1. Home
  2. Cruise Styles
  3. Fitness & Health Cruises
  4. Fitness Cruises Cruise Reviews
Cruise Ratings
1,724
704
365
181
121
See Reviews For
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2014
BACKGROUND INFORMATION: I have cruised 42 times on multiple different cruise lines. I travel solo and can’t get enough of cruising – I love being on the ocean. This cruise was in celebration of a milestone birthday. I’m an ... Read More
BACKGROUND INFORMATION: I have cruised 42 times on multiple different cruise lines. I travel solo and can’t get enough of cruising – I love being on the ocean. This cruise was in celebration of a milestone birthday. I’m an adventurous “mature” adult who views every trip and cruise as a unique chance to experience the world and its people. TRAVEL TO EMBARKATION: Limo service from my rural northeast home to Montreal, Quebec. Really excellent train ride from Montreal to Quebec City on VIA Rail Canada, first class, with beautiful restored “Renaissance” class car with a row of single seats and a row of double seats, very good lunch, beverage service, and wines included. Quiet, clean, and wonderful way to begin a cruise, plus great scenery. Once in Quebec City, a 10-minute cab ride from my hotel to the cruise terminal was very inexpensive, in a clean, upscale vehicle with a courteous English-speaking driver. HOTELS: In Montreal, I stayed at the Hilton Montreal Bonaventure, where I’ve had good stays before. In Quebec City, I stayed at the legendary historic landmark Chateau de Frontenac, high atop the cliffs of the city. It was like being in a French chateau in a past century, beautifully restored and preserved, and absolutely gorgeous and full of luxuries. Reasonable prices to begin with, and I received a complimentary upgrade to the high-floor executive level. Great view, plus access to the executive lounge with its lovely service, beverages, and foods. At the end of the cruise, I once again stayed at the Hilton Montreal Bonaventure, who really exceeded all expectations and upgraded me to what appeared to be their presidential suite at the originally booked standard room rate, on my birthday. SHIP: The “Crystal Serenity” appeared clean, perfectly maintained and beautiful outside. The inside was indeed “serene”, with subdued colors, tasteful furnishings, and luxury feel everywhere - decorated with lovely marble, fabrics, style. Even the air smelled luxurious, and everything appeared brand new and/or so well maintained it appeared this 11 year old vessel had just been launched. The ship is 68,870 tons, with a length of 820 feet, beam of 106 feet. Top speed is 22 knots. There are nine passenger decks. A crew of 655 cares superbly for a maximum passenger compliment of 1,070. On my cruise, however, there were approximately 800 people on board. The ship is painted white overall, with beautiful yacht-like lines. There is a marvelous wood-decked completely circular one-level promenade deck, great for walking or jogging. The lifeboats are recessed within the hull. I wondered if the ship were soundproofed throughout, as it was unusually quiet no matter where I was within the ship. This ship does not have the glitzy multilevel atrium many cruise ships feature, but rather a two-level atrium at the ship’s center, with comfortable seating scattered throughout, plenty of windows with cushioned window seats, the reception/concierge desk, future cruise desk, Crystal Society desk, a small bar, a unique clear-crystal piano, and a beautiful two-story wall made of what appeared to be Murano glass of various colors, with a small cascading water fountain. There is a bronze statue of a woman playing a harp, with beautiful detail. A curving staircase descends from the upper level of the atrium down to the marble floor first level, perfect for formal night grand entrances. It is luxurious, serene and peaceful in the atrium, and this feeling was enhanced by a string quartet playing classical music there at various times. It reminded me of a grand foyer entrance to a stately home. Subdued colors are found throughout the ship, very tasteful and rich. There is none of the bright, sparkly, flashing, neon glitz seen over so much of the industry’s shipping afloat today. EMBARKATION: Pure pleasure. Courteous porters took my bag at the curb when I arrived by cab. Next, a quick walk through the small cruise terminal in Quebec City, right on the St. Lawrence River. The usual security screening was done quickly and courteously. Entry to the ship was through an enclosed walkway, which was especially appreciated as the day of embarkation had cold, raw, windy weather with rain. The actual “check-in” process was carried out in the lovely atrium of the ship. There must have been at least 40 agents sitting at tables with linen tablecloths, so there were no lines and no waiting. The agent took my papers, took a photo, gave me the cabin key card and some welcome-aboard information, and that was it – less than five minutes in a very gracious and relaxed setting. Cabin access was not until approximately 3 PM, and as boarding began at 1 PM, I had some time before going to my cabin. The string quartet was playing, the bar was open, waiters circulated with champagne on silver trays, the receptionists were patiently answering questions, lots of material was available to read about future cruises and the current cruise, old friends from previous trips were meeting, and the feeling was more like old friends gathering at a luxury estate for a vacation together than the usual hassles with embarkation many cruise lines seem to have. The wait went quickly with the sociable guests and crew. For those not wishing to haul their hand baggage with them, a secure check-in station had been established, and crew took the bags to the passenger staterooms to await the arrival of the passengers in their cabins later on. CABIN: I had a deck 8 midship deluxe verandah stateroom. It seemed about 30% larger than the usual balcony cabin. Luxury fabrics and quiet colors, subdued and peaceful. Queen-size bed with luxury linens and lots of pillows, but with a slightly tired and soft mattress. Pillow menu made getting just the right pillow very easy – just ask the stewardess and they were brought. Small leather sofa near the balcony glass wall. Desk/vanity and TV above a small refrigerator. Lots of lovely dark wood cabinetry and closet sliding doors. Plenty of mirrors. Closet had substantial and plentiful wood hangers, a safe with touch-pad entry, shoehorn, robe, slippers, huge umbrella, shoe care kit, clothes brush. Rack for shoes on closet floor, and shelves and drawers. There was a phone near the bed but not on the desk. Only one electric outlet at the desk, which could have used more outlets in this day of so many devices requiring charging. Lighting was plentiful, but could have been brighter, especially at the desk area. Nice clean carpet in very good condition for a cruise ship, as were all the furnishings in the room. Refrigerator had complimentary variety of soft drinks, waters, beer. Anything the passenger wishes can be brought quickly to stock or replenish the refrigerator. The verandah wall is all glass with a sliding door. There are sheer drapes against the glass, and then heavier light-blocking drapes which can be pulled over the sheers – the regular drapes are tied back neatly during the day. There were two chairs and a small table on the fairly large verandah, but due to mainly cold and windy and damp weather, I did not get nearly enough use out of this really nice balcony. Good TV channel selection with better than average reception, plus a bow camera view and ships statistics channel. TV had a DVD player built in. The bathroom was incredible, probably three times as large as the usual cruise ship bathroom. There was a gorgeous double-sink granite sink top in warm rust/gold/earth tones. Big mirrored wall above the sink, with shelf. Good bright lighting. Lots of separate shelves on either side of the mirror – lots of good storage space. There was a full-size bathtub with a hand-held shower setup inside a glass and shower-curtain enclosure. Even the toilet was a surprise, as it was a nearly full-size facility compared to the tiny ones on regular ships. Nicely placed towel racks. The towels were luxury thick, fluffy, soft, and looked brand new. You do not see thin, ragged, scratchy towels on this ship! Towels are replaced twice daily if you wish, but the usual eco-friendly practices abound on this ship – hang up the towel and reuse if you wish. Aveda bath products provided in the bathroom. There were shower caps, Q-tips, cotton balls, good-quality bath tissue and Kleenex provided. There was a soft small rug on the bathroom floor – nice touch for bare feet, but it could be very slippery so beware. Everything in the bathroom appeared spotlessly clean. There were several coat hooks on the wall near the door, very convenient. There were cloth laundry and shoe bags in the closet, again an eco-friendly effort, as well as the enormous cloth logo totebag. A large adjustable table was near the sofa for meals in the room. A full-length mirror was on the wall near the hall to the door. There was a small touch-pad system replacing the usual door-hanger signs – one of the best systems I’ve ever seen – to either announce the do not disturb status or request for cabin cleanup and service. One touch of the pad inside the cabin near the door lights the appropriate signal sign on a small pad outside the door. Touch again and the sign light goes out. There is also a real doorbell touch pad on the corridor-side pad so housekeeping can ring the bell rather than barge in and disturb the occupants, or guests can ring the bell when they visit. Very good climate-control system with heating and air conditioning adjustable individually for each cabin – just touch the indicator pad on the small control on the wall. A small bedside alarm clock was provided. I believe the cabin walls were soundproofed, as I never heard the people on either side of me. The cabin was so luxurious and comfortable it was a destination itself, as was the ship. ACTIVITIES: There were activities to suit all ages and interest levels. There is a “University at Sea”, offering computer classes, camera classes, personal enrichment topics, and other learning opportunities. World-class lecturers spoke each day on pertinent and interesting topics, with lectures in the very comfortable small theater on the ship. Fitness fans could work with a personal trainer for a fee, or use the huge array of new equipment and free weights in the fitness center. Joggers, runners, and walkers had plenty of space to do laps around the promenade deck. It is obvious that personal wellness is a popular topic on this ship, and plenty of opportunities are there to stay fit and well. My only wish in this area was for a Zumba class. Small groups met for diverse activities such as bridge, knitting, needlepoint, crafts, and reading. There was a small, elegant and apparently smoke-free casino with the usual games of chance and slots, including penny slots machines. There were plenty of photo opportunities and a nice photo gallery. Many people simply enjoyed socializing and looking out the windows at the ever-changing sea, or strolled with friends within the ship. Activities on this luxury-level ship are aimed at an older, mature passenger demographic for the most part. You will not find the raucous, carnival-type games and noise here. The passengers on my cruise appeared to be on average at least over 60, mostly couples, but plenty of singles (this cruise line offers some very nice price breaks for solo travelers). The passengers on this cruise were mainly from the USA and Canada, but there were other nationalities nicely mixed in as well. Most of the passengers I spoke to were devoted fans of Crystal Cruise Line and belonged to the Crystal Society of past passengers at some astoundingly high cruise number levels. There were a lot of professional people, very well-to-do, as well as ordinary Mr. and Mrs. Anywhere USA couples and singles. Everyone was very quiet, courteous, and interesting to socialize with. I love ballroom dancing, and this ship offers Ambassador Hosts, a small group of gentlemen who are available to dance with single ladies, or attend meals and tours with those wishing company while traveling solo. I danced every night almost until midnight with these courteous, well-traveled and well-spoken gentlemen from various countries, who were all outstanding dancers. It was one of the highlights of the cruise for me, and there was a small live orchestra for dancing in the beautiful lounge with a proper wood dance floor. A small bar is in the lounge area for those wishing drinks. There were just two sea days on this cruise, and I know there were more activities than I’ve listed here. The daily “Reflections” newsletter delivered each night to the staterooms was full of listings for dining, fun, relaxation, etc. There is a very nice spa at the top of the ship, and I splurged with a manicure, pedicure, and massage to get my birthday body some really nice pampering the last day of the cruise. Various societies represented on the ship offered some type of social gathering or cocktail party nearly every day of the cruise at various times. The future cruise consultant was a genial multilingual gentleman who always had somebody at his desk and a few people waiting. Apparently the loyalty to this brand keeps people booking the next cruise right on the ship, with good extras available if you do so. Another unique feature of this ship were four ladies who live on it. I met one of them who had been on the ship for six years straight. Talking to her was incredibly interesting, especially learning about the logistics of extreme downsizing with possessions and property, plus how to deal with the daily temptations of rich cruise ship food. The knitting and needlepoint groups were as much fun for the talk and shipboard gossip as they were for the small complimentary projects available, and often the groups met in the same lounge area where the elegant and elaborate themed traditional high tea events were held, with the classical string quartet playing. The high tea events featured servers in tuxedos, magnificent English and German elaborate china and silver, and very tempting and beautiful food items. There were just a few shops, all of which offered goods at the luxury level. There was a clothing ship, a “logo” articles and clothing shop with a very small selection of necessities and ship souvenirs, a perfume and cosmetics boutique which smelled so divine I wish they could make a perfume from the fragrance inside and sell it with the name “Cruise Ship”, and a very elegant high-end jewelry boutique with some of the most magnificent jeweled creations I’ve seen outside of a museum or world-class jewelry establishment. Everything on sale was tasteful and appeared carefully selected, and displays changed frequently. There weren’t any of the “sidewalk sales” other cruise ships offer. In a sensible change of procedure, the captain and officers do not shake hands at the meet and greet functions, very smart in these times of lots of nasty diseases in closed populations. I saw the Norwegian captain just once while walking through the ship, and he was a big man who appeared very serious and dedicated, but also polite when I said good morning to him as he went about his rounds with his staff. Safety was his priority, and after all, that is his main job. A popular activity on one of the sea days was an “open house” of the various types of staterooms available on the ship. It was a marvelous, clever selling tool for those not familiar with the ship or the actual cabins, as a photo can only demonstrate so much in a flat dimension. The penthouse suites were incredible to actually visit in person, and all categories of staterooms were lovely. Even the lowest-category outside cabins with a big picture window were extremely