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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2014
Positives: Beautiful ship. Very good service by staff and crew. Smooth operation of complicated itinerary. Interesting guest lecturers. Good orientation lectures about each port of call. Flexible dining and always the desired table, even ... Read More
Positives: Beautiful ship. Very good service by staff and crew. Smooth operation of complicated itinerary. Interesting guest lecturers. Good orientation lectures about each port of call. Flexible dining and always the desired table, even for 2, even with the ship full. You can bring your own wine and champagne on board! ($18 corcage fee if served in a restaurant). Beautiful flower arrangements. Wonderful live classical music daily. Reasonable coffee prices. Good selection of movies in Wajang Theatre, often relevant to the destinations visited. Negatives: Way too many announcements over the PA system, in english and dutch, obtrusive. Insufficient variety in food. Taste of food varying. Melons and watermelons often near to rotten, quality of cut fruits low. Only alibi-sushi (must try the sweet potato fries though!). Few production shows (but fairly good). Many guest entertainers of varying quality, practically all british or irish. And as always on cruise ships: Way too expensive shore excursions, no information about cost of individual transportation, internet rates and speed unacceptable ($0.75/min). It's a small cabin, however with ample drawer space. But I knew this ship, so knew what to expect.  Just want to point out that in the cabin 3387 we experienced noises every night because the galley is just above. Apparently heavy objects are being moved around and bumped on the ground. This must be a permanent situation.In addition, at some point a different type of noise occurred, which turned out to be a malfunction of the steam system (whatever that is). So eventually we had to be given another, inside cabin to sleep for 3 nights, before we were moved to another outside cabin.Our neighbors at cabin 3387 told me they heard these noises as well. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2014
World Voyage on QE  Sorry this is really long but it was a 118 day voyage! Embarkation - January 10, 2014 - The traffic in Southampton was horrible (no fault of Cunard) but once I made it to the terminal things moved quickly. My check-in ... Read More
World Voyage on QE  Sorry this is really long but it was a 118 day voyage! Embarkation - January 10, 2014 - The traffic in Southampton was horrible (no fault of Cunard) but once I made it to the terminal things moved quickly. My check-in time was 1 pm and I arrived around noon. There was no queue and I checked in and was on the ship in a matter of about 10 minutes. My three big bags and carryon were in my stateroom by 2:00. Food - I was in the Britannia Restaurant at table 330 which is about in the middle of the restaurant on deck two. We started out as a table of 10 solo travelers but this changed from segment to segment. The food was usually very good. There is a pasta, a fish, two meats and two vegetarian selections each night. You can usually also get certain off-menu items like a Caesar Salad, shrimp cocktail, fresh fruit, a chicken or meat entree, jell-o, etc. if you ask (These are not printed on the menu or advertised - I found out from a frequent Cunarder). The servers were excellent and I am sure would have tried to get other things if I had asked. I seldom eat breakfast and the few times I did was in the Lido. There was a good selection of items but, not surprisingly, some things did run out on longer segments. Lunch in the Lido was good with a selection of main courses, fresh salads, fresh fruit, cheese, breads, a soup, a hot dessert as well as a number of cold ones. There was also an Asian section. Most lunches also had chewy cookies in 2-3 different flavors. There is also a soft-serve ice cream machine with chocolate and vanilla ice cream. The Verandah - only ate here once but it was very good. The service was excellent. Lunch in the Golden Lion Pub - I ate lunch here a few times. The fish and chips were very much to my liking. The choice of meals are all typical pub fare. Alternative Dining in the Lido - I only ate here once when the theme was Asian (called Jasmine). The main course choices (there were three) were not my favorites but the soup, appetizers and desserts were excellent. Room Service - The Room service menu was more than adequate and service was fairly fast (arriving in under 20 minutes). The food was good and the choices varied from the dining room/Lido menus. Stateroom - I had a BC balcony stateroom on deck 7. The bed was very comfortable and had nice soft sheets. There was a 2-seat couch which opened into a bed (which would have been very tight with three people). Bathroom was very compact with a small shower. Plenty of space for my things on the shelf under the sink or on the small shelves beside the counter. Penhaligon's Quercus toiletries were provided - shampoo, conditioner, bath and shower gel, body lotion, and bar soap. Also a shower cap, cotton balls and Q-tips were provided. I had no problem with the quality of the towels although I heard complaints from others. Bathrobes and slippers were also provided. The balcony had three chairs which made it somewhat cramped but I probably could have had one or two removed if I had asked. I enjoyed the privacy of my balcony because I was not in one of the cut-in parts or corner balconies so I was not visible to other balconies. Entertainment - The Royal Cunard Singers and Dancers were very good and I saw each of their shows at least once (they repeated on most segments). The entertainers who were brought on for one or two shows varied greatly. Some were absolutely horrible (I walked out on one comedian whose show was raunchy and would have gone over better on a college campus than on Cunard) and some were amazingly good (a number of singers and a man who played the dulcimer come readily to mind). Most of the folkloric groups brought on in various ports were quite good. "Nexus" (billed as the "International Party Band") were ok but seemed to always play the same few songs at the sail-aways. (Sail-aways were a disappointment to some because there was not much participation.) Lectures - Most sea days had two lectures. The topics were widespread (Hitchcock's movies, the Golden Age of Ocean Liners, Pompeii and Herculaneum, famous women associated with Greenwich Village, history of U-boats, the Dreamflight program, "My Favorite Planet", the Cold War, etc.). One of my favourite writers, Bill Bryson, was on for a segment and spoke three times. All the lectures I saw were great. Most were broadcast on the TV in your stateroom if you missed them in person. Activities - There were a number of activities during the day. Some of these were held every day, some only on sea days. Movies were shown just about every day, usually at 2 p.m. There were computer classes (some free, some with a fee), bridge lessons, art lessons, sports competitions, trivia (sometimes 4 times a day), bingo,and classes in dancing, scarf tying and napkin folding. Sea days had needlework/knitting group hosted by the social hostess. Afternoon tea was served each day in the Queens Room and the room looked quite elegant. It was a nice break in the afternoon. There were other activities as well but you get the idea. At night there was live music in at least three venues (there are close to 25 musicians on board - not including the singers and dancers), dancing, trivia and other competitions, sing-alongs in the pub, and "Chocolate and Ice" buffets. There were a number of cocktail parties on each segment - full World Voyage guests, different levels of the World Club program, and those guests that just joined on each segment. One thing I would like to see on World Voyages is craft classes by a craft expert (not the social hostess). Cunard could charge a nominal fee for supplies. Balls - We had about 25 over the 118 days. The Black and White Ball was the only one that had most people participating. For the others there was usually no more than about 5% taking part. For the ball, special themed banners are hung in the Queens Room. Those who dress for the theme parade around the room and sometimes there were prizes. Dancing goes on for a couple of hours. Since most balls were on formal nights, as long as you have on formal wear there is no problem. Solo Travel - I was lucky to be on a very active Cruise Critic Roll Call. I spent two nights in Southampton prior to the voyage and ate with CC friends both nights. By the time I boarded the ship I already knew a number of people. We had a meet and greet each segment and I got to know many of the people on the roll call. Cunard put ten solos together at the dinner table for the first month of the World Voyage. We got to know each other very well and became a "family" looking out for each other. Five of us were together the entire voyage. A solo travellers get together was held each sea day at 11:00 with the Social Hostess facilitating. There were also about four "Gentleman Hosts" on each segment to dance with the ladies. I must have given off "I can't dance" vibes because I was never asked if I wanted to dance. Commentary - We had expert's commentary as we sailed out of New York, through the Panama Canal, and through the Suez Canal which made these really special. Port Presentations - for me, this is one area where Cunard could do much, much better. I realize that they, like all cruise lines, want to sell their excursions but the information about the port itself could be improved. For most ports the "must sees" and "what to do if you have been before" were discussed but not in much detail, if at all. The availability of a shuttle bus and its drop off point was not always given until the night before (to be fair, I believe that some of these are run independently of Cunard). The (written) guide to the port (given a day or so in advance) has poor maps (no scale, many important sites are not listed, etc.). The good thing about these presentations was that they were not just "where to shop" talks which you find on many lines. Ship Excursions - I took a number of these and the quality really depended on the tour guide. I had a number of really good guides and one terrible one in New York City. On another tour we did not go to one of the places indicated in the itinerary. I mentioned this to the Shore Excursion staff (I really was not complaining, I just wanted to let them know). The next day I was given a note of apology and a 25% refund which I really did not expect. Usually, disembarkation for tours went smoothly with meeting times and locations listed in the Daily Programme. One of the major complaints I heard was that Cunard charges for bottled water as you leave for excursions (evidently some cruise lines give bottled water). I had a collapsible water bottle which I filled the night before and put in the fridge so this did not bother me. On hot days there was water on the pier as you got back on the ship and chilled towels as well as the ever-present hand sanitizer. Crew - I found the vast majority of the crew to be very friendly and helpful. My stewardess (Shirley) was wonderful as was our waiter (Arnil). We had three different assistant waiters over the four months and all were good. The servers in the bar areas quickly learned my preferences and were quick to serve. Some of the officers could have made more of an effort to be friendly (or at least say "hello") when you met them in passing. Public Rooms - I really liked the Art Deco design of the ship and the "old time" elegance. There was quite a bit of Cunard memorabilia on display in different areas which I enjoyed seeing. There were some problems with water drips (evidently from the a/c which was hopefully fixed during the dry dock) and there was at least one plumbing issue that affected some staterooms. The Internet - Like on most ships, the internet had its good days and bad. There were a number of ports where there was no connectivity. One day I logged in and had lost around 600 minutes (wasn't sure of the exact amount). I talked to the tech guy and he gave me back the minutes. From then on I took a screen shot of the "Satellite Internet Usage Summary" to show that I logged off and exactly how many minutes I had left. I used my iPads on board and had no problems getting a signal in my stateroom or in other areas of the ship (provided there was a signal). Dress Code - For the most part the dress code was followed especially on formal nights. "Informal" is a little vague and although most dressed nicely (as described by Cunard) some stretched the definition of the term. I did see men being loaned jackets if they did not bring one to the MDR. Again, some stretched the idea of a jacket for dinner to include windbreakers and motorcycle jackets. BTW, jackets for men are not required during the day or if eating in the Lido. During the day, dress is no different (i.e. not dressier) than on other cruise lines I have been on. Disembarkation - My assigned group was called only five minutes late. It took about ten minutes to get from the deck three part of the Britannia Restaurant (assigned area) to the inside of the terminal. My four suitcases were not all where they should have been but it did not take long to find them. Had to wait some time for a porter but the one I got was able to get me out quickly. "Class System" - There is a great deal of discussion on Cruise Critic about Cunard's "Class System". Having sailed on the original Queen Mary, when I started investigating World Voyages I was a little put off thinking of three mutually exclusive parts of the ship. As I learned more, I realized that this is not true. Yes, there are a very few parts of the ship that are for the Grills passengers only but this is no different than special areas for the most costly suites on a number of other lines (and more seem to be going this way). Unless I saw someone going in/out of a suite or using their card in the lift, I never even knew who was in the Grills. The vast majority of the areas (maybe 95% or more) of the ship are open to everyone and I never felt "different" or "inferior". All in all, it was an amazing adventure and I thoroughly enjoyed the Cunard experience. Would I do another World Voyage? Most definitely! Would it be on Cunard? Most definitely! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2013
