were freezing! It was so cold everyone had on jackets and we didn't actually leave until 6:00 so after a drink we went downstairs to our room and put on our bathrobes (no belts with them until we asked) and went out on our verandah. Let 'em laugh! Dinner was second seating, table A, an oval for eight just as you entered the upstairs dining room. First night, there were only four of us there. Waiter was RRRRRRudi, (his pronunciation), okay but not great. He did have iced tea waiting for us every night after the first. Food was satisfactory but not really great throughout the trip with a couple exceptions. Never did get the assistant's name and we only saw the table captain a couple times, no real service from him. Sunday the 26th was in Nassau Bahamas. As it was a Sunday morning, most of the stores were closed. As we had been to Nassau on a previous cruise, we didn't care to take any tours and only walked into town for a few minutes. This was also Super Bowl Sunday and the ship hosted a watching party in the Neptune Lounge for the suite occupants. As a result, we missed the Captain's Reception (this was also first formal night). We had a chance to meet the Captain and Hotel Manager at a cocktail party the previous night in the Queen's Lounge. We had sailed with Captain Mercer on the Veendam in 1999 along with Cruise Director, Shawn Cavanah. Missing was the Ship's Hostess, a position HAL has eliminated from its ships. Another change, not necessarily for the better. We felt the hostess lent a certain style to the cruise. I don't know if the next item is necessarily a change but in all my HAL cruises, on formal nights we have always had a ship's officer join us at our table for dinner. Not on this cruise. There were of course, the ubiquitous Bingo Announcements heard throughout the ship. The daily program was down from 4 pages to 2. Another change. About the only activity we participated in was Trivia. The teams are down from 6 members to 4 (fewer prizes) and the one time that my team won, we got a single deck of cards. Immediately after boarding, we had gone to the Neptune Lounge to make a reservation for dinner in the Odyssey. We went for the first time on Tuesday night and discovered 4 of our stalemates there also leaving one couple alone at our table for 8! After we finished, we went to the dining room and joined them for coffee and dessert. I ordered the petite filet and I think it was definitely the best meal of the week. Perfectly prepared. Service was perhaps a little slow. Two mornings we had breakfast in the Odyssey (a perk for suite passengers) but service was very slow and the food was found lacking. The menu is the same as the main dining room for breakfast and lunch. January 29th was our 31st wedding anniversary so our entire table went to the Odyssey for dinner. I love the look of the Odyssey, it's a shame the food and service aren't quite there yet. In St. Kitts, we only went ashore long to enough to walk to the end of the pier and take a photograph of the Zuiderdam and the Oceana berthed side by side. St. Thomas found us anchored outside the channel and forced to tender in. The tenders on the Zuiderdam look as though they are many years older than the ship. The rubber bumpers have come off in many cases and need to be replaced. We were told that they would be leaving one behind in Ft. Lauderdale to be repaired on each of the next few trips. Many passengers got frightened when the tenders got caught in rough water while boarding. Our departure from St. Thomas was delayed as a small boat was deployed to go back for 2 late passengers. This did allow us to see the departure of the other ships that were in St. Thomas that day. We attended a few of the shows in the Vista Lounge (yes, the dining room, lounge and class of ship all have the same name!) We found that the much-touted Royal Boxes do indeed have sight line problems as well as the upper rows of seats on the lower floor. After the first night we sat in the balcony (3rd floor). There were always plenty of empty seats available. I did notice the "odor" in the hallway close to the Queen's Lounge, it wasn't very pleasant but they always had a fan blowing in the hallways to help dissipate it. The staff member who conducted the ship's tour told us that there was indeed a problem with some of the public restrooms and suggested we use the facilities in our cabins whenever possible. She also said that additional public restrooms were being constructed in existing storage rooms. We did notice "out of service" signs on some restrooms. The stage in the Vista Lounge is much larger than on the other ships and the props more elaborate. The shows were new to us and I don't know if they are unique to the Zuiderdam or not. They didn't have the "Rock and Rolldies" show we had seen on previous cruises. (It was time for it to go in my opinion, even though it was fun to participate in it.) The Windstar Cafe is an additional source of revenue for the ship but we only went once and it didn't seem very busy. I could have lived without it. However, at home I drink my cup of coffee while I read the paper and have never walked into one of those "S*******" places. Menus in the dining room are reduced to one page and the selections did seem more limited. I compared copies of the Dutch night menu from this cruise and a previous cruise and found the entrees were mainly the same with fewer appetizers and of course only one salad offered most days. Copies of the evening's menu were delivered to our mailbox each day. It appeared that only applied to the suites. The Zuiderdam has a holder on the wall outside each room for the daily paper, tickets, ship mail, etc. that you used to find slipped under your door. My first impression of the ship was that it was a little too glitzy for me, (my favorite ship was the Veendam) but as the week went on the quirkiness of the dEcor began to grow on me. I have since seen photos of the ship that reflected areas I did not see. It is a big ship but once you learn your way around it's not too bad. On our last cruise on the Zaandam hubby complained the whole time that the ship was too big! We tended to stay in our suite as we enjoyed our verandah so much. No need to go to the pool and fight for a deck chair. Friday was Half Moon Cay, which we shared with the Zaandam (they got there first). We tendered over just to walk on the beach. It was cool enough that only a few people were in the water. If the weather had been nicer, it would have been very crowded on the island. It rained off and on while we were there. We had the barbecue lunch but were disappointed and wished we had gone back to the ship instead. We did have some plumbing problems (toilet that wouldn't flush early in the morning on a few occasions) and the showerhead in the walk-in shower wouldn't stay in place so we showered in the tub. My general impression is that HAL has indeed made some changes and cutbacks. Some of the problems we encountered were due to the fact that it is a new ship but it did seem that the staff was not quite as efficient or as friendly as on past cruises. Maybe this too will resolve itself with time. I feel some of the changes are due to the fact they seem to be aiming at a different demographic (younger, more families). While I understand the need to fill all these new ships, I sail on HAL because I like their style. Would the changes and problems stop me from sailing HAL and especially the Zuiderdam again----------------Absolutely Not! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2003
Let me start out by telling you that my husband I are in our mid fifties and from the midwest. We have been on 14 cruises over the last 14 years, and this cruise on the Millennium was our first with Celebrity. We had been in the Eastern ... Read More
