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209 Orlando (Port Canaveral) to Caribbean - Western Cruise Reviews

Oasis of the Seas is a beautiful ship, but lacks in the personal experience we are use to with other cruise lines....there is no room on the pool deck for the performers to interact with the guests (they are on a small platform that you ... Read More
Oasis of the Seas is a beautiful ship, but lacks in the personal experience we are use to with other cruise lines....there is no room on the pool deck for the performers to interact with the guests (they are on a small platform that you can barely see them from any pool, let alone able to dance), the towels offered for pool use were so thin it was certainly not what we were accustomed to, Dazzle had the best performance and provided plenty of dance music, but was way to little and very hot for all of the guests to enjoy (they need a much bigger place because they were full every performance!! We asked crew members on many occasions how to find a particular part of ship and over 50% could not help us. Everything is so spread out and you have to look for something to do. The photos were not very professional at all (poses not good, actual print quality were to bright, to dark, colors were not true, etc..) we bought some but only because we wanted memories, staff needs classes on photography... we might would sail with Royal Caribbean again, but not on this ship. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
A family member (Royal Caribbean Diamond Plus ) invited us to go along with them. We had a deal with RCI that we used. The ship's staff was very good, but there were simply too many people aboard. Entertainment was excellent. We ... Read More
A family member (Royal Caribbean Diamond Plus ) invited us to go along with them. We had a deal with RCI that we used. The ship's staff was very good, but there were simply too many people aboard. Entertainment was excellent. We were disappointed with the bingo games. Allowing the use of the computers was not fair to the people who just wanted a chance to win with the 'old fashioned' cards - 33 cards versus 6 was too much advantage. Food and food service was good although dining room was too crowded and we our table usually was not in a good place. We were disappointed with the transfer service to/from the Sanford airport. Stateroom attendant (Erica) was excellent and deserves an 'Atta Gal' for her efforts. She was efficient,friendly, knowledgeable and helpful. We would rate the overall cruise as 'above average' compared with others that we have been on. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
This was my first time on a Royal Caribbean cruise and I was traveling with my husband and his family. I would say that the rooms were larger than most and very nice. The bathrooms were smaller than most and the shower stall (although ... Read More
This was my first time on a Royal Caribbean cruise and I was traveling with my husband and his family. I would say that the rooms were larger than most and very nice. The bathrooms were smaller than most and the shower stall (although the water pressure was great) was very tight and impossible to turn around in. The beds were extremely comfortable. The staff was excellent and I thought the food was very good as well. There were plenty of activities to keep everyone busy. Too many things and not enough time in the day to do it all. The casino was the largest of any cruise I'd ever been on and lots of table games. I purchased the internet package for 3 devices and must say - it was excellent. Very fast and never had a problem logging on. My biggest complaint was that of the Photo Gallery. It was a mess. Completely disorganized and they rob you blind with the packages they offer. It is $22 for a single print and the cheapest package is $179 for 10 digital prints. That is a rip off. Celebrity charges you $200 for all prints and thumb drive. For the $179 you do not even get the prints. Completely pissed me off since I really look forward to posing for professional pictures. And Norwegian has all of their photos color coded in binders so all you have to do is no your color binder and all your prints will be in there. You don't have to spend hours roaming the photo gallery to find your pics. You can also view them on the computer. They say they use face recognition. If that is the case, then why were there photos in there that were not of me? I also hated the ports of call. We never made it to Coco Cay (due to weather) so we went to Grand Cayman, which was OK for shopping and then on to Cozumel. They practically attack you there to get you to buy something. Way too pushy and the whole town is run down and dirty. I did not like it at all. Bottom line is I might not return to Royal Caribbean based on the photo gallery alone. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
This cruise was with a family reunion group, 11 people. My impressions were very much influenced by the ship's size. This is the largest ship I have been on, and would choose a smaller one for future cruises. I chose a Promeade ... Read More
This cruise was with a family reunion group, 11 people. My impressions were very much influenced by the ship's size. This is the largest ship I have been on, and would choose a smaller one for future cruises. I chose a Promeade cabin, had one 8 years ago & liked it then - an inside with a view. This time I was traveling with my daughter & this cabin seemed much smaller - difficult to walk around (definitely we could not pass each other). There was surprisingly very nice storage & lots of hangers. The bathroom was tiny, but I liked not to deal with a high tub wall - shower only. The beds were comfortable exceept for the funky bedspread/duvet, which I determined was a mattress pad inside a duvet cover - really heavy & if I took it off there was only a top sheet. I had requested when registering x 2 to have the beds separated, and the RCCL representatives assured me that they would be that way when we arrived, not true. So we had to wait until the steward fixed them (assumed he would be in promptly) to unpack with our bags on the beds. It took him until after dinner. He was very polite, but seemed so rushed & stressed with all the cabins he had. I never saw him with an assisstant. No ice bucket or glasses in the room. I guess I could have asked for things, but didn't want to add to his work. Only liquid soap in the shower, no shampoo or conditioner. Towels were not very thick or absorbent. The window seat was good to look out at the Promenade, but they didn't have the parades like I saw on the Mariner. Dining - Our person who arranged for the cruse had asked for 2 smaller