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15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
Dont expect Mega Liner inside, its clean and mostly comfortable in most areas, but Hans Bar could do with new more comfortable cushions on lounge chairs, there is no Casino on this ship only Deck Games pool and bars, there is a indoor ... Read More
Dont expect Mega Liner inside, its clean and mostly comfortable in most areas, but Hans Bar could do with new more comfortable cushions on lounge chairs, there is no Casino on this ship only Deck Games pool and bars, there is a indoor pool for if you are in cold weather. it has a small entertainment lounge that requires two sittings to see the show. There is no laundry but there is a Ironing room if you can wash you clothes in your Cabin Sink or Shower. It has a payed Laundry if you can afford it.This is the second half would Cruise we have done on this Ship, this time Westward Bound. Food was much better this time thanks to a Indian Head Chef, it was a very good selection of dishes on offer, but one small point was, Two many stew type dishes but his pork Belly was to die for, i give him a 3 star.I am sorry to say the entertainment was below average, they had three very good girl singers and three guys with with very soft voices all except two of the girls were frequently drowned out by a over enthusiastic Clarinet playing band leader who always had a microphone up the end of ever instrument he played, he did not need this in a small lounge,The Assistant Cruise Director would have been better as Director as he was only seen introducing the acts apart from small appearance in Sail A ways. he never tried to find out what peoples thoughts were about anything going on board, I.E. Dancers or entertainment. The main problem we had was in Hans Bar Deck was the German minority of people who smoked, there is a smoking area to the left of the bar having ashtrays on the tables, they insisted,( some of them but not all,) picking up the ashtrays and sitting in the middle of the Deck, We had to on several occasions get the Management to move them, they had great Bar staff and Hotel Staff, Just a pity about Entertainment, not like Last Cruise East Bound witch had Great Entertainment. We were in a suite, it was very good but bed was very hard, very good Cabin Staff. Will not be back on this ship as it is based in Perth Read Less
Sail Date: February 2014
Firstly, I'd like to say that myself and my partner (both 26) were travelling on this 14-day tour of the south pacific islands for our honeymoon. As a bit of background we both enjoy music (playing and listening), theatre shows, ... Read More
Firstly, I'd like to say that myself and my partner (both 26) were travelling on this 14-day tour of the south pacific islands for our honeymoon. As a bit of background we both enjoy music (playing and listening), theatre shows, dancing, and partying as well as relaxing with a good book. So we thought this cruise would provide the perfect honeymoon as a mixture of relaxation, beach fun, musical and theatre entertainment and some partying too. Ship: Pacific Jewel Cabin No: 11212 Cruise: 14-days around pacific islands - Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia Well it provided the beach fun and relaxation.... but thats about it. I'll elaborate more on the reasons why and what we did and didn't like about it later on. The main reason for writing this review is to inform others on what you will actually get on this cruise as we were very disappointed with the on-board entertainment and would, as a result, never cruise with P&O again and would NOT recommend it to honeymooners, 20-30 year olds, or anyone wanting to be entertained on board. Sea days (6 in total) were boring... which is a lot of time to be bored on what isn't a cheap holiday. Definitely a cruise for the lazy or those who literally want to do nothing when on ship... this may be suitable for some but was unacceptable to us. As I said we were on honeymoon. I booked it myself through the P&O website and was vigilant for anywhere I could use to let them know that it was our honeymoon, I had heard that on other cruises they would make you feel special, which I wanted for my new wife as she deserves it, and had also heard they would have a 'honeymooners club' with get-togethers on ship for all those on honeymoon - sounds good, right?. Finished booking... nowhere did it ask for additional information or special circumstances. Ok maybe I'd have an opportunity later. Forgot about it until less than a week before the wedding and my mother-in-law asked if I had let them know that it was our honeymoon. I had not... dammit! So she called and emailed P&O about it - they said "unfortunately we need to be informed at least 8 days prior to departure". We asked if there was anything that could be done - P&Os response "no"..... Right, well a little effort would have been appreciated but ok. So I decided to just let our room steward know on arrival to our room after embarkation. We let him know that we were on honeymoon, he congratulated us with smiles and enthusiasm (which was nice) and put some balloons and a sign up on our door to show it was our honeymoon..... that was the extent of 'special attention' given to us by P&O. Now I never expect special attention for anything but this was our honeymoon! Pretty disappointing - they didn't even organise a catch-up for other honeymooners despite seeing at least 5 other 'honeymoon' signs on other doors during walks around the ship. Moving on - we were originally booked in for an outside cabin located midship on level 9 (we picked it specifically) and asked NOT to be upgraded. Somehow about a week before the cruise we were informed of an 'upgrade' to deck 11, one cabin from the back of the ship.... definitely NOT an upgrade. but the midship cabins are easier to sell so they 'upgrade passengers from those to accommodate last minute sales. Not happy but didn't complain as it was 1 week away and we didn't have time to think about it with our wedding coming up. We were in room 11212 and ended up wit 'restricted view' out the window. Luckily for us we didn't have the 'chair scraping' issue that other cabins on deck 11 seem to have as we did not have any area of useable deck above us so for that reason it was quite good. It was also very close to the plantation restaurant (deck 12 directly above) and the oasis bar (below on deck 10). Cabin was clean and the cabin steward was very nice. On three occasions (over 14 days) we received towels in the shape of different animals. After only being on the ship a few hours it was clear that the average age of passengers on this cruise would be around 60! Also, putting it as delicately as possible and really trying not to offend anyone... a very large percentage of the passengers would be classed as obese! Whilst this is fine and has nothing to do with us it did, without exaggeration make navigating hallways and elevators very difficult. This is not a reflection on P&O as its not something anyone can help but it is something to consider! It could be very uncomfortable at times as we were the ones expected to get out of their way. Now you may think I have been quite negative so far but as reviews are generally viewed to get a sense of the negatives associated with the topic I will mainly focus on those and mostly summarise the positives at the end. The embarkation process was fast and easy, welcoming onto the ship was good, all the stewards, waiters, bartenders etc were very friendly and always helpful. The layout of the ship wasn't bad. The decor was simple, nothing opulent, and the common areas seemed a little cramped. The top deck consisted of a single common area with 2x small pools, 2x 6 person spas (for 1500+ passengers), a bar and 100+ lounge chairs with a balcony on the deck above overlooking this area. Food on board was either at the main buffet (Plantation restaurant), Waterfront restaurant (no charge), Salt Grill ($50pp) or La Luna ($40pp) as well as a cafe and a grill place for pizza, chips or anything deep fried. Buffet was reasonable. Food was very similar each day with small changes in variety of food supplied. Pre-made salads and baguettes/sandwiches weren't very nice at all. Had heard they do seafood buffets during the cruise - not once was this provided, which was disappointing. Some of the hot food was ok and was happy to try most things for lunch. Breakfast food was better than what was supplied for lunch or dinner. After 2 days of buffet food we ate at the Waterfront every day for lunch and dinner. Service at the waterfront restaurant was very good but was highly dependant on the waiter that you were allocated - we were very lucky. Ours were very friendly and between dinner courses would do magic tricks, tell us riddles or jokes, or made us intricate objects/animals out of napkins! The food was quite good considering there was no charge and we always got 3 courses, and sometimes extras if we were particularly hungry and asked them. We didn't eat in Salt Grill or La Luna so I can't comment on their service or quality. Food in the cafe or pizza place cost extra and were reasonable. Cocktails were very well priced at $9.50! We liked going out to the oasis bar on deck 10 and relaxing on the lounges with a pina colada! :) Considering the next topic this was about all there was to do during sea days. Entertainment - now this is a very important aspect of a cruise considering we spent 6 full days at sea, not to mention being at sea every night. So as far as we were concerned there needed to be enough entertainment to keep us interested and of good quality. We were extremely disappointed with most aspects of entertainment. When looking at the 'Pacific Daily', which is the daily schedule of activities, it would seem that there is a lot to do... but on closer inspection we found it hard to find 2 things per day to go to. We were MOST DISAPPOINTED with the quality of the musical theatre productions on board. The pacific entertainers (the dancers and singers on board) were absolutely terrible, we get better entertainment from our local scout groups annual performance - which is really saying something. The singing was average at best and the acting and dancing was uninspiring. We usually enjoy all forms of musical and theatre entertainment, so it might sound like we're being picky, but these