Let me start out by telling you that my husband I are in our mid fifties and from the midwest. We have been on 14 cruises over the last 14 years, and this cruise on the Millennium was our first with Celebrity. We had been in the Eastern Carib area twice before on other cruises, but wanted to experience Celebrity and got a good deal on a balcony cabin, a first for us. We are now spoiled for anything less. I especially loved the balcony just to let some fresh air in, and not having to run up on deck when we arrived in a port was so much more relaxing. We usually book our own air, it's cheaper, and stay at a hotel close to the port. We stayed at the Best Western Harbor & Marina Inn right by Port Everglades. The Inn had a shuttle to the port. We went over about 11:00am, and got thru the embarkation within a half hour. I loved the glass of champagne as you boarded, nice touch. We went ahead up to our cabin,though we were suppose to wait till 1:00pm and it was already cleaned, so we dropped off our carry on, met our cabin steward, and went to tour the ship and check out the lunch buffet. We tried to see where our table was in the dining room,but it was closed for a private party. We checked out where the library was, my hubby loves to read, and the aqua spa to see what was offered. There was a minibar in our cabin, and a small refrigerator. I'd fill an empty water bottle with OJ at breakfast time and keep it in the frig for our fuzzy navels and screwdrivers sipped on our balcony before dinner each evening. Lots of drawer and sufficient closet space, bathroom had a nice size shower and a hair dryer. We usually had a light breakfast brought to our cabin, I loved sitting on the balcony having my second cup of coffee. There was a specialty restaurant for an extra $25 per person, we decided to forgo this experience, and ate early seating dinner in the dining room at a table for six with great tablemates, and a wonderful waiter, Super Mario. The food was delicious, a great time to try some new things, but leave room for dessert. We usually went to the show, stopped in the casino briefly to make our donation, and finished the night at the Cova Cafe for a night cap and the wonderful sound of a string quartet that played there. The saltwater hot tubs and the aqua spa therapy pool was so relaxing, and we often ate a lighter lunch at the aqua spa cafe. There was always room to sunbathe up on the Pool Deck. We would bring two big insulated glasses with us and fill it with ice tea, too sip on while up sunbathing. The only new port of call on this cruise for us was the Dominican Republic, we took the shuttle to the re-creation of an artists colony, I think it's called Altos de Chavon. We opted to return to the ship for a quiet evening. Unfortunately when we docked in San Juan, PR, we didn't dock by the city but several miles inland. You had to take a taxi to and from the ship,$20.00 each way. If they were going to dock that far we thought the cruise line should have supplied free shuttles. St.Thomas is one of the prettiest harbors to sail into. There is lots to do. We had been here before, and had been on the Buck Island Sail & Snorkel, we decided to do this again, it was so much fun. Small sailboats, privately owned, take three couples each and sail out to Buck's Island, drop anchor, and snorkel for the next hour. Once back on board we sit on deck and enjoy beer, soda, cheese and crackers and have a wonderful sail back to the ship. If you enjoy a party cruise, take the Kon-tiki. Did that one in the past too. Our last port was the Bahamas, we did a beach trip and just soaked up the rays and did our own snorkeling. On our return to the ship as you wait in line to get back on board, Celebrity passes out icy cold washcloths to freshen up with, they also give them out when you are up on the pool deck sunbathing. We loved our time on Celebrity's Millennium, so much so we are booked on the Infinity in 2004. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2003
Ms Oosterdam Eastern Caribbean February 08, 2004 - February 15, 2004 Voyage Number 26 Deluxe Veranda Suite Cabin 7058. We sailed on the Ms Oosterdam and returned on the 15th. It was a totally enjoyable cruise. The mean spirited reviews ... Read More
Ms Oosterdam Eastern Caribbean February 08, 2004 - February 15, 2004 Voyage Number 26 Deluxe Veranda Suite Cabin 7058. We sailed on the Ms Oosterdam and returned on the 15th. It was a totally enjoyable cruise. The mean spirited reviews We've read of her and of her sister Vista Class ship are totally and completely exaggerated and unfair. Our cruise last week on , the Ms Oosterdam was by far the best cruise experience we've had, this cruise has raised the Bar and probably spoiled us for ever. Where do We begin? Since we live in South Florida, we had a short drive to Port Everglades. Baggage drop-off was quick and friendly and the Port has excellent parking facilities just across from the HAL terminal. Since we had a Deluxe Veranda Suite, Embarkation was a breeze. We had our own area to check in, no line, no waiting. We simply walked up to the counter, provided the agent with our documents, had our picture taken, received our boarding cards, went through security and were on the ship within 15 minutes. We took advantage of HAL's 11:30 early boarding and were promptly escorted to the Neptune Lounge. We were greeted by two very charming young ladies, Arlene and Julie who welcomed us to the Oosterdam Family. Captain Mercer and HAL's management team should take pride in these two employees. Over the next seven days they made sure our every wish was taken care of. Arlene & Julie took care of our shore excursions, our private cabana on Half Moon Cay (well worth the extra charges), our dinner reservations, and even the complimentary laundry and dry cleaning. All guests in (S) Deluxe Verandah Suites enjoy the amenities of the Neptune lounge and its staff. A wonderful perk which included coffee/tea service all day, drinks, snacks, finger sandwiches, etc. Arlene and Julie who staff the lounge are a sweet, lovely and caring young ladies who will help you with anything you need. This was our first cruise with HAL's Deluxe Veranda Suite and we are spoiled. The stateroom suites are very spacious, nicely decorated, a changing area, and large bathroom with whirlpool tub and shower stall. Our room steward Si took pride in servicing the cabin and always made sure are room was clean, neat and well stocked. On days in Port Si could be found washing the Verandahs and making sure the cabin was always in tip top shape. The veranda is quite large and includes a small dining table, four chairs and 2 lounge chairs and ottomans. We enjoyed sitting on the veranda, as we enjoyed our morning room service. Room service was efficient and our food was delivered hot. The "S" cabin is well worth the few extra dollars you will spend if you like being treated like Queens & Kings. The ship is beautiful and the dEcor is timeless. The ship is easy to maneuver and well lit. The layout of this ship is well thought out. The food on the Lido was delicious and the service was terrific. Sammy one of the servers was often seen carrying trays for many of the older cruisers. The food choices were well varied and the desserts and ice cream were delicious. We were 2nd seating on deck 3 of the Vista dining room, right along the staircase railing. It is true that the room did vibrate for a moment or two and the ship did "rock and roll" However the winds were gale force and the waves were quite high, if Captain Mercer could control the weather he would have. We had the opportunity to meet Captain Mercer at both the Private Suite Cocktail Party and the Private Suite Brunch in the Crows Nest. Both events are additional special treats for guests in the Deluxe Verandah Suite. The food in the Vista Dining Room was fantastic, however the Captain and his crew made sure the food at the Suite Brunch was even better. We received exceptional service from our Head Waiter Freddy, our waiter Mohab, our assistant waiter, Heri, and our Wine Steward Ricardo. The food was excellent and the portions were in perfect amounts. Some appetizers/entrees/desserts were so good; we had second portions that were delivered immediately. We also had breakfast and lunch in the Vista, and although the servers were different due to the open seating we were always treated like royalty. We visited the alternative dining venue - The Pinnacle Grill. It's name says it all, the food was Fantastic!. Our server Atilo was superb (the $20/pp cover charge was well worth it). Pools are small, but never seemed overcrowded. However one of the few negatives on this ship was poolside service.. Poolside servers were sporadic, deck attendants were non existent. The ports of call Nassau, St. Martin and Tortola were great, and the ship's excursion staff made sure the excursions came off without a hitch. Half Moon Cay was our last port of call and HAL left the best for last. Half Moon is lovely, fantastic, wonderful, beautiful, dreamy, and the addition of the Private Cabana, made Half Moon Cay our little piece of paradise. Our last day was spent on one of the most beautiful beaches we've ever seen with soft white sand, in the warm sun, swimming in crystal clear aqua blue water. Along with the rental of the cabana comes the pampering staff of JoJo and Oliver who made sure we had plenty of food and drink. This port of call is the one reason why we wouldn't sail with anyone else but HAL or its parent Carnival who share this island. HAL and its Vista Class of Ships are truly the top of the Contemporary Cruise Lines. We have read many nit picky, moaning, whiny reviews and wonder why certain people are so critical. HAL is clearly not the equivalent of Crystal or Radisson however it is at the top of the Contemporary Lines along with Celebrity. HAL attracts a special group of passengers who are nice, friendly and yes the average age on the ship is sixty something. What we did not miss were hundred of cruisers who might have had a little too much too drink, HAL is a happy classy ship but not the party ship. The new cruise director Dane, the Senior Assistant Cruise Direct Jason along with Elizabeth, Cameron and DJ Mark did an excellent job making sure everything from BINGO to KARAOKE were enjoyable. It's too bad we did not win the $5,000 Bingo Jackpot!! The Oosterdam Singer and Dancers were fantastic, the headline acts were great and "The Mikes", were a special treat. If you like being spoiled on vacation book HAL and the Oosterdam. Bon Voyage. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2003