tables in the MDR for our group dinners. Was assured that we would have one for 5 persons & one for 6 ( we are older & some have hearing difficulty), and of course this didn't happen either. So we were stuck with a table for 11, so hard to get in & out of the chairs. We did sit in different seats each night to be able to converse with everyone. The food choices were a hit one night, not so much on the next. The bright light at the dining experience was our server, Rose, and her assistant Deron (?sp). They were both fantastic. We did eat breakfast most mornings (not all together) in the MDR, and the service was not so good. There was a buffet set up which was great for those people who didn't order from the menu, but menu items took at least 20", which they warned you about. And we had to ask for coffee & water refills, pastries, etc. The Lido Buffet was hit & miss. We went there for lunch, tried to wait until the crowds lessened, but that didn't seem to happen until after 1:30 or so. Food was OK, nothing stood out. Embarkation was really fast. But the cabins weren't ready until 2:00P. We were early enough to get a table at Sorrentos, in the promenade, pretty good pizza, and desserts. Enrichment activities - really didn't see any presentations on history or culture of the Caribbean islands. If they were in the daily newsletter, I missed them. Entertainment - This was very good for the most part. Great orchestra & sing/dance ensemble. The one comedian we saw was really entertaining (last night). Ice show was not to be missed! Public rooms - depended on whether something popular was happening. Trivia, for example in the Schooner Bar, was standing room only. A thousand people trying to get in there just didn't work. Same with the Promenade when they had special events like 70's night, couldn't even move. The Library was a slap in the face for those of us who want a quiet place to read. It was about the size of one of the large suite cabins, situated between the banks of elevators so it was like a foyer. Half of the books were in languages other than English, and very few in number. There were a few board games available - nice desk for an attendant, but I never saw anyone there. Onboard experience - was good on Port days, constant crowds & lines on the others. Same for elevators. Service was Hit & miss. The staff tried hard, but it was so obvious that they are stretched too thin to give great service. Port excursions - did not do any ship-sponsored excursion. Unfortunately for those passengers who did, it rained on 3 of the 4 port days. We did get off the ship to just walk around & shop & have to say the tender service to/from Grand Cayman was very, very quick & organized. It would have been nice to have cold washcloths & water/lemonade at the ship when we returned. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
This was my 23rd cruise, but first on Royal Caribbean. This vacation had bad vibes from the beginning. I booked this cruise the beginning of September. Got a great deal on a Junior Suite and originally it was going to be just my daughter ... Read More
This was my 23rd cruise, but first on Royal Caribbean. This vacation had bad vibes from the beginning. I booked this cruise the beginning of September. Got a great deal on a Junior Suite and originally it was going to be just my daughter and I to celebrate my 60th birthday. Since the room was large enough, we invited a very good friend of my daughter's to travel along with us. When my travel agent added the extra passenger, RCL accidentally hit the wrong button and cancelled my entire cruise and all the excursions that we pre-booked for the entire week. When I went to re-book the excursions most the the prices had increased. I contacted RCL directly and since this was their fault, they did make up the difference in the price increases and a few extra dollars worth of on-board credit. This was my second time leaving on a cruise out of Port Canaveral. I forgot about the 45 minute drive from MCO to the port and booked three round-trip transfers from a company called "Orlando Cruise Transfers". Word of advice, DO NOT USE THEM.. not only were they almost two hours late picking us up from MCO, they told us to wait at one location only to have their driver park in a different location where we had to walk a fairly long distance to jump into a van pulling a u-haul trailer. Their website showed one of those large air-conditioned buses however. The return from Port Canaveral to MCO was OK, but driver was still not on time. Now the cruise... Freedom of the Seas is a nice ship but definitely showing some wear and tear even though it's been refurbished. As mentioned we had a Junior Suite room #9272. The couch was opened up for the third passenger. The beds were split into two singles. Bathroom had some rust around where the tile floor meets the wall. The walk in closet was huge and made a nice changing room as well. Balcony was very large however the glass was very dirty and looked like they hadn't cleaned it in weeks. Our room steward was fantastic. Also booking a suite afforded us special privileges such as expedited embark and debark, preferred seating in the Arcadia lounge. Elevators have got to be the slowest I've ever experienced. Most of the lounges, bars are very well maintained. Deck area is nice however in some areas the flooring is very slippery when they are wet. The casino does have a smoking and non-smoking area which is nice however the smoking area does have a strong odor of smoke. We had "my-time" dining along with purchasing the 3 night "Specialty Dining" package as well. Chops steak-house was OK but nothing to write home about. Giovanni's Table again, was OK, nothing to write home about. Our favorite was Sabor Mexican which is some of the best non-traditional Mexican food we ever tasted. Highly recommended! Food In the main dining area was just OK. The service in all restaurants was exceptional and accommodating. One thing that this ship has a problem with is keeping track of your stored wine. They kept losing our wine from lock-up. The biggest issue I had with sailing on this ship was all the selling going on. The Promenade Deck (5) is basically a wall to wall shopping mall with overpriced items. Believe me, they are not giving away anything on this ship with the exception of the liquor which, are some of the best prices I have seen. There are photographers everywhere wanting to take your picture. The prices of 8x10's are almost $23.00 a pop and they charge the same for 5x7's.. ??? that didn't make sense to me. Now for the fun part (sarcastic) and why I titled this review, "Will NEVER cruise during hurricane season again". It literally poured the entire