performances were terrible and each night less and less passengers came to them. We only continued to go out of sheer boredom - it was either go to that or go to bed (at 9:30). The on-deck parties (I think there were 3) were an absolute joke. The pacific entertainers were unenthusiastic and failed to really interact with the crowd, seeming bored with being there at all. Rather than trying to improve the feel of the party they seemed resigned to the fact it was losing momentum (at 10pm). Bands on board were talented but failed to judge the crowd well and played the wrong songs at the wrong times - for party music they failed to get the crowd going. Now in all honesty this could have been due to the fact that 80% of the cruise passengers seemed to be over 60 years of age. Having said that P&O still should have made an effort for those who did want to say up until past 10 and enjoy some night time activities. Sigh... very lame. Dance classes - 2x salsa and 1x jive. Hardly extensive. Lots of bingo, at least once per day. Karaoke heats every day. Casino open most of the time. These seemed like the extent of regular activities- none of which i was interested in... sigh. During Sea days I did enjoy some of the on board 'adventure' activities (extra costs) including rock climbing up the rear funnel. These activities cost between $20 and $60 per turn but can be purchased as a package if you think you will use it often. To cut this review short and summarise: - Entertainment => Poor - Food => Reasonable - Service => Excellent - Ports => Great Not recommended for anyone under 30 or maybe even 40. Even young families may find the on-board activities lacking. Most activities have additional charges and they are NOT cheap. Even the pensioners we talked to on the ship were disappointed and the entertainment seemed to be directed towards them.   Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2014
Over the years, we have cruised for over 240 nights on all of the 5 Silversea ships combined with the exception of the Explorer-type ships. It is very sad to report that the last two cruises, back-to-back (25 days aboard), that we just ... Read More
Over the years, we have cruised for over 240 nights on all of the 5 Silversea ships combined with the exception of the Explorer-type ships. It is very sad to report that the last two cruises, back-to-back (25 days aboard), that we just finished: voyage 3404 from Singapore to Singapore (14 days) continuing on voyage 3405 from Singapore to Hong Kong (11 days) were really a disappointment especially when it came to the overall condition of the ship and especially the cabins. We last cruised on the Shadow in September/October 2013, from Vancouver to Shanghai (27 days) and the Shadow needed big time "TLC" then; we were told at the time that it was going to go in dry dock for a refurbishing before the end of 2013. Fast forward to this year's cruises and to our surprise when we boarded in Singapore we did not see any changes or updates in the public areas. When we checked into our suite, it looked dated to say the least and really needed work, the desk area looked like a mad child had taken a hammer and made nicks on its surface, the letter area on it was scratched and worn, the sofa and arm chair in the suite had threads coming out as if a cat with long nails had used them for scratching pad and the straight chair in front of the desk swayed like a rocking chair. The bathroom hardware was so worn that the chrome had worn was almost off. The black granite counter top was so worn out that it was white in some areas although the original color was black. The shelf underneath the two sinks was sagging and a someone had placed a large screw to hold it, but it had been so long that the screw had eaten through the wood and one had to be careful not to scratch ones hand when using the shelf. I could go on but I hope that by now the reader gets the idea of the condition of the suite. Silversea usually gives you a mid-cruise questionnaire asking you to return it to the Hotel Director, in this case it was Martin Blanar, I did write a lengthy review pointing out the things that I saw wrong and expressing my disappointment. Normally, once the questionnaires are submitted the Hotel Director normally sends a reply addressing the concerns, this time, we got a call from the front office requesting a face-to-face meeting with the Hotel Director and the Stephen, Guest Service Manager. I did go to the meeting and they basically told me, after apologizing profusely, that they kind of agree with me and that very little had been done during the dry dock to the ship and that they did not know of any plans to update the Shadow, and it was out of their control, at least they were honest. The next day when we were out the straight chair was changed and I noticed that the screw in the sagging shelf had been repaired. One of my big peeves is the fact that walking into a suite at any of the Silversea ships should have the same feeling as I was walking into a room at a Four Seasons, Ritz, Shangri-La, Peninsula or similar 5 star hotels. The suite should not feel like you are walking into run down Holiday Inn, especially for the premium prices that we pay to sail aboard a Silversea ships and the hype of their advertising. I do not know who bestows all the awards that Silversea gets but I am positive that these people have not sailed aboard the Shadow lately. Why do we pay so much money for these cruises and still have to buy blocks of time for the Internet, and be mindful of not over using them and making sure that we sign off correctly. Many times the sign on and signing off is so slow (I know because of satellites) that we have to go to the IT Concierge and when we complain and in most cases he gives you the time back without any fuss. It was announced during our cruise that Silversea was launching another Explorer-type ship, I feel that instead of expanding they should use the money to retrofit the existing ships, the company seems to be getting too greedy and it going to hurt them in the long run. I could go on but I don't want to lose the reader so I would just mention the latest "improvement" to the travel experience, it is the booklet that Silversea now sends with the ticket before we leave. It is personalized and it tells you all about the shore tours you have reserved, and it also gives you a partial description of the tour and it instructs you to go to the Silversea website for further information, unfortunately the company takes the tour information down one week before the departure so one is in la la land. When I asked the Tour Desk about the information they told me that they had no written information they could give me since Fort Lauderdale did not print the little booklet we used to get listing all the tours. Also, they used to send us two "leatherette" baggage tags, those were eliminated, I guess Silversea needs to save money. The booklet also tells you that now you can make reservations in the specialty restaurants up to 180 days prior to the sailing date. Who knows a few months before what kind of dinner one wants to have on a particular evening, I thought that one of the "big" pluses that Silversea advertises is that one could eat in any restaurant wherever one wanted, only La Terrazza, Le Champagne and pool Grill needed reservations, but normally you could get one a day ahead and in many cases the same day, I guess that we need to plan ahead from now or take our chances. I guess you probably wonder why we keep coming back to Silversea, and it is the wonderful crew and the service they give you. It never ceases to amaze me how they remember you, your name, and in many instances what your preferences are. The crew goes out of their way to make sure that all your requests regardless of how minute or odd may be, are taken care of. I hope someone at Silversea reads these reviews and wakes up.   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
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
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
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
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
Sail Date: January 2013
We originally booked to go to Buenos Aires on Adonia but felt that the ship had limited facilities/entertainment so we transferred our booking to Arcadia but now including Chile & the Pacific Islands to Australia. We are first time ... Read More
We originally booked to go to Buenos Aires on Adonia but felt that the ship had limited facilities/entertainment so we transferred our booking to Arcadia but now including Chile & the Pacific Islands to Australia. We are first time cruisers & knew that we were taking a risk but we saw it as a romantic adventure travelling with a well established company, P & O Cruises. Our first disappointment was the cancellation of the visits to all the Argentine ports. We were not able to pull out without losing our deposit but our primary reason for going had been removed from the schedule. The 4 days missed were replaced with one day in Salvadore & an extra day in Montevideo - hardly a generous substitution. When we embarked at Southampton there were long delays in the process and we took 2 hours to get on board. Our cabin was quite adequate, but what a tiny TV screen and the bedside lights were archaic, placed behind the head. Lets hope that the planned refit sees to some upgrading of the cabin fittings. Our first days were an eye opener. Everyone seemed to have cruised extensively and many had done world cruises several times. They were only too pleased to relay their experiences, but most ended up with a litany of complaints, especially against P & O, which seemed odd as they were returning cruisers. We determined not to moan but to enjoy the good parts. But the cruise turned into a curate's egg - good in some parts but poor in others. The good parts were that the ship was very stable and although we rocked & rolled a bit she comfortable to travel on. The whole vessel was very well maintained and the cabins and public rooms were very clean & cared for. Our cabin girl, Jocelyn was first class. Likewise all the staff were approachable and cheerful - none more so than our waiters in the Meridian who were quick and efficient, cheerful and nothing too much trouble. We found that this extended to all the other service areas. First class gym and