I would have to say that my experience on the Navigator of the Seas was one of the most memorable vacations I've ever had. My husband and I booked this cruise to celebrate our anniversary and this was truly a great experience. We were ... Read More
I would have to say that my experience on the Navigator of the Seas was one of the most memorable vacations I've ever had. My husband and I booked this cruise to celebrate our anniversary and this was truly a great experience. We were first time cruisers and weren't sure exactly what to expect. We had been to all-inclusive resorts before, but this was even better. From day one we were given top-rate service by everyone. From the bartenders and the dining room staff, to our room attendant, we can't say enough about this experience. One of the best bartenders aboard this ship is Adrian in the Boleros Lounge. From the night we met Adrian, he would greet us by name everytime we would stop by. With thousands of passengers on this cruise, we thought this was amazing that he would remembers us by name. He was also fun to be around and took the time to tell some stories and laughs. Our dining experience was also exquisite. Our waiter, Jorge, from Portugal was great. He took the time to speak to us about some of his experiences aboard this ship and others. He gave us some great tips for our shore excursions also. He is definitely one of a kind. One of the things we noticed about our cruise was the how clean everything was kept. We didn't see one speck of dirt or dust anywhere on this ship. If we hadn't known this ship was over 1 year old, we would have thought it was brand new. It is a beautifully decorated vessel and definitely well designed. Some things not to miss on this cruise would be the ice show, and the nightly entertainment. We couldn't wait each day to find out what kind of show would be in the theater. The shows were very professional and entertaining. Overall, I would say this was the best vacation we ever had. Although we were traveling alone, we met some great people. We have two children that we will be bringing on the next cruise. We are all looking forward to it. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2003
Well, as our first cruise, I don't think we could of picked a worse one. The Disney Magic gave no "cruise ship feeling" like when youre relaxed and out at sea. Well of course, we were literally blown away by how much stuff ... Read More
Well, as our first cruise, I don't think we could of picked a worse one. The Disney Magic gave no "cruise ship feeling" like when youre relaxed and out at sea. Well of course, we were literally blown away by how much stuff they threw at us everyday. Well, here is the full explanation. Day 1: Port Canaveral We took a bus from our rental car place into the terminal and signed it. Since we were "foreign" aka Canadians, we had to stand in 1 huge line winding around the front of the terminal with 3 tellers. After a half an hour, we finally got to the front and found that the people there were very inexperienced and couldn't read our "foreign passports" properly. Shortly after, we boarded and we had a man announce our last name was the band played which was quite enjoyable. After that, a swarm of people came rushing at us to offer us different Disney deals, to visit the Disney shop, different Disney contests. After we finally escaped that, we took our elevator to the 8th deck where we entered our room. We found that the bathrooms where separated which was quite nice. The hallway at the entrance was too small for any one - two people to even get through. We found our room smallish with barely enough room to squeeze by the beds at night. The balcony was nice with a great view and, what looked like, sorta new patio furniture. For dinner that night, we had a little card that said: "Go to Parrot Cay and be seated at this table." We went and were directed to a table right in the middle of the humongous dining room. We then met our "drinks waiter" who was very friendly and was very experienced. Our "meal waiter" was a tad slow and there was major difficulty trying to order because he didnt speak English very well. The meal its self was so so, your average Disney meal. I found it tasty but not jumping into the amazing category. That night, we met our friendly maid who introduced herself very nicely. Day 2: At Sea This day was one of the 3 days at sea during our journey. We went to breakfast at Parrot Cay, and again, it was iffy. That day was nice and hot and we wanted to relax; however that was not the case. When we got up to the pool deck, the family pool AND the kids pool were both amazingly busy. We fought our way and finally got a 4-person table by the pizza place. This pizza and hotdog stands on the top were both fabulous (this is where Disney shines the most). So we decided to take a look at the kids pool, which was swarming with screaming kids and running around kids. The waterslide was lined up at least for 15 minutes and no tables or chairs were empty. All the while, there was a band playing extremely loud music that you could hear all throughout the deck, which prevented us from doing any relaxation. After about an hour on the deck, we decided to go back to our stateroom and just watch TV and relax on the deck until dinner. We had dinner at Lumieres that night which we got on another card. The menu this time had lavish and different choices. I went and ordered a large steak, and again, it wasnt that good at all. My brother, who was a child, had his worst meal there where his mash potatoes were cold. Day 3: At Sea Another day at sea would seem relaxing, however it was a repeat of day 2. We went for our character breakfast that day and the food was not very tasty. When the characters came around, they seemed to want to get away from our table to try and make it to someone else. After, my brother wanted to go into the kids program so we went in. At the time, I was a teen so I went into the teens club. This is where I think Disney really bombed. I got in and it was a 20-minute free time until we had to go to activities on deck, and then to a dance party for 30 minutes. I found that being pushed around and being told where to go was very bad. My parents, however, signed me up for a program where I can sign myself out whenever I want and go do something else. After activities on deck, I did do that, signed myself out, and then went back to our stateroom to relax. After about an hour, I headed back to the teens club and there were my parents and the manager of the teens program. Apparently, I had run off in the middle of the activity and I was being rude to other kids on activities. This was definitely not true; there were kids that I met there that told them over and over that I barely participated in them. So they took off my privilege to sign myself out. My parents wanted to keep me in that program so they had to pay an extra $250 to get it back. We never went back to the teens room. After that we saw a movie in the movie theatre, which was surprisingly not busy. After the movie, we went to pick up my brother and he said that the kids at the program teased him continuously. We talked to the managers and they said that my brother was the one who was teasing. And it was clear that my brother had a bruised knee and was limping. After that we, again, went back to our stateroom to just relax till dinner. At dinner, we went to Animators Palate, which we thought was quite neat because of the changing walls. The food, again, was not that great and we still had the same waiter/waitress, and the same table number. Day 4: St. Maarten/St. Marten We arrived at St.Maarten extremely early in the morning and had to get up at 5AM to get to customs. The lineup was at least an hour long and we, again, were singled out cause we were Canadians. After that we got out and