week.. Hardly any sunshine. The wind was so bad on the first day at sea that people's hats were blowing off their heads, towels blowing around the deck. I ended up with an earache from trying to lay out and catch some sun on the first day out. EVERY excursion that we pre-booked for each port was canceled due to the weather. The only saving grace was in Jamaica where we decided to do the river tuning and zip-line excursion at Chukka Beach Break. Even doing these in the rain was a lot of fun and the guides there are hilarious.. I highly recommend this excursion. You will have a blast! In Grand Cayman, we settled in at Margaritaville and spent the day there even thought there was a torrential downpour and high winds t for a period of almost 2 hours. The roads were completely flooded. In fact if you did not take the tender over early enough you got stuck on the ship as they closed the tender service over to the island because of rough seas. Cozumel started off great with a glimmer of hope only to have the clouds roll in about 2 hours after we docked and once again RAIN! The ship's captain had a sense of humor by playing "I'm singing in the rain" over the ship's intercom system one morning. I wasn't amused. The on-board shows were good, the ice-show was fantastic. If you sail on this ship, do yourself a favor and do not miss this show... Dress code... without a doubt.. NOT ENFORCED anywhere. We were dressed every night and amazed us how many passengers didn't even make the attempt. Many were wearing tee-shirts, shorts and sandals in the main dining areas and specialty restaurants. The Windjammer.. Typical buffet food, breakfast was sub-par, lunch was slightly better. Don't know if I would ever sail RCL again. Been spoiled by Celebrity, Holland America I guess. Don't care for the constant up-selling and will never sail again in October/November for sure. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
the ship in itself is awesome. Extremely clean. all staff was very concerned with sanitation issues. "Washy washy' people all over with hand sanitizer. my cabin, which was a studio was quite adequate for my needs. I wish more ... Read More
the ship in itself is awesome. Extremely clean. all staff was very concerned with sanitation issues. "Washy washy' people all over with hand sanitizer. my cabin, which was a studio was quite adequate for my needs. I wish more cruise lines would follow suit . the food in the complementary restaurants was adequate. some meals were lukewarm. The buffet had plenty of choices and even with the number of people moved very quickly. Adequate seating. The two main shows, Burn the Floor and Pricilla were wonderful. Service was great except for my cabin steward who obviously was in training. The ports and excursions offered , on the most part, were great. Embarkation was pretty smooth except for Port Canaveral. Massive traffic jam trying to park at the port.. Jamaica , as expected, is a poor country Everyone looking to sell you something. Anything. We were told by our guide at Dunns river falls that the other guides would actually board the bus and demand their tips. Grand Cayman is beautiful! The day I went to the Tulum ruins was very hot! I am glad I did my homework and found out about the trolley for $2.00! Saved me from having heatstroke! And the best of all was my spa pass. Great place to get away from the people and the noise on. I am already looking at a southern Carribean cruise for next December on Norwegian Dawn! Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
This was our 9th cruise with CC. We were disappointed. Service was way down. Sat at tables many times and never a waiter came by. Had to hunt down someone if we wanted a drink. A few times I'd be standing at a bar and others would ... Read More
This was our 9th cruise with CC. We were disappointed. Service was way down. Sat at tables many times and never a waiter came by. Had to hunt down someone if we wanted a drink. A few times I'd be standing at a bar and others would come up and be waited on before me. I finally had to start speaking up (I don't like being rude) and saying I was here first. We always get suites to receive priority embark and debark in ports and at home port. Never once did we debark priority. People wore pj pants and tshirts to the specialty dining room. Dress codes need to be enforced at least there if not in the dining. Our room steward was awesome. Food was so-so. Used to awesome. Was almost ran over by a man in a scooter getting on elevator. Food that was in the dining room was on buffet. Workers were chastised in front of cruisers. Felt so bad for them... Service in dining room was way down. Used to be that you never ran out of water bread or butter. We had to ask for those items as well as iced tea. Slow service as well. Food was not warm. Food choices was not what I was used too. We missed cruising in 2015. Man what a year made. If you didn't eat lunch by 2:30 your only choices are a sandwich or pizza. I would have liked a salad bar. Workers seemed like they ere not as informed a lot. During breakfast/brunch there was not ice tea to be found. If you asked for it no one knew where to fond it. The beds seemed smaller. Specialty food places Pig and Anchor only open 12-2:30. And very hard to find and you have to wait in a line outside in the blazing sun. Quite a bit of chaos altogether. Kids running around without parental supervision, younger ones. The hurricane being out there never played an issue on this trip except for when we were ready to head into Port Canaveral. We had to wait to get the clearance when we should have been in at 8 am we were not allowed in til 2:30 pm. The employees had NO control over the debarking at all. Were told to merge into one line. As I was doing so and older man than I am and I'm 51 said I don't think so and rammed his luggage into the back of my legs. I have bad knees. If had not been for the man in front of me righting me, I am sure I would have ended up one the floor. Rude people were everywhere. What is wrong with people today. Several times elderly people were waiting for an elevator and well able bodied people would swarm right past them nearly knocking them over to get the elevator first. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
From a young kids point of view 9 out of 10 points. From adults point of view the food in the cafeteria was fine to good but the 3 main restaurants locations was poor. The worst I have had on 5 different cruise lines. Nothing is cooked ... Read More