spacious and had the same nice bathroom as the other categories outside the suites and penthouses. The bottom ledge of the picture window was cushioned, and would make a great place to sit and watch the seas roll by, or just enjoy a cup of tea while reading, assuming one is agile enough to climb up the short distance to settle on the ledge. SERVICE: The best I’ve ever seen on any cruise ship, ever. Nothing was too much to ask for, and anything requested was taken care of incredibly fast. There were no excuses about why something could not be done – it was just quietly and efficiently made to happen, “with our compliments” – “it’s our pleasure”, etc. The staff always remained professional, cool, gracious, polite, composed, and willingly helpful. It felt like being royalty and treated accordingly. As this ship is all-inclusive, tips were included generously, and there were none of the sly, subtle little games played by the crew to get more tips. All the crew apparently had to speak English to work on this ship, and all were multilingual. Very international crew who had some great stories to share, and it was a good chance to meet and interact with people from other cultures. This crew seemed far better educated and sociable than on other ships. Cabin service appeared to be mainly female stewardesses, although I did see male waiters for room service and some room cleaners. I had a lovely lady from India caring for my stateroom, and she was genuinely dedicated to good service and being helpful. A huge plus was not finding service carts blocking the walkways first thing in the morning. The early-morning hallways were silent, clean, and uncluttered. Cabin service was at the guest’s choice of time, but appeared to usually being around midmorning to allow people to breakfast in their cabins undisturbed, or perhaps sleep late without being disturbed. The cabin service took longer than usual, but appeared more thorough as well. Service was complete twice a day, morning and evening turn-down. No pillow chocolates or towel animals on this cruise line, but that’s something I can easily do without. Eve the white orchids in a silver vase which I found on embarkation in my cabin, as well as the flower bouquet in my cabin delivered later on embarkation day from my travel agent were watered regularly by my cabin stewardess! Any shipboard mail, notices, invitations, etc. were placed in a “mail box” type rack just outside the cabin door, and there was a lot of printed information every day to keep passengers well informed without disturbing them. No annoying loud announcements were ever heard, as the ship has a “no-announcements’ policy unless it related to an emergency or port visit status. The captain makes a daily noon broadcast of items of interest, weather, position, etc. and this is heard ship-wide and on the decks. Anything related to safety or disembarkation at ports is also broadcast in the corridors as well as a designated shipboard TV channel in the staterooms. What a relief not to hear some braying carnival-barker style announcements constantly for art auctions while trying to take a guilt-free nap on a cruise! Items like time-change notices appear in printed notices and the daily newsletter. The crew was always willing to take photographs for passengers requesting this, which is a huge improvement for solo travelers trying to get a decent “selfie”. Everybody smiled most of the time, said hello quietly, and were one of the most contented crews I’ve ever encountered. Nobody complained about being tired, and nobody kept talking about how many months, days, weeks, hours they still had to work before their contract ran out. Good teamwork and mutual respect was apparent among the crew members. Dining room service was at the level of what the royals of the world probably receive. Nothing was too much to ask for, and everything was done with grace, style, smiles, courtesy, quiet professional efficiency, and warm concern that the guest was enjoying everything as much as possible. My table had a very compatible and expert team of two male waiters – one from Hungary and one from Croatia. Every night’s entrance into the dining room began with the head waiters and maitre’d at their podium, beaming at the guests, as well as a side line of 10 waiters smiling and offering to escort guests to their tables. Table service was the best I’ve seen in many years of cruising. Service at breakfast and lunch in the buffet restaurant also was extraordinarily good most of the time, with far more than average staffing. There were no trays in the buffet restaurant, but an observant waiter or waitress immediately approaches and offers to hold one’s plates as you progress through the lines, and they patiently wait with you while you choose your meal items, and then take all your plates and bowls or whatever to your table and then proceed to bring the beverage(s) of your choice. They will check up on you during the meal as well and bring seconds of anything and more beverages. The buffet crews feed you love along with your food. It is obvious that this crew knows they are on the ship to cater to very discerning passengers who pay a lot and expect the best for their cruise experience, and service is truly amazing in every department. DINING: Besides the main dining room, there are two pay-per-visit specialty restaurants – Silk Road and Prego. I did not take the opportunity to enjoy Prego, but did eat twice at Silk Road, with the feeling being that I can get Italian cuisine easily where I live, but not Japanese food. Silk Road is small and elegant, with superb service by its staff. There are flexible seating arrangements from a table for one or two, up to groups. There is also a sushi bar. An intricate and very unique menu offers a good variety of Japanese cuisine with some very different combinations of ingredients and seasonings. Chopsticks are provided as well as the usual utensils. Portions are small but adequate, and arranged like works of art. If you desire more of something, you will have it delivered to your table most graciously. There is chicken, seafood, fish, noodle type items, and many other choices. Deserts are wonderful as well. Appropriate complimentary beverages as well as for-pay menu are available to compliment any main entrée. The usual cruise ship buffet restaurants and little places around the lido deck offered grilled items and ice cream, too. I had expected true gourmet and Continental cuisine, with the rich sauces and complex recipes, in the dining room menus, but was rather disappointed to discover American home-cooking and “comfort food” items among the other and often somewhat peculiar food items offered. Salmon seemed to be offered at least twice a day in some form as well. Seeing liver and onions, fried chicken and roast turkey on such an elegant ship just didn’t really fit in with the luxury cruise ambience. Considering the majority of passengers were from the USA, however, perhaps it is the cruise line’s intention to feed these people what they want and get at home. When I cruise, it’s a chance to get away from dull, “healthy”, and boring food at home and enjoy the world’s cuisine and lots of good deserts guilt-free on vacation. The fish items were among bottom-feeder and bait varieties, for the most part, and the one time lobster was served, it was tasteless and mushy. Salad dressings on the buffet line were watery and poor quality. There certainly were enough items in all food groups to create something good, however, and it just took some time and practice. International food theme days were a feature on the buffet food lines, but some items weren’t really that good. There was a huge overabundance of using kernel corn and red and green bell peppers and onions as fillers in too many dishes. Dining room menu desserts had little variety, and seemed to be mainly made of fruit ingredients, with a lot of ice cream served. There were a lot of sugar-free and flourless items, but most were rather dry and tasteless. “Modern” cuisine was on the menu for lunch and dinner, but it appeared to be an overabundance of someone’s ideas of creative food blendings and preparation – different, and usually tasty, but a bit too exotic for my personal taste. Complimentary red and white wines which were very good were available at lunch and dinner, with premium other alcoholic beverages available for purchase. A big problem was the buffet line, where many items had obviously been prepared far ahead of serving times, and were held under ineffective heat lamps which did nothing to keep the items warm. Repeatedly, waffles and pancakes and other hot items were lukewarm or cold, and often dry and stiff. Same for the breakfast pastries first thing in the morning, as they had apparently been sitting out far too long and had become dry and stale. Some of the dining room food was also served below proper temperature for hot items, and not chilled properly for cold items. This was mentioned to the proper authorities several times, but I did not see much improvement in the seven days of this cruise. This situation is not unique to Crystal, however, as I’ve seen it on all 42 cruises I’ve enjoyed. Buffet items all had their little individual tags in front of them, identifying what each item was. Beverage selection was outstanding all over the ship, be it in the bars, dining rooms, or buffet restaurant. It was nice to have a whole can of soda brought to the table to enjoy, and many varieties of bottled water were also there for those wishing it. Sometimes cold beverages arrived without ice, which seemed to be the norm in Quebec restaurants and in Europe, too, but it was simple to remember to just ask for ice, please, and it was provided. The buffet restaurant tables were nicely set with china and silver, but a small plastic place mat was on the tables, and I did not see it cleaned between diners – and silverware was placed unwrapped on this plastic mat. This seems to be a serious breach of good health practices, as other diners put their used utensils on the mat during the meal. This was a rather tacky procedure in an otherwise beautifully set table. The dining room tables were masterpieces of flower arrangements and magnificent china, silver and glassware. The line uses Villeroy and Boch china, and has a series of four unique old-world map design charger plates on the tables. These plates were designed specifically for the cruise line, and I bought one of them for a souvenir of the trip. There were two seatings in the main dining room – main and late, as well as dining by reservation, and the buffet offered walk-in convenient service all during the day for the appropriate meals. A handy and appreciated electronic, large menu display is on the wall just outside both buffet entrances, and it changes screens to show all the food items available at each meal. I was delightfully surprised by the maitre’d and his staff when they brought a lovely chocolate birthday cake with candle to my table in the dining room – a very nice way to celebrate my milestone birthday and to be able to share it with the two very nice couples at my table that evening. Room service had a good menu available 24 hours a day, and although I did not try it, apparently the menu in the dining rooms is also available for service in the staterooms, with more items available to the elite penthouse accommodation passengers. PORTS AND SHORE EXCURSIONS: The ship provides a printed information sheet on each place visited. This cruise departed from Quebec City in Canada, and sailed up the St. Lawrence River, making a scenic cruise for a few hours in the Saguenay River fjord. Lots of beautiful fall foliage was visible, as well as quaint tiny villages along the riverbanks. There was a respectful and peaceful short stop below the beautiful statue of the Virgin Mary high on a cliff above the Saguenay River. The first port visited was Sept Isles, a small town on the St. Lawrence River. There were organized tours, but I chose to explore and walk on my own. An old historic trading post has been restored and preserved, and was an interesting place to see at the edge of town. There is an Innu Native “reserve” as part of the town, and a new marina with a scenic walkway along the riverfront. There were bus tours offered on local school buses, but I believe I saw most of what they did during my hours-long walk. The main highway at the inland edge of town leads to Quebec City, 10 hours away. There are the usual big-box stores and fast-food places along the highway. Effort has been put into upgrading the town, roads, cruise terminal (which had lively local music, foods, crafts on sale and nice helpful tourism people). The people I met while walking were helpful and friendly, and some did speak enough English to get directions and just interact sociably. The next port was the Isle de Madeleine, but due to very high winds and rough seas the tender shuttle service was not possible safely. A short stop in view of the scenic cliffs was about all we were able to do. The tiny islands of St. Pierre et Miquelon were next for the cruise, with tender shuttle service to the town pier. There were still very high winds and rough seas, and the tender ride was very rough. The local tourism board had a welcome committee bravely standing in the cold wind to greet the ship’s tenders as they arrived, and the music and smiles were lovely. This island is a territory of France, located just south of Newfoundland, with the French language and flag and traditions. Narrow hilly streets with cobblestones, stone architecture, lace curtains in windows, a few flowers still visible in window boxes. Some stores were open, but not many, and the bakery displays of French pastries looked wonderful. I did not tour in this port with the ship tours, but again chose to walk and explore on my own. There is small old stone cathedral in the center of town, and many historic monuments. The waterfront is full of various types of businesses, souvenir shops, tourism office, and different kinds of boats. It reminded me a lot of San Francisco. After a few hours exploring on foot, the icy wind and dampness convinced me to return to the ship for lunch, after seeing all I could of importance. The tender ride back to the ship was just as rough as the one to the land, with an additional 45 minutes of waiting for conditions safe enough to be able to actually dock the tender at the ship and escape the rough ride. The ship left that afternoon to return to Quebec, sailing back through the Gulf of St. Lawrence, with beluga whale sightings to everyone’s delight, and then into the large, peaceful St. Lawrence River once again. The ship arrived in the morning at Quebec City, where it remained overnight to allow maximum touring of this beautiful old historic city. There were multiple city tours offered by vehicles, horse carriage, and on foot, as well as dining tours and explorations of the local area outside the city. I’ve been to Quebec numerous times, and chose to explore again on foot, this time visiting the huge Citadel high atop the cliffs next to the old walled city. I did not have enough time to enter and explore all the Citadel, but did enjoy walking the scenic grounds with the fall foliage and wonderful views of new Quebec as well as the old city below. The boardwalk on the top of the cliffs is worth walking just to people-watch and enjoy the music played by local musicians. Some of the views along the boardwalk of the buildings and people come right from French impressionist paintings. The French language of Quebec is heard everywhere. There are numerous restaurants offering all kinds of good food in Quebec, as well as multiple shopping opportunities and art exhibits. No matter how many times I’ve visited Quebec, there is always something new to find, eat, explore, see, or just enjoy by visiting with the local people and trying to improve my amateur French-speaking ability. The last night of the cruise was spent enjoying the many