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Sail Date: March 2008
My mom has always wanted to go on a cruise, and as she is getting older, she decided that this was the time. As I have cruised before, she asked me to organize it. My sister is a teacher, so we had to go on Spring Break. Once we had the ... Read More
My mom has always wanted to go on a cruise, and as she is getting older, she decided that this was the time. As I have cruised before, she asked me to organize it. My sister is a teacher, so we had to go on Spring Break. Once we had the destination picked out, then it was easy for me to decide which cruise I wanted. I have only travelled on Princess, and I really like them, and will probably continue to use this cruise line. Embarkation: This was such an easy process. My mom and my aunt are 76 and 81, so I was concerned about the process and how much walking they would have to do. This was an exceptional experience. We got to the terminal around 2:30, as it was suggested to come after 1:00 PM to avoid line ups. We sailed directly to the the counter, given our information and keys, and up to the ship we went. We walked right on. There was absolutely no wait. The staff were extremely friendly. The Ship: This did not disappoint. It is so beautiful. All the common areas are wonderfully decorated and very grand looking. The dining rooms were well appointed, and the Horizon Buffet was a wonderful place to sit and enjoy the time. My mom and Aunt shared a mini-suite. This was a nice suite, and much bigger than we expected. The bathroom was ample and they had more than enough room to store their luggage. Their are safes in the rooms, and we used those to store cash and our passports. My mom and aunt messed up trying to get into it, and it was nice to see that after a couple of tries the combination was deactivated, and we had to get a purser to get us into the safe. Having a balcony was great, and we were on the side of the ship that we could watch the berthing at the ports. My sister and I shared an inside cabin, and while at first we were a little worried that we would feel claustrophobic, we soon found that when we really just use if for changing and sleeping, it just wasn't so bad. I would travel like that again. Being in an inside cabin really made living in the ship more inviting. We both had excellent cabin staff that just waited on us hand and foot. With my mom and aunt having a bit more issues with walking and getting around, they were very attentive to that, and made sure that they always had clean pathways when they saw them coming. Food: What can you say about cruiseship food other than spectacular. This is top notch from beginning to end. From the endless buffet choices to the 5 star restaurant meals in the dining room, it was all too good to be true. We chose to have first seating dining, and our wait staff was so friendly and fabulous. They made you want to eat in the dining room everynight, even though there were times we could have easily skipped it. Itinerary: Day 1 : At Sea This was a fun day that we could just explore the boat and learn about many of the different places we could hang out. The weather was beautiful. We hung out by the pool at the back of the ship, which we found to be less windy. My mom and aunt just enjoyed the sun, and sat at a table most of the afternoon, while sis and I enjoyed the pool. We also watched some entertainment on Movies Under the Stars, which runs all day. I did leave me wedding ring on a table while putting on sun screen and turned my head for a second and it was gone, and I never got it back. That was a bit disappointing. Day 2: Ocho Rios, Jamaica We got off the ship and immediately went in line for our tour. Sis and I were a bit worried about the ladies, as they were going on a different tour than we were. They went on the Koyoba Gardens tour, and then to the Dunns River Falls. We were worried about the amount of walking that they would have to do. Sis and I went and swam with dolphins, a truly enjoyable experience. But as for the ladies, they were completely looked after by the tour staff. They waited for them, helped them on and off the buses, and always made sure they were OK. It was very hot when we went, and they made sure that they were properly hydrated. I can't say enough about how well they were treated in Jamaica. Day 3: Georgetown, Grand Cayman Island We didn't do an excursion on Grand Cayman, and just really shopped. We wish would have done at least a tour of the city, and island. Next time. The shopping was fun, and we saw alot of stuff, and people. We went back to the ship early and just enjoyed the quiet ship for the afternoon. Day 4: Cozumel, Mexico This was a fabulous day. The ladies went on a tour of Cozumel, complete with dancing and lunch. They did a little shopping. They loved it, and once again were completely looked after by the tour staff. My sister and I went to the Mayah Ruins. This was a great and informative tour. It was truly a non-thinking day, as all you had to do was follow the tour guide, and the sign. We walked through a bit of Playa Da Carma, and then headed on a bus. The tour guide was exceptional. We stopped along the way for at a Mayan shop, for stuff, and then headed to the ruins. Our tour guide gave us about an hour tour, and then we were on our own to explore the rest of the ruins. It was a very hot day, and going down to the beach was alot of fun, and made it nice an cool. We had to take a ferry, which is about 45 minute ride back to the boat, and one of the tours was late. We were worried we would miss the ship, and dinner, but of course the ship waited for us. Day 5: At Sea It was nice to have another day at sea. The ladies pretty much slept all day, as they had quite a busy previous 3 days. Sis and I went and worked out, had our hair done. Mom had a pedicure. The weather remained nice and hot through out the day. We stayed perched at our usual spot at the back of the ship. Day 6: The weather turned on us over night, and we had rain today. We didn't plan on getting off the ship to the Princess Cay's island in the Bahamas. This to me is kind of a wasted day, and I would have rather seen Nassau. It sees all the ships push their own little islands in the Bahamas though. As the water was fairly rough, and the weather was rainy and cool, we just stayed inside, and some how managed to do something all day. Day 7: Ft. Lauderdale came just too soon and our week was over, but it was also nice to get going home and share our adventures. Debarkation: As easy as getting on. We got to have special debarkation because of the ladies, and were off the ship after we ate breakfast. We went directly to the airport with the transfer that we bought ahead of time, and everything was fairly simple. Looking for our luggage was not, and if I didn't have the ladies with me, I think we would have taken our own luggage off. Entertainment: There is so much to do, that you can't get it all in. From comedy acts, to Princess Popstar, we were always entertained. There is always a party of some sort on one of the decks, or just watch a movie on Movie Under the Stars, with popcorn, and pop. The only thing that I didn't like on the whole cruise, was the cost of paying for bottled water. If you had purchased a POP card, I think the water should be part of the price. All in all, it was a great trip. So much so, that I have already booked 3 more cruises, all with Princess. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2008