had to wait in another line to get out of the ship. When we got off, it was really nice on the island, however chaos began shortly after. We had booked a See/Sea tour where we go on a bus and boat tour, and no one could find out bus. Well after the shore excursion, we came back to the ship early not to take the last leg of the journey. My mom went to the spa where there were discounts, and we just stayed in our stateroom again until dinner. We could hear loud music and tons of people above us. That night, we went to Parrot Cay again and got sat at the same table as before. The food pattern really continued throughout the whole trip, not very good  tasty. Day 5: St. Thomas We arrived at the island, again, extremely early in the morning and had to wake up, once again, extremely early. At customs, I forgot to mention, they came around serving muffins, however only one person could have 1 muffin, and 1 person could have 1 bagel. After all the craziness of customs, we got onto the island and really enjoyed it. After we got back, we came onto the ship again. From this point on, we really didn't do much because of the mess we experienced before. So we didn't even bother even going anywhere else, we just went to our stateroom, relaxed, slept, and just enjoyed. For dinner we went to lumpier's and pretty much the same thing that has happened the other nights. Day 6: At Sea We woke up extra late because of the two previous days that were very early. We went for brunch at the Topsider Buffet and it was the best breakfast we had the whole cruise. That whole entire day, we stayed in our stateroom, saw a movie, and other things. We did see an extremely well done magic show in the theatre, and the magician was Canadian! For dinner this time, me and my brother stayed at Animators Palate and my parents went to Palo. When my parents got back, they said that Palo was very well done and was the best meal this whole voyage. Day 7: Castaway cagy Disney's private island in the Bahamas is nothing like the actual Bahamas itself. We got off again and took a very long tram from the dock to the family beach. The family beach was absolutely packed, we got a seat at the very far end of the beach. When we went for a swim, we found that the water was very cold. We finally decided to go snorkeling and when we did, we found that it was the only place in the Bahamas with no fish. There were no fish, just lame plastic models of coral, octopuses, and fish. For lunch, they served us pizza which was again, good. Everywhere you turned there were people trying to sell you stuff and tons of stores/shacks located all around the ship. After around 3Pm, there was almost no one there so for 30 mins we just sat on the beach to enjoy our only peace and quiet time. Our voyage overall wasn't that great, but if you are a returning cruiser, then this is a good choice for you. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2003
I can't say enough about Seabourn. It is definitely the BEST. I cannot say it better than what the professional critics write. Service is unbelievable. After embarking, we were given champagne while getting our ID cards, etc. There ... Read More
I can't say enough about Seabourn. It is definitely the BEST. I cannot say it better than what the professional critics write. Service is unbelievable. After embarking, we were given champagne while getting our ID cards, etc. There was a bottle of champagne waiting in our suite, which was replenished daily. And when we disembarked, the captain was standing at the bottom of the stairs to thank everyone for sailing with Seabourn and to shake their hand. Everyone knows your name after one day. We dined with an officer each night: the captain one night, entertainment director another, ship's doctor, etc. The captain invited us to the bridge as we were leaving one port and even let me blow the ship's whistle. Had a beach barbeque one day with grilled shrimp, lobster, etc. All served on china, good tableware and glasses -- no paper plates or plastic cups! They even served caviar. We also had caviar and champagne every night at cocktail hour. At an outdoor party one night I walked over to the bar to get a glass of champagne. A white-gloved waiter appeared behind me and took the glass from me to carry to my table. Since the vessel is small, entertainment is limited and unlike the large cruise lines. However, it was very entertaining and we even saw Elvis one night! Both Seabourn and Cunard are owned by Carnival Corp. But comparing Seabourn to the new QM2 (which I just returned from) is like comparing a Rolls Royce (Seabourn) to a Chevy (QM2), although the Queen is magnificent decor-wise. Would I take another Seabourn cruise? Definitely! (hopefully next year) Read Less
Sail Date: March 2003
I went on a 7-night, Eastern Caribbean cruise aboard the Disney Magic from 3/8/03-3/15/03. It was my first cruise and certainly not the last. Day 1-Port Canaveral Embarkation We flew into Orlando and boarded a bus, complements of the ... Read More
I went on a 7-night, Eastern Caribbean cruise aboard the Disney Magic from 3/8/03-3/15/03. It was my first cruise and certainly not the last. Day 1-Port Canaveral Embarkation We flew into Orlando and boarded a bus, complements of the cruise line, to make the one hour drive from MCO to Port Canaveral. During the ride, they showed a video featuring the various things to do aboard the ship. Once there, we checked-in in the beautiful terminal and boarded the ship (but not after encountering a long line). It was around noon and we were informed that our room wouldn't be ready until 1:30, so we decided to eat the fabulous buffet at Parrot Cay. Our room was very big for a cruise ship with a very large balcony. The sail-away party was truly Disney with all the characters topside dancing as the ship pulled out of Port Canaveral. That night we met our waiters Raj and Corinne who were truly the best. Day 2 & 3-At sea. I truly enjoyed the sea days. We had a wine tasting while the kids had a blast at the oceaneers lab. In the afternoon we hung out topside. Played in the pool got snacks from scoops ice cream and the pizzeria. The 2nd night we ate at lumieres with a formal night. A very fine restaurant. The 3rd night we ate at Animators Palate which was truly impressive. The restaurant's walls, as well as the waiter's vests, slowly changed from black and white to full color during the course of the meal. Day 4-St. Maarten. Of all of our stops, this was probably my least favorite. While at first the sparkling cruise docks seemed nice, much of the island was very run down. Our tour was also disappointing and some what boring. Day 5-St. Thomas/St. John. Our shore excursion took us to St. John which was very beautiful, full of lush, tropical rainforests and beautiful white sand beaches. Day 6-Castaway Cay. My favorite stop. Disney's private island of Castaway Cay was full almost completely beach. We never once felt crowded, even with well over a thousand people. We rented inner tubes and just floated along a swam. Day 7-Port Canaveral Disembarkation. After a some what emotional goodbye to Raj and Corinne, we exited the Disney Magic. The night before, our baggage was collected and we retrieved it upon exiting the ship. Disney had airline agents at the terminal who checked and tagged our bags, then put them on trucks and took them to the airport. All in all, the Disney Magic is a worthwhile cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2003
This was our 8th cruise; 7th with Carnival, and the 2nd for our two children, 5 and 7. We flew into Ft. Lauderdale 2 days prior and stayed in Miami to enjoy the sights. We reserved our hotel through Expedia.com and stayed at the Dupont ... Read More
