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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
Heading north to Brazil from Buenos Aires on the 2nd leg of our cruise, we made another stop at Montevideo. This allowed us to explore some of the museums such as the Government House in depth with exhibits of Uruguayan history. The ... Read More
Heading north to Brazil from Buenos Aires on the 2nd leg of our cruise, we made another stop at Montevideo. This allowed us to explore some of the museums such as the Government House in depth with exhibits of Uruguayan history. The “Azamazing Evening” tonight was at the Teatro Solis – one of the early opera houses in South America. The show was developed and staged just for Azamara. Our next stop was Santos – the seaport for San Paulo and the largest city in the western hemisphere. We decided not to take the two hour drive to San Paulo and saw the local sights in Santos including the coffee auction house (coffee was the major export here in the past) and the funicular to the former casino atop Monte Serrat. (Gambling was outlawed in the 40's.) We stopped at Ilhabela (“beautiful island”) once a hideout of smugglers and pirates. We stopped at the Agua Branca waterfall that once supplied electricity to the region. Our next stop was Buzios – a beach peninsula not far from Rio originally a shipment point for gold to Portugal and later frequented by Bridget Bardot and her Brazilian boyfriend. It was here that the paparazzi spotted her and put the place on the jet set map. Also saw where South America and Africa split into separate continents hundreds of million years ago We spent three days in Rio de Janeiro during the final days of Carnival. After docking in perhaps the most scenic harbor in the world, in addition to the mandatory sights – Sugar Loaf mountain, Corcovado (Christ the Redeemer), Ipanema and Copacabana beaches – we did tour the center of the city. The highlight was the final night of Carnival at the Sambadrome – a once in a lifetime experience not to be missed. Starting at 9 p.m. and continuing until 7 a.m., seven samba schools compete for the top prize. Each group consisting of up to four or five thousand people have an hour to parade. Each group has several elaborate floats, marching bands and dancers. We then sailed back to Buenos Aires for another day of touring on our own through downtown and stopping at an art museum in Recoleta. As beautiful as Buenos Aires still is, it is sad to see the gradual decline even in the last ten years. Rampant inflation has caused closing of the zoo. Many rich in Recoleta can’t afford to garage their cars so they park them on the streets. A newspaper headline noted that inflation had been 7% in a recent week. We then flew to Iguazu Falls near the border of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. It consists of about 270 mostly double cataract falls stretching for around a mile. From the Argentinean side, it took all day to see the myriad viewpoints, primarily looking down at the falls. The second day was spent on the Brazilian side looking up at the highlights such as Devils Throat. Compared with Niagara Falls (Canada & US - short) and Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe Africa – too misty to see at high water) ), Iguazu tops the list. Flew home from Iguazu to Miami via San Paulo. Some final thoughts. Although it is always nice to see Buenos Aires, the highlights of this trip were the natural beauty of the Chilean fjords (go before the glaciers melt!) and Carnival in Rio (the most elaborate one in the world). Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2019
I have sailed on Norwegian, Holland America, Princess, Viking, Cunard, Celebrity and this was the most disappointing cruise of those listed. The pricepoint was similar to Viking but the overall experience was not up to that stand The ... Read More
I have sailed on Norwegian, Holland America, Princess, Viking, Cunard, Celebrity and this was the most disappointing cruise of those listed. The pricepoint was similar to Viking but the overall experience was not up to that stand The embarkation and disembarkation went very smoothly. We were separated from the masses joining the other ship in port and were ushered onto the ship with little delay. Cabin: Rather small, 2 people cannot navigate around the bed at the same time. Balcony also narrow and small. Bathroom very small and shower is very tiny & uncomfortable. Difficult to get cold water. Service: Staff are very friendly but service is spotty. Service in the Discovery Restaurant is very good, as was our cabin steward. It was difficult to get service in the Living Room between 4 and 5 p.m. The servers are trained to pick up empty dishes but are not trained to keep an eye out for passengers when they arrive in their area. Dining: Food and service was excellent. However, hours were inadequate. Breakfast ended at 10 a.m. Lunch did not start until 11:30 a.m. and ended at 1:30 p.m. We complained about the hours and an officer found me on the ship to address my concerns, which was impressive. Excursions: The shore excursion to Montevideo, Uruguay was a disappointment. The guide had little command of English, and she was ill prepared. We asked her for the itinerary and she said that she didn’t know. The lunch we were given was disgusting – the filet mignon was a thin breaded strip of beef. Not much effort was put into explaining all the sites. We were left to our own devices at the art museum. Entertainment: Entertainment was very good. The Azmazing night at the Solis Theater in Montevideo was excellent but very short. The Azmazing Night and the Officers' Barbeque were excellent. Enrichment lecture with Dr. Palmer was dull and boring. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2019
We chose this cruise to extend our warm weather holiday and because the dates worked. We had just come off a 19 night Ft.Lauderdale - B.A. cruise on the Royal Princess plus a 2 day visit to Iguazu Falls. Your first ... Read More
We chose this cruise to extend our warm weather holiday and because the dates worked. We had just come off a 19 night Ft.Lauderdale - B.A. cruise on the Royal Princess plus a 2 day visit to Iguazu Falls. Your first impression starts at the cruise terminal check in which is disorganized. Once on the ship we were pleasantly surprised at the size of our premium balcony stateroom, but the balcony itself is small and the furniture is old,uncomfortable and soiled looking. We found out the next morning that the bathroom shower is poorly designed and the water leaks all over the floor because the shower curtain is too short. We pointed this out to our harried room steward who said he would have it replaced, but it never was. We used towels to soak up the leaking water every day for our 7 day cruise...how is this more efficient than fixing the shower? Our next disappointment was a the buffet restaurant which was chaos for breakfast and lunch. It is so poorly laid out that each meal turns into a free for all just to get your meal then another free for all to find a table.There seems to be a chronic shortage of seating which made us dread going up to the buffet. On sea days, when everyone is onboard the buffet situation is even worse, so we resorted to the dining room where it was marginally less chaotic for breakfast, but still unpleasant. We chose the early assigned seating for dinner in the dining room because they don’t offer open seating. Dinner was a relief because it was calm and collected and our waiter”Dino” was a Pro. The dinner menu’s were good as was the food quality, but beware that water is not included with dinner unless paid for i.e. bottled water. The wine prices on Costa are slightly less that other Cruise Lines i.e. a bottle of Chianti was $25 whereas the cheapest red wine on a Princess was $32. Aside from our balcony, which was never cleaned, the general condition of the ship was good. The decor could be described as “gaudy” The fitness centre had an adequate number of machines (some defective) but disinfecting wipes were not provided. There is a good sauna in the fitness center’s change room which was a welcome inclusion We usually cruise on Celebrity,Holland America and Princess, so if you are used to any of these lines you will be in for a culture shock. If you can get over it (as we did) you willappreciate the diversity of entertainment which is quite good on Costa, with many lounges,a very large theatre with excellent shows and a nightclub with good bands and dancing every night. Our itinerary along the Brazilian coast involved 3 stops in small ports that requiredtendering for each (one being 1/2 hour in each direction) English is not common on shoreso our general routine was walking around town,a bit of shopping then wifi and a drink allaccomplished with sign language. We both agreed that we would not sail on Costa again, which is a shame, because we felt the staff all worked hard,and the entertainment was good,but they could not make up for the buffet chaos,understaffing,poor ship design, and poor management. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
A last minute purchase, at the urging of my wife I took the plunge (so to speak) and bought our 14 day Buenos Aires to Rio De Janeiro cruise. By the time I got to the actual purchase pickings were slim and I had to agree to have my cabin ... Read More
A last minute purchase, at the urging of my wife I took the plunge (so to speak) and bought our 14 day Buenos Aires to Rio De Janeiro cruise. By the time I got to the actual purchase pickings were slim and I had to agree to have my cabin selected by the Costa staff. I bought the tickets, and only a few days later got to sit down and read reviews of the Fascinosa. I actually told my wife "I'm prepared to eat the lost $2k, I made a mistake, sorry". But what with anticipation and Rio's carnival looming, she persuaded me to go anyway. One's memory tends to gloss over things later that were a big deal at the time, like the strong smell of excrement in the passageway outside our cabin at all times, The faulty toilet flush mechanism that failed 4 times during a 14 day cruise. Or the gritty feeling underfoot that forced me to demand our steward vacuum the carpet. I don't want this to become an encyclopedia but there is no way to pass on the experience without going into detail. The theatre hosted some splendid live productions, with truly gifted performers and a delightful repertoire. Marred by a self promoting "cruise director" who instructed the audience to give top marks for him. Taken tongue in cheek, this might be excusable but the relentless barrage of juvenile, racially toned "humor" had the audience too embarassed not to applaud. The restaurants were passable, portions were appropriate and well presente, service good. Shore excursions with Costa should be avoided in my opinion. Overpriced and "one size fits all" we were happy that we only signed up for one (Uruguay). Being new to cruising, perhaps I appear harsh but I am reporting what I saw. Alas time prevents me from continuing while things are fresh in my mind, but happily this cruise will eventually be forgotten. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