Port/Parking: We drove into the Port of Miami. This was somewhat confusing because there was so much going on. Once we got figured it out, we gave our bags to the porters, and parked right next to the terminal. There were 5 of us to split ... Read More
Port/Parking: We drove into the Port of Miami. This was somewhat confusing because there was so much going on. Once we got figured it out, we gave our bags to the porters, and parked right next to the terminal. There were 5 of us to split the cost, so each person had to give $20 for the convenience of parking right next to the ship. I later found out there are other places to park that are slightly cheaper, however, it was very nice being right next to the ship. Terminal: I had previously sailed on a Carnival cruise, and remembered that it took forever to get through the check-in line. This time, however, my group was given a number and the check-in process was quick and smooth. After a short wait, we were able to get on board the ship by 11:30. It was a little chaotic as the called your zone number because there was a massive rush to the escalators. That was the only negative. Embarkation: The biggest complaint that we had about the embarkation process was the way the luggage was handled. We had five people in our group. By about 6pm, only two of our five suitcases had been delivered. Right before dinner(late seating), two others showed up. All of the bags were wet. I know Carnival cannot control the weather, but they should have something in place that helps to keep luggage dry. Our clothing could have been a lot wetter, as was evident by the long line of people we saw at the purser's desk complaining about ruined/wet clothing. Carnival did launder the wet clothing for people. The last person in our group FINALLY found her suitcase in the lost luggage area close to 11pm!!! All of her luggage tags were gone! We had been there several times before then, so who knows where the missing case had been hiding. I would suggest heavy duty tags, in several different locations!! Our room steward claimed they had tried a new system for the first time, which caused delays/problems. The Cruise: We really enjoyed the cruise! I have read some of the other reviews, and noticed a lot of people mentioned lack of crew/poor crew attitudes. I have to totally disagree with them!! I loved the crew! Everyone was super nice and helpful. One morning, I had a great conversation with Adi, from Indonesia, while I ate breakfast. Our assistant waiter, Karel, was fun, and always talked to us no matter where we saw him. Even one day in port, he was friendly and took the time to speak to us. Our room steward was also awesome!! Hannah always had our room in perfect order whenever we came in. She was an extremely hard worker! I can't say I loved our cruise director so much. Her name was Noortje, and she said "um" a lot. Her voice was actually a bit annoying. Her assistant, James was equally annoying. There was room for improvement there! Food: Our party thought the Chic dining room food ranged from fair to excellent. The lobster tails were the favorite entree, and the warm chocolate melting cake was the favorite dessert! One negative here was that the random people assigned to our table like to try pretty much everything on the menu, which slowed down our service. I believe one night, the lady ate 3 or 4 appetizers, followed by 3 entrees. We were routinely the last ones out of the dining room because of her hearty appetite! Ports: Loved them all-would have like to have gotten to Old San Juan earlier in the day, as it was not so exciting to see in the dark. It was actually kinda creepy because it wasn't so well lit in some areas. Most of the historical sites were closed before we got there. St. Maarten was beautiful!!! LOVED IT. Debarkation: Went smoothly for the most part. We did self-assist, but would not do that again. It was quite a haul through the terminal and on top of that, Carnival used different terminal than they were supposed to, so we had a looonggg walk to our car. There was a problem of some sort in the one were were supposed to go to. Overall: My group enjoyed the Freedom!! It is a huge ship with plenty of things to keep everyone busy. I think that Carnival does a good job providing a great vacation at a reasonable price. We liked it enough to book on the Valor for April 09. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2008
Well I was a little worried that we booked our cruise at Spring Break but all turned out fine. The ship was sold out but it was never a problem. It still did not feel like Disney World!! We were traveling with 2 children ages 11 & 15. ... Read More
Well I was a little worried that we booked our cruise at Spring Break but all turned out fine. The ship was sold out but it was never a problem. It still did not feel like Disney World!! We were traveling with 2 children ages 11 & 15. We embarked at Miami with no problems. I noticed that lots of families brought on 12 packs of soda with no problem. I would recommend that if you have children or you love to drink soda, each guest can bring on a case of soda with no problem. We got there around 11am and was on the boat by noon eating lunch. The luggage took a little while to get to our rooms so bring a little carry on with any change of clothes that you might need right away. Our kids wanted to get in their bathing suits immediately. We got upgraded to the Spa deck which is deck 11. That was great but the only problem with the Spa deck is that deck 12 right above us was the "sun deck" and EVERY morning around 5am the crew would put out the lounge chairs and it would wake us up with the loud banging. We informed the Pursers desk but that did not help at all. I would recommend deck 10 if you can get it. The first night the kids should go to the kids club so they can meet kids on the ship their own age. My kids had a blast and meet a lot of new friends. The First day we were out at sea all day. If you want a lounge chair by the pool and activities you need to get out there real early to reserve a lounge chair. They get taken fast. We had second seating for dinner and that worked out great for us. Every day after excursions we would have time to relax, nap, and get ready for dinner and the shows. The shows were great every night but one. It was this one comedian who we did not find funny. The adults would go to the shows while the kids would go to their activities. The food was great. We never went to Scarlett's for dinner but the food in the Washington dining room was awesome. Our waiter was great too. Once he found out what you liked he would bring that to you every time without asking, on top of what you ordered for the night. Excursions: Grand Caymans - We booked a wave runner/snorkel trip through the internet with EBanks Water sports. It was a lot cheaper than the same excursion with the cruise line. They were great and we had a blast. I would not recommend this trip for elderly or with very small children who are afraid of the ocean. You definitely get bounced around out there in the ocean. The reefs were beautiful. The people at EBanks were very friendly. If you want to buy liquor there make sure you buy it before 1pm because that is the cut off time so it can get