amazing Palladium theatre. Very good shows at night and plenty of activities to choose from during the sea days. Good sail away parties and pool events like the crossing of the equator. We felt that the Entertainments Team worked very hard and maintained an incredible cheerfulness in all circumstances! Also some of the more ad hoc shows such as the Arcadia Pantomime and talent show were well recieved. The food was good in the Meridian - not over-facing and the Belvedere self service offered a good choice. The daily Horizon was well produced, informative and always on time. But the down-side starts with the Arcadia cough - well catalogued from previous cruises. In the Palladium theatre the coughing & wheezing had to be heard to be believed. Whilst most of the germs were probably transmitted person to person there has to be a question about the air conditioning. How often are the ducts & filters cleaned? Is this an item that will be followed up on the refit? One boards the ship in good health and disembarks with a barking cough which some 3 weeks later still persists. Someone at a senior level should take responsibility for sorting this out. Perhaps the ship should have a red cross painted on her to designate a hospital ship until the cause is found & rectified! The ports that were missed have already been mentioned, but the turn round & flight from the Falklands was another disappointment. Easter Island was a slow cruise by, too far out to see much. The excursions were well planned and executed, but there was always the time pressure to get back before the ship was due to sail. The internet facilities and cost were not appreciated. Often very poor connections (we were advised to use our Notebook in our cabin with the door open to get better reception), and from time to time the ship left the cover of one satellite before coming to another. We needed to stay in touch with family & business in the UK throughout the cruise but were often frustrated. The exodus of passengers and staff to use the WiFi facilities at the ports was noticeable and this was sometimes free or charged at modest rates. As the majority of passengers nowadays have laptops, notebooks, Ipads etc could not the internet facilities be charged in the ticket price? Most good hotels provide WiFi foc nowadays. And will a better internet facility be installed at the refit? Overall we enjoyed the cruise but there are so many frustrations not least all the queuing and short tempers that then ensued. For a first timer it was an experience. We are glad that we did it and we saw the periphery of South America & some South Pacific Islands that we would never have seen otherwise. Would we do it again? I am afraid not because we found that we lost our independence. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2012
Firstly may i say we are easy going people and do not expect the best in everything.We embarked in Melbourne and found that the Flight co-ordinator who was also doing the embarking proceedure had taken my photo on the incorrect pasport so ... Read More
Firstly may i say we are easy going people and do not expect the best in everything.We embarked in Melbourne and found that the Flight co-ordinator who was also doing the embarking proceedure had taken my photo on the incorrect pasport so after about 30 more minutes we boarded the ship.On arrival to our room i inserted the card to find someone else in our room,we were in touch with the persers desk and we were given another room. The interior of the ship is clean and different decor to other ships i have sailed. Meals in the buffet were just ok and mostly warm only.The dining room was much better but not as good as we previously have had on some other lines.Buffet breakfast was repeated every day with no variation and was very boring.No fresh milk was available the entire time we were on the cruise so long life milk was the only option including the coffee shop. Our room was kept very clean and no complaints in this area. A lot of disgruntled passengers on the ship who have been on since the start of the cruise.English while speaking to the crew was strange as many only knew basic words and they mostly spoke to each other in there native language. Disembarking was trouble again for us as we had transfers booked from the ship to Perth airport but when we asked why we didnt have tickets delivered to our room (once again the flight co-ordinator)she said they were not booked even though we checked 2 days prior and were told we were booked. We were also told there was no shuttles availabe and she could not do anything for us.We luckily have a daughter in perth so we had to get her to come and get us from the ship and take us to the airport as we only had 2 hours from debarking and catching our flight home. After all our debarkle we got to the airport on time for our jurney home. Would i ever cruise P&O UK again the answer is NO. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2012
PRINCESS CRUISES DIAMOND PRINCESS When we booked our 35 day cruise, taking us some 13,000 miles from Auckland to Beijing with 16 stops in New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and China we wondered how Princess could meet ... Read More
PRINCESS CRUISES DIAMOND PRINCESS When we booked our 35 day cruise, taking us some 13,000 miles from Auckland to Beijing with 16 stops in New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and China we wondered how Princess could meet the standards we have experienced on Cunard and Holland America at a cost of only £140 per person per day on a magnificent ship and in a mini suite with one of the largest balconies imaginable. The answer is they can't and they make little pretence of trying to. That is not to say the cruise -- which we thoroughly enjoyed -- wasn't good value. But it's a distinctly downmarket product. One gets a sense of this with the first cup of coffee. The mugs in the Lido (or the Horizon Court as Princess calls it) are melamine, as are the plates. And the coffee is pretty much undrinkable. The food there is however, very good. Bland, of course, but varied and with simple things done well. I would rate their production of breakfast as highly as anything we've experienced at sea with first class eggs, excellent corned beef hash and lean English bacon alongside the crispy American variety. The Lido is really where Princess put most of their catering effort and, in their defence, they are responding to what customers want. Huge portions are the priority and day after day, meal after meal, we watched cruisers fill the enormous oval dinner plates with massive helpings. Not surprisingly, many of the cruisers were as massive as the portions they loaded onto their plates. But in the formal restaurant, things are disappointing. Formal dining may not last much longer on Princess. On the second, 8.15 sitting, we sat in a frequently half full restaurant where the service was very good but where the food was largely mediocre and sometimes simply poor. If only it had matched the quality of the prose on the menu. One night, between Hong Kong and Taiwan, the six of us ordered Rib Eye steaks which were huge in size but with so much gristle that not one of us would have paid for them in a restaurant. The beef was almost always lacking in flavour and the kitchen perpetually struggled to produce steaks or prime rib which met our requirements. One night, medium rare beef would be nearly blue and on another almost well done. Vegetables were sad, the soups inevitably uninspiring and everything was served with far too much salt. We drank so much water at dinner that we always left the table feeling bloated. There are good things about Diamond Princess. The ship is magnificent with six pools and eighteen bars and its size meant that it coped superbly with some unusually difficult weather including, at one point, 30-foot seas and a force ten gale. The staff are always well presented, always wonderfully welcoming, and we found the bar staff outstanding. The Crooners Bar produces Margaritas to die for. But the entertainment was generally very poor with puerile comedians and two Cruise Directors convinced that their job was all about presenting an imbecilic morning show on stateroom TV. Movies Under The Stars provided an exception. The picture quality was good, the sound quality excellent and this was a delightful way to watch the cinema late at night. The cabins are the usual high quality. We had D736 a mini suite but designed for disabled customers and with two beds which would not easily fit together. But by compensation we had a huge bathroom and a magnificent balcony of double the normal size and with views to the rear as well out to sea. We had just one cabin steward who had to cope with twenty rooms on his own and we soon realised that it was impossible for him to respond promptly or sometimes at all to additional requests. The customer base is a little different to our previous experiences on Cunard and Holland America. There was little formality and only a minority of men wore tuxedos on the half dozen formal nights. On the other nights smart casual really meant that anything goes, including shorts and lots of blue denim jeans worn by men who were old enough to know better. Baseball caps in the formal dining room were a common sight. So our verdict on Princess? Good value but this is an economy product. Nothing wrong with that. But if you have enjoyed the standards of lines like Cunard or HAL (even though they might cost more) you'll find Princess seriously lacking. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2012
I agree with all that 'graham 100' has said about his leg to Dubai. To start with the boarding organisation in Southampton was chaotic. The cabin was very clean and tidy - we had a good steward in Peter. The TV was about a ... Read More