This was our 8th cruise; 7th with Carnival, and the 2nd for our two children, 5 and 7. We flew into Ft. Lauderdale 2 days prior and stayed in Miami to enjoy the sights. We reserved our hotel through Expedia.com and stayed at the Dupont Plaza Hotel. It is located on Biscayne Blvd. Way. It's approximately ½ mile from Bayside. Although the hotel was rated 3 stars, it didn't really turn out to be all that was promised. It's a very old hotel that's in desperate need of renovation. It also has a large number of long term residents (most who work on various boats/ships which sail from the Port of Miami). Overall, the hotel was spotless, so it turned out to be suitable for the $65.00 per night price we paid. EMBARKATION We were lucky enough to upgrade to a Category 12 Suite at the last minute for a nominal price increase. This allowed us to utilize the Skipper's Club (which we had used in the past). We proceeded to a private room and were able to sit at the desk while we checked in. Unfortunately, due to Sept. 11, you no longer are escorted directly to your suite. You must proceed to the waiting area, obtain your Sign & Sail cards and wait with the masses. Overall, the wait for boarding was approximately 1hour. Not bad, considering. THE SHIP Our first impression was "wow". It's the first Carnival ship that had virtually no neon lights or loud, bold colors. The tones are on the neutral side with copper, rather than brass accents. Very pleasing to the eye. Although I'm a recently reformed smoker, I immediately noticed the absence of smoke and that the overall condition of the ship was superior to newer ships we have been on. The layout is exactly the same as the other Fantasy class ships. Very easy to get around and find what you're looking for. We did notice, however, that the main pool located midship is MUCH smaller than on the other Fantasy class ships. There is a large bandstand area, that takes up a lot of space in the pool area. We spent most of our pool time either at the children's pool or aft on the top deck. THE CROWD Overall, we found many families with small children (it was the week AFTER Easter vacation) and couples ranging from mid thirties to mid sixties. The overall atmosphere of the cruise was less noisy and rowdy than other cruises we've been on. The night life was also rather subdued. We enjoyed that aspect very much. I opted to purchase a tuxedo as we plan on cruising again and again. My wife wore gowns as did my 7 year old daughter. We purchased a double breasted suit for our 5 year old son. All of these items were purchased at local department stores for significantly less money than casual clothes (suit, dresses) would have been. Shop several months before and the deals will come. CAMP CARNIVAL My wife and I cannot say enough about Camp Carnival. Our children made some great friends right away and many times we had to tell them they couldn't spend all day and all night there. We did utilize the babysitting/slumber party service on 4 of the nights. We picked up the children by midnight and put them right to bed. We usually send them in their sleepwear, which makes it much easier to put them to bed once you're back in the cabin. CABIN/SUITE On the Fantasy class ships, the only way to have a balcony is to book a Category 11 or 12 suite, unfortunately. Our suite was quite large. It had a sitting area with large, sectional sofa and 2 chairs, sleeping area, large vanity/desk area, tv/vcr/bar area with refrigerator, walk in closet and a pretty decent sized bathroom with whirlpool tub. The kids used the whirlpool tub almost every night! The balcony was a decent size also, allowing room for all 4 of us to be out there without feeling cramped. We do feel that Carnival should provide some "extras" to passengers in the suites. We didn't even get a deck or cards or keychains like we did on previous cruises. Just a suggestion. SERVICE The service was some of the best we have ever had. The room steward worked very hard during the week and did an excellent job. With 2 small children, we had brought a lot of toys/books/games and they were always kept organized. The dining room staff in the Elation Dining Room were prompt and attentive. I did notice, however, that they didn't remember likes/dislikes as much as they used to. That did NOT affect our overall experience. It's just an observation. ENTERTAINMENT This is the only area we thought could use some improvement. The first production, called Dream Voyage was probably the worst we've seen at sea to date. Many people left in the middle. It was very drab and lifeless. The second show, Shout, was much better, however, still not up to par with previous shows we've seen. Usually our children love the ornate costumes and sets. The show lacked those items but overall, it was an enjoyable show with top 40 hits spanning the 50's through the 90's. The Talent Show is always enjoyable but there were more "real" people who participated. Usually, there are several who would qualify as the next American Idol. There were no professional singers in this show. Jeff Bronson was our cruise director, filling in for Troy Linton who was off for a few weeks. Jeff did a good job. He was very friendly and approachable. The jokes were old, but after several cruises, you tend to hear them over and over again. FOOD The food was much better than our cruise last year on the Sensation. The beef on this trip was cooked perfectly and was delicious. The Filet Mignon, Sirloin and Chateaubriand could be cut with a spoon. The lobster was a bit chewy, but we're used to Maine Lobsters and when you're cooking for 2,000, not everything will be perfect. The desserts were pretty good. Our all time favorite is still Decadence of Chocolate. The food in the Paris Restaurant on the Lido Deck is standard cruise fare. The pizza, as always, is very good. The kids loved the salad bar and the ice cream. They also had a sandwich station with tuna, corned beef and other cold cuts. Very nice for a change. PORTS OF CALL Nassau: The shopping in Nassau is decent and the islanders for the most part, are just trying to earn a living. When you say no, they pretty much back off. We took the Blue Lagoon excursion through the ship. It's beautiful! We spent the day swimming and just relaxing. The kids loved it! You can also take part in the Dolphin Encounter (for more money) if you wish. There is a snack bar and restrooms. A must, for families! St. Thomas: What can I say? One of our favorite ports. Having been there 2 other times, we chose to take the Red Hook Ferry over to St. John. The ship's excursions were very expensive and didn't give enough beach time. It cost about $90.00 total, roundtrip, for taxis/ferry to St. John. $3.00 pp for admission. For 2 adults and 2 children, that was a bargain! The ship was charging nearly $60 pp for the same trip. St. John is perhaps one of the most beautiful beaches we've ever seen. There were 5 ships in port that day. That means approximately 12,000 passengers, yet there were only about 150 people at St. John. I guess Aegean's Bay had the rest!! Casa De Campo: This is one of Carnival's newest stops, and you can tell. We opted for the Catalina Island Excursion. We had heard that the islanders were very pushy and not used to cruise passengers. The Paradise only stops there alternate weeks, so they've got to make their money when the ship docks. I don't believe any other ships stop there yet. The ferry ride over was EXTREMELY rough. Several passengers got seasick. Take your Dramamine! The island was crowded but very nice. The surf is very rough and the undertow, at times, a bit unsettling. We had to hold on to the kids the entire time. We still had a great time. There are restrooms, snack bar and some gift "shacks". They will try to charge you outrageous money for junk. Be prepared to bargain! Overall, we had a fantastic time. I highly recommend the Paradise as well as Carnival overall. With small children, Carnival's programs can't be beat! I also think that there isn't a better bang for your buck. Royal Caribbean was almost twice the price. I'd rather take 2 cruises! Norwegian was comparable in price, but I've heard some negatives about the kids' programs. Feel free to email me at born2crooz@aol.com and reference the Paradise in the comment section (so I don't think it's junk mail). Read Less
Sail Date: April 2003
Our recent cruise on the Golden Princess was thoroughly enjoyable; however, there were some noticeable problems with the ship. Although the ship is quite large - carrying 2600 passengers - the design is quite good and one never feels lost ... Read More