This was our first cruise with NCL and compared to other lines there were plusses, minus and draws. Concerning the cabin the upside was there was a shower door not a curtain and a real hair dryer!!! However the vanity area was tiny and had ... Read More
This was our first cruise with NCL and compared to other lines there were plusses, minus and draws. Concerning the cabin the upside was there was a shower door not a curtain and a real hair dryer!!! However the vanity area was tiny and had no storage and there was only one outlet (not sure how ships can do this as everything requires charging these days). Cabin was a draw. The amount of activities during the day was also a draw '" pretty standard. Nighttime was great '" plenty of activities going on '" karaoke was not made into a competition and was in a much better setting than we have seen. Shows were average to good. NCL wins this one. Dining  this one I have to preface as we knew what we were signing up for. This line has the multiple venues on it, plus the MDR and buffet options. However we found that the surcharges for some options (Chinese and Brazilian Steakhouse) were kind of steep at $15.00 pp. We did dine at Le Bistro which we thought was great and reasonable '" however Cagney’s was nothing mind-blowing. The thing we disliked about the MDR is the choices were repetitive and not up to par with other lines. I’m pretty sure this is because they want to steer you towards the pay to eat dining. For this reason I wouldn’t consider taking this line on any cruise longer than 7 days- especially not a Transatlantic. Not a loss, but not really a draw either. I’ll call this a detraction. We had heard from some friends that took the Dawn several years ago they did not like this type of cruising because it was difficult to meet others. I have to concur as the 2 nights we ate in the Venetian we requested to be seated with others '" of course we were not. This doesn’t seem to fit into their business model as most tables were set up for to 2 to 4 diners. We really enjoy meeting the other passengers and hearing about their travel experiences. Another reason to not take a longer sailing on this line. This was a loss for NCL. The staff was competent, but they lacked the warmth and friendliness I have seen in other lines. Although we frequented the pub, we were never greeted by name, asked where we were from, how is the cruise going etc. NCL gets a minus on this. There were plenty of pre-school kids on this cruise and I have to applaud the parents as they were all well behaved and any bad behavior was nipped in the bud. Way to go Moms & Dads! A plus but this had nothing to do with NCL. Finally, this was absolutely the WORST disembarkation ever. NCL pretty much said '" whatever you all want to do '" take off your bags- fine with us. Have your bags at the terminal '" ok by us. The problem with this is that everyone decided to leave ALL AT ONCE. This resulted in a line that took over an hour before leaving the ship with passengers standing in a line that wrapped around the ship including outdoors. Why weren’t you classy and time everything out like the other lines do? If you want to take your bags off you must be off the ship at a certain time. Want to get your bags at the terminal '" great '" wait in one of the lounges or dining rooms until your color is called. I really felt bad for parents with little ones and passengers that were not handicapped but had mobility issues that made standing for a long time difficult. This is no way to treat passengers on the last day of their cruise. Disgraceful. NCL, you should be embarrassed- this is the last impression you leave with the passengers and it was also the worst. NCL is at the bottom of the barrel for disembarkation.   Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2013
The Princess people at San Francisco airport were on the ball and once I pulled the bags off the merry go round they were there to put them on a cart. We were a party of four so we had 4 suitcases and two rollators. My dad and his lady ... Read More
The Princess people at San Francisco airport were on the ball and once I pulled the bags off the merry go round they were there to put them on a cart. We were a party of four so we had 4 suitcases and two rollators. My dad and his lady friend were with us or maybe it was the other way around. My dad is 90 and walks slower than a turtle. Can't see out of his left eye due to a stroke and is stone deaf but wears hearing aids anyway. His friend was 84 but looked and acted like she was 104. So our job was to herd them from location to location. We all gathered at the airport to wait for the bus. All we did was walk out there and got on. Off we went to the port. The trip to the port took 15 minutes but once we got to that area it took 45 minutes to get to the terminal. It was a Friday and traffic was heavy plus it was around lunch time so there were a lot of cars and people. Once we got there we simply got off the bus and the luggage was taken care of. Reminder to future cruisers who take the princess bus transfers, TIP YOUR BUS DRIVER. I went inside and found a princess representative that took care of passengers with disabilities. They got wheelchairs for the old guys and guided us to a counter for check in that was just for disabled parties. The entire check in process was the most organized painless operation we have ever had. From getting off the bus and checking in we were in our cabins in about 20 minutes. Kudos to all of the princess staff for making this process painless. It also helps to tip the guys who push the wheelchairs around. They like tips. We herded the two turtles to the Horizon court for the noon feeding. We came from Virginia so my dads stomach clock for food was telling him that it was after 4 pm. No problem getting a table and the feeding commenced. For the next 15 days we used the horizon court about half the time for breakfast and lunch and the staff was unbelievable and very efficient clearing tables and making sure we had drinks and refills. If you prefer something other than orange juice as a morning beverage you can request others like apple and cranberry and they will bring it. We then had to go to the dreaded muster drill and even though my dads cabin was three cabins from our he had to go to a different muster station than they did. Big problem. We took them to their station and found chairs for them and explained to the muster staff about their disabilities. We then went to our location in the princess theater. I truly hate these damn drills and thought they were being phased out until the Concordia disaster occurred. I understand the reason for this drill but I can still hate it. Later during the cruise I witnessed a party of four having a private drill in one of the lounges with a crew member explaining everything because they had boarded late and missed the first one. Great that they made sure everyone was informed. We sailed away and going under the Golden Gate bridge was fantastic. A lot of picture opportunities. Then it was time for dinner. We did the 5:30 seating because my dad has a schedule for his stomach. His watch said 5:30 so let the eating commence. We then walked around to look at the ship and become familiar with every place. The ship is old but I thought maintained very well. Things are going to break down, rugs are going to show some wear and OMG there will be rust. It's a big mechanical object that sails in salt water and the mechanical systems put up with 2000 plus people every week. It's the nature of the animal that toilets will stop up and rooms might be warmer than you would like them to be. And yes there are some people who (gasp) find rust. The elevators were hot and some didn't seem to work as well as others but you know what folks I was on a 15 night cruise to Hawaii with my wife and these mechanical deficiencies that other cruisers complained about were no big deal. Put things in perspective. You're on a cruise that millions of people would die to be on. You're not at work because you're on a 15 night cruise to Hawaii. Stop complaining and have some fun. We did. The food was good to very good. My wife enjoyed the influence of native Hawaiian flavors to the new menu. The seafood was excellently prepared. Especially the scallops. She often ordered the vegetarian entree as a side dish to the usual side accompaniments that come with your meal. They were interesting and had great variety so vegetarians should not be disappointed. The only items that were not good was a soup made with goat cheese, apples and a "crusty grape" garnish. It sounded good in concept but was like drinking salad dressing and the grape was truly awful to bite into. It would have been good as a sauce on a steak or as a dressing. The gnocchi were heavy and doughy. But there was a garlic pesto pasta one night that was really great. The 5th floor cafe had some great desserts. Some better than what was on the dinner menu. One day they had pavlova with fresh strawberries which I wish I could have smuggled home. So stop by there to see there offerings. The Panini sandwiches there, however, had very little filling and not worth trying. The entire princess staff was helpful and wonderful. We enjoyed interacting with the cruise directors staff when we played trivia or made leis with fresh flowers. We were told we weren't going to be able to take the fresh flower leis off of the ship so we threw them away and then saw many people walking right off of the ship wearing them. Would have liked to wear this souvenir a little longer. They were made with beautiful orchids. Try and get a ticket for this activity. One day they did ribbon leis which looked interesting and the next time they used fresh flowers. It would have been nice to learn a little more about the history of leis during this activity but I was still happy with the result. They were all nice and seemed to really want us and other people to have fun and enjoy yourself. We got to snorkel in Maui and eat the best nachos with island bbq pork we ever had at Dukes bar at Waikiki beach. They were really good nachos. When our order came there were about 8 other couples sitting around the bar and once they saw and smelled what we had they all ordered some nachos. The only negative comment I have is about going to Ensenada Mexico to satisfy the Jones act. Don't get off if you can help it. It's a dirty little town and the street vendors will hassle you to death. The worst part is the mothers laying or sitting on the sidewalk begging for money and their children are also begging. It's sad. There is a small area right next to the ship were you can buy stuff. I felt like I needed a shower after walking around that hole in the wall. I guess if Tijuana had a deep sea port princess would probably go there. Just a word to the wise, don't get off at Ensenada. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2013
We chose this cruise as we were already going to be in California for our son's wedding 3 days prior to embarkation. We drove down from Pasadena, spent a day enjoying San Diego, dropped off the rental car and embarked. Note there is ... Read More
We chose this cruise as we were already going to be in California for our son's wedding 3 days prior to embarkation. We drove down from Pasadena, spent a day enjoying San Diego, dropped off the rental car and embarked. Note there is still construction on the street outside the terminal, but our cab driver easily negotiated it. We tried to check our bags at the obvious spot, but were told to take them inside. Seemed unusual but we diligently went inside, where we were told to take them back outside. OK, finally got them checked and came back through the line. No other embarkation problems of note and we were quickly onboard enjoying the buffet lunch. Met the other Cruise Critic Rollcall members at the Sunset Bar for sailaway drinks after muster drill. One member had made beautiful pin-on buttons for all of us, and we wore our Mardi Gras beads to identify ourselves. Good way to get the cruise started! The officers were friendly and mixed with the passengers every day. It was great to have the Captain greet you personally at breakfast and the Hotel Director spend 1/2 hour with you at Elite Happy Hour. These are the little things that make traveling on the Century very special. She may be older and smaller, but the ship has a devoted following. This was a quiet cruise with a lot of sea days and was definitely an older crowd. But there was lots to do if you chose to do it. The enrichment lectures on Pearl Harbor and the Pacific Theater in WWII were fabulous and June, the Hawaiian arts and crafts lady, was great fun. The standard of excellence that Celebrity maintains in its service, food, maintenance of facilities, etc., is what keeps us coming back time after time. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2013
We had heard good reports about Azura and were really excited about taking a 24 night Cruise to the Black Sea. Embarkation was smooth and quick and we were on board within 30 minutes. Cabins were not available and were directed to ... Read More