amenities of the beautiful ship, and getting a good night’s sleep before heading home. The night view of the old city from my verandah was spectacular. ENTERTAINMENT: There was the usual variety of cruise-ship entertainment on this cruise. Several very professionally-produced production shows were performed in a comfortable theater-type lounge with plenty of seating for everybody at two separate times. A really good live orchestra enhanced each performance. The dancers and singers seemed far more professional and skilled than average compared to other cruise lines. Costumes were spectacular, especially in one show which highlighted Broadway hit shows. The ship’s cruise director (from the USA) was a clever ventriloquist who performed one evening. There was a professional ballroom dance duo, and wonderful singers – something for everybody and every taste. There were also lounge singers in several venues throughout the ship in the evening. A favorite was the classical string quartet of European ladies who played at various places and times during the cruise. There was also a very skilled and entertaining magician aboard. Movies were offered in a real movie theater onboard throughout the cruise. If all this was not enough, there was a good selection of DVDs available for checkout from the library for private viewing in the staterooms. Many people seemed to be entertained quite nicely just by reading books, working on personal IT devices, small craft projects, attending the various lectures and educational offerings aboard ship, shopping, socializing, and enjoying the shuffleboard and other deck sports available despite the weather being somewhat inclement at times. CHILDREN: I only saw one small child and several teens on board. I observed a small room which was a playroom of some sort, but overall, this is a cruise line catering to adults. With the obvious service and quality of this cruise line, however, I’m sure if a large number of children were onboard, they would enjoy themselves as much as the adults while being well cared for. DISEMBARKATION: Extremely quiet, organized, and convenient. The ship was in port from the day before the end of the cruise, and this allowed people who had extremely early flights to disembark as early as 2:30 or 3:00 AM. Luggage was set out and collected silently during the night at the passenger’s convenience, most of it by 11 PM. There was the usual colored tag system indicating when disembarkation would take place. If one had an early flight or needed special arrangements, it was quick and easy to arrange an appropriate time. If an assigned time wasn’t convenient, a simple call to guest services provided a convenient time and a new tag. A really nice feature of disembarkation was allowing passengers to stay in their cabins much later than usual on other cruise lines. No cabin service people barged in and started tearing the cabin apart and cleaning while the guests were enjoying privacy to the last minute. I never heard a sound from the baggage collectors or early departing passengers. No announcements were made, as very detailed instructions about how to leave the ship, where to meet, what to do with final details, etc. were given to guests well in advance of the actual day of disembarkation. I had a late train from Quebec back to Montreal, and was able to enjoy a leisurely breakfast, do final packing in my carry-on bag, and leave the ship at my convenience without any noticeable crowds or confusion. The ship was so organized that I was able to leave the ship 45 minutes earlier than my requested time. The cruise terminal at the pier in Quebec City is small but well organized, and my bag was waiting for me in a clean, neat area. Plentiful inexpensive cabs were right outside the terminal, and I rode comfortably to the train station after leaving the ship with plenty of leisure time and no stress. SUMMARY: Crystal Cruise Lines is nearly perfect, or at least this cruise was. It is a product which appears to be aimed mainly at mature adults. Most of the people I interacted with among the passengers were sociable, well-traveled, and well-to-do people who lived to cruise and loved to cruise. Many had the means and time to take multiple back to back cruises, and as one passenger commented to me, “This is what we do – this is our lifestyle”. Another remark overheard was “The passengers on this cruise line who take the world cruises repeatedly are a cult. There is nothing like it with any other cruise line”. Being well-traveled and sociable, but certainly not “well-to-do” compared to my fellow passengers, I considered this birthday celebration cruise a privilege and a splurge, and really appreciated it. I can’t imagine taking this level of luxury and quality for granted as some people seemed to do on the ship. Most of the passengers appeared to be traveling as couples, or family members together in small groups, with a preponderance of single older women. One large group of travelers was from Asia, and other international countries were represented. This definitely was a more sociable passenger contingent than I’ve noted on multiple other cruise lines. Many people knew other travelers from prior cruises, and the Crystal Society members were very numerous and enjoyed reconnection with people they had met on other cruises. A premium company representing quality travel agencies had a representative on board as well, and there were social gatherings and on-board perks for passengers who had used a travel agency belonging to this company. There is enough to do without ever feeling bored or ignored on this gracious ship. It all depends on what your interests are and your desired level of involvement. Premium shore excursions are available if you have the desire and means to purchase something out of the ordinary. Pre- and post-cruise quality packages of hotels and private or group transfers begin the luxury experience well before the cruise ever begins for those who choose to purchase them. Service is exceptional overall, absolutely the best I’ve ever experienced. No wish is impossible, and everything is done with courtesy, class and amazing speed. Dining was a bit of a disappointment in some areas, and apparently satisfied the majority of diners - but this cruise line apparently has achieved the impossible by taking calories out of the food. I lost two pounds while eating five or six desserts per day – and I normally come home from even a short cruise with several extra pounds as unwanted souvenirs of enthusiastic dining. Nobody can starve on this ship, even if the cuisine offered is at times a bit unique or unusual. With the two specialty restaurants offering complimentary dining for one time in each, be sure to give them a try. Despite some rather exotic food offerings, it was all mostly very good and a great chance to experiment and try things most of us never get at home. Activities offered were age-appropriate and had something for every interest, fitness level, or age. There were very popular offerings involving computers on this particular cruise, as well as photography. Had the weather been better, I’m sure more people would have enjoyed the wide, wrap-around promenade deck for walks and whale-watching, as well as the lovely pool deck area with its inviting large lounge chairs and clamshell “cuddle couches”. A daily newsletter is well-written and full of useful and interesting facts about each day of the cruise. Weather and the daily dress code are included in detail. One does not need to wear formal attire every night, either, despite the elegance of the cruise – nice resort casual clothing is the norm most of the time, and there was just one truly formal night on my 7 night cruise – and this had a nice showing of tuxedos and formal gowns, but also dressy tops and pants for women and suits for men. People dressed appropriately for the weather, ports and onboard ambience, but with a welcome lack of the usual torn shorts, undershirts, tired flip-flops, and worn-out baseball caps seen on the more casual cruises no matter what the dress code. Fares for Crystal run a bit higher than average, but you get what you pay for. There are specials, “deals”, early booking rates, Crystal Society discounts, early full-payment discounts, and very enticing solo traveler fares. It’s worth every penny, considering the quality of service, beautifully maintained and designed vessel, far above average cabins and interior appointments in the cabins and baths, and attention to detail in every aspect of the cruise experience. Crystal travels the world with its two lovely medium-sized ships, with varying lengths of itineraries, and offers the usual pre- and post-cruise services of airline flights, transfers, land tours, and hotels, all at a higher level of luxury than ordinary cruise lines. While the cruises can be booked online, I was assigned a travel agent when first contacting the cruise line by phone for information, and the agency admirably handled all the details for me to my complete satisfaction plus treating me to flowers on board and two generous on-board credit packages. I usually do my own cruise bookings, but was glad for the professional assistance with this Crystal booking. If you want extraordinary service on a meticulously run and elegant medium-sized cruise ship, with multiple dining and activity options, plus a passenger contingent of sociable, mature, well-traveled adults, Crystal offers cruises which will far exceed your expectations all over the world. This is not a “stuffy” or “snob” cruise line, but rather a nearly-perfect cruise experience on two ships which travel the world. Such is the popularity of its cruises and dedication of loyal repeat passengers that some 2016 cruises are already nearly fully booked, and the historic Northwest Passage month-long cruise in 2016 is already sold out with hundreds on a waiting list. I had expected my trip to be a one-time splurge, but it was so wonderful that I’m booked on the “Crystal Symphony” in the future. Having experienced this level of quality in cruising, it will be very difficult to go back to the usual and ordinary cruise experience. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2014
First and foremost, Son, our Tour Director was an amazing and diligent guide that met everyone’s needs. He ensured everyone understood the plan, how to eliminate overhead and bureaucracy and the most time was spent on the attractions and ... Read More
First and foremost, Son, our Tour Director was an amazing and diligent guide that met everyone’s needs. He ensured everyone understood the plan, how to eliminate overhead and bureaucracy and the most time was spent on the attractions and not waiting around. We loved how he handled all the passport, visas and customs processes. He made it so easy for everyone. Not a single complaint. The land portion of the Hanoi tour excellent. Good balance and blend of sites. My only criticism is the tour did not include an option for the women’s museum which is a great museum to understand all the ethnicities in Vietnam, nor did it include a visit to the (Army) War Museum in Hanoi. We went to these on our own. Taxis only cost $2-3 each way, so it was no problem for us to do when we arrived a day early before the tour started. The hotels were clearly 4-5 star choices. Could not have been better choices and the Sofitel Metropole in Hanoi was a clear delight. Definitely sign up as soon as you can for the free bomb shelter tour. You will learn a lot of history in 45 minutes that many never hear or see in Hanoi. As everyone will tell you, bring LOTS of $1 bills for tips. You need at least 50 of them. Plan for it, you will need them for many things, like Tuk Tuks, taxis, drinks, etc. Don’t plan on exchanging money in Vietnam for the small bills…you can, but it is a pain in the butt and may not be possible when you need it. Just bring $100 in lots of small bills. You will be happy. The ATMs in Vietnam are plentiful and spit out local currency…most people don’t need more than $50 in local currency. In Cambodia, most people use US dollars and even the ATMs give out US dollars, no local currency needed. In restaurants, taxis and bars, tipping is not needed or expected. From a weather standpoint, it was HOT and HUMID in August. You will sweat your butt off and be prepared to bring lots of clothes that you can wash in your room every day (like EXOffico, REI and Columbia). Most people can and do wear shorts, but for temples and pagodas, you do need long pants and full shirts that cover your shoulders to get into most of them. Outside of that, most places and most people are very casual. It can also rain/downpour at a moment’s notice, so small mobile umbrellas are handy. The tour group is very good with giving ponchos and umbrellas when people were not prepared. Hanoi, Siem Riep, Phnom Penh, the villages are all safe. No threats whatsoever. Very friendly people and no concerns of theft, pickpockets, etc. A true delight that is not experienced in many countries anymore. Never felt or seen any behavior or activities to concern a tourist. One thing that AMA did very nicely is there for approximately 65 people total in our group. They broke it down into 3 groups every day based on a color naming scheme. In general, most groups at 15-20 people max, and each group got their own bus. They never operated with massive group sizes or crowded busses. You actually felt like a smaller tour. This was well done and a definite plus for this tour company. Cruising with AMAWaterways on the AMALOTUS for a week was a delight. The highlights: The staff do have limited English, but it is adequate and they try very hard meet all passenger needs while being in a third world country. They are customer focused and it shows. But, be aware, they are limited and if you have questions that are more than basic things, they will not understand you or be able to help. It is important that people set different expectations on what is possible and what can be done in a third world country. The rooms are very comfortable and clean. We were a little worried that our first room (303) had very poor air conditioning and was going to be hot, but they moved us to a new room (305) and we had a nice ice cold room the entire cruise. One thing people should be aware of: if some of the better rooms are not occupied, they will not upgrade you to the nicer rooms. If you want a nicer room, they will offer the upgrades for a discount ($500 - $800 for the week), but it won’t happen just because you are a frequent guest of AMA Waterways. The food was great every day. Good choices, many options and generous portions available to everyone. Local and western choices. Great flavors and unbelievable presentation every day. The seating times are somewhat fixed though: lunch is at 12:30 and dinner is at 7:30. There is a little flexibility, but not much. Everywhere you, you will be given lots of bottled water to drink and brush your teeth with. Not even locals drink tap water, so you better not try it yourself. Even if you run out, you can buy a bottle for 50 cents in local currency or even a bottle of beer for less than $1 US dollar. Most people felt the Cambodian Angkor beer was the best choice. Drinks are always available: beer, cocktails, soft drinks, juices, water, etc. Wine is only available at lunch and dinner, but it is poured with ease and you can take a full glass when you leave the table. The house wines were not bad and unless you are a connoisseur, the wines will be just fine. The exercise room has 1 bike, 1 treadmill and 1 elliptical with a few free weights and yoga mats. It is not much, but at least they had something on the small ship. I think it would have been nice to have a few more free weights in the heavier levels. Vising the local villages and schools was a wonderful experience as a westerner. We were able to see, smell, and feel how many people in Vietnam and Cambodia live their daily lives. It is so limited and so different, it is hard to explain until you experience first-hand. You learn and understand so much more with tours like this that are not possible in the standard group tours. The people love to meet and see you and it is a delight to interact with them. When you visit these places, the children love the gifts. In Siem Riep, we purchased some small soccer balls to give to children in the villages. This is something they could never afford, but it gave them a toy that many could enjoy that might not be possible without outside visitors bringing these things to them. It was a great reward to play a game with all the kids without saying a word that neither side could understand. If you have one of the mini-suites you get the great benefit of a bathtub (with jets) which is great when you have to do laundry to clean your daily sweaty clothes in the 100% humidity and 100 degree weather in these countries in the summer months. You also get a dedicated Internet hotspot for your room and do not need to share with the entire passenger list which is VERY nice when you want to stay connected along the way.   Read Less
Sail Date: August 2014
The Oasis is not your typical cruise, you might not feel fussed over like on other ships but omg what a ship! We usually cruise on Celebrity or Holland. I swore would not go on RCC since I caught the Nor Virus in 2006 on our last RCC ... Read More
The Oasis is not your typical cruise, you might not feel fussed over like on other ships but omg what a ship! We usually cruise on Celebrity or Holland. I swore would not go on RCC since I caught the Nor Virus in 2006 on our last RCC cruise. But we had few options for a summer Caribbean cruise since most ships are in Europe or Alaska in the Summer. I read the reviews on Oasis and they really varied - especially about the food. We found the food to be excellent even at the buffet. We read that there were crowds for the Windjammer buffet, and there were at peak times. But this ship offers many other free venues for meals that other ships just don't have. Since I read the reviews that mentioned this we opted for the other venues and they were fine. I suggest you get yourself familiar with the many other free dinning option offerings your first day on the ship. Try them. You will like the surprise. There are plenty of specialty (extra fee) restaurants as well. The entertainment was everything from ice skaters to a Broadway show, all great. Since 6000 people can't fit in one show venue all at once a reservation system is employed to manage them. I was only able to pre-book 2 of the 5 (free) shows before getting on the ship.If you don't make your reservations before you get on the ship, don't worry, do it after you get on from the comfort of your stateroom's interactive tv. I learned that only 60% of seats are allowed to be reserved in advance. I was able to get seats for every show even though we booked the very last minute. On smaller ships you will probably make stronger bonds with the crew and other passengers. Because this ship is so large you might not have the frequency of running into the same people-perfect if you aren't very social like us. However the ship is wonderful. The outdoor park, the pedestrian mall and the boardwalk make it hard to believe you are afloat. There were fewer lounges with the usual comfortable couches and chairs to sit in during the day because of the vast open spaces. So getting away from the summer heat takes a little exploring. Plenty of lounge chairs for sun worshipers. If you have kids they will love you if you choose this ship. You will love that they have plenty to do and that there is water park for the little ones. You will have an amazing fitness center for your self. You should be able to carve out your own vacation even if you bring children. One last thing I liked about this ship was that most venue entrances were not all the way forward or all the way aft like most other ships. Therefore we never had to walk 1118 feet to get anywhere!! Great trip!   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2014
We decided to book this cruise because it was a 7 night cruise with 5 ports of call and only 1 day at sea. We arrived a day early and stayed at the Sheraton Old San Juan which is right across the street from the pier. There is also a CVS ... Read More
We decided to book this cruise because it was a 7 night cruise with 5 ports of call and only 1 day at sea. We arrived a day early and stayed at the Sheraton Old San Juan which is right across the street from the pier. There is also a CVS about a block down the road from the hotel to pick up some soft drinks and snacks to carry on the ship. There is also a free tram that runs around Old San Juan to see the sites after you drop your luggage off at the pier. I read on another blog, they will take your luggage stating at about 11:00 AM. We decided to board about 3:00 pm and had purchased "Faster to the Fun" so we were first in line at the check-in desk. I'm not sure how much time it saved us because the other line was not that long. The first thing I noticed was given the ship is about 10 years old it is clean and in good repair. This is something I noticed some of their other ships of this age are lacking. Our room was clean and in good repair. I was disappointed because I thought the ship had gone through "Fun Ship 2.0" upgrades and it hasn't. Felipe Counto, the Cruise Director is the best we've ever had. He could have his own comedy show. His additions to the same old Carnival events take them far from the "same old." We went to the dining room because we had 3 groups in our party and one group had selected the wrong dinner seating. The first night is open seating so they told us it would be fixed by the next day. We tried the Piano Bar the first night with Ed Rrocks. It wasn't very good. He wouldn't let anyone see the song book because he said everyone picks only 5 songs and he doesn't like to play those 5 songs. He did give in and played Piano Man later in the evening. We were disappointed because we like to spend late nights in the piano bar when nothing else is going on. The gym is pretty typical of the ships of that class. Same equipment and layout. We went to the "Fab Abs" class the first day and didn't get invited in to the room until the class was half over. Apparently you are supposed to attend the stretching class before because they don't stop the class before starting the separately listed class. The instructor was very soft spoken, had the music up too loud and didn't speak English very well. I was hoping the Cycling Class we signed up for had a different instructor. The Cycling Class did have the same instructor. The bikes seemed like they could use some maintenance or replacement. Also, not one bike would accept SPD clip-less shoes. That might be important info for some. I did not like the methods of the instructor. HE did not motivate to keep you pushing. I decided to skip the rest of the cycling classes. We played "TV Theme Songs Trivia," "Win, Lose, or Draw," and the scavenger hunt. The TV trivia was ok. For Win, Lose or Draw was fun but I would definitely recommend doing the scavenger hunt. The comedians in the Punchliners Comedy Club were pretty funny. On average, better than the lineup on other ships I've been on. We really enjoyed John McDonnell and Tony Esposito. The "Nightclub Express" show in the Ivanhoe lounge was not very good. The show consisted of songs, dance moves, and props seen in most shows before. Nothing original. Now the Far From Over show was awesome. The 80’s inspired show was one of the best on-board performances we have seen. The show included many hits from the 80s including artists such as Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson to Annie Lenox and the Eurythmics. The show also included many songs from 80’s movies like Flashdance, Footloose, and Dirty Dancing. The dining room was running at a good pace most nights. One night, it was extremely slow, taking over 2 hours for dinner. The last night they were super fast. The first night of "prime rib" I couldn't pass it up. I was disappointed. The rib tips are close to the best beef to be found on a cruise ship. The second "prime rib" night, I skipped it and was happy with the pasta selection. We tried Scarlet's Steakhouse one night, It was enjoyable. They sure feed you enough including the "present from the chef" which was a sample of potato soup for the women and shrimp and cheese for the men. Except for the first lunch and the last breakfast, there was never too much of a line when we were in the Lido. They keep a line at the pizza station for some reason. They will make you a Caesar Salad at the pizza station, which I was not able to get at a couple other ship's pizza stations. The VIFP Party is now only for gold level or above, but they serve all you can drink full size drinks now. I especially like the slide show of all their ships and clapping and cheering for all the ships you have been on. Disembarkation was a breeze. We were assigned #2 with our "Faster to the Fun." We were off the ship by 8:30 and at our hotel by 9:00. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2014
My husband and I have cruised many other times on several different lines; however, this was our first experience on RCCL Having just cruised this past March on the Norwegian, Epic, and not enjoying our cruise at all, we were so excited to ... Read More
My husband and I have cruised many other times on several different lines; however, this was our first experience on RCCL Having just cruised this past March on the Norwegian, Epic, and not enjoying our cruise at all, we were so excited to have our spirits lifted once again with this fabulous cruise/vacation. The minute you board the ship, you are captivated by the elegance she offers, its grandeur and impeccably maintained appearance. The food was 4 to 5 stars. Service in the dinning room as well as on the entire ship was top notch. They allow you to bring on two bottles of wine at boarding and don't charge you a corkage fee if consume in your room. However, it is not a issue if you pour yourself a glass before you go to the dinning room (no fee applies for that). Pool area very nice. If your traveling without children, you should check out the Solarium Pool. Adults only swim - with nice cushions on the lounge chairs. Great gym with sauna room. Deck 4 has lounge chairs available to use if you want to get away from the crowds around the pool but still catch some sun (or shade) and peace and quite. Can't say enough positive things about this ship. We are definitely going to do it again. Royal Caribbean is our new cruising line for sure. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2014
This was our first River Cruise and I didnt know what to expect but was told that this company was a good choice as it was a bit funkier than some of the other more old fashioned ones and had a stylish feel. We couldnt have been happier ... Read More
This was our first River Cruise and I didnt know what to expect but was told that this company was a good choice as it was a bit funkier than some of the other more old fashioned ones and had a stylish feel. We couldnt have been happier and are already looking at booking for next year - the staff have to be the best we have encountered - they were incredibly friendly and helpful and all seemed to do about 3 jobs The excursions were brilliant and were a good mixture of being informative without sounding like your history teacher reeling off a list of dates (I almost fell asleep on one cruise lines excursion round Dubrovnik) We cruised the Danube and as Ive never visited this part of Europe before all the places we visited were new to me. As for peoples comments re double docking we did a Nile Cruise a few years ago so were expecting this so it didnt spoil our trip We had an amazing cabin - Grand Balcony Suite (cabin number 310) which had a coffee pod machine so i could make a coffee while the other half got ready for breakfast - we also had free wi-fi so each morning i checked my emails and the latest news at the same time. The food was good and also on some of the nights we had a small cinema type screen showing films which i prefer to piano players or cabaret bands Probably the best thing for me was the pool as I'm a bit of a water baby and it was a bit like swimming on your own private yacht. Having cruised on big ships with Princess, and Royal Caribbean and having had a so-so Nile experience i have to be honest I thought id be under whelmed but it was a bit of an eye opener and just trying to think which river to do next but we'll definitely be booking with Emerald again Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2014
This was our first sailing on Cunard, and hopefully won’t be our last. We quickly got used to the Cunard “ocean liner” experience, as compared to the experiences we’ve had on 20 or so past “cruise ships”. The following is ... Read More
This was our first sailing on Cunard, and hopefully won’t be our last. We quickly got used to the Cunard “ocean liner” experience, as compared to the experiences we’ve had on 20 or so past “cruise ships”. The following is pretty detailed; however, I appreciate the detailed reviews I’ve read here, so I trust this one will help others. Our crossing was Westbound: Southampton to Brooklyn. Embarkation: Very short waits at the port. Our luggage arrived within an hour. Cabin: We had an inside, which was fine, since there’s not much to see at sea! The bed was comfortable and the cabin had plenty of storage. The bathroom tiles were a bit dated, but the amenities were very nice. Lots of storage areas in the cabin. I wasn’t impressed with the cabin steward; she was reactive, rather than being proactive. Dining: The Britannia (MDR) is quite stunning. Cunard’s food was good, but not anything better than Princess. Getting free cappuccino/espresso, etc. after dinner was a nice touch. Drink prices were average for a cruise ship and the bars had a good selection of British beers on draught. Cocktails seemed to be on the skimpy-liquor side. The buffet setup is a bit odd, with the King’s Court spread out over a large area. While it was never crowded, unless you had a table by a window (they jutted out over the Promenade) you were stuck in an interior area, which, frankly looked dumpy. Afternoon tea, either served in the Queen’s Room, with white-gloved service, or via buffet in the King’s Court, was a nice touch with many selections of tea as well as finger sandwiches, pastries, and scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam. We did the upcharge Indian dinner (Coriander) available the last 2 nights of the cruise. There was plenty of good (not great) Indian food in the King’s Court buffet area, which was converted to a sit-down restaurant. Public Rooms: This is where the QM2 shines. Corridors are broad, the public rooms very large. The Queen’s Room is the largest ballroom afloat. It was wonderful seeing people ballroom dancing. We attended 3 cocktail parties there. G32, the disco, seemed dark and is hard to find. Illuminations (the planetarium cum lecture hall) is beautifully decorated in Art Deco style. The Golden Lion Pub was very comfortable with pub lunch food daily and the Chart Room bar very spacious. The gym had a good amount of weight training equipment and free weights, along with cardio equipment. Unlike most other ships, however, the cardio equipment didn’t face broad windows. I didn’t use it, but took a peek at the Gold Canyon Spa….looked elegant. There were also additional nooks for card playing, and quiet times. There’s a large selection of gift shops, though many were geared toward jewelry and high-end items. One highlight of the ship is the amazing library with stacks categorized by topic and the full-time librarian. In addition, there’s even a bookstore! Entertainment—I was worried about not enough to do, since this was my first crossing, but was NEVER bored. Cunard had 5 lecturers on board, from the former director of the Bank of England to a speaker on musical theatre. Most were attended well. In addition, there were the popular planetarium shows. I even found a quiet place forward on the ship with dim lighting for real stargazing. At least 4 trivia contests are offered daily, though the prizes are only given at the end of the cruise and are skimpy at that. There was a nice (and usually empty) casino, with amazingly low table stakes ($3 in the afternoon, $1 one day). One nice touch is that there are no announcements made during the day, save for the Captain’s midday communication. One thing that set Cunard apart was the quality of the live music. At the Queen’s Room, you might find a 20 piece dance band. At other venues a string quartet or harpist. We even had piano recitals in Illuminations during the afternoon. If that wasn’t enough, I attended a 1-hour version of Hamlet acted by students of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. A downside were the evening production shows. The costumes were beautiful, but they lacked a theme, decent music, and dancers who can also sing. A full wrap-around Promenade deck was always full of people walking or jogging (1.3 miles for 3 laps). The deck chairs were padded with pillows. One downside is that Cunard hasn’t banned smoking yet. The aft area was always had a few smokers. The Commodore Club has large windows forward on the ship and was always a popular place for reading during the day, listening to live piano music, or cocktails in the evening. The ship provided an area there for an LGBT cocktail hour. Unfortunately, Churchill’s cigar lounge is next to the Commodore and when the door opens, the smell often ruined the ambiance of the Commodore Club. A worse scenario occurs on the 2nd floor of G32, where it was just uncomfortable unless you were a smoker. One remarkable story: On the penultimate day, we had an almost-emergency on the ship. At about 5:30 all of the staff were called to their muster stations. Cabin stewards put on their life jackets and all waiters left their 1st seating dining passengers to get to their assigned places. Apparently, there was a chemical spill in the engine room. Captain Wells made numerous announcements keeping all passengers informed. While we never had to get our life jackets, it was memorable. Several crew members told me it was the only time in 8 years this had ever happened. Kudos to the staff and crew for being ready! Disembarkation: Very smooth getting off the ship. US Immigrations, however, was very slow, with only 5 people on duty. Finally, the Cunard experience isn’t for everyone. Like most others on the ship, we brought our formal clothes, and in keeping with ship policy remained dressed at the shows, ballrooms, and disco. It made for a classy cruise….or should I say “crossing”!   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2014
Just got back from one week cruise on the Breakaway 8/31/2014- 9/7/2014. Overall, I can surely say we had a GREAT TIME. However, I don't know if I would book again with Norwegian. I have been on numerous cruises and my favorite cruise ... Read More
Just got back from one week cruise on the Breakaway 8/31/2014- 9/7/2014. Overall, I can surely say we had a GREAT TIME. However, I don't know if I would book again with Norwegian. I have been on numerous cruises and my favorite cruise line remains The Royal Carribean- even their silly "love and marriage game" is better and done in the theatre not a small area- so that everyone onboard can see it. If you are going to enjoy your vacation on the Breakaway, you have to be a party person, a people person. The biggest fail of this ship is, as others have stated, is the layout and space in the public areas. The fitness center is divided into two rooms- free weights and cardio machines- the two sides are extremely narrow and is hard to get arounnd the free weights and machines without bumping into people. The pool area has literally no seating around the pool- so if you want to dip in the pool and then lay out in the sun- it's not going to happen- most all of the lounge chairs for the pool are in the overhang- a shaded area from the sun. If you want to layout in the sun- you have to go to deck 16 where all the chairs are in the sun- but there is no pool- but there is a waterfall fountain to get wet..... the adult pool on deck 15 is awesome to hang out at - if you like to drink and party and meet other people- it's a very deep pool 6ft 8inches so you need to know how to swim/float = and it is always crowded- no room for laps for sure- space to sit around on the pool deck itself! They were very diligent in keeping the kids out of the adult pool and there was no smoking around the pool- smokers had their own area.....THE ATRIUM is WAY TOO SMALL for the shows they do in this bar/eatery area - which are games like "deal or no deal"- karoake, and on our cruise "Fire and Ice" performed there nightly ( a female singer with a male partner,) which packed the area- she is awesome- and there were never any seats available or place to stand and see anything so we caught a few songs until we got tired of standing.... the big shows like "burn the floor" and "rock of ages" are held in the main THEATRE- and you just need to make reservations for the shows and get there early and there was no problem with seating-.....shows were pretty good, there was comic/magician that i think would have lost "americas got talent" and his skill level seemed inappropriate for the theatre... CIRQUE DE DREAMS - $40.00 EACH PERSON... COMES WITH ONE PREDETERMINED MEAL... FILET MINION AND SHRIMP- was EXCELLENT AND WORTH THE EXPENSE- if you just want to pay for one thing- make it this show- beyond excellent- i would say amazing. BLISS NIGHT CLUB- INDOORS AND SPICE H20 OUTSIDE- GREAT DJ AND DANCING- COOL TRENDY-YOUNG MUSIC AND WHEN THE CREW WAS THERE- AWESOME AND FUN!!!! MIXED DRINKS SUCKED!!! THEY ARE SO POURLY DONE AND TOO MUCH LIQUOUR THAT I JUST COULD NOT ENJOY THE DRINK- I SENT BACK A COUPLE AND THEN JUST WENT TO WINE AND BEER- OUR ROOM: was fine we had a 218sq ft inside room- I am a complete overpacker- had a whole suit case of just shoes and everything fit in fine in the closet and suit cases were stored under the bed- BUT HOLY COW WHAT A LONG WALK TO THE ELEVATORS- next time I would pick a room closer- there are only two sets of elevators - front and aft- nothing in the middle- walking was crazy to the rooms and all corridors are tight. THE MANHATTAN ROOM complimentry dining- slow service but every night was entertained by a pianist and small band or "BURN THE FLOOR" CAST members did mini show which was fun to see and listen to during dinner- TASTE AND SAVOR indoor dining rooms across the hall from each other- the food and layout is identical - all the same complimentry food- TOOK WAY TOO LONG FOR A POT OF HOT WATER FOR TEA- MY HUSBAND WAS ON HIS SECOND CUP OF COFFEE BEFORE I EVEN SAW HOT WATER EVERY MORNING - I believe the problem is that they have to go to a different section of the ship to pick up food and things other than coffee... THE GARDEN BUFFET DECK 15 COMPLIMENTRY- THIS IS WHERE ALL MORALS, DECENCY AND RESEMBLENCES OF HUMANITY GO OUT THE DOOR AND NO LONGER EXIST- Seriously, this is a narrow circlular room- which sometimes only once side is open- which has a very narrow walkway between the buffet and the tables... people were arrogant, pushy, they cut me off - they cut my husband off- everyone cut everyone off from little childrent to senior citizens- a complete free for all where manors and humanity were just gone and replaced by some sort of insanity.... only eat there if you feel like dealing with CRAZY ARROGANCE- it felt as though if you were not pushy to get your food you would just go hungry.... nice wasn't cutting it- it would just get u bumped off line... THE FOOD IN GENERAL WAS PRETTY DESCENT AND EVERY DAY THE BUFFET DID PUT SOME THINGS OUT THAT WERE DIFFERENT- SAME THING WITH THE SIT DOWN COMPLIMENTARY DINING ROOMS. ONE MORE THING: DONT BOTHER BRINGING A LONG DRESS OR GOWN OR TUXEDO FOR A CAPTAINS DINNER - THE "NORWEGIAN NIGHT OUT" WAS JUST PARTY CLUB LIKE DRESSES FOR THE YOUNG GIRLS AND SUMMER APPAREL FROM CASUAL TO DRESSY FOR OTHERS, I DID NOT SEE ANY MEN IN SUITS AT ALL....AND THE PHOTOGRAPHY STUDIO DID NOT HAVE A WOODEN FRAMES FOR SALE- JUST CHEAPO FOAM BOARD TYPES OF FRAMES FOR THE SMALLER PHOTOS- SHOPPING ON BOARD FOR APPAREL WAS TERRIBLE ONLY ONE STORE- THE JEWERLRY STORE WAAYYY TO EXPENSIVE AND OVERPRICED. also- getting of the ship was a pain in the butt to find our luggage and since we were getting picked up we were forced to cross the street at 12th street- in the cab area... getting on the ship was a lot smoother- got dropped off at the door and after getting our sea pass it was nice to just walk on the ship.... GETTING ON AND OFF THE SHIP AT BERMUDA PORT WAS EASY- NO HASSLES THERE- OVERALL: WE DANCED, WE OVERATE EVERYTHING FROM GOOD TO BAD FOODS TO WAY MORE SOFT ICECREAM CONES THAN ANYONE SHOULD EVER CONSUME IN A WEEK- WE LAUGHED- WE PARTIED, WE MET GREAT PEOPLE AT THE POOL AT THE CLUBS, AND DESPITE THE SHIPS POOR DESIGN- WE HAVE NOTHING BUT BEST MEMORIES FOR OUR VACATION AND FOR $604.00EA FOR WEEK AWAY PLUS ONBOARD EXPENSES WHICH WERE ABOUT $700.00 WAS TOTALLY WORTH IT. ENJOY THE BREAKAWAY JUST KEEP IN MIND THAT NOT EVERYTHING IN LIFE IS PERFECT- YOU MAKE YOUR OWN HAPPINESS AND FUN! IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR PEACE AND SOLITUDE- THIS CRUISE WOULD NOT BE FOR YOU- IF YOU ARE FUN AND YOUNG OR YOUNG AT HEART YOU WILL LOVE IT. I DON'T HAVE KIDS BUT IT SEEMED LIKE THERE WAS PLENTY OF FUN FOR THEM WHCH INLCUDED SPONGE BOB AND FRIENDS- WHO DOESN'T SPONGEBOB?   Read Less
Sail Date: August 2014
This was our first cruise ever, and we were generally pleased with it. We knew several other couples who had done the Princess cruise to Alaska, and none had complaints, so we never even considered another cruise line. Our total vacation ... Read More
This was our first cruise ever, and we were generally pleased with it. We knew several other couples who had done the Princess cruise to Alaska, and none had complaints, so we never even considered another cruise line. Our total vacation was 3 days in Vancouver before the cruise, 7 days on the ship, 5 days of Princess cruisetour on land, and then 3 days, mostly in Seward. The 3 days in Vancouver before embarkation was just about the right amount of time. We stayed at the Landis, a suite hotel, and there are many small restaurants within walking distance. We rented bikes to go around Stanley Park,and also went to the Aquarium, the Capilano suspension bridge and the Sun Yat-sen Classical Chinese Garden. We went to Vancouver Island and Butchart Gardens on a previous trip, so skipped it this time. Cruise embarkation was as slow as other reviewers have reported, but we finally made it on. The weather was warm and sunny as we sailed from Vancouver, and after exploring the ship a little, we settled on our balcony with the wine we had brought on board and watched the city slip away. Our cabin was spic and span and, although small, there is adequate storage space for everything. Our steward came in at least twice a day to clean and replace any used towels. We were very satisfied with the food in general. We ate almost all breakfasts and lunches in the Horizon Court (buffet). On the first at-sea morning, we tried the Da Vinci dining room to order breakfast off the menu. That was a mistake, as the service was extremely slow, and the food was no better than in the Horizon Court. There is a large selection of food at all meals in the HC. The only problem is it can be difficult to find an open table, as people tend to sit at the window tables for a long time to just enjoy the passing scenery, but staff are helpful in getting you a table. We ate most dinners in the Michelangelo dining room, as we wanted any-time dining. The food was generally very good there, although sauces tend to be heavily salted. The service is slow there, and it was usually 9-9:30 by the time we were done, so not being night people, we did not go to any evening entertainment, except once for the 50's and 60's music night. We did not purchase any beverage cards as we are not soda drinkers and I couldn't see spending an additional $49/day for alcoholic beverages, so we just ordered them a la carte, and remained well below the $49/day . As first-time cruisers, we found the Princess Patter daily newsletter very helpful in notifying us of the day's events, port info, etc. The weather in Alaska in August was not as rainy as I had feared, but at sea it was quite cold, as were some of the days during the land portion (the second half of August is already Fall season in Alaska). Going out on the outside decks meant dressing in warm jacket, hat and gloves most of the time, but in the ports it was warmer. Many days were cloudy with occasional drizzle, but there were periods of sun, especially in Skagway, where it was warm and delightful. We did shore excursions at every port. In Ketchikan we did a Misty Fjords float plane sight seeing flight; well worth it; in Juneau the rain forest garden, Mendenhall glacier, Mt. Roberts Tram-- warm and sunny at the top so we hiked around a bit. We saw bald eagles, Dall sheep and a marmot. We had booked the Yukon train from Skagway, which it turned out was a bus ride up, and then train back (the train actually is slower than the bus, so you wouldn't want to take it both ways anyway). It was very scenic but Caribou Crossing (not to be confused with the nearby town of Carcross) is a tourist trap and the barbecue lunch there is mediocre, although it was fun to see the sled dogs. Glacier bay and College Fjord were stunning, for the last 2 at-sea days. On one of the at-sea days we attended a presentation by Libby Riddles, the first woman to win the Iditarod race. Her story was fascinating. We also attended a naturalist presentation, which was informative, but not as riveting. After disembarkation in Whittier we got right on the train up to Denali. We were lucky to get views of Mt. McKinley from the train as we approached--everyone tells you that only 30% of visitors get to see it as it's usually in clouds. The room in the Denali Princess lodge was a let down after our nice cabin on the Crown--dark and musty smelling but at least the window opened to air it out. We went to the Music of Denali dinner theater which is a very silly retelling of the first climbers to summit the mountain. Food is served family-style at long tables, and is plentiful and adequate. It did seem ironic, however, after all of the sanitary precautions on the ship buffet (hand sanitizer at entrances, staff wiping up spills quickly, clearing dishes quickly, etc.), that you would have perfect strangers serving themselves seconds onto their used plates as was done at the dinner theater-- always a no-no at buffets. We did the park bus shuttle tour into Denali the next day, instead of the included Natural History tour and got a refund from Princess for it. We took the shuttle all the way to the Eielson visitor center, which is farther than either the Tundra tour or NH tours go. We were very lucky that the mountain was "out" again that day and got some great pictures of the sun glowing on its white peaks. We were also lucky in seeing lots of wildlife--about a dozen grizzly bears, moose, caribou, and Dall sheep. The next day we took the bus down to the McKinley Princess lodge, which was, surprisingly, a 3 hour trip. No more views of the mountain, though, as it was foggy and drizzly. That afternoon we did the Byers Lake nature walk and the weather cleared up a bit. I was surprised that we didn't encounter any mosquitoes, since I'd heard they are really bad in Alaska--maybe too cold already? The following day in Talkeetna we did the Mahay jet boat adventure which was a blast as you go through rapids before the turn around point. Saw a black bear and more bald eagles. Back to Anchorage the next day; Captain Cook hotel was very nice--meals a bit pricey but there are also many restaurants within walking distance. After our cruisetour ended we rented a car and drove down to Seward on the Kenai peninsula to extend our Alaska vacation a few more days. We took the Kenai Fjords Tours National Park boat tour-- it was fantastic, in part due to great weather, and the park is gorgeous. We saw glaciers and lots of wildlife-- whales, sea otters, sea lions, seals, puffins, cormorants and more. In Seward we also hiked to Exit Glacier--an easy hike, and did the Ididaride sled dog ride. On the way back to Anchorage we stopped in at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in Portage. We did the behind-the-scenes tour which was well worth the money as we got to go in the pens of the more docile animals. The weather our last 3 days in Alaska was mild and sunny (upper 60's), so a great ending to our trip. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2014
I have always wanted to take a small cruise (less than 25 people). I found Islandwindjammers on the web and read Cruise Critic as well as their website before booking. The cruise lived up to expectations and more. The booking and ... Read More
I have always wanted to take a small cruise (less than 25 people). I found Islandwindjammers on the web and read Cruise Critic as well as their website before booking. The cruise lived up to expectations and more. The booking and pre-cruise process was great, very personable with quick responses to my every question. They recommended and arranged pre-cruise private tours and airport transfers. The whole process was very personalized. Once on the boat, it was relaxing and fun. The crew was so nice, friendly and attentive. The food was beyond expectations! Everything was delicious and the perfect amount and frequency. The activities took advantage of the islands we visited including walks, waterfalls, snorkeling, and beach picnics. We had a relaxing, fun week and met such nice people. We would like to do it again! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2014
My husband and I are not cruise people but this one ticked all our boxes. A small boat with only 60 passengers but very comfortable with great food, a fabulous crew and lots of interesting excursions. We enjoyed getting out into the ... Read More
My husband and I are not cruise people but this one ticked all our boxes. A small boat with only 60 passengers but very comfortable with great food, a fabulous crew and lots of interesting excursions. We enjoyed getting out into the Alaskan wilderness but it was made so much better by the young, energetic guides who were extremely knowledgeable but obviously loved their job too. The whole crew worked so hard at making sure that we were looked after 24/7. We saw glaciers calving; salmon running; bears feeding; and the whales! Everything was great from beginning to end. I supposed it helped that the weather was magnificent but even apart from that we're sure it would still have been lots of fun. Met some great people and really enjoyed every minute. Plenty of time to relax if you wanted to but also lots of trips onto the mainland or kayaks to really do some exploring. 5/5 from us for everything.   Read Less
Sail Date: August 2014
This was our 3rd cruise on this line. We travel with 7 people and have 3 cabins. We always do 2 balcony cabins and one inside. This boat is old and the décor is cheesy. I think it goes to Hawaii a lot - but we were in ... Read More
This was our 3rd cruise on this line. We travel with 7 people and have 3 cabins. We always do 2 balcony cabins and one inside. This boat is old and the décor is cheesy. I think it goes to Hawaii a lot - but we were in Italy/Greece/Croatia/Turkey. LOVED the ports - but we are done with this cruise line. We always want to sit on our balcony at night together, and they would not allow us to open the adjoining door to be together. They also would not let our 17 year old girls be in the spa with their mothers for a day pass. They DID let them purchase services - like they have a teen facial...but they would not let them use the facilities. The facials were totally lame, and when we told them that - they did not care. The restaurants that they do an "upcharge" for at pretty good - a couple of them very good. The regular restaurants and buffets were mediocre at best and the entertainment was ridiculous. It was seriously like a karaoke contest made to be like "the Voice" kind of deal, and then they had some other really lame stuff. Not like other ships we have been on with Blue Man and such. We were VERY disappointed and they did not care. They also TOOK our passports for 4 DAYS and totally freaked us out. They would not let us on the ship unless we gave them these - and we were already in Italy - and obviously paid thousands of dollars for the cruise. If they would have given us a heads up that this was going to happen - or EXPLAINED in advance at all, it would not have been such a big deal - but who gives up their passport to some young cruiseline rep that can't even explain the reason. It was very stressful and handled extremely rudely and poorly. Then even more disturbing - when we were supposed to go stand in line to pick them up on day 4 - they just GAVE me the passports of all of my party without even making me provide the receipts for them all. This was weird and not OK at all. We did our own excursions as we learned on previous cruises that this is not a strong suit for them . (We did all private or small groups with NCL before and they were a MESS. We spent over $7 grand for the 7 of us JUST on excursions and when they messed up, they did not care - gave us each a $200 on board credit toward the NEXT cruise - which was not done in their time limit - so we didn't get to use it anyway!! They refused to grant us an extension even when we were ready to book...missed their deadline by 4 months. They are not customer service oriented at all!!) We also upgraded the dining experience as the buffets and regular dining was not good. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2014
It's Spring 2015 and I simply cannot let the season escape without finally writing my review on the trip of a lifetime, that I was madly planning this time last year... The hubby and I came into an unexpected gift of money and ... Read More
It's Spring 2015 and I simply cannot let the season escape without finally writing my review on the trip of a lifetime, that I was madly planning this time last year... The hubby and I came into an unexpected gift of money and wanted to do something we could remember the person by, and would never have normally would have done...and I found it in and astonishing adventure on board the Safari Endeavor!! We booked the July 14, 2014 week long Discoverers' Glacier Country Un-Cruise out of Juneau, AK. That week in particular had a wonderful Marine Biology host, Jackie Hedgpeth who truly added to the already highly educated and informative staff on board. We were greeted on board on embarkation day by all the staff from our awesome lady Captain, Jenna Stevens down to dining and cabin crews. All folks on the Endeavor rolled up their sleeves and helped out any given time/day on launching kayaks in the morning to being nature guides in the afternoons..many enjoyed multiple roles..our evening table server, would be an expedition assistant leader the following day on a hike or kayak excursion. We truly got to know all the staff... who consistently and constantly reached above and beyond the call of duty to make sure, all on on board were welcomed, comfortable and got the utmost they wanted out of their daily/weekly adventures!!! Every evening in the Lounge all ...84....yes I said that ...84 passengers!!! joined together enjoyed our all inclusive bar libations while listening to talks from the Naturalist or crew on tomorrows upcoming adventures.. Let's stop for a moment and discuss that passenger number. Yes..only 84 passengers on board, what a phenomenon in the Cruise world!! This small ship cruising allowed for the unimaginable development of some great friendships on board...some folks we still keep in touch with to date, a year later! Folks from all over the Globe were on board..from England, Wales, Australia and all over the US. And on a personal note..2nd couple we met were form my hometown in Penna..small world! The staff and crew we got to know as well and shared many a story and photos on our nightly talks in the Lounge of the ship's adventures from the day. Can't tell you the camaraderie that developed over shared hikes, kayaking moments, whale sightings, glacier hikes...on and on to many to describe with the staff, crew and fellow passengers. Back to adventures!!! ....each evening the Expedition Guide would offer tomorrow's listing of adventures passengers can choose to participate in...both AM and afternoon varieties or, all day: from really tame walkabouts on the shore line, to glacier hikes, to half or full day kayaking, to half or full day hikes into wilderness. The hubby, a Georgia Exterra trail series runner was looking for full on daily wilderness adventures..I on the other hand enjoyed the luxury the ship had to offer as well as accomplishing a fine mix of mild AM adventures such as guided group Glacier hikes to afternoon kayaking along the shoreline. I eventually built up my adventure seeking skills to partake in the Hubby's regular all day adventure "crew" on an exciting all day, 8hr hike to a Glacier Lake that no other ship or passenger group got to attain last summer! Our outstanding Expedition Guide, Connor Adams was as great Team Leader who motivated all of us, including me who was definitely in the back 'o the pack shall we say.. to kick it up and we pushed ourselves so well thru the rain forest, he got permission from the ship's Captain to continue onto Swan Lake. What a thrill to share in this accomplishment of an awesome all day hike thru stunning rain forests of SE Alaska! No bear sightings, but fresh footprints were to be had! Super proud and exhausted when we returned to the ship in time for the fun event of Polar Bear Swimming which is an all passenger adventure, if you dare! Even in July the water was cold!! Let's talk about food and drink..the food was scrumptious to say the least! Usually 2-3 entree offerings at each meal and always a veggie option for anyone who doesn't do meat, or in my case who doesn't do seafood. I know, wrong place to be.. to not partake on the super fresh local seafood offerings, but hubby enjoyed it, every meal!! The crew offered any solution if you couldn't possible find anything to eat of the menu for each meal. One lunch was all seafood and they kindly made me a grilled cheese sandwich which I happily ate... All alcohol is included and the Bartenders in the Lounge were excellent,there was a special creative drink offered each evening as well as a full bar. Never failed on service or tastes.. 12 tables I believe, 8 along the viewing windows to catch the ever changing sea/landscape and view wildlife passing by and 4 center round tops were in the dining room. Which lends itself to enjoying getting to know all the passengers or eventually for us, we sought out our favorite group of new friends from England, Penna., NC and NY and shared our adventures of the day! The only complaint I would have about dining is you had to get down there fast at mealtime or the window tables would be taken! Not that you couldn't see but it was cool to be up close. Admiral Cabin....#202. Since it was a gift of money that drove this once in a lifetime adventure cruise, the hubby went full on every day adventure excursions and I went for one of the top of the line larger cabins! Quiet, just off the lounge, low traffic hallway and steps away.. in the jammies to get a morning coffee in the lounge... Comfy bed, wonderful private large viewing window(Upper deck cabins have windows along the outside walkways and passengers sd kinda bothersome), teeny tiny bathroom for us tall folks but super minor detail as you are so busy each and everyday in this Alaskan wonderland..no bothers. Wonderful cabin service on a daily basis if you want service or not...minimal required for us. One of the most outstanding features of the cruise was the desire of the Crew and Captain to offer ever possibility to educate us on, as well as to see, view and experience the wildlife in SE Alaska. One impossibly delightful evening, dinner was delayed as we had the show of a lifetime in front of the ship: a rainbow to the west, a pod of Orcas straight ahead and Humpback whales breaching to the right. The Captain slowed and then stopped the ship and all on board, included as always, the Crew were invited to experience the beauty of this sight. Unforgettable! The saddest day is knowing you are arriving back in Port and your disconnections with people you have gotten to know, and goodbyes are in front of you. The Crew all came out to see us off and it was bittersweet... Would love to partake in their Baja trips in the Winter to see the Humpbacks and other wildlife in a warmer climate. Same ship..same Crew..same Captain..what a dream. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2014
This trip has been a dream of mine for many years, and it didn't disappoint. My husband and I have cruised only with Royal Caribbean and Holland America so we were looking at what was different with a critical eye. We were traveling ... Read More
This trip has been a dream of mine for many years, and it didn't disappoint. My husband and I have cruised only with Royal Caribbean and Holland America so we were looking at what was different with a critical eye. We were traveling with my sister and brother-in-law. We got to Copenhagen 3 days early, both to adjust to the time change (we failed - didn't sleep well until a few days into the cruise) but had a wonderful time enjoying this jewel of a city. We stayed at the Phoenix Hotel, perfect location, great staff, and very charming (read SMALL) rooms. I was sure to pack their little bottles of hair conditioner since I knew from previous posts that the ship doesn't provide this in our category. We also purchased the Copenhagen Card which got us unlimited public transportation and admissions to sights. Worth every penny. Cruise day - embarkation was a breeze, and we went straight to the buffet for lunch before exploring the ship. The ambience in the buffet is similar to a high school cafeteria, but the choices were good and everybody could find more than enough to try. One big suggestion for NCL in all their dining venues - please note which dishes are vegetarian, etc. other lines do that and it is expected by those who are vegetarian. Our stateroom was exactly what we chose, we were very pleasantly surprised though at the ingenious design of the 3 section bathroom. Great job! Our steward Frederick was lovely, always remembering us by name and bringing my husband extra blankets, etc. I will miss him. Other positive things we noted: we were not approached all the time by over -zealous bar waiters, we enjoyed the casual yet upscale Aqua dress code (we ate there often), a full ship that you never had to fight for a pool chair, outstanding entertainment, very personable Captain who personally came to talk to my sister at the staff question and answer session, wonderful cruise director who races throughout the ship, and very happy crew. The grill and ice cream was also a nice treat, but I wish were open longer hours. Downsides: the librarian was only in the library for an hour or so each day. Why have a library? And a major biggie - toilet seat covers in public rest rooms. I used the walking track on deck 13 and decks 7 often, the weather was spectacular. Always I saw maintenance being done on the ship, which was immaculate. We explored most of the ports on our own, except in St. Petersburg where we hired the Red October company to give a private tour to the 4 of us. It was pricey, but we were able to customize exactly what we wanted to see, the Great Chorale Synagogue is magnificent and not on any ship excursion. Another advantage of a small group-we waited in not one line to get into the sites where there were major lines. We did take the Hop on, Hop off bus in Stockholm from the ship as it guaranteed us a seat on the first bus and with a short time there, we wanted to maximize what we could see. Disembarkation was a breeze. We walked right off the ship handling our own luggage, got right in a cab, and were at the airport in half an hour. Given the right itinerary, I would sail NCL again anytime!   Read Less
Sail Date: July 2014
DH and I went out of Cape Liberty on 7/6/14 on the Summit. Embarkation was the easiest ever. We drove down on Sunday morning, parked the car and were on the boat by 11am. Once on the ship we were escorted to BLU for a nice brunch. As ... Read More
DH and I went out of Cape Liberty on 7/6/14 on the Summit. Embarkation was the easiest ever. We drove down on Sunday morning, parked the car and were on the boat by 11am. Once on the ship we were escorted to BLU for a nice brunch. As always the food did not disappoint. This was the case during the entire cruise. We were in an Aqua Class cabin on Deck 9. Our Cabin Steward, Michael was the best. He was available and helped when asked. Our cabin was kept very clean throughout the cruise. We did not use room service at all during this cruise. The ship is small compared to some of the other ships we have been on but it was a very intimate setting and easy to get around. No lines at the elevators. All the staff that we met during the week went above and beyond to say "hello", "how are you today" , and "have a nice day". My mantra is everyone you come across appreciates a "hello" said with a smile. Ken Mills was the Cruise Director on this sailing. We did not see him much around the ship but we spent our days by the pool in the Solarium. He seemed to enjoy his job and the shows were very well done. The weather the entire week was fabulous. The Captain remarked at one point that if it was any better it " would be illegal". He had a great sense of humor. Bermuda is a beautiful place and the beaches were amazing. The first day we took the ferry to St. George's and got on " The Fun Bus" with Reggie, the tour operator who took us out to Clearwater Beach. It was 10.00 dollars round trip and so worth it. There were only four people on the beach. There was also a place there to get food and drinks run by Marlin who was great to talk to. I would highly recommend this over Horseshoe Bay where their were about 3000 people. The next day we took the bus out to Daniel's Head Beach to do a paddle board tour that I booked with Larry, from SurfSup. This was so much fun. The beach was small but the area was beautiful. We saw sea turtles and rays. There was also a great place to get drinks and lunch there as well called SUDS. Dayle runs this and he is a chef. Food was amazing as was the Swizzle drink. We also did the obligatory trip to Front Street in Hamilton and walked around and did some shopping at the Harbor Nights Festival. They had many local arts and crafts which were reasonably priced. We had great weather the entire three days. We ate at BLU every night and the food and service was over the top. Such a relaxing atmosphere. All of the waitstaff, Andres, Rambo, Alex, Jon, Collins, Edguardo, Juan, Albert, Luis and others who I have missed were amazing. The Maître D whose name I have forgotten was always available as well and assisted his waitstaff which I liked. In the afternoons we would sit and read in Cafe Bacio with a cup of tea and a pastry. I think I tried most of them during the week. We did use the gym which was packed on sea days but if you went in the afternoon it was not crowded. Disembarkation was also the easiest ever. We walked off the ship at 8:00 am went through customs and where in the car by 8:30 am. This was a great cruise and one we would do again in a heartbeat. Celebrity you WOWED us again.   Read Less
Sail Date: July 2014
First time cruising with Celebrity. My wife and I have cruised with Royal, NCL and Oceania previously. Overall, a wonderful experience. We would not hesitate to take another cruise with Celebrity. The Ship itself is very well designed ... Read More
First time cruising with Celebrity. My wife and I have cruised with Royal, NCL and Oceania previously. Overall, a wonderful experience. We would not hesitate to take another cruise with Celebrity. The Ship itself is very well designed and, with the exception of sea days on the pool deck, it never felt crowded. The main dining room was better than expected but we did eat at Blu most evenings, Tuscan Grille once and Murano once...all of which seemed far superior to the main dining room. Our cabin, a sky suite, was very spacious with more than enough room for everything. Our butler and room attendant were fantastic. The service by everyone on board was superb and very friendly. We did miss our first port, Messina, due to some repairs the delayed our departure from Rome. Celebrity compensated everyone with a $400 OBC. My wife and I, having been to Messina previously, did not miss it at all. Some of the shows were quite good especially the Reflection show on the second to last night of the cruise (a cirque de solei type of show). My wife and I look forward to another Celebrity cruise ... next time we'll bring the kids. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2014
We traveled with six people to celebrate daughter's HS graduation. We booked three cabins, one of which was balcony, all on deck 6 aft. This was our 5th RCI cruise and our 9th cruise as a family. The positive for this cruise was the ... Read More
We traveled with six people to celebrate daughter's HS graduation. We booked three cabins, one of which was balcony, all on deck 6 aft. This was our 5th RCI cruise and our 9th cruise as a family. The positive for this cruise was the embarkation point. Being from Denver, we spent four extra days in NYC before the cruise. The port was nice and accommodating, but construction is being done in preparation for Quantum. Boarding ship went smoothly, as was our luggage delivery. Our room attendant and main dining room staff were very good, we dined in the Columbus every night but one, we dined in the Windjammer for breakfast, lunch and one dinner. The Windjammer was disappointing in the evening, only the station in the back was open and the seating was limited each night. The food selection was the same from day to day, and a bit of variety at lunch would have been nice. Also, would have been nice to have a special American menu on July 4th, as we have experienced on other RCI cruises previously. The ports were great, especially Bermuda, but the time in port at St. Maarten was very limited, (1:00 arrival) and San Juan (9-3:30 essentially). Hard to do multiple activities in such limited time periods. Labadee was fabulous as always, although there were many foods that were running out on the lunch BBQ. The ship is ready to be dry docked. Our room had an old TV, though the rooms next to us had flat screens, and the rooms were in need of refurbishing and repair. The availability of TV programming and movies is lacking compared to every other cruise we have been on. The first day at sea one of the pools was being repaired, that made for crowded pool. The activities were very sparse on the pool deck, and often there were activities listed in compass that didn't happen. One day the "pool games" were greatly lacking in enthusiasm from the cruise director staff. The entertainment was good, but some of dancing/singing shows were a bit disappointing. The ballroom couple was fabulous, but we have a family of dancers and found the shows a bit lacking. Hard to follow Broadway shows in NYC. Karaoke was overrun by the teenage crowd every night, I think the participation should be limited to one song per person/ or duo. Very few people could participate compared to hearing the same teenagers over and over again. Leaving the ship was a DISASTER. For some reason the luggage was not available as early as it should have been. There was one elevator that was not working, and the crew was blocking the stairs so people could not get off ship. Communication between the port and the ship was poor. IT was 11:30 before all had gotten off the ship. One of the men running the shuttle was short-tempered and there was very little explanation given to passengers who were waiting. We love Royal, but this trip didn't live up to the usual standard. I wonder if the new method of dividing tips has affected the superb service we have come to expect. The captain was great, however, very friendly and highly visible. I would love to go back to Bermuda and spend more time there, beautiful island. I will add we had to see ship doctor on last day for an ear infection, she was wonderful, capable and the price was reasonable for treatment and prescriptions (around $130 for office visit). Read Less
Sail Date: July 2014
My husband and I, along with our two children (ages 13 and & 7), just returned from an amazing cruise with NCL. We have been on many cruises before, on just about every cruise line that exists. This was our first cruise with Norwegian. ... Read More
My husband and I, along with our two children (ages 13 and & 7), just returned from an amazing cruise with NCL. We have been on many cruises before, on just about every cruise line that exists. This was our first cruise with Norwegian. We were excited about the freestyle cruising, due to the fact that we do not want to be committed to a certain time slot every night for dinner. We also wanted to enjoy family dinners together, while saving the opportunity to make new friends during other times on the ship. This cruise exceeded our expectations! I was surprised to read some of the negative reviews. As a frequent traveler, to resorts and on cruises, we understand the differences in terms of sizes of swimming pools and cabins/rooms.Ships simply do not have the space to accommodate the size of pools one would see at a land resort. Our focus was on the activities offered, excursions, shows, and of course, the dining experience. We must have participated in every activity offered: Nickelodeon PJ jam; Family dinner party (with face painting and cupcake making); how to make balloon animals class, how to make designs from towels class, Bingo, 70s and 80s party, Glow party, bowling, ropes course with zipline and plank, mini golf, arcade, water slides, splash zone, rock climbing wall, trampoline,etc. We are an adventurous and sporty family who remain very active during all of our family vacations. We also based our choice of activities on the age groups of our two children. However, we met several families who spent more time relaxing and enjoying the ice cream shops and bakeries, instead of participating in a multitude of events. In other words, you take what you want from the ship experience. There are plenty of activities for adults, designated quiet areas and adult only areas, and a variety of activities to meet all needs and likes. Take the time to read the daily itinerary; it gives hour by hour options. The customer service desk can also assist in deciding what activities best suit your taste. The food was tasty; all restaurants offered a great variety of choices. We opted to eat at the inclusive restaurants as well as the specialty ones. We are a family who enjoys dining out; therefore, we wanted to explore all options on the ship. We found, though, that the inclusive restaurants were just as "fancy" as the specialty ones (as stated by our teenage daughter). Some restaurants offered a tranquil atmosphere, whereas others extended a more festive ambiance. The shows were great, for the most part. We felt that the Legally Blonde show and the Burn the Floor dance show had some scenes and/or language that may be more of a PG- 13 rating, rather then the PG rating we were hoping for. This may have been our assumption, or we may be a bit more conservative than other parents. We enjoyed the shows; however, not sure it was age appropriate for our 7 year old son. Although I really don't think he picked up on any of the "adult" portions of the shows. We should have offered to have him stay in the kids' club area while we attended the shows. After being on a Disney cruise, last time, I realized that I need to scrutinize show options a little better when on other cruise lines. Next time... The choice of excursions were fantastic and we loved every one of them! We booked this cruise, at the last minute, due to my husband's work schedule. There were not many options left; however, we were able to book an outside family cabin. To our surprise, we ended up being upgraded to a cabin designed for handicap travelers. The room was huge! We are not counting on that ever happening again, but we sure enjoyed it! The staff was the most friendly that we have ever encountered! Again, in comparison with other cruise lines and resorts, this was the best! One could feel the excitement from every single person that worked on the ship. We were highly impressed by the smiles, courtesy, and willingness to assist us. At one point, two staff members approached us and apologized for the 10min wait to be seated at one of the restaurants (the only time we ever had to wait all week). They offered to escort us to a different restaurant, if we did not care to wait. We told them that we were from Orlando, FL and were used to waiting hours to be seated at restaurants and to go on rides. They laughed at that, and then once we were seated, one of them came up to us and thanked us for our patience! We felt special and cared for every minute on that ship. We will be back, Getaway, and we will bring along more family and friends. Please keep up the great work; it shows and it is appreciated!!!!   Read Less
Sail Date: July 2014
Just back from July 18th Solstice Alaskan cruise. We had beautiful weather the entire time. Me (48) my husband (55) and son (10). Previously sailed Norwegian, Royal and Disney. This, so far, will go down as our favorite ship. The staff was ... Read More
Just back from July 18th Solstice Alaskan cruise. We had beautiful weather the entire time. Me (48) my husband (55) and son (10). Previously sailed Norwegian, Royal and Disney. This, so far, will go down as our favorite ship. The staff was friendly and accommodating to needs. The ship is beautiful and rarely do you feel crowded. Our son enjoyed the Fun Factory and insisted on taking part in the evening slumber parties (which gave us a chance to enjoy some night life -- yes there was nightlife, way more than on the Disney cruise). Select Dining was nice for us. Never had to wait, but we booked reservations online (which we changed the day of without an issue). Premium drink package likely paid off for hubby, and for me was just nice to not have to sign each time (when I didn't like a drink, I just got another one without hesitation, also had many specialty teas, coffees and waters). This experience is more along the line of relaxing, educationally entertaining (Brent Nixon and Celebrity Life activities), and fun (cocktails and dancing in the evenings). This is not the rock climbing, character greeting, pumping dance music all day event. Would recommend: premium alcohol package, reserve excursions online ahead of time, walkie talkies, over the door shoe organizer (not just for shoes), power strip for charging devices, magnetic clips and hooks for walls, lanyards for key cards, dress in layers (we're not talking ski jacket cold here, but bring mittens and knit caps for when on deck), and chewable Dramamine (first night and full day at sea we needed it, the rest smooth sailing). Also, we used small to medium paper bags with handles to store socks and undergarments above bed (think gift bag size). Would recommend Solstice. The crew was great. Will hope to sail Celebrity again. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2014
Port of Bayonne: Lousy signage caused us to make several U-turns on the way to the Port. Facilities were very crowded and slow going through security and getting on the ship. Arriving on ship: Don't know why they insist on forcing ... Read More
Port of Bayonne: Lousy signage caused us to make several U-turns on the way to the Port. Facilities were very crowded and slow going through security and getting on the ship. Arriving on ship: Don't know why they insist on forcing everyone into the Buffet line! Buffet restaurant is very confusing and too small for that many people. Food was terrible and the service attendance were worse. Not a good way to start off the vacation. Luggage: arrived in a reasonable time Cabin: Small but clean and adequate with plenty of storage and hangers in the closet. Cabin attendant was wonderful (Sarah). She always provided ice and was very responsive with requests. Quickly cleaned the room and surprised us with a few towel animals. Entertainment: The best entertainment of any cruise I have been on ( I have only been on 3) Mr. Carnell was not my favorite (a bit too Broadway for me) The ship should highlight the "cirque" style performers more as they were excellent! Food: I will open that I hate buffet style dining so my opinion in this area is very harsh with the exception of the Burgers and Fries served poolside. Sit down restaurant food was fine but I have had better in "fine dining" restaurants. Some items were not as advertised, example was the seared scallopes that were really broiled. Our server, Ballan, was wonderful and very friendly. Activities: Too many events that are really just ploys to get you to buy stuff. Several events happen at the same time so we missed some of the things we wanted to do. Not enough dance lessons and trivia games etc. Health Club: A bit crowded but I never had to wait long for an available machine. Need cups for getting water. Bermuda: What can you say except that it is a lovely destination that is clean and friendly. Turquoise water, pink sand, rum swizzle's and coral reefs, in short, paradise. Don't love that they dock at the Dockyards as it is on the far end of the Island a bit far Hamilton and St. George, but the ferry service is fine enough. We rented a moped for one day through Oleander which is the only way to get around the Island by yourself. Fun but a bit uncomfortable and not for the faint of heart! We did the Catamaran Snorkel excursion and it was the highlight of our trip. Very reasonably priced and our ships Captain was very hospitable and provided a free round of Rum Swizzle's after we snorkeled. Highly recommend snorkeling in Bermuda as they have some of the healthiest and most beautiful coral reefs in the world. Not to be missed! Atmosphere on ship: Most of the crew was very friendly. This ship leaves from New Jersey so be prepared to spend time around loud and often rude people who are very hard to please. We did meet many very friendly folks from Pennsylvania and Europe. Overall it was a good trip. My husband I determined that we are a bit too young to be regular cruisers. We are active and fit enough to go to many destinations around the world and we enjoy more time exploring than cruising allows . We are novice foodies and were a bit disappointed by the food. Cruising is for people who don't want to walk too much and care more about quantity of food than quality. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2014
Who traveled:  3 boys- 15/17/19  Myself-39 (mom) Trip for boys: 15yr old- He had a great time, met a ton of other kids running around. Played games, hung out at the O2 club and ate all day and night. Never a dull moment. 17 & 19- ... Read More
Who traveled:  3 boys- 15/17/19  Myself-39 (mom) Trip for boys: 15yr old- He had a great time, met a ton of other kids running around. Played games, hung out at the O2 club and ate all day and night. Never a dull moment. 17 & 19- They hung out and met a lot of others around their age. Played miniature golf most of the time. There were contests by Carnival that they participated in, and actually had fun lol It was sort of an in between age though. The clubs are 15-17 or over 21 yrs. this kind of left them wondering in the evenings. Myself: Bored. It was either kids, couples or older people. I tried to meet people at the bars, but people were pretty involved in their own trips. Usually I can talk to the bartenders if I am alone, but they were all foreign, and not very social. There is an adult area that has sunbathing and two jacuzzis, very quiet....if you gamble, it would probably be more fun. Gym- I was looking forward to taking the spin classes. I signed up the first day for two classes. The 1st one, they told me was cancelled and when I went to work out,saw it happening. The second they said Was happening, and did not! This was one of the most disappointing things, since I had been looking forward to enjoying some good work outs on Va-K! Lol Catalina: Getting off the ship- get off before 9:30am if you do not want to wait an hour in line. You will be lined up 4 flights of stairs between 9:30-12. Getting back on is easier. On the island- shopping, eating or excursions. Not a lot to do otherwise. Ensenada- take the shuttle, it's only $3 round trip. They will offer you the Bufadora, shopping and horseback riding for $35. Great deal! Better and more shopping than downtown by Bufadora for sure, and more negotiating. Hazel is a great tour guide BTW! Food: All buffets except dinner and seaday brunch. Ice cream ice cream ice cream! The kids ate like 10 a day!!! Food was ok, pretty much as expected. Kids thought it was great though. Cost: 1 ocean-view ( riviera) and 1 inside with bunk beds ( not as crowded as I thought it would be.) $2000 $500 on cruise included Cheers program and 3 bubbles program & gratuity. I tipped $1 per alcohol drink & a couple random things. Plus spending $ for Catalina and Ensenada Conclusion: Was it worth it? Only to see my kids enjoy their vacation. It's been 10 years since I have been on a Carnival cruise, and probably will not be for 10 more. If I would of had another adult with me, I am Sure it would have been much more fun. They could of fit another kid in the inside cabin, and would of been ok. Check out the comedy shows, good start for the evening after dinner. Hopefully this helps a little, I usually don't write reviews, but thought this one was needed for the single moms traveling with your kids! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2014
Hawaii is to die for and don't let anyone tell you anything different! It was our first time. Although Honolulu was not the greatest, the Polynesian Cultural Center was terrific. The re-enactors were outstanding, food was great, and ... Read More
Hawaii is to die for and don't let anyone tell you anything different! It was our first time. Although Honolulu was not the greatest, the Polynesian Cultural Center was terrific. The re-enactors were outstanding, food was great, and price was right for an all day immersion into the Polynesian culture. Embarkation was a breeze compared to many other cruises we have been on. No photographers hounding you at every turn. Our room was a standard balcony - not the best or the least. Our cabin steward was outstanding! She went out of her way to make our vacation effortless. Ship entertainment was enjoyable - ship's band was great at big band sounds and dance music went on for hours. The illusionist was AMAZING!! He even did a program at the pool in front of everyone - in the water for 2.38 minutes in chains and came out unhurt! Excursions were a joy - a nature hike- we ate flowers, smelled different leaves, and waterfall jumping with Glory, surfing (!) with guys who treated us like their jobs depended on both of us getting up on the board, snorkeling with wetsuits (!) and a surfboard that allowed you to drift along and see as much as you possibly could - not exhausting as past experiences - the Atlantis submarine (!) --all were just outstanding. The pride and love of the Hawaiian peoples for their home was palpable. For those of you who are Catholic - mass on Sunday at 6pm on the island is just a 10 minute walk from the ship.The small church is lovely. The ship offered no worship services of any kind. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2014
We have enjoyed several Big Boat cruises in the past - but never again. UnCruise Adventure's Safari Endeavour accommodates 85 passengers and before you finish your week, you'll know most of them by first name - we even got ... Read More
We have enjoyed several Big Boat cruises in the past - but never again. UnCruise Adventure's Safari Endeavour accommodates 85 passengers and before you finish your week, you'll know most of them by first name - we even got invites to come visit their home from several. Accommodations are very comfortable - we had their basic cabin with two comfortable twin beds and private bath. Meals were EXCELLENT with several options (including vegetarian) at each meal. During the morning breakfast, you would learn about that day's meal options and make your choice. Every day, there were Morning and Afternoon adventure options ranging from high skill and exertion to more moderate walks and skiff rides. We are moderately active senior citizens and thoroughly enjoyed each activity. We had never done kayaking before but we did it here - and loved it The ship has dozens of ocean-going kayaks and has an easy-launch system that makes heading out and docking simple. Before we launched, we got lots of lessons and great tips. We enjoyed kayaking so much, we bought one after we got home. The ports of call were beyond our expectation. The ship is so small, we were able to motor right up into the channels where the glaciers live. We watched the Big Boats sit at the mouth of the channel and pass out binoculars. Once we got close to the glacier. the crew lowered kayaks and skiffs and took us even closer. We got some amazing photos. The crew was beyond attentive - they became our friends over the week and made this trip a memory we will never forget. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2014
3 Night cruise from MIA to the bahamas on Norwegian Sky. More tattoos than teeth. Easy to get a room on deck 10, right under the pool. I found out why. Pool area turns in to a Latin disco from about noon - midnight. The booming subwoofer ... Read More
3 Night cruise from MIA to the bahamas on Norwegian Sky. More tattoos than teeth. Easy to get a room on deck 10, right under the pool. I found out why. Pool area turns in to a Latin disco from about noon - midnight. The booming subwoofer could wake dead people, and they would complain. The show was good, a tribute to Vegas entertainers. We enjoyed it even though we got there at the last minute and took poor seats. Nassau was - Nassau. Probably better off staying on the boat. Stirrup Cay made up for Nassau twice over. We got the Cabana and had a great time. Service here is wonderful and the beach is clean and pretty. Food service on the boat is average. Food quality is also average. We enjoyed Cagney's the most (party of 8). Sadly the bar service was lacking if you go off the menu (like don't ask for a martini). I believe that the rest of the norwegian experience has to be better than this. Likely a budget crowd for the budget cruise. We picked it as a quick weekend fling, it fit the dates best. Would have been better off staying on Key West or some all inclusive in Jamaica. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2014
We joined Regal Princess on its June 2nd cruise out of Venice. Embarkation was fine and we were on the ship at 1pm. The first things that strikes you as you board is the ships sea-walk protruding out of deck 16 which is quite novel. Once ... Read More
We joined Regal Princess on its June 2nd cruise out of Venice. Embarkation was fine and we were on the ship at 1pm. The first things that strikes you as you board is the ships sea-walk protruding out of deck 16 which is quite novel. Once you board you can't but be struck by the most beautiful atrium at sea; the scale of the Piazza along with the combination of all the cream and brown marble is something to behold. We got a great deal (€696pp) on an inside cabin on the week in question, room 412 Aloha deck 12. The colour scheme of the room is again creams and browns and is very tasteful. The layout is also very good, the bathroom is down a short corridor and into the left which gives a nice sense of separation and privacy in a small space. This was the fist time I ever went for an inside cabin but I have to say it was really nice and if you wanted a sense of where you were, you could turn on the webcam TV channel, something you only really think about first thing in the morning when you wake up. The rooms are very well insulated also which is a marked difference to the older RCL ships. Across the corridor from our room was a junior suite which I also managed to get a look at and which was as you would expect, really attractive and spacious. As for the staff I couldn't fault them, they were ultra friendly and this was really noticeable around the pool deck area. I opted for a soft drinks package for the week which was $49 so suffice to say I always had them on call during the day. The Burger and Pizza's at the pool deck were very tasty as was their free Swirls ice-cream; it was much better than what was available on RCL last year. If I was to give Princess one recommendation though, it would be to increase the variety of pizza's at the pool deck, I think there was only 3 types of Pizza so not as good as a previous Celebrity cruise I had been on. The layout of top deck is great, you can access the running track, the Gym, the Basketball court and all the pools really easily and without needing a degree in Orienteering. The Retreat Pool is lovely and quiet while the main pool has a huge screen for movies/concerts etc. which was really enjoyable. This is one area where I think Celebrity does not compete with Royal or Regal Princess, having no large outdoor screens which I now expect as the norm, 'Wake up Celebrity!'. Some older people argue that they don't like the noise of the big screens but if that is the case they could go to the Retreat Pool on Princess; you simply don't have that option with celebrity so I am wondering now will I be disappointed if I go on a Solstice ship again in the future and I am saying this as I would have viewed the Celebrity's Solstice ships are the main competitor/comparator to Royal & Regal Princess. So to wrap up here, there is no ship at sea as visually impressive as Regal Princess, 'End of! & no debate on this point'. Overall their food and entertainment was very good. Celebrity may still have the edge and probably does in terms of the quality of their Restaurant food and I am thinking here that on occasion the food in the main Restaurant on Regal wasn't as hot as I would have liked it so maybe Celebrity still has the edge here but definitely not in terms of the overall ship. Regal's water fountain show is impressive if short, there movies under the stars is excellent, you get blankets, popcorn, milk and cookies, sweets, pizza and they put special padded covers on the deck chairs for you. So should you cruise on Regal Princess? Absolutely! The only problem you will have will be that all other ships after that will appear visually inferior and I am thinking here of the Piazza, the Pool deck and the sea-walk which were great. If I were to redesign the ship though I would like to see a two tiered dinning room as oppose to splitting up Symphony and Concerto. Also Allegro is hard to get to so that's one thing to consider Princess going forward. I would have liked if one of the Speciality Restaurants was up where the Sanctuary was so you could look out at the world as you dinned; like the Crows nest on the RCL ships. Read Less

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click
Compare and book excursions for your next cruise