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Cruise Ratings
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5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
We had experienced a partial panama canal transit and decided we had to do a full transit. The workings of the locks is just fascinating if you've never been through it. It was just a relaxing day watching our ship travel through the ... Read More
We had experienced a partial panama canal transit and decided we had to do a full transit. The workings of the locks is just fascinating if you've never been through it. It was just a relaxing day watching our ship travel through the locks and the gentleman who escorted us on the trip with his facts regarding the canal was very interesting. It's hard to believe in this day and time when something starts deteriorating it is torn down and built anew and these locks are over 100 years old and are still operating in their original fashion with the same wooden gates! Staff on board was very courteous and our room steward, Nyoman and Muss were fantastic. They usually had our room cleaned by the time we returned from breakfast in the morning and were always smiling and making sure that everything was satisfactory. Dining room staff was a little slow the first week, however, they soon learned our beverage of choice and had it waiting for us when we sat down. Menu choices were varied and could have had a little more regular items to choose from, but for the most part, the food was tasty and temperature appropriate. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
Princess was doing the Panama canal ... we had been on the sister ship Ocean Princess, so were happy to go on the Pacific Princess. Loved the cruise....weather just o.k. service, food, entertainment great......except for the dining ... Read More
Princess was doing the Panama canal ... we had been on the sister ship Ocean Princess, so were happy to go on the Pacific Princess. Loved the cruise....weather just o.k. service, food, entertainment great......except for the dining room. We were told that princess had changed there dining hours to 5p.m. early and 7:15p.m. for late. Since we like early dining and felt 5 was too early, we chose 7:15..... SURPRISE......each ship can decide on their hours.......5:30 and 7:45. We tried late dining......still at the table at 9:30. We requested early seating, a large table and was given table 34. The next night there were 6 people at a table for 8 including us...and were told that no one was at the other 2seat the previous night. We requested that friends be put at our table and again was told no....the table was full....... we spend 10 nights alone at a table for 8. The Matre De Albert Noversa would walk by each night and ask the diners how everything was. He could see we were alone.....did he not think.....I should try to put them at another table. Or just to lazy or could care less... certainly Not doing his job. I put a note in the suggestion box on board. I HOPE SOMEONE READS IT and that it does not happen to another couple. Makes me question going on another Princess cruise. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
Picked this cruise because I wanted to transit the Panama Canal to celebrate my 70th birthday. Everything was just perfect with one glaring exception. I booked one of the 6 Owner's Suites which are all located at the very stern of ... Read More
Picked this cruise because I wanted to transit the Panama Canal to celebrate my 70th birthday. Everything was just perfect with one glaring exception. I booked one of the 6 Owner's Suites which are all located at the very stern of the boat. I purchased Princess' Premium Unlimited Internet Package for an additional $199. The signal strength in our cabin at the stern of the boat was so poor as to be nonexistent. If I took my Ipad to a public area a midship on the boat the internet worked OK (not particularly high speed). If I tried to log on in my cabin either I got no connection or if it connected the signal would be dropped after a few minutes. If you need to stay in touch with the outside world DO NOT book a suite at the rear of the Pacific Princess. Food was better than I expected, especially in the specialty restaurants ($29 P/P upcharge). The public rooms are quite nice and remind you of the luxury liners of the past. The staff on board were all very friendly and knowledgeable. They really strive to make you feel special and they go the "extra mile" to make sure you are enjoying your experience. The boat is quite small (650 passengers) so you get to know almost everyone. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2019
We chose this cruise because we live in the Seattle area and love not having to deal with air travel at the conclusion, also because my husband can only walk with a walker. We were familiar with all the ports (only one tender port), and ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we live in the Seattle area and love not having to deal with air travel at the conclusion, also because my husband can only walk with a walker. We were familiar with all the ports (only one tender port), and we like longer cruises. We booked the Signature Suite. We needed extra room for the walker and no accessible rooms were available. The first glitch we encountered was that there were only 3 people available to get the wheelchair passengers to their rooms so we waited an extra hour to board. Upon eventually arriving at our suite, we were distressed to find that they have scaled down their bathroom doors below standard size, so it isn't possible to get a standard sized walker through the door. He had to grasp the counter and walk the length of the room holding on to reach the toilet. There was a full sized bathtub--useless to us--and the shower was so small with only one grab bar that he could barely use it. It was just about impossible to shower without flooding the bathroom. After having paid a couple of thousand dollars extra for a suite, this was a disappointment. The balcony door is very heavy and the thresh-hold very high. The good: the showroom, The Main Stage, is great for the disabled; one could put another row of seats between the row of seats on the lower floor and access is great. They have UHD huge televisions in the staterooms and a fair assortment of late movies to choose from. However, we couldn't get enough volume to be able to understand the dialog in the movies, while on all other channels you could have blasted it high enough to hear for a half block in either direction. The Main Stage did blast all their shows that loud. We had to go through immigration twice and had a serious issue with getting wheelchair assistance to get on and off the ship. We were misinformed both times by Guest Services. Phone contact, and even personal contact with Guest Services was poor due to lack of fluent English on the part of staff and difficulty hearing them on the phone. We had a dinner in Canaletto's which wasn't any better than in the main dining room. We had lunch in the Pinnacle which was very good, except that they served instant coffee with our dessert. The "worker bees", as always on HAL are wonderful. Food was acceptable, if not great. Over all, I think many cruise lines are subtlety (sometimes not so subtlety) trying to discourage disabled passengers, while trying to appear welcoming for good public relations. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2019
The Island Princess is a great ship to find your way. we had some rough seas one day but we barely felt it. Embarkation went well and smoothly. we were welcomed on board and went to the atrium until the cabins were ready which was a ... Read More
The Island Princess is a great ship to find your way. we had some rough seas one day but we barely felt it. Embarkation went well and smoothly. we were welcomed on board and went to the atrium until the cabins were ready which was a wait of about 30 minutes. when we got to our cabin we found it spotless and our luggage was outside our door. We had a wonderful lunch in the main dining room. Muster was at 3:30 and I love that we no longer have to lug life vests. One thing I did't like was a lot of deck space was removed as was a show lounge so they could add more cabins to the ship. However, despite the higher number of passengers, the ship rarely felt crowded except during show times and many trivia games. Club class dining had impeccable service. Many of the meals were very good but sometimes they weren't. the quality of meat has gone down. We had the best cabin steward. He was like a ghost but had our cabin refreshed twice a day and happily fulfilled any requests. You have to be careful with the ratings on tours. One "Easy" tour had more walking than I could do and I ended up spending most of it on the bus. The tour desk wasn't very considerate of physically challenged people. Favorite ports included the Panama Canal and Fuerte Amador, Punta Arenas Costa Rica, Puerto Vallarta, San Francisco, and Victoria BC. in Huatulco, there was a horrendous walk from the ship and two three wheel scooters that you could squeeze three people in to get to the shops and tour buses. I think after four times through the canal, it will be a long time before i do this again. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