From a young kids point of view 9 out of 10 points. From adults point of view the food in the cafeteria was fine to good but the 3 main restaurants locations was poor. The worst I have had on 5 different cruise lines. Nothing is cooked to order for any meal and most of the food arrives cold, they then microwave it for you, reluctantly. However, if you pay extra to eat in their 2 special restaurants, it is excellent. The cabins are also smaller than normal. We paid extra for a balcony with an unrestricted view and it was smaller than any cabin we have had on 7 cruises. If you go for the kids, I recommend it but remember you are only going for them and Disney will pick your pocket all day and for the food is still very poor. As much as my grandson enjoyed it, we will never sail Disney again Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
PROS: The Carnival Magic is a very beautiful ship with many features and bars to go to. The Red Frog Pub was a blast, especially for a bearded, beer drinking fool like myself who enjoys the pub atmosphere. Beer Pong was awesome as ... Read More
PROS: The Carnival Magic is a very beautiful ship with many features and bars to go to. The Red Frog Pub was a blast, especially for a bearded, beer drinking fool like myself who enjoys the pub atmosphere. Beer Pong was awesome as well, I was pleased they used real beer in this game compared to water on previous ships (both Carnival and Non Carnival). Some of the food I give an A, however overall I rate the food under average. Guys Burger Place was good, Tandoor (the Indian cuisine buffet) was fantastic! and the pizza tasted like it came from Italy, very very good! Alchemy Bar was amazing! Out of all the bars, the service here was by far the best. Great drinks and atmosphere. If you want to try something new this is the place to go, they will give recommendations based on your tastes. And friendly staff that know what they are doing and that also talk to you. CONS: Overall entertainment (shows and on-board events) I was unimpressed. For a ship that size, holding 3600+ passengers, I felt like there were very few activities. Went to one show and didn't care to go to another. The dinning room food was OK, better on some nights, not so good on other nights. The Lido Deck buffet tasted like a cheap buffet, and the lines were long. Overall food rating below average. Oh and the BBQ place is only open during lunch on sea days, that was disappointing as I didn't really get the opportunity to try it. Service needs a lot of improvement, everywhere with the exception of the stewards (read cabin review). Bar side service, especially in the Casino, was horrible! I would wait roughly 10 minutes to get my order taken and another 10 minutes to receive my order (mostly beer and coke). More complex drinks like a Mojito I understand, but waiting that long on a coke or beer is ridiculous. Never experienced that at a consistent rate on other Carnival ships. That average does not include the wait in the Casino. I wouldn't see a server for at least an hour to take a drink order, and it would take another hour (no exaggeration) to get my drink! I expect better from Carnival, especially from past experiences. Perhaps these cons have to do with there being 3600+ passengers on board and not enough staff, or perhaps not. Regardless, improvements need to be made if Carnival wishes to keep loyal customers. My family and I love Carnival, but we will be looking at another Cruise Line for our next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
Hi I traveled with my teenager daughter , we wanted to experience some of the Caribbean, our cabin was on deck 10 , perfect for us , just below the pool , and a few floors away from the main restaurants , it wasn't noisy , food was ... Read More
Hi I traveled with my teenager daughter , we wanted to experience some of the Caribbean, our cabin was on deck 10 , perfect for us , just below the pool , and a few floors away from the main restaurants , it wasn't noisy , food was great and service excellent in the restaurant that we ate in ! Galileo , I didn't really like windjammer as it had plastic plates and always felt a bit catiotic ! , the entertainment at night was good , we enjoyed the ice show and the mixture of musicals , we went on shore everytime we docked , my daughter did the zip line in Haiti and loved it , although we missed the lunch here to busy enjoying ourselves and had to head back to the ship early as we missed lunch and then no access to food , just drink , ! Jamaica we booked are own trip on the port it was half the price , but we then realised that everyone else was on local time except clients from our ship ! Which caused confusion with ship time and local time , a stressor! Grand Cayman , again ship time v local time plus tug to get to ship ! This was a major major stressor ! Not enough time , planner said 1600 which was really 15.00, but to be on the dock in a que like cattle at 14.15 ! Not much time and lots of people were very anxious over fear of missing tug boat ! Did not have a nice holiday feel ! Anxiety levels were through the roof ! Mexico booked cruise trip as fed up with anxiety levels ! And fear of missing ship ! Fear of mixing up times ! And time zones ! Needing a watch all the time ! Trip was good snorkelling and then sitting on a beach with crap expensive food , but fun wibbet stuff , snorkelling was ok we saw a few fish , ! Back on ship , my daughter took a sip of a cocktail and then the on the pool deck then the jobs wort boys arrived and acted worse than the police ! Stopped drink package ! We forgot we were ment to be on a nice holiday ! Such treatment was in poor taste ! A warning would have been acceptable American guests said it was because we were European so easy pray for security team ! Meanwhile American kids very much under the influence late at night on the main entertainment area ! And no jobs worth boys about ! To stop them , this treatment left me feeling sad ! I know she did wrong but it was a sip ! Not going out getting drunk , a normal small taste like you would to try something ! This also happened to another family from Ireland but they were wise enough to say he didn't swallow the drink ! ( another European family ! ) Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
I have been on 3 cruises with Carnival and enjoyed them. I like the relaxed atmosphere. I sailed on the Carnival Dream about 6 years ago and had a fabulous time so I thought the Magic would be just as fabulous. This time it was good but ... Read More