Our recent cruise on the Golden Princess was thoroughly enjoyable; however, there were some noticeable problems with the ship. Although the ship is quite large - carrying 2600 passengers - the design is quite good and one never feels lost on the ship, despite its large scale. There are many small lounges and cozy corners tucked away where one can get some privacy. On our cruise, which took place Easter week, the ship was filled to capacity and the crowding was quite noticeable on several occasions. The crowding problem began with embarkation in Ft. Lauderdale. This was a real cattle call from the time we stepped off the airplane. The rather surly Princess "hostesses" pointed us to an area and told us we had to wait for the buses. Not much of a welcome. We were then herded on the buses for the short ride to the terminal. A huge line was already in place just to enter the terminal. Inside, things were poorly organized and an hour and a half later, we finally boarded. Services very disappointing at this end, especially when contrasted with out Princess sailings. Our cabin, with its balcony, was lovely. Plenty of closet space and privacy on the balcony. Our cabin steward was cheerful and helpful throughout the week. The Golden Princess is to be commended for its service and many welcoming faces. We selected Personal Choice dining and, despite the best efforts of the maitre d', found ourselves waiting for a table or not given the sort of table which we requested. If you enjoy meeting new people for dinner conversation, don't expect to always be seated at a large table with Personal Choice. The dining room staff was mostly competent, although a little rough around the edges. The food was more than adequate, with strengths in presentation, appetizers and desserts. Princess engages in shameless wine promoting, but has an uninteresting wine list and servers who are not well-versed in wine. The pool areas and the buffet area are all appealing and well-designed. The Conservatory is especially pretty, with its retractable roof. The atrium area is also attractive; the many bars and lounges of the Promenade deck comfortable. There is plenty to do on the cruise - expect all the traditional entertainments, games and activities. The Skywalker Lounge is accessed by an escalator, but the decor is early Star Trek. The architectural interest is from the outside only. The crowds on the ship were particularly evident at the Immigration check, which was needlessly time-consuming and poorly handled. The worst aspect of the crowding was the hoarding of deck chairs by people who would leave chairs unattended for hours, "reserved" by a towel or a book. Some people actually reserved chairs for both sun and shade, leaving politer passengers in the predicament of wandering for hours, looking for a vacant chair. The staff does nothing to prevent this, aside from placing signs which are ignored. Golden Princess has some relatively tacky aspects - there is evidence of cheesiness with the ubiquitous selling of CDs, add-ons for gym classes, the "wine tastings," paper-packaged toiletries, in addition to the usual photograph-taking and atrium bazaars. Princess should concentrate on the nice touches which usually characterize their cruises. All in all, however, it was a lovely cruise, despite the crowding and bad behavior of some passengers. The Princess Cay is absolutely delightful - a pristine beach which is beautiful - could have used more time on it. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2003
GETTING THERE  bby and I flew from Detroit to Orlando on Thursday May 1st 2 days before the cruise. I had booked the Radisson at the Port for $79 and had arranged for Cocoa Beach Shuttle to pick us up in Orlando at 11am ($21 each, one ... Read More
GETTING THERE  bby and I flew from Detroit to Orlando on Thursday May 1st 2 days before the cruise. I had booked the Radisson at the Port for $79 and had arranged for Cocoa Beach Shuttle to pick us up in Orlando at 11am ($21 each, one way). Bad weather in Detroit delayed our flight by 30 minutes so by the time we got to the luggage carousel it was already 10:45. A quick call to the shuttle company to let them know of the delay and to ask if the driver could please wait and we were all set. After getting our bags we had quite a hike to the Cocoa Beach Shuttle pick-up location and the driver told us if we had called back and told him how far we had to walk he would have driven and picked us up!!! Anyway on to the Radisson. RADISSON AT THE PORT -- We checked in at 12:15 and after a bit of confusion finding the elevators headed off to our room. We also booked the 10:20 am shuttle to the port at this time. Nice room, not so nice location-second floor right at the top of the stairs. Rooms face out to a common walkway, which meant we couldn't keep our curtains open unless we wanted to provide a free show for the other guests. Called down to the front desk and with no hesitation they said they would move us but it might be an hour or so before another room was ready. This was fine, as we knew we had checked in early. Also they had the 40th Space Congress going on in the convention center adjacent to the hotel and the hotel was full of NASA people. On Friday when the NASA folks left they had a Youth Group having a convention. This hotel is very busy and probably full most of the time. Asked if they had somewhere we could put our luggage while they got our new room ready. Staff told us to leave them in the room and they would move them for us when the new room was ready. So with that resolved we decided to get something to eat. There is a McDonalds right across the street from the hotel and 2 other restaurants on either side of the hotel. There is also a Subway. Our shuttle driver had told us that Kelsey's had very good Italian food and that Zachary's had good breakfasts. So since we had been up since 3am we decided to have breakfast. Food was good, portions quite big. Other than the restaurants there really isn't anything else within walking distance of the hotel, something to consider if you are not using a vehicle, which we weren't. It was 2:30 before we received our new room so after unpacking a few essentials we decided to just chill out by the pool. For supper we went to Kelsey's, food very good here. Both mornings we had the hotel buffet $7.99 per person. It was your standard breakfast buffet but they did have a chef to prepare eggs anyway you wanted them or omelets. Friday morning we decided to take a cab to Merrit Square Mall $15 each way. We wandered around the mall and they walked over to Walgreens and then headed back to the hotel for a swim. The pool was great, the sun was shining and the beer was cold. It doesn't get much better than that. Friday night we went to Subway for supper. Spending the 2 days at the Radisson was a great way to start our vacation, gave us time to unwind and relax. Although the Radisson was great next time we might stay in Cocoa Beach just because there seemed to be more things to do within walking distance. GETTING TO THE PORT -- Saturday morning we gathered our suitcases and waited outside the hotel for the shuttle. The shuttle was going back and forth bringing people back from the previous weeks cruise but the first shuttle to the port was at 10:20. Don't know if this is common practice but our driver didn't have the list of people who had booked the shuttle and took a family of 4 who were waiting outside the hotel for a taxi. So if you book the shuttle it is a good idea to be outside. There were 2 shuttle vans that could probably hold 12 people plus luggage. Off to the port we went..... BOARDING THE PRIDE -- Arriving at the Port we could first see the Disney Magic and then the beautiful Carnival Pride. The other folks in the shuttle with us were going on the Magic so they were dropped off first. We dropped our luggage off and after generously tipping the handler (remember these people are responsible for getting your luggage on the ship, very important not to upset them!!!). We proceeded inside. Not too many people waiting in line, but it still amazes me the number of people who wait until they reach the port to fill out their documents???? As hubby and I are not US citizens we headed to the non citizen line. Not too many people in this line either. By 11:15 we were sitting in the second row of chairs waiting to board. They did check picture ID's several times so make sure to have them handy. We then watched as several brides made their way on board for pre cruise wedding services. We heard at one of the shows we had 27 honeymooning couples, not sure how many were married on board. But do know one couple got married in St. Thomas. We were allowed to board by 12-12:15, that was great. They ask that guests not go to their cabins until as least 12:30 to give the Stewards time to clean up from the previous guests. We went up to 7218 on the Verendah deck just to look and then headed down to the lido deck for lunch. We had hamburgers and fries. The hamburgers were just as good as we remembered from last year on the Triumph. We then decided to check out our table in the Normandie Dining Room. We had early seating, which was what we had requested. Last year we sat at a table for 10 and had great tablemates, one couple we exchanged Christmas cards with this past Christmas. This year we had been assigned a booth for 4. We would have preferred a bigger table or a table for two. Our reasoning behind this is what if you have nothing in common or just don't get along with these 2 other people it could make for a long uncomfortable week of dining. We decided to request a table for 2. Mr. Husine Mersine the assistant Maitre'd was taking care of the changes. He is a delightful gentleman who we saw many times during the week in the dining room. He was able to accommodate us with a table for 2 during early seating. We then headed off to our cabin to unload our carry