shipped to the ship in time. The rum cakes are great!! Honduras - Very poor country - We booked a Zip Line trip via the internet again. The zip line was fun. The driver is yours for the day so you have to pay him for the day. I think it was a little expensive for the excursion just because we had to pay an extra $100 to have the driver all day. The zip line tour that we took was 16 lines and it took us about 1 hour to do the lines once we started. It was still cheaper than booking it through the cruise line. Be prepared for little kids to beg. They have beautiful hand craved wood chest that are just gorgeous. The prices are very good too if that is something you like. Belize - Me and my daughter booked the Beginner Scuba through the cruise line and my husband and other daughter booked a snorkeling trip through the internet. The scuba trip was great. You definitely learn how to scuba. The provided snacks and water on the boat. My husband and other daughter said the Barrier Reef that they went to was awesome and beautiful. They loved it. We did not have to go shopping there. We did not eat lunch until we got back on the boat. When getting off the boat for your excursions they tell you that the people who booked through the cruise line get off first when they can't docked at the island (Grand Caymans & Belize), but all you have to do is just go down to the 1st floor and get in line with everybody else. They do not check. It was really quick too. They have it down to a science. Cozumel - We did not booked an excursion. We just got off the boat and rented a taxi to take us to Paradise Beach. There we paid $10 for each kid so they could play on the water toys (trampoline, inflatable rock climbing ice berg) It is very expensive there. We recommend that you bring a small cooler with you and the night before make some sandwiches at the buffet line (or get one made at the Deli station), bring some ziploc baggies with you, and pack some snacks. Burgers are $11 and fries are $6. You can snorkel there but not much to see at that beach. The taxi ride cost us $25 each way. Shopping is fun but you must haggle because the prices start off high. My daughter bought a ring that started off at a price tag of $340 and she ended up paying $80. Make sure you try the Fish and Chips if you like that kind of food in the Rosie's diner up stairs in the back of the boat. The seafood at the Fish and Chips station was really good. The hash brown cakes in the Washington dining room are really good too!! We only purchased one unlimited soda card and used it for both kids. But if you bring your own soda you can just get cups of ice anytime. We booked our massage on the first day for the 3rd day of the cruise and noticed by the last 2 days of the cruise the prices for the same massage went down. So wait to book and get Shirley if you can. She was awesome!!!! Disembarking was the only long wait we had. But that is due to customs. They are really slow. If you have a plane to catch they make sure you are first to get off the boat. Since we drove and I guess on the top floor of the boat, we were the last number to be called. We did not get off the boat and through customs until 11:00. But who is in a hurry to go back to reality. We are already looking to booked our next. We thought Carnival did a great job. Even with a sold out cruise ship. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2008
We took a cruise to Bermuda on the Norwegian Dawn. We left on April 20th and returned April 27th. Myself, my husband and our 2 1/2 year old daughter all went. We left from Manhattan, which was nice. From where we live it was easy to get to ... Read More
We took a cruise to Bermuda on the Norwegian Dawn. We left on April 20th and returned April 27th. Myself, my husband and our 2 1/2 year old daughter all went. We left from Manhattan, which was nice. From where we live it was easy to get to the port, parking was not a problem. For the week it cost $210.00 to park at the pier. Getting on the ship took about 1-1 1/2 hours total. It was not too bad but with a 2 1/2 year old it was a long wait. Once on the ship we went to our room. We booked an inside cabin. It was small, smaller then Carnival or Disney but was clean. For the most part the ship was in good shape. Everything was clean except for the windows. They often looked dirty. The ship was VERY crowded. It was spring break for many school so there were LOTS of children. It was difficult to find a seat at the buffet for lunch or breakfast. Also we had to wait approx. 30 minutes to eat in the main dining rooms for dinner. If you were not in a rush it was not such a big deal but with a 2 1/2 year old it was too much. The food for the most part was fine. We ate in the Venetian, Aqua, Salsa, Impressions and Cagney's. Impressions was fair, Aqua, Salsa and Venetian were good, I'd say Cagney's was the best (but it also cost the most). The buffet was fine for breakfast and lunch but again it was SOOO crowded. My daughter went to the kids program most evenings so we could enjoy a few hours by ourselves. It was usually crowded, but the staff seemed caring. She often cried when we left her but was fine when we picked her up. The kids pool section was nice. She really enjoyed the slide and going into the pool. However, I fell a lifeguard should be on duty there at all times. Many kids were running around, not following directions and being fairly rude. Twice medical staff had to come to tend to a child who was must due to others not following the rules. We did not use the adult pool, most days were chilly. Very few seemed to use the main pool at all. Bermuda was beautiful, although not very warm. The first day and a half we spent outside Hamilton. They needed to tender us to shore. It was a pain, poorly run. We had to wait at least an hour to get on and off the boat to get to Bermuda. There were MANY upset people. By the second day many of the tours were sold out. We decided to take the bus ourselves to Horseshoe Bay Beach. It coast us $10.00 round trip by bus. The bus was staff, reliable and cheap (a great way to see the island). Horseshoe Bay is a public beach. They had bathrooms, food and was free to get into. We only spent about an hour there since it was chilly. The last day we were in the dockyard. It was east to get on and off the ship. They had a free trolly to see the dockyard. It was so beautiful. They had a snorkel park, a shopping area, a museum and some places to eat in the dockyard area. Getting off the ship we did the express disembarkation. So did many others. We waited about 1-1/2 hours to get off the ship. The cruise overall was not bad just crowded, The weather also could have been better. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2008
For our annual Spring Break cruise, our family of 3 decided on the warm climate of the Southern Caribbean. Our family (Dad, Mom & Daughter, 14) have been on cruises for the last 3 years on Carnival Spirit class ships; two to the ... Read More