I have been on 3 cruises with Carnival and enjoyed them. I like the relaxed atmosphere. I sailed on the Carnival Dream about 6 years ago and had a fabulous time so I thought the Magic would be just as fabulous. This time it was good but not great. Food: I really enjoyed Guys burger joint. The burgers were quite good and the fries are excellent. Other than Guy's though, the food was mostly good but not great. In the main dining room (we had early dinner in the Northern Lights restaurant) I suggest you skip the flat iron steak. Frankly it was just disgusting. It was chewy, fatty, undercooked and overall just not good. My mom chose it two nights later and had the same experience. I would skip the baked potato as well. No way is it baked. It was always a hassle getting the toppings. The rest of the food was pretty good and the lobster on formal night was delicious. One night I didn't care for the menu so I opted for the surf and turf for an additional $20. It was great. The desserts were all great as long as you don't get the cake items. Dry and tasteless. The omelette satiation was well stocked and very good but the scrambled eggs on the buffet are powdered. I don't know if they were last year but they definitely were this year. I recommend skipping those as well. I think the quality of the food has gone down in the main dining room and on the buffet. In years past the kids wanted could not get enough of Camp Carnival. Not so this year. They never wanted to go and there was no face painting the entire cruise. My nieces were disappointed. Neither of my sons (12 and 14) cared for Circle C, which was a big hit last year on the Valor. Our cabin was nice but this year, they didn't put the bed in the ceiling during the day like they did last year. We didn't have a table, and the twin was never a couch as in the past. My husband and I shared a cabin with my sons. Other than the noticeable difference in the food and kid activities, it was a nice cruise. The cruise director was awesome and the excursions were fun. I had a nice relaxing time which is exactly what I wanted. We had adjoining balconies which was a huge plus. I think next year I will try a different cruise line just to see the differences. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
We are experienced cruisers. I got an email after we booked asking if I'd like to know of deals on upgrades. I said yes. Then I got a phone call asking if I'd like to upgrade fro the JS we booked to an OS for $700. We just ... Read More
We are experienced cruisers. I got an email after we booked asking if I'd like to know of deals on upgrades. I said yes. Then I got a phone call asking if I'd like to upgrade fro the JS we booked to an OS for $700. We just had a death in the family and also lost two friends over 6 months, so we needed a break. We took the offer. Cabin 1320 was jaw dropping in size and appointments. We had breakfast served the next morning on the huge veranda and loved the experience. We had dinner delivered in our dining area each night after that. One evening the duck we ordered turned out to be chicken. I called my friend Svetlana and she corrected the problem in 10 minutes and threw in an extra souffle. In Labadee we were met by small boats with political activists. Apparently they were protesting for an island campaign that included someone connected to RCI. We left without anyone going ashore and took with us the RCI employees that live there for safety. We had booked wave runners and a trip to the small island and were very disappointed. The net day we ordered breakfast in our room at 6:30 AM. At 7:10 AM we got a call from room service saying they were running late. We told then to cancel since we needed to be in the theater by 7:30 AM to connect with our tour in Jamaica. (This was the first time I recall feeling hungry on a cruise. Later in the day we got a plate of chocolate covered strawberries and a note of apology. The berries tasted great.) In Jamaica we learned that the part of our tour to snorkel the barrier reef was canceled but the rest of the tour was OK, if we wanted to go. We went. Once ashore we were told that the rest of the tour was also cancelled due to big winds and choppy seas. The Tour staff was there and we elected a kayaking tour that was interesting. We went to a beach that was OK. In Grand Cayman we were told our tour was cancelled so we took an alternative that was stuff we had one before. "Hell" gets old fast and the beach we went to had lousy swimming, it's not a great beach, one we had visited before. We went to a restaurant on the water and had turtle soup which always amazes me since the island is a turtle sanctuary. Rains came and turned into a deluge. We headed back to the boat and ran into a very long line of RCI passengers. I guess they shut down the boats ferrying folks back to the boat during the storm. I went to the ask for Priority service that is offered to folks in suite class and was turned back by local authorities. When we finally got to the front of the line we found our Concierge who asked why we hadn't come forward. Apparently a missed opportunity. Otherwise the Concierge service was very nice. In Cozumel we had our tour cancelled and took a tour to a local beach was well organized. We saw an impressive response from a Mexican medical team when an older woman took a spill and broke her nose in a serious fall. Food was OK but the overall experience was not great. Other perks such as free drinks anywhere during specific hours works great. Suite class was sweet. We saw the last performance of our group and then the first performance of the next. Both entertainment groups were excellent. The ship is in great condition and is still a solid design. Chops was great but was a bit overpriced. We should have gone to the Southern Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
My family and I were on the Valor from 8/22-8/29/15. This was our first time on this particular ship. We were in cabins 8343 & 8347. While the cabins were nice and centrally located, if you are a light sleeper you will want to be ... Read More