I agree with all that 'graham 100' has said about his leg to Dubai. To start with the boarding organisation in Southampton was chaotic. The cabin was very clean and tidy - we had a good steward in Peter. The TV was about a 15" flatscreen which was pathetically poor together with the service it gave. The ship and decor could have done with some attention but overall it was satisfactory. The food in the Main restaurant was very inconsistent ranging from good to inedible. The Belverdere had fresher food but limited choice. We have cruised on Arcadia before and the food standards were much higher. Generally speaking the restaurant service was not good - the waiters were poorly trained and rarely smiled. Their supervision was almost non-existent. The drinks were fairly priced and the bar service was good. The Captain's 'Cocktail Party' was held in the enclosed swimming pool which was highly inappropriate/too small. The free wines were awful/undrinkable and we opted for a g and t. We had a glimpse of the Captain when he said a few words which was more than some experienced. We didn't bother to subject ourselves to the second 'party'. The elusive Captain was spotted twice when most of the passengers were on excursions! His officers were also rarely seen. The excursion programme was mostly a disaster according to most we spoke to. We had two 50% refunds because the excursions were disastrous. The guy that gave the pre-excursion talks was partly to blame because his information/photos were years out of date. The coaches used in Aqaba and Egypt were old and dirty - something P&O should have checked. There were some good speakers but some should never been allowed on board. The entertainment provided was mixed with a few good acts but mostly they were ruined by poor direction/sound control. The regular group The Headliners (Headbangers)danced quite well but their singing was dreadful. P&O's cost cutting I suspect was mostly to blame for this average and disappointing cruise. P&O are not the only cruise line that is falling into the same trap probably promoted by accountants! Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2012
After almost 300 days on Seabourn ships: Seabourn was once an elegant, almost perfect cruise line which I truly loved. Since it is part of Carnival, it's over. Seabourn is now Middle-class. "Luxury" remained only the ... Read More
After almost 300 days on Seabourn ships: Seabourn was once an elegant, almost perfect cruise line which I truly loved. Since it is part of Carnival, it's over. Seabourn is now Middle-class. "Luxury" remained only the prices. First of all: English is not my mother tounge. So please excuse my mistakes. And then: Maybe a couple of serious suggestions. * Don't book Seabourn. There are better deals on the market. * In case you book, don't book a couple of segments in a row. On the disembarkation/embarkation days they simply forget you. Example: In LA I had to change room. No information about this day, no phone call, I didn't know when to leave the room to be transferred in the other one. The "wake-up-call" was a terrible noise outside my roomdoor. A girl with the vacuum cleaner banging against the door, a boy dropping empty cans and bottles in a big box, a man in my bathroom wanting the trash. I could grab a towel at least ... After that I went for breakfast. No breakfast any more, it's too late. "You can order room service." I was close to explain that I need a room for that or a chair to have the tray on my lap, but I didn't. At 11.30 am I was finally transferred, but the room key didn't work. The so called Guest Service Manager came, opened the door with his card and said: "It's open, go in." Perfect management. And when I go out and need to go in again? "Then you can call me." After that he went away. It was 3.45 pm till I finally had a room again. Nobody had an excuse. * Don't be surprised when you find groups on board a Seabourn ship, sent by Holland America. They wear flipflops and swimsuits on a formal evening, get the best suites und 80% off the price. * Privacy: When they do the security drill, they have papers with all names of the guests plus room number PLUS AGE! No idea what this is good for, but after the drill they leave the papers lying around for anyone to see. Of course some guests immediately start snooping: Oooh, Mr X is that old? And look at Mrs Y ... The ones who keep the Odyssey alive don't have stripes: the stewardesses, the waiters (most of them), the people in the square. They are always friendly and raeady to help. Of course, there are exceptions. Nick Hale is the perfect cruise director, Ray Michaels as well. The Bar Manager Michael and his team. Thanks to all of them! But these exceptions are rare... I deeply regret that "Seabourn" - as we all knew and loved it - doesn't exist any more. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2012
When a world cruise is not a world cruise -- Cunard Queen Elizabeth World Cruise 2012. It has taken me six months to distil my thoughts on the Cunard Queen Elizabeth's full world cruise 2012. I was travelling with my partner and ... Read More
When a world cruise is not a world cruise -- Cunard Queen Elizabeth World Cruise 2012. It has taken me six months to distil my thoughts on the Cunard Queen Elizabeth's full world cruise 2012. I was travelling with my partner and my brother. He was travelling as a single passenger and was paying almost as much as we were for both of us. I am a diamond Cunard world club member. On a personal level it was a trip of a lifetime and a most rewarding experience. Needless to say this experience could not have been achieved except in the context of the full world cruise. Of the 2000 passengers who sailed on board the Queen Elizabeth on 10 January, approximately 800 were on board for the full world cruise which returned to Southampton on the 27th of April. The voyage lasted a total of 107 days. In 2009 we had sailed on board the Queen Victoria for of the final two legs of its world cruise voyage from Singapore to Southampton. That voyage lasted 33 days. Through the advanced booking system for the year 2012 world cruise we had requested the two state rooms with forward views on deck six(6001 & 6002). The state rooms are classed ocean view C1. They are wonderfully positioned under the bridge and we enjoyed many hours throughout the trip gazing ahead and enjoying the views. My first serious observation is that the Queen Elisabeth is not a ship designed for transatlantic crossings. The Southampton to New York section of the voyage found the ship having to cope with very difficult sea conditions. In the words of the Captain "we will do what we can to make you as comfortable as possible. This is a cruise ship and not a transatlantic liner and its design means that we will bounce our way across to New York" and bounce we did! What was most difficult to cope with was the constant banging of the bulbous bow of the ship as she pitched through the very stormy Atlantic Ocean. We were also unlucky with the six day section of the voyage from San Francisco to Hawaii, when the ship again encountered rough seas. Yes I know that there are readers who would say "well what else would you expect" my answer is quite simple; you would expect to be sailing in ship capable of dealing with those conditions, without the passengers experiencing such a great deal of discomfort. My suggestion to those considering taking the full world cruise from Southampton is that they consider flying to New York and boarding there. You might also consider taking the Queen Mary2 to New York. My second observation relates to the expectations of passengers taking the full world cruise. We had been planning the trip for approximately 2 ½ years. Our expectations were very much focused on the AROUND THE WORLD aspect. This had conjured up in my mind a seamless and integrated experience which would last 107 days. My most serious criticism is that this expectation was not achieved. What Cunard provide is a cruise around the world taken in a number of stages or legs but NOT a world cruise. My expectation of the world cruise was shared by the vast majority of those full world cruise passengers with whom I spoke. Many of them were scathing in their commons and a significant number had decided by the end of the voyage that they would never sail with Cunard again. The result of the linked leg approach by Cunard to the world cruise is that routine and sameness are clearly established by the end of leg two of the six legs. Crudely and bluntly it was obvious that Cunard's policy is to keep the" leg passengers" happy. Instead of finding it possible for the full world passengers to get to know one another better as the cruise moved on, we in fact got lost and dissipated in the constant changes that were taking place as hundreds of passengers left and new faces arrived at the end of each leg. This policy impacts on the passengers who are taking the full world cruise. For example no accommodation was given in the dining room to the "jackets required" dress code policy. While sailing in the Pacific on warm and balmy nights the full world cruise passengers were still required to comply with the dress code policy. This was to keep the marketing image of Cunard in place, for those passengers who were taking shorter legs of the journey. Who would wear a jacket to dinner on 107 consecutive evenings in their own home? A further example of this "leg" policy in operation was that the only crew who knew who the full world cruise passengers were, was the restaurant staff and the cabin steward. This resulted in a sense of indifference from bar and deck staff in the public areas. My suggestion to those considering taking the full world cruise is that they alter their expectations in advance from the notion of a seamless 107 day experience, see it as a number of cruises which are linked together and which takes you around the world without having to move from one ship to the next. Look at other cruise lines other than Cunard and see who they approach the Full World Cruise concept. My third observation relates to the payment of our hotel charges. As full world cruise passengers our hotel charges were built into the ticket price. It was a shocking disappointment to find that while our hotel charges were taken at source that we were not allowed to see that those crew whom we considered to have given superior service, could not be singled out for special award from within the hotel gratuity. Passenger is who were taking shorter legs were allowed to cancel the automatic hotel charges and award whoever they liked! When we raised this matter with the hotel manager we were told that we could always reward any member of the crew whom we wished to. However this in fact means that we were required to make a double payment of the gratuity to those whom we wished to recognize. My suggestion is that you talk to your travel agent in advance of making your final reservation about this matter. Finally as I get the last of my photographs into my album, I can say that it was an incredible experience shared with my partner and my brother and many wonderful passengers and fantastic crew. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2011