on baggage. LIFEBOAT DRILL AND SAILING AWAY -- Lifeboat drill was at 4pm, the usual hot and sweaty procedure. The ship pulled away from shore around 4:30. The only reason we knew this is because I happened to look outside and realized we were moving. On the Triumph a big deal was made of the sail away, but no such thing on the Pride. This was somewhat disappointing, but we made the best of it by going up to one of the top decks. We had lots of people waving from smaller boats and lots of people on land also waving. It is such a thrill to know that vacation had officially started. By the time we got back to our cabin our luggage had arrived, which was great I unpacked everything before dinner. NORMANDIE DINING ROOM -- We ate in the dining room every night except the day we were in St. Maarten. That day we had a later excursion and didn't feel like rushing to get ready for dinner. The food was very good each night. Hubby and I had a variety of different dishes and had no complaints. The chocolate soufflE and the Grand Marnier soufflE were my favorite desserts. The lobster was very good also the Salmon and the Filet Mignon was very tender. Our wait staff were Chris from South Africa (look for him soon on the Glory) and Maia from Thailand his assistant. She was a petite thing and we gave Chris a hard time for letting her carry up the tray with the meals. A couple of times he was a gentleman and helped her. We took the galley tour later in the week and it is 2 decks below the dining room so the staff uses an escalator to transport the meals. This escalator is very narrow and very fast. Couldn't imagine jumping on it carrying a tray of 10 or more dinners. Each night the waiters performed for us, very entertaining. We would often see Maia in the Mermaids Grille at lunchtime and also during the midnight buffet. Gives you a real understanding of how hard these folks work. They definitely deserve their tips. We ate breakfast once in the dining room. Hubby wanted to try the Eggs Benedict. Not bad but the rest of the time we ate at the buffet. They held the Gala Midnight Buffet in the dining room. Everything was spectacular, looked too good to eat. They let everyone in to take pictures and then back in again later to eat. FOOD -- We ate lunch in the Mermaid Grille. Lots to choose from, something to please all tastes. Now having said that we did find the setup somewhat confusing. There are many stations set up with different foods. You have to walk around quite a bit to find everything. It's probably not right to compare as each ship is unique but we found the setup on the Triumph easier. You started with salad worked your way through rolls and bread then main courses and then fruit and dessert at the end. Here the regular salad and the Caesar salad had it's own station as did the fruit. They had potato salad, bean salad coleslaw etc at the end of each of the other stations. There is the deli (excellent turkey and corned beef sandwiches), 24 hr pizzeria (it's amazing how good pizza tastes at midnight!!!), they also had a station with a different nation's food each day, Indian, Mexican (I loved this one), Caribbean etc. Then another station with Asian food and then the regular buffet. So much food so little time LOL!!! ENTERTAINMENT -- CD was Josh Riffe, he was funny but after having Corey on the Triumph Josh had a lot to live up to. I am sure as time goes on he will become better and better. One good thing about him was not so many announcements made during the day. I found the Taj Mahal Lounge cold and after the first night wore a sweatshirt to keep warm. We always sat in the balcony so can't comment on the temperature downstairs. We went to the Welcome Aboard show on the first night. It was fun; they brought passengers up on stage and made them part of the show, I won't give away what they did with the passengers but it was very funny. The comic Michael Macy that came on after the Welcome Aboard show was very funny he also had an adults only show on Sunday that we would have liked to attend but didn't. The show on Sunday was an Illusionist followed by the comic Kenny Miller. Justin Illusion was very entertaining and Kenny Miller was hilarious. Again we didn't make it to the adult only show but I am sure this one would have been great. Monday was the Wonderful World show. We saw this on the Triumph and enjoyed it again on the Pride. Tuesday and Wednesday the shows were a juggler and a comic and a balancing act (Josh likened it to Cirque du Soleil, quite a stretch IMHO) and another comic. We stayed for the juggler and some of the comic on Tuesday. The comic was different to say the least; he apparently arrived in St. Thomas took a nap and was then late for the first show. Hard to tell if his behavior was part of his act or not, anyways as I said different. We just couldn't sit through the balancing act. Now I am sure many people enjoyed both of these shows but they weren't for us. Thursday was VROOM, this was a great show, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Friday of course was passenger talent night. What a great bunch of talented people we had sailing with us. Hats off to them. The Starry Night Lounge was the piano bar and there always seemed to be people in there. Didn't make it to Beauties but heard many others did. Karaoke was also very popular. THE ISLANDS -- Half Moon Cay was our first stop. Paradise in the middle of the Ocean. We went to the Starry night lounge to get tender tickets; we were lucky to receive tickets for the first tender. Hint, we and most of the other passengers waited inside the lounge when in fact they had the passengers make two lines outside of the lounge. So if you get there early enough just sit right outside the doors to the Starry Night Lounge. We then waited for our tender to be announced on the PA. It was nice being one of the first on the island as there are a limited number of shaded areas on the beach. It was a very hot day and being able to sit in the shade was a relief. Great opportunity here to take photos of the Pride anchored out at sea. Sail and sign cards used on the island but they don't have the buckets of beer like they do on the ship. Beer was $4.50 per. Lunch was provided, hamburgers, hot dogs, salads etc. We were about half way down the beach and it was a bit of a hike to find the food. Follow your nose. I went to get our food early (they announce when it is ready) as I had heard about trouble with mosquitoes and they love me. I did take insect repellent actually Avon's Skin so soft as it is the only thing that works for me but didn't need it. They had stations set up for massage $1 a minute. They also have a gift shop and a few stalls selling native stuff. Tendering back to the ship was no problem. St. Thomas -- Here we booked a private tour with Godfrey. After reading many rave reviews for Godfrey I emailed him and arranged to meet him on the pier at 10am. As St. Thomas is a US Virgin Island all passengers must clear customs. Being non-US citizens hubby and I had to go to the Starry Night Lounge at 8am. US citizens were called by deck to the Taj Mahal Lounge. After clearing customs passengers are free to leave the ship. Customs went quicker than we thought and we left the ship at 9am. Since we had some time until we had to meet Godfrey we took the opportunity to take some great pictures of the Pride the Celebrity ship and also the HAL ship Rotterdam that was also in port with us. It was taxicab heaven at the port, very busy, lots of people. We were asked a few times if we needed a taxi and we explained that we had booked with Godfrey (everyone knows Godfrey). At around 9:30 a very well dressed gentleman introduced himself as Godfrey's brother and explained that even though we were early he would call Godfrey. I spoke to Godfrey and he explained that as it was mass confusion at the port he would pay for us to take a taxi into town where he would meet us that way it wouldn't cut into our shopping time. So into a taxi we went and met up with Godfrey in town. The taxi driver tried to collect money from us even though Godfrey's brother had told him not to. Anyway we had 2 hours of shopping, 1 hour 45 min tour of the island and then 2 hours at Coki beach (Coral World is right next door). I would not hesitate to recommend Godfrey to anyone visiting St. Thomas. He will take you to a different beach if you want, depending on what you want to do. We also had people on the same bus that didn't want to go to the beach and he took them back to the ship instead. St. Maarten -- We booked the Carnival See and Sea Island tour $49 each. Which includes a narrated tour around the island, opportunity for picture taking, shopping in Marigot and then a voyage on a semi-submarine. The tour didn't leave until 12 so we had plenty of time to take the water taxi into town to shop. We found the booze and cigarettes to be much cheaper here than in St. Thomas. Crew from the ship also told up that if you can wait to shop until the afternoon you can get some good deals on big ticket items i.e. cameras, camcorders etc. The ship doesn't leave until 7pm so there is plenty of time to shop and do excursions here. After shopping we went back to the ship and grabbed lunch before making our way to the pier for our excursion. You have to walk a little ways past the pier and then board an air-conditioned coach. Our very knowledgeable and friendly driver Danny was from the Dutch side of St. Maarten and he provided a narrative as he drove us around the island. There was lots of traffic and we arrived in Marigot later than usual, about 30 minutes so we only had 45 minutes to shop. We went to the new West Indies Mall which is across the street from where the bus parks. Very nice mall but very pricey. We have dollar stores they had a $10 dollar store!!! I did see a beautiful tablecloth from Provence but the $285 was too steep for me. Also all the prices were in Euros. 