We had heard good reports about Azura and were really excited about taking a 24 night Cruise to the Black Sea. Embarkation was smooth and quick and we were on board within 30 minutes. Cabins were not available and were directed to restaurant to get food and drink whilst waiting for an announcement about availability. This came relatively quickly and we entered a clean reasonably spacious balcony cabin on Barbados Deck Starboard side, The first thing that hit us about Azura was that you could not walk all around the Promenade deck because the bow end was blocked off by superstructure. Secondly that no matter where you went on the ship it seemed very busy - with great difficulty finding seats in other than the Planet Bar or the Glass House. The Theatre was always completely full for first show at least 30 minuted before curtain up and started to emply 5 mintes before the end of an act so that Wacky Races could be performed by a combination of Walker aids, zimmer frames, wheelchairs, and disabled scooters as people zoomed off to claim seats for another show lounge. We felt that Manhatten lounge was dangerous when full because isles were frequently blocked and the lounge vista was not helped by huge pillars keeping the roof up. We dined on first sitting in the Oriental restaurant. The food was OK as was service but it was nothing to get excited about, especially the puddings. The show lounges were in my opinion quite poorly laid out and Brodie's Bar which we frequented for Quizzes was quite the most unwelcoming and uncomfortable bar I have ever encountered on any ship. It was in the same room as the casino and with regular clientelle on the noisy fruit machines it made for interesting quizzes with questions often having to be repeated The cruise itinerary was we has hoped going to be exciting especially cruising the Dardonelles and the Bosphorous, however both transients of the Dardonnelles were late at night and one of the Bosphorous was very early in the morning. This left us feeling distinctly short changed. We were unable to call in at Myteleene owing to rough seas, however I have been tendered by other cruise lines in much worse conditions. whoever planned the itinerary at Carnival want to be given a talking to. To dock on a Sunday morning in Vigo - when they must have know the port was virtually closed was disgraceful. Especially as we had been as sea for 5 days. Why could we not have called at Gibraltar or Cadiz on a Saturday? Passengers were not happy to discover a virtual lock down of Vigo. Tours we booked were for the most part OK although the Odessa guide was a joke. Taking us on a half hour stop to a Ukrainian bank to get local currency to use in local toilets and then telling the us the bank required to see our Ukrainian passports. What an idiot.. However the most disappointing aspect of the whole cruise was the attitude of more mature passengers. They were often very rude and intolerant. One example being to start booing and slow hand clapping in the theatre because the show was 7 minuted late in starting. DSS investigators need to get on one of these ships - the benefits bill would drop alarmingly. People was supposedly could hardly walk could suddenly sprint when a lift became free Read Less
Sail Date: September 2013
We joined the Ocean princess after being asked by Princess to consider swapping cruises,(overbooking??) we had been booked on the Dawn from Sydney to Rome .Maybe it wasn't such a good deal? 48days instead of 32 on a smaller ship, I ... Read More
We joined the Ocean princess after being asked by Princess to consider swapping cruises,(overbooking??) we had been booked on the Dawn from Sydney to Rome .Maybe it wasn't such a good deal? 48days instead of 32 on a smaller ship, I would not do it again. While the Ocean Princess is still a lovely ship, in spite of her age, I felt that it was too small for this cruise. Only 1 MDR and the Buffet ;the Steakhouse and Sabatini's were only open on alternate days, and not always then, which made dining choices limited. Only one Show lounge meant that on the 2nd half we had the same shows repeated, and there was no alternative .The daytime entertainment program was boring, too many repeated activities, films and lectures. The Ent. Director was a waste of space, no personality and we felt a definite sense of strain between the Director and the rest of the cruise staff. The shows were ok but improved at the end, possibly due to being one dancer short until a replacement arrived during the 2nd half of the cruise. It was obvious that some of the entertainers were not happy. The Library was excellent, good selection and great place for peace and quiet. Tahitian room had great views, we enjoyed the Trivia and dance classes. It should be NON Smoking!! Front desk not up to standard, some of the employees had a "not interested "attitude, we found only one who seemed to know what he was doing and wanted to help. We were not impressed by the Shore tours lecturer, her information seemed to come straight off Google and she had a boring voice. Food. We mainly ate in the MDR at night and the buffet at breakfast and lunch. Food was good and plentiful, but repetitious, our wait staff (ALL of them) were wonderful. Professional, helpful, friendly...not enough good things to say about them. They helped MAKE the cruise for us. I am having ongoing communication with Princess about the medical care so will not say anymore. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2013
We joined the Diamond on a wet day after a comfortable bus trip from Anchorage to Whittier. Embarkation services were excellent with time from bus drop off to cabin being 25 minutes. We are Platinum Princess members, but the service was ... Read More
We joined the Diamond on a wet day after a comfortable bus trip from Anchorage to Whittier. Embarkation services were excellent with time from bus drop off to cabin being 25 minutes. We are Platinum Princess members, but the service was excellent. We checked in at 2.10PM , probably after the initial rush. Cabin 422 ( a suite) was spotless on arrival and we were greeted by our Steward and offered Champagne. It is a large lounge area with a separate large bedroom with King bed, separate bathroom and robe area. We booked the Sterling Steakhouse for the first evening dinner, to overcome what can be difficult dining arrangements as people turn up on the first night. A good decision with a good meal , superb steak , excellent service. We dined most evenings in the Santa Fe dining room and as on previous cruises on the Diamond, experienced excellent service and good quality meals. Entertainment was excellent and production shows very good , although we do notice that the production shows are now of 28-35 minutes duration. Cruise director and his team do a very good job with activities. We ran into 3 days of very heavy weather across the Aleutian islands areas with 2 massive storms, the ship and staff coped well with having all decks and outside activities closed for 3 days. We never really felt crowded, apart from the first show in the theatre. Also the Education lectures were terrific. As experienced cruisers, we have enjoyed several cruises on the Diamond. Yes it is a large ship , but everything works to our satisfaction. This was a repositioning cruise and a means of us travelling from USA to China before flying home from Shanghai to Melbourne , australia. We enjoyed the cruise, met some lovely people, were fed well and entertained. We were very well served. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2013
After 20 years of cruising we discovered Regent in 2010. We are going on 100 days of voyaging with them now. This Baltic and circumnavigation of the British Isle cruise we just completed was outstanding. We had been cruising exclusively ... Read More
After 20 years of cruising we discovered Regent in 2010. We are going on 100 days of voyaging with them now. This Baltic and circumnavigation of the British Isle cruise we just completed was outstanding. We had been cruising exclusively with Princess and HAL prior to that. We toyed with the idea of giving Silver Seas a shot but received a hint that their quality was on the ebb, the debacle on the Silver Shadow in Southeast Alaska this summer confirmed that. Of Regent's three ships, we like the Voyager the best. We have never had a cruise that we didn't enjoy, although, as with anything in life, there was an occasional blemish. We prefer the longer excursion type voyages, three weeks or more. The longest was on the Prinsendam for almost three months. In May 2010 we happened upon Regent. Haven't really looked back since, I hardly even gloss others brochures and offers anymore. My wife discovered the first one, on the Navigator. She really likes the absence of nickel and dimeing. For me Regent stands out in these areas: Quality of shore excursions. (They go to lengths to arrange numerous and detailed itineraries while assuring knowledgeable guides who one can understand and most of the time keep the coaches to about 55% capacity).---Quality and size of suites. The size of their D thru H suites are almost unsurpassed. They have walk in closets that serve as dressing rooms, the bathrooms have walk in showers in addition to a separate large bathtub, on this recent cruise we had four large suitcases but only used about 35% of the drawers, hangars and cupboards, although these suite categories are smaller on the Mariner than on the Voyager and Navigator the Mariner does have extra large Penthouse suites.---Outstanding demeanor of all the crew, i.e. room stewards, bar tenders, waiters, wine stewards, officers, etc.--Staff to guest ratio. Ship design, size and condition. (The Mariner and Voyager have pod propulsion which offers a noticeable absence of vibration and noise, particularly in the stern area where most conventional shaft ally powered ships have this negative) I particularly appreciate the dining arrangements, no waiting, no assigned seating unless we ask to be with someone else and we almost always get a table for two.--Wine selection is above average.--- Prime 7 is pretty good. We weren't too enamored with the Signature. The reservation lash up for the Signature and Prime 7 needs some work and improving. However, on this trip, their regular dining room, the Compass Rose, was outstanding (better than the Signature even). What we have taken to doing is to determine right off which head waiter we want, then stick with him. Then, we "always" get the type table we want and the waiters know exactly our tastes, our names and how to set up the table. Beats the old traditional seating all to pieces, you know, the old way where you run the "luck of the draw" for tablemates and take a chance on getting stuck with nimrods for the entire voyage. Free and fast internet (The Voyager has an excellent and large internet cafe which is the best we ever experienced)---Good selection of newspapers delivered every morning (I like the New York Times & USA Today) and their TV news channels offer an excellent ideological selection, from left progressive to hard core right wing.) Read Less
Sail Date: July 2013
We just returned from a great trip on the Dawn to Bermuda from Boston. The cabin and food crews were very gracious throughout, the food was quite good overall (especially the NewYork strip steak at Cagney's), the entertainment by the ... Read More
We just returned from a great trip on the Dawn to Bermuda from Boston. The cabin and food crews were very gracious throughout, the food was quite good overall (especially the NewYork strip steak at Cagney's), the entertainment by the Production Cast was superb (we especially were awed by the performance of the husband/wife acrobatic dancers in "Ocean's Apart"), the other entertainers throughout the ship were also good, and the entire on-board experience was very good. We did miss an adults only pool or hot tub area as in the afternoons especially the one pool and the four hot tubs around it were very full. In the mornings and evening though I often had the pool to myself and could do laps. In Bermuda, we went twice to Snorkel Park (where admission ranges from $10 to nothing depending on when you go!) which is a small beach but quite good for snorkeling as there are a lot of fish around the reefs and the old fort foundation. I also took the excursion on a catamaran for snorkeling which also was good but I didn't see anything different there in terms of species than I saw in Snorkel Park. It was nice to sail around though to a different part of the island. We also went to Horseshoe Beach which is very different from Snprkel Park in that it is open ocean so has a lot of wave action. I'd certainly consider Norwegian for another cruise.   Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2013
Embarkation: We arrived at Sydney Airport on the morning of 20th May 2013, and were met by a very efficient Princess Representative who escorted us to a passenger waiting area, before being taken to the bus and transported to the new ... Read More
Embarkation: We arrived at Sydney Airport on the morning of 20th May 2013, and were met by a very efficient Princess Representative who escorted us to a passenger waiting area, before being taken to the bus and transported to the new White Bay Cruise Terminal. Immediately upon arriving, we were able to complete our pre embarkation paperwork, hand over our credit card details, were given our Cruise Card, a numbered embarkation card, and joined the thousands of other passengers, families and friends in the waiting area. In less than an hour our embarkation number was called, and we were herded through the Customs & scanning area. With all that behind us, we followed the trail of eager passengers past the ships embarkation photographers and finally arrived at the gangway. For the 3rd time in our lives, it was so exciting just walking up the gangway on to the Sea Princess as the start of our next adventure was just about to unfold. Review of the Sea Princess: In writing this critique, it has to be noted that this cruise was full, with around 2000 passengers and over 1000 crew. The ship itself is getting older, and experiencing spasmodic maintenance problems that caused engine issues, and numerous episodes of leaking pipes which flooded staterooms, hallways, and the Princess Theatre. Staff were always quick to work on reported problems, & despite the age of the ship & all its fittings, everything looked clean, polished & well cared for. Dining: Dining was nothing short of spectacular, to say the least. On our 1st evening, we were placed on a table for 4 in the Traviata dining Room, but only the 2 of us turned up, and we spent the first week having very romantic dinners on our own. Following this, we asked the Maitre D if we could be moved to a larger table, and this was executed with precision to table 108 Traviata 1st sitting. Here we met up with 6 other delightful passengers who over the course of the 104 days, made our cruise very memorable. Four of our new dining companions were Americans, and the other 2 were fellow Aussies. The mix was phenomenal, and Maitre D Neville should be commended for his work in orchestrating these seating arrangements. Our new waiters were ''" ''"Benjamin” and ''"Nandi”, who looked after our culinary experience every night to absolute perfection. If you want to see most of the nightly entertainment, then 1st seating dining is a must. The food selection in the dining room was mind boggling, always arrived beautifully presented, in a timely fashion, and always hot. Drink prices were expensive, but wine left over was always named, recorked and