My family and I were on the Valor from 8/22-8/29/15. This was our first time on this particular ship. We were in cabins 8343 & 8347. While the cabins were nice and centrally located, if you are a light sleeper you will want to be cautious of these cabins. You are right near the elevators which means that you hear the "dinging" of the elevator all night. You are just under the lido deck so there is alot of traffic in the stairwell and the elevators. You also hear all of the walking and moving of deckchairs above you, especially at night when the crew is cleaning the deck. The staff was very friendly. Our cabin steward was attentive as were our dining staff. The food was good - not 5 star by any means but definitely good. The ship is a little broken up. You had to travel up and down to get across. It made you feel like you were missing a part of the boat (not literally). My husband and I did alot of walking around just to make sure we knew where everything was and to make sure that we were not missing any shops or entertainment areas. The ports-- well, lets just say that I can mark the Western Caribbean off my future travel spots. While Cozumel was very nice - we visited Isla Pasion, We found Belize and Costa Maya to be less than desirable. We did do an excursion in Hondorus - we swam with the dolphins! That was alot of fun. I would have liked to have seen more entertainment on board. We participated in the Quest game which was alot of fun. There were only two production shows for a 7 night cruise- one we had seen on other Carnival Ships (a tribute to the 80s music) and the other was the Carnival Legends Show (karaoke singing guests). I have been on other cruise lines where there was alot more entertainment going on. My husband and I participated in the slots tournament. It was fun but Carnival should really have first, second and third place winners -- not winner takes all. Overall we had a good cruise. Embarkation and Disembarkation went smoothly. Never really had a long wait to be seated for dinner. I will definitely travel Carnival again, just most likely not on the Valor or to the western caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
This cruise was my husband and my 4th Carnival Cruise. We traveled with our 3 youngest children. 18, 13, 10. We also had our exchange student who is almost 16. We traveled with my brother and his wife and their 3 children..12, 12, 10. ... Read More
This cruise was my husband and my 4th Carnival Cruise. We traveled with our 3 youngest children. 18, 13, 10. We also had our exchange student who is almost 16. We traveled with my brother and his wife and their 3 children..12, 12, 10. There were many pros and many cons to the Sunshine. Having said that..we had an amazing vacation..even with the many cons. Embarkation was simple. We arrived about 11:30 and were onboard by 12:15. We went right to Guys and found a meeting place for everyone for the entire cruise. Our meeting place was in the area by the Havana Bar. It was always easy to get a couple of tables together. Pros: Jaime the Best Cruise Director Ever!!! She is everywhere on the ship and has so much energy! By far, the best we have ever had! Mongolian Grill, Guys Burgers, Chocolate Melting Cake, breakfast burritos. Even my 18 yr. old who doesn't like hamburgers had several Guys Burgers and loved them. The fries are also the best ever!!!! We all loved the 24 hour ice cream and frozen yogurt. The kids loved the skycourse ropes course and waterslides. Mini golf was also great! They used the pool alot and loved it. PG comedy shows! EXCELLENT! The kids would get to the Limelight Lounge early so they could sit in the front row. This way the comedian "picked" on them and they enjoyed this. Cons: Room Steward. Never asked our names. We called to ask about the 3rd bed being put down and he said he would do it when we were at dinner..fine with us..but then 2 minutes later he is there to put it down..never asked us anything. Seemed put out to be putting the bed down. We saw him alot in the hallway but he always seemed grouchy and would only say "hello" after we said hello. Cabins were kept clean but nothing special. Marketplace Buffet food...just average. Dining Room food and waiters. The only food that was above average in the dining room was the chocolate melting cake. Prime Rib was flavorless and tough. Our waiter, Dennis was fine getting 2 appetizers or main meals but never once addressed us by our names. He never talked to us except about our order. Ruben was AMAZING!!!!! He chatted about our families and told us how he missed his 6 year old daughter. He joked around with the kids and was excellent all around. Mario was okay. We don't think he could understand much of what we said. He often would give bread or rolls to most of the table and then walk away and forget the others. He would also ask a couple people if they wanted bread or a roll and then just give everyone else whatever he wanted to give to you. The service was extremely slow!!!!! I don't know who's fault this was but it was frustrating. Getting a chair on sea days and most of the time...impossible on the serenity deck after about 9am. After about 11am it's hard to get 2 chairs together anywhere on the ship. Way to crowded! Smoking! We were in cabin 6237..and in the evening we could smell the smoke from the casino all the way up to our cabin. The smell on the deck is also horrible if you are trying to walk or job on the track. There was some kind of leak in the hallway a couple door down from ours. The carpet was drenched. They put a bucket there for a couple of days and then brought a fan and had that going 24/7..it was very loud and very annoying at night when we were trying to sleep you could hear it all night long. Ports: We took a taxi to Chankanaab as usual and just snorkeled off the beach. Most of us had our own snorkeling equipment and we had a blast there! We then went downtown and had a nice lunch at La Mission. It was nice but probably wouldn't go back. If we had more time we would have gone to Panchos Backyard. We also went to the Supermarket. It was a mini Walmart and very cool experience. We docked downtown which was a first for us. We went to Mahogany Bay in Roatan and because we were the 2nd ship there that day we couldn't get a good spot on the beach. Our chairs were very far back but it was okay. We spent the day playing in the water. Not a good snorkeling place as we didn't see any fish at all..even by the pier. Belize..some of our group took a Carnival excursion ziplining and cavetubing and had a great time. The rest of us stayed at the port for shopping and then went back to the ship. I didn't like all the guys begging us to go on tours. They were very pushy and I felt very uncomfortable. Costa Maya..we took the shuttle for $3 a person downtown. It was deserted. We tried snorkeling but there was so much "junk" in the water we couldn't snorkel. We walked the Malecon and found a place to hang out..They are very pushy getting you to go to "their beach". Lots of people will come asking you to buy things. The beach was gorgeous. We had hammocks and chairs and could do water stuff but as soon as we got there the rain started. It never let up. We shopped a little and then ordered some food from the restaurant that belonged to the beach area we were at. My husband had fish tacos and he ordered chips and guacamole for me. He said the fish tacos were the best he had ever had. The guacamole was the best I have ever had. We got a taxi and went back to the port and did some shopping. It appeared most people were staying at the port. The malecon was very empty. This would have been a better day if it hadn't rained but there is nothing we could have done about that. Even though we found lots of cons we were able to overlook them and had an amazing time. We choose to look on the bright side of things. I do think this was probably the best choice for us because of the activities for the kids. We won't go back on the Sunshine just because there are better choices...Dream, Glory and Conquest. We also decided it might be time to try a different cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