We chose this cruise last minute after our transatlantic cruise was cancelled last minute. The cruise was wonderful; the cruise director and staff fantastic, and there were so many activities available each day and night. Both the ... Read More
We chose this cruise last minute after our transatlantic cruise was cancelled last minute. The cruise was wonderful; the cruise director and staff fantastic, and there were so many activities available each day and night. Both the production shows and the music entertainment around the ship were good. Food in the main dining room and buffet was excellent, on par (and sometimes better) than Celebrity. The only drawback was the tours offered. They were pricey and one in particular a "Cooking and Discovery" tour while we were in Nicaragua was very misleading. We arrived at the meeting time for the tour, but had to wait 45 minutes to leave. We then had to wait until a tender filled up to make it to shore. We were put on a tiny bus with uncomfortable seats for a 2 1/2 hour drive. When we got to the city, there were no restrooms available and by now it had been almost 4 hours. At the restaurant we neither cooked nor discovered. Friends at our dinner table took a tour in Panama that was terrible as well. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
Cruising the Panama Canal was on my husbands bucket list so this cruise was a birthday gift for him and our 29 year old son. This was my 28th cruise with Carnival and the second time on the Miracle so I'm not new to evaluating what ... Read More
Cruising the Panama Canal was on my husbands bucket list so this cruise was a birthday gift for him and our 29 year old son. This was my 28th cruise with Carnival and the second time on the Miracle so I'm not new to evaluating what works and what doesn't on these ships. I've sailed pretty much every class as well. The Ship - So the Miracle is not the newest or my favorite. But it was a nice size and easy to navigate. Yes the crew is always working hard to keep it clean and updated. I see that on all the ships. We had a suite for the three of us and the balcony was extended and really nice. The cabin itself was nice as well. Very roomy for three adults and our ac worked just fine. The Crew and the Passengers - Probably one of my favorite of all cruises. The prior weeks cruise was spring break so they were thrilled to have a ship full of "old people" with tons of status treating them with respect and warmth. And I have to say - combine an eight day cruise with the cost of the Panama canal and you get an average age of 75 years old and 500 plus diamond and platinum members. Our steward Arnold, our dining staff Lydia and Rosi, the Alchemy Bartenders Jacob and Gabrial and Gabrial's wife by the pool couldn't have been friendlier. And it was not about extra tipping, the crew was just so eager to please. Maybe the nicest crew I've ever experienced. And finally the food. Well I am not a huge fan of the American Table menu on any ship these days but I can always find something I like. Was it fun? Well for my 29 year old he had to find his own fun as there were barely any other passengers even close to his age. But he did. And as far as the entertainment the house band was good as were the vocalists and violin trio. This was not one of those late night cruises for us by a stretch with the crowd on board but it was completely relaxing. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2019
Cruised with my 20 YO Granddaughter. Had a great time despite having very few younger people on the ship. First time to Panama Canal. Tampa embarkation is a little more difficult to me having to park across the street but ok. Got right ... Read More
Cruised with my 20 YO Granddaughter. Had a great time despite having very few younger people on the ship. First time to Panama Canal. Tampa embarkation is a little more difficult to me having to park across the street but ok. Got right on the ship. Cabin was in good position on the ship but Cabin steward was not the best I ever had. Enjoyed the entertainment. Food was adequate but not anything to rave about. Both excursions that we took were fantastic. They cancelled one that we booked with Carnival so we took one from the port at Grand Cayman. The ship is in good shape and I liked the gaudiness. It reminded me of the good old days of cruising. Didn't miss Guy's Burgers, the grill took it's place and was good. Debarkation was easy. Off the ship with my own luggage and on the way home at 8:15. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2019
My husband and I booked this cruise in December. Due to my precarious health we can only book vacations on shorter notice so we picked an item on our bucket list. Last year was a Tanzanian safari and generally prefer land trips so we can ... Read More
My husband and I booked this cruise in December. Due to my precarious health we can only book vacations on shorter notice so we picked an item on our bucket list. Last year was a Tanzanian safari and generally prefer land trips so we can spend more time in an area. We have found cruising to be a great way to explore and get a taste of multiple areas in one trip, thus we cruised the Mediterranean in 2011 and Alaska in 2015 and loved it, Since I do not keep current on the cruising industry, I give my review with consideration that everything I have heard and read leads me to believe things are not what they used to be, i.e., "the good old days". Had this been our first cruise, some of our ratings may have been better. We booked our one way flight thru EZAir flying nonstop from TPA to LAX on our day of embarkation as we didn't find the need to spend extra time in that area. Our flight arrived 30 min early, we were easily able to find our Princess rep and make our transfer to San Pedro, arriving around 11 am. Embarkation was very smooth, we were sitting in the Bordeaux Room shortly after noon, enjoying a rather good bacon cheeseburger. After lunch we went to guest relations to secure the last spot for my husband to go on the Ultimate Ship Tour. We then went back to our cabin to rest a little, wait for our luggage and unpack, and allow shipboard life to begin.... We loved the size of the ship and fond it fairly easy to navigate once we got our bearings. Every once in a while we would find an elevator that didn't go to all decks. The elevator doors closed rather quickly so we always had to be ready to move fast to enter. I walk with a cane so I cannot run. We could tell this was an older ship but it seemed well cared for, nothing was in disrepair. The mini-suite cabin selection available was very limited since we booked late but we were able to have our TA move us closer to midship after final payment when I noticed the availability on Princess.com so we were on Dolphin deck fairly close to midship elevators. I wasn't sure how I would feel with our balcony being open to anyone above us, but it was not a problem. The cabin was very clean, had plenty of storage, outlets, hangars. The couch was a sofa bed that was rather uncomfortable, glad no one would be sleeping on it. We found the two cases of water waiting for us when we arrived and put some in the refrigerator which had an ice bucket which our cabin steward kept filled for us. Despite saying we wanted robes when completing the booking forms, they were absent but promptly supplied wen we asked our steward. We wanted for nothing until tried to get out of the shower. I walk with a cane because all if the muscle surrounding one of my hips was destroyed by a faulty hip replacement. I have limited motion of one leg but the handicap is not severe enough to warrant a handicap cabin. I had read that the sides of the bathtub were high so I was somewhat prepared. The available grab bars made it easy for me to get into the shower but when I went to get, it was entirely different, The bottom of the bathtub was 4-6 inches higher than the floor making the step out impossible for me to keep all of my weight on my bad leg without moving enough that might dislocate my hip. The rim of the tub is very narrow, 2-3 inches wide, so I couldn't sit and get out. I needed something higher to step out onto. We came up with 2 options, 1 was an inverted trashcan and the other was to use the life vest. The latter turned out to be the perfect option, problem solved! We usually ate breakfast at the buffet because we got moving too late for the dining room except for using room service on excursion days. We found the buffet to have a more than adequate selection that we were very happy with. We enjoyed lunch in the dining room but could not always go because of the limited time it was open (12-1:30). Lunch at the buffet was average at best, the selection was fair, they had run out of quite a few items, possibly because we arrived about 30 -45 minutes before closing. We had pizza three times (once from room service) and it was always very good. I'll give dinner its own paragraph because that that is the reason for average rating. We had anytime dining which suited us well. We alternated between a private table for 2 and sharing a table with a group. The companions were always pleasant. Most off the time there were multiple appealing choices. There was no escargot which I understand is part of cutbacks which is no big deal. The Caesar Salad was watery and had little taste on the 2 times I tried it. The