1.1 Euros = 1 US$ approx. Back on the bus we headed for Grand Case and it was there we took the Seaworld Explorer out to Creole Rock. This a unique vessel about half way there you go down below and you are now submerged able to view the coral and sea life. They have a diver who feeds the fish, which gives a good opportunity to take pictures. The guide also points out the different kinds of coral, turtles and other sea creatures. Now I am very claustrophobic and my hubby was concerned I would freak out in the confined space but I was fine. You sit 2 on a sit facing forward. It is climate controlled so it is comfortable down there. They served fruit punch or rum punch for the ride back to the bus. A very enjoyable trip, a great way to see below the surface without getting wet. OUR CABIN -- Our cabin was 7218 on the Verandah a balcony cabin with plenty of room for all our things. Had no problems with the shower curtain but did find the shower gel and shampoo provided in the shower to be watered down??? Glad I brought my own. Ladies don't forget conditioner, the sun and salt water makes your hair like straw. There was a nice assortment of shampoos, lotions, toothpaste, tums, ladies and mens razors etc in the room. Our steward was Robert a very friendly person. Our only complaint with him was the one morning we returned to pickup our beach towels to go on deck and our cabin door was open. Thankfully nothing was missing from the cabin. My hubby went up and down the hall to look for Robert with no luck. We had been in the approx 4-5 minutes when Robert knocked on the door. My hubby let him know nicely that we didn't appreciate having our door left open at any time and especially as we were very close to the elevators. He tried to tell us that he had gone for ice and that they often leave the doors open, as they are back and forth very fast. Hubby pointed out that he had looked for Robert and was unable to find him and that 4-5 minutes was plenty of time for someone to come in and take something. Robert apologized and that was the end of the matter until later on Robert knocked and this time I opened the door. I really think he was worried that we would report the incident, which we didn't, and he again apologized for leaving the door open. Other than that incident Robert was fine, always quick with a good morning and a smile. We received a complimentary bottle of wine from Carnival (I had written an email after our first cruise), which we enjoyed during dinner. The Pride has little cubbies outside the doors of each cabins or the mailbox, as we liked to call it. It was always a thrill to come back to the cabin and find we had mail. Miscellaneous -- As mentioned many times before the ship is beautiful. Yes there are many pictures of naked ladies scattered about some more risquE than others. After being on the Triumph last year we found the Pride easier to go from stern to bow. It was nice that you can walk straight through. The Triumph has a dining room in the middle of the ship that blocks that movement. Never felt crowded even on deck during sea days. There was some saving of chairs but there are definitely enough for everyone. One thing we did miss was a quite deck to sit on after dinner. On the Triumph we would often sit on the deck where the atrium is, they had nice padded lounge chairs out there. We could find no such place on the Pride. I did use the Internet and wished I had signed up for the $55 100 minutes package. The connection is very slow so just checking email takes a long time. If you plan on checking email etc every day or even every other day you might want to consider one of the packages. The photo gallery was chaotic at times. They move the pictures daily so even if you find them one day the next they will be somewhere else. It's actually quite comically to watch everyone try to find him or herself. Everyone looks the same after a while. We didn't have too many children on this trip but the CD did say the previous one had 700!!!! They had a laundry special on Thursday. Your Steward leaves a Carnival plastic bag in your room anything you can fit in there is $12. I did this on our last trip and also again this time. It's amazing what you can fit in that small bag. TIME TO LEAVE -- Disembarkation was a breeze. Passengers were allowed to stay in their cabins until their deck was called for disembarkation, much nicer than milling around the halls. We booked a post cruise excursion to Kennedy Space Center, as our flight wasn't until 7:40pm. This meant we could leave the ship first along with anyone with an early flight (before 1pm). Breakfast was served extra early this morning and after our last meal on the Pride we went to the Starry Night Lounge at 6:45am to pickup our passports. Make sure you have your customs forms with you and filled out. From there we returned to our cabin and around 8:15 we made our way to the Taj Mahal Lounge. Anyone taking the excursion was given a sticker to wear. Approx 8:45 Matt, one of the Social Hosts led us from the lounge off the ship. We quickly retrieved our luggage and made our way past customs dropping off the forms in a big basket!!! Outside the terminal was a representative from the excursion group who led us to the Mears bus. It was now 9:15am!!!! Our luggage was put in the bus luggage compartment and we didn't worry about it again until Orlando Airport. KENNEDY SPACE CENTER - This excursion was $75 per person but did include transportation to Orlando Airport. We had a guide with us who narrated on the way to the Space Center. Once there we had to go through a security screening where they asked you to put on your cell phones and camcorders to prove they were real. They also looked through all purses, backpacks etc. Then it was off to look at the exact replica model of the Shuttle Explorer. You are able to go inside and see the cramped quarters the astronauts live in space. Being from Canada it was a thrill to see the Canada Arm. We then walked over to the Astronaut memorial, commemorating all those who have lost their lives in the name of Space exploration. They do not have a memorial for the last Shuttle disaster yet. Then we boarded a Kennedy Space Center bus for a tour around the launch pads, Vehicle Assembly Pad etc. Very interesting. Our next stop was the Firing Room where they re-create an actual Apollo launch. This was amazing right down to the sound of the rocket taking off. You then go into a hanger where they have the Saturn V rocket; this thing is bigger than big. Here they have a gift shop and the Moon Rock Cafe. It was then on to our final destination the IMAX theatre where we saw a 3D movie about the International Space Station. This was very cool. We then returned to our Mears bus an arrived at Orlando Airport for around 2 -2:15. We had a wonderful time and hated to leave. The staff and crew of the Pride where always smiling and helpful. They always seemed to be cleaning even painting the outside of the ship in St. Thomas and St. Maarten. Next year we are planning an all inclusive in Mexico instead of a cruise (I know how could we even think of not cruising). I was looking forward to this but the cruising bug has bitten again and I don't know if we will make it to Mexico. I didn't expect this review to be so long and I have probably forgotten to mention many things. Any questions please ask and I will do my best to answer them. Be sure to check out the Capers, shore excursion list, shopping maps and pictures at: http://community.webshots.com/user/minnie64 Read Less

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