We are Castaways Club members and, as such, have been on several Disney Cruises. In fact, we will not cruise on any other cruise line. Having said that, our recent cruise on the Disney Magic was disappointing. The ship is in dire need ... Read More
We are Castaways Club members and, as such, have been on several Disney Cruises. In fact, we will not cruise on any other cruise line. Having said that, our recent cruise on the Disney Magic was disappointing. The ship is in dire need of a big makeover, especially in the adults only pool area. The pool area has a lot of rust and surface dirt and the only food available is if you walk to the family or I kiddie pool areas. Not real convenient or relaxing. The AC in our cabin was terrible and although we complained several times, it was never fixed. Also, we noticed several bugs (either cockroaches or palmetto bugs) just inside of 2 of the restaurants. When we told a crew/cast member, they just smiled, shrugged their shoulders and walked away. That was the same response we got each time. And no....they didn't walk away to get someone to take care of it. The food was ok, but not up to the Disney quality standard we are used to. I'm writing this review because I know how important the 4 Keys are to Disney. Although we had no problems with the crew/cast members being courteous, the rust, dirt, lack if proper maintenance and bugs definitely don't measure up to Safety, Efficiency and SHOW! Will cruise again with Disney, but, definitely not on this vessel. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
We have always enjoyed cruising with RCCL and the Freedom has been our favorite ship. We have cruised on her 4 times over the past 6 years, most recently April 2015. This time was our last and perhaps our last cruise with Royal Caribbean. ... Read More
We have always enjoyed cruising with RCCL and the Freedom has been our favorite ship. We have cruised on her 4 times over the past 6 years, most recently April 2015. This time was our last and perhaps our last cruise with Royal Caribbean. The whole experience was lacking and we spent the week wondering what had happened. It had the feel of a discount cruise line. A few examples...we only saw the cabin steward once the entire trip. Our room was cleaned but the interaction was gone. The food was scaled back and less imaginative and the dining room staff, while mostly efficient, lacked the personal touches that we have come to expect from RCCL. The cruise director and staff were much less involved and certainly less impressive than normal. We have now seen the same shows several times. It's time to change the production shows and the magician if they want to encourage repeat cruisers. It was the little things that added up...the same menu every day in the Promenade Cafe (it used to vary daily), less rings and Tshirts being thrown out at the 70's Street Party, standing in the guest relation line multiple times because they couldn't make room keys work, etc. If I had to sum it up, I would just say LESS of everything. Definitely not the same RCCL we fell in love with 10 cruises ago. We will try a new cruise line next time and keep searching until we find one who offers what RCCL used to and who hasn't shifted their focus from the customer to the profit margin. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
My husband and I very recently got off of the Carnival Sunshine after 8 nights with our 3 kids. We were joined on our trip by 5 other adult travellers. It was a family vacation for us all. Our check in and getting onto the ship was great, ... Read More
My husband and I very recently got off of the Carnival Sunshine after 8 nights with our 3 kids. We were joined on our trip by 5 other adult travellers. It was a family vacation for us all. Our check in and getting onto the ship was great, this is our 5th cruise and by far the fastest check in process we have ever experienced. We were very excited to be on this cruise as our 3 boys had never cruised before and we picked this ship partially for the amenities that were offered for them, ropes course, waterslides, kids splash park, mini golf, basketball and more. There was nothing more that they could have wanted. Here is where the problem lies though. There was little to no supervision in a lot of these areas! The waterslides were some what monitored as was the kids splash park. The ropes course also had someone at the beginning helping people harness up etc. Everything else was a free for all. There was no supervision in the basketball court, on the mini golf, or near any of the game stations (pool, bean bag toss) and it was always chaotic. I tried playing mini golf with my kids on a couple of occasions and we could not find putters as kids had not returned them and when I tried to find a ball I found 5 or 6 kids stealing them and putting them in their pockets. They were also throwing the balls at each other and I finally had to speak to security who looked at me like I was an inconvenience. We also witnessed a few teenagers trying to bounce golf balls off of one deck and onto another and he almost hit my sister in law in the head. We saw another group of teenagers throw a bean bag into the ocean. This all happened over a few days when there were adults near by, I can only imagine what went on when adults weren't around. Carnival you need to supervise these areas before something major happens! The pool was also another major concern. Kids were running around and jumping in and landing on other kids, it was insanity. Clearly parents need to take more responsibility as well but there was never any staff near the pool to monitor and make sure things weren't out of control. The pool is also a huge disappointment. For the number of people on board the ship, the 2 small pools hardly accommodate. If 150 people can be in the pools at once, thats a stretch. We actually thought people were joking when they showed us the main pool area, it's so tiny. The ship is also very poorly laid out. There were numerous areas we wanted to get to where you needed to go up 2 floors walk down a hallway and then back down 2 floors to access it. It was a maze and we still were figuring it out after 7 days. The ship always felt packed too. After the