food was never served hot, we felt lucky if it was warm. The pasta was way undercooked, it always needed a few minutes additional cooking time to be classified as al dente. Lobster was offered twice and those that had it, enjoyed it. The beef was generally excellent and cooked to request, except that the cowboy New York strip steaks were very chewy. The red snapper, besides being cold, was very fishy tasting and did not seem to be fresh. many of the dishes may have been very good if served at the right temperature. The desserts were usually very good. Service was excellent for the most part with no complaints and some surprises. We were asked when we booked if we were celebrating anything and I answered "our anniversary a few days prior to embarkation". On the second day of our cruise we found many pleasant surprises, balloons and a sign on our cabin door, a greeting card containing gift cards to the spas and shops, plus a letter to give to our waiters at dinner; they sang to us and presented us with a special dessert, bravo Princess Cruises! Everyone works so hard and their efforts are apparent. They were always pleasant to interact with. We have always has anytime dining so that we don't always have the same waitstaff, no problem. We did find the waitstaff on our prior cruises to be much more personable. The purpose of the cruise was the Panama Canal which was awesome. The ports we visited were all new to us except for Puerto Vallarta which we visit on a regular basis so we did not get off of the ship. We were actually disappointed that the port had changed from what we remembered; there used to be a great flea market there. In Huatulco, we didn't do a tour, We just went into the town, walked around the shops and town, watched birds in the park, and had lunch on the beach. We had a delightful day in area that turned back time compared to PV and Cabo. We would certainly consider returning for a longer period of time. San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua is a tendered port so we chose to do Princess tour. We only decided amongst those labeled as easy because of my limitations. We were fortunate to get to go into the port as it was cancelled on the three or four previous cruises because of high winds. I was very windy when we arrived but everything was a go. It was very difficult for me to get on the tender because of the rough waters but we made it. We took a full day tour on a big bus which was a bit of a disappointment as Princess advertises smaller groups. Evidently everything worth seeing is quite a distance from the port so we spent quite a bit of time in the bus, driving, The sights we visited were the Apoyo Crater, a volcano, the city of Granada, and Lake Nicaragua. The buffet lunch in Granada was excellent; we were given time to explore the area but, besides a cathedral across the street, everything worth seeing was 10 -18 blocks away, too far for me to walk in the midday heat. We did enjoy what we saw but do not feel the need to ever return. The next port was Puntarenas, Costa Rica. We had arranges a private tour, the 10 in 1 combo Puntarenas Tour with Thumbs Up Tours who are highly recommended on Cruise Critic and Trip Advisor. Their website is the company name and they were a pleasure to work with. We were the first to contact them so they kept in touch until they had enough people to confirm the tour. as it turned out, enough people for two vehicles signed up so we were in a minivan with another couple and still charged the group of 12 rate of $65, no payment until the end of the tour! We got to see a lot of the Costa Rican countryside, monkeys, macaws, a toucan, and went on a safari boat door. We had wonderful buffet lunch at a restaurant in the rainforest with spectacular views and macaws. Gilbert, our driver and guide was terrific and we highly recommend this tour. We are interested in spending more time in Costa Rica. The port of Fuerte Amador, Panama was another tender port so we chose a Princess tour on a jungle boat excursion through Gatun Lake to see wildlife and scenery found in this area of that Panama Canal System. Getting on the tender boat was again difficult as was the walk down to jungle boat; the tide must have been low so that the slope to walk down to the floating dock was VERY steep, it was difficult but I made it. We saw monkeys who came onto the boat to take grapes from the hands of some of the passengers, some birds, and crocodiles. The tour was fine, no need to revisit. The skyline if Panama City is spectacular. Cruising thru the Panama Canal was an all day event giving everyone the time an viewpoints to see as much as they would like to see. The experience exceeded our expectations. Our final port of Cartagena, Columbia was a pleasant surprise from the skyline of skyscrapers to the amazing city back to port terminal that contained an aviary and wildlife preserve. We did a private tour with Dora the Explorer who is also highly recommended on these boards. I think there was 16-20 in our group with stops at La Popa Monastery, the San Felipe de Barajas Fort, and a walk through the old city with its brilliant architecture. The walking in the heat and humidity got to be too much pain for me so Dora arranged for me to sit in an area where the others would catch up with me later. I missed the inside of the cathedral but that was it. I would consider visiting this area again. All things considered, this was a trip of a lifetime that we are glad we did but would not go again because we wee well satisfied with our experience at the Panama Canal. This was our first Princess cruise and are not sure whether our disappointment with the food is company/ship related or the entire cruise industry. We have friends who are ardent cruisers who are going on their first Princess Cruise next month so we are anxious to hear what they will say. We have intentionally not given them any negative comments so that we can hear an unbiased comparison. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2019
My husband and I took this cruise through the Panama Canal to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. It was our 12th cruise, 3rd with Princess. We booked Ezair for the first time as we were flying from Boston to LA on the day of the ... Read More
My husband and I took this cruise through the Panama Canal to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. It was our 12th cruise, 3rd with Princess. We booked Ezair for the first time as we were flying from Boston to LA on the day of the cruise and it worked perfectly. There were pros and cons with the ship. Pros: Clean ship Friendly staff Wash stations at Horizon Court Silverware at tables at Horizon Good coffee Can walk all the way around on Promenade deck Chris Roberts, Destination Expert Good Entertainment Great weather! Cons: Ship older and design confusing. Doors need to be manually opened going outside instead of opening automatically. Shower tiny (but good water pressure) The pools had no shallow end and there were no lifeguards. Movies under the Stars-movies were shown during the day which took away from relaxing pool time. They were very loud. The ports were all new to us except Puerta Vallarta where we took a taxi to Malecon. All other ports we booked Princess excursions and enjoyed them. The only complaint was we were not given a bottle of water on the excursions. It was very hot and it should have been included. The Canal experience was very interesting and you really could feel the boat going up and down in the locks. We enjoyed the cruise and seeing some new ports of call. There were quite a few sea days which made for a very relaxing vacation. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2019
We caught an 11am shuttle from our hotel to the port. By 12.10 we were upstairs and waiting to board. We didn’t realise when checking in we required our ESTA which was packed in our suitcase. Thankfully they let us board anyway. We were ... Read More
We caught an 11am shuttle from our hotel to the port. By 12.10 we were upstairs and waiting to board. We didn’t realise when checking in we required our ESTA which was packed in our suitcase. Thankfully they let us board anyway. We were on board by 1pm. We met our cabin steward the day we embarked and we saw him at least once if not twice a day. Our cabin stewards service was great. We only ate in O'Sheehan's once on Embarkation day. We didn't have trouble procurring a table. I was dissapointed O'Sheehan's don't serve the chicken tenders anymore. Our first day at sea we ate lunch in the Grand Pacific Restaurant after we attended the Meet & Greet. I wasn’t fussed by the lunch options and wouldn’t choose to eat lunch in the restaurant again. The remainder of our lunches we ate in the Garden Cafe and we always found enough options to eat. We ate dinner in Alizars every night. We almost always arrived for dinner at 7pm and at least half the time we had a 20min wait for a table. Magnums was a great bar to spend the time whilst we waited for a table. The bar staff in Magnums were fabulous(very entertaining and prompt service). The food in Alizar was great and service was almost always outstanding. The day we were traversing the Panama canal we were upstairs by 5am. We had planned to be outside on deck 13 but by the time we made it upstairs there were already too many people so we settled on a 2nd row seat on the port side in Spinnaker instead. A fortuitous decision we were very glad we made when it started to rain. We had pretty awesome views of the locks including an LPG tanker coming the other way. Before we completed the crossing I went down to Deck 7 to get an up close view of the mules (towing trains) and the walls of the lock. We had two tender ports(Gatun Lake, Panama & Puerto Limon) but only one where we had to line up for tender tickets. I was in line for tickets by 8.10(for an 8.30 pickup) and I was about 50th in line. We just missed out on tickets for the first tender but were two of six who managed to get on the first tender at the gate. We booked two tours through NCL (Gatun Lake and Harvest Caye) the remainder we booked independently. My original tour of the Mayan ruins of Nim Li Punnit (8.30) was cancelled and I was moved to a later tour which meant I wasn't able to spend anytime checking out Harvest Caye. I utilised the gym most days. A couple of times I used the pool and the spa. The temperature of the spa was perfect. I wasn't impressed by the DJ who played in Spinnaker. The dance floor would be full and he would stop playing the song half way through. On our second night I came across Dave McHugh a guitarist from Newfoundland who was amazing. The venues where he played were always packed and standing room only. We elected to be in one of the last groups to disembark, disembarkation was VERY slow. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2019
This was our third trip to Panama via Norwegian. We traveled as a group of 5 couples. There was a coast guard inspection on the day of our embarkation which slowed the process down, but in general it went smoothly. We feel that the ... Read More
This was our third trip to Panama via Norwegian. We traveled as a group of 5 couples. There was a coast guard inspection on the day of our embarkation which slowed the process down, but in general it went smoothly. We feel that the cruise director is the heart of the ship, planning events and making the ship fun and entertaining. Unfortunately, our cruise director was not that good. The cruise was very low key and lacked a really happy vibe which Norwegian is known for and what we experienced on other cruises. The food did not meet any of our expectations. The buffet offered the same food quite often and the desserts very rarely changed. Specialty dining we would consider as being the worst. The only one we all enjoyed was Cagney's We avoided the main dining room because it took a minimum of 2 hours to get out, and the food was sparse. We all noticed it was difficult to understand many of the crew and vice versa. The entertainment in the Magnum lounge was very good and the Elements show and Jeff the Juggler were great. The games shows with our cruise director were awful. Leaving the ship was painless and we were out of the terminal in a timely manner. In general, in spite of the few shortcomings, we all considered this to be a very good cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2019
Choose thus iteniary to do Panama Canal in less than 2 weeks. Got off at every port, some were amazing, Panama canal is an engineering marvel, but took all day, be prepared. Costa Rica, amazing jungles, only issue on ship was planning of ... Read More
Choose thus iteniary to do Panama Canal in less than 2 weeks. Got off at every port, some were amazing, Panama canal is an engineering marvel, but took all day, be prepared. Costa Rica, amazing jungles, only issue on ship was planning of activities, they had painting events (that you paid for) in same lounge as balloon folding, painting had no microphones, but balloon instructor did. Dis embarkment waa chaotic beyond any other cruise.. Very disappointed. They let those that used a stair case not instructed too use, to exit endlessly. While those that follows directions were left piling up in tight hallway. Food was tasty, service was impeccable, iteniary was unique. Private island was beautiful, pool enormous, beach beautiful, but jelly fish warning. Cute little shops. On ship have to collect signatures for trivia, n other games, n at end of cruise trade in for gifts, missed the presentation, so never got to trade in progress report Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
Bakery at Noon is a joke that a group of us that met on the ship came up with - long story Overall the cruise leaving Miami to LA thru the Panama Canal was very nice. We met some extremely great people and the Panama Canal was ... Read More
Bakery at Noon is a joke that a group of us that met on the ship came up with - long story Overall the cruise leaving Miami to LA thru the Panama Canal was very nice. We met some extremely great people and the Panama Canal was amazing. The ship is beautiful and is kept extremely clean. Our cabin steward Nollie was very good. Thank you to Rommel - Michael - Carlos (bartenders) for doing a great job and making the trip fun. GOOD 1) Jersey Boys - this show is excellent 2) Garden Buffet - thank you NCL for changing the layout to make it less crowded and the food selection was pretty good for a buffet 3) Race Track - it was a lot of fun - something that just about anyone can do 4) "Q" - plenty of food and the meats are very good 5) Los Labos - great food and plenty of it 6) Pool - thank you NCL for making this area larger and getting rid of the smoking area by the pool 7) Casino - again good job NCL enclosing the smoking area to help reduce the smoke smell from being all over the ship 8) Ship staff - overall the vast majority are very good but NCL needs to work on the staff being able to speak English and more attentive to the customer. Sorry but I felt many were just going through the motions. 9) Observation Lounge - beautful area and great for lunch BAD 1) Bartenders - I know most of the people have the beverage package but at least act like you care - except for the 3 bartenders I metioned before. The worst bartenders are in the Observation Lounge and the bar between Cagneys and Los Labos. 2) Cagneys - this was my favorite restaurant on the Escape and Getaway but on the Bliss the service was terrible and the steaks are tough and tasteless. We dined there twice on this crusie and it was the same both times. The service staff is guilty of just going through the motions and could care less about you as a customer. 3) La Cucina - I love Italian Food - they should try serving it there. Italian food has garlic in it and La Cucina must have not gotten that memo. 4) Havana (the show) - one word "terrible" - don't waste your time. We were on this ship for for 15 days and were never bored. I went on this cruise with concerns about having so many at sea days but I have to admit it really was enjoyable. Speciality Restaurants are not really that special - NCL you need to kick it up a notch. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We chose this criuse to celebrate our 50th anniversery and had a wonderful time. We chose the beverage and dining packages and could not have been happier with the choice. We are not big drinkers but it was nice to feel free to try new ... Read More
We chose this criuse to celebrate our 50th anniversery and had a wonderful time. We chose the beverage and dining packages and could not have been happier with the choice. We are not big drinkers but it was nice to feel free to try new ones that we would not have if we didn't have that package. The dining package gave use many great chioces. We chose Cagneys for our anniversery diner and loved it. The only negitves where the soup and potatoes where lukewarm. The service was great and, as it happened, our waiter was also our waiter when we sailed on the Star. We also ate at Le Bistro and Los Lobos. Le Bistro was above average and Los Lobos was so good we eat there two more times. Yessina at Los Lobos is a treasure. On our second night there she made my wife a napkin rose that she kept and admiered for the rest of the cruise. We ate at Savor and The Local alot and they were always top notch. Service on the ship was excellent with only a couple of grumpy grew members. I have a great deal of respect for the crew members. They work 12 hour days for up to 9 months without a day off and still show great attitudes. As far as the ships entertainment and activities go the entertainment was great! We mostly liked to just relax and read a good book, so I can't really review the activies, although there seemed to be something going on all the time. Embarkation was a breeze but disembarkation could be termed organized chaos. We only took one Norwiegian excursion and it was just OK. We took a Thumbs Up 10 in 1 excursion in Costa Rica and it was awsome. If you ever get to Costa Rica you should check this out and request Allie as your guide. Overall we were very happy with the Bliss and would cruise on it again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
Loved this cruise, the ship was awesome so many things to see and do, the entertainment was varied and terrific. We especially enjoyed the comedians. Jersey Boys was fantastic, what a great show . We enjoyed all our meals,especially ... Read More
Loved this cruise, the ship was awesome so many things to see and do, the entertainment was varied and terrific. We especially enjoyed the comedians. Jersey Boys was fantastic, what a great show . We enjoyed all our meals,especially the steak at Cagneys. The sea bass at Oxean Blue was perfectly cooked. All our meals at the buffet were so tasty and enjoyed the ethnic variety. Met some terrific ladies at the stichers group, we got together every morning on sea days, shared ideas, crafts and stories We plan to start our own facebook group, and have promused to schedule a stitch group on every cruise we go on We were a bit disappointed when disembarking, it was crazy busy,understandable Our transfer bus to the airport was a mess as we ended up having to get off 2 different buses and then told to wait for a third bus. (Arrival time unknown )We felt time pressured so found an alternate form of transportation. Hope to get refunded Last words, wow a fantastic cruise and want to biard the Bliss again for another cruise soon Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
We had a great time on Bliss. We were back to back for three weeks. It was mostly great; a few things could improve. First, NCL's business model seems to be to jam as many people onto a ship as possible and have passengers sort out ... Read More
We had a great time on Bliss. We were back to back for three weeks. It was mostly great; a few things could improve. First, NCL's business model seems to be to jam as many people onto a ship as possible and have passengers sort out how to manage the crowds. The pool deck is chaotic. Noisy. Chairs all gone by 9 AM by hogs who put towels down and leave for hours. NCL should enforce its stated rules and remove belongings left unattended for long periods of time. The sam can be said for the observation deck and the waterfront. Very crowded and filled with hogs who leave. This dynamic leave passengers with no place to find peace -- even a little quiet to read and reflect in the nice areas of the ship. The MDR's are similarly busy until 8:30 PM, meaning that if you can wait, you will have a great, peaceful meal, which we did most nights. Having said that, the crew is amazing. Our steward, Andy was awesome. Bartenders at A-Lost (Rowena, and two fellows from India, and Rakesh (wine Steward) made us feel like we were most important), Maltings (Salavatore) and the Cavern Club equally wonderful. The ladies in the Spa (Emear and Tanya and others who kept the thermal suite safe) were great. Likewise, we enjoyed virtually every waiter at MDR for the most part. Entertainment. This was the highlight of the cruise. Siglo, Familiar Strangers, the Beatles band the first week (March 23), Jersey Boys, and all the comedy acts were fantastic. We constantly listened ti music and lauged at the comedy. Havana was not so good and Uptown was pretty good. Specialty restaurants. Cagneys, Ocean Blue and Teppanyaki were absolutely fantastic. Le Bistro was one of the worst meals we had the whole time (extremely rushed and disjointed service) and La Cucina (food was cold and tasteless). I wrote comment cards and even spoke to someone who said he'd have the restaurant manager call me -- but the call never came. I have spent 43 days on NCL and will not go back to Bistro or Cucina, even though I have had great meals there on the Epic and Getaway. The ship is gorgeous; the nerve center on the 6-8 level is great, and the spa was terrific. If they fix some of the crowding and chai hogging and improve meals in those 2 restaurants, this would be a 5 star experience Read Less
Sail Date: March 2019
Princess really does it right - effortless embarkation and disembarkation, comfortable cabin, great ports. The cruise was a round trip from Ft. Lauderdale - a really easy port in terms of getting from the airport to the ship. Stops were ... Read More
Princess really does it right - effortless embarkation and disembarkation, comfortable cabin, great ports. The cruise was a round trip from Ft. Lauderdale - a really easy port in terms of getting from the airport to the ship. Stops were Grand Cayman (visited the turtle farm and Stingray City), Columbia, Panama (tendered excursion on Lake Gatun); Limon, Costa Rica; Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Food was good and the staff was excellent. We enjoyed dining at Sabatini's and in the main dining room. They had a really fascinating lecturer on board - he had grown up in the Canal Zone so he had a lot of insight on the area. If you don't like the noise in the main pool area, there's another adults-only pool nearby. We got to see some great recent movies with their Movies Under the Stars. We paid extra to have our bags sent directly to our destination airport at the end of the trip - best $25 I've ever spent! Because we didn't have to stop to get our luggage, time from the ship to the curb was about 5 minutes. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2019
Experiencing the Panama Canal was on my "Bucket List" especially since my Grandfather was one of the many electricians that helped build the original one. The partial-transit worked well for my time restraints. I will say my ... Read More
Experiencing the Panama Canal was on my "Bucket List" especially since my Grandfather was one of the many electricians that helped build the original one. The partial-transit worked well for my time restraints. I will say my friend and myself were some of the youngest cruisers at 61! The majority of the fellow passengers seemed to be well over that and limited mobility abound by many - scooters and walkers! Some younger families with only a handful of kids onboard. Don't know if was off-season or just before spring break. Boarding was a breeze and the cabins were ready before 2 p.m. Our mini-suite was standard but a bit smaller than some of the larger ships I've ben on The beds were comfy and the room décor is basic and the colors are dull. Our Cabin Steward/Housekeeper was outstanding. Liezal was always friendly and warm. She did a great job on keeping our room clean and comfortable. She always inquired how our day was and how we were doing. We had the "anytime" dining which was o.k. My recommendation is to arrive before any of the evening production shows get out or you will wait for 45 minutes in a very long line to be seated. I found the service to be professional but slow at times. The food was good. We mainly ate at the buffet. The selection changed every night and enjoyed the specialties. Indian dishes seemed to be offered as a regularly featured evening optional fare Lemonade is on the drink menu but you have to ask for it. Sabatint's Italian Restaurant was good and the service was excellent. The selections were somewhat limited but the meal was tasty. Reservations were readily available and we had no problem getting in I thought the ship's entertainment productions were just o.k. The song and dance routines were boring along with the magic show. They did have a pianist that was exceptional. We didn't get the opportunity to go to Grand Caymans since the seas were too rough and tenders could not operate safely. It was a disappointment for many of my fellow travelers. The ship went ahead to Cartegena early. This particular port was my least favorite due to the pushy street vendors who will follow you and knock on the tour bus window! I will say once we were on the actual horse carriage tour ti was a beautiful ride through the old city. Going through the Panama Canal was fascinating. You can watch it from your room balcony and live stream on your cabin t.v. You don't have go to the bow of the ship. Limon, Costa Rica is beautiful. We took a tour of La Hacienda. The bus ride was 2 hours each way! It is long and windy, so take care if you get motion sickness. The Hacienda was interesting but felt the drive was too long for the short time we were in port. Jamaica is always one of my favorites. Took the tour of the Raft Ride on the Martha Brea. Again the bus ride was over an hour each way. The gentle bamboo raft ride was relaxing with view of the lush vegetation. The "captain" will try and sell you some carvings that he did and there are vendors along the river that will try an sell you trinkets. My complaint is on the way back te bus stopped at a funky trinket mall for a half hour. There are several sea days during this cruise which were enjoyable. Time to catch up on much needed rest and relaxation. I took line dancing lessons that were fun, and watched several of the "Movies Under the Stars". If you want to do a Arts & Crafts project plan on showing up at least a half hour early because the class filled up fast and people were turned away, Finally, disembarkation was a breeze since we took a excursion at the Everglades Airboat and Airport Transfer. I think we were some of the first people off the ship. The tour was short but fun and got us to the airport by noon or so. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
Panama Canal was the reason we chose this cruise....I found it very acceptable for an older ship....We stayed in an outside cabin...of course, smaller cabin but was sufficient...room stewards were very good as were our dining room ... Read More
Panama Canal was the reason we chose this cruise....I found it very acceptable for an older ship....We stayed in an outside cabin...of course, smaller cabin but was sufficient...room stewards were very good as were our dining room waiters...Food was very good..the entertainment in BB Kings lounge and Billboard Lounge was absolutely wonderful...Now the negative .....we took a shore excursion in Panama..Aqua Clara locks and area tour....it was terrible...They drove around old housing of former base(about 20 mins) then they took us to Aqua Clara locks and left us there 2-21/2 hours....it was interesting to see ships go through these locks...it is about a 1 hr tops stop....the food at the concession stand was out of food only chips, ice cream and drinks were available....then we were driven to port in Colon to sit until ship arrived.....Definitely not worth the money......In Cartegena, we took the gem stone making tour..it was an acceptable tour until you had to go through the jewelry store to exit...Pretty high pressure to buy emeralds...Maybe they should have paid for the tour so they could get the chance to sell us their emeralds? Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We chose this cruise because of destinations. Unfortunately we did not go to Cayman Isl. Because of rough seas.the entertainment on this ship was exceptional! My wife and I have done 39 cruises and I have never seen this quality of ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of destinations. Unfortunately we did not go to Cayman Isl. Because of rough seas.the entertainment on this ship was exceptional! My wife and I have done 39 cruises and I have never seen this quality of entertainment. The food is good the average age of passengers around 60. The ship is in great shape considering its age. We sailed on this ship many years ago and would do it again. The weather was great and we did not have a hard time finding a deck chair. The casino is small and has only 1 roulette table. The only complaint on food was the ice cream bar. The ice cream was very grainy and not enjoyable. We had a balcony which was very nice sitting outside enjoying the views. Our fridge was stocked with drinks and booze.we enjoyed the chocolate covered strawberries brought to us and the dry cleaning . If you like cruising I would definitely suggest the Island princess. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
I chose the Coral Princess because of its LA to LA itinerary and because it was doing a Panama Canal transit, even if a partial one. A bonus was many ports I'd never been to before. I have zero complaints about anything. I am ... Read More
I chose the Coral Princess because of its LA to LA itinerary and because it was doing a Panama Canal transit, even if a partial one. A bonus was many ports I'd never been to before. I have zero complaints about anything. I am pretty laid back and easy to please; there were no glaring faux pas on the part of the ship or trip. Yes the ship has bumps and bruises, but the way ships get turned around (and thus keep cruising costs reasonable) I expect them. I don't expect perfection, I just want it to be enjoyable without any glaring problems and there weren't any. We ate a lot of meals at the Horizon because I like fast and simple, but the nights we ate the anytime dining room and steakhouse were very good and a nice change of pace. My method at the buffet was to try very small bites of what looked interesting and what turned out to be great, I'd go back for more of. Not everything I tried was great, so it worked out well to go small rather than load up and be disappointed. The entertainment was good to great. There were more activities on board than one could manage and a little something for everyone. I was happy with pool time at the indoor pool and reading time. Ports that I especially enjoyed were Huatulco, Chiapas, Puntarenas and Puerto Quetzal. We visited a colonial city (Tapachula), coffee plantation and Mayan ruins; all of which were very worthwhile. In Puntarenas, I just made it a beach day and local food, both of which were great. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
-Embarkation was excellent and smooth. We were onboard a little after 11am and only took about 15 minutes from start to finish. Disembarkation was just as smooth, with a slight delay due to a computer glitch with immigration. -The ship ... Read More
-Embarkation was excellent and smooth. We were onboard a little after 11am and only took about 15 minutes from start to finish. Disembarkation was just as smooth, with a slight delay due to a computer glitch with immigration. -The ship was great, didn't really notice any wear and tear. It had just been in dry dock recently with upgrades. Elevators were quick and there are many of them. Lots of public spots to be out of your cabin. We did have to work while on vacation on the ship, and thanks to the new Medallion internet service.. it was a breeze and just as good as the internet at home. This made our cruise very stress free! We had been worried about that prior, thinking we would not have good internet until the port days.. and then part of our port days working. But thanks to Medallion, we were able to absolutely enjoy all the cruise activities we wanted, the port days and work when needed! -Our Cabin was a balcony one. I absolutely recommend a balcony especially for anything longer than 7 days. It is really great to order room service and eat out on the balcony. Also just having that extra semi private space to just sit and read, watch the ocean and marine life.. really makes a difference to be in your pj's and do that! Beds were good. we had 3 in our room. Our daughter was up in a berth bunk, and it was comfy and big, not too high and plenty of room above her as she is 5'1" and she could sit very comfortably and there was still space over her head. Our beds were originally as 2 twins, but the 3rd day in our steward suggested putting them together, and I was pleasantly surprised as that was not an option on our room bed request configuration. He said no problem, and set it up, and from then we were very comfy! Closet space was great with tons of hangers! I also had brought closet shelving and over the door storage, that with the cabinet with the safe was absolutely perfect for the over packing I did. I do have to say.. the bathroom was small, and the shower was TINY..lol. all in all a great room. -Dining- we had anytime dining. Did not do any of the formal nights.. we are over that. Instead we choose to be comfy and just relax now when we cruise and not be on a schedule or have to go eat at a certain time and dress up. We did go to breakfast at the dining room, only once as the buffet works better for us, and our tastes and times we eat. The buffet was great! lots of variety.. food was good to great on some dishes in our opinion. always difficult to please everyone when it comes to food..lol -Entertainment and Activities- They cruise director, staff, entertainers, musicians and dancers were great!!! Not all shows were spectacular, but they were very good and entertaining, and thats all you can hope for with nothing else to do! We did have a lot of fun with trivia and the shows though. There really is tons to do.. for all tastes.. and thats the great thing about cruises.. you can do as much or as little as you wish. -Service - We had exceptional service throughout the cruise. The youth center staff was great as they only had 12 kids on the ship.. and not all were together at most times.. and they really went out of their way to make sure the kids were not bored. Can't thank them enough.. because bored kids would have made this a really LONG cruise..lol Our steward was great.. a little ninja.. we hardly saw him! but our room was always perfect and clean. The buffet staff were amazing!!! we spent most of our late evenings with them since we are night owls, and the demographic age of the ship went to sleep pretty early compared to us. We would enjoy our coffee and chat with them as they did their cleaning with music coming from the kitchen.. Really a lot of fun! that was very unexpected! -Ports and Shore Excursions- I will list them individually, but will say that the excursions we did were not with Princess but private tours and they were exceptional, and did the same and more than the Princess excursions but at a fraction of the cost. -Huatulco Mexico~Absolutely loved Huatulco.. we did a boat cruise that took us to all the bays and the man in the rocks, and other sights to see. Then went to Entrega and went snorkeling with our tour captain. it was just us 6 in our group, and it was exceptional!!! Snorkeling was only about $5 per person..with all the gear. He was great and snorkeled with us, actually towed us around holding a line on a floating ring and went and got different fish and we fed then and we went all along the bay amazed by the coral.. just the best time! The water was wonderful with no currents or waves really in that bay. The coral is literally steps from the beach. This is the place I would recommend you go in the water or relax on the beach. we also enjoyed some great food at great prices, right on the beach.. huge and delicious shrimp cocktails and drinks.. just the best place! -Chiapas Mexico- not our fave at all.. everything was far from the port and the heat was insane! We didn't venture from the port and visitors center. There are some stores and shops, and a pit where they dance. The dancing and live music was great. Be prepared to tip, the young kids really do a great job and earn their tip. We stayed there about 2 hours then headed back on the ship. Friends we spoke with said the tour to the town wasn't great.. very crowded, small and too many people.. might have been great for others though. -Puerto Quetzal Guatemala - After reading on the state department website that this was a level 2 place to not visit, we had decided to not do an excursion. there is a really big market area right at the port area where you can really walk around safely. But after being at the port for a bit.. we started chatting with a gentleman who offered us a tour to Antigua. We did go, and am glad we did. You fell like you stepped back in time 200 years in Antigua. There is gorgeous architecture, and a volcano well within view. We ate at a great little bar and had the best tuna sandwich ever! Tuna is one of Guatemala's major exportations, so it was delicious! It is not the safest place, and the tour operator had extra security following us around the markets and streets.. but we never felt un-safe. They did a great job and we thoroughly enjoyed our time there and are very happy we "risked it" and went. -Panama Canal and overnight stay in Gatun Lake- Well we woke up very very early (4:30am) to get a good spot up on the deck outside, then spent HOURS watching as we passed through the locks. It all began around 8 and we anchored around 5 I think. It is a wonder and amazement to experience it.. and just the engineering that went in on this is mind boggling.. but it is a very very long and slow day. And be prepared for some rude people (fellow cruisers) around you to shove and push a little. that was our experience least. On the return transit, this time it didn't start till 11 am.. so by about 8 am we got a big table at the very front of the buffet and spent another very very long day there repeating the locks, but in reverse.. then anchored again to take on fuel all night long... which was a little noisy as it was on our side of the ship. The anchoring on Gatun lake was great... very calm waters which was great as when we left Chiapas, we had some strong winds for a few hours. -Puntarenas Costa Rica- This country is gorgeous and the people were amazing!! you can tell that most people live comfortably, and poverty is not very visible like in other countries. It is also a very safe country to visit. We did a private excursion with Chico and he was amazing!!! He has a brand new 14 passenger van, and we were the only 6 with him.. he took us EVERYWHERE!! Went to almost every place the cruise excursions went to, and we had lunch at an amazing restaurant up high in the tropical rain forrest.. it was open air and the views were breathtaking!! He also took us to a private monkey habitat.. and we had the best time.. monkeys everywhere..and they climb right on you and you feed them fruit. it was sooo much fun and only $3 a person... we also bought some arts and craft and water there.. was just the best experience! We also went and saw the crocodiles.. the rain forrest, the volcano, wild life.. beautiful parrots and birds... went shopping.. had great great delicious milkshakes and smoothies... of all the ports, Costa Rica was our favorite country and we hope to return and spend some time there! -San Juan Del Sur Nicaragua- Captain skipped this port due to high winds.. honestly after speaking with our Costa Rica tour guide and the staff on the cruise ship.. I believe it was mostly due to the political unrest in the country. The week before 3 ships skipped that port as the political protests ended with violence. We knew the night before we were not going to port.. so we just had a very relaxing day on the ship instead.. although it did start early about 6 am, as the captain came over the speakers to inform us of the canceled port. -Manzanillo Mexico- You really do not need to do any excursions there.. you can have a great time just off the port. LOTS of shops and places to eat.. you can get right on the beach immediately... of all the places we visited, Manzanillo had the nicest and best priced souvenirs. everyone was very nice... weather was great.. not as hot and humid as the other ports. spent the day driving around with a private tour operator.. and had a great time... We did travel with our daughter age 11, my husband and myself in one cabin. My mother (age 79), my sister and my nephew age 17. the kids had just as much fun as we did. the staff on the cruise were amazing... our ports were good to great! the only thing I can say about this long cruise.. is that it didn't really feel long, and that I give great credit to mother nature as the ocean was almost lake like most of the time. Only about 2 hours of high winds leaving Chiapas Mexico was the worst of it. And the rest of the credit goes to the staff and private tour guides we were lucky enough to meet. We would do the Panama Canal tour again, but I think it would be the back to back tours from Los Angelos to Florida, then back again.. only adds 10 days.. but different ports. The ratio of port days to sea days.. were long.. but not unbearable. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2019
We love Royal and especially Royal sailing in our backyard in San Diego California! You should know about embarkation - Royal doesn't have their own terminal in California, so they were using another cruise company's ... Read More
We love Royal and especially Royal sailing in our backyard in San Diego California! You should know about embarkation - Royal doesn't have their own terminal in California, so they were using another cruise company's facility. This meant a little more chaos then we had seen at Galveston or Miami. The process for platinum up to diamond category was no faster than a first cruiser would have taken, as the only short lines were for key program or pinnacle. No benefits for loyalty points, unless the top tier or paid. Once on board, we explored this smaller ship in a short time. Finding a comfortable bar, and staying put until the cabin is ready. We booked this cruise late, meaning we were able to book an ocean view, not a typical balcony. We were blessed to bid an upgrade and received a balcony cabin on the 10th floor. The ports and excursions: Leaving San Diego, the ship stayed two days in Cabo and Puerto Vallarta. Although we had visited both these ports before, the weather in March was wonderful. Our stops in Central America were new to us, so we were excited to everywhere. The service was as usual fantastic by room steward and dining room staff. We would definitely cruise on the Jewel and other Radiance class ships, as long as we were not under the Windjammer. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We typically cruise with Carnival, but wanted to do a full transit through the Panama Canal, which Carnival rarely offers. So we booked a cruise on Jewel of the Seas, we have been on Explorer of the Seas back in 2002. We have been on nine ... Read More
We typically cruise with Carnival, but wanted to do a full transit through the Panama Canal, which Carnival rarely offers. So we booked a cruise on Jewel of the Seas, we have been on Explorer of the Seas back in 2002. We have been on nine cruises, we are in our mid sixties, husband and wife. We have never had a bad cruise and we did enjoy Jewel, Some people might be upset that I am doing a comparison, but it may help explain our views on the ship and may help others deciding what cruise line is best for them. Our cruise left on March 13th out of San Diego, we did an overnight in Cabo San Lucas, next port was Puerto Vallarta, Puerto Quetzal Guatemala, Puntarenas Costa Rica, cruising through the Canal, Colon Panama, Cartagena Columbia, ending in Miami on March 29th. Embarkation: We arrived a day early in San Diego and stayed at The Courtyard in Liberty Station. Embarkation on the 13th seemed to take longer than Carnivals, with both there are long lines, Carnival seems to move all the time, we stood barely moving in Royals lines for about 45 minutes. We headed to Windjammer for lunch as expected, it was crowded. Lido Marketplace on Carnival is even more difficult to get a seat on the first day, but Carnival has alternatives to go to and avoid the crowd, we usually go to Guy’s Pig and Anchor BBQ or Pasta Bella, which are free for lunch but away from the crowds. It would have been nice to have an alternative on Jewel, say lunch in the main dining room. Ship Décor: Jewel of the Seas is much more toned down and drab, I am used to the bright, flashy décor on Carnival. That being said, she is a lovely ship once I got used to the subdued look. I found her very easy to learn my way about the ship, I rarely got lost. The Coral Theater have great line of sight and as long as you arrived to the shows about 30 minutes early, there was no problem finding a great seat. Most shows were full by the time they started. Windjammer could get very crowded, but we tend to eat lunch early and I loved the outside tables. The main dining room was nice too, but I felt the tables were too crowded together, it could be difficult just maneuvering to get to your table. Schooner Bar and Safari Club were lovely; we often got an afternoon drink at the Schooner Bar. And I often read or did my sewing (appliqué) sitting in Vintages, I loved the big windows to look out. We don’t gamble, though the casino was quite pretty and we don’t use the spa or gym. The Solarium was probably the most beautiful part of the ship, both in the décor and plants, it beats Carnival’s Serenity hands down in