This was our third cruise on the Emerald, first being Venice/Greek Isles, second voyage. Nothing is like it was on the first cruise anymore. Princess continues to be the only line that does not take contagious/infectious control ... Read More
This was our third cruise on the Emerald, first being Venice/Greek Isles, second voyage. Nothing is like it was on the first cruise anymore. Princess continues to be the only line that does not take contagious/infectious control seriously, thus the blast of Norovirus on the ship. Granted, the staff worked diligently attempting to serve at the Horizon, but there is, on any day, such lack of control, food arrangement, and direction in Horizon, it is utter chaos. Anger and frustration on the part of passengers did not help.This is the only line we cruise that does not have someone at every door insisting on hand cleaner prior to entering any common areas. FOOD: The food was so poor, we stuck to mostly fruit, salad bar vegetables; grain bread and butter, wherever it was hidden. It appeared more people opted for Anytime dining, and lines were staggeringly long waiting to get inside. Service was very slow, and no one ever came back to ask if your meal was OK. Thus, we ate at the Horizon, among dirty plates and no service for even water.Getting past the poor selections, tough meats, uncooked fish, and service, the biggest problem - and one most anyone over 55 hopes not to experience - was the inedible varieties of foods overwhelmed with salt. Everything had far too much salt in it to taste like anything but salt.CROWDS: The ship sleeps more than 3000 people; but there just is not enough room in the common areas, the lounges, nor in the theatre when everyone is out and about. To see a show, you needed to be in a seat an hour prior.Since the ship is so large, you can only get into cargo ports - away from the towns. Shuttles were provided, at a cost each way. Again, we often have shuttles on other lines, but they are provided as a "service" for free.BEDS: We knew the beds were not great from the first cruise, and made phone arrangements prior to cruising. Sadly, one bed tilted toward the floor; the other sank so deeply in the middle we asked for pillows (6) to fill the gap and sleep on. Minimal response from the ship. Our cabin steward was phenominal in assisting and continually apologizing for the situation. SMOKE: Hallways were reaking from smoke coming out of cabins. Why they don't designate one side of the ship for smoking makes one wonder. It is not possible to eliminate the odor of smoke by washing down a cabin "when needed".We were part of 290 CC's, with four M&G with invitations sent to the Captain, etc. We never saw the captain or co-captain; they (unlike other lines for CC) never served appetizers or drinks. Very disappointing as it was obvious we were part of the "masses" and not important as cruisers.PORTS: The TransAtlantic and ports were the best. The Baltic ports were crunched into short port times, and inability to see as much as desired. St. Petersburg was a delight. Can't say enough about our private tours booked through members of CC, and all the organizing that went into the M&G. The one tour we did with Shore Excursions was simply OK; as usual, huge busloads and wasted time getting on and off for a "photo op".This 27 day was chosen for the itinerary, not the ship. Those of us who enjoy much longer cruises, and know it is possible to have much more for your money than what we experienced will look elsewhere. For us, three times and we're out. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2011
Embarkation in Southampton was good it took less than one hour to get on board the ship. the initial observation of the vessel was good large bars and lounges and plenty of deck space. The balcony cabin was fine , bathroom was large ... Read More
Embarkation in Southampton was good it took less than one hour to get on board the ship. the initial observation of the vessel was good large bars and lounges and plenty of deck space. The balcony cabin was fine , bathroom was large and seemed fine. But after 3 days all this changed. the toilet kept on breaking down 10 times on the whole journey 3 times spilling water and raw sewage onto the bathroom floor.Each time when we complaint the problem was fixed so we thought but again and again it happened.We asked to be moved on 3 occasions but the request was totally ignored. the Headliner shows were great the best we have seen on a cruise ship for a long while.but otherwise the daily entertainment was to say mediocre the cruise director was never to be found and the cruise staff are very badly trained. Food in the Belvedere leaves a lot to be desired, always cold and very little variety. Our waiters in the main dining room were fine and the food was of good quality. Food in the Rhodes is excellent well worth the extra cover charge. The screening room must be the joke of the century, 30 seats for a ship with 2000 passengers.Would we ever go again on this vessel NO WAY. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
Embarkation: We purchased Princess transfers and were told we'd be taken to the Intercontinental Hotel in Sydney and shuttles would run from 11am to 4pm to the pier. That was not the case. We were taken to a dowdy downtown hotel ... Read More
Embarkation: We purchased Princess transfers and were told we'd be taken to the Intercontinental Hotel in Sydney and shuttles would run from 11am to 4pm to the pier. That was not the case. We were taken to a dowdy downtown hotel and dumped into a room with not enough seating. We stood for 6 hours with no explanation as to why there were no shuttles nor when there would be any. We were told "soon." Had Princess been honest we would have taken a cab. Finally at 2:30 we were taken to the pier only to have to stand in a horrendous line for 1 1/2 hours. Not a good experience after an 18 hour flight from California. This ranks as one of the worst embarkation experiences in our 22 cruises. The Diamond Princess is one of the most beautiful ships we've ever seen. Standing on a deck in Sydney Harbor was awesome. We were thrilled to be in Sydney and on the Diamond. There was a CC Meet and Greet at Skywalkers and then no other CC activities for the duration of the trip. Since there were 127 CC members we were very disappointed that we weren't acknowledged or that anything else was organized for us. Our port side balcony cabin was nice although there wasn't as much storage as on other cruise lines. As on other ships the cabin steward - Chai - was very helpful and anxious to please. Unfortunately Princess has a smoking in stateroom policy and, as luck would have it, passengers across from us smoked non-stop and, it seemed, round the clock. Guest Relations would not do anything to help us. I repeatedly asked to be moved, was even willing to give up a balcony for an ocean view, but they refused saying the ship was sold out although I knew for a fact it was not. I suffered from a major sinus infection as a result and my illness went to deaf ears, even to Santa Clarita who obviously does not care about client retention. For a ship the size of the Diamond the fitness center is inadequate. I love riding the Exercycle in front of a floor to ceiling window overlooking the ocean. That is not the case on the Diamond. There were 3 bikes all facing a wall with weights in front. There was always at least a 30 minute wait for the cycle. The room was always uncomfortably hot. On other cruise ships there were jars of water with lemon or cucumber. No water was offered in the fitness center. The scale was in kilos so I couldn't keep track of weight gain. This cruise went from Sydney to Beijing and for some reason we always docked far from town and at container ports. Most of us were disappointed that we were always so far from town and had to rely on shuttles to get to town. Unfortunately the entertainment was mediocre at best. Since the theatre did not accommodate all the passengers each show was repeated. After the first couple of shows we didn't bother going to any more. As for the comedians who appeared in other venues on the ship, the jokes were very old and hadn't been particularly funny in their prime. During the first part of the cruise we had both an Elvis and a Rod Stewart. They appeared a few times during the first few days and then got off the ship. They were quite good and it was fun to watch them. There were 2 or 3 good movies. They should have had more since this was a 23 day cruise. Movies Under the Stars had a few movies and concerts but they should have offered much more. Dan Styne, the Cruise Director did a good job and there was a variety of activities. Zumba was offered on most sea days and was very popular. We even had horse racing on three days and had a wonderful time. At $3 a race that was a fun and reasonable activity. We are seasoned travelers and know how challenging it is to feed thousands of people. However, the food in the International Dining Room was not as good as it could have been. The meat, be it beef, pork or lamb, was always dry and overcooked, as was the fish. Luckily I could order gravy and tartar sauce to drown the food. The desserts were very bland. We had pavlovas one night and I used my knife to stab the meringue shell into pieces. It was that hard. The Horizon Court is very nicely laid out. It has the feel of a restaurant instead of a cafeteria as in most ships. Unfortunately the fare was repetitive and boring after the first few days. We enjoyed having fish and chips at the English Pub lunch which was offered quite often. There were a few different brews for sale, although at a high price. The tea at 3:30 every afternoon was very well presented with a nice variety of sandwiches and little cakes. Wine tasting was very reasonable - $9.50 - and the wines were all quite good. Our cruise was shortly after Yasi. Port Douglas was still experiencing bad weather. Nevertheless we still snorkeled in the Great Barrier Reef. Although visibility was poor it still was a wonderful experience. The lunch provided by Quicksilver was wonderful. Because