Monday August 27, 2012
Departed from Boston on nonstop night flight to London
(RCCL does not offer any airport transfer service even if you booked both air & hotel with them) so we used Simply Airports for airport/hotel transfer -- no problems (friendly/helpful driver)
RCCL Cruise hotel Park Plaza Westminster was very good. Great location and helpful staff with breakfast included every morning. We stayed several days prior to our cruise and did some of the London highlights:
London Eye -- "Bird's Eye View" of the city (we paid extra for fast pass & felt it was worth it)
Thames River Cruise -- Relaxful tour for the first day
Royal Day Out Buckingham Palace -- Great tour
British Museum -- Wonderful way to spend a rainy afternoon
Evans Evans Tour for Stonehedge/Bath & Salisbury: Excellent tour -- picked us up at hotel -- got 10% for pre-booking from US
Friday, August 31
Easy bus transfer to ship (although we all wondered why we had a Â½ hour rest stop)
Guests: much older crowd than I expected. I did a TA last October on Carnival and the age range was more 40+. In my opinion this crowd was more 65+
Ship Review: (from a non-Diamond guest)
We were very happy that we upgraded our cabin to a D1 class (Deck 9) which gave us at least 185 sq feet. However even though I don't expect much from a cruise line bathroom this bathroom was tiny with very little storage space.
We had five life jackets in our cabin & was told all needed to stay in the cabin (that took up lots of space) & why are spare towels keep under the beds? Again this is space we normally use for our luggage, etc.
Pretty ship -- lots of glass & comfortable seating areas.
Staff -- helpful/friendly
Captain -- Informative, friendly, entertaining
Fellow guests -- met lots of nice people
Ports (see ports review below)
Magic Show (KnightMagic) great husband/wife duo.
Cruise Critic Meet & Greet party. RCCL was good with free h'or d'ouvres and some nice prizes.
Port Fee: We missed Saint John's NF which I understand, but what I don't understand is why we were not credited for the Saint John's port fee? I have missed ports on both Princess & Carnival and was credited those port fees.
Food: mediocre (there never was any item that I would have wanted a second helping & yes this is subjective but I have read on the CC thread that some guests lost weight! ) believe me it wasn't because of the "active" activities. We went more to the Seaview Cafe for lunch than any other venue.
Iced Tea? When I asked for Iced Tea at breakfast a glass of water was taken out & then a jug of syrup? was poured into the glass -- I stopped getting "iced tea"
Activities: Not enough daily active activities -- other than the rock climbing the most active activities were shuttleboard & Wii games. We did enjoy the Stars vs Stripes 60 seconds or less but as these events were short (3 60 sec segments for 3 events)
Entertainment: Was not happy that 2nd seating needed to go to the 7:00 pm show each evening (why weren't some of the shows offered after dinner?) We did go to the few 10:30 staff events that were offered (Majority Rules/Battle of the Sexes, Quest, etc.)
Another "misprint" in the Compass had the main show at the wrong time (it was correct in the "planning portion" but wrong in the large middle ad). It was for the hypnotist which after attending maybe it would have been better if I had missed him.
Schooner Piano player was awful.
Bought soda card after seeing ad in Compass with pricing the card @ $90 -- I was charged $120 & and I went to Guest Relations was told this was a misprint. I cancelled my soda card.
If you were Diamond you got lots of perks, but please does RCCL need to flaunt it to the non-Diamond Guests? Each evening several lounges were off-limits (free cocktail parties) Special seating for shows, Special lunch with Captain and or Staff. Plus I found the drink prices to be more than either Princess or Carnival. The cheapest glass of wine or mixed drink was $8. There were some drink morning specials but you needed to go to certain bars for those specials.
TV or lack of tv channels -- now I know this is a TA but again I was on a TA last year and we had more channels. TCM was the best channel but if I saw the Billy Wilder's The Apartment one more time I would have been a nominee for a role in Wilder's Lost Weekend.
Movies: We were told that RCCL gave the ship four movies (4 movies for a 16 day cruise with 5 sea days scheduled?) One of the movies was Top Gun!
First bring a tote bag for any purchases most little shops will charge you a small amount for a plastic bag.
LeHavre - Saturday
Bought $12 ship shuttle & went to town. Walked about the city & to me it seemed more city-like and not a tourist area. I went to the Musee Malraux to see the Impressionist paintings and in addition had a pleasant surprise to find a great exhibit on the old
France cruise liners.
Dorset/Weymouth -- Sunday
Town offered free shuttle -- lovely area. This is the Jurassic Coast. We walked to the Weymouth boardwalk. Clean beach area with several monuments included one dedicated to American soldiers. We did the Sky Tower for a lovely view of the area.
Cobh -- Monday
I did the walking Titantic tour that started at the Commodore Hotel. Very informative & entertaining. Tour ends at Jack Doyle's pub for free beer or soda. Later I did the Titantic experience and the Heritage Museum. Nice shops.
Dublin -- Tuesday
Did ship shuttle $12 to town. We had pre-purchased tickets for Hop On/Hop Off bus which included a free walking tour. Guide was very good. Tour ended at Trinity College. Lots to see -- need more than one day just to see even just a few of the stops offered by the bus . The Kilmainham Gaol museum was very moving.
Faroe Islands Thursday: Free town shuttle. We walked about to the local craft show and a very nice bakery that offered delicious pastries & free Wi-Fi. We did the ship hiking tour which was noted as strenuous but as a nature hike. The hike was strenuous & muddy but was a hike with no nature information. The guide keep saying that this was an "easy" hike for the locals so she went more quickly than I think our cruise group enjoyed.
Iceland Friday: We had purchased ship tours for both days so the $12 daily town shuttle was included.
Day 1: In the morning we did the horseback riding tour -- very good. The guides were informative & watchful.
Afternoon -- husband went golfing & I went shopping. Lots of nice shops in the town. Most shops took US money.
Day 2: Did ship Golden Circle tour -- Very good -- all day tour with a nice lunch at the Hotel Geyser
In summary, this was a cruise in which I enjoyed the ports a lot more than then the cruise, so sorry, RCCL the next time the "sea is calling", I will let it go to voicemail.