For our annual Spring Break cruise, our family of 3 decided on the warm climate of the Southern Caribbean. Our family (Dad, Mom & Daughter, 14) have been on cruises for the last 3 years on Carnival Spirit class ships; two to the Mexican Riviera and one to the Western Caribbean. Mom & Dad had been to the Southern Caribbean many years ago and thought it would be a great time to re-visit. For 2008 we were bit by cruise fever and booked this year's cruise two weeks after our 2007 cruise. After a fair amount of research we decided on Royal Caribbean's Adventure of the Seas. None of our family had been on RCI before and we had heard so many great things about the line, we wanted to try it (our previous cruises being on Carnival, Norwegian, and Holland America). In booking this cruise, we booked direct with RCI and arranged all of our travel (including transfers) through them in order to guarantee not being responsible for missed/late flights. Coming from the Pacific Northwest (Seattle), with a fairly narrow window of vacation time, we didn't have time to get in a day early or out a day late. Our cruise documents came in on time and included, of course, the dreaded red eye flight to the San Juan, Puerto Rico embarkation point from Seattle via Washington, DC (Dulles/United Airlines). The flight, including connections, went well; and we arrived in plenty of time at the San Juan airport. We were, however, concerned that all of the 5 checked bags would make it all the way; in fact they did. There was a RCI agent near baggage claim who guided us to a meeting point, put us into single file, and marched us to our transfer vans. When we got there we were told to hand our baggage to their baggage handlers where they were tossed into the back of a small box van. Often you are told about tipping porters; here there was not really the opportunity and it was the last time we saw our bags until they showed up outside our room. For expediency's sake, I would recommend having your cruise tags on and all your items for the day with you before you leave baggage claim. The trip from the airport was relatively quick except for another party on the bus had become separated from another in their party and slowed us down by having to verify where all their passes were. The embarkation was the smoothest I think we have ever been through. We got to the ship around 11:30AM and were able to go through a shorter line as we didn't have any luggage to check. The check in was simple as Mom always completes the sea pass first and has everything organized perfectly. The trip through security and screening was no big deal and we were on board really quickly. Being the first trip on a ship as big as Adventure of the Seas, we were a little concerned about there being 'too many people' on the ship and it being too big. Carrying over 3000 passengers, Adventure carries about 1000 more passengers than Carnival's Spirit class vessels. In spite of that, it sure didn't feel that way. Waiting was really only a problem where it comes to elevators. The ship itself, to us, was beautiful; very nicely decorated though not gaudy. Materials seemed well chosen and of good quality. Our room, an outside cabin with balcony was clean and comfortable. It was probably smaller than the Carnival ships we have been on, with a little less storage. The room had a bunk (over the main bed) for our daughter; this was comfortable enough (except for dad regularly slamming his head into it) though the Carnival ships had a convertible sofa for this purpose. The sofa in our RC cabin was not very comfortable and largely useless. One of the best benefits of this cabin was that the door to the balcony was a sliding door that required no bungees to keep open! The deck chairs were comfortable. The bathroom was typical of most every other cruise ship we have been on; tight but efficient. This ship had a hard plastic shower enclosure so there was no wrestling with any shower curtain. Water was warm, to hot. The shower was relatively easy to control the temperature, but it was hard to get cold water at the sink sometimes. The toilet was sometimes reluctant to flush; but eventually it decided to after a few minutes. The layout of the ship was generally OK though getting around was more difficult than it seemed it should be. Elevator travel was pretty bad; especially after a shore excursion. Further, you couldn't skip up a floor and migrate to the other end of the ship to catch the other elevator bank as a lot of the lower floors do not 'go through'. As could be expected, these always seemed to be overly busy at meal time or when coming back from a shore excursion. Dining areas, including the Windjammer informal dining area, are on the aft end of the ship. The ship also had an ice rink, putting course, in line skating course and a basketball court. These seemed to get a fair amount of use; though with dad's recently torn ACL we didn't use a lot of them. The main pool deck is carpeted with 'Astroturf' which was cool to the feet; though you could still get some hot feet on the hard woods near the pool. There were the typical sea day scourges of lounge savers. We did not see RCI enforce this though we didn't have too much of a problem finding space in some nook or cranny. There is a small kid's pool/slide on the aft end that seemed popular. This was also near the kids clubs; our daughter didn't participate in any of these, nor the teen programs, so we can't really comment on them. The other common areas of the ship that we saw include the main promenade, libraries, lounges and internet 'cafes'. The promenade seemed, for some reason, smaller than the pictures we had seen of it. Nonetheless, it was nicely decorated, a good location for people watching or getting a drink. We didn't see a lot of food available as you would think in a typical pub/bar scene but you could probably find food somewhere else. There were also a number of shops down there that were selling the typical cruise fare of merchandise; nothing too special except for the cruise doggie T-shirts. The lowest aft floor had the photo display area and art display near the entrance to the ice rink. This trip we didn't feel the impact of ships photographers like we have in the past. We also didn't purchase any of the photos they took. The lines for many of the sessions seemed long as well. One of the main things people seem to comment on is the food. While our experience is largely a comparison from our Carnival Spirit class ships; suffice it to say we were disappointed in the food. This may be partly from high expectations and shouldn't be construed as saying the food was bad; however, the food was the most disappointing, to us. Simply put, we thought the menu was un-imaginative, bland and not up to the standards we have expected from our previous cruises. We are not really into haute cuisine, but thought it would be better than it was. We were told that this cruise had a new menu that was being worked through. There is room for improvement. None of the dinner dishes seemed to have any flair or spice to them. The steaks were marginal, seafood plain and chicken very average. One night there was a menu entitled "Brilliance of the Seas" so I doubt they were firing on all cylinders. No sign of fillet mignon; anywhere. For breakfast, we ate mainly in the Windjammer; this was pretty plain too. The sausage and potato offerings were bland and not too exciting; scrambled eggs varied by additives daily and there was also an omelet bar. There was no midnight chocolate extravaganza. While there were plenty of bars to get a drink or a soda, there was no quick-access lemonade/juice/ice water available right near the pool. Lunch was OK though limited in scope. The meals seemed largely the same day to day. Carnival had