of our late return the ship sailed two hours late. We took the Elephant Park Safari in Bali. That was one of the high points of our cruise even though it took a couple of hours to get there in very heavy traffic. We were also late getting back and again the ship sailed 2 hours late. We were so glad that we took Princess excursions as the worst thing that could happen is waving to a ship sailing away. When we docked in Keelung, Taiwan, "bankers" boarded the ship to exchange currency. Sale was from 10:00-12:00, purchase of unused New Taiwan Dollars 3:00-5:00. That was a major disaster. As soon as we got off the ship it started pouring. We could see that the streets across from the pier were dirty, dingy and ugly. We immediately returned to the ship and asked to change the currency back. We were told that we had to wait until 3:00. Luckily I showed up at 2:30 as I knew the lines would be huge. A few people lined up at 3:30 and after waiting 1 1/2 hours, the bankers left at 5:00, leaving those passengers holding useless currency, not accepted anywhere else. There was such a huge uproar that a few days later the ship offered currency exchange services - at a fee, of course. So, my suggestion to everyone, do not exchange any more currency than you can put in coin collections if exchange is not available. Although I made sure that Express Checkout meant Express Checkout - that turned out not to be the case. A credit balance must be taken care of before disembarkation. This I found out as we were trying to exit the ship when bells clanged. Since it took an hour of waiting in line at Guest Relations to clear up the credit balance I asked for help in finding the Princess transfer. My request was refused. When we arrived in the terminal there were no Princess representatives nor any English speaking people and we couldn't find our Princess transfer to Beijing - 2 1/2 hours away! This was an unbelievably stressful situation which was resolved by a Chinese lady offering assistance. The bus was parked a distance away and we got there within 2 minutes of its leaving. I shudder to think what would have happened if the bus had left and we'd have to take a taxi with no Chinese money and no knowledge of the language. There again voicing concerns to Customer Relations in Santa Clarita fell to deaf ears. They really could care less. The Diamond crew did not enforce hand sanitizers and when we returned to the ship in many ports there were no sanitizers visible. Many people entered food areas and did not sanitize their hands nor were they encouraged to. I heard that two cabins had been quarantined so I told everyone I met to be sure to wash their hands often and to protect themselves and others. Pity the crew didn't think that was important advice. So, all in all, the Diamond Princess is a beautiful ship but this is not a ship I would recommend. Nor would I gave any points to Princess for Guest Relations or Customer Service or customer retention. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2011
Embarked Arcadia Ship Southampton 5th January 2011. for World Cruise lasting 84 days. No problems with embarkment, from arrival to embarkment 45minutes.I dont want to bore you with loads of text, so i will let you know what we thought was ... Read More
Embarked Arcadia Ship Southampton 5th January 2011. for World Cruise lasting 84 days. No problems with embarkment, from arrival to embarkment 45minutes.I dont want to bore you with loads of text, so i will let you know what we thought was good and what was disappointing for us.Please dont get me wrong when you read our disappointments, as we really enjoyed ourselves, however, it is just a shame that they cant get some of the easy and simple things right!! Majority of time thoroughly enjoyed, and i myself was fed up of the moaners and groaners on the cruise.... but i really would like people who are interested to know!My first disappointment was the size of the so called `Suite`,( AD Category Aft )having paid 40,000 sterling for suite accommodation, (for this trip of a lifetime!) we were shown to a little larger than average double bedroom. I always thought that a suite provided you with a bedroom, and some sort of separate sitting area, but this wasnt the case. Dont be fooled by the video or 360o views of rooms. (they look twice the size in pics and video`s). There was a small sofa, and table but they touched the bed, so we had to ask for the chairs to be removed so we had some space. Wish i had paid half this price and had a normal balcony room, which were only slightly smaller.We had to request that our balcony be painted, most of the balcony area was full of rust, with regular leaking water from outside pipes.Having said this, they did paint it when brought to their attention.If you didnt fancy dressing up to go to Main Restaurant (which you can imagine happened for us, during 84 nights)it it was off to the Belvedere. Food in Belvedere (Main Buffet Cafe Grill) was of good quality, however, in the evening it was extremely limited, ( plentiful at breakfast and lunch) just one counter open. (similar to school dinners lol) So if you didnt like the themed menu (which was very restrictive) ie. Pasta one night, Curry another, seafood another, but only one theme per night, you would have to go back and order room service, which again was very limited and most of the dishes on the room service menu, were chargeable, can you believe that!!!!! Because I couldnt! after paying 500.00 per night!Entertainment: Almost non- existent in the day. I think we seen the Cruise Director 4 times in the whole cruise???? Very Poor. (Considering we had so many sea days, travelling one ocean to another)A couple of good Acts during the night in the Palladium. Few and Far between. And in 84 days we had approx 3 days where they provided some sort of entertainment around the outdoor Aquarius pool, The bar, service and cabin staff were excellent, always friendly and accommodating. Ports of Call where great and tours were well organised! Staff were extremely friendly!!!But overall had a great time visiting many beautiful countries and Islands. Although, we may think of booking with P&O again, they wouldnt be my first choice and we wont be rushing..... id rather go with other liners who are not so penny pinching!!! Read Less
Sail Date: September 2010
Background: This was our sixth cruise, third thirty day South Pacific cruise, and first time on HAL. We chose this cruise for the itenerary and for the fact that it returned to San Diego rather than terminating in Australia, thus ... Read More
Background: This was our sixth cruise, third thirty day South Pacific cruise, and first time on HAL. We chose this cruise for the itenerary and for the fact that it returned to San Diego rather than terminating in Australia, thus avoiding the killer 18 hour return flight. I am 63 and my wife only claims old enough to know better. The ship: Rotterdam is an older ship, but well maintained. The crew worked hard to maintain the cleanliness of the public areas. The public bathrooms rate special mention - they were immaculate. The library / internet cafe was comfortable and inviting - although there was always a rush for the window seats. The Ocean Bar was excellent and the 4PM Happy Hour was very reasonable. The Crow's Nest was a nice area, but the temperature control and sound system were poor. The wading pool / lounge area in the Retreat didn't seem to be popular. I never saw more than two or three people using it. Watching movies at night on the big screen was not very satisfying. The Retreat bar was still open during the movies and the noise and light made viewing and hearing the movie difficult. The gym was small, but OK. The sauna was superb and never crowded. The hot tubs could have been warmer, but in general were better than hot tubs on Princess Lines. The passageways to the cabin areas were clean and well light with one exception. There was one spot on Deck four that had a definite diesel smell. There was always a fan blowing in that area. Our cabin: We had an inside cabin on Deck 4 and found it comfortable, although the shower must have been designed for midgets ( just like all other cruise lines). The flat screen TV and DVD player was a definite plus. Having movies available every night made up for the rather mediocre entertainment. The lack of a refrigerator in the room was a minus, but our cabin attendant always kept the ice bucket full. The bed was much more comfortable that those on Princess and the bathrobes were a nice touch. The couch was comfortable and well placed for either reading or watching TV. Dining: We ate once in the Pinnacle Grill and twice in the Canaletto. The meal in the Pinnacle was as good as most steakhouses and the Canaletto was on the par of an Olive Garden. The wait staff was attentive and friendly. The atmosphere in Pinnacle was very nice and the Canaletto was OK (it would have been better if it was completely separated from the buffet dining area). We only ate in the main dining room twice, as we don't like the long wait for service between courses. The food was good. We dined in La Fontaine on the last formal night and the dining room was only half full. I think people were tired of dressing up after seven formal nights. Breakfast in the Lido buffet - some items (scrambled eggs) could have been cooked better,but the the waffle, omlette, and eggs to order stations were very good. The bacon was much better than the carbonized paper thin strips usually found on buffets. Fruit juice was pretty watery towards the end of the cruise. Pastry was OK. Coffee was drinkable (there is no such thing as bad coffee at 5AM). Lunch in Lido - the paninni and sandwich station was the best part of lunch. The entrees were good and the variety was very good. Dessert was better at lunch than at dinner. The bread pudding, cobbler, cookies and ice cream were excellent. Dinner at Lido - the carving station was much better than on some other cruises. Instead of the tired ham, turkey, and roast beef cycle, leg of lamb, prime rib, beef wellington, and others were added to keep the menu fresh. Steak, cordon bleu, Wienerschnitzel, shrimp, fried chicken, and various pastas added to the variety. Desserts were somewhat limited at night and were a mixed bag. Attempts at fancy French pastry didn't come off too well, but other items such as the apple dumplings were superb. The hamburgers at the Terrace Grill were very good and the pizza in the Retreat was also good. The BBQ, luau, and Octoberfest meals served by the pool were good and the dessert extravaganza was excellent. Meals aboard any ship are pretty much what you make of them. If you expect the Ritz at every meal, you will be disappointed on any ship. If you go with the flow, you will always find something appetizing. Entertainment Entertainment probably gets the lowest mark on this cruise. After the first show or two in the nightclub, it just didn't seem worth the effort to attend. The entertainers were definitely second rate. It was more satisfying to check out a movie at the front desk and watch it in the cabin than to fight the rush for good seats and sit amongst the constant coughing in the nightclub. The one highpoint of the entertainment was something new to me - the Black and White Ball where all of the ships officers attended in dress uniforms and danced with the passengers. The little old ladies nearly trampled each other in the rush to dance with the officers. The cruise director didn't seem to connect with the passengers on this cruise. Events such as bingo which are normally very crowed were thinly attended. Trivia was well attended, but the temperature and sound conditions made it somewhat uncomfortable. Shore excursions The shore excursions were extremely over priced. They excursions were double the price of similar excursions on Princess lines from the year before. The staff The staff on this ship were more friendly and seemed to try harder to please passengers than on any other cruise I have been on. The front desk staff was friendly even in the face of unhappy, griping passengers (I personally would have punched out a couple of the passengers for thier poor attitude). My wife was ill part of the cruise and had to use room service a lot. Room service was prompt, friendly, and excellent. Cudos to them. Our cabin attendants were super as well. Agus and Bambang always had our room made up promptly and kept the bathroom well supplied. They were friendly and helpful at all times. The waiter in the Ocean Bar remembered what we drank - quite an accomplishment for a bar serving hundreds of passengers. Embakcation / Disembakcation Embarkation was pretty standard - about a twenty or thirty minute wait in line to get processed and aboard. Luggage was delivered by 3:30 PM. Disembarkation was a TOTAL DISASTER!!!!! While passengers were divided into groups with estimated departure times, whoever was in charge must not have been near the gangway.There were so many people jammed into the small area waiting to get off that you felt like a sardine. You couldn't even get out of the elevators and people were lined up the stairwells two or three decks high. If a fire had broken out or someone had fallen, there would have been no way to get assistance. Miscellaneous thoughts - I liked the fact that the ship wasn't constantly pimping art auctions,dance lessons, and the drink of the day. - even though this was the one of the smallest ships I have sailed on, I never felt crowded (except at disembarkation). - even though I am no spring chicken myself, I felt like I was going to be carded every time I ordered a drink. The average age on this cruise must have been close to 80 and as a result, the passengers seemed to be especially cranky. Would I recommend this cruise to a friend? If the friend was looking for a laid back restful cruise, YES. If he was looking for Las Vegas at sea, NO. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2010
We booked our cruise through a cruise only agency, one that we have used for several years. We are too old and too fat to fly internationally in coach, so we usually buy our coach tickets independently and upgrade to Business Class with ... Read More
We booked our cruise through a cruise only agency, one that we have used for several years. We are too old and too fat to fly internationally in coach, so we usually buy our coach tickets independently and upgrade to Business Class with miles. However on this itinerary we booked Princess air through the travel agent because it was several thousand dollars less than if we had bought two one-way tickets each from the airline. We flew United on the outbound, and a combo of South African Air and United on the return. We flew into Singapore one day early, and booked the Pan Pacific hotel through the travel agent, who had a better price than I could find on the internet. It's a great hotel, and a real steal at $135 including taxes. Because we'd been to Singapore before, we chose to spend our 1.5 days there at the Jurong Bird Park, and the Orchid Garden at the Botanical Gardens. We were glad that we'd flown in early, and enjoyed two leisurely days. We embarked around 3 PM, taking a taxi from the hotel to the pier. No crowds at that hour, so we were in our rooms within minutes. I had assumed (wrongly) that Princess would have refurbished the ship when they changed it from the Tahitian Princess to the Ocean Princess. So I was surprised to see that the cabin showed signs of wear. Nothing bothersome, just a little tired. Our cabin steward was excellent, as they almost always are. The itin originally had 13 ports of call, but the Seychelles and Myanmar were removed before departure, reducing the number to 11, on a 32 day cruise. So nearly two-thirds of the cruise was at sea. The Seychelles was dropped due to pirate activity in the West Indian ocean, and I was definitely in favor of avoiding pirates! It was unclear why Myanmar was dropped, but it was suggested that it had to do with the tides in the river, and the scheduled times of arrival and departure. I'd visited most of the ports of call on previous travels, but my husband and our friend had not. We prefer to arrange our own shore excursions when possible. However on this cruise we only did our own tours in Malaysia, Thailand, and Cape Town. I just couldn't find reliable tour operators in some of the ports that don't have high levels of tourism. Kuala Lampur is a very modern and interesting city. We took a tour with Princess because the independent tour I'd hoped to book fell apart before we left home. In Penang,Malaysia (island) we booked a full-day tour with Mr. PG Lee, at a cost of 30 Malaysian Ringgits per hour (leepg2006@gmail.com). I especially liked the tour at the spice garden and the butterfly farm. And another fresh seafood lunch! Phuket,Thailand (another island) is charming, and has recovered well from the Tsunami, at least in the areas that tourists see. We booked a full-day island tour with Daj, http://www.independenttraveler.com/ at 1800 baht for the day, including petrol. Our guide was pleasant, and we enjoyed tasty seafood lunch at a local restaurant recommended by him. In Chennai we took the Princess tour to Mahabalipuram, to see the sea temples, which are interesting. I am a big fan of India, which isn't everyone's cup of tea, as proved by the reaction of many of the ship's passengers who had never been there before. IMHO one needs to experience the countryside in India, to offset the impact of the large, teeming cities. It's a place that grows on you with the length of stay. But cruises just can't provide that option. Mumbai, with its 14 million people and terrible traffic is also shocking for most Americans. We elected to take the tour which visited three different temples. India's various religions make it a very interesting place to travel. After several days crossing the Indian Ocean, we arrived in Oman, an ultra-conservative Muslim country. Muscat was small and bright and shiny clean, after India. Female passengers are advised by the Tour Consultant onboard to cover their legs (all of them), their arms (all of them), and also their hair if they plan to visit the National Mosque. A number of ladies just couldn't believe that this applied to them, so they were refused entrance unless they could cover themselves appropriately. The National Mosque is incredible...don't miss it. At the Souk we purchased Diet Coke for $5 a six-pack. Cheaper than $1.95 each onboard! Other people brought on soft drinks and water for their cabins. We next sailed to Dubai, where we had two days, since they had extra time due to the cancellation of two ports. This was very helpful. A lot of passengers had dinner ashore the first evening and we were ready for some individually prepared food. It's a fascinating city, because everything is so new. The question of whether or not they will be able to repay the bailout money and what will happen if they cannot looms large. In the meantime, construction is at a standstill, and my husband observed that you could probably buy a cement truck pretty cheaply (and all other construction equipment). We took the Princess Desert Safari Tour, which put 4-5 passengers in new Toyota Landcruisers with a skilled driver, who drove us into the desert for some dune riding. Fun! We also visited a camel farm, and had lunch at a desert camp where camel rides were available, and a belly dancer entertained. It's a great tour, although at noon it's well over 100 degrees, which is why the tour is usually run in the early evening. Some passengers mentioned that they had booked the evening tour online, and they picked them up at the ship. However you'd have to know the ship's departure time if it isn't a two day stop. On the second day we took a Princess tour of Dubai-Old and New. It was a standard city tour. One of the highlights was a small boat transfer across the Dubai creek, where we visited the spice market and the gold souks. I bought saffron in the spice market, which actually came from Iran. The jewelry in the gold souk is absolutely overwhelming! It all begins to look the same after the first three store windows. (Drum roll). And then we had seven days at sea. That's just too many on a small ship, in my opinion. We had a terrific Cruise Director (Sammi), but the lack of space limits the number and variety of activities that can be arranged. Our previous cruise was a Holy Land itin on the Royal Princess, which is a sister ship to the Ocean Princess, and we loved the smaller ship. But it was a port intensive cruise, with only two sea days out of eleven, which we all needed after our days on shore. On this long cruise I read about eight books on my new Kindle (perfect for traveling), saw at least six movies (the selection went downhill at the cruise progressed), and attended several lectures by the onboard guest speakers. But it was challenging to find appealing activities when the Princess Patter arrived each evening. We called on the port of Nosy Be, which is on a small island off the northwest coast of Madagascar. We elected to take the Princess tour to the smaller island nearby, where we could see the lemurs for which Madagascar is famous. We did see one variety that is very small, perhaps weighing a couple of pounds. The villagers were thrilled to have visitors, which only occurs a few times a year. The children are let out of school, and they sing and dance to entertain (and request a 'local donation'). I was relieved that there were no accidents in the loading and unloading of the small boats that took us back and forth to the small island. Madagascar is a huge island. I wish Princess would try to develop another port of call somewhere on the island. Three more days at sea before we arrived in Durban, which is quite a lovely city! We did the Princess tour to 'Land of the Thousand Hills', taking us through some beautiful countryside, and ending at a Zulu tribal village where we saw a well done Zulu show, shopped in a nice (and huge) souvenir store, and toured a reptile farm (shudder). At the Durban ship terminal at least 100 vendors set up stalls, selling good quality handicrafts. The prices were much lower than found in the stores. The Zulu bead work is beautiful. In Durban about 100 passengers disembarked for an overnight at a luxury game camp. We picked them up the next day when we called on Port Elizabeth, where there is absolutely nothing to offer tourists. Someone suggested that the only reason we stopped there was to pick up the group who went to the game camp. I think that's probably correct. We took the shuttle bus ($5 each way) to the local mall, which went through downtown but didn't stop. It was a nice enough mall, but not worth the trip. Finally we arrived in Cape Town on our 31st day, and over-nighted on the ship there. Before leaving home we had purchased tickets online for Robben Island and for the Table Mountain tram for those two days. We docked right downtown, at the Victoria and Alfred (not Albert) Waterfront. What a great location! The first day was spoiled a bit by a downpour, put we visited the Slavery Museum, which was excellent, had lunch and spent the last afternoon packing. The museum included an exhibit about the life of Nelson Mandela. We were planning to stay another week in South Africa, so we bought two-day Hop On Hop Off (HOHO) bus tickets. The next day brought sunny skies, so we took the HOHO bus to the Kirstenbosch Gardens, which are fabulous, if you like gardens and really wonderful native sculpture. Our next stop on the bus was the Cable Car for Table Mountain, which was totally clear. Another 'don't miss' experience. We continued on the bus to Camps Bay, a sophisticated suburb on the water where we had a delightful alfresco lunch. We spent three nights at a private game reserve, Sanbona, which is about three hours East of Cape Town, in the Little Karoo area. We hired someone to ferry us back and forth since they drive on the other side of the road in S. Africa, and we didn't really need a car. It was a wonderful experience, and quite different from other game experiences in East Africa. The high points of the cruise were 1) the crew and 2) the other passengers. The crew seemed to work very well together, and were always helpful and good natured, although several of them expressed an interest in working on a larger ship, where I'm sure they make more money in tips. The other passengers were extremely well traveled, both in cruising and in land touring. It was always fun and usually educational to sit at breakfast or lunch with almost all of them. What didn't work? On the small ships there is not an option for anytime dining. One must pick first of second seating, and we had chosen second seating because we like time to shower, change and have a drink before dinner. There were 530 people on board, with a ship capacity of about 680. Apparently there were a lot of cancellations, since at one time the ship was supposed to have been fully booked. So our party of three was at a table for six, but there were no other guests at our table, and there were several partially filled or even empty tables in the dining room. I do love my husband and our friend, but dinner would have been much more fun if we had had someone with whom to discuss our day's highlights. Perhaps the moral is to choose early seating, when there are lots of sea days. The food was mediocre, although always beautifully presented. We attended a Chef's demonstration early in the cruise where he emphasized that he had 32 entirely different menus. And there were! But it's difficult to successfully duplicate a national cuisine for 530 people in two groups. For example, the Greek dishes tasted similar to Greek food in Greece or even US restaurants, but not the same and not as tasty and fresh. Maybe it's because they have to provision far in advance, and freeze a lot of the food. Maybe it's because they modify the seasonings for the audience they serve. But it generally wasn't very tasty or interesting, in the opinion of many passengers. They do a good job of getting the food to the tables while it's hot. The waiters and the kitchen staff have a well developed system that works very well. They rely on pre-packaged products. The coffee in the Horizons Buffet is nearly undrinkable. It's made from a syrup, rather than brewed. Some passengers figured out that they could use their coffee cards at the coffee counter up there for brewed coffee, and they weren't charged. Iced tea was also made from a syrup, and was so strong it was undrinkable, even after diluting it by 50% with water. One lady solved that problem by ordering a pot of hot tea and three glasses of ice with most meals! It seemed to us that Princess has cut so many corners to remain profitable that they have changed the nature of their product. It felt more like a Carnival cruise or an NCL cruise. We've sailed with Princess many times, and may sail with them again. But we were disappointed with this one. It just didn't meet our expectations. We had a nice time, but it wasn't a wonderful experience, as you want all of your vacations to be. We've booked our next cruise on Oceania, and are looking forward to comparing the two cruise lines. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2010
Having only been on 2 cruises before (Celebrity) we can only compare to those cruises. Our first impression was not good when on embarking in Hong Kong there was total confusion as to the location for checking in. After we eventually ... Read More
Having only been on 2 cruises before (Celebrity) we can only compare to those cruises. Our first impression was not good when on embarking in Hong Kong there was total confusion as to the location for checking in. After we eventually went through the swift & efficient check in & security, we found ourselves on the ship. We then had to make our own way to our cabin. No reception of any kind. Not made to feel special at all. Despite having requested and we though confirmed reservation for early sitting in the main Brittania restaurant, we were given late sitting. We were able to change that later although we were seated in a small back room which got very dim when the lights were turned down. Why they were always turned down I don't know. Made it difficult to read the menu. I was surprised at the mature age range of fellow passengers. 70+. The acting entertainments manager did joke about on 'another cruise line' that when they had a 80's night they weren't referring to the music. I don't think it was another cruise line. The hot cocoa queue at night was very busy! The food was OK. Repetitive. Nothing to get excited about. I agree with another view that the food is prepared in bulk and in advance which did nothing for the freshness. The rumour was that Cunard had cut the catering budget. The waiters worked hard and had little time to make conversation. Wine was very expensive and others commented that a $50 bottle could have been bought onshore for $10. The 15% added to drinks was an irritant to many and certainly cut back on the amount drunk. I hated the smoking. The pub allowed smoking in the evening as did the casino. This put both off limits to my wife who is asthmatic and I. As you left the Brittania restaurant in the evenings, you were met with an awful smell of cigarette smoke,I think coming from the pub. Really these areas were just smoking rooms. The entertainment in the theatre was 3rd rate. The ships cinema got more popular as the cruise went on despite the films on offer. Ships TV was very limited and films poor. The ship lacked any buzz of excitement as we had experienced on the Celebrity cruises. Planetarium films were excellent. Only wish there were more than 4 films. The ships internet was intermittent and very expensive. Don't rely on it for business purposes. The staff at the Pursers office were aloof and unhelpful. There was a distinct lack of any management staff to talk to on board. Policy decision to keep out of the way? I witnessed an unpleasant exchange between a crew member and a passenger, so much so I tried to get the pursers office to send a manager to intervene. No luck there. I had to put it in writing, which I did. I didn't even get an acknowledgment. I also have to agree that the staff (other than our cabin steward) were going through the motions rather than enjoying their jobs. The ship certainly causes excitement when she arrives in port. Shame that her size means all too often that she is put in a container port which really spoils the occasion. Shore excursions were very expensive and you could arrange better yourself. Disembarkation was dreadful. It took 2 hours just to find our bags which were still being unloaded and then placed in the wrong colour coded area within a tent. An awful experience. Overall we enjoyed our 40 nights on board and traveled to countries we had not been to before. Met some wonderdul people and made new friends. Booked another part world cruise on the Queen Elizabeth for 2011. Real shame that the edge had been taken off the experience by the attitude of the crew and management. Read Less

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