It is inexplicable why Azamara, when they drydocked the new to them Pursuit, did not add a pool heater. Although the pools on all the Old Renaissance ships are small and oddly shaped with their two whirlpools “pinching” the pool in the ... Read More
It is inexplicable why Azamara, when they drydocked the new to them Pursuit, did not add a pool heater. Although the pools on all the Old Renaissance ships are small and oddly shaped with their two whirlpools “pinching” the pool in the middle, Oceania made sure to add pool heaters, Azamara apparently cheaper out leaving the pool only functional for most when it is in the tropics. When we were quite surprised and commented to the in service staff we got shrugs and told that is how all the Azamara ships are. So if swimming is important to you as it is to us, beware you probably should choose a different cruise line Having said this, the staff are generally good, the staff/guest ratio and cabins fine (although like all R class ships on the small side. ,. Although I have heard from others that the food on Oceania ships are better, having been on both, I would rate them about the same with the exception of the smaller specialty restaurants on Oceania are free whereas the specialty restaurants on Azamara cost $30 each.3 for $70. On the other hand they have one free outing on shore which Oceania lacks....so on balance....unless you are a swimmer, or like the more frequent activities scheduled regularly on Oceania cruises or simply want to stretch out in a properly heated pool I would rate the two lines about the same...at least in their R class ships...with an edge to Oceania’s slightly larger Marina/Riviera and an edge to them if you are on a longer voyage as the costs of specialty dining in Azamara would more than offset one night’s activity. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
The itinerary was spectacular from hot Buenos Aires to chilly Falkland Islands, around the Horn into icy Patagonia, then back into warmer climate into Peru. So, we did not use outdoor spaces much for about half the trip. Favorite stops ... Read More
The itinerary was spectacular from hot Buenos Aires to chilly Falkland Islands, around the Horn into icy Patagonia, then back into warmer climate into Peru. So, we did not use outdoor spaces much for about half the trip. Favorite stops were Punta Del Este, Falkland Islands (so many penguins), Amalia Glacier in Patagonia, Chilean Andes from Coquimo, Orsorno Glacier from Puerto Montt, Valparaiso, Ballestas Islands from Pisco, Barranco district of Lima. We made it safely and without incident to every scheduled port. Naturalist on board was good and some of the entertainment, musicians were really special. The staff was great and it was nice to return to a sparkling room every day and night. The restaurants were good but Red Ginger was outstanding. The menu in the main dining room was different most nights. Buffet is great for breakfast, outdoor grill is nice for mid-afternoon snack after a day on tour. Baristas was very nice for a leisurely coffee and pastry. Martinis was a fun place to gather with new friends before dinner. Never used the casino and we did not participate in many on-board activities except for the single malt tasting which was fun. Note: organize land tours with a small group (8-12 people) on your own as we did. These land excursions can be the best part of the experience. An excursion with 25 folks on a bus is quite limiting, and the prices for small group ship tours are quite high. Final analysis: we would definitely cruise with Oceania again and look forward to it. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
We were looking for the cruise of a lifetime, in the best cabin. It was our first cruise with Oceania, but our 7th overall. There was a lovely mix of nationalities, mostly American and Canadians, then Brits like us, Aussies and others. ... Read More
We were looking for the cruise of a lifetime, in the best cabin. It was our first cruise with Oceania, but our 7th overall. There was a lovely mix of nationalities, mostly American and Canadians, then Brits like us, Aussies and others. English was the majority main language. We are in our 50s and found we were amongst the youngest onboard. The median age was around 70. Our fellow cruisers were sophisticated, gentle, friendly, polite people who were well travelled. There were absolutely no children on board We treated ourselves to an Owners Suite ....wow! It was stunning, beautifully equipped, with lovely welcome gifts, like champagne, a set of Bulgari toiletries, a tote bag and a beach bag with fluffy towels to take home. Our butler, Abhi, had been well trained and was friendly and professional, arranging anything we needed, even before we knew we needed it. He made us feel so special and so spoilt. Meals were served in suite from any restaurant on board, so we often ate in. There is a bar setup for some suites, so we had a choice of spirits or wine, which was great. We used the suite far more than we would normally because it felt so lovely .....it was like a Manhattan apartment. We thought the standard of food was generally very high.The main dining room was very good, buffet had plenty of choice and was good, Waves grill was OK, Tuscan was variable and Red Ginger was excellent with great food and service. Special mention must go to the Maitre D’ in Red Ginger, Hula from Cape Town who was outstanding. Baristas coffee bar was our first port of call each morning...a lifesaver The small ship was much more intimate than larger ones which meant no queues for getting on and off the ship. We also liked the country club casual dress code and found that people generally dressed up for the evenings. The captain and crew were often seen around and were very friendly. The Captain’s cocktail party was a lovely evening and it was nice to see staff being rewarded for long service. We also enjoyed the farewell from the crew, where we were able to clap them onstage and they, in turn, clapped us out of the lounge. We didn’t really do the shows so can’t comment, neither did we use the bars or enrichment activities. The library was amazing - leave your books at home, there are plenty to suit all tastes. The spa was expensive but I did get a good manicure and my husband had a relaxing massage. We did 6 shore excursions, having bought a discounted package. I disagree with previous poor comments, as we had nothing but good experiences. The tours were professional, with a fair standard of English and buses far exceeded our expectations. Our cruise was from Buenos Aires to Lima, taking 3 weeks. It was amazing, despite a couple of days of bad weather, which is so much more obvious on a small ship. Thank goodness for seasickness patches! There were quite a few sea days, but that is the nature of the distances covered On the negative side, I burnt my hand due to ill fitting lids on takeaway coffee cups and found I was not alone. I cursed myself for having left our reusable cups in the cabin that day! Please get lids that fit or give guests reusable cups, which would be a greener option. Also the vibrations at the back of the ship were terrible and the cabin shook and rattled when going at speed. We did get used to it, but it would put me off spending that kind of money again on that suite. We would absolutely travel on Oceania again and we loved this trip. My husband commented that if he were a billionaire he would employ our butler Abhi in a heartbeat. We can dream...... Read Less
Sail Date: February 2019
As a scientist and biologist, I wanted to explore the Galapagos Islands for myself to witness the uniqueness of species that motivated Charles Darwin to advance his factual theories on evolution and natural selection. The National ... Read More
As a scientist and biologist, I wanted to explore the Galapagos Islands for myself to witness the uniqueness of species that motivated Charles Darwin to advance his factual theories on evolution and natural selection. The National Geographic team aboard the Endeavor II gave us an exceptionally motivating expedition of the most unique location on our planet. The experience was enhanced by the warm, friendly, motivated and well-informed staff, especially the expedition leader, Carlos, who was also a comedian. There was no shortage of excellent Ecuadorian food and snacks and drinks. There was even time for early morning stretching on the observation deck and a work out in the gym. One of the most exciting experiences on board was meeting so many new people for the first time. The Lounge and Dining Room were large and cozy enough to make this possible. The frequent visits by zodiacs to the different islands highlighting the unique species was breathtaking to say the least. I've never seen so many beautiful creatures in my life. There's no doubt that I will do this expedition again, soon. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
Booked a Vista Suite on the Navigation Deck (#7046) and soon discovered after embankment that it sat directly beneath the Lido kitchen area. Needless to say the noise from above our cabin ceiling was unbearable and went well into the night ... Read More