available for the next evening meal. The variation of food over the 104 days would have been a mammoth planning exercise, but we never missed a night of restaurant dining in the whole time on board. We did notice on this cruise that the ''"World Cruise Souvenir Menu’s” were very few and far between. In fact, I only collected 3 souvenir menu’s, one of which was an evening meal at the end of the cruise, and the other 2 applied to brunch meals. I renamed the Horizon Court buffet ''"The horror-zone” for obvious reasons, for it was terrible lining up for food, arguing with combative passengers, and searching for a vacant seat. The manners of many people left a lot to be desired, and you would think some people had never been fed before, the way they carried on around the buffet food. The Sterling Steakhouse was a joke, situated in a partitioned off area of the Horizon Buffet each evening. While it was busy most nights, and the food reportedly great, it could not be seen as a special dining environment. The Ice-cream Parlor outside on deck 12 under the movie screen was usually quite busy, but it’s a shame one of the staff positioned there left a bit to be desired. You would think the ice-cream was coming out of his allowance, the way he carried on about metering it out. All diners were looked after for Special occasions with a cake and a throng of caroling waiters and bar staff, which just made that special occasion even more memorable. Lounges & Restrooms: We always found the restrooms clean, tidy and well stocked. The Vista lounge area exhibited a strange seating arrangement with bench lounge seats interspersed with single tables and revolving chairs. Apart from taking up a huge amount of excess room, these tables and chairs were horrendous obstacles, and difficult for the elderly or mobility compromised passengers to move around, especially after they had been dislodged by previous users. Given the difficulty accommodating large numbers of passengers in the lounge areas, seating could have been much better worked out. The Princess Theatre is as good as any other theatre, chairs comfortable, but the idea of drink waiters trying to serve drinks to passengers in the middle of a full row is stupid, and needs immediate reviewing. Surely passengers can survive the 45 minutes for a show to go without a drink, but then Princess would not make as much money on drink sales, I suppose. Several times over the course of the 104 days there was a leak from the ceiling of the Princess Theatre, and several seats had to be portioned off as they were soaked. This intermittent leaking continued on for most of the cruise, despite numerous attempts by staff to try and fix the problem. The Wheelhouse Bar was used many days for trivia sessions, and trying to fit upwards of 400 passengers into an area that could only house 200 at best, was nothing short of nauseating. To get a seat, most people had to arrive for trivia almost an hour early, and this caused fights amongst passengers who tried to reserve seats for other members of their trivia team. Whilst reserving seats is a known ''"No-No” what else could people do. Many disagreements ensued because of this. The Laundry: The public Laundry was a nightmare, with only 2 machines and dryers on 3 of the passenger decks. Queuing was long and tedious, and those passengers who put washing in the machines and went away for hours continually aggravated fellow passengers waiting for vacant machines. Woe and behold anyone who touched anyone else’s laundry, and only remove someone else’s laundry at your own peril. The laundry proved to be a very entertaining area, with many altercations occurring daily. We found it easier to hand wash as much as possible in the cabin, and hang it on coat hangers around the room to dry. Always take a small hanging peg line to hang in the shower, and this is great to hang smalls on, which dry pretty much within a day or do in the air-conditioned atmosphere. It has to be noted that a passenger came up with a very innovative method of securing a washer and dryer, and while I would not personally do it, (or advocate that anyone else should do it either) I did chuckle at the effrontery of the action. Apparently, this person came on board with previously printed and laminated ''"OUT OF ORDER” signs; and when a machine was needed, these signs were posted on machines. Just goes to show the lengths people will go to in order to achieve their aims. As a postscript, I do believe this person was appropriately dealt with by Princess staff. Staterooms: Surviving 104 nights in an inside stateroom was not a problem, given that this was our 3rd time cruising for this length of time, but organization is a must. Having a place for everything, and keeping everything in its place, is a definite necessity. On this cruise we were assigned Stateroom B326, reasonably central on Baha deck level 10. Our Stateroom steward was ''"Froilan” who looked after us to perfection for the first 4 legs of the cruise. On embarkation and meeting him for the first time, we set out requests for a foam mattress overlay; dressing gowns; an ice bucket every night; extra coat hangers, and an extra chair as the stateroom only has one. After Froilan left in Los Angeles we were allocated ''"Melville” for the last leg of our cruise, but unfortunately he was not as efficient as Froilan. Research prior to our cruise assisted us to make the decision to give the stateroom steward 50% of our tip up front, with the proviso that if he looked after us well, there would be same amount at the end of the cruise. This was one of the best decisions we were to make, because we were looked after extremely well. The room was always left clean and tidy, towels always changed each morning, and beach towels were replaced whenever they were used, sometimes several times during the day. Shampoo, soap, skin lotion & body wash (excellent for hand washing clothes) were replaced daily. Entertainment: Having cruised for 104 nights with Princess previously, we had a reasonable idea what to expect as far as entertainment was concerned. In comparing the last 3 cruises we have done of 104 days, it is easy to see that cutbacks on entertainment for this cruise were very noticeable. 2009 there were 104 different evening events and 14 Production Show 2012 there were 71 different evening events and 15 Production Shows, but in 2013 there were only 62 different evening events and only 10 Production Shows. Many nights on this last cruise we found there was nothing to do other than watch a movie, which I do not consider watching movies that are years old and repeated several times, as major forms of evening entertainment. The selection of movies available was antiquated, and despite many complaints, this problem did not change for the entire cruise. Several old & new movies were played on the in-house televisions, and under the stars, however, some of these were repeated with monotonous regularity. Overall, the Production Shows were very good, but many of the comedians were aged, as were their jokes and stories. At various ports around the globe, artists got on and off, always ensuring a fresh supply of good and no-so-good entertainers. Pre & post dinner dancing was always available, & passenger theme parties were scheduled at sparse intervals. Morning & afternoon trivia sessions were a must for the brainiacs, who always played for sheep stations. We always tried to catch up on the Port lectures, especially for all the new ports we had not been to before, as there was always some interesting bits of info to take away. Other ways to keep occupied included scholarship @ sea lectures; library; church services; dancing lessons; sports tournaments; bingo; card playing; game shows; exercise classes; movies; choir practice; culinary demonstrations; & ice carving demo’s. Princess offered Service club meetings, which was relevant to us being Lions; but we did not avail ourselves of the Dr Bob & Bill W meetings, nor did we join in as GLBT groups, but it was entertaining to note that they cater for these groups as well. Princess continually advocates that passengers must not save seats in the public lounges and theatres, however, despite this, seat saving continues at an alarming rate. On very popular entertainment nights, a passenger would take their life into their own hands if they needed to visit the rest room before a show started, because their seat then became fair game for whoever was waiting. Gymnasium: We did manage to find the gymnasium several times, although not as much as we should have. The equipment was state of the art, and reasonably well utilized, but having someone available to help you to use the computerized equipment was not always available. The only scales on the ship was located just outside the gym, and these came in handy to check out just how much weight we were putting on weekly. They probably explained why our clothes were shrinking at a great rate of knots, but on this score, I blamed the washing water for shrinking them!!! Shore Excursions: We researched all the shore excursions before boarding, so picked the eyes out of what was available, and made sure we selected all the important places of interest to us. While it has to be noted that all of the ships excursions were expensive, there was the guarantee of knowing that if an excursion got back late, the ship would not leave us behind, as did happen to several passengers who did their own thing and returned late. All of the good excursions booked out early, so if there is something special that you really want to see or do, then booking early is a must. On this cruise we booked about 50% of our tours with the Cruise Critic group. This is a great way to meet other cruisers, cuts down the cost of excursions, and in most cases, you get to see more places of interest on the tours because the groups are smaller than the big Princess ones. One thing that needs to be pointed out, is that Princess are not happy if tour soliciting occurs whilst onboard, so if you plan on doing Cruise Critic Tours (which I definitely recommend), make sure you have these arranged and paid for before you get onboard. Also note that if you are on a private tour, and you get back late, that Princess will not guarantee they will wait for you. Photo Taking: Unfortunately, on this cruise, I think I developed a syndrome aptly called IPAD RAGE, because almost every 2nd elderly passenger had an IPAD which they used as a camera. Understandably, because they are easy to use, can take multiple pictures quickly, and can be filed or deleted at a later time. However, most of these IPAD’s take up a large amount of viewing space when placed up against the window of a bus whilst on tour; or worse still, if someone sitting in front of you tries to take a picture while you are in the theatre trying to see between 2 heads. Most of these IPAD’s are attached to a cover, which is left hanging underneath, thereby taking up double the viewing area. This annoying practice needs to be governed somehow & offending passengers need to be aware of how this practice affects other people around them, and be more considerate. Gone are the days of the small hand held camera’s, it now seems that IPAD’s are taking over with the ageing population. Service: Embarkation and disembarkation was handled extremely well. The Pursers Desk, Future Cruise Staff and Captains Circle staff handled most of our needs very efficiently. We were very fortunate to have the same stateroom steward for the first 84 nights, and this worked very well in our favor. Even though we partially tipped in advance, our cabin steward was extremely attentive, clean and thorough, & consequently got a nice tip when he left Our evening dining waiter and bar staff were also very good, although we chose not to tip in advance here, leaving it to the last night on board to slip each of our staff an envelope. The Cruise Staff: The Cruise Director Tim Donovan appeared to have an attitude problem, and was not very approachable, and didn’t appear to endear himself to many passengers. The Cruise Staff consisted of Matt, Kim, Brandon Mark, Martin and Mikey. Matt was the assistant Cruise Director, and took over as Cruise Director when Tim left. Matt appeared to enjoy his job, and always spoke. Martin was then promoted to Deputy Cruise Director, but this appointment left more than a lot to be desired!! Kim was the Zumba instructor, and her classes every sea day were packed to overflowing. Other than Zumba and the occasional evening passenger show, you never saw her. Brandon was by far the most approachable, always had a smile, and seemed to care that he was there for the passengers. Mikey was patronizing, with a large attitude problem, and needs to acquire more PR skills. D.J. Mark was out of his depth on this cruise of elderly passengers. He gave the opinion that he didn’t want to be there, and for the most part, shouldn’t have been there. Martin was a complete waste of space, both as a member of the cruise director staff, and as Acting Deputy Cruise Director. Despite the differing issues with the Cruise Staff, they did manage to survive keep us entertained for the 104 days. Tender service: The tender service remains a nightmare, however, I don’t know how else you could move 2500 people on and off a ship any other way. Queuing for tender tickets, then queuing again when your number was called, tended to take the excitement off getting off the ship at each port. If you fore went queuing for tender tickets, then you had to wait until everyone else was off before you could try and find the exit, and this definitely would cut down your time on shore. Possibly Princess need to use more tender boats when this arrangement has to be implemented, because the current arrangement is annoyingly frustrating. Queue jumping was a frequent occurrence, and many an argument was had while waiting in line. Visa Acquisition: For this cruise, the only Visa’s we had to get before boarding were for India and the United States. For whatever reason known only to them, the acquisition of the Indian Visa was a nightmare. From completing the forms online, then submitting them with your passport and required fee, then waiting for it all to be completed, created many nightmares for numerous passengers. The inequality of some passengers not getting the Indian visa at all, left a lot of the passengers who did get the visa angry at Princess for the differing stories & falsehoods we had been told. This is an area that needs to be immediately investigated and rectified by Princess. Several other countries required visa’s. but these were organized onboard by Princess and charged to our cruise a/cs. Such a pity the Indian Visa could not have been done the same way. IN CONCLUSION: Apart from a few minor hiccups, we had a fantastic 104 nights, visiting many parts of the World we had only ever dreamed about seeing. With research and previous planning, we had the most enjoyable cruise ever, and have marked a lot of places off our bucket list. We were wined, dined and entertained in style, and will definitely sail with Princess Cruises again.   Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2013