ship got refurbished they were able to fit more in but what they really needed was to leave more space. I have never experienced a ship that was so crowded. We heard a lot of people complaining about this as well. On the plus side the food options were good. Lots of choices and we all LOVED Guys Burgers. The taco and burrito bar was also amazing. The main dining room food was good but not the greatest. We have had better quality food on our other cruises. from the main dining room. Our wait staff was wonderful and took good care of us which is always lovely. Getting off of the ship holds my biggest complaint yet. It took 2 hours of people being packed like sardines on stairways, in elevators and down hallways. I felt very sorry for families with young children and for older folks who were forced to stand for that long. It was ridiculous. I was talking to an elderly couple in line and they said in 19 cruises they had never experienced anything so unorganized. I agree, it was like they had never disembarked a ship before and no one was in charge. It left a very bad last memory for many people. We were panicking about missing our flights home as we were over and hour late getting off of the ship. The Carnival Sunshine has so much potential. Better staffing in certain areas, especially the sports square and pool. Also the number of guests on the boat is too many! Figure that out and you have a much better cruise experience. For now I think we will try another cruise line and watch Carnival sail into the sunset without us. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
It was a fun time, the ports were nice and the excursions fun. We did a private retreat in Cozumel were the beach was great and the people nice. In Costa Maya we saw the ruins, an awesome site that in time will be even more amazing. We ... Read More
It was a fun time, the ports were nice and the excursions fun. We did a private retreat in Cozumel were the beach was great and the people nice. In Costa Maya we saw the ruins, an awesome site that in time will be even more amazing. We didn't make it into the Mahogany Bay port, it was too windy and we were very disappointed. This seems to be a problem on many cruises to this port which you would think Carnival would try to fix. The food was good in the dining room and great in the steakhouse but the buffet was not good. They seemed to serve the same thing everyday, the same flavors. The poolside theater was a great time just the popcorn needs salt. Our room was really nice, ocean suite, spacious, clean, comfortable with a full bathroom and lots of storage. Enjoyed the balcony but we decided it wasn't a neccesity for a future trip. Looking forward to our next trip. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
We booked Carnival Liberty a beautiful ship. Sailed out of Port Canaveral. We have cruised multiple times and have arrived earlier than our assigned embarkation time only to find long lines, once on board over crowding on the Lido deck ... Read More
We booked Carnival Liberty a beautiful ship. Sailed out of Port Canaveral. We have cruised multiple times and have arrived earlier than our assigned embarkation time only to find long lines, once on board over crowding on the Lido deck people wandering around with carry on luggage and no place to sit down to eat. This time we dropped our tagged luggage off and then went to a port restaurant sat outside and ordered Bloody Mary's at a price much lower than the cruise ships and basked in the sun for an hour and a half. Drove back around to the cruise parking lot, went into the terminal zipped through the line because there was no overcrowding. On board the ship in less then fifteen minutes, it was after 1pm so our cabin was ready. Dropped off the carry on bags and went to the lido for lunch then drinks. It was the best embarkation ever. The ship is beautifully decorated peaceful colors. No garish purple and orange colors. This was some of the Good, more later Some of the Bad We had a balcony aft portside. No noises but soon discovered it was HOT. We asked the steward about it and he said it will get cooler. It did not so the next day I went to the customer service and reported it. I spoke with others on our corridor and they also said their cabins were hot. It is the 7400 portside section that is hot. We spoke with others on deck 6 and 8 and they said theirs were ok. The maintenance people said it met their standard of 72 to 74 degrees. Sorry but 74 degrees with no air moving in the room is not acceptable. We had a balcony so we slept with the door open. I felt bad for the lady in the inside cabin she said she was not able to sleep, by day 3 you could tell she looked exhausted. We got 8:15 dining, we requested Anytime but it was full and so was early. We ate in the dining room 3 times but finishing dinner at 10pm is just too hard on the body. I can no longer eat that late and go to bed an hour and a half later. The food in the dining room was really delicious. The food on the Lido was edible, not hot enough and only a few of the items from the dinning room were served. The deserts were never as good as the dining room. We ate at the Lido so we could enjoy the shows, family comedy, and relax in a lounge listening to music before bed. We cruise for the entertainment and late dining makes us miss too much fun. The Food and the American Table menu. We enjoyed the food it was very good but I miss the variety of the old menu. I am a good cook so when I go out to eat I like to eat things that I do not make. I had the Flat Iron Steak it was good, I had veal parmesan also very good. The Caesar Salad was fishy, way too much anchovy. The Lobster tail was undercooked but the shrimp were delicious.. After that Lido food, edible. The weird thing is they did not have the Bacon Mac & Cheese on the Lido. A food kids and adults love yet not on the Lido dinner. The Pizza is terrible, the crust taste like crust that had been prebaked then when needed add sauce and cheese and put under the broiler. Taste like a cheap cheap frozen pizza. The Guy's Burgers are Fabulous!! It closes at 6pm so I would check to see what the Lido is having later if nothing looked good that night I at Guy's burger. The Blue Iguana Mexican was Fabulous too especially their breakfast burrito. The Soft Serve Ice Cream and Yogurt were a hit I have never seen so many people eating Ice cream in my life. It also tasted very good. We had a sandwich from the deli very good too. Did not care for the Mongolian restaurant. They have 3 sauces Szechuan (very hot) Thai (hot) and Black Bean. I had the black bean, it was ok but I prefer hibachi or terriaki flavor. We missed the Rotan port due to weather so we had an extