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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: December 2013
We were on the December 1st sailing on the Breeze – which was our 10th cruise with Carnival. I feel like I am a Carnival expert or a cruise expert generally at this point with some perspective because I have also sailed multiple times ... Read More
We were on the December 1st sailing on the Breeze – which was our 10th cruise with Carnival. I feel like I am a Carnival expert or a cruise expert generally at this point with some perspective because I have also sailed multiple times with Costa, NCL, and Royal Caribbean. We hopped of the Carnival Conquest (Thanksgiving cruise) and walked ourselves and our bags over to the Breeze. We arrived earlier than we normally do. The line to get checked in at noon was HUMOUNGUS. I recommend not being in a big hurry to get on the ship – and arrive around 2pm to allow the big crowd to get through. The Breeze was the largest ship I have ever been on. It was hard not to always compare the Breeze to the Conquest which was older and a little smaller. Things I liked better about the Breeze vs. the Conquest were: Much better Lido desk and Casino lay out. There were tons of seating options for sea days. The casino draws smokers and I like how you did not have to walk through the smoke on the Breeze. I also liked the Red Frog Pub and the Piano Bar which were two really cool places to hang out with friends. Along with the Steakhouse, the Breeze offered an awesome Italian restaurant and Sushi. I recommend trying all food options out – even if there is a charge. The Breeze didn’t beat the Conquest out on many things. I like the décor on the older ships much better. It is more luxurious. The Breeze had carpeting vs. tile everywhere and a “Beach” décor theme with fake beach hut doors, fake outdoor seating etc...It looked a little cheap even though it was newer. The Punchliner had terrible seating and a waiting area for people to enter which made the Conquest much better for comedy. We had anytime dining and the main dining room was very plain and felt (and smelled) more like a cafeteria than a restaurant. The Conquest main dining was a much better experience from a service and atmosphere perspective. Entertainment - if you want to go to shows, this is not the option for you. If you have family or friends on the ship with you, or you like to meet new people you will not be disappointed. There are plenty of places to listen to music or dance. There were great bands and several acoustic guitar acts that cover a variety of artists. We went to the Punchliner Comedy Club adult show for at least one show every night it was open and saw a different comic and act each time. The fitness center was a little hard to get to - but once I found it worked out great. Grand Turk, Jamaica and Bahamas were wonderful ports of call. Do your homework and make sure you have a plan even if you don’t use Carnival’s excursions. I was completely satisfied with both weeks I sailed with Carnival. Dollar for dollar you cannot beat the value. I could not stay at a Hampton Inn in Branson Missouri for the week for what I pay to cruise with this line. It affords me the option to take 2-3 Caribbean vacations each year with my family and friends which is priceless to me.   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
This is my fourth cruise, third carrier. 50 year old couple/empty nesters. The NCL Jewel was a nice ship. Clean, tidy and well organized. Staff ratio was good , overall size of the ship and layout and flow worked. There were enough ... Read More
This is my fourth cruise, third carrier. 50 year old couple/empty nesters. The NCL Jewel was a nice ship. Clean, tidy and well organized. Staff ratio was good , overall size of the ship and layout and flow worked. There were enough restaurants and food variety that one should not have a problem finding something worth eating. The main plus was the crew. Sorry Captain but we all know who runs the ship (Inside). That right, RIchard Janicki, Hotel Director runs a tight ship! Staff uniforms were pressed and sharp. His team did not look like they rolled out of bed like some other lines I've been on. Each member was on their toes and looking to assist passengers. I watched how they interacted with guests and each attempted to ensure that the guests had what they needed. Now I know there might be a few that disagree and that's ok because you can't please 2600 guests but the crew did their best . I would be re-missed if I didn't point out that Noel Chaves, Restaurant Manager was always on the floor to ensure guests enjoyed a great dining experience. Katya Plyakova, Beverage Manager has a great selection of wines and two good tasting events. Unfortunately, someone needs to share with NCL that the beer tasting of their low qualify beer choices is not a beer tasting event. It could use some improvement by adding two or three higher end micro beers. I have no real complaints and would recommend NCL to first time cruisers Read Less
Sail Date: October 2013
The muster drill was a preview of coming attractions. Not a single other couple under 50... and that's being generous. We met 2 other couples our age (around 30) and saw a handful of others. The onboard entertainment catered to the ... Read More
The muster drill was a preview of coming attractions. Not a single other couple under 50... and that's being generous. We met 2 other couples our age (around 30) and saw a handful of others. The onboard entertainment catered to the target demographic (majong, knitting, etc). After the stage shows, the director was literally begging people to go up to the night club. We went once and saw 5 people in there. I really brushed up on my ping pong. The worst part were the days at sea. 10 or so of them. The weather was not great, and I think we only had 1 day of sun on the way back. Then, when you actually get to the islands, you're arriving at around 8 and have to be back on by 4 usually. Hardly any time for anything. Even on Kauai, which is dinky, you have time to go one way or the other, snorkel or hang out at a beach for a couple hours, then head back. Customer service was also horrible. The wait staff and room service were great, but the pursers were awful. We brought on 2 bottles of port wine because the agreement stated 1 750ml bottle per passenger of wine. They confiscated it and told us it's because it's fortified. They then went on to say that they've had this problem or misunderstanding before and that it's a "gray area" in the policy. Why as the customer am I being penalized for a gray area in your corporate policy? After going to the purser 3 separate days and speaking to manager upon manager, they offered a credit which did not cover the cost of the 2 bottles but I still don't see why that was such a battle. If you want to cruise the islands, fly and cruise from there. Don't waste all your time out in the middle of the Pacific. I'll not be cruising Princess again. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2013
Port terminal- Royal Caribbean wins when it comes to the port terminal and embarkation. Our party arrived by local taxi and had to only deal with carry-on items as the luggage was taken away as we stepped out of the van. We waited in ... Read More
Port terminal- Royal Caribbean wins when it comes to the port terminal and embarkation. Our party arrived by local taxi and had to only deal with carry-on items as the luggage was taken away as we stepped out of the van. We waited in what looked to be a long line outside the terminal, but it moved swiftly indoors and on through security. After security, we followed the signs up the escalator to the second level where you had two lines, one for decks 1-8 and the other for decks 9 and higher, plus members of Royal Caribbeans programs that award frequent travelers. Our stateroom was on deck 9, so off the line on the right we went. I would estimate the wait time to be less than 3 minutes for us and the total time at the desk to be less than 5 minutes. That includes taking I.D. photos of the three individuals in our party and giving us our Sea passes. From there we were boarding the ship and off to lunch. We found the Promenade to be open and sat down for some pizza at Sorrento. The three previous cruises with Disney Cruise Lines we used Disney ground transfers from Orlando International Airport to the cruise terminal. This was always seamless and well organized. Check-in with Disney isnt as fast, but it has never been so long that it was a nuisance. The part that Disney could improve on is getting passengers on the ship once checked in. With Disney, you check in and sit for what can feel like an eternity waiting on your group number to be called. This is especially true when it comes to loading the much larger than Magic, Disney Dream. For this trip we arrived one day early and stayed one day late. For that reason, I arranged all the ground transfers to and from MCO to LaQuinta Oceanfront in Cocoa Beach with Executive VIP Limo Service. I highly recommend their service as we found them to be prompt, courteous and more than reasonably priced. It only took an email to Executive VIP and Michael called me to finalize everything. We even added a person to our return trip and this service accommodated without any issues. You can search this site to find the same great reviews that led me to use this service. Ship This was my first time aboard the Freedom of the Seas and my first time on a non DCL ship. DCL keeps their ships tidy so I had the bar set high for RCCL. Once aboard and having explored the ship for a bit I found myself pleased to see an equally tidy ship. This ship is close to the same size as the Disney Dream, yet it feels much larger and is far easier to get around on. Nearby all elevators/stairs was a large, interactive, touch screen monitor that listed all functions, schedules, dining, etc. and a set of directions to get you there form where you stand. The system is intuitive and easy to use plus it knows several different languages. This system combined with a glass model cross-section of the ship found on all decks, you can find anything you want easily. We had a veranda room on deck 9, forward ship. The stateroom was spotless and roomy. The bathroom had only a stand up shower with no tub, DCL has a tub/shower combo. DCL has an advantage when it comes to the bathroom. This is not a deal breaker for those out there with children old enough to bathe without adult assistance. As far as the stateroom goes, RCCL gets the nod simply due to having the bed located next to the balcony door rather than the couch like DCL. RCCL has a mirror and desk area in the stateroom with a hair dryer that my wife found handy and useful. The Freedom of the Seas has a Promenade where the DCL ships have what I would call a traditional layout. The Promenade onboard the Freedom makes you feel as if youre at the mall somewhere in Suburbia, USA. This was nice to stroll through at times, plus it made a direct route from forward ship to the dining rooms located aft at dinner time. There were a few occasions that we found the Promenade congested and difficult to pass through during jewelry sales situated in the center, but it was never anything that would ruin your vacation. Nothing more than a typical day at sea aboard the Disney Dream on the pool deck. This makes a nice transition to my next part of the ship, the pool deck. Compared to the Disney Dream on a day at sea, there is no comparison. RCCL laid deck 11 to accommodate all of those passengers on sea days. The adult area on Freedom seemed to fill up early, where onboard the Dream you can always find a spot to relax. The family pool areas onboard the Dream seemed always felt jam packed where the Freedom always felt roomy or at the very least, appropriately sized for the number of guests on board. The childrens area on Freedom was a welcome sight to my five year old. Named the H2O Zone, this part of the ship rivals or beats either child pool areas found on the two DCL ships I have cruised on. Apart from the H2O Zone, a rock climbing wall, a Flow Rider and Putt-Putt course are up top. While I am on the topic of outdoor areas on ships, the Freedom allows full access to the bow area where the Dream uses the bow for a teen only pool and lounge, (Vibe). During my 5 days on the Dream, at the end of March, (Spring Break for many schools in the US), the bow area stayed empty. This is a shame considering how nice it looks. In my opinion, DCL should repurpose this area as the new Quiet Cove and convert the existing Quiet Cove to an additional family pool area. Dining We chose My Time Dining because it was the only option available when we booked the cruise. This selection turned into 7:30pm dining for us since we didnt really understand or look into how My Time Dining worked. In the end, we basically reserved a table for 7:30pm and had no problems with delays or waiting on a server to assist us once seated. We had the same server and assistant server on all but one night. One thing we did not care for was, having to wait for an additional bar server to take our wine or bar order. It was sometimes difficult to get a drink order or we waited as significant period of time as the bar server serviced a large area of the dining room. With DCL your assistant server takes care of this. Not to mention, once the bar server took and filled the order we waited long after our desserts were finished and were ready to leave before he delivered the bill. Overall, we enjoyed dining with RCCL. Portofino was equal to Palo and an excellent dining experience that I recommend to all. The other dining rooms were good, but not as good as DCL. I would rate RCCL with a 3.0 out of five and DCL with a 3.5 when it comes to taste. The service in the dining rooms, (other than the bar service), is equal between DCL and RCCL. The Windjammer buffet on RCCL was crowded and cluttered. It seemed as if there was little thought put into foot traffic and flow of passengers from the food to the seats. To make things worse, the food was mediocre at best. I know you cannot expect three Michelin Stars with a buffet on a cruise ship, but it wasnt as good as I have had on two other DCL ships. This theme continues on the RCCL private island Cocoa Cay, where the poor layout of the food stations is worse than on the ship. Beyond that, the food is not as good as on the ship and there is not enough seating to accommodate the guests. Cocoa Cay Not as nice as DCLs Castaway Cay, but nice and relaxing. Tendering in isnt as convenient as docking the ship on the island like DCL. The beaches arent as roomy or nice as Castaway Cay. There is no organized 5k run on the island. The slide/play area is a pay to use area, unlike Castaway Cay. This is unacceptable. My last criticism is the horribly laid out buffet lines and lack of seating. Poor planning and execution on this island, but it could be corrected. Entertainment I cannot praise Cruise Director, Richard Spacey enough. By far the most memorable individual I have ever encountered on a cruise or any vacation for that matter. I looked forward to his routine before and after all shows in the evening. RCCL had two acts featured on NBCs, Americas Got Talent, MO5AIC and Magician Drew Thomas. MO5AIC put on an entertaining show for all ages. I saw people across three generations giving these guys a standing ovation after their last song. MO5AIC is an incredible talent that I would recommend to all. Drew Thomas put on a very entertaining show as well. My five year old found this act to be her favorite of the entire cruise, so a big thumbs up to Mr. Thomas for entertaining the entire family. On another night we reserved seating for the ice skating show, freedom-ice.com. I sat down impressed to see an ice rink while aboard a cruise ship in the Caribbean. The performers only made it better. All of them had impressive credentials as professional or semi-pro performers. Thoroughly entertaining and I recommend to everyone. They put on a great show. The RCCL Broadway style show I saw was good, but not at the same level as Disneys. Not a far gap between the two, because the cast was obviously as good as any aboard a DCL ship. It was the content of the show and the production lacking just a bit compared to DCL. Service This is the area I went in feeling as if DCL had set the bar too high for RCCL to compete, but again I was surprised and happy to find that not to be the case. Our Stateroom Attendant was as good as any I had on the DCL cruises. Since we elected My Time Dining, we didnt have the same wait staff on all nights at dinner. We were lucky enough to have the same team three times and had excellent service. I can only think of one time where we waited at a bar for a long time, but that was poolside on a sea day. One concern was not having bathroom attendants like DCL uses. On two separate occasions I witnessed a man walk past the sink after using the toilet in the public restrooms onboard the ship. With a bathroom attendant, this simply doesnt happen. While I am on the subject of personal hygiene, RCCL places automatic Purell dispensers at the entry of all dining areas. This is a great way to help prevent the spread of germs on the ship in the eating areas as long as everyone that enters the dining area uses the dispenser. Sometimes I noticed an RCCL crew member policing the dispenser to make certain everyone was using them, but more often this was not the case. On DCL cruises a DCL crew member hands everyone entering the dining room a disinfectant wipe. This prevents the less hygienic passengers from bypassing the hand cleaning station and spreading their germs among the rest of us. Summary Overall, we will cruise with RCCL again as it is a good alternative to DCL with more ships and more itineraries. The service was not far from what DCL offers and the cost can be less. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2013
Where to start: This ship is huge, but easy to get around. It's packed with people, but hardly feels that way! Do yourself a favor: reserve all of the shows, you'll regret it if you miss one. The entertainment is top-notch. ... Read More
Where to start: This ship is huge, but easy to get around. It's packed with people, but hardly feels that way! Do yourself a favor: reserve all of the shows, you'll regret it if you miss one. The entertainment is top-notch. Hairspray was great. The ice show was so well-done that you forget that the rink is so small. Come Fly With Me was so good, we saw it twice. The Comedy show was very funny, but if you can't handle the f-bombs, there's a family-friendly version on the last night. The Dive show was like nothing I've ever seen. The level of production was incredible, especially for a ship. I've seen shows on other ships and the Oasis made them look like a preschool play. The headliner was a Sammy Davis Jr-type of show, which we skipped"not my generation I suppose. Usually in the afternoon, they show a 3D movie and at night in the 2nd half of the week, there are movies in the aqua theater. The food: Not once did we eat at a specialty restaurant! I'm not sure what some people eat on a normal basis to where they would think that the dining room food was sub par. I could cut the prime rib with my fork, the lobster was huge and the overall quality of the food was 5-star! If you want more than one item, order 2! By the end of the week, our servers just assumed we wanted several items. We basically had a buffet! My Time Dining was great! We had a table for 2 every night and had the same servers, whom we were sad to say goodbye to. The staff on the entire ship was top-notch. I don't know how they do it. We were off the ship in Labadee for about 30 minutes. We live near the beach, so we wanted to take advantage of an empty ship and were so glad we did! In Jamaica, I hired a private guide (http://www.jaital.com/tours-and-excursions-in-falmouth-trelawny-jamaica-17.html) b/c I wanted to do more on the island than what the cruise offered. We had our own driver and he took us river tubing, Dunns River Falls and shopping. He took us to a local restaurant for authentic jerk chicken/pork. Cozumel was nothing but a money trap. Guard your stuff carefully"my wife's sunglasses were stolen and she just set them down for a second to get something out of her purse! This ship is not intended for people who just want to take it easy and read, sleep, etc. There is so much to do. The flowrider and zipline and ice skating are a blast and the lines are not that bad. The rock wall is challenging, but doable. The gym is perfectly adequate, but go in the afternoon b/c it seems like everyone wanted to get their workout done b/f 10 am. There are plenty of pools/jacuzzis and chairs available. The only complaint I had was the price of pictures. They are high quality, for sure, but 5 pics for $150 is outrageous! We took 600 pics, so we captured some good moments. If you want some photos of you all dressed up, look up a photographer in your area who can probably do it for a third of the price! Some Don'ts: 1) Don't get on an elevator just to go up 1 floor; use the stairs! 2) Don't think you're hot stuff if you can stay in 1 position on the Flowrider for a long period of time; there are people waiting. One guy just stayed in 1 position for 5 minutes while his wife took thousands of pictures to where the staff had to pull him off. 3)Don't argue with the comedians, then get highschool-hurt if they embarrass you! 4) Don't save seats after they clearly state "Do not save seats". We will definitely go on this ship again!! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
We got a great deal on a balcony room, half price purchase after doing some internet research. The price and ports (Cozumel, Belize, Roatan and Costa Maya) sold us. Leaving out of Port Canaveral was very organized and easy. We were in our ... Read More
We got a great deal on a balcony room, half price purchase after doing some internet research. The price and ports (Cozumel, Belize, Roatan and Costa Maya) sold us. Leaving out of Port Canaveral was very organized and easy. We were in our room by 130pm. Briefly regarding the ship, there were all the usual cruise activities available. 2 pools, several jacuzzis, a large double slide, basketball court, giant screen over the main pool, several bars, etc. If you have cruised before then you know the scene. If not, it is a nice ship with the exception of the carpet (red, orange and black stripes that look like cheap candy). The usual shops, casino (smokey and smelly), places to eat (more later on this), kid programs, spa, gym. I give the entertainment a high mark. The Blackjack Band which played nightly on the 5th floor was excellent and we dance there almost every night. The singer and guitar/piano player at the 3rd floor lobby area were also very good. We went to 2 shows that were good as well (no broadway at sea, but energetic and well done). The comedy acts were fair, but I am a tough sell in this area. The art was nice but Park West is on every cruise and after a few, it's all the same- Peter Max and Thomas Kinkade "the master of light". But we love art so we always take a look. My biggest disappointment surprisingly enough was the food. The buffets were very scaled down from my past experiences and close totally at 330p. After that you could get burgers, fries, pizza and sandwiches (stuff I usually never eat). As we did excursions daily we ate breakfast early, got off the ship by 830 am and back on around 5pm.We had nothing else to eat until dinner at 815pm. Breakfast in the buffet - fake eggs or decent omlettes, boxed cereal, plastic containers of yogurt, little choice of fruit, burnt bacon, (one morning hot dogs in place of sausage. No, really, hot dogs!) very low end - better to have a nice dining room breakfast. The lines at all the self serve food stations were very long all the time...you would have thought the end of the world was near (haha). Dinner in the dining room was fair. Overall I was not impressed with the food. I will say that our wait staff at dinner went over the top for us every night and want to compliment and thank I Gusti, Stan and Noel for a great week! The best part of the trip for us were the excursions. We did not go with Carnival for any trips. A great deal of research went into our choices and we were extremely pleased with them all. In Cozumel we did a beginner dive with Eagle Ray Divers - Antonio and Tony THANK YOU SO MUCH! If you have never scuba dived before and want to, definately go with them. They were the most professional and knowledgeable team. You will be complete SAFE. It was a $7 cab from the port which was for 4 people. The dive (2 tanks, 2 reefs was $110 per person) was amazing. They took their time teaching, let you work at your own pace and held your hand (literally) on the way down. It was an amazing experience and I can not speak highly enough about this dive organization. It was a very lucky choice as there are so many qualified organization in Cozumel, but we were totally satisfied with Eagle Ray and will definately be back to dive with them again. In Belize we booked a snorkle and beach break to Goffs Caye. Again, a perfect day. About a 30 minute boat ride after the tender to port followed by a snorkle around a tiny 2 acre island. Afterward, a few cold beers on the beautiful beach under palm trees, swimming and relaxing. Not for those who need to be pampered. No chairs, towels are a must, not much food - grilled chicken, lobster tail (small), or rice and beans, beer to buy. We skipped the food. Again our boat staff were awesome so a big shout out to JOSE' AND LEON(AKA THE MEDIC)for a great afternoon.$38 per person including transport. Next a snorkle and beach break in Roatan at the Fantasy Island Resort. Very laid back divers hotel, nice but not fancy. Beautiful swimming and the most amazing snorkle of the week. A few beers and a beautiful view made the day complete. Again we did not eat here. The only down side this day was the pumping of sand. The rains wash sand into the cove so every 3 months or so they pump it out and the generator was very loud. Thanks to Diana our driver for interesting island information and prompt service. $40 per person including transport.. Last day Costa Maya a $4 cab to Mahahula for shopping and awesome civeche'. Overall a great vacation but next time I would probably go with another cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
Just getting around to posting my review of the Norwegian Gem cruise from Dec. 13 to 22nd. First, let me state that the overall experience was very positive. Norwegian seems to aim at a younger crowd and the entertainment factor was ... Read More
Just getting around to posting my review of the Norwegian Gem cruise from Dec. 13 to 22nd. First, let me state that the overall experience was very positive. Norwegian seems to aim at a younger crowd and the entertainment factor was outstanding. However, a couple of things to watch out for and had they been different I would have had a much better overall experience. Embarkation - Took the shuttle ride from Laguardia airport to the pier. Remember to factor in the fact that it is Thursday near lunch in Manhattan. The ride took almost two hours (11:00am to 1:00 pm), so factor this is to your calculations. Found out later that although further away, Newark is a much easier arrival. Once at the pier I was greeted by a disaster. I still have less then 10 cruises on my resume and have split them amongst different lines to see what I like about each cruise line. However, this meant that to Norwegian I was only a Bronze Member and had to wait in the longest line I had ever seen for boarding. After a one hour and 50 minute wait I finally got to the desk only to be greeted with surely service. It didn't seem to be just me either as I could hear other passengers having the same problem. No customers should be exposed to that experience!!!! Way too few service stations to handle this load. By the time I got onboard my room was ready and it was quiet nice. I tend to book an interior cabin as I spend very little time in the room. Overall rating for the room and cabin stewards was 8+. Surprisingly, the first two days in the Buffet you had to stand in line as all food was handed out individually. The first morning I had to wait for over 10 minutes for my coffee as my eggs got cold. When I asked one of the servers why this was taking place, he replied that they wanted to make sure that the passengers did not burn themselves on the hot coffee :) I found out later that this was because the previous cruise had a serious flu epidemic and they had to put extreme measures in place until they were sure they had this under control. However, none of this was communicated to the passengers which could have eased the frustration level for all involved. Entertainment - Okay, on to the good stuff!!! Ever night there was a choice of two fabulous shows at the main theatre. Singers, dancers, Second City comedy, A Cirque de Soleil show, Hypnotist and Comedian. Seriously, what other ship offers anything close to this!!!!. As well, the lounge entertainers were awesome. Laurie on Piano and Pablo on guitar were fantastic. As well, there were two bands which played near the pool on several days (an throughout the other lounges at various times). Both were outstanding and could have headlined on another Cruise Line. The White Nights event at the disco and the Chocolate Buffet and the first day Pub Crawl were all great. All three are can't miss. As well, one of the bar's featured a "Flight of Patron Tequila". For $12 you got 3 shots (Regular, Silver and Gold). I don't know about prices where you live, but this might have been the best deal going onboard. Add this to game shows and trivia and other daily activities and I found myself sometimes hustling to get from one to the next. If you are bored on this ship, you probably have to blame yourself. Dining - Food in the buffet and Main sit down dining rooms was average (but acceptable). One night I ordered a strip loan steak off of the main menu and it came out grey. Service in the dining room was also quite average. Twice I had to ask for bread for my table. In all it really seemed that the push toward the "for pay" restaurants and the guaranteed gratuity has definitely reduced the normal dining experience. The 24 hour restaurant (Blue Lagoon) was hit and miss. The chicken wings were quiet good while the fish and chips were terrible :). Pizza was available as well from room service for a $5 charge. A huge meal which could feed 6 people. An option for a smaller serving or a 24 hour pizza station as with other lines have would have been welcomed I used the workout room every morning and the facilities were very good. Especially on port days it was uncrowded and the equipment was all in very good shape. Didn't do any excursions, but did get off the boat for shopping. San Juan and St. Thomas were disappointing (run down and very expensive respectively). St. Maarten was wonderful. The last port was a private one in the Dominican Republic. Although I didn't go, the beach was reported to be wonderful. However the rest of the area is undeveloped and you may be disappointed if you try to do anything else. Remember this is a 9 day cruise for a reason. Leaving from New York in the winter means you lose at least one day in each direction where it is too cold to be outside:) As well, expect some rough Seas as when the hot and cool weather meet the storms tend to appear. The last day at Sea on the return had more then a few people looking quite green. So, to summarize, I will return to this line, but will probably try another competitor first before going on Norwegian again. I will definitely avoid a New York departure as even stowaways should be treated better the the port staff handled us. With a couple of small changes this cruise could have been fantastic. Still, value for money was quite high and on the whole it was a great time on board. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2012
. This ship is one year old. It has been having some growing pains in both the food and the experiences, but it is certainly an amazing experience now. The changes in the staff and food are 6 Star all the way. The rooms are very spacious ... Read More
. This ship is one year old. It has been having some growing pains in both the food and the experiences, but it is certainly an amazing experience now. The changes in the staff and food are 6 Star all the way. The rooms are very spacious for a river cruise. There are three floors NO elevators. There is a large flat screen tv in the room but there is NO reception at all. So there are no television shows of any kind. The is a DVD library with supposedly over 100 titles (multiple languages), but if your clients need noise, or like to watch something before they go to sleep, they may want to bring their own DVDs. Also, there is a clock in the room, it is not digital, so if your clients like to know the time in the middle of the night they should big their own clock. The beds are queen-king size, and. Very comfortable. There are different pillow types. The first night in the hotel manager explained how to get hot water, let the sink and showe run for 3-4 minutes, and then it was hot. It worked and no problems. The air condiitoning works very well, no problems there. There are two chairs and a desk --ample closet space. When you speak to reservations they tell you there Is no Internet service in the ship. That is not true. They have three computers and in the lounge there is Internet access but the reception is so sporadic and if more than ten people are on everything shuts down. When you are going dowthe river there are long stretches with no Internet service. Forewarn your clients. The food was excellent. As of one month ago they have brought on a new hotel manager , new dining room manager and most importantly a new head chef. The 2nd chef is Asian and does all of the local cuisine. The changes and improvements he has made have been amazing. He was very open to suggestions, and was immediate on implementing changes throughout the week. Every morning was buffet, champagne always. there is an egg station, and if you want poached eggs, or something that is not out. Just ask very willing to accommodate. Every morning they had a traditional Eastern options, the best being soup, there was a broth, different noodles and different proteins, and vegetables. By the end if the week, the line to get soup was longer than the line to get eggs.:) The spices and peppers were all in little dishes so you could spice it as you wish. Always fish fruit, salmon and and homemade breads and pastries. Lunch was a combinations of buffet/action station and menu ordering. , you told the waiter your entree and soup. The soup was always one cold and one hot (sometimes creamed and sometimes broth) There was always a display table when you came in, and it showed the entrees that were available. You could modify any of the entrees as you wish. The buffet at lunch was different salads some regional, some traditional. Always something different to taste. Dinner was strictly ala carte. There was always an option at lunch for pasta, hamburger or chicken breast, at dinner a steak, salmon, or chicken breast. There was a vegetarian option always. The excursions. Before you left, the tour director always made sure to remind everyone to take the umbrellas and raincoats and bottles of water always provided. On a European river cruise the choice of options is a title more varied and there are different styles - active, moderate, or slow movers. Not so in Asia . The excursions here are all the same, and you are divided into 4 groups. No difference they are all dng the same thing, it is just more manageable groups. All of the excursions are physically demanding. Mostly tendering to small boats, other than Phom Pen, there are no docks, so when we arrived at a village, to walk, we exited the small boat to a dirt path, or through the weeds and grass along shore. There were also very nice buses taking us for tour off the river to different monasteries. We were there right at the beginning of the rainy season and purpose of this cruise is seeing life along the river. It is very poor, very basic, we saw the markets, the homes, the "factories". A lot of walking on uneven terrain. We also saw floating villages, floating markets, again, you had to be able to tender. The was one guest inboard, who had injured her foot the 2nd day- even before boarding the ship. She was not able to do any weight-bearing on her ankle, and I cannot believe how unbelievable the ship was, She had both crutches and a wheelchair, and whenever she had to go from one level to the next. There were 2 sailors assigned to her that basket carried here up and down, she never missed an excursion, there was a guide and sailor who went with, helped her on and off, pushed the wheel chair all through Cambodia and Vietnam. They and the ship were incredible accommodating to her needs, that being said I would seriously not recommend this to anyone who has physical limitations. The tour guides changed from Cambodia to Vietnam and they were all wonderful. They all spoke English , but you needed concentration to follow the stories and history. They tried so hard to help you understand their culture and history, so after a week, your listening got pretty good. On a Europe river cruise, where you are in a different city, there is regional entertainment every night. This is not possible in Asia , the only time we had local entertainment was in Phonm penn. there was a children's dance troupe doing traditional cambodian dances. In summary, this was an amazing experience and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in seeing Vietnam and Cambodia and soft adventure. The pre and post trips offered are a wonderful way to see the interior of the country. River cruising is wonderful, so glad I had the opportunity to go!   Read Less
Sail Date: March 2012
We arrived in Baltimore and embarkation was run like a well-oiled machine.Debarkation,same way. As soon as we got on board,we were welcomed and treated to music,food,fun.Our cabin was just as we expected:cozy,quiet,clean.The beds are so ... Read More
We arrived in Baltimore and embarkation was run like a well-oiled machine.Debarkation,same way. As soon as we got on board,we were welcomed and treated to music,food,fun.Our cabin was just as we expected:cozy,quiet,clean.The beds are so comfortable.Our steward introduced himself,and was a joy everyday,as well as every employee we encountered. We were up at 6 everyday to enjoy coffee on lido,walk laps,then head to the gym for weights.Next,mdr for great conversation,and great food.I really enjoy walking all over any ship,and I found all kinds of hallways to wander around and art to admire. First stop,Cocoa Beach.We took the Carnival shuttle in to town,hit the beach and shops.Weather was perfect.Next stop,Nassau,again perfect weather.We hit 3 beaches-water taxi to Cabbage near Riu hotel,water taxi back to Nassau,lunch at Senor Frogs(I had a b52 shot!)then a nice walk to Junkanoo beach.Next,the jitney #10 to Cable beach.My fav was Cabbage Beach!On to Freeport,and can you believe it,another perfect weather day!We hopped on a local van to Lucaya,where we walked around and hit the beach.Next time,I want to try Taino beach. On the way back to Baltimore,we had 1 day of rain.I got a massage at the spa.It was wonderful,but I didnt enjoy the sales pitch to buy products when done.You must be firm if you do not wish to buy. My only other issues-no chairs on deck 3,which is my fav deck to nap on or just relax and hot tubs not hot enough. All in all,it was a superb vacation for the money.And they take such good care of you!I really feel as if Im leaving family behind when I go.We had more than enough terrific food to choose from,the desserts are really top notch.We didnt do the shows,games.But did enjoy live music in various areas of the ship.And my hubby won $200 on the vault in the casino! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2012
San Juan We arrived a day early in San Juan at around 5 pm. We stayed at the Marriott Stellaris. It is right on the beach but yo should know the street side is very city-style. Walking the street is like walking any major city block ... Read More
San Juan We arrived a day early in San Juan at around 5 pm. We stayed at the Marriott Stellaris. It is right on the beach but yo should know the street side is very city-style. Walking the street is like walking any major city block except that the ocean is on the other side. The hotel was quite accommodating. We walked down to the recommended Di Parma restaurant and ate out on the patio. It was quite good. There is everything from a Dunkin Donuts to a Louis Vuitton within a block or two. Next time, I would likely stay at the Hilton closer to the cruise port. however the taxi was easy. Boarding We arrived to the boat at 11:30 am. The cruise line organized people according to when the arrived and thus the early birds generally boarded first. We boarded at noon sharp. We checked out the location of our cabin, ,any of the public areas and then went to the WINDJAMMER FOR LUNCH. everything ABOUT THE SHIP[HAVING BEEN ON THE allure LAST Easter] IS INTIMATE AND DOWNRIGHT GENERALLY UNCIRWDED AS WITH THE HUGE SHIPS. noticeable DURING OUR ENTIRE STAY WAS THAT NO MATTER WHERE YOU HAD TO GO, BE IT THE SPA, THE SPORT COURT, BREAKFAST OR THE THEATER, NOTHING WAS A WAL OF DRUDGERY AS THE SHIP IS MID-SIZED. First Sea Day Having traveled on the Celebrity boats with the Aqua Spa class which featured a relaxation room, we learned that they had this on the Serenade for a fee. The price was reduced the first day and was $149 for a couple to use unlimited throughout the cruise. This room has heated tile lounge beds looking out at the seas through floor to ceiling windows with calming spa music. There is a nice sauna again overlooking the seas; and aromatherapy room overlooking the sea and a steam room [enclosed]. They are spotless and NEVER crowded. there are also several warm and ice rain showers situated with privacy and crushed ice streaming into a vessel bowl to grab and cool yourself down. there are towels and no related room recording etc. You also can go in the lounge outside this area where you can grab a lemon water to enjoy while you lie and read, before you sleep etc. This is the bomb. I promise. We used it every day. Also on the sea day for about 100$ my husband had an hour and a half head and shoulder massage, warm towel and face masque and shave etc. They followed with moisturizing masque , arm and hand massage. He loved it as he does on the Celebrity boats too. Just so you know...my husband would never do this or have a massage or pedicure until I forced him. He is a guy's guy and grew up working on a farm and is now a professional. Want to do something nice...try it guys. We also did a 75 minute couples massage. Again, nice special time for parents/adults. We fell asleep! The kids were wise to go to the first day meet ups with other teens. I cannot stress enough that the abundance of other teens on the boat made this so wonderful for our kids. I will say I did not witness bad behavior or rowdy kids running around which certainly would bother me. Every night after dinner the kids met up, played ping pong, talked in the lobby, danced at Fuel or went up and had a late night bite at the Seaview Cafe...a must stop ( a bit like Johnny Rockets but nor fee and classier) on Deck 12. Adults - don't wait to go there. You will be sorry. Grenada I did not book an excursion for Grenada as we just wanted to relax. We took a water taxi to Grand Anse beach. It was quite nice. Four lounge chairs and two big umbrellas were $40 total. When you arrive, the beach has a football field length of a line of all different umbrellas. Beware...not much food there. I didn't have the dogs and burgers. Bring some snacks. bucket of 5 bears...the local which was nice, on ice was $12. That was fair. The water was turquoise and the beach white and sugary...no complaining allowed! After four hours or so, the sun was a bit much so we happily went back to the boat for fun. St Lucia St Lucia is just wild looking. Jutting mountains rise up out of the water and 20 stories above your head. They are rock with a bit of green life and quite volcanic looking. The bays are turquoise and depending on how you travel around, you see every side of life. The fishing towns are very old...several centuries and quite simple and sometimes poverty laden. The bays, like Marigot Bay are outrageously gorgeous. You can see the homes of Mick Jagger, George Forman, Oprah, and the like. Now for the outrageous part... I love researching excursions and did so for this trip. We selected the Spencer Ambrose Land and Sea tour which was $85 per person including for the teens. When we arrived, we were whisked away with another family from NYS with kids [that our kids had already met] and a couple from Russia and their children. Our guide announced his name was Neptune and when we said..."No really what is your name?" He said again "NEPTUNE" we should have suspected something from someone who insists on being known by the name of a god. Anyway. We climbed in his rather ram-shackled van and started out. The very first part was a set of hairpin turns followed by a few more sets as we approached the top of a jagged mountain and Neptune pulled over to a well used look out complete with long established island wares stands. He asked we get out, take our pictures, shop and jump aboard again so we could motor on. After way too long waiting, our group noticed that as we stood around, more and more police officers, police vehicles and the like were joining the passe of tour vans stopped at the lookout. And of course, our God Neptune was embroiled with the officials. At one point, he ran back and barked we all had to immediately get in the van...no small feat as we had to get into our sardine lineup. When we all were nicely shoehorned in, the officials approached his driver side(right front) and commanded he leave the vehicle. This was followed by all of our oohs and aahs and gazing as Neptune clearly was not winning a war of words with the officials. He had told us in the minute he was in the van he was being targeted and wrongly accused of having an improper license. This is better known a a "gypsy cab" in the old NYC. Neptune sat in the back of the official vehicle ahead of us between two police with two in front and others surrounding the vehicle. he cam back to our van, jumped in and unfortunately, started up again with the old loud mouth scene. Two female officers stood next to our car and at least 6 in front of it including a militia garbed, large and powerful looking leader. Neptune screamed out...GO AHEAD SHOOT ME WITH YOUR BULLETS. We, that was all folks. The two ladies, who never cracked a smile, hit the side of the van, demanded he exit and they forcefully made us all exit as well. the van was moved to the side of the road and Neptune, now better called Tuna, was escorted to the promised land by five police and the militia man and taken into custody down the mountain. Yes my friends. We were left here...with nothing. The two females stayed back. I begged them to use their cell phones...which incidentally, everyone and I do mean virtually everyone on all for the islands has and uses, to call our tour operator. They refused. they both said in a military tone " I have no credit". Unfortunately for them, we stood for another hour and one of them had a call come in. Of course she answered and chatted. I nicely asked if we could call. the answer was no but they called down to the jail to arrange another taxi to pick us up. It was clear the vehicle we had was not properly licensed as a tourist taxi. We lost hours on our tour but gained a great new driver. More than anything, we really bonded with the folks we were thrown into this with and had so many laughs I will; never forget. It was something out of a comedy skit but one step this side of of a bad movie. Take the water trip in St Lucia and go to the Pitons. Don't use Ambrose. Met the guy. He cut the rate $25 but we caught him in a lie about the whole thing. Antigua This place was just gorgeous as well. A bit different. We took the Adventure Antigua all day eco-tour. It was just great. The people that ran the tour were fantastic and very helpful in the snorkeling, hiking and various activities. The food for lunch was fresh and delicious. We went to Hell's Gate, saw the roosting pelicans' snorkels, oh I can't say enough. We soaked up the beautiful sun and again the operators were A+. St Croix We took the Big Beard all day Buck Island excursion. Please know that when you land, you need to take a taxi ($16 per person rt) from that port to another port across the island. It was about 25 minutes. This was again superb. Buck island snorkeling at the national underwater park was second to none. The beach at Buck Island was out of a postcard and desolate. Very natural trip. They took us to a secluded beach and and we had a great barbecue under the treetops off the beach. It was rum punch and other drinks, burgers, dogs and fresh island fish with lots of American munchies...fritos doritos etc. And frankly folks it was a welcome and simple change from the ship food. My son brought a football and played football on the beach with all sorts of the people with us. The water was turquoise and the winds plentiful. The guys that run the trip are wonderful...some from Antigua and others from all over USA. Great time and highly recommended. St Thomas this day we reserved for shopping. Just off the boat there are international designers: Ferragamo, Vutton, Gucci for no tax and thus a good buy as compared to our big cities. My daughter and I took a taxi ($8 each round trip) downtown where there are 5 million jewelery stores and some rum shops. Frankly it got old quickly and I couldn't wait to get back to the ship. I heard the other beaches were great. Food We ate in the main dining room with two other families that we met at the seating. It was wonderful and we thoroughly enjoyed that rather than eating with just our family. We specifically asked to be placed with families with children of similar ages and that was perfect. The lids hung around every evening and laughed about the night before.The food was quite good and nothing was too much of a request. We ate at Portofino and Chops with the kids. The menus are fantastic and the service is perfect. The rooms are elegant and not at all crowded. there were couples and also families but never inappropriate conduct. These are some of the nicest and most competent waiter i have ever met anywhere. Ship This is not the Allure mega ship and thank you for that. While there are not all the flying ziplines, dual surfing setups and 12-15 restaurants, we were nonetheless grateful for the intimacy and yet variety on the ship. there is a lot of glass on this ship and my crazy attention to the details caused me to often wonder why they didn't wash the glass at the appropriate times depending on where and when it could be addressed. The room balconies were glass but often had water marks all over that made them far from transparent. It just ruined what could be beautiful. As to the kids' activities, my son is telling me to write that it was great! He said the kids "partied the night away" by meeting up at Fuel event s and then finding another place to go on the ship such as ping pong, the sports courts or lounge chairs. Go you will love it! The islands were awesome Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
Sailed on the 12/16/11 3-Day cruise on the Majesty of the seas out of Miami, FL to Coco Cay & Nassau. The ship's atrium was nicely decorated for Christmas. They had a big table full of Gingerbread houses created by the ... Read More
Sailed on the 12/16/11 3-Day cruise on the Majesty of the seas out of Miami, FL to Coco Cay & Nassau. The ship's atrium was nicely decorated for Christmas. They had a big table full of Gingerbread houses created by the ship's chefs. They had a large tree in the middle of the atrium as well as decoraions on the railings. They had santa and the raindeer suspended across the atrium. Between the decorations and the Christmas tunes it really got you in the spirit. SHIP: The ship itself was very nice for its age. It had a very nice, cozy feeling to it, it was very clean. The pool deck, as previous reviews have stated, was redone quite well in the refurbishment, bravo! That being said, the lounge chairs throughout the top deck are very dated and in serious need of replacement. Throughout the top deck you do sort of get a sense for the ship's age, railings are aged/worn. The Sports court on the back is sort of a joke, but the rock climbing wall was nice. One big thing though... the ship's interior was HOT! Serious lack of useful air conditioning throughout the ship. Even in my stateroom I had the A/C pumping and it didn't help much. SERVICE: 2nd to None, seriously. I give the staff major props! Kind, generous, hard working. I am one of those passengers who likes to talk with the staff members. I truly enjoyed speaking with them, they were all very kind and curtious. Hector from Guest Services with great and Diana who was the Deck 6 Supervisor for Housekeeping was wonderful. They are just two of the many people I would like to thank. FOOD: The food was... eh. I really am not picky when it comes to eating, but the food choices were sub-par. I think the Johnny Rockets idea is great, BUT the fact that if you want a burger and fries you have to go there (and pay the cover charge) is not great. I could go on and on, the food is do-able, but I have definitely had better. COCO CAY: AMAZING. I travelled solo and my mission on Coco Cay was to go where everyone else doesn't go. I got the first tender over at 8am and took the Nature Trail to the other end of the island. To say the least, it was awesome. I saw Iguanas, Roosters, and Peacocks. The views are unbelievable and you really feel like you are away from everyone. I found my own private little beach, laid there for 3 hours and probably had a total of 5 people walk by me. Around noon I decided to head back to the ship and this was the only disappointing thing. From the time I stepped on the tender until the time I stepped back onto the ship it took an HOUR. Yes an hour. And believe me at noon there really aren't many people going back to the ship then (which is why I decided to). They were bringing other tenders in and sending them out with no outbound passengers on them. We sat there while the workers ate lunch, chit chatted (only thing I could figure was it was their lunch break). Finally when I got back to the ship, there was only one pool full of water. And the other pool they were "working" on, making a ridiculous amount of noise. People were upset. NASSAU: I cannot write too much about it because I have been there several times and just stayed on the ship this time. There were 4 other ships in port (one of which was Oasis) so I thought it would be wise to stay onboard. Weather was nice so I just laid out on the top deck and watch an NFL game from the neighboring Carnival Freedom's big screen. Getting on and off the ship was a breeze. From the time I was dropped off until the time I was on the ship was 18 minutes. And I was off the ship by 7:15am this morning. OVERALL: I really didn't go into the cruise with any expectations (thanks to Cruise Critic). I really did enjoy it. There was definitely no WOW factor involved, but if you truly need a quick getaway, for the price some of these 3/4 night cruises go for it is well worth it! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
This was our first cruise with Norwegian, which included a balcony room. We had 11169. Jaime was our room attendant, he was wonderful, always smiling, and willing to assist whenever asked. We asked him to remove the items from our mini ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Norwegian, which included a balcony room. We had 11169. Jaime was our room attendant, he was wonderful, always smiling, and willing to assist whenever asked. We asked him to remove the items from our mini fridge so we could use for our own soda and water bottles. You can pack in your checked bag bottles of water and/or soda. We're big water drinkers so it was very convenient to have them refrigerated. Our room was tidied up it seems all the time. The cabin itself was great. I loved the new curvy style and the storage room was incredible. We had 3 big bags and once you lifted the mattress you could store whatever you needed to. There was also storage in the curvey couch behind the cushions and pull out drawers. This was the first cruise we'd been on where you actually had enough room you could put away all your stuff and have room leftover to stretch out. The shower was very nice, enough room for any shampoo or razors or whatever you needed. But as all cruise lines, the showers could use a little shelf for women so we could shave our legs without having to be an acrobat. We did appreciate the toilet and shower being separate and that there was a curtain separating both from the main room. If whoever you're with in your balcony went to the deck you had plenty of privacy. The deck was great, plenty of room with 2 chairs and a little table. We enjoyed sitting out there ever night. Leaving the sliding door open was nice most nights, except when it was humid, the room would get sticky. Although I did love the sound of the ocean... The Jazz lounge was awesome, we were there nightly. The Blue Man Group and Stars show was equally awesome. We were well entertained whenever we wanted to be. The drinks we thought were overpriced. The best deals were the tastings. We did go to a martini tasting, 5 martini's in an hour were an awesome deal. The buffet was good, a bit crowded at times. We were disappointed there were no late night buffets and room service lacked selection late at night. Most mornings we'd have fruit and muffins delivered to our room. We'd sit on the balcony and enjoy the views. My husband and I both like to workout so we indulged in the spa pass which allowed us entry into the gym and spa areas. Well worth it! The jacuzzi's were great, plenty of room. The heated loungers were hard to access sometimes. The lounge area on the back patio of the spa was impossible to get a lounger. Supposedly there was a 30 minute limit, but nobody followed the rule and there was no enforcement by the staff. That was irritating to say the least. Some people would camp out there the entire day. The spa staff was nice, they did need to be better at refilling the cups and water supplies. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
We are a 38 year old couple who has cruised 5 times on Royal Caribbean, once on Holland America, and now 3 times on Carnival. We were on the Nov. 26-Dec 3 sailing of the Dream. Our last trip on Carnival was last summer on the Freedom, ... Read More
We are a 38 year old couple who has cruised 5 times on Royal Caribbean, once on Holland America, and now 3 times on Carnival. We were on the Nov. 26-Dec 3 sailing of the Dream. Our last trip on Carnival was last summer on the Freedom, and I swore that was the last time for me, mainly due to the fact that we just didn't like the ships (as compared to RC Voyager class) and the horrible buffet food. Well, RC has way outpriced themselves, so we were back to giving the newest class of CCL ships a try. We flew in the same day of the cruise, arriving at MCO at 9:30am. I am a big believer in flying in the day before, but we could not this time due to work schedules, but thankfully the timing worked out alright. We had booked the CCL transfers to the pier. Check in for that was easy, though we did encounter the one and only rude CCL employee here, who barked at me for not having the correct paperwork. She muttered under her breath when I said that this PW was all that I had received, and continued to mutter to her coworker, who then informed her that when transfers are booked online, the PW we had is all that is needed. She retaliated by giving us a later boarding zone #, instead of the bus that left 10 minutes after we arrived (and was not full). We had a long 2 hour wait for the bus to come, but from that point it was an easy and comfortable 45 minute ride to the pier. The driver announced basic information, but then it was a quiet ride. There was no movie/promo material shown, nor any refreshments offered. Very basic, adequate service. We did not have to handle our luggage after we gave it to the driver. It was sent on straight to our cabin. Return service to the airport was fine, with about a 30 minute wait for the bus to fill, then drop off at the terminal, where the driver unloaded the bags for us. I am torn as to if I would book this again. It is more expensive than other shuttles, and the 2 hour wait for the first bus wasted 2 hours I could have been on the ship, but the bus itself was more comfortable than the typical van shuttles. We arrived at the port at 12:30, and were met with long lines outside of the building. However, they went quickly, and we were onboard by 1:00. As recommended, we headed straight up to the pasta bar, away from the mad crowd of the buffet. It was pretty much empty, and we had our freshly made order in about 10 minutes. I had bowties with alfredo, chicken, spinach, broccoli and zucchini, with caesar salad and bread. The portion of salad was very small, and the bread was served cold. The food was good, nothing outstanding, but much better than the buffet itself. Muster was "to be announced" at 3:30, and that was all the info we were given in the FunTimes. At 3:50, an announcement was made to meet at our muster stations. The only way we knew where that was was by looking at our cabin door. Ours was in the Crimson DR, and no life jackets were needed. I found it rather gross that we were sitting at the tables already set that people were going to be eating from in a few hours. I wish they had not had them set already. We saw the Maitre D to request a table for 2 which he granted immediately. Dinner tonight was tomato soup (excellent), chicken tenders (fabulous, I wish they served these for lunch at the buffet), flat iron steak served tonight with red potatoes, carrots, and asparagus (very good) and excellent creme brulee. DH most nights had the fruit cocktail, chips and salsa only, the gourmet burger, and ice cream, all from the everyday menu. He was happy with them all. Service from I Ketut and Sandy was excellent, and they remembered after the first night what we wanted to drink, and were generous with offering bread. DH brought his own Dr. Pepper with him, and they were always ready with a glass of ice. We could tell there have been cutbacks in staffing, as they had no time for small talk or to make any dinner suggestions. There was also no offer of extra dishes or desserts as in the past. No extra lobster! Egads!(sure, we could have asked, but we were too full to eat it anyway). I've always found the DR songs and entertainment cheesy bordering on annoying, but I must say, the Scarlett DR has a singing waiter that is out of this world. Very talented. There was also a roving magician one night. We got in the habit of nightly walks after dinner. Deck 5 is great for this, and very thoughtfully laid out. It was cool and very windy each night. I found out too late that there was a cruise critic meet and greet at 4:00. It was buried in the FunTimes and I missed it. Sunday was a sea day, which we spent on the very nice full court basketball court, and reading in a lounge chair before the rain started, as it did most every day. We had dreary weather all week, which made for not much sunning time. The BBall court and walking track became dangerously slick in the rain. I walked 3 miles on the track in the morning, to the sickening smell of food from The Gathering. Pure grease smell up there. Lunch was pizza, salad fries, and key lime pie, which had to come from 4 different lines. This lunch was good. Thankfully we never had much of an issue with crowds and lines. The ship did not seem full or crowded, including the pools and deck chairs. There are PLENTY of deck chairs on pretty much every outdoor deck. One note about TV in the staterooms, there was a good selections of channels, including the regular local channels, so there was football on Sunday and Monday night, as well as all our favorite shows like Survivor, etc. Nice! Dinner tonight was pumpkins soup(I tried it because of all the positive reviews. I thought it was just okay. Won't order again), alligator fritters (good, very cheesy), shrimp cocktail, lobster and shrimp served with mashed potatoes and yummy crumb topped broccoli, and warm chocolate melting cake (WCMC), all of which were great. DH had the spaghetti carbonara as an entree, which he enjoyed. After dinner we went to 2 comedy shows with "Roman", one family and one adult only show. Very enjoyable. Monday we ported in Cozumel. We've been there many times and just planned on shopping then enjoying the empty ship. We did walk to the other pier in search of liquor for our friends who claim this certain type can only be found at the International Pier. It was an easy walk, but we found the vendors there to be VERY aggressive, and the shops not as nice. When we attempted to buy the liquor, we had to show our ship card, and were told they could not sell to us because we were from "the other ship." Yep, they turned away a $40 sale. We did encounter some nice street vendors on the walk back, and they were happy to sell to us. I'd rather give my money to the locals than the cruise sponsored shops anyway. The weather was rainy again, and had cancelled many excursions. We were back on the ship early and enjoyed the empty hot tubs. Lunch was from the deli (okay) with fries and salad. 3 lines again. Dinner was smoked chicken quesadilla (excellent), field greens (all the dinner salads are so good and fresh tasting), flat iron steak, and diet lemon cake (bland, will not order again.) DH tried the meatloaf, and contrary to other reviews, he really enjoyed it. We saw the "adventure comedian" show, which we enjoyed. We tried to see the Fun Force dancers show, but it was too crowded to really see anything, and it seemed to mostly be audience participation anyway, with very little actual professional dancing. Next time I will skip this in favor of the Dancing in the Streets show, which was phenomonal. Tuesday was Belize, which I had read was a "love it or hate it" port. We ended up loving it. We followed the directions in the Fun Times and got up early to get tender tickets. What the Times do not tell you is that once you enter the theatre to get the ticket, you are not allowed to leave. We rolled out of bed and went straight there, with no breakfast, no morning hygiene routine, and no excursion supplies. We were told everyone must remain in the theatre, as we would be escorted to the tender when it arrived. We ended up making a mad dash one at a time to gather our supplies and grab a quick to-go bite from the lido, then ended up having to make another mad dash back there when they announced a few minutes before the tender arrived that we would need a picture ID as well as our seapass. It ended up being about 45 minutes before the tender arrived, so I'm not sure why we were not allowed to leave. CCL needs to have better communication here. Tenders were lined up waiting, so there really wasn't a need to hurry that much after all. While the tender ride was smooth and easy, I will mention that the tender boat was really rocking up againt the gangway, and was dangerous for elderly and disabled passengers. We all depended on each other for help onto the boat, by forming a "human chain" of hands to get people seated. It was scary to just watch and wait for someone to fall. The drivers did a great job, and thanked us for visiting their country. We had a 9:00 cave tubing tour booked with VIV tours, who were easy to locate in the terminal, and left promptly once the other 3 couples were off the tender with us. I cannot say enough good things about VIV tours. Everything was perfect, and the cave tubing was fantastic. Please book with VIV, as they are the only company whose tubes have headrests and mesh bottoms, and they use links to hook the tubes together, not someone elses muddy shoe in your armpit. They are true professionals and I highly recommend them. We were back in plenty of time to shop. The pier is very nice, and the vendors are not agressive. I must also mention how clean the restrooms were both at the pier and at the tubing park. Impressive. No lunch today, just a delicious bottled Coke, plantain chips and a Snickers bar at the park. Dinner was Thai chicken tenders, spring mix salad, filet mignon with a side of steamed veggies, and WCMC, all excellent. DH tried the lasagna starter, but did not care for it, as he's not a big fan of spinach. Dancing in the Streets show was after dinner, and it was great. Wednesday was Roatan, and we took our time leaving the ship, as it was raining again. We looked in the shops until the rain cleared enough to walk to the beach. The shops here are nothing special. I hate that there's a Diamonds Int'l in every port now. The port is very beautiful, full of flowers, plants, and fountains. Great picture spots. We took the nature trail to the beach. This is a great beach for kids, with a playground, stone animals to climb on, and shallow water. The water was too cool to stay in long, but this really is a beautiful beach, with plenty of shady spots, and picture opportunities. We'd love to have better weather here. Lunch was hotdog/hamburger and tortilla chips and nacho cheese onboard at the grill. They were pretty good, but a few hours later we both had upset stomachs. We narrowed it down to the nacho cheese, as that's the only thing we both had, and in hindsight, it was sitting out, not on ice, for who knows how long. We felt bad all evening, and skipped dinner. We ended up ordering a light sandwich from room service at 9:30. It took nearly an hour to be delivered, but was truly the best non dining room meal on the ship. We ended up having the tuna, turkey, ham & cheese, PB&J, and BLT throughout the week, and they were excellent. We ordered through the TV, and got chips as a side dish, so I'm assuming if you want another side, you'd have to call it in. Also, the chocolate cake is served with mousse, and is the 2nd best dessert on the ship. So good, and well worth the tip. Thursday was Costa Maya. We left the port area and took a $2 bus to the downtown beach. Note that the group behind us was told $3 for the ride, and they got off at the same stop as us. Hmmm. We were going to the Tropicante, but honestly, it is just one long beach, and all the places seemed the same. The beach was beautiful, and the sun did come out long enough for us to enjoy the water for a little while. Service at the Tropicante was excellent, attentive without pressuring. We had diablo shrimp and a steak burrito for lunch, with one Coke and a $3 margarita, totalling $27. The food was good, nothing outstanding, and there were no free chips and salsa like at home. Bummer! We had a massage on the beach, which was the best $25 we spent all week. It was great. We had a few minutes to browse the shops of the malecon, which is right there on the beach, and a few minutes to see the port shops, but we had to be on board by 2:30 which didn't leave nearly enough time in this nice port on our one sunny day. We watched "Something Borrowed" on TV in the cabin. There are 2 family movies, and one adult movie daily, but nothing to tell what time they start, so it was hit or miss to time it right. Dinner was fruit cocktail (watermelon, pineapple, grapes, cantalope, honeydew and either a kiwi wedge, strawberry slice or a raspberry)(excellent) corn chowder(okay, next time I'll try the broccoli cheese soup) Grilled shrimp (excellent)and WCMC. Friday was at sea, and we were rained off of the BBall court and deck chairs again. I went to the future cruise presentation, and purchased the voucher that will give us a $100 shipboard credit on our next cruise. We ordered room service for lunch, and watched "Water for Elephants". We stopped by the farewell party and had a free Coke and a free cocktail. Dinner was fruit cocktail, crab cake (pretty good), panko shrimp (great)and WCMC. DH had the bacon mac & cheese and really liked it. Our sea days and evenings we spent roaming the ship. DH spent a little time in the very nice arcade. I checked out the library, but no one ever had any books to trade in the passenger swap. We never used the pools or slides, but they were never busy. The gym was nicely equipped, and the spa looked nice. Serenity was a beautiful area, but located next to the water slides and live band, so I'm not sure how serene it really was. The golf course looked very nice and in great shape. There were lots of hot tubs and deck chairs. Ocean plaza on deck 5 has a really nice seating area, some with marble tables and chairs, some with wicker padded chairs. A very nice area. We never tried nor saw the lunch buffet here. The sushi bar is the first I've encountered at sea that did not smell terrible as we walked by. They do a nice job here, and lots of people were taking advantage of it. There are lots of nightclubs that we never saw anyone in. Overall, we loved the ship. I had sworn off CCL because their ships were boring, but this class has brought me back. It is very comparable to RC Voyager class, although by the end of the week I still had not figured my way around the ship. Our cabin was an inside, and seemed small at first glance, but it really was fine. I love that CCL provides robes in the cabin. Okay, on to the bad: CCL has the worst buffets I've ever seen. Truly sad. There was very little variety from day to day with breakfast and very little to choose from. The only change we could see each day was the type of potatoes and sausage offered. What food we did get was lukewarm and would be cold by the time we finished the line and got a table, and did not taste good. The variety did not make sense: There was sliced cantalope and honeydew on the main line everyday, and cubed cantalope and honeydew on the pastry line everyday. ??? No watermelon,grapes, pineapple or berries ever at breakfast. Bananas were gone by Wednesday. I will say that the vanilla crown pastry is delicious. We never once ate at the lunch buffet, and that was my goal. There was literally nothing appealing there. Thank goodness for the grill, deli, pizza, burrito bar, and the best choice, room service. Dining room food was excellent, and we had no food temp issues here. Hot was hot and cold was cold as should be. Service everywhere was excellent. In the cabin, the bed was comfortable with nice linens and pillows, and the shower was great, even with the curtain. Now, here's my rant. Most people rant about chair hogs, but that doesn't apply to this cruise. My rant is rude clueless people who must slam their cabin doors. This is the worst ship I've ever been on for this. The cabin doors are very heavy, but thin as far as noise. Actually this is a 2 part rant, to include loud hall talkers. We always make a point of catching the door when we enter or leave the cabin, and closing it softly. On this ship, even doing that makes a pretty loud sound. When the doors were let go to close on their own, it is so loud that it will wake you from a dead sleep, as it did us every night. That combined with people talking, laughing, and downright screaming in the halls left us only a few good hours of sleep each night. We never heard much sound at all through the walls, but we could hear through the door like it wasn't there. (We were cabin 8295) Please, CCL, spread the word to be courteous and speak softly in the halls and close your door gently. I can't stress to you how bad this was! One neighbor would roll in around 2am every morning yelling goodnight at the top of her lungs, then slamming the door. Every night. And forget napping during the day. These issues are even worse because even the courteous people aren't worried about being quiet since it's midday. A funny story about our obnoxious neighbor: on the last night, my husband followed her up our hall, watching her knock on every door she passed, 4 or 5 knocks on every door, then keep walking. When a man answered his door, she burst out laughing, and the woman's friend with her stated "it wasn't me, it was her." And she was around 60 years old, old enough to know better. We also kept getting hang up calls, and "giggle" calls, then would hear the phone in the cabin next to ours ring next. I guess maybe the cheaper out of season fares attract a different type of person than I'm used to cruising with. We really enjoyed this cruise and this ship. I am willing to continue to cruise this class of ship until RC's prices come back down to earth. I am still unhappy with the breakfast and lunch food, and the hall noise was ridiculous, but we were overall very pleased with this ship and the service we received. We will probably not cruise this time of year again, as the weather, while still warmer than home, was cooler and rainier than I am used to on a cruise. I will also probably pay more for a better cabin next time, in hopes that the door slamming and obnoxious neighbor issue is confined to the "pauper" cabins that I like to frequent. As always, many thanks to all you cruise critics who have made my cruise planning so easy over the years. I'd be lost without your information. I hope this review will help someone too. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2011
We were cruise virgins & went on this cruise with some ambivalence. We went with several other couples, all of whom were new to cruising. I was concerned because of a couple of negative reviews that were posted here after we had signed ... Read More
We were cruise virgins & went on this cruise with some ambivalence. We went with several other couples, all of whom were new to cruising. I was concerned because of a couple of negative reviews that were posted here after we had signed on to the cruise. Bottom line: we loved it, as did all our friends!! The level of service was impeccable. The staff on board practically stood on their heads to make us all comfortable & happy. Every person with whom we dealt was pleasant & accommodating. The wine was surprisingly good, the food excellent, the service delightful. Cleanliness was maintained fastidiously. Even the fresh flowers in the room & in the public spaces were a delight. The excursions were fabulous and, without exception, our guides were great fun. We hiked, kayaked, rafted, took float planes, saw bears, seals, whales, eagles, & calving glaciers. It was a fabulous trip. That was the unanimous opinion, and, by the way, this is a group that included oenophiles & gourmet cooks. To the complainers who posted previously, I cannot imagine how hard it is to please you in life & I wish you good luck. To the rest of you, I heartily recommend this cruise. It was worth every penny. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2011
My husband and I embarked on the Queen Elizabeth for a 18 night Asian leg of her Maiden Voyage. We have both cruised before, my husband with P and O and myself with Star Cruises on the Virgo. Our balcony stateroom was very comfortable but ... Read More
My husband and I embarked on the Queen Elizabeth for a 18 night Asian leg of her Maiden Voyage. We have both cruised before, my husband with P and O and myself with Star Cruises on the Virgo. Our balcony stateroom was very comfortable but the bathroom tiny, much smaller than the Virgo s. The sulleness of parts of the crew became evident almost immediately and this continued throughout the cruise. We found the housekeeping staff and the barstaff to be extremely friendly quitte different from the wait staff and the reception staff. My husband has had on-going problems with our on-board account with numerous errors being made and repeatedly repeated. The tender way of getting to shore cannot be avoided at some ports I accept that but when the Queen Elizabeth goes into HongKong on her Maiden Voyage one would think we would be docked for the duration, not so, we spent a night in Junk Harbour having to be ferried in by the tenders which takes up so much of one s valuable time when in port and is an extremely uncomfortable way to travel. My husband and I are in our early 60 s but the majority of the passengers, by far, were in the 70-85 age group which became quite depressing. They were quite snobby which added to our dis-enchantment. Consequentally the activities and entertainment were aimed at this age group. Would I travel with Cunard again, that s a no but to each his own. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2011
What a relaxing vacation on the Star Princess!We started in Rio and ended in Ft Lauderdale, for a whirl wind of a cruise. The food was very good, more so in the specialty restaurants, but the buffet wasnt that bad either. We met a great ... Read More
What a relaxing vacation on the Star Princess!We started in Rio and ended in Ft Lauderdale, for a whirl wind of a cruise. The food was very good, more so in the specialty restaurants, but the buffet wasnt that bad either. We met a great couple traveling on their 3rd cruise with Princess and it was such a delight going to the theatre with them to see the productions shows and guest entertainers. One entertainer- Nicole Cardona- sticks out especially! Such a voice and stage presence. Her show was so entertaing and sooo much fun! Ive never seen a woman sing Michael Jackson before and she does it! My husband was brought up on stage and danced with her during a Latin song. It really made his night!The staff on the ship was very friendly and was always happy to help when we needed anything. All in all, a great vacation! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
Coincidentally, like Host Anne, we were in Cabin 7049 and lucky to have the best Cabin Attendant, Doris, that we have had in many years. She anticipated our needs, was always cheerful and efficient, and was more visible and accessible than ... Read More
Coincidentally, like Host Anne, we were in Cabin 7049 and lucky to have the best Cabin Attendant, Doris, that we have had in many years. She anticipated our needs, was always cheerful and efficient, and was more visible and accessible than other we've had. Too, Garry and his assistant, Marsha, gave us good service with a happy attitude at our table of four in the San Marco.We ate in the dining room 11 of 14 nights and loved Bistro on 5, Oceanliners, and Tuscan Grille. All provided exceptional service and delicious, premium quality food. Tuscan Grille on Constellation was far superior in food and service to Tuscan Grille on Solstice in May 2010. Usually, we don't go to all specialty restaurants, but food quality in dining room is not as good and the offering of premium entrees not as frequent. A blatant example is the entree (½ lobster tail, 1 small scallop, 1 shrimp, mini-filet) on final formal night instead of nice-size lobster tail and filet in the past. Our Maitre d' came to the table every night to check on our satisfaction, but he was limited by the menu in what he could do. Though the every night part of the menu offered plain salmon, other species of fish were not available without spices or sauces so there was no flexibility for those of us who would like simpler grilled fare.We thought the cruise director, Sue Denning, was outstanding. There's something to be said having an entertainer, not just a talker, as cruise director. She was everywhere and spoke with everyone whether on ship or in port. Sue's husband was on this cruise, so she was exceptionally busy getting ready for the next cruise (when she'll be in Miami at the CD's meetings), spending time with her husband, and being everywhere she needs to be. It's a demanding job, and she does it well. We also enjoyed her one woman show which was in addition to another show that night, not a substitution as some cruise lines do.We were happy to share Captain Pagonis's last cruise on Constellation, hear his lecture on navigation, and spend time with him at the Captain's Club Officer's party (although we've enjoyed sailing with him several times and hate to see him go to Silhouette). He sets a great example by mingling with passengers in the buffet line and other places on the ship. His friendly attitude filters down from the Captain, through the ranks, to every staff member; and we were pleasantly greeted by anyone we met in the hallways or anywhere on the ship. The officers were very accessible as well. We spoke with many, especially Bernhard (Hotel Manager), who was visible everywhere and willing to answer any questions (even if the answer was not what we wished to hear).The Captain's Club host, Graeme, did a good job enforcing the dress code at Elite Happy Hour and did announce that happy hour was being changed to 5-7 pm by popular request. Production shows were elaborate, and singers and dancers very good on this cruise. Imported entertainment was not as good, but that's the luck of the draw... you get what you get... Some we liked, some, not. Now we come to Perry.... We enjoyed his one-man show very much... his sequined vests, jackets (each night) and robe. We found his show like a magnet, drawing us in for fun each night. He is definitely an entertainer.Ports don't interest us that much since we've been to each many times. Our destination is THE SHIP. We are very happy on sea days, although we always get off the ship even if it's to walk. The exception is Bonaire. We confess to choosing this particular cruise because Bonaire was one of the ports. We snorkeled on our own off the beach in Aruba, and we saw lots and lots of fish, but nothing beats Bonaire and Woodwind Tours! For the best snorkeling in the CaribbSean take this trip. They outfit you, teach you, snorkel with you, pamper you, and give you the trip of a lifetime. Sadly, Celebrity is dropping Bonaire from their schedule, so we will have to cruise with another line when we want to go back for our third trip on Woodwind. I can't conclude this review without mentioning embarkation and disembarkation. Both were horrendous! The ship was at Pier 29, which should be used for small ships only. We had no wait to get our Sea Pass and didn't need to even be in the "Elite" line. After that, it was all downhill. There was a delay in taking photos for the Sea Pass. We were herded into a seating area where we were instructed to wait until called to get in line. Some passengers decided to call themselves to get in line. It became a big mess. Celebrity port staff needs a better system. It took over an hour to board and no preference was given to Elite, Concierge, or Suite passengers. Disembarkation was equally bad. When our color was called, we went to the terminal and found our luggage wasn't ready. We had to wait while that was accomplished. Then, since the area was so small, aisles were too narrow to find bags and maneuver. Our porter loaded our luggage and got us out of the terminal, but then we had to shuttle to the parking lot. It was a long, aggravating process.We are happy that Celebrity doesn't permit smoking in cabins, on verandahs, or in most places on the ship. Our wish list would include limiting smoking more. If we wound up on the wrong side and had to walk through smoker's alley around the pool, it was very unpleasant and the smoke drifted beyond the designated area. Our second wish would be to have footstools on the verandah. There is plenty of room for them, and it's a small amenity with a major comfort result. Third, of course, would be to put Bonaire back on the itinerary. Fourth, addressing the aforementioned food quality. One shouldn't have to go to specialty restaurants to get the kind of food we used to get in the San Marco.All-in-all, this was our best trip in recent years. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2010
I recently had the misfortune of riding the Carribean Seas on the Norwegian Epic. I felt like I was cruising with Johnny Depp the way they had their hand out at every turn. The Epic marked my TENTH CRUISE so I am somewhat familiar with the ... Read More
I recently had the misfortune of riding the Carribean Seas on the Norwegian Epic. I felt like I was cruising with Johnny Depp the way they had their hand out at every turn. The Epic marked my TENTH CRUISE so I am somewhat familiar with the concept of cruise ships and what typically is included and what is not. The Epic had very little that was included and much that was an "add on" to my experience. Here is the Good , The Bad & The Ugly of what I can pass along to so you can make your own call: Bad & Ugly: The health club (steam, sauna, hot tubs & quiet area) was $30 per day to use. The gym was free but change rooms were nothing more than a closet with a toilet and shower in it. So sad ! If you booked the health club the whole week on the first day of the cruise it was $200 additional per couple so you saved almost half ! WHAT A DEAL that sounds like ! Ummm..... last time I checked ? They were FREE on most every other ship ! Somehow they managed to be sold out so you could not use these facilities if you decided later that you wanted to anyway. I tried to get in at 8:30 AM on day 4 and they said they were sold out..... there was not a single person using the private facilities at that time but they were sold out anyway and I was denied service that was just sitting there. So sad ! The Ice Bar was a $20.00 cover charge but included 2 drinks. If you did not drink or wanted to just hang out for 5 minutes in what they boast as the coolest bar on the seas then LET US HANG OUT FOR 5 MINUTES without paying you $20.00 ! The least they could do was LET US PEAK INSIDE ! You would have thought they were harboring Al Capone in the darn bar with their secrecy ! They definitely played you for a fool on this one. The bowling was an additional $5.00 PER GAME! This is more than most of the alleys you bowl at in Anytown America. It was crampy , loud and busy. Enough said. Several shows were add ons at $20-$25 per person. Cirque De So Lame was $20.00 and the Murder Mystery (you won't know how to follow the logic anyway so we will just make up a story) Dinner was $25.00. I did not partake in either because I don't like to be fleeced but those that did complained of awful food. They claimed it was all about the show which barely met their expectations. Most dining rooms were an add on too. Now I know there are restaurants on ships that charge for their "exceptional dining experience" but all but one of them ? The NCL Epic had like 8 restaurants and 7 of them were an add on. No pizza parlor , no decent snack shack; it was buffet or O'Sheehan's Pub Grub and that was it ! Oh yes, they had the dining room which fell short of any dining room on any cruise ship I have ever been on. The person who designed it was definitely given a small budget and never went a penny over it ! I have seen Dunkin Donuts with more appealling decor. The staff of the Epic continued to keep their hands in my pocket with other things too. The Costa Maya port had a Zip Line Experiene that was rated # 1 ... I failed to read the fine print that said "If you read the list from the bottom , up" $129.00 for a crappy Zip Line experience when Roatan had an awesome one for $45.00 ! NCL EPIC shore excursion sold the Costa Maya one and did not offer Roatan. MANY MANY people go on the suggestion of what their cruise ship says is a great excursion ! Someone did not do their homework on this excursion. They should not even offer this option on their ship! Does anyone from NCL go out to see if their suggested excursions are worth the money ? Doubt it ! If so, they need a lesson on Zip Line 101. Don't do Costa Maya on the NCL Excursion ! Walk off the ship and go 10 feet to the right in Roatan and save $90.00 and get THREE TIMES the fun ! While NCL is at it, they need to scrub the whole port of Costa Maya. It is nothing more than a T Shirt Trap and Tourist Ambush! At least in some parts of Mexico you know you are being robbed because there is a machine gun in your face but in Costa Maya they do it with crooked yellow smiles and ponchos, T shirts & bags that shrink, tear & bleed. Cozumel was Cozumel. Enough said. Everyone has been there. If you haven't been there make certain you book an excursion or there is little to do. It also depends on which dock you pull into. One is crap and one is good. You will know the difference because one has a Senor Frog (good port) and one has 427 T shirt shops. The rooms were adequate but they need to ditch the banana shaped sofa and recreate the much needed space ! Who's bright idea was it to put such a huge sofa in such a small room ? I sat on it to put my shoes on and that was all. You couldn't even see the TV from it. You could sit down and shave or pluck your eyebrows I suppose if the mirror was 4 feet lower over the sink ! They had a great flat panel TV in the room but played nothing but CRAP on it ! Oh yes, if you wanted a not so new release , it was only $9.99 ! What a deal ! I JUST bought The Proposal on DVD at Target for $7.00 Mr. Entertainment Director. The Good : Bliss Lounge was awesome. Legends In Concert was great ! Too short, but great ! Blue Man rocked & Second City was cutsie. The Atrium giant screen TV (when it was not playing cartoon movies) was great ! They need to run WAY MORE movies ! At least they could have a photo op area with Johnny Depp dressed as Cpt. Jack Sparrow and make light of a serious issue. In my opinion the Excursion Manager , the Entertainment Manager and the General Manager need to have a meeting, take some polls (and maybe night school courses on hospitality / entertainment) and make some serious changes. I spoke to many people who complained about their "Add On" policies. Many people, like myself, felt like we were taken advantage of. Of all the other 9 cruises I have taken I always felt that the experience exceeded the cost. Always a great experience. You felt like you were treated special but on The NCL Epic I felt like I was taken advantage of. I rate this ship and experience 2 out of 10 Gophers ! (the pursor from the Love Boat) Thank you ~ CruisePro 2.0 (Cliff Woodhall) Read Less
Sail Date: December 2010
We arrived at Port Everglades for boarding at about 11AM. It was the smoothest embarcation ever. In less than 15 minutes we were on the ship and shocked when shortly later it was announced that all cabins were now ready! We were slighly ... Read More
We arrived at Port Everglades for boarding at about 11AM. It was the smoothest embarcation ever. In less than 15 minutes we were on the ship and shocked when shortly later it was announced that all cabins were now ready! We were slighly underwhelmed at the ship. Our last cruise on Celebrity Equinox was a brand new ship and it was spectacular in very way. The cruise before that was Celebrity Solstice (sister ship) which was equally impressive. There is no grand staircase/atrium on this ship. The decorations are generally cheap looking black and white posters on the hallway walls of NYC. Clean and okay, but not spectacular. It appeared that most of the wall coverings, fabrics, art, etc., were done at a budget level and did not reflect what should be found on a luxury ship. Very impressed with the room. We had a superior veranda suite. More storage than any ship I can remember and very conveniently placed. Room included two sinks, jacuzzi tub and shower. Great bed, nice sized balcony. To order "in-room" movies, you have to check out a DVD which seems a little archaic for a new ship instead of ordering it on the set. For the most part, the staff was wonderful even if a little bit un-motivated. The bartender in the early part of the day at the lido bar at the rear of the ship was nicknamed lemon face by several passengers because of his surly nature. At one point I walked up to the bar, was the only patron while he spoke with an officer. When he finished he looked right at me and then turned to leave without acknowledging me until the offier called him and pointed at me and told him to wait on me. I was so angry that I just said never mind an walked away. I also had difficulty with the assistant manager of the Pinacle Restaurant. We had booked five nights and every time we went there was a problem. Lost "pre-paid" reservations, no tables available when clearly there were, etc. On every cruise I've been on, if you wanted a second entree or appetizer there was no problem. Not here! We were told that there would be an additional surcharge (in addition to the one we had already paid), to order anything extra! When we asked if we could have a dinner entre (macaroni and lobster) as a half portion appetizer, I was told, our chef will not be happy with that. I was floored. He came back and said he doesn't want to do it, but I asked him to make an exception. I told him that I could afford to eat in any restaurant that I chose and don't need to beg a chef to give me a bowl of macaroni" and cancelled all of the rest of my visits to the Pinacle. That being said, the Asian restaurant was friendly and the food spectacular every time that we ate there. The food in the main dining room (open seating) was also pretty good. Not the best in the world, but not the worst. The buffet on the lido deck was a bit of hit and miss. The omlette station for breakfast was great, but several times at other stations the employees were very unhelpful. When I asked if there was more turkey for lunch (dried bits and pieces were all that I could see), I got a curt reply of "no". I heard someone else ask if there was any more balsamic at the salad bar because the bottle was empty and she too was told "no". Pools were both very nice and plenty of nice deck chairs. The gym was a big letdown. Very small as compared to most ships and the free weight area could only accomodate about 3 people. there were machines to use if you wanted to, but often there was a line for them. The free area in the floor was often taken up by customers who paid for fitness classes. The sauna is a joke. It holds no more than three people at a time and every time I went, it had three people and others were walking away because it was full. Entertainment was very average. We have been spoiled by Celebrity doing Circus du Soleil performances I guess. There was one impersonator who was quite funny. I am not going to comment on the ports of call because we just went for warm weather and beaches. Weather did not cooperate with us a good portion of the trip and we missed several ports which one was made up by going to Key West. Cannot fault the ship for weather. Another "new inovation" which is a true rip off is that no longer are soda cards unlimited. You pre purchase a fixed amount and they punch a hole in the card. If you buy too many, you don't get a refund. Even worse is the "beverage card". You only save $5.00. The beverage card is supposed to be for any alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage yet when we ordered the "drink fo the day" we were told we could not use the card for that since the drink had been discounted by one dollar already. MAKE YOUR POLICIES CLEAR BEFORE THE SALE IS MADE. I have to commend the disembarcation. For $19.00 per person, they took our bags, checked them in at the airport and left our boarding passes in our stateroom mailbox the day before. Very, very, very convenient. All in all, this was a very average ship with very average food and very average entertainment. The cruisers were generally older in the 50 - 60 year old age group. This is our second Holland America cruise and after the first we determined that Holland was our least favorite line. We decided to give it another shot because of the new ship but should have stayed with Celebrity, NCL or Royal Carribbean, all of which are far superior. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2010
We arrived in FLL airport on November 14th at 1130AM, and were at the port by 12PM. Easy and smooth embarkation. We were given orange "number 1" cards and grabbed a seat near the entryway to paradise (in reality, an oversized ... Read More
We arrived in FLL airport on November 14th at 1130AM, and were at the port by 12PM. Easy and smooth embarkation. We were given orange "number 1" cards and grabbed a seat near the entryway to paradise (in reality, an oversized cubicle wall that would give Dilbert heart failure, which separated us from the convention style desks marked with deck designations). After a 40 minute wait, our "number 1" cards were called and we cavorted through the cubicle. After a quick processing and interrogation by Helga the Terrible (check in)we were in our cabin by 1 PM. In all seriousness, the embarkation staff were wonderful. We called the dine line immediately at 1 PM to get a spot at the Holy Grail of all princess cruises, the Chef's Table. A nice fellow named Icky (yes, that was the name he gave me) took our information and lack of allergy needs, and told us we would hear from his office about whether we would be attending the event. I felt like we were aspiring Hollywood actors, and Icky the agent had just told us "Don't call us, we'll call you." Since I had called by 1 PM, I thought we had the part. That'll teach me to be so smug, but later on that one. Oh yes, I also had Icky book us at the Crown Grill and Sabatini's, per the advice of my well travelled CC peers. Apparently, those shows were hard up for even bad actors, as we got in at both without issue. Armed with special knowledge from the CC boards, my DW and I marched to the Pursurs desk to ask which dining room was open for lunch. We were told that they were all closed. Hand to the side of my face, I confided in the Princess Rep that we had special knowledge that one DR was indeed open, all she had to do was tell us which one, and we wouldn't let the secret out. She again said none were open. Fine then. I collected myself and decided to investigate this one on my own, DW shaking her head sadly behind me. The first DR we came upon was the DaVinci, and low and behold, staff was in there and pax were seated at tables! I marched in triumpant and asked to be seated. "Sorry sir, we are closed," was the reply. How could this be, my inside info was wrong! "Sir, we closed at 2:30, it is now 2:45." Yes, I was so secure in my knowledge that I forgot to think "lunch" had an expiration time. I guess that's when "dinner" starts. Oh well, off to the buffet and a shrimp fest that would make Red Lobster blush. The next heavy lifting activity was the Muster Drill. I was confident in the knowledge that I could handle a life jacket, and quite certain the proper direction to abandon ship was down, so I wanted to skip this one. I had read on CC that the crew hadn't gotten the card scanning thing down at the muster stations, so I could get away with it. My DW, however, pointed out that the Muster flyer said this was REQUIRED BY LAW, so my logic was a bit flawed. Of course, I took a stand on this one, as all husbands must......You know what, they DO scan cards now. I realized this as we entered our muster stations during the drill. Did you know that a human female can speak the words "I told you so" with just a glance? Sailaway was breathtaking. We found the CC secret spot above the bridge. Just as we arrived at the first door from the Lido deck to this spot, DW said "I don't think we are meant to go through here." I confidently opened it and looked down a short, dismal hallway to another nondescript door. She KNEW we shouldn't go through that one. I did anyway and we were there! Best view on all sides, high above the ship, spectacular. And for the first time on this cruise, I was actually right! I tried to bask even slightly in my glory, because it might be my only chance. We passed the Allure of the Seas on the way out, and that ship is huge. I managed to get some great camera shots of the Allure, setting sun, and planes taking off from FLL above. Ah, the sights and sounds of sailaway, and the anticipation of a great week at sea. I won't forget it, at least not until we take our next cruise. Dinner that evening was to be our first taste of specialty dining, the Crown Grill. We had reservations at 6 PM and arrived 10 minutes early, so we opened the front door and walked right in. Ooops. The place looked deserted, with maybe one chef in the back and no one at the podium up front. That prompted me to keep walking in further. I realized after a bit that I was now alone, as DW had stayed cautiously by the front door, perhaps sensing impending danger or outright doom. From out of the elegant, dimly lit atmosphere, or shadows, came a huge fellow with a Russian accent, who told me they were closed, sir. As a brave American who weathered the might of the cold war, I naturally retreated, gathered my DW, and waited outside. Fashionably early at the Crown Grill is not a good thing, tovarish. When we entered properly after 6, our maitre d', whose name escapes me but whose size never will, cheerfully showed us to our table. He didn't look as imposing when armed with a smile, better lighting and the fact that they were now actually open. Our server was a dynamo named Nestor. He exuded friendliness and let us know right away we could have whatever dining experience we wished, whether slow and savory or fast, like "Speedy Gonzalez". This caused me to picture Nestor as a rodent in white peasant garb and a big sombrero for the rest of the night. He probably still wonders why I had to suppress a giggle every time he walked by. Other than the long ears and whiskers, he was a truly fine server. We ordered cobinations of different appetizers and entres, and he never said no. We even ordered six extra lobster tails (which I guessed would get us a Speedy kick right out the door) and he said "right away." Nestor was top notch, as was the food at the Crown. I had the scallops and foe gras appetizer (that's leeeever, i theeenk), and loved it. DW had the filet, and it was cooked to perfection. The lobster tails were incredible...we cut them with a fork! Dessert had to be sent to the room for later. After dinner, we explored the ship a bit. I confirmed that the Ruby is exactly like the Crown (we sailed the Crown last November), with some minor exceptions, such as the location of the excursions desk. I then decided that it was my time to start divesting the Ruby of its money by way of the casino. Since I am an expert blackjack player, this was to be an easy process. Unfortunately, someone before me had taught the Ruby's dealers how to play, and play well. So well that I was not going to be anything but broke if I kept this up. Exit stage left. We played cards with my in-laws later that evening, and I watched the lights of passing ships out on the balcony. A very peaceful end to the first day onboard. Yes, I said peaceful and in-laws in the same paragraph, we actually do get along very well. Day two was a stop at Princess Cays. We planned to tender over later, let the crwods beat us, in effect. I ventured out at 8 AM for my daily walk. Since I had lost a bit of weight (truth be told, the Michelin Man had nothing on me until recently, when I could finally be considered in the "normal" body mass range), I was determined to complete my very own "cruise marathon", or 26.2 miles of walking during the cruise. I had heard on CC that the Promenade deck of the Ruby was a 1/3 mile walk on level ground, so three laps were a mile. This was almost true. I noticed that tape had been placed on the outer edge of the deck, marking every 10 meters. As I walked along, I looked down carefully at the markings to figure out the length of a lap. Suddenly, my foot, followed by my body, bumped into a set of steps which had no business being on a flat deck. Apparently, the forward section of the Promenade deck is actually the Emerald deck, separated by about 20 steps up, then down. My marathon would now be a mara and stair climber thon. The deck ended up being 610 meters, slightly more than 1/3 mile, for those of you who could use this info. I thought I might be the only person up this early. However, about a dozen people had joined me on my walk. It was interesting. I speed walked, which meant I passed other walkers. Some folks ran, which meant they passed me. Other runners and walkers were going the other way. Even worse, the deck became a one lane road at the stern. The whole scene resembled a demented Autobahn full of drunk or Sunday drivers in the wrong lanes. "Excuse me" turned to "on your right" and quickly became "ouch!" Note to self: get up earlier tomorrow. By the time I returned to the room, DW was ready to eat, and didn't even comment on the musty smell accompanying her to breakfast. We tried the Horizon Court buffet, and it was a winner. We ate breakfast there every day. An omelette station was hidden next to the scrambled eggs, and the sky was the limit. They even offered Egg Beaters. I'd like to think the veggie/egg beaters omelette balanced the bacon very well, but I could be kidding myself. The tender to Princess Cays was a breeze. We sat in the Michaelangelo dining room for about 5 minutes, then off we went. Princess Cays (PC, for short, although some of the bathing suits I saw were anything but PC) was fantastic. Nice sandy beaches, but the water was surprisingly cold for the tropics. The cookout was delicious. Plenty to choose from, even for dieters like me. I had a salad and grilled chicken, and it was delicious. Very fresh fruit was served near the picnic area. After a quick tender back to the Ruby, we ate dinner at the DaVinci DR. We had assigned dining at 5:30 PM, which was a newer concept. I had read complaints on CC about anytime diners being put out by this, since DaVinci was previously anytime only. I can understand this. When we walked in, we were asked if we had a table and were shown in right away. Others waited in line outside, as they had anytime dining. I can see why this would ruin the anytime experience, and I would not opt for anytime until they fix this. We met out servers, Lorentz and Suppon. Both were fabulous, and catered to anything we asked. Iceberg lettuce wedge as a salad? No problem. Balsamic dressing? Sure. More than one appetizer? Absolutely. Can you make my food spicy? Huh? What? But you are from the U.S.! We aren't used to that one. They passed the baton to Filipe, our head waiter. Within a few minutes, he had the chefs dice up some jalapeno peppers, which I sprinkled on my food. Tasty, but not hot enough. Felipe promised to call in the troops and be ready for me the next night with the big guns, the Indian and Thai chefs. I'm not so sure I like this. Day three began earlier, at 6:45 AM. As I tried to go out the doors to the Promenade, I noticed they were taped off. They apparently clean the decks until 7. Great. I could just see myself slipping on a wet deck and becoming either a railing ornament or a fishing lure. No need to worry though, they dry the decks too. The walk was easier today, since I had beaten the walker's rush hour. The winds at the bow were brutal. I felt like the guy sitting in an easy chair in front of the stereo in that older commercial, with everything blowing off of me as I walked forward. After I turned the corner at the bow, the tail wind doubled my speed and practically threw me down the steps. Exercise, meet the X games. Since today was a sea day, it would be total relaxation. DW spent a good portion of the day laying out at the pool, while I was layed out flat by the dealers in the casino. At 2 PM, we went up the Skywalkers for our CC role call "meet and greet" event. We were a bit nervous, since I had only "met" any of these people on the CC bulletin boards, and I really hadn't posted much to our role call. Everyone on there semmed to have cruised together before or been friends since birth, as inside jokes or perhaps cult codes were often passed back and forth on the roll call. Not to worry, they were just really nice people who had a lot more cruise experience than we did. Conversation flowed and I understood it all, including the jokes. Not one cup of kool aid was passed either. Just as the atmosphere started to get festive, the wedding party shows up. Ummmmm, we do intend to renew ours vows eventually, but no one told us to dress up and we just can't afford to rent these people! But they wouldn't leave. Apparently, Princess had double booked the room, and the wedding party had security with them, so they won. We were sent off before anyone could even schedule another room or suggest another day to meet. Great people on our roll call, luckily none of them named Jones. Just before dinner, we received notice that, to the great regret of Princess, the roles of leading man and lady would be given to ten other passengers. We missed the Chef's Table for tomorrow night. No white coats, free books, free flowing wine, stellar food, or behind the scenes looks at the kitchen. We tried to beg our way in with the maitre d', Generoso who despite his name, could not be generous. He did try, and even went to our table personally to apologize. Fine, I will exact payment in the form of spicy food. Formal night dinner started with a visit from our head waiter. Felipe was grinning ear to ear, mumbling something about Thai spice powder. I was presented with a shrimp dish in a tomato based sauce, with lots of suspicious looking little seeds. Felipe couldn't tell me what it was, just that it was HOT. It was indeed delicious, but still not spicy enough. Wednesday began bright and early, after the cleaning crews quit for the day. It was amazing to walk the decks and watch as we approached the island of St. Martin, entered the harbor and docked. Thw whole docking process on such a huge ship amazes me, as I grew up around smaller boats. Same concept, just on a massive scale. St. Martin is a split island. We had docked on the Dutch side. I understand the French side is rich in culture, french cooking and fine architecture. It was also a $38 cab ride, so we stuck with the Dutch side. Lots of nice shops, a McDonald's (so there is grest food on the Dutch side too!), and an adorable little town hall. We passed a bar called the "Blue B*tch" (add an "i" for the *). It made for a good picture, but I wasn't going in there. The casino on the island had relatives dealing on the Ruby, so they knew me. Bad idea there. Dinner that night was a shrimp and scallop concoction that was spicy, just not quite there yet. Felipe left unhappy, but determined. I mentioned habanero or ghost peppers, but they had none on board and had no pepper dealers in the islands. The fine cast of the Chef's Table walked right by us, white coats on display, on their way to the kitchen and culinary nirvanna. May your Dramamine patches fall off in rough seas, grrrrrrrr. Thursday was St. Thomas, where my in-law's family jeweler was to meet us at the dock and drive us to his shop and then to lunch. Now, if you are wondering why my in-laws have a jeweler, I'm right there with you. This did not bode well for me. The island is great for shopping, with two cruise docks about five miles apart, both full of every shop you can imagine. DW did well. The blackjack dealers on the ship were kinder to me than this island was. I did get some spicy Chinese food out of the deal, though. Friday brought a new island, Grand Turk. We debarked (pulled the skin off of a tree?) quickly, since we had a snorkelling excursion planned. Reef and Ray, oh my. It sounded fabulous. At the reef, I had to be the first off the boat. That was when I felt the current pulling at me. DW joined me and we both swam around, marvelling at the sea life on the reef. Then I met the reef up close and personal. I felt my flipper hit something, then turned around and was up to my neck in coral. My left forearm and right leg were on fire. I managed to warn DW in time and extricate myself, but the damage was done. My arm was red and swollen, with little bumps on it like I was in a cold climate. I thought, "this is pretty cool" and kept swimming around. Apparently, the strong current had tossed me into a higher reef that was just at the water's surface. When we were called back to the boat, the current slammed DW into the ladder as well. I was sitting on the boat bench a bit later, when another passenger said, "hey, your leg is bleeding!" I looked down and my leg was bloody from the calf down due to two cuts from the coral. Cool again. Good thing there weren't any sharks in the area. Well, the crew had me fill out a thorough incident report, and seemed really worried. I suppose other might try to take advantage of such a situation, but accidents happen. The "ray" stop consisted of one sting ray held by the crew and shown to passengers. I think they took it there by leash in its own tank. One of them slipped up and called it Fido. The trip could have been better without that nasty current, but c'est la vie. I wouldn't take this excursion again, but would instead follow the advice of other CC members and book ahead via the web. After the bloody snorkel and ray, Grand Turk got better. The dock there is obviously brand new, as are the shops. Ron Jons Surf Shop is there, so T shirts had to be purchased. I had to get a shirt from Margaritaville as well, since it was this very song that got me tossed out of the Princess Pop Stars competition. Yes, I found my lost shaker of salt. Since we had a reservation at the Crown tomorrow, tonight was Felipe's last shot at me. He did well, as his last dish had me sweating just enough to declare it spicy to my tastes. Not the hottest I've ever eaten, but don't tell him that! Felipe was by far the crew member who went out of his way for us (well, me) most. He took me on as a personal challenge, and succeeded in his mission with what he had on hand. Bravo Felipe! Saturday was a sea day, which gave me one final shot at redemption in the casino. While DW fried her body at the pool, this lilly white boy sat in the casino for a few hours, bound and determined to go broke or at least take back what I had given them for 6 days. After a hard (and fun) fight, I managed to end up slightly ahead for the cruise, which is a win for me. After a nice tip to the dealer, I walked out with a big smile, never to return (for this cruise). Dinner that night was at the Crown, where Speedy worked his magic yet again. Great food at the Crown. Service at the DR's is top notch, and they go the extra mile for you, but the best food and food quality is at the Crown, hands down. It helps to be served by a fast mouse, too. Sunday came too quickly. The first thing I noticed was an attitude change in the crew. These nice, wonderful friendly people were getting moody. It must have been that time of the....week? My guess is that turnaround day is so hectic that it brings out the worst in people, and they don't have to see me tomorrow, so why bother so much? Understandable, logical, but fun to observe. Debarkation was hectic for us, as the purser's desk made a bit of an error. This can easily happen, but it sure seemed like they wanted us to miss our flight and stay with them. I'd be fine with that, but my relatives only offered to babysit for ONE week. They sent us to the wrong room to debark, so we ended up leaving the ship an hour later. We did make our flight, so they failed in their attempt to keep us. However, it was frustrating. All in all, this was a dream vacation for us. Princess was the right choice and did a fine job, with just a few understandable exceptions. Did any of the issues really matter in the big picture? Not at all. Can Princess make up for it by sending a chef, some wine, a couple of white coats and a cookbook to our house right away? Yes. So, if Princess thinks I will ever cruise with them again, they would be correct. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2010
I need a vacation from my vacation. The beaches at Cozumel and Grand Cayman were wonderful. The waitstaff was friendly and the food was better than expected - I don't expect "fine dining" on a ship. The problem? The ... Read More
I need a vacation from my vacation. The beaches at Cozumel and Grand Cayman were wonderful. The waitstaff was friendly and the food was better than expected - I don't expect "fine dining" on a ship. The problem? The ship was overrun by families with children and Carnival either wasn't prepared or didn't care about those of us who weren't traveling with kids and just wanted a little minute of quiet at some point during the week. I'm not one who requires complete silence to sleep, but I purchased earplugs at the giftshop and still didn't sleep one decent night out of seven. Normally going on a cruise is a sure bet that I'll sleep great. I can't count the number of times the doors of either side of my cabin slammed. I can't count the number of times I was almost knocked down by kids running, RUNNING, down the halls. I'm not talking about only little kids, I'm talking about big, hulking teenagers. I wonder how the old people with walkers managed not to break a hip. I'm not kidding. The little monsters (hey, I'll call them as I see them) were seriously out of control. It's as if the parents of the kids turned them loose for a week and thought, "What could happen? It's only an ocean out there? Let's hit the bars." One night we returned to our cabin to find a little boy of about 6 years old sitting outside his cabin, alone (10 pm), locked out because his "dad was at dinner". Something was seriously wrong with this picture, people. (Yes, we waited until he had help getting back into his room.) My cabinmate and I attempted to be pleasant about the noise with, "Hey, do you minds?" We called the front desk. We went to the front desk. We were told to call Security. We were told we should have picked another time to sail. Really, we were told that WE made the mistake of vacationing when we did. Ummm...ok...perhaps we did. And perhaps we chose the wrong cruiseline. I wonder if another cruiseline would have been more strict about barefeet in the formal dining room. Although we inquired of the Maitre d' about a girl who was barefoot at a table next to ours, the same girl was again barefoot the next night. This wasn't an infant, she was almost as tall as me. The positives? The Point Steakhouse was excellent. For an extra thirty bucks a person we enjoyed a delicious meal. We thought it was worth it. There was a Motown show one night that provided great music and some unexpected laughs. Purchasing a bottle of vodka from the Bon Voyage service is a great way to save on the liquor bill. Ours was in the room the first night of sailing. We stayed on the ship at Montego Bay and enjoyed a near-empty Conquest which was really heavenly. The quiet was sublime. We had spa appointments with facials, back scrub and hotstone massage, and scalp massage. There was a special port price of eighty-nine dollars. The spa was scrupulously clean and we both agreed that our treatments were sublime. The overhead announcements have been cut back so they're no longer as frequent as on previous sailings. That's a very good thing. Again, the waitstaff at the bars and the dining room were very friendly. The ship was clean and embarkation went smoothly. I've met all types of people on Carnival cruises. I'm not sure why this particular sailing had so many that didn't seem to be aware of (or care about) the way their children were behaving. I do put the onus on Carnival for not enforcing the behaviors of their passengers. As a paying customer I don't feel I received my dollars' worth. I've written the company to let them know. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2010
Another European cruise I undertook solo as part of a larger goal of seeing most of the continent. In particular, I chose this cruise b/c of Istanbul. I highly recommend trying to make it out to Istanbul is possible! It's an amazing ... Read More
Another European cruise I undertook solo as part of a larger goal of seeing most of the continent. In particular, I chose this cruise b/c of Istanbul. I highly recommend trying to make it out to Istanbul is possible! It's an amazing city in many ways and I could easily spend a week there. I had read many negative reviews about MSC. Personally, I think people need to chill out a bit. The Magnifica is a brand new ship - spotless. The service is excellent. The main differences are that: 1. Vast majority Europeans on board - which I think is great. 2. No dinner buffet. I personally prefer the buffet but no big deal. 3. Room service is not free (except continental breakfast). 4. Port times are short. So although room service is not included, the average plate is around 3 - 4 Euros if you order it to the room. Nothing to get excited about. And I was initially wondering about the short port times but it's due to the long distances that are sailed each night. This was a winter "off-peak" cruise. The nights were cold and the seas were very windy. But the days were great - T shirt or light vest weather. And only had rain in Dubrovnik. It was too windy to use the balcony...some nights over 100 km/hr wind....that's not a typo. Keep that in mind. The crowds were much less at the ports and the value is unbeatable! I would recommend getting cash - Euro, Lira, Kuna before-hand to save time. Bring warm gear if you take the cruise in the winter. Overall, highly recommend the Magnifica and the itinerary! Check out the relevant pics albums at: picasaweb.google.com/rhaquemd Venice, Bari, Katakolon, Izmir, Istanbul, Dubrovnik Also did Verona as a day trip from Venice. 2 hours by train each way. Awesome. At the time of this review (12/2/10) the albums are still a work in progress. But they should be done soon. I took over 4000 pics but only uploaded a sampling. Have fun! Thanks to CruiseCritic.com for a great website! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2010
Embarkation: Embarkation was going smoothly until we got to the point where we were supposed to get our stateroom key and were told to go back to the beginning as we did not have all the required paperwork. It seems the customer service ... Read More
Embarkation: Embarkation was going smoothly until we got to the point where we were supposed to get our stateroom key and were told to go back to the beginning as we did not have all the required paperwork. It seems the customer service representative who directed us at the entry point was misinformed about procedures. As we were walking back to the check in area we heard several fellow passengers were grumbling because they too had received misdirection from Holland America staff. Public Rooms: Public rooms were adequate, not spectacular by any means but not totally unpleasing. Several areas showed obvious wear and tear and contained furniture which needed to be updated, renovated or replaced. Cabin: The suite was quite spacious with a couch, chairs and small table. There was a nice balcony and plenty of storage space. The bathroom contained a glassed shower stall along with a whirlpool bath which also had a shower - good thing as the first night while showering the shower stall overflowed due to a clogged drain. The hair dryer in the room also did not work however it was replaced when a call was placed to our room attendant. The furniture in the room had wear spots and is in need of replacement in the near future. A suggestion for improvement would be to get better lighting for reading near the bed and couch. A "perk" of the cabin is access to the Neptune Lounge where light breakfast is served in the mornings and canapEs throughout the day. A concierge is also in the lounge to assist with reservations or any issue with which you may need assistance. Fitness and Recreation: This is an important component of the trip for me and unfortunately it was disappointing. The first day of the cruise I bought a thermal suite package with hopes of a sauna, thermal bath, thermal chair relaxation or some time in the steam room after my daily workouts. Unfortunately daily, something did not work properly. Some days the sauna was out of order, the thermal chairs weren't all working; the thermal bath was not heated to the proper temperature, etc. Only one television on the treadmills was working by the end of the cruise, one of two elliptical never worked and one of two recumbent bikes was not operating properly. Dining: We didn't utilize the dining room but one night opting instead to eat at the Pinnacle Grill, on the Lido deck, in the Italian Specialty Restaurant and in the room. One of the advantages of a suite is being able to order anything being served in the main dining room. Entertainment: I was not impressed with the entertainment I viewed but it should be noted I did not attend but two of the evening events. Service: The service of the room stewards was wonderful. They were attentive, knew our names on day one and greeted us wherever they saw us around the ship. They were on top of anything we needed and had a positive, upbeat attitude. The same is true of the beverage servers and dealers and supervisors in the casino. Those staff members "rock"!!! Shore Excursions: I went on only one ship shore excursion and that was to kayak in the Panama Canal. Although it was a rainy day, it was an incredible experience and one I am glad I took. Value for the Money: The price paid was not bad for the accommodations due to the discounting received however if I had paid full price, I would have been upset. Overall: Overall, it was a ship with a majority of older, not so active, adults. While younger, more energetic folks could be found they were few and far between. The positive of there were lounge chairs available on the decks anytime one was wanted. This is not a ship I plan to cruise on again and unless I see or hear some major positives in relation to this cruise line, I most definitely try another line my next trip. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2010
This was our 2nd cruise with RCI, the first being on the Radiance in March, 2008. We are in our early 50's & 60's respectively, are very active and enjoy having fun. We decided to try the Freedom to see what a larger ship ... Read More
This was our 2nd cruise with RCI, the first being on the Radiance in March, 2008. We are in our early 50's & 60's respectively, are very active and enjoy having fun. We decided to try the Freedom to see what a larger ship would offer. While the Radiance will always hold a special place in our hearts, our time on the Freedom was phenomenal! We arrived at Port Canaveral mid-morning, and check in was a breeze. We were onboard by 11:30, and, after a quick tour of the Royal Promenade, headed up to the Windjammer for lunch. Wonderful salad stations, and easy to find a seat, despite the crush of people. After lunch, we went up and checked out the fitness center, spa and pool areas. While at the spa, I entered a drawing for a $100 gift certificate for any spa service. Got into our stateroom a little before 1:00 p.m. and changed our clothes for a quick workout. Later that afternoon, while still in the fitness center, my name was drawn as the winner of the $100 certificate! Sweet! I had already signed up for a luxurious facial, so only had to pay $20, plus tip. We had chosen 2nd seating, and upon arriving at our table, discovered our tablemates were a single mother and 10 year old son. On our previous cruise, we had been seated with 2 sets of families, so were really hoping to not have the same experience repeated! Love kids, but been there, done that! But, it was all fine. Our servers, Lo and Tam, were great! First stop, Coco Cay, Bahamas: Stayed onboard, as it was extremely windy and we had planned a beach day. Enjoyed the quiet on the ship, and having the Solarium to ourselves! Next stop, St. Thomas, USVI: Did a tour of the island, while enjoyable, could have done without the constant reminders to buy from the roadside stands by our driver. Last stop, St. Maarten, DWI: This was the best, by far. Did another tour of the island, traveling from the Dutch to French side. Our driver was very entertaining, and very knowledgeable. Entertainment: Abe Hughes, the cruise director, was outstanding! Very funny, personable and approachable. Made the 70's party a blast! Featured entertainment was the Beatles' impersonation group, Revolution. They were spot on, and had everyone on their feet. The comedian was also hilarious. I also took the plunge and played bingo one afternoon, and split a $400 pot with another winner! Food: The Windjammer was fine, typical buffet food, but prepared very well. The MDR was wonderful, everything was prepared very well and delicious. Ate at Chops one night, had probably the best filet mignon ever. Well worth the extra cost. Favorite things onboard the Freedom: Coffee and people-watching every morning at the Cafe Promenade. Enjoyed all of the venues for live entertainment each evening, especially the English Pub. The captain was very visible, saw him every day walking the Promenade and talking to guests. We really enjoyed visiting with the staff, they were always interested in talking about their families and where they were from. It was a wonderful, relaxing week, and we can hardly wait until next year! Read Less

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