If you are staying on Bajah deck be careful of your cabin choice - 2 storms 2 floods in the cabin. Cabin became smelly and hallways were allergy enducing/terrible. The the cabin staff were wonderful trying to dry everything but the smell ... Read More
If you are staying on Bajah deck be careful of your cabin choice - 2 storms 2 floods in the cabin. Cabin became smelly and hallways were allergy enducing/terrible. The the cabin staff were wonderful trying to dry everything but the smell remained as did the fans constantly in your ear. If you have a special diet it takes some working out-if you are like me you just want to be treated like all other passangers, not miss out on anything and not be mad a show of. Well if you want that you have to take the time and explain it to the staff as you will not get it without doing so. The ship itself is getting a little tired but we still managed to enjoy the activities onboard. It was really nice getting to know all of the cruise staff and once there was a change in cruise director half way through thing improved out of sight. A change of chef half way through the cruise and the food improved 100% even the scons were not like hockey pucks. The special lunches were excellent and we even got to meet the chef on a number of occasions. The movies onboard were disgusting and I suggest you take your own on a hard drive and watch on your computer if you can. Live entertainment for the most part was good and some were extra good but too many comedians, most very poor.Espresso Coffee on board cost $30 for a card and is pretty good value but there was only one bar on board that made decent coffee. I really think they need new machines or they need to clean them more often. The staff are supposed to be Baristas but they are not. The Indian Visa was a big issue and not only were we very annoyed by the amount of money for the visa but the total inconvenience of how you get the visa. As it was a port we had no desire to visit Princess needs to look at arrangements for people to stay on board if you dont have a visa. We in fact were told wether we stayed on board or not we had to have the visa or we would not be allowed to board the ship in Sydney. That was a total lie as many people had no visa they boarded the ship and weree allowed to stay onboard in India. Princess would not accept any responsibility for the messup an annoyingly had to be pushed into following up on the problem - nothing was ever resolved despite a partition from passangers onboard. Princess advertised a speedy embarkation for priority passangers/another problem as we waited in line for a very long time. The also so say priority disembarkation we just not so for us we waited 3/4 hour for our luggage to come off the ship after us. People who came off the ship after us go their luggage before us and left whilst we were still waiting. Really just not very good at all. One thing to be aware of is the lack of seating in public areas, my suggestion is to get there very early for any of the big shows or functions or you will stand. Also if it is a Captains Cocktail party stand near where the waiters come out or you may not eat or drink. Princess and customs need to share ideas it took 4 hrs to get through customs in New Your leaving us only a few hours to see the place, it was really bad and we were standing the whole time.   Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2013
I have cruised since 2002, previously with Holland America (excellent experience & after Cunard regard them as much better value for money),Princess (very good, would choose them again) & P&O Australia (probably not again - ... Read More
I have cruised since 2002, previously with Holland America (excellent experience & after Cunard regard them as much better value for money),Princess (very good, would choose them again) & P&O Australia (probably not again - well, enough said). Embarked in great expectation, but found as the cruise progressed, pre cruise publicity not very accurate. The disappointments came fro a lot of little things. I will fill you in in 'dot point' fashion. I would probably think hard about going with Cunard again as the value is not there when compared with other cruises I have experienced. * Embarkation & De-embarkation - very smooth & easy (looked like P&O ground crew being used) * Found stateroom quickly (A lot smaller than other ships of same vintage & older) but not cleaned or prepared for 3 of us. * Went to Kings Court for a 'cuppa' ( & experienced our first taste of unhappy crew - sniping at each other) * Dined in Britannia Restaurant that evening (& most evenings), stewards and Maitre D welcomed us - great, but meal was good but not special. Our table stewards' service was excellent but took some time to warm up (again suffering from unhappy crew syndrome, may be because of many & varied cultural backgrounds)I must add that our table steward proved excellent. * Speciality Restaurants were booked out in a very short time after boarding. * Afternoon tea was a disappointment with soggy sandwiches and often stale cakes, &, often cold tea. * Ship ambiance, excellent but looking close at the timber panelling etc. showed how clever people are with the artificial. * Meals followed our first meal experience of being mostly good but not great. * We partook in the formal night activities and enjoyed them (your choice). * Kings Court, the few times we went, the food was pretty ordinary but always quick & easy. * Stage shows typical of cruising, not a lot of variation from other lines shows. * Illuminations would have been OK if special reclining seats were repaired or replaced. * Cunard Enrichment activities were good, informative & worthwhile - Library & Bookshop worth visiting. ( Commodore Rynd was available for book signing one day but I think was overwhelmed with response with many passengers turned away). * It was good not to feel overcrowded - on board passenger/space ratio excellent * Room Service excellent (better than buffet for quality) * Cabin Steward very obliging * reception staff very good. * Overall ship appearance - at just under 10 years old and following previous maintenance & upgrades, the ship is showing some lack of regular/ongoing maintenance (tired looking, bad rust in some areas) * We had 2 tender ports which was good but some new crew had difficulties with tenders (got to learn sometime somewhere I guess). * Entertainment throughout the ship was excellent * Guest entertainers ( mixed quality) * Ports were all good particularly Akaroa and Fiordland - bonus at Milford Sound where Cunard had arrange some publicity shots allowing us extra time in that beautiful place, even maneuvering/navigating within a few metres of a waterfall. * To repeat it was a lot of little things including some unhappy crew that let the ship down. Overall enjoyable cruise to a lovely area but not quite as publicity generated expectations. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2013
On March 3, 2013, our day of departure, we arrived early at Barangaroo Wharf 5 in order to beat the crowds. Once there, we had an orderly check-in and then were asked to assemble with a group of about forty people. Apparently the ... Read More
On March 3, 2013, our day of departure, we arrived early at Barangaroo Wharf 5 in order to beat the crowds. Once there, we had an orderly check-in and then were asked to assemble with a group of about forty people. Apparently the passengers from the previous cruise were still disembarking, so HAL decided to treat us to a two-hour bus tour of Sydney while we were waiting. We had a nice tour around town and a stop-over at Bondi Beach. Once back at the Oosterdam, we were shown to our cabins without further ado. We were so pleasantly surprised by our stateroom; it was on the Navigation deck (8079), starboard center, with a gigantic verandah. The room itself was spacious and had ample luggage and storage room. Our two cabin stewards, Indra and Sutarno, were outstanding in every way. We got to know them quite well while on our twenty-seven day journey on the ocean waves. I would describe the Oosterdam as an elegant ship, neither dazzling nor garish. She was more cozy and comfy, with some nice artsy touches. Everything seemed to be spotless, which is, as they say, next to godliness. I noticed the profusion of hand-cleansing dispensers scattered around the ship. This gave me a clear impression that the management was dead serious about stopping the spread of bacteria and viruses through unwashed hands. Good for them! The food in the Lido Lounge was, um, average-to-slightly above-average most days. The best meals in the Lido, I think, were the breakfast omelets, Panini sandwiches, pasta bar, and dessert bar. The entrees could be hit or miss, depending on the day. There was also a little hamburger station at the Lido pool which served great burgers and hot dogs. A "Mexican" station was also set up by the Lido pool, and I hear the best item was the shrimp/guacamole/mandarin salad. We only dined in the Vista Lounge twice, and both times our steaks were as tough as a cadaver. With almost a month on board one gets a good feel for the ship's milieu. The Oosterdam was no exception, as we became settled into a routine on sea days. I know my husband complained a little about there not being much activity on board, and a slight insouciance by the athletic staff to organize sports activities during the day, especially table tennis. It would also be safe to say that there was very little activity for young children or teenagers onboard, as the Oosterdam is geared mostly for mature adults, although, ironically, the adults we spoke to all said that there should be more sports activities around the Lido pool area for adults. One of the more enjoyable aspects of the Oosterdam was the Crow's Nest, a lovely atrium-like area with great views and a nice little library and computer area. Each day the Cruise Director would host a Team Trivia game, and this proved to be a big hit. There was also Happy Hour at the Crow's Next bar and the Queen's Lounge, where passengers could buy their second drink for $1. I won't go into detail about ports visited, except to say that the process was very smooth indeed, even when we had to use the ship's tenders. One memorable occasion was when our tender was halfway between the ship and the Akaroa dock when the engine stopped. We floated for a good fifteen minutes and then, voila, the engines started up again. I'm glad they did, because Akaroa was a beautiful little town in a most picturesque and sheltered bay. There were many highlights of our cruise on the Oosterdam, not the least of which was our good fortune to meet some lovely people from Australia. These folks made our trip so memorable, along with the excellent Oosterdam Captain Arjen Van der Loo and his outstanding crew. All in all, it was a terrific experience and one I won't soon forget. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2013
This was our third cruise on Oceania (including one on the predecessor Ranaissance) and the first on Marina. We did the itinerary from Sydney to Tahiti - 25 days - in March/April 2013. I cannot say enough about the quality of this ship. ... Read More
This was our third cruise on Oceania (including one on the predecessor Ranaissance) and the first on Marina. We did the itinerary from Sydney to Tahiti - 25 days - in March/April 2013. I cannot say enough about the quality of this ship. Luxury is found in every aspect of the ship. Among the most important elements is that the ship is very well sized for the passenger count. The Marina is larger than the previous Oceania ships and takes 1250 passengers. Both the physical size of the ship and the size of the staff is perfectly matched to the passenger count. There is never any difficulty finding a place to sit anywhere, whether in the buffet dining room, poolside, lounges, casino, or even getting on equipment in the fitness center. The cabins are very well sized and the space is very well used. The staff is uniformly excellent. I have never seen such friendly and pleasant people who are so eager to be helpful without being overbearing. The food is the best I have encountered on any other cruise line (and I have been on many others). There are four specialty restaurants (French, Italian, Asian and Beef) and each is fantastic with regard to both the quality of food, quality of presentation, breadth of menu and quality of service. There are no additional charges for these restaurants, although reservations are needed. The main dining room does not come up to the same high standard. Although the service there is excellent, and being seated (open dining) was never a problem, the menus and food quality not not nearly as good as the specialty restaurants. As a result, we had 19 of our 25 diners at the specialty restaurants. We eventually learned that on the nights when we could not get a reservation at a specialty restaurant, the buffet was an excellent alternative. The selection and quality was actually much better than the main dining room. As long as you don't mind the informality of a buffet, it is an excellent choice.We really enjoyed the more casual dress code of this ship. A jacket is never required at any of the restaurants. There are no "formal nights" which for us is a pleasure. We really appreciated that there are no extra charges for anything except liquor. Soft drinks, cappuccino, mixers, etc. are all free. We were on the concierge level and the concierge lounge was always well stocked with juice, soft drinks, bottled water, small snacks, coffee/tea/cappuccino. The fridge in out room was also stocked with soft drinks and water. Of course, alcohol is available for purchase, but much to our delight, they do not constantly push it on you as is the case on many other ships. If you are poolside and want a soft drink, it will be brought to you. If you want a drink you will get one easily but you won't be bombarded with constant attempts to sell you liquor. Especially nice that that whenever you leave the ship there is bottled water available as you leave. On so many other ships, they squeeze an extra few bucks out of you by selling water to you as you leave the ship. Now for the one big negative...the pricing of their shore excursions is outrageously high compared to any other ship I have been on. Also, the quality of the excursions is nothing special. At a couple of our ports we took independently arranged excursions and they were much better and very much cheaper (1/2 to 1/3 the cost). One striking example is that at our disembarkation in Pappete, Tahiti, they ship charged $149/person to transfer to the airport by bus (a 15-20 minute ride). We took a cab which cost us $20 for 4 people. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2013
This was our first cruise with MSC. We are experienced cruisers, having sailed before with many other lines (European and North American cruiselines). We did our homework before sailing and we knew what not to expect at MSC cruises (for ... Read More
This was our first cruise with MSC. We are experienced cruisers, having sailed before with many other lines (European and North American cruiselines). We did our homework before sailing and we knew what not to expect at MSC cruises (for example no free table water nor coffee or tea after dinner). For that reason many things already mentioned on this board have not bothered us. We were prepared and actually our expectations were not very high. My review touches many aspects, which I would like to rate individually.1) First some words to the Itinerary and ports of call. We have chosen this cruise because of the Itinerary. We found it a very nice way for us to travel from South America to Europe and a good alternative to flying. The ports of call were Buzios, Salvador Bahia, Recife, Arrecife, Cadiz, Coruna, Dover, Amsterdam and Hamburg.I would rate the itinerary and ports of call as very good with five stars.2) Precruise booking process. For South America, MSC has not the option of booking online. The website is of no use for us, because we cannot even determine the prices of the cruises. We are always directed to a travel agent. Being fairly independent, I usually do my own reserach for my cruises online. Once I am ready to book, I tell my travel agent already all the details and ask her to do the booking for me. This procedure was not possible with MSC Cruises. Even for the small question I had to go through the travel agent. Fortunately I have for MSC cruises a very good travel agent and things worked out fine. However since I would prefer to have more freedom for booking, making reservations and managing my reservation online, I would rate this aspect as poor with two stars.3) The ship. The MSC Magnifica is a very nice and elegant ship. It is also in a very good condition. The fitness center does not have enough machines as other cruise lines though. I would rate the ship and facilities as good with four stars.4) Fellow passengers. Having read several comments from other cruise critic members about how unpolite passengers on MSC cruises are, and being used to the very considerated and polite manners from Northamerican cruisers, I was a litle aprehensive before boarding MSC Magnifica. I have to say, that I was nicely surprised. Passengers were from different countries in South America and Europe. Well educated, wealthy and well travelled Brasilians were the mayority. We have enjoyed the internationality among passengers. I would rate this aspect as very good with five stars.5) Food and Wine. For us it was a pleasure to enjoy Italian style of food. Yes the portions are not large, but they were large enough for us. We have missed a proper steak after such a long cruise but we have enjoyed pastas and rissotos. I had the best Ossobuco at sea onboard the MSC Magnifica. The German style bread was excellent. Wines were good. We could not have the allegrisimo package because of a funny explanation that South Americans drink too much and this is why it is not available on those itineraries. Really? Well, we did not need the package. Our thanks to the sommelier who always gave us a good advice on the wines. I would rate food and wine as very good with five stars.6) Cabin and facilities. We were in a balcony cabin. It was nice although small. The television was too small for any cabin. The programms on the TV were very limited with almost no news while the ship was on the Brasilian coast and during the crossing. Only once in Europe, several European channels were available. I would rate this aspect as good with four stars.7) Friendliness of the crew. Cabin attendants and waiters were very friendly. I would rate this as excellent with five plus stars.8) Interaction with officers and management response to problems. Unfortunately this is our main critic to MSC Magnifica. Officers were seldom to see. We have never met the hotel director. Every thing seemed to be fine as long as we did not need to communicate with Management. If we had some concerns, we were blocked by guest relation's personnel without being able to access the management. It gave us the feeling that if more serious problems were to arise we would receive litle help. I would rate this aspect as poor with two stars.9) Hygiene on board. We had the feeling that not enough measures were taken on this ship to control outbreaks like Norovirus or others. Sanitizers were many times empty or nobody paid attention if they were being used. I would rate this aspect as poor with two stars.10) Entertainment. We have loved the music from Musica in Maschera. We have enjoyed the Brasilian music in the different bars. We would rate this aspect as excellent with five plus stars.In summary we had a good cruise (according to my rating this means three stars). We would sail with them again if we like the itinerary. We would like to try a different ship instead of the Magnifica to be able to compare among ships of the MSC cruiseline. Read Less
23 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2013
We started a our cruise in Beijing.China. Not a good start the night before when Regent was hosting our free night in the Peninsula Hotel Beijing with a social dinner in a special room where we could meet other guest s who would be ... Read More
We started a our cruise in Beijing.China. Not a good start the night before when Regent was hosting our free night in the Peninsula Hotel Beijing with a social dinner in a special room where we could meet other guest s who would be travelling with. Well, No Host from the ship turned up !!! Food was like a sub par meal you could get in a bad restaurant!!! Next we get on ship which was fine, suites always comfortable and clean and service there second to none. Staff wonderful. Restaurants on ship overall very disappointing . standard of food not good, when I spoke to the chef, was told that Head Office dictate the quality of food, steaks on the ship were uneatable sent back to the kitchen many times. Know for a fact, was not the best of quality having been in the Restaurant Business many years before. Fish was always overcooked, had to make sure they knew what to ask for when we wanted anything in the dining rooms!!!. Service in restaurants had been cut back staff had too many tables to cope with. Very often we had to wait 10/15 minutes to remove our dinner plates, we ended up walking out of the restaurants. We found having travelled before on both the sister ships that after they were sold, standards dropped and now after hearing the CEO of the company all they are looking for is the bottom line= meaning money money money. They do not care for the discerning traveller. how sad.!!!! We were on the ship for 78 nights.Think again about making a long travels with this line. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2013
We very much enjoyed the cruise, although it was VERY cold! We were disappointed not to have a pre boarding morning tour of Charleston. We loved Beaufort, Savannah, Sapelo Island, Jekyll Island, St. Simons Island and Amelia Island and ... Read More
We very much enjoyed the cruise, although it was VERY cold! We were disappointed not to have a pre boarding morning tour of Charleston. We loved Beaufort, Savannah, Sapelo Island, Jekyll Island, St. Simons Island and Amelia Island and general cruise through the low lands. We especially liked our big rooms on the first floor in the 100's(same floor as the dining room). They are bigger because there is no balcony which takes away from the square footage of the room as well as the light! It was also nice to have an elevator, as I have had three knee operations(no replacement) and I don't need to do stairs any more than I have to. I was disappointed that the staff did NOT observe the dietary restriction that I had specifically written down on your space for "dietary needs" Every morning, they give you a menu to choose from, write it down and I always noted "low sodium". No one ever sought me out to find me with the low sodium meals. We just recently returned from a cruise of the Black Sea and the very first thing they did after the emergency drill, was to ask those with dietary requirements, to come to the lounge to meet with the chef to discuss my needs. Every meal a designated waiter brought me what I had requested for BOTH lunch and dinner! On the cruise we took with you, I finally had to go out to the kitchen, find the chef, and demand that SOMEONE pay attention, not just to me, but to others who also complained. One other suggestion: the entertainment was a little thin. One of them should clearly be dropped. It's been so long that I can't remember exactly who. Otherwise, it was very enjoyable and the staff was excellent. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2013
Having previously only done Princess Grill, I was looking forward to experiencing the Cunard experience that most guests book - Britannia. Embarkation in Singapore was a breeze. There were no large queues and I was on board in about 15 ... Read More
Having previously only done Princess Grill, I was looking forward to experiencing the Cunard experience that most guests book - Britannia. Embarkation in Singapore was a breeze. There were no large queues and I was on board in about 15 minutes and my suitcase arrived at my cabin about 10 minutes after I did. I couldn't believe how quick and efficient the embarkation process was. After unpacking I did a quick tour around the ship and was impressed with the maintenance, everything looked spick and span. Cunard is obviously not cutting corners with regards to maintenance. Rather than do a short story on the voyage, I will summarise my observations about various aspects of the voyage: Service: In a word - excellent. The steward who looked after my room did an excellent job. He was always cheerful, friendly and kept my room looking very smart. Our table was served by a sommelier, waiter and assistant waiter. All three were very professional and our table received excellent service; we never had to wait for anything and there were no delays in regards to wine or alcoholic beverages. Our waiter was also very accommodating with requests. On lobster night our table all requested extra lobsters, a request which were happily granted by our waiter. Throughout the ship I encountered many different staff members from various locations (Sir Samuel's, The Commodore Club, Kings Court, Todd English, G32, the photography staff, The Chart Room and the Purser's desk) and they were all great, everyone was polite & friendly and the White Star training really shows. Accommodation: I had a D5 standard inside on deck 5. This was very conveniently located between staircases B & C and decks three & seven. The inside stateroom was very spacious and very well appointed. It was perfect for one person and I never felt claustrophobic. The only issue I had with the room was the engine noise that came through the pillow. The room I was in is located next to a void on the deck plan and I discovered that I was right next to a noisy crew staircase. This must have been the cause of the noise as occupants two staterooms down the corridor reported no noise through their pillows. I solved this problem using earplugs. Food: Again, excellent. I enjoyed breakfast, lunch and dinner in the Britannia Restaurant and each time I found the food to be of a very high standard. I appreciate that the appetisers are a sensible size as the mains are quite substantial and this combination leaves room for the delicious desserts. I left the table each night feeling comfortably full - not slightly unwell from overeating. I heard some negative comments about the food in Britannia, comments which I cannot understand as the meals I had in Britannia restaurant were excellent. Kings Court was great for a quick snack or an early morning coffee before a shore tour. I found the layout to be relatively easy to follow and the food to be very good. I also had dinner at Todd English one night and was very impressed with the food and service. Having not enjoyed a previous lunch experience at Todd English I wasn't expecting much but boy was I wowed. I certainly recommend dinner at Todd English during your next QM2 voyage. Shore tours: The shore tours in Bangkok and Saigon were okay. There was a two hour drive to each city from the port and the guides ranged from fantastic to good. I found the 'Highlights of Ho Chi Minh city' tour to be boring and wouldn't recommend that tour. The tours were, however, well organised and we left and arrived back at the ship on time. Activities on board: Bingo was a lot of fun and the entertainment staff made it very enjoyable. G32 was it's usual let down, the fact that there was no DJ in residence (we had a fill-in from Vibez) only compounded the problem. The daily activity sheet was filled with many activities and your day can be as busy or as relaxing as you choose. I decided to do very little each day and so can't comment on the lectures or the shows as I pretty much just swam in the pool and went to the gym most days. The Chart Room is a great hang-out for those Britannia guests on late sitting. The room has a great buzz and is a very enjoyable place to meet friends for drinks before dinner. Overall: I very much enjoyed this voyage and would do it again in a heartbeat. The food, accommodation and service were excellent (baring the engine noise through the pillow) and I cannot imagine how Cunard could make it better. The public rooms in the ship are beautiful and certainly convey that 'ocean liner' atmosphere. What makes it all the more real is that QM2 is an actual ocean liner and that is something you don't get on any other ship. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2013
We arrived at the terminal around 1:30 and was greeted with a check in line that snaked all over. For a ship with only 1150 people, taking 2 1/2 hours to check in is pretty bad. The line was just as long when we did get checked in as it ... Read More
We arrived at the terminal around 1:30 and was greeted with a check in line that snaked all over. For a ship with only 1150 people, taking 2 1/2 hours to check in is pretty bad. The line was just as long when we did get checked in as it was when we started. Felt the ship was fairly dirty when we got there and it took about a week for it to really look better. By the time we left 49 days later, it was looking really good. Experienced some of the same problems the lady from the previous cruise wrote about. Our commode over flowed several times, but they responded quickly each time. The ship was the coldest we have ever sailed on and there were MANY people sick with colds, etc. I swear you could almost see your breath in some of the spaces. Cabins in our area lost partial power several times but maintenance was right there. The food and service in both the dining room and the Lido deck were very good. The only complaint was that there were times when it seemed the dirty dishes would never be picked up, especially in the outdoor areas. Due to the length of the cruise, we may have had special entertainers, but all were very good. I couldn't have afforded to pay to see them on the outside. All of the staff were very friendly and the customer service people, ie. Future cruise, computer help,excursions, etc, kept longer hours than usual. We had several tender ports and in general, they went pretty smooth. Over all a pretty good cruise. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2013
This was my 20th cruise with Cunard - and the most adventurous. Leaving Southampton almost on time as usually, the first leg of the 2013 World Cruise led us into a rough Biscaye. Although QM2 is a still very comfortable ship even in rough ... Read More
This was my 20th cruise with Cunard - and the most adventurous. Leaving Southampton almost on time as usually, the first leg of the 2013 World Cruise led us into a rough Biscaye. Although QM2 is a still very comfortable ship even in rough sea, many passengers found that the meals weren't as attractive to them as they expected ;-) Barcelona proved to be an interesting place for everyone but Athens/Piraeus didn't really want the QM2. So due to high winds and a bad forecast for the next days Commodore Rynd and Cunard decided in the late evening to change the next destination to Heraklion/Crete. This is not quite an alternative to Athens, but larger ports in the region are rare. 70ton provisions stayed in Priraeus and subsequently eggs became a rare occasion, good for our cholesterol balance. Port Said saw us at late afternoon from a far distance and by 1am QM2 entered the Suez Canal in a foggy night. Almost until Ismailia the sight was poor, but the atmosphere nevertheless tensioning. The view of Suez was then clear and the short trip to Ain Sokhna completed in slow motion. Ein Sokhna - not a place to live or to die, only a place to enter the buses to Cairo and Gizeh. Next day saw us early in Safarga, only to get into the buses to Luxor. I wish I hadn't done this... Strange Egyptian water-waste-regulations required the the ship to block the washing machines and call for water saving, later enhanced because of a emerging water shortage due to unavailability of drinkable water supplies since Barcelona. Security precautions required blacking outs like 1942 for the next days from dawn to dusk and killed by this the board live almost to zero. The company of NATO warships was most welcomed although the pirates waited until the safe zone was passed for showing up and attracting the ship's attention. Anyway, nothing serious happened and we reached the fantastic town of Dubai in time. Major disadvantages: Very noticeable cost cuttings by Cunard in restaurant service and food selection All important regions with the exception of the southern part of the Suez Canal have been passed in the deepest night time. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2013
My partner and I decided to book a cruise as it was a holiday we had never done before and having reviewed many different cruise lines we settled upon Cunard and the Queen Mary 2. We took this decision as we managed to find a very good ... Read More
My partner and I decided to book a cruise as it was a holiday we had never done before and having reviewed many different cruise lines we settled upon Cunard and the Queen Mary 2. We took this decision as we managed to find a very good deal for this voyage from Southampton to Dubai, the first leg of the 2013 world voyage, in January (when could be a better time to head off to some heat after Christmas when everything is dismal and cold?) and personally I was excited by the glamour and sophistication which would await me on board such a magnificent looking vessel. I was not disappointed, this holiday exceeded my expectations in every way and I would recommend a voyage upon this wonderful ocean liner to anyone. I have focussed my review on the ship itself rather than ports / day trips as otherwise I will ramble on for too long. Checking in at Southampton was quick and simple. The Queen Mary 2 was docked in the old QE2 terminal which is like something out of the 1960's however was perfectly adequate and I quite enjoyed the feeling of stepping back in time as we boarded. As soon as we were on board we were greeted by smiling faces and warm welcomes from every member of the White Star staff we passed. We stayed in an inside cabin or 'stateroom' as they are called (4061), which is the best value option and if you don't mind not having a window or balcony it is quite adequate. The decks are all so beautiful and vast, there is no necessity to spend much needed cocktail money on a balcony when you can spend time on the public decks. I guess this is all down to individual preference, and if you have the cash to splash then the balcony staterooms are beautiful, but ours was clean, roomy enough for two including enough wardrobe space for all my evening dresses and throughout the voyage, if you tune the tv to the bridgecam channel you can see what the outside weather is doing and have your own little "window" to outside. The morning show with Paul O'Loughlin, Entertainment Director was also very interesting and a fun way to start every day telling us about upcoming shows and events, I didn't really want to go back to BBC Breakfast when I got home! We were lucky enough to have Commodore Rynd, head of the Cunard fleet at the helm and he was very personable, visible around the ship from day to day and his 12pm navigational announcements every day were very enjoyable informing us about the ships position and interesting facts of the day. When booking this voyage I had been worried that I might find the sea days a little tiresome and boring, particularly the 5 in a row between Egypt and Dubai however I could not have been more wrong, and the sea days were actually some of my favourites. Each evening we received a daily programme in our stateroom which listed all the activities for the following day along with evening dress code and information on guest performers. I looked forward to planning our next day and it was a struggle to fit everything in there was so much on offer. I guess at this point it is worth mentioning that on this particular voyage the majority of travellers were aged around 50 upwards and I guess many of the activities are geared towards this age group. However to put my review into context, I am 32 and was probably the youngest on board (bar 2 toddlers I saw) however I threw myself into it and thoroughly enjoyed everything on offer. Daytime activities included many pub quizzes in the Golden Lion pub (very enjoyable particularly as these days in usual pub quizzes everyone can cheat on their phone -- not so easily done at sea so much more enjoyable), daily lectures and talks, films and planetarium shows, shuffleboard, decathlon, short tennis, golf (there is an indoor simulator also), water volleyball, darts, i-seminars, art classes, make up demonstrations and our personal favourite ballroom dance classes with the wonderful Wilfried and Ilona ex ballroom and latin champions who were lovely and even managed to get my partner interested in dancing who has NEVER shown any interest before despite constant nagging! Flower arranging with Mikee and Mario is not to be missed, a hilarious double act and a fun 4 hour session over 2 days which allowed us to keep our floral masterpieces and have them in our stateroom or on the dinner table. There is a $50 supplement for this activity but well worth it for the fun you will have. Cunard do their best to secure good guest lecturers and entertainers and on this voyage Martin Bell, Ruthie Henshall, Roy Walker were the headliners, all of whom were very popular and very entertaining in their respective fields. However lesser known entertainers such as Goronwy Thom -- comedy juggler and Elio Pace -- singer and pianist were absolutely excellent. This brings me onto the subject of entertainment as a whole. The Royal Court singers and dancers were top quality and the shows presented were better than many I have seen in the West End and Broadway, shows were usually performed twice a night in the gorgeous theatre and this was good to give flexibility around different dinner sittings. On a couple of occasions we watched the shows twice as they were so good. The Entertainment staff and social hostess who ran the quizzes did an ok job but personality wise they were somewhat lacking apart from Paul (Ents Director) who was very good with his patter. I could not believe the number of wonderful resident musicians on board -- a string quartet, cocktail pianists, a jazz trio, the Queens Room orchestra, Vibz Caribbean band and Joey Mix with his Royal Court Orchestra were all outstanding and there was much live music on offer each day. Highlights were Dixieland in the Winter Garden, and the Afternoon Tea Dances with the Queens Room Orchestra and vocalist Michel Chartier. Food was overwhelming in terms of the amount on offer. The Kings Court buffet is open for 22 hours a day and serves pretty much anything you can think of, I agree with other reviews that the layout of this area isn't very cosy but we didn't eat there that often, only really for post evening dancing snacks and cookies before bed! When the weather is warm the boardwalk cafe is open in the afternoon and this serves great burgers, chips and salad. The main Britannia Restaurant was large and glamorous as I expected and we had such an attentive waiter and sommelier. When torn between 2 dishes they will offer to bring you both and no request was too much. We were always welcomed with a smile and enjoyed every evening we dined in here. Over our 18 day cruise I did consume a lot of food however it was too delicious not to and that is what holidays are all about. It is worth spending one evening dining in the Todd English restaurant, you pay a supplement here but the food was first class and it was a nice special treat. Drinks are plentiful and although pricey, you get what you pay for and the cocktails and champagne in particular were lovely. My tip is to have pre dinner cocktails in the Commodore Club on deck 9, which has a lovely ambience particularly when the pianist it playing, check out the molecular cosmopolitan for a delicious sweet and tangy treat. The Chart Room and Veuve Cliquot Champagne Bar are also nice for a pre dinner aperitif. We opted to pay $6.50 per day and have unlimited soft drinks, this was well worth it and I would recommend it for people who like to have plenty of cola, lemonade, orangeade or juices as you can use this in any of the bars. I believe that Cunard line do many more formal nights than other companies and this was something which I personally loved as back at home these days, one never gets the chance very often to get dressed up. Everyone respected the dress code and it was such a lovely feeling looking around and seeing the glamour and sophistication of all the guests. Formal nights included a Masquerade Ball, Egyptian Ball, Burns Night Ball, and Black and White Ball, all of which we were informed about in advance of our voyage enabling us to bring appropriate formal wear. The Queens Ball room is elegant and again the live music, singing and performances by the resident dance couples are highlights of the evening. There are a number of pools and jacuzzi's and the indoor / outdoor pavilion pool with sliding glass roof on the top deck is a popular choice when the weather is not so hot, as it was when departing Southampton on 9th January! My personal favourite outdoor space was the stern of deck 8 as there was a terrace bar here and once the weather was warm it was a sunbathing hotspot and lunch time live music by the pool with Vibz really made the holiday. One of my favourite days was our trip down the Suez Canal as the weather was hot, I was in the Jacuzzi with a glass of prosecco enjoying the scenery and the live music -- absolute bliss. The one niggle I had on this voyage was the service received at the Pursers Office, as the staff here seemed a little disinterested in their jobs and they weren't as helpful as they could have been. Whilst enjoying a lovely performance by the on board choir in the Grand Lobby, they wouldn't shut up from talking very loudly interrupting the singing, and even my long glares didn't seem to make any difference. Apart from this we thoroughly enjoyed our time at sea and once we disembarked in Dubai I felt very sad to be leaving this magnificent beautiful ocean liner which by that point felt like home. I guess as a first time "cruiser" I have nothing to compare it to, however if you enjoy old fashioned glamour, variety, succulent fayre, live music, high quality entertainment and beautiful surroundings then this is the ocean liner for you. I am saving already for my next trip! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2013