Booked a Vista Suite on the Navigation Deck (#7046) and soon discovered after embankment that it sat directly beneath the Lido kitchen area. Needless to say the noise from above our cabin ceiling was unbearable and went well into the night and then began again at around 3:30 a.m. There was no remedy for the problem and guest services did not follow up after we complained. We were on a 15 day South American cruise and got very little undisturbed sleep throughout the voyage. This was the major problem we encountered on this particular cruise but there were also many minor to medium issues on the ship which is well past it's prime. We have cruised with Holland three times previous to this 4th cruise but it will most likely be our last. There should have been some sort of disclosure regarding this particular cabin and the related noise problems in the initial booking information. We did not eat in the dining room but had all meals in the Lido Cafe. The food was good and the Lido service people friendly and attentive. The new hand washing stations were barely used and the majority of the people entering the Lido walked right by them on their way to dine. We don't do the shows so cannot comment on the entertainment. The shore excursions left something to be desired and we missed two ports due to bad weather. The future cruise consultant had a slight attitude and acted like she could care less about questions we asked her. The customer service desk was also average and the people manning it were not consistent regarding DVD rentals. The shipboard talks regarding ports we would visit were full of bad information and twice one seating was about two separate ports combined which was confusing to say the least. Overall I would say that the cruise was not up to the normal standards that we have seen from Holland in the past. Our next two cruises will be with Viking which has a newer fleet of ships and offers features that Holland is now lacking. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2019
We chose this 30 day cruise to see South and Central America. We embarked in Buenos Aires, sailed around South America, up the west coast to Los Angeles. We visited 7 countries in all. Embarkation was delayed 5 hours so the cruise did ... Read More
We chose this 30 day cruise to see South and Central America. We embarked in Buenos Aires, sailed around South America, up the west coast to Los Angeles. We visited 7 countries in all. Embarkation was delayed 5 hours so the cruise did not start out well. We then skipped our first port visit in Argentina due to high winds. The rest of the cruise happened as planned. The ship was nice and the staff was pleasant and helpful. The food was very good and well presented. There was always a large selection to chose from. We ate most dinners at anytime dining in the Symphony Dining Room. We ate breakfast and lunch in the buffets on deck 16. We did not participate in formal dinning. We enjoyed most of the entertainment in the Theater. They had a wide variety, but did repeat due to the cruise was divided into 3 segments. We did not participate in other activities. We used the fitness center. It was large and had new equipment, very pleasant. They offered many fitness classes as well, but did not participate in them. There were only 2 swimming pools and a wading pool. I would not consider this ship if you like to spend a lot of time by the pool. Also, due to the length of this cruise, the age group was mainly 60 plus. We had a balcony room which had adequate space. For this length of cruise, I'd recommend a min-suite. Our room was mid ship, close to the elevator on deck 12. Great location. The beds were comfortable but the pillows were too large and stiff for our liking. The sliding door to the balcony was difficult to open. We went on ship sponsored excursions in every port. We were disappointed by some of the excursions, mostly due to what we didn't see as expected. We felt some were overpriced for what we experienced. Machu Picchu itself was outstanding, but the first day was totally wasted on long lines at the airport and late transportation to Cusco. The hotel in the Sacred Valley was superb! It was the highlight of our cruise and highly recommend it for others. The tour was well paced, so was manageable for most seniors. Walking sticks were very helpful in navigating the steps. Disembarkation in Los Angeles went fairly smooth and quickly. We asked to be moved up to an earlier departure which helped expedite matters. Luggage was difficult to find in the terminal however. Overall the cruise was very enjoyable and pleasant. We would recommend this cruise for anyone looking to discover South America, but we would not repeat it again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2019
This was my 48th cruise and 19th on Princess, Buenos Aires to San Antonio. We flew from Phoenix via Atlanta to Buenos Aires and stayed 2 nights precruise at the Hilton. We toured the city and it was very hot and the traffic was awful. ... Read More
This was my 48th cruise and 19th on Princess, Buenos Aires to San Antonio. We flew from Phoenix via Atlanta to Buenos Aires and stayed 2 nights precruise at the Hilton. We toured the city and it was very hot and the traffic was awful. We relied on taxis which were very reasonable. The day of embarkation we received an email stating the ship would be delayed and not to show up before 4pm at the port. The traffic getting to the port was horrific as a container ship had arrived and there were tons of trucks. At the port there was standing room only and no air conditioning as the electricity went out. We waited with 900 people with no water and then had to take a bus to the ship. There were at least 4 stories as to why the ship was delayed. Luggage also had to be transported by bus to the ship. We stayed overnight in Buenos Aires but had no reason to get off the next day and face the obstacles of the port. Our cabin was a DB D332 pretty spacious and decent size balcony, very quiet, good location. There were many Elite passengers so laundry service was slow, we did our own wash one day. We had a bumpy cruise with high winds that made it impossible to go outside. We missed Puerto Madryn although we almost made it to the port but turned around not once but twice to pick up Chilean pilots. More bumpy cold weather but we made it to Port Stanley where we went to volunteer point to see the penguins, this was the best day despite a long drive. We had more cold and windy weather for 12 of 14 days that made it difficult to appreciate the ports we stopped at including Ushuaia, Puerto Montt and Chacabuco. These were tender ports so it was a trial to get on land. At the Captain's Party Captain Nash said he would not sign up for this itinerary again there were so many obstacles, ie, late to port, difficulty tendering not enough tender docks, poor sea conditions, missed ports. I would not recommend this itinerary except for seeing the penguins, very unimpressive and too many sea days which are a snooze. A lot of passengers seemed to use this cruise to get away from colder climates so they were content to sit and read and drink coffee or play cards all day. It was fairly easy to bring wine onboard at these ports, also the ship had some “bargain” wines you could get (I imagine because the wine list changed and they were liquidating some bottles?) Most cruisers were aboard for the 49 passage. We had a good meet and greet, well managed shore excursions with cruise critic people. The food was pretty good especially in the Horizon court. A lot of entertainment in the Piazza including dance and zumba. The production show Silk was a strange melange of pop music and a traditional theme. The shows required getting a seat 30 minutes prior. Debarkation at San Antonio was good as we had a Princess excursion that ended at the airport. We visited a nice winery and had a fair city tour. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
We flew from LA to Buenos Aires 12 hours direct, arriving at airport 7:20 am, tired and long line at immigration (1.5 hours), Anticipating check-in around 11 am, lunch at noon, nap right after; but it did not turn out that way ... Read More
We flew from LA to Buenos Aires 12 hours direct, arriving at airport 7:20 am, tired and long line at immigration (1.5 hours), Anticipating check-in around 11 am, lunch at noon, nap right after; but it did not turn out that way Embarkation: Major delay by Princess arriving after 2 pm, check-in 5:30 pm. Main reason: few passengers without proper documents having issues with Argentina immigration, delay led to late queuing to the port. Princess staffs at the port did not offer water or snacks during the wait after repeated requests by passengers until 4:30 pm, poor communication among Princess Disembarkation was smooth in Los Angeles Ship (built in 2013) is nice with about 3500 passengers with all amenities Cabin is average compared to other cruise lines, flat TV mounted on the wall to save space, TV menu or guide is easy to navigate Dining: Prefer buffet because it takes up to 2 hours to sit to be served, more Asian food and couple of days with lavish sea food at buffet (lobster, oyster ....), fried noodle available daily. Issue with fruits: Banana often needs to be requested, qiwi was almost as hard as stone Entertainment: Love Princess Production Show even have seen from other ships, some guest performers were excellent, some were average, Princess singers are not up the par to perform as guest performers, sorry Service is very good Excursions: Good Best: Fortunate to see 3 kinds of penguins at Stanley, Falklands Islands, day before and after were not able to due to bad weather Bad: Only one tender dock at Punta Arenas, Chile and not informed by the ship captain, it took 45-90 minutes one way between ship & port, had we been told, some of us would not have gone ashore to ease tender traffic. Worst: Princess does not credit or compensate delay, mistake by Princess check-in process to allow passengers without proper document to get on the ship Advice: Weather was unpredictable in February-March, if you want to see penguins, make sure you book several shore excursions to see penguins as you may not dock at that port if weather is bad Overall rating: 6/10 (Embarkation problem and weather) Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2019
This was our 21st cruise and 5th on Celebrity but first time back on the line in 2 years and first time on a solstice ship in 5 years. Shortly before this cruise we had done several others including our first sailings on Crystal and ... Read More