ambiance. I was really looking forward to spending time here, boy was I disappointed. There are not only lounge chairs, but there are tables with chairs which is nice when getting a snack at Solarium Café. But what happened is that groups of people would come and sit at the tables, conversing loudly, spoiling what should be a quiet area. On cool days, people who sit at the outdoor pool took all the seating inside. Noisy music from the pool deck bled in every time the doors opened. And I found the bird noises annoying after a short time. After the first two days of trying to enjoy the Solarium, I was chased off by the lack of serenity to the area. I ended up spending the time I would have in the Solarium at Vintages. Cabin: We almost always get a balcony cabin. First off, I was disappointed that the view over the side of the ship was obstructed by the roof over the lifeboats. You could look out just fine, but not down to see the ship cutting through the water. This was my mistake as I should have checked to see if there was a sight line down (if you have a balcony at the front of the ship, the roof does not extend there). The room itself felt smaller than Carnival’s cabins, it only had a loveseat instead of a sofa. But Jewel’s actual balcony was probably twice as large as what we get on Carnival. The railing on Jewel was right at sightline when sitting in the chair, you had to bend down to see the horizon. Carnival’s is positioned differently as I never had a problem seeing the horizon. The bed was fine, a bit hard but we had no trouble sleeping on it. The cabins seemed to be soundproofed well, either that or we had quiet neighbors. We did not get much hall noise either (unlike Carnival where the partiers make a lot of noise). The bathroom has less storage of toiletries than Carnival, but the shower with a door is far better than Carnival’s curtain which does not keep the water in. Entertainment: The shows offered in the Coral Theater were good to excellent. My biggest problem was the lack of choices. There was usually one show: dance production, singers, comedian, juggler, hypnotist, etc. Carnival offers a show in the theater and four different routines in the comedy club every night. We were always busy going back and forth. On Jewell we usually went to bed after the show, nothing else offered that interested us. (We are not into Trivia or karaoke). There were a few shows in the Centrum, like finish the phrase, copy cat, dance moves which were entertaining, but seating was limited around the Centrum. Live Music: We enjoyed the Jewel Orchestra very much, supper talented bunch of musicians. There was duo of strings offered occasionally in Centrum and Mood Icons were good. Activities: My favorite activity on Jewel was the knit, crochet, and sew group that met every sea day in Vintages. I had brought handwork specifically for sea days and was pleased to see they offered a group meeting (self lead). I met several wonderful ladies that share a passion of handiwork. Bingo is another favorite of ours, but the bingo costs more than on Carnival. We typically buy six cards to play, Carnival offers this for $29.95 for three games. Jewel had a six card offered for $29.95 for one game a couple of times and $39.95 for three games other times. A lot of money to play bingo. But I have to admit, the final day of bingo on Royal is better. Carnival offers $5000.00 in a coverall, but if no one wins after 50 balls are drawn, reverts back to just a percentage of the take. Royal offers a free cruise and they play until someone wins. We also signed up for the galley tour which we were very interested in, it was offered three times during the cruise. It was offered on the first sea day, we wanted to explore the ship. We booked the second time it was offered, but found out it was the same time as the lecture on the building of the canal, which we did not want to miss. So we booked it the last sea day, showed up and were told it was canceled due to lack of attendance. Fellow Cruisers: We usually do a seven day cruise on Carnival and you do get a lot of partiers. For a 16 day cruise I figured it would be an older crowd and I was right, my guess is the medium age was 70s to early 80s. The other interesting thing we noticed, Carnival sells a lot of beer, very few people had beer on Jewell. The drink of choice is wine. The activities reflected that this is an older group. Dress in the dining room: Carnival and Jewell are very similar in dress code. We had three formal nights, few ball gowns and suits, but mostly nice dresses and sport coats and ties. Casual was the same for both, my husband wore shorts every night with nothing said. My Time Dining: When I booked the cruise the traditional dining was booked full for the early slot and I don’t like to eat late. So I booked My Time Dining. I found that I could book a reservation for My Time Dining, which I did for 6:00 pm every day. It worked out wonderfully, we had the same table for two every night right at a window. Granted the tables for two were close together and we really liked the two couples next to us at tables for two. But if we had not cared for them, we could have ignored them as we weren’t really sitting with them. We always walked right in and were seated immediately. Crew and Staff: This was the biggest jolt to me, on Carnival every single employee whether staff or deck hand, met your eyes when passing and have a smile on their face. I was shocked at how the crew usually avoided eye contact and rarely smiled. They did not make me feel welcome on the ship. Our personal attendants in the stateroom and in the dining room were fantastic. Very attentive and made sure our every request was met. There were many attendants in Windjammer that were friendly and happy to see us. On Carnival I would say that 99% of the employees have a smile on their face and are happy to see me, even just passing. Royal I would say maybe 50% are that way. We saw the cruise director at the beginning of the shows in the Coral Theater and that is about all we ever saw him. Carnival’s cruise directors are much more visible and inactive with the passengers. We always have a Q & A with Carnival’s cruise director which is very entertaining. Not so on the Jewel. Food: This is a very subjective topic, but we found the food to be good to excellent. Windjammer at lunch had a great variety and usually very good. We loved the curry dishes and they usually had all different kinds of roast chicken, stews, and good assortment of vegetables. But, Carnival has Guy’s Burgers and the Mexican Cantina, which are fantastic. Windjammer had hamburgers that I would not even try, they looked gray and dry. Windjammer usually has cookies, mousse, custard pies, a chocolate cake and fruit for dessert. Sometimes a warm dessert was offered such as rice pudding or peach cobbler. Carnival has a dessert station with tempting an assortment cakes and pastries. The main dining room had good food, just not much variety. Appetizers had two to three different offerings, then always had French Onion soup, Cesar salad, shrimp cocktail, and maybe a few more. Main offerings usually had two seafood, a beef, lamb or duck, a vegetarian, and always had a roast chicken breast and New York Strip. Desserts had two different options, then every night had cheesecake, crème Brule, chocolate cake, fruit and ice cream. Carnival’s menus have very few repeats in any category. We happened to go up twice after dinner to see what Windjammer had and felt we might be better off there. One time they had a whole roast turkey, what was offered in the main dining room was turkey roll. On the last night they had a chocolate buffet (which was not advertised in the compass). Beverage packages; We do not usually buy beverage packages, I don’t drink much and my husband has a beer or two. On Jewel they offered a refreshment package, which I was able to buy just for me. This is a great deal. In the morning I would get specialty coffee at the Lattatudes, at breakfast I would get fresh squeezed orange juice and I used the freestyle machines to get soda , sparkling water and carbonated water, in different flavors It does not include alcohol but I was very satisfied to get fruit slushies at night. It was a great package and I would buy it again in a heartbeat (I got it on a black Friday sale for $17.00 a day). My husband likes beer on tap and Jewel offered 10 beer for $49.50 (they had to be on tap, which works for him). App on board: On Jewel we had to use a paper to find out activities (the compass). For menus we had to find an interactive screen near the dining room. For our bill, we had to look on the TV. This all seems very primitive compared to the Carnival App. On the Carnival App (at no charge) we can see menus for the entire cruise, hours of operation, all activities (and can like them so it reminds us when it is coming up and tell us which of our party is going), our shipboard charges, all on our phone. And there is a chat feature to talk to others in my party for $5.00, one time charge. Conclusion: When considering a cruise, if all ports and time is equal, we will choose a Carnival cruise. But I now love a long cruise, which Carnival does not offer. I would certainly book another Royal cruise, on the whole I was pretty happy with it. Read Less

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