Destination: The Amazon is an AMAZing place to visit. You need to see it for yourself. The P&O Adonia is the friendliest ship I have sailed on. The passengers and crew rapidly created a true community atmosphere, particularly values ... Read More
Destination: The Amazon is an AMAZing place to visit. You need to see it for yourself. The P&O Adonia is the friendliest ship I have sailed on. The passengers and crew rapidly created a true community atmosphere, particularly values as I am a solo traveller. Adonia's size makes everything conveniently accessible, with sufficient space and good temperature control. Staff: VERY courteous and friendly staff, whose smile reached their eyes. The best I have encountered on 6 cruises in 12 months. Cruise director: EXCELLENT. Cabin: Good space, comfortable bed and bedding, White Company toiletries. Tea, coffee and biscuits facilities. Free bottled water on arrival. Fridge convenient. Dining: Table stewards EXCELLENT. Head waiter: very helpful. Wine waiter: good sense of humour. Meals six courses, good range (frequent steak, excellently cooked), portions rather too large to have all courses. Petits fours with the coffee. Informal dining facility good with set tables and service. Range of informal buffets Indian, Thai, International, British, Italian. Select dining Marco Pierre White and Sorrento (Italian). Dress code of formal, informal and casual nights. Room service: Breakfast reliably delivered at the early part of the selected half hour slot. Other meals limited choice but mostly free of charge. Entertainment: Good range of the usual quizzes, line dancing, deck sports - winners' points cumulative for better prizes (incl DAB radio) - shows and cabarets, lounge music, lectures and recent films as well as TV. News, crossword and sudoku (too easy), jigsaws and games. Good library. Plus ongoing bridge, dancing and art courses. Sailaways from every port. Deck parties. Crossing the Equator. Village Fete: 15 events involving staff from all the ship's departments with top prize of Marco Pierre White dinner for 2 and visit to the bridge for 2. Photographers: Ran courses to enhance our skills, accessible and helpful. 'Stock photos' and video (high quality souvenir representative of ship life and ports) very affordable but individual photos £9.95 each. Shore visits: Resort information on all 12 ports visited handed out at the start of the sector to give you plenty of time to explore/compare excursions versus independent exploration. Information generally good (a few inaccuracies). Talks on each port by speakers and by excursion staff repeated on loop on TV. Excursions varied - in some places I felt they were contrived, but many passengers expected something to be arranged for them, either because of reduced mobility or because they did not have the confidence to explore independently. My three (Manaus forest and river, Boi Bamba show, Rio full day) were excellent. It was Carnival in Brazil which added to the special atmosphere but it caused some closures of churches etc. Services for singles: Coffees, and 'Travelling alone together' meetings on each shore day to ensure no one had to go ashore alone who did not want to. Facilities: Laundry good. I never had to wait - but may have chosen good times. Gratuities very reasonable £3.10, no expectation of extra and no gratuities on drinks Embarkation/Disembarkation Very well handled. On departure day there was a free tour and dinner for those who were due at the airport at 9pm. Value for money: The solo supplement is always a problem, but with the 'getaway fare' I achieved good value for money. At couples' rates it's a steal! Downsides: INTERNET EXPENSIVE AND SLOW and inadequate lighting for jigsaw table. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2013
An interesting cruise for less than US$100 per night for 34 nights (obstructed view cabin). Ft. Lauderdale-Panama Canal-Limon (Puerto Rico)-Guajaquil (Ecuador) - Lima (Peru) - Easter Island (Chile) - Pitcairn (British) - Papeete (Tahiti) - ... Read More
An interesting cruise for less than US$100 per night for 34 nights (obstructed view cabin). Ft. Lauderdale-Panama Canal-Limon (Puerto Rico)-Guajaquil (Ecuador) - Lima (Peru) - Easter Island (Chile) - Pitcairn (British) - Papeete (Tahiti) - Auckland (N.Z.) - Burnie (Tasmania) - Sydney (Australia). Taxi from Fort Lauderdale airport to ship is US$20. The only problem is the free shuttle dumps you at a different terminal to yours. A clean ship built for 700 pax. max. and because of the low number of passengers on board a friendly atmosphere develops and one gets to know the different nationalities and passengers meet on the same tables in the restaurants and get to know one another. The itinerary mentions equator and dateline crossings, which hides the fact of many days at sea and which are not really destinations but at least the King Neptune party breaks up the days at sea. Pitcairn was not a destination but was truthfully advertised as a cruise past and islanders came on board to sell honey, souvenirs and stamps and one could meet relatives of the mutineer Fletcher Christian. But what nearly led to mutiny amongst the passengers was the disaster of not getting off the ship at the mysterious Easter Islands. This led to far too many days at sea between Lima and Papeete (Tahiti). One must assume many bookings on this Pacific Princess world cruise were due to the magic that Easter Island evokes. But it is a fact that only one in four ships can berth due to swell (Source: National Geographic) and had that fact been made available in the Princess literature, then passengers would have been more understanding of the possibility of disappointment. A suggestion would be to nominate an alternative, like Bora Bora to break the many sea days. Those of us craning our necks to see the Moais (stone statues) of Easter Island at the railings on deck 9 also missed the commentary from the bridge, which apparently pointed out the locations and names of the various platforms (Ahus). As compensation the ship steamed around the island. There must have been communication problems with the outside speakers close to the railings. And to add salt to the wounds we all missed out on the Tapati Rapa Nui festival, which lasts for 14 days on the island at the beginning of February when we were there. If one does not mind non-working air-conditioning and older busses, then independent travel can make the excursion costs drop by half compared to what Princess charges and shuttle busses from Princess from the ship sometimes drop passengers off nowhere near tourist bureaus, where further excursions can be booked. The entertainment on Pacific Princess was commendable, the library well-stocked, the staff courteous and helpful, cooking and dancing classes, trivia challenges, films, lectures by experts, like the talk about the Concorde by a retired Concorde pilot Captain Les Evans filled the sea days. Every interest is catered for and Christian and Jewish mass is conducted. The food was simply overwhelming in its variety, especially during Sunday brunch at sea. Prepared by internationally well-known chefs the food included all known sea foods plus escargot, pheasant, etc. and international themes ensured every nationality did not have to miss out on their favourite foods. The patisserie section with its specialities like Sacher Torte and Linzer Torte was just too tempting. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2013
PORTS: London-Lisbon-Malaga-Tunis-Malta-Naphlion-Athens-Suez Canal-Safafa-Dubai (2 days)-Abu Dahbi-Goa-Mangalore-Cochin-Port Blair-Langkawi-Kuala Lumpur-Singapore-(Indoneisa) Jakarta-Semerang-Bali (2 ... Read More
PORTS: London-Lisbon-Malaga-Tunis-Malta-Naphlion-Athens-Suez Canal-Safafa-Dubai (2 days)-Abu Dahbi-Goa-Mangalore-Cochin-Port Blair-Langkawi-Kuala Lumpur-Singapore-(Indoneisa) Jakarta-Semerang-Bali (2 days)-Lombok-Komodo-Makassar-Probolingo-Surabaya (Indonesia)-Singapore ITINERARY: 50 wonderful days from Jan-March 2013 sailing from Southhampton, England to Singapore via the Suez Canal with two incredible weeks working our way across just some of the islands of Indonesia - only 6 of the fabled 17,000 islands of this important SE Asian country. This was also home to many of the ship's crew members, whose families joyously were waiting to greet them at the dock. Holland America and the Rotterdam were up to their well-regarded standards from top to bottom and played gracious host to the crew's family members who were invited on board for tours and refreshments. FELLOW PASSENGERS: Cruise Director Glenn was one of the best and along with the rest of the staff easily handled the bi-lingual demands since this cruise carried a very large Dutch-speaking contingent, which the entire staff handled with style, charm and easy humor. We first moved through history of all the major Western civilizations from Portugal, Spain, Carthage, Roman Empire, Greece and Egypt. And then on to the newer global powers of the UAE, India, Malaysia, Singapore and finally got to see both the new and old worlds of fabulous Indonesia. DINING: The ship was in beautiful shape, the food wonderful and dining settings varied for any tastes. The specialty restaurant The Pinnacle provided a very elegant setting also serving specialty night menus from Michelin rated Liberije (sp?) in Holland and Le Cirque in New York. The standard Pinnacle menus for both lunch and dinner were superb. Try them at both times for sure. Sea days breakfast, lunch and tea in the lovely, tall glass windowed main dining room was always a welcomed treat because you can see the waves passing by while you dine, allowing one to really have the sense of being on a ship. The main dining room sparkled elegantly at night with white linens and silver dinner service, but darkness kept those wonderful full window views more obscured during those evening hours in this part of the world. The specialty afternoon teas should not be missed, esp. the Indonesian and Royal Dutch ones. The Lido, Grill and Slice additionally offered a wide variety of foods for all tastes if a more casual setting was desired - with the option of indoor, poolside or outdoor dining, Along with many specialty buffets like crab feasts, Indonesian, Asian, and German sausage tests -- all very good. Wonderful array of cheeses, along with their signature desserts, good ice cream, chocolate chip cookies and the splendid little meringues. ENRICHMENT-SHORE EXCURSIONS: Enrichment lecture speakers were good to excellent and all topical for the areas we were visiting. The only major hassle was Indian immigration which was counter-productive and inefficient. Their constantly changing demands with each Indian port kept the staff up all night meeting trying to get us onshore on time. Staff was brilliant trying to respond to this. Indian regulations and their over-kill make-work officials at each were petty and annoying serving little purpose. India needs to pay attention to this tourist turn-off in the future if they want people to jump through more and more hoops just to enter their country - and enjoy it and spend our money there locally. Shore excursions offered by the ship were all excellent and well worth the prices since we were often in ports that were not used frequently by cruise ships, local traffic was intense, tourism services few to non-existent, and lots of space to cover to get the best feel for the new areas we were visiting. PIRATE PRECAUTIONS: Yes, we did go through pirate precautions that are now standard for all cruises in this Upper Indian/Ocean Red Sea area. In fact, they were less stringent than we experienced on two other cruise lines for this same area. Since this comes with the territory, there should of been no surprises to anyone choosing to travel in this continually unstable area. Can't imagine why any passenger would want to put the ship at risk ignoring these appropriate precautions. No complaints from us. Know before you go. This is not an optional exercise. The Suez Canal passage was just one of the many highlights of this trip. Be sure and bring binoculars and stay outside as much as you can to hear the plaintive Muslim calls to prayers during the day. SMOKING: I for one hope HAL bans smoking all together as it ruins perfectly good public areas for the rest of us with lingering tobacco smells which made the lovely Crows Nest forward viewing lounge almost unusable due to the lingering heavy smoke saturation. That room needs a thorough and deep cleaning and then ban smoking up there entirely, so the rest of the passengers can also enjoy this grand public space. INTERNET: No one expected or got full ship to shore communications traversing this part of the world either. Internet was slow and balky so best to do your emailing when ashore or in the cruise terminal where all the crew members set up their own laptops too. CABIN LOCATION: We tried a lower deck ocean view cabin (Main Deck 2) this time due to the length and price of the trip and found it spacious and accommodating, but missed our balcony. Saving money on the cabin allowed us to enjoy more shore excursions. We were close to open wrap-around walking deck on Deck 3 and found plenty of outdoor and indoor public spaces to enjoy, particularly the wonderfully stocked Rotterdam library and reading room - the Explorations Cafe. OVERALL: Holland America has a winner with this itinerary and the Rotterdam is just the lady to do this special Holland/Indonesia exploration. I hope many can take it for its full 50-90 day length in order to take this fabulous travel through both time and space as one moves from the Old World into the Newer New World - and the global future where over 3 billion people are rapidly moving in to the middle class. Yet while still preserving much of their ancient past and traditions as well. Long being a global traveller with well over 100 countries visited, I realized I had not really fully seen the world until I visited Indonesia - it is a new jewel in the crown of my own family of nations. And we found we loved 50 day cruises too! Read Less

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