This was our 21st cruise and 5th on Celebrity but first time back on the line in 2 years and first time on a solstice ship in 5 years. Shortly before this cruise we had done several others including our first sailings on Crystal and Seabourn. We have travelled South America and Brazil extensively on land and this was a last minute booking just to enjoy another cruise and reacquaint ourselves with X (which we felt had become a bit expensive for what they provided). We had a week in Buenos Aires before the cruise but mostly hung out in Palermo which continues to be one of the nicer areas of the city. Embarkation was very busy. The cruise line tried to provide set times for passengers but most just arrived at the same time and we were given numbers. No priority. Once our number was called, security and check-in was relatively easy but then immigration was ridiculous with the queuing system one of the worst I have encountered and then a bus ride necessary to get to the ship, we honestly thought they would not finish embarkation in time. Once onboard 2 things were immediately apparent, firstly Celebrity ships still look amazing, secondly cost cutting is in place when we saw that the sparkling wine being used was the same horrible brand that NCL uses - yuck. The ship is lovely with the huge sky high atrium, wide walk ways and stairs, the floor to ceiling glassed sky lounge, lawn, indoor and outdoor pools. We did miss the promenade walking decks of other cruise lines but it was a minor issue. The gym is huge but was still very busy. We had a verandah cabin and I had forgotten how spacious and comfortable they are. The cabin was better than what we had on the luxury Crystal line. The storage is adequate. There is plenty of space to manuevre. The bathroom design is excellent. The balcony was very comfortable with uninterrupted views. The tv had many free movies but we did experience a lot of technical difficulties (4 out of 10 days). Our cabin attendant was nice but refills of bathroom supplies often had to be requested. Cost cutting - towel supplies were limited and often threadbare. Dining-in the past we have always been impressed by Celebrity but we were in shock after our first 2 nights in the mdr. Food quality had slipped a lot but strangely about half way thru the cruise it improved markedly. The dining room was very busy but service was good. The state of the menus was a shambles and disintegrating and clearly had not been replaced in years. We dined at Murano and Le Petit Chef once we were offered 30% discounts, the full cost is ludicrous. Murano was very good quality however we were constantly under the requests to buy lunches or other upselling experiences and asked to give good feedback, this detracted from the evening. Le Petit Chef is a gimmick and not worth the price, I thought it would be more interactive then it is. It felt like you were part of a convention meal. The lobster and steak were decent quality. The room design is cheap. Would not bother a second time. We didn't use the bufffet a lot but it seemed to have plenty of options and is well spaced out. We loved the coffee shop and the health cafe which were great alternatives. Bars and Drinks. This was the greatest disappointment. We had the classic package which has undergone a price increase while simultaneously being severly downgraded in options especially when it comes to after dinner drinks. On top of that bar staff lied about what was included, they also often omitted ingredients from cocktails. I tried to upgrade to the premium package but constantly found that most bars did not stock premium beers and waters. Even worse they regularly substitued using downgraded products, I watched while they regularly poured "classic" wines and spirits when premium requested, when queried they would either tell straight lies or feign error. After talking to the bar management we downgraded back to classic. Even here problems with no mineral water being available. Entertainment- we had 4 production shows, the quality was good without being great. Guest entertainers were average with the exception on the Brazilian piano player. The special samba show poolside in Rio was a real let down with canned music and average performers, I have seen many other shows and this was average. Activities-the activities team were very fun and put on loads of dance classes, trivias and games. The CD was a young italian guy who had loads of energy and great language skills and given the ship passengers were almost half Latinos did a good job. Between the pools, the grass lawn, table tennis, sports court etc we were never bored. We did feel that the vibe on the ship felt different to usual, we met many South American locals who were lovely and really interesting and despite being loads of families everyone was really well behaved. Having said that with a variety of languages it does "feel" a little different. Service-there was plenty of staff and they were definitely working hard but they lacked the friendliness we have associated with previous X cruises. Ports- we had great weather and we enjoyed IhlaBella and Buzios a lot. Santos is average. We have done Rio many times. Overall a nice itinerary for those wanting to relax and sun themselves. If the price were right we would do X again as we love the ship and cabins, there is a great variety of dining venues and bars, love the grass lawn. The drinks service needs to improve and we don't like that X seems to be trying to create a class system on their ships. We are more likely to pay a little more for the luxury when we can find the right deals as much prefer their onboard experience. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
Very disappointing treatment of someone sustaining a serious injury on the ship due to their negligence. Poor medical treatment. Poor follow up from Guest relations until I conveyed my concerns to them that I felt dismissed. My holiday was ... Read More
Very disappointing treatment of someone sustaining a serious injury on the ship due to their negligence. Poor medical treatment. Poor follow up from Guest relations until I conveyed my concerns to them that I felt dismissed. My holiday was ruined for myself and my partner and ship's response was more 'out of sight, out of mind'. The ship is beautiful, restaurants are good. The ship certainly has style decoratively and never feels overwhelmingly large or oppressive. Delightful cosy corners and cafes can be discovered everywhere around the ship which is generally well appointed for most things you need. Cellar bar terribly under utlised and such a shame as it's a delightful space. Packages are worthwhile. However we had a luxury drinks package and there was no Evian water available as this wasn't stocked in error at the port therefore we were only supplied with the usual bottled water. In addition every time I asked for grapefruit juice I was given orange on our cabin breakfast order. I was advised there was none? This was untrue, I discovered different food / beverage outlets don't share, possibly due to their accounting and stock management, none the less it is frustrating. General treatment of anyone injured in my experience disgusting, of course this has negatively influenced my entire experience which for me was very sad. I now look forward to surgery to repair my hand having returned home. Shame on Celebrity also for not advising passengers when they have a concierge class cabin in the corridor under the cafe that there is noise and obstructed views from the balcony, including poor maintenance and peeling paint onto it. Of course my cruise was tainted due to the fractures I sustained and a badly bruised bottom, both of which effected and still effect all my activities of daily living. However, I also believe it exposed some huge deficits in their service delivery, professionalism and ability to know how to effectively deal with challenging circumstances. In the words of a guest relations team member "most of the crew are young and inexperienced, they just don't know how to behave" and in the words of the concierge representative "there is a hierarchy on board the ship and you can't just talk to anybody" . Our dining experiences were good, all food and beverage outlets provided great service and friendly, attentive staff. Cabin once we relocated was a good size and well provisioned, cabin steward was excellent, Imade thankyou. I used the gym once prior to my injury and it is well equipped. Theatre shows were average by comparison to other cruise ships we have been on. Around the ship there was as usual plenty of activities available and something for everyone throughout the day, although almost non existent on port days, which if you remained on the ship could be a bit boring, although there is always the spa. I had a couple of treatments in the spa and visited the salon for a barber shave and haircut as due to my injury I couldn't shave and needed all my hair cut off. Both experiences were very good. Rio shore excursions were excellent, the remainder advertised appeared less so. We visited Buzios and Santos also. Shore excursions were well organised however. Cabin breakfast was generally served incorrectly and / or tepid, also around 20 minutes earlier on average than the time booked (because it suited them to do so I suspect based on the volume of orders, not satisfactory though). Laundry service was poor, always came back later than should have and we had to chase this up with cabin steward, also items should have been ironed and were apparently but quality was abismal. In fact we had them all done again at the hotel we booked into post cruise. I wouldn't recommend laundry use. This ship is more crew centric than customer centric, be warned, I wish I had been. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
This is only the second time that I have composed any dialogue regarding our many cruises around this unique planet. This cruise, on Regent SS "Explorer", was chosen by us more than two years ago. It takes a lot of ... Read More