a rotating, made to order, menu that was both fun and tasty. RCI, while largely filling and OK to taste, was less than we expected. The entertainment on AOS was about what we had expected. The stage shows were what you would expect on the open seas; there is a reason these acts are on the sea and not on Broadway. That isn't a complaint, just a fact of life in our eyes. The ice show was really pretty good and should not be missed if you are looking for entertainment. Shore excursions!! Aruba was the first; mom & dad had been there before and had high hopes for this island. We had booked on the Jolly Pirates, private booking, but were cancelled due to 'mechanical problems' the week before the cruise. Conveniently, RCI closed its shore excursion bookings at the same time so we couldn't book through them, or anything else. Needless to say our back up was less than inspiring. Our advice, hit a beach straight away or do a jeep trip. Skip the sights of Aruba. Curacao, our second site, was great. We booked a tour through Curacao -ACTIEF, privately. They arranged a 'customized' tour that hit a lot of the island and some of the beaches. It was a lot of fun. Kudos to Howard, our guide, who made it most fun; probably the best guided tour we have been on. St. Maarten mom & daughter went to a beach (Oyster Bay - don't miss the infinity pool) and shopping. This was probably the best shopping opportunity for our family; especially if you are into 'purses'. Look for Sona or Kenny's on Front Street. Dad had booked an excursion on the Americas Cup sailing regatta, through the ship. If you are into sailing, and maybe if you are not, this was the BEST shore excursion that dad has ever been on. We raced a five leg race with a pair of original Americas Cup 12 meter yachts. Everyone wants to be on Stars & Stripes; we were on Canada 2, racing against Stars & Stripes and won. What fun! It can be a lot of work (grinders) but you can also enjoy the ride. A GREAT day. On St Thomas, we ditched shopping and booked a catamaran trip to St Johns for snorkeling, sun enjoyment, and drinks on the way back. This was great for us as it allowed us some relaxing downtime towards the end of the cruise. Other random comments: Drinks seemed more expensive than they should be; caveat emptor, and be aware of ways to minimize the hit. We had read about the 'make up' of the passenger clientele being skewed to a particular direction; this cruise was no different than any we had been on before and probably better behaved than some. The service was generally great; we would not discount RCI based on this. Our trip back from San Juan took TWO DAYS!! Booked through RCI on United we missed connections and spent a lost day in Washington DC. We were taken care of and put up in a nice place, but when you call RCI and ask about 'getting us home' they tell you that 'you have to talk to United; we have a contract with them.' What about our contract with RCI?!! In all, we had a great time. While we were disappointed in a number of factors, none of them ruined our trip. We probably would do this trip and other RCI trips, again but with different expectations. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2008
My family (husband and I plus our two boys 7 and 11) went on this cruise with our in laws and another family (husband wife and 7 year old son) on April 6th. It was spring break for the kids and for my mother in law, who is a teacher. ... Read More
My family (husband and I plus our two boys 7 and 11) went on this cruise with our in laws and another family (husband wife and 7 year old son) on April 6th. It was spring break for the kids and for my mother in law, who is a teacher. Husband and I are Carnival veterans, this was our 8th cruise. However, this was our first time leaving from San Diego. Embarkation: We drove down to San Diego and left our cars in a park in ride. A shuttle at the park and ride provided a free shuttle to the cruise terminal. After a short ride to the terminal, I noticed a huge amount of people at the terminal all scattered about. I though, "how unorganized! This is going to take hours!". I was wrong! Despite all the people and a computer problem (they could not process our paperwork or activate our expense accounts) we on the ship in 30 minutes. Food: In the 10 years we have been cruising with Carnival, they have not changed their menu, which isn't necessarily a bad thing! I look forward to their wonderful cold soups (gaspatcho, mango crea, strawberry) every cruise, as well as lobster and bread pudding. The dining room service has always been spectacular, but this time it was just horrible! The dinner service was the low point of the cruise. Our waitress was really bad. She wasn't rude or unpleasant,just really inept! We were getting out appetizers while other diners were getting their desserts! She would bring items out and leave on the tray for up to 15 minutes before she served them. Dinner service the first night took 2 hours. We complained to the head waiter, but the poor service continued all week. The Supper Club service was great and the food was good. The bartender was a chatty Slovenian girl who was very heavy handed with with the vodka in her martini's! You definitely got what you paid for! Lido dining had a large variety of items, but the lines were long. Long lines, however, are to be expected when you travel during spring break. Cabo: There were 5 ships in port, which is a lot for a small town like Cabo. The tenders took forever! We had booked a shore tour through another agency and had to cancel because they were running late. Shopped for about an hour, then got an early tender back on the ship. No big, I've been to Cabo 4 times before, so I wasn't missing out. Mazatlan: Did the Stone Island tour. Great beach, but the vendors can get quite annoying. You buy one thing, then the others's swarm you. Not much can be done since all of Mexico's beaches are public. La Paz: Hired a taxi and spent the day at a local beach. The water is crystal clear, but very cold! Downtown was quaint, not much was open. On board activities: Bingo, at $20, was a rip off. I enjoyed the trivia games won some medals and a "plastic ship on a stick". My 11 year old loved karaoke. He really didn't participate much in the kids club due to the fact that he was at the tail end (he was 2 months from turning 12) of the 9 to 11 kids club. My 7 year old and his friend had dinner everynight with the kids club. The past guest and captains party were wonderful. Waiters walked around with cocktails and appetizers. The shops were overpriced, but I did get a good deal on Absolut vodka, 2 bottles for $18! I avoided the art auction like the plague since I spent $395 on a painting on my last cruise and never even hung it up! We didn't check out the shows. We all find them to be very cheesy and can't stand the over the top, exaggerated singing! They are produced well, but not really our cup of tea! Debarkation: Our steward was kind enough to let us stay in cabin until they called our group. Getting off the ship was a snap and before we knew it we were on our shuttle to the parking garage. We hopped in the car and head home planning our next cruise the entire 2 hours that it took to get home! Final thoughts: I am a believer that the most important thing to take with you on vacation is an open mind. Keep in mind that you are on a Carnival ship, the most affordable cruise line out there. Keep that in mind anytime you question the clientele or the food quality. You are also an adult and are perfectly capable of locating your own room. You aren't royalty or a super celeb, so don't expect champagne to be handed to you. Again, if you desire services such as room escorts and champagne service, then book a Crystal cruise. If you feel like you don't fit in, book at Holland America. Kids bother you? Don't go on a cruise during spring break, if you don't have a choice, book a cruise that is geared towards an older crowd or couples. Treat the staff like you would want to be treated. If you are condescending or belittling, expect to be treated just as bad. I go on Carnival knowing I am NOT going to get white glove treatment. I know I am going to encounter some "trashy" people and mediocre food. Why do I go? Because Carnival fits my family and friends' budgets to a tee. I know what to expect, I get what I pay for and sometimes evenmore! By the way, we will be going on our 9th Carnival Cruise on Aug 25th! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2008
I was very excited to be going on Ventura after waiting 12 months since my booking. The problems started at Southampton when i had to wait for 2 hours in a Q to park the car.This is unacceptable for any passenger but especially disabled ... Read More
I was very excited to be going on Ventura after waiting 12 months since my booking. The problems started at Southampton when i had to wait for 2 hours in a Q to park the car.This is unacceptable for any passenger but especially disabled passengers, which i am sure i was not the only one . There was a long Q to get on board and the Lady at the security check in for bags etc asked me if it was nearly at the end as she had been on duty for 4 hours already.She said its always like this when Ventura is in .We finally got on board at 4.00 and it was time to sail.We did not go to the muster station for the emergency drill as it had already started and no one asked us if we were going. This is the first time i have seen this happen where people don't need to go to such an important meeting. We met first timers who had not been either.The cabin was beautiful.The problems started straight away. We were booked for early dinner and when we went down the Q was horrendous. When we went for our table for 2 we found 4 tables for 2 stuck together to make a table for 8. We were lucky the others were lovely people but had also asked for tables for 2. The service was really slow and the dining room was really cold all week. The food was sometimes only lukewarm.The self service restaurant  was our next call next morning for breakfast and the Q here was worse than the night before. This was like this all week. Not much staff to cope with over 3.000 people. Lots of complaints about the wait for cups glasses cutlery etc.I have been loyal to this company since 1997 and have never seen anything like it .I did not like the fact that the hand washing gel is now self service. There were lots of people not bothering with it and i was very worried about picking up a bug. There were 4 ports of call and there were shuttle busses to take you from the dock . When we went the first morning for the bus and guess what there were at least 300 in the Q and hardly any busses. Lots of people complaining.. The other 2 days the exact same thig with people waiting in the long Q.I felt very sorry for people who were on their first cruise.Lots were saying NEVER AGAIN.I heard lots of people saying they will be going back to Royal Caribbean as they know how to treat customers.I would not travel on Ventura Again. I had hoped to book AZURA for next year but not now as it will be just the same or maybe even worse.I have booked Arcadia for October . I have travelled on her before and there were no problemsFor my 2010 cruises i will be looking at Royal Caribbean and Celebrity and Cunard  as i met lots of satisfied customers from these companies Read Less
Sail Date: May 2008
     This was the first time my family and I had taken a cruise (my husband and I are both 30 and we took our 9yr old son and 4yr old daughter). We decided to leave from Baltimore because we didn't have to fly. We drove there from ... Read More
     This was the first time my family and I had taken a cruise (my husband and I are both 30 and we took our 9yr old son and 4yr old daughter). We decided to leave from Baltimore because we didn't have to fly. We drove there from the Eastern Shore of MD. The Carnival Pride was a beautiful ship and our balcony stateroom was awesome. Although we had nothing to compare it to. However my mom and dad also went along with us on this trip. They have sailed with Carnival before on the Glory. They said that the staff, entertainment, and food on the Pride dwarfed in comparison. I myself was a little dissapointed in the friendliness of the staff. I have heard countless testamonials from other cruisers on how amazing the staff on Carnival's cruises are. However on the Pride you could definately tell that most of them were there just to do their job. There were a couple of exceptions though. Our room steward Gede was great. We also had a very friendly bar waiter- Taufik.      The entertainment on the Pride was good. The shows were excellent. Although if you are traveling with kids, keep in mind that the show "Vroom" has VERY skimpy outfits. I'm talking g-strings. My husband didn't mind but I was glad that my 9 year old son was at Camp Carnival. My son loved Camp Carnival. He spend most of his evenings there while we were just lounging around or catching a show. They offered a wide variety of activities to keep the kids entertained. My daughter did not want to go just out of her shyness. Plus, the camp is in the very front of the boat and when she did go the first day I think it was just a little too rough up there for her. I do not get motion sickness, but after visiting the ship's arcade with the kids one evening (also in the fwd part of the ship) I felt nauseated. The Pride also offered a lot of activities for adults. Do yourself a favor and catch the men's hairy chest competition if you have never seen it before. It was a riot! I also attended one of the bingo games on board. I thought the bingo was quite expensive. They play 1 game and it is $20 for a sheet with 3 cards on it. They also offer live music on the lido deck every day. The music was ok, I just wish they would put in a new sound system or fix the one they have. The music came across screechy and very LOUD. You could not hear the people at your own table talking to you.     On this cruise my family opted out of the formal dining. All of us just went to relax and we did not want to dress up. So, the only food I can comment on is what came out of the Mermaid Grille. The food was again....just okay. They offered a different meat selection every night. However, the side dishes remained the same for the most part. Lets just say I don't want to see steak fries or white rice for a while. The cheeseburgers and hotdogs poolside where really good. Just don't go there at lunch time and expect not to wait. The line wait was about 20-25mins long between noon and 1pm. If you have a sweet tooth, they offer an awesome dessert buffet during the lunch hours. I did find the lunch meal to be better than the dinner. Especially if you want different selections.     All in all this was a great cruise. My family needed a relaxing vacation and Carnival provided it! I will definately sail with Carnival again, but on a different ship. The Pride didn't show me anything I will CRAVE to see again. I guess they just need a little more time in their new port to get it together. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2008
We drove from home in the Midlands to the port of Southampton taking our usual 2.5 hour and arrived just after 12 noon. We dropped of the luggage and parked the car and then walked back to the terminal in order to go through the passport ... Read More
We drove from home in the Midlands to the port of Southampton taking our usual 2.5 hour and arrived just after 12 noon. We dropped of the luggage and parked the car and then walked back to the terminal in order to go through the passport control. We were soon on the ship and were welcomed with a glass of champagne after walking through a balloon archway. It made you feel like royalty. We rode the elevator up to the lido deck and walked along to the Windjammer restaurant to have a quick spot of lunch. Plenty of choice of food and soon seated. We then went for a walk around the deck and marvelled at the Flowrider. After having a quick game of golf we went back inside the ship and wandered round finding our bearings. One good thing about the royal promenade is that there are so many different things to look at and do, gift shops, bars, snack bars, etc etc. The evening meal was taken in one of the main restaurants and we had a very pleasant head waiter called Maximo. He was a great comic and made us laugh with his intepretation of the English language ie. a jacket potato. When he had first heard about a jacket potato he thought it was a potato with a napkin wound round it to form a jacket. To say the table was in fits of laughter was an understatement. The first evening was spent moving around bars, theatre and sampling all that the ship had to offer. Also as we found the ice rink and it was fairly quiet we had a try. At one stage we were even the only two on it. Less people to laugh when I nearly fell over! Cabin was just underneath the bridge and was an oceanview. It was very spacious and the bed was enormous. Bathroom was small but functional. Also had a small sofa which is a great advantage as it means that you do not have to sit on the bed whenever you are in the cabin to watch the TV. First and only port was Cobh, Ireland Cruise port in order to go to Cork City. Morning was spent walking around and watching the brave souls try the flowrider. Had a couple of games of golf and a quick game on the basketball court. About 1 - 2 pm we hit the outskirts of Ireland and then followed the inlet into Cobh. We were escorted to the dock by pilot boats spouting water fountains. As this was Indy's second appearance in a month, she was still warmly welcomed by the irish crowds who were lining all the streets of the town in order to see the largest liner (at the time) enter their town. As we were stood on the deck everyone was taking photos, people on the ship were waving at people on the docks and street and vice versa. To add to the occasion, the local market was happening alongside the lower streets of the town. Once we had docked, we left the ship and went for a walk around the town. It is very compact and very attractive, with an enormous church at the top of the hill which overlooks the whole town. We went and sampled some of the local drink in one of the many public houses in the town. After a couple of hours sampling the local life, we went back to the ship for evening meal and then went back out on the town again. The next day we left the ship and took the bus into Cork city. We then caught another bus and went to Blarney castle. We toured the grounds and then climbed the many steps inside the castle to the very top where we kissed the Blarney stone. On return to the city we walked around for a while and then caught the train back to Cobh. Left Cobh at 6 pm. The following day was spent at sea cruising back to Southampton. During the day we again watched people on the flowrider. I had a go at climbing the rock wall and got halfway up. Some very small children were climbing up it with no bother at all. Had another game or two of golf and in the afternoon watched the Ice Show. Considering how small this rink is the shows which are produced on it are spectactular. The skaters put in throws and stuff which you see on the television and they have no room whatsover to get their speed up before the throws. Congratulations to them. Whatever you do, do not miss the ice shows!! Best entertainment on the ship. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2008
Lovin' the Freedom 12/20/08 I will admit after reading several negative reviews I was a bit worried. However, I do think every vacation is what we make of it. We are heading out of town me, dh, dd 17, and ds 13 from Indiana. ... Read More
Lovin' the Freedom 12/20/08 I will admit after reading several negative reviews I was a bit worried. However, I do think every vacation is what we make of it. We are heading out of town me, dh, dd 17, and ds 13 from Indiana. Bad weather was predicted and we were keeping our fingers crossed to get out of Indy on the evening of the 19th. The kids weren't as I say "pleased" with being away from their friends for 13 days but oh well life goes on. They also had me started out on the negative. We booked through a online travel agency whom we've used the last three out of four cruises.(Cruise Value Center) and since we booked within the sixty days we had to pay full price at booking. Thank heavens the money we paid went directly to Carnival or we could have been up the creek.........we booked a inside gty and ended up in cabin 2464 on the main deck. For spring break this past year we had the gty and got on the lido deck that was awesome. Anyways cabin 2464 was towards the back and we had a great steward named Amy. It is the first time we have had a female but she did a excellent job for us. The kids were normally in bed too late for room service until she came back in the afternoon but we were very happy with the services she provided. We left her a gift bag full of goodies and our Christmas tree we had brought along. Getting on the ship: we flew into west Palm Beach on friday evening and drove down to the Hilton at the airport for a good nights sleep. Our flight arrived light so we did not get to bed until about 1am. the kids were exhausted after getting up for school at 6am so we decided to let them sleep until 9:30 or 10"ish". We got up got ready and headed to drop off our rental car at the airport. Unlike last cruise there was no wait at the airport for the free port shuttle and were on our way in no time. When we arrived at the port we had to get luggage tags since CVC had went out of business and failed to send them to me and for some reason I was unable to print online. Once in the LONG line outside it was a breeze. I really thought it would take forever but it moved quickly and we were having lunch within the hour. Food: we had our first lunch from the deli(which we loved on the Liberty) and were quite pleased. We managed to visit there several times during the week either for lunch or late night snack since they are open until 11pm. We got the early seating as requested and were at table 355 in the posh dining room. Our waiter was GREAT!! We called him Suki (his name was Sukatiawm) and his asst Andrew who was just there for the 2nd week did a great job as well. We have NEVER had a wait staff get to know & remember all of our names. they would call us by name in the dining room or anywhere else we saw them on board that was amazing to us. Like I said we were impressed with both of them as well as our bar waitress who just started from thailand Nareerat. Our table was lower level and a table for four. I was so bummed as my hubby & myself were hoping to have "others" to chat with to relax and get to know. I did go and request a larger table and after waiting in line they informed me requests were only for early/late changes etc. No big deal but they could have been nice about it. It worked out actually we were not in a booth so we had a open table with a space between another family from Florida. We got to know them quite well and hung out with them in the casino and lounge areas. it is fun to hear about other peoples lives etc........ it made our dinners more enjoyable. I am sure we had more conversation that we would have if it was just us and the kids since they could not understand why we refused to pay forty cents per text message for them to text uncontrollably home. I know I was a much BETTER teenager to point out lol OOPS back to the actual FOOD...... we found something each evening that we found delightful. The lobster(all 6 my dh had and the 2 for me yummy). Chateaubriand mmmmmmmm filet dd was too done but sent back and second one fine. Steaks seem sometimes to get "too cooked" but they will just bring another and I was not cooking so it was even better. Kids loved the melting cake every day and I was happy to have baked alaska & my 13 yo thought it was 'cool" to have expresso. (even though it is nasty he told his sister but was trying to bug me). Kids Activities: our 17 yr old always has enjoyed the teen hangs. She will sleep in and run of fto hang out with kids her age and has been happy to do so. My one complaint is they have absolutely NO ACTIVITIES for her next year. Once you are 18-pre 21 they do not have meet & greets , games, socializing or nothing which I find odd. I heard tons and tons and tons of people complaining about this throughout the cruise. they are not at the age for everything "organized" but they need a movie night, meet & greet, games, or karaoke to still feel included in my opinion. I hope Carnival does something about this because I feel they will lose lots of cruisers if not. Common Areas: the layout of the Freedom is identical to the Liberty and we LOVE it. There are plenty of places to sneak away to read or chit chat. I love the larger ships for this fact. Entertainment: my favorite thing on the ship was the lido big screen!! They have so many opportunities to use this that I think they could do way more with it. I was very surprised they did NOT show any Christmas movies at all. I figured we'd see the polar express or Santa claus or something ...... but nope. They have it on during the day with photos while the Caribbean bands/groups play music which is a nice touch but I wish they would have late night movies and stuff maybe someday. We normally enjoy spending alot of time in the piano bar...... this cruise it was not so happening so I was alittle disappointed. Not much of a crowd any night so it was alittle boring but I did enjoy watching karaoke instead. the lady in charge of both the family & individual karaoke does a wonderful job. Be sure to comment card her because I heard everyone with comments get promotions or raises or something like that. We enjoyed the Beatles show, and Legends as well as Percy Crews the comedian absolutely hilarious!!(I hope we can see him again another time.) We went to the Welcome Aboard show, the Christmas Show on the 26th(the boat was rocking so much they had to cancel it on Christmas) & Sea Feud where I finally won my first Carnival gold medal lol. Besides that we didn't make it to the lounge. Fitness area: I didn't personally use it but my husband enjoyed working out daily. He loved the sauna and steam rooms as well. His one complaint was why do men just think they should come in these places totally naked and sit down right by you and strike up a conversation? I am not sure if the ladies is the same way but I would have been uncomfortable as well. Ports: two new ports for us this time. Cozumel was wonderful as it was last time for us. Our family LOVES Paradise Beach it is so relaxing and fun for the kids. The food and service was good and the kids enjoyed the free access to email thank God they limit it to 15 minutes so they could check myspace or facebook HAHA. Several kids did get "stung" by miniature jellyfish I believe in the waters here. They had vinegar up at the bar though for any discomfort. The weather was amazing I think in the 80s and it was cloudy when we first arrived and it rained for maybe an hour but the rest of the day was beautiful. I will take sunny & 80+ on December over snow and wind chills in Indiana any day. Costa Rica- we booked a private excursion of white water rafting with a another family from our roll call. We used Danillo Hall (from C.R. boards) and were very very happy with the excursion. We had not gotten our confirmation back before we left so I sent an email from cozumel and said we would be there if he still had room and there he was with a sign for us. His van was full but had two others families private taxis to follow him for the tour it was great. We paid $85 per person. Carnival does the same tour for $115 per person and they cannot bring the tour bus down to the rapids entrance so they had to walk I'd estimate a mile or so DOWN the road to ge there. I would have been pissed. It was a wonderful excursion and we all had a great day. We learned about their culture and the banana plantations and were satisfied with the day. It is a very poor country so please follow advisory and do not go out on your own by foot. Both taxi & tours seemed the safe bet to me. Panama- we really were not interested in seeing the panama canal as we wanted to 'go to the beach' for our holiday. We booked on our own a day at the Panama Sol Melia hotel. They have the most amazing pool area. It is three tiered you can jump off the cascading waterfall thing to below and we just relaxed here all day. It was $99 for the night. Bad thing they hardly speak ANY english at all. the website says they have free kayaking, ziplining, basketball, and volleyball....... yes it is all there but the ziplines have not worked for two years, nobody EVER came the entire day for us to use kayaks, and the bball & vball were just okay but nothing to write home about. We were there for relaxation so it was fine for us. I think we will plan something else next time or probably just skip this port. To be honest with you we had a great time and were happy to get away. Others may not have enjoyed it as much as us but honestly that doesn't really matter to me. I will still read reviews and take it with a grain of salt because every one has different tastes. i look forward to cruising again with Carnival in the near future. I can't wait to make my countdown clock which I can check daily and obsess over reading everything on Cruise Critic. Read Less

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