This is only the second time that I have composed any dialogue regarding our many cruises around this unique planet. This cruise, on Regent SS "Explorer", was chosen by us more than two years ago. It takes a lot of discussion, a lot of planning, a lot of 'buyers' remorse, a lot of tender anticipation before deciding on the correct fit that an Ocean Going Cruise will make. Two years ago a significant birthday, for myself, was looming on the horizon and the two of us (TC2 and myself) wanted a cruise that would meet the requirements of that birthday. Since my birthday, by default, had two distinct dates ( another story, another time) the 2019 Explorer Cruise from Santiago to Los Angeles would be a perfect fit for both dates. Since we live in the northern area of the USA it can and does have very obtuse weather conditions during the winter. Our weather assumption, unfortunately, proved correct and caused us to change flights, incur unexpected hotel stays and invoke extra costs to an already expensive cruise. But, if we did not accomplish this we would never have reached the ship on time for embarkation. Taxi scams at the Santiago Airport added more frustration to our journey and being 'World travelers' we should have known better. The flight from Dallas/Fort Worth to Santiago, Chile. was made on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Comfortable and on time flight but we would never have made that flight had we not changed out flight from Vancouver to be one day earlier. However, our luggage arrived with us and having that not happen more than once, we were surprised. Boarding the "Explorer" ship and climbing the gangway to be greeted with a Champagne "Welcome Aboard" is always exciting, even though we have done this so many times. We have told each other, "do not take it for granted". We were, indeed, fortunate to obtain a 'Master Suite' due to a last minute 'upsell' which we offered to accept. It is a fine example of what Regent can put into a luxury ship. Two bedrooms, two bathrooms (one full) and a deck that commands more than 180 degree view as well as an expanse that would accommodate a Rothchild party. Put this together with Butler Service and it would be hard to find an equal. It just so happened that the "Discovery Channel" camera crew were on board with us filming for one of their episodes of "Mighty Cruise Ships". In order to cover the complete ship they need to film a Butler served dinner service en Suite. We were innocently chosen to be the couple that was provided this service. The episode will not air for about eights months but it certainly should be interesting and also give a boost to Regent. The Discovery Channel film crew attended my birthday get together. Balloons, festoons and canapes together with a full Marzipan cake for me and an Opera cake for TC2, baked by the Regent Pastry chef, all made it a Happy Birthday and unforgettable memorable occasion. The crew is always our second family and we look forward to greeting each one of them on our regular Regent cruises. General Manager, Massimo, met and greeted us as we boarded the ship and made sure that attention, care, service and safety were all prime. We particularly enjoyed being invited to an Explorer Suite on Deck Eight where we met and became extremely close with the guest of that suite. We also were fortunate to join, for cocktails in the Explorer Lounge, two outstanding guests, 'Master and Madame Echo'. I would like to comment on some items that Master Echo has reported on in his cruise critic review. 1) Electric cut off when you leave the suite. This items is about par for most hotels. I presume it is a method of conservation. However, since the ship provides its' own electricity you would think it is not necessary. It is most likely a safety item especially for batteries and chargers that are left plugged in. Because we don't want to keep putting the card key into the slot each time we enter we chooses to use either a cardboard or stiff paper insert and leave it is as long as we "own' the suite. It works fine for us. 2) Cabin cleanliness. I was surprised to learn that some funnel smut had collected in the room and also that a solitary and wayward grape had not been cleaned away. For our own experience we have found housekeeping to be above par but understand that some items can be missed. Where's that 'white' glove? 3) Vibration. Like individuals, we are different. So it goes for ships. We expected big things from Explorer when she came out. "This one is not going to vibrate and she is not going to have dischordent frequencies. She is going to be so stable you won't know your on a cruise!" Obviously not so. Every ship, again like ourselves has its' idiosyncrasies. They all creak, they all sway and they all have haunting vibrations. A super example of this is the "Navigator". It has always had problems. They have 'fixed' it several times, but it still has problems. If you 'fix' one frequency in one place it transfers to another. That is the ship world. Given the amount of weight on the Explorer, with glass, marble alloyed Prayer Wheels, etc. etc. it is a wonder that she even got our of Italy. 3) Water quality. Water quality on the ship is always a concern. It is conserved and osmetically re-cycled. Problems to emanate from rusty boilers but while it is unsightly it does affect the cleaning power. Personally, I found the shower water to be so clean that it left my shampoo squeaky clean. Most people do not realise that 'conditioners' change the structure off the hair and eradicate its' history. I do not think you can get away without putting chlorine into a swimming pool. It is ubiquidous. I found the Infinity Pool to be quite strong with this additive. 4) Gratuities. Regent classifies itself as "All Inclusive". Therefore you should never have to dig into your pocket for anything. Coming from the U.K. I am very stingy. I work for my money, I get a salary, I do expect anything else. The early coffee house in Britain in the 17th Century gave rise to the TIP. (To Insure Promptness) It has now grown, due mainly to American influence, some that is not just expected but demanded. It seems that if you do not give a 'Tip' you are embarrassed and the worker relies on this embarrassment. Regent contracts their employees. Their employees get paid well for what they do. Nowhere in the contract does it say, "Thou shalt receive a tip or extra awards for doing your job". Should you wish to contribute to a crew 'welfare' fund then do so, but you can do it without be embarrassed by it. I was extremely upset to see a head-waiter canvassing every table in Compass Rose, on the penultimate night, shaking hands with each customer and instructing them to make note of his name in the 'Comments' report. It was also noted that some exchange of dollars was taking place. 5) Explorations. The Ships' Destination Services has historical problems. Each of the port and each of the tours brings it's own problem. Dealing with contractor busses, variable languages, countries, ethnicities, safety, reliability, comfort, needs a lot of tact and experience. Transform this into on-board guests who always want to be first in the line at the supermarket and it can be a bee-hive to avoid. But, seeing the world and it's history is why we cruise. Patience! 6) Internet. On board Internet is almost a permanent failure. Contacting Satellites hovering 25,000 miles above the Earth is expected but cannot always be justified. Nature is, however always present. Climate, Gravity, Sun Spots and a myriad of galactic and global influences have a big influence on our Internet system. Just like the movies, we expect instant response but even electricity takes time to get from one place to another. Again, it pays to be patient and through in a little levity. I just wait until I get home. Just a word or two on Dining. The Pacific Rim on Explorer was a new and exciting addition. Being our fifth cruise on Explorer we had eaten in Pacific Rim several times. It took us four or five of those visits to finally grasp what the menu is about. Now, when we attend, we know what it is that we like and we have adjusted ourselves to the Asian Infusion method that type of cuisine. Service is always impeccable as provided by mostly Russian servers. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2019
The Eclipse Antarctica cruise was great - primarily because of MickeyLive! He engaged everyone in the scenery, terrific talks, great narration and interaction for 14 days! The cruise would have been boring without him. ALL of his talks ... Read More
The Eclipse Antarctica cruise was great - primarily because of MickeyLive! He engaged everyone in the scenery, terrific talks, great narration and interaction for 14 days! The cruise would have been boring without him. ALL of his talks were standing room only! The ship was fine, Captain Leo was also very engaging and friendly. Celebrity shore excursions are ridiculously over-priced! Do your homework before and book your own online. Here's an example - We booked a Patrick Watts tour to Volunteer Point (Falkland Islands) about a year in advance for $180pp. (Estancia tours is also about the same). The SAME ship tour was OVER $500pp. This destination sells out. Volunteer point is a MUST to see the penguins! If you don't book other ports ahead of time just walk off the ship and grab a tour at the port. Don't waste your money on celebrity excursions. Also, the ship cannot leave without you - the port authority will not allow it. The crew is forced to try to sell speciality dining meals. We actually bought a package of 4 on each of our back to back cruises. QSine was fun, once! We split the other 7 between Morano and Tuscan Grill. I tried to love Tuscan Grill but the food isn't great, at least the service is! Morana was consistently wonderful! We always requested Alin as our server! There's a tall waiter (don't remember his name) and we was somewhat arrogant. Our wine steward Fabrice was amazing! The services of someone like MickeyLive was noticeably missing for Brazil. Such a letdown without him. It was a regular cruise that could have been taken on any ship. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
Finishing the Trip – Lima to San Diego – February 15 to March 4 , 2019 Why this cruise? We had sailed from San Diego to Callao/Lima 5 years ago on the “old” Statendam and wanted to do the return trip. This time we would be on ... Read More
Finishing the Trip – Lima to San Diego – February 15 to March 4 , 2019 Why this cruise? We had sailed from San Diego to Callao/Lima 5 years ago on the “old” Statendam and wanted to do the return trip. This time we would be on Volendam, and there were fewer port stops and more sea days, but we were looking for a relaxing experience which we found. Holland America is not our most favorite cruise line; but deserves a 4 star rating for its efforts and wide ranging itinerary selections. Getting there. We flew American Airlines to LAX, and then boarded a LATAM Airlines plane. This company was formed by a merger of a Chilean airline and a Brazilian airline, and they bought some Boeing 987 Dreamliners, one of which we flew. It was a very nice plane with excellent service, although I can never sleep on planes, even when stretched out in Business class as on this flight. Lima. We arrived on Saturday, and stayed at a hotel in Lima that night since we could not board the ship until Sunday. We also contacted our tour guide from our prior trip – Monica of Monica Tours Peru, for tours on Saturday and Monday. We booked transportation from the airport to our hotel on line before we left and would highly recommend the company – taxidatum@gmail.com. The cost was $18.00 with a senior discount, although I paid the driver $20.00. We stayed at the BTH Hotel which we found on both Trip Advisor and Trivago. It was very reasonable, and a fairly nice place with an extremely helpful desk staff that spoke excellent English. The restaurant was quite nice, with a decent dinner and excellent breakfast. The breakfast was included in the $108.00 hotel price! Getting on board can be a problem in Lima/Callao. One must have a pass to get on the dock. The cruise lines pick up passengers who have purchased air through them at the airport and drive them to the ship. All others must go to a hotel site to catch a cruise bus. We were able to get hold of taxidatum and they picked us up at the BTH hotel on Sunday and drove us to the Marriot Hotel in Miraflores for $15.00where we caught the shuttle bus to the ship. Boarding was actually on board the ship since there were few of us, so we made it to our stateroom and unpacked quickly. We stayed on board the rest of the day, and met Monica for another tour of Lima on Monday before we did our own little muster drill and sailed away that afternoon The Volendam Our ship was constructed in 1999 and had been refurbished a few years ago. Its normal passenger complement is 1400 in a 60,000 gross tonnage craft which makes for a decent space ratio of 42.85 cubic feet per passenger. The public spaces have lots of seating and tend to have dark wood with old fashioned prints and decorative pieces. There are three elevator/stair banks which allow very decent passenger flow. It is easy to get around and the only crowds are in the theater for shows. There are two pools, one midships and the other aft – both on the Lido deck. The library is part of the computer room, but was never crowded. There is a separate Digital Workshop room. Our Stateroom We had a standard verandah cabin on Deck 6. Volendam shows its age in its offering of cabins. Only the upper two stateroom decks, 6 and 7 have verandahs. Decks 3, 4 and 5 staterooms have only windows. Our layout had a fair amount of room with a full length leather couch opposite a nice desk with 6 full drawers. The closets were opposite the bath which had a tub/ shower. The lighting was good, and we managed to get the temperature to a decent level. The verandah had a lounge chair as well as a side chair. We were only a few steps from the mid ships elevators, two decks below the Lido deck, and two above the main dining room and theater. Entertainment The production shows, with four singers and six dancers were not bad, although quite loud as is common. There was one other musician playing a variety of instruments, with a comic patter. There were three comedians, which we skipped. There was a trio of lady singers who were not bad. The classical music was provided by a violinist with a piano accompanist. They played 4 sets on most nights, but did not play at all on a few nights. We gave the whole entertainment panoply a 5 out of 10 rating. On Board Information Presentations. These were fairly extensive and well done. There was a Digital Workshop host – Frank – who did from one to four presentations every day and was quite knowledgeable. There were regular talks about the places we would visit. The ship has a large demonstration kitchen with a presentation cook doing at least one cooking show each morning and afternoon. In addition there were the usual bridge and mah jong games, along with arts and crafts, and the Wajang Theater showed movies three three times a day. All told, there was plenty to do on board. Food Holland America does a pretty good job with food, although it does not come close to Crystal or Oceania. The main dining room is on Decks 4 and 5, with 4 being for open seating and 5 for set seating. Service for dinner starts at 5:15 and is busy immediately sine the evening shows start at 8:00 and people start arriving at the theater at 7:00. In addition to the dining room, there is the Pinnacle Room with a charge of $50.00 per person. We ate there one night as the guest of our travel agent, and it was quite good. We also were guests at Canaletto, which is an Italian Restaurant set up each night at a section of the Lido buffet. For $15.00 extra per person it was quite good. The Lido buffet itself has good selections and keeps the food hot, but the service is somewhat short handed, both on the serving line and in the restaurant portion. Getting coffee in the morning was often a struggle. There was only one soup for lunch, but sushi was always available. The pastries were quite fine. My wife is a vegetarian and was almost always able to obtain a decent selection. I would rate the food experience at 8.5 out of 10, below the 9.4 and 9.5 of Oceania and Crystal; and in the same range as Princess and Celebrity. Fellow Passengers Holland America does not cater much to children, and there were only 3 on board. The overwhelming number of us were in the Medicare set, and mostly American and Canadian, with a few Germans. The clothing style was very casual, with only a slight improvement on the “formal” nights. This seems to be the way cruising is headed these days. Many had extensive cruising experience, and we had lots of pleasant conversations. The Crew As always, the crew was friendly and generally helpful. Most of the dining room and buffet staff, and all of the cabin workers were Indonesian, a practice this line has followed dating back to when Indonesia was the Dutch East Indies. They are uniformly friendly and smiling. The Captain, a German, was often seen about the ship. Holland America has a long sea faring history, and knows how to sail a ship quite well, thank you. Ports of Call. The first stop was 130 miles south of Callao at a place called General San Martin. It is only a pier and the town of Paracas is about 10 miles away. The area is the most barren desert we have ever seen. It probably could be called the Peruvian extension of Chile’s Atacama Desert, just about the driest place on earth. But, here was an excellent tour available to the off shore Ballestas Islands. I had found this tour on line and we paid $15.75 apiece. The ship’s tour cost $164.95 per person! That was a nice savings of $300.00 indeed. The tour was in an open boat holding about 40 people. There were several such boats and ours did not have any cruise passengers because we boarded through the company (Paracas Explorer – bookings@findlocaltrips.com) that sold us the tickets. The Ballestas Islands contain a variety of birds such as boobies, cormorants, pelicans and penguins as well as seals and dolphins. The birds provide a huge amount of guano, which is carefully guarded until it is removed and sold at a high price. The birds are evidently undisturbed by the removal process. On the way out we saw a huge carving on the side of a hill in the style of the ancient Nazca tribe. The boat trip took about two + hours and was well worth it, especially at $30.00 for both of us. All the rest of our tour were HAL tours. A very nice guide book showing all the tours was provided, and there was a wide selection in most ports. After three sea, days we arrived at Punta Arenas, Costa Rica where we took a ships bus tour and enjoyed a local dance show and later a stop at a souvenir shop. Costa Rica is a very nice country with a stable democratic government, no army and one of the highest literacy rates in the world. We did not get off the ship in Nicaragua, the next stop. The following day we toured the city of Antigua in Guatemala. This city is a UNESCO World Heritage site which means a real effort has been made at preservation. The first stop was the Jade Museum, where the presenter was a lady from Yorkshire. The individuals who discovered the jade were from Texas and the wife was present in the museum and store. The collection was quite beautiful. We also drove around town with a guide who was quite frank about the poor state of affairs in her country due to corruption and a concentration of wealth in 20 families. The literacy rate here is one of the worst in the world. But the cost of living is quite low. After two sea days we arrived at Manzanillo, Mexico, which is a pleasant town, where we did a typical tour which was hardly memorable. The next day was spent in Puerto Vallarta, where we have spent some time in the past. The tour was fairly short and again, not exciting, but pleasant. After two sea days we arrived in San Diego. Disembarkation went smoothly. Overall Rating We took this cruise for two reasons. The first was to finish the Inca Empire cruise which we had started five years ago. The second attraction was the number of sea days, and the way they were spaced. We find these days most relaxing. I was able to enjoy exercising in the pools, do a lot of reading, staring at the ocean, and of course, eat. So, while this was not our most exciting trip, it provided just what we wanted, 15 days at ease. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
We chose this cruise as we wished to see Chile Argentina and the Falkland Islands.We usually chose on the basis of destination and value and not particularly aligned to a particular cruise line This was our 12th cruise having been with ... Read More
We chose this cruise as we wished to see Chile Argentina and the Falkland Islands.We usually chose on the basis of destination and value and not particularly aligned to a particular cruise line This was our 12th cruise having been with Princess X4 Cunard X1 Royal Caribbean X1 Carnival X1 MSC X1 Costa X1 and NCL X3. (Epic and Pride of America) Before the cruise we stayed 2 nights in Santiago, at the Hotel Plaza San Francisco. We thoroughly enjoyed sightseeing in Santiago. The only frustration was the constant warning on street robberies and theft, fortunately we had no issues with this. The transfer to San Antonio is about 2 hours by coach, we opted to use Pullman coaches which was very cheap but an experience, the coach station was manic and again security was a big concern, however all was managed well and the coach took us straight to the ship. The embarkation was one of the quickest we have encountered, we effectively just got straight on to the ship. The ship is nearly 20 years old but after a minor refit and very well maintained and better than many others that we have been on. Dining, we usually used the Seven Seas restaurant and the buffet occasionally, the food was a very good standard and on par with other offers. A good variety of choice, unusually there were not any real formal evening in line with NCL's casual style, this may not suit all. Entertainment. This was probably the poorest aspect, the good shows were Abbey Road Beatles Burt Bacharach and Magician was good, the other shows Tango show Singer Eliza Rose and American Comedian Gaucho Cowboys were not to my taste. The ships company were okay. The cruise director Jaeme from beautiful Columbia was visible, the captain was invisible., Service overall was good, the all inclusive aspect kept the cost down without the further addition of extra cabin service charges. Staff were plentiful and I would chose this option again. Excursions The ship excursions were very expensive for what they offered, there seemed to be an even bigger mark up than usual....so we only used 2 where alternatives were not really available. Puerto Montt Ship tour to Frutillar and surrounding area. Okay. Takes you to a nice outside museum Puerto Chacabuco Ship tour to Aysen okay but not good value. Punta Arenas We took and independent tour with cruiseexcursion.com agian okay showcasing the best this had to offer. It is a very bleak area even at the height of summer. Ushuaia. We did the end of the world tour. Again this made the most of what the area had to offer very bleak but mainly untouched. Falklands Unfortunately we could not dock so therefor an extra sea day. Many complaints from all as this was one of the key areas we wanted to see... captains verdict was final so no point in moaning (41 USD was automatically refunded to all for port fees). Puerto Madryn We went on Penguin trip to Punta Tombo which was excellent. 2 hour drive each way but lots of penguins in natural habitat. We would have appreciated a bit longer here to see the town after the tour. Montevideo This was a real gem after the bleak south and minimal street crime ..what a contrast!. Finally Buenos Aires which we loved for a 2 day post-cruise except for the street crime. We stayed at the 725 Continental. We enjoyed the tour overall...the south was bleaker than we expected so would not go again...very disappointing that we did not make the Falklands. but overall it was certainly an experience. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
I chose to do two back to back cruises to cover as much of the islands as possible. This was the best decision I could have made. I will not go into the wonders of these Islands, just my shipboard experience. Embarkation after the ... Read More
I chose to do two back to back cruises to cover as much of the islands as possible. This was the best decision I could have made. I will not go into the wonders of these Islands, just my shipboard experience. Embarkation after the flight over to the Galapagos was excellent and well organised from the wharf to registering on the ship. My balcony cabin was spotlessly clean and well appointed and the balcony well worth the extra cost even with the solo supplement. My butler and cabin cleaner were very good and helpful whenever necessary. Dining was a joy with Chef Carlo Bermudez catering to all diets with plenty of variety and his Yucca Bread was absolutely delicious. He did a tasting menu for the few doing the two cruises one night, oh my, how good was that as were the wines and how lucky were we. The Hot Rocks Restaurant was the usual Silverseas high standard and much fun was had at this venue whilst enjoying the great food. Lunch on the deck was very popular but as other people have commented, not enough room, however hopefully the new ship will have an extended area. The Chef was cooking local food here every day and was so good to be able to sample these foods. Service was exemplary, the occasional language difficulty in the restaurant but nothing that could not be solved easily. The Expedition Team were experienced and very knowledgeable, looking after us on land and sea and we were so lucky to have these people guiding us through this wonderland. The treks and snorkelling in particular, were fantastic. Another highlight was watching approximately 200 Galapagos Sharks hanging around the ship one night in the light, one of the most awesome sights I have seen anywhere in the world. Captain Karin Chacon was very obvious by his presence, interacting with the guests and such a lovely gentleman. I was lucky enough to spend some time with him and enjoy his wealth of knowledge of the area. All in all, much more than I expected with a crew that really tries to make sure you have the very best of experiences, and succeeded. Thanks to you all Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
Sailed with NCL for the first time having done mainly P&O cruises before. The Norwegian Sun was lovely having a recent refit and refresh. We chose the ship for its destinations as we wanted to sail round South America. We flew out ... Read More
Sailed with NCL for the first time having done mainly P&O cruises before. The Norwegian Sun was lovely having a recent refit and refresh. We chose the ship for its destinations as we wanted to sail round South America. We flew out early and had 3 nights in Santiago before the cruise, but NCL organised very efficient and fast transfers for us to the hotel from the airport and from the hotel to the port on embarkation day. Very impressed. There was even a dedicated help desk in the hotel for passengers and offered some tours of Santiago and vineyards for those who came just a day before. However, we didn’t know this in advance so we organised our own tour of the Concha y Toro vineyard through the local tours desk. The hotel was the Santiago Sheraton in an excellent position with fantastic views over their pool to the Andes. Ten minute walk across the road and you were in the bustling Providencia area, with lots of choices of restaurants. We were able to eat cheaply with 2for 1 deals up to 8pm. We enjoyed our first Traditional Pisco sours. The transfer to San Antonio port took about 1 1/2 hours but we got on board quickly and were able to enjoy an early lunch and our first free drinks. Our Premium Plus package included all drinks up to 15 dollars each, which was most things; speciality coffees in the restaurants; two litres of mineral water a day in our cabin plus 250 free WiFi minutes and all tips and gratuities. In addition we got 50 dollars per cabin off ship tours for each port of call which made a big difference as the tours are very expensive, but we felt we should take them as we didn’t speak Spanish. The ship had all nationalities on board with a lot of Germans and Spanish speaking countries. However, the cruise staff all spoke English and it was used as the first language in all the quizzes, with translations for the questions on the screen in up to 4 other languages. It worked well and nobody took them too seriously anyway. The cruise director, Jeimy from Colombia, was brilliant and swapped seamlessly from English to Spanish when introducing shows or explaining things. We had cabin 6024 which was an outside window on the port side so we saw land most of the time. It was a perfect position for us in a quiet, almost secret corridor. You accessed it by a dozen stairs down from deck 7 through the Art gallery towards the front. It was very near to the lovely Champagne bar on 7 where we could listen to the live music coming up the Atrium from deck 5. It was also only down one floor to get out onto the promenade deck to take sheltered photographs of the beautiful scenery especially in the Beagle Channel where we passed 5 glaciers all on the port side when sailing down the west coast. I would book this cabin again. Of the places we visited, Puerto Montt had tours to neighbouring lakes and towns which were interesting, but it was too misty to see the Orsorno Volcano; Puerto Chacabuco had nothing in the town so we did go on a long drive over the Andes to Coyhaique. We saw some Condors but nothing very spectacular. The tour got back an hour after the back on board last tender, but of course the ship waited so no problem. Puerto Arenas had some interesting things in the town so we caught the shuttle bus in and walked a lot. We visited the cemetery where the rich were buried - free entry- and went in the Maggiorino Borgatello museum founded by Salesian missionaries which was open all day because the cruise ships were in - a small charge. The best parts were sailing the scenic fjords, Beagle Channel and Ushuaia nicknamed Fin del Mundo or End of the World. There we took a 4 hour coach trip into the Tierra del Fuego park - land of fires. I was very disappointed with the shore excursions desk as they didn’t know anything more about their tours than was printed on the sheets. So when I asked if the tour stopped anywhere we could get a stamp for the End of the World in our passport or on a stamp, she said no. We were then delighted to find our first stop in the park was at the Beagle Channel which divides Argentina from Chile and there was the cute, tiny, Fin Del Mundo, post office, so we could buy a postcard, get it stamped and even post it. Other stops included a beautiful lake, the visitors centre and the last at the end of Route 3 which runs all the way down the Americas. A great tour! Back in Ushuaia the Tourist Information centre near the pier were writing out certificates and date stamping them to mark your visit. The next highlight was sailing to Cape Horn in good sea conditions, though sadly the wind got up the next day and prevented us landing at the Falklands - a common occurrence I believe as you have to tender in. However, we were refunded the landing charge. Puerto Madryn was a delight with its Welsh connections. There we went to see the Patagonian dinosaur museum and learnt all about the largest dinosaur ever found- only about 4 years ago. In the harbour were several penguins performing for us - a bonus as we hadn’t gone on any of the expensive tours to penguin rookeries and had almost given up hope of seeing one. In Montevideo we took the ship’s bus tour which was very interesting and covered a lot of highlights including the World Cup’s first stadium from 1930! The entertainment on the ship was generally excellent though not always to our taste when it came to the Flamenco and tango shows but you were exploring Latin America. There were two outstanding shows from the Abbey Road Beatles from Brazil and the ship’s entertainers did 3 lively ones and there was a very good magician on our last night. All in all, the cruise was excellent value for money and we loved it all. My only criticism would be that there were not enough seats for everyone on a rough sea day when everyone wanted to be inside and the Windjammer bar was just too small and crowded. We had never been freestyle dining before but never had a problem getting a table and found we could ask for our favourite waitress. We only ate in the Seven Seas complimentary restaurant at the rear, because that was slightly less casual than the other places and we do like changing for dinner. Food was excellent and they even produced cheese platters for us even though not on any menus. The staff were just so nice and friendly, mealtimes were a pleasure. Hope this helps anybody wanting to cruise round South America. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
Our daughter, her husband, and our 2 grandchildren were touring South America, and the San Antonio, Chile to Buenos Aires, Argentina cruise allowed us to spend 2 weeks with them. By arriving in Chile a day before our cruise allowed us ... Read More
Our daughter, her husband, and our 2 grandchildren were touring South America, and the San Antonio, Chile to Buenos Aires, Argentina cruise allowed us to spend 2 weeks with them. By arriving in Chile a day before our cruise allowed us to climatize and have a relaxed embarkation. The embarkation was well organized and trouble free. The Norwegian Sun is a wonderful ship and layed out well. The amenities, dining, cabins, entertainment, activities, and services were excellent. This ship carries 1900 passengers and did not feel crowded. The staff were friendly, professional, helpful, and well turned out. We especially appreciated the cleanliness program to help ensure no on board sickness. We also appreciated the kids program which allowed them to have some time to themselves. The weather was good, but varied from hot & muggy to cool & very windy. All types of clothing was required if a person wanted to venture outdoors or an an excursion. At one point in the South Pacific Ocean we encountered a strong storm that was worsening. The bridge crew after considering the situation, decided to change our itinerary slightly and headed at top speed for the safety of the Magellan Strait. At no time did we feel unsafe. We would consider another cruise with Norwegian and recommend this particular cruise. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
After traveling to Europe for many years,we decided to try something new and different. My husband suggested trip to South America and that’s where we went.We decided that going on a cruise would be much more enjoyable that flying from ... Read More
After traveling to Europe for many years,we decided to try something new and different. My husband suggested trip to South America and that’s where we went.We decided that going on a cruise would be much more enjoyable that flying from place to place. Coming back home after more then a month of travel(we did pre and post travel on our own), we declared this trip a big success. Embarkation and disembarkation went very smoothly,no lines at all.Our cabin was clean,dining room staff tried very hard to please us. We enjoyed every port except Puerto Chacabuco.Volunteer Point was absolutely amazing.Destination lecturer was very informative and entertaining. What we didn’t like that much: aging ship,food-hit and miss,very average entertainment(with the exception of the Born to Dance show). Will we travel with Princess again? We may try different cruise line for comparison. Highly recommend going to Lima,Cusco,Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu before and Iguazu Falls and Rio after the cruise. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
Embarkation is hot and lots of walking. We had hoped to have a stroll along the waterfront in San Antonio, but it would be really difficult to get off the ship and go the distance to do that. We were exhausted! Staff on Princess has ... Read More
Embarkation is hot and lots of walking. We had hoped to have a stroll along the waterfront in San Antonio, but it would be really difficult to get off the ship and go the distance to do that. We were exhausted! Staff on Princess has been reduced in the past two years and it shows. Pampering is pretty much a thing of the past. We were lucky enough to have a mini-suite, but on this cruise it is just too cold to use the balcony except at the beginning and end. We used the extra room very little. Club class amenities were kind of dumb. Both port and starboard are great choices for this cruise. At the most important cruising view spots, Amalia Glacier and Cape Horn, the ship does 360 slow turns so everyone has time on their side of the ship. Most of the cruise is through channels so there are spectacular views on both sides. Who knew the Andes go all the way to Antarctica? Beyond the tip of the continent, they continue as soaring islands. Stunning! We had the best waiter in my long history of sailing. Alvin Villanueva in the Amalfi. Get him if you can. The "violin virtuoso" Jakub Trasak is truly unique, talented, entertaining and engaging. There were few children on this cruise, but the ones onboard our cruise were really disruptive and dangerous for older people's ability to stay upright. The staff was never seen trying to correct this. Safety is supposed to be their job. And strobe lights...for God's sake, they are dangerous, even life threatening for some, and not all that entertaining. Why does anyone with a heart and ethics still use them? USB ports on bedside lamps. Yay Princes, welcome to the 21st century! You may know that on the Star (and probably many of the ships updated in dry-dock this year), the specialty restaurants, particularly Sabatini’s, have been significantly changed: Sabatini's is small, no banquettes, it is all hard surfaces—so noisy, tables very close and reduced prices. We did miss one port due to weather, and we have been told it is more usual than unusual for this to happen on this cruise. It is fine, the smaller ports are kind of like Alaska without American ingenuity and a little colorless after the first one. But if one missed docking in Stanley, it would make the cruise a waste of time. And it happens once or twice each year. Stanley and the penguin tours are the highlight of the trip. We had been told Volunteer Point Excursion was the only one worthwhile. Not so. It is many hours in a very uncomfortable and sometimes painful 4 x 4 and a full day—yes, they have more penguins, but how many does one need to see? We took the Bluff Cove Excursion. It is a penguin reserve owned by a family who are so committed to making this a great experience. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
The star princess is bit dated. I heard they are taking it of service next year. I wouldn’t recommend any ship in same class as star princess.Worst area was food, and particularly horizon court. Not much choice, and food some times over ... Read More
The star princess is bit dated. I heard they are taking it of service next year. I wouldn’t recommend any ship in same class as star princess.Worst area was food, and particularly horizon court. Not much choice, and food some times over cooked and sometimes undercooked. For example, avocado tomato sandwich was like a brick. Had to throw it away. Food was very bland. Ice cream and pizza were ok. Deserts were great. In house shows were ok. British Invasion was ok. Not great. Out side professional shows were very good. ( like violinist, Argentina tango show on last night, Las Vegas vocalist). Public facilities inside were kept up very well. Elevators were acting bizarre first day. Some of the machines in laundry facilities were not working Cabin was ok, and showing it’s age. Some rattle. There was hole underneath the balcony door. Staff were for the most part helpful and friendly. Itinerary was good. Went through most beautiful part of world. And some amazing scenery. Good choices in shore excursions. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
We flew in to Santiago, Chile 3 days prior to embarkation and took an official taxi to Hotel Plaza San Francisco in the historic center of the city. Cost $30 US. The hotel was not busy at the time and allowed us in our room by 11 am. They ... Read More
We flew in to Santiago, Chile 3 days prior to embarkation and took an official taxi to Hotel Plaza San Francisco in the historic center of the city. Cost $30 US. The hotel was not busy at the time and allowed us in our room by 11 am. They offered currency exchange of $100 per room per day. A buffet breakfast was included in the rate of $151 US. We also enjoyed a very nice meal in the hotel restaurant on our first evening there. The HOHO bus stop was around the corner, although signs were not visible. We should have gotten a map before leaving the hotel. The bus gave us a good overview, however, the most interesting part of the city in my opinion was right behind the hotel. Santiago has a couple of nice modern malls which are easy to reach by bus or taxi. On Feb. 14/19 the hotel arranged a taxi to take us back to SCL to catch the Princess Transfer (9:30) to the ship in San Antonio, Chile. There was a guide pointing out interesting sites along the way. In 90 minutes we were there. The ship would not be ready to board until 12. A very quick and easy process to board and off to lunch we went in the Portofino dining room. Shortly after, our luggage arrived in our cabin. Muster Drill was around 5pm, followed by an informal meet & greet with roll call members from cruise critic. This was my 3rd cruise on the Star and she is showing her age. My aft balcony cabin was comfortable, but very noisy this time. After cruising on Celebrity, with a sofa bed and Blu dining, I would not select a balcony cabin on Princess for a 14 night cruise, again. This cruise was chosen for its ports. It was so enjoyable to visit the sea lions in the Beagle Channel and the penguins at Volunteer Point with Patrick Watt's group. ( a large savings over the same tour offered by Princess.) I feel that service and quality of food are on a steady decline on the last couple of Princess ships I've sailed on in the past year. We chose to eat in Sabatinis' twice, the Crown Grill once and the Crab Shack once. Service and food in all 3 were excellent. The 3 excursions we took with Princess were well done, except for the tedious amount of time it took waiting in the lounge before the tours. For the city tour/disembarkation in Buenos Aires our luggage was taken directly from our hallway and we did not see it again until we were dropped off at SCL. Princess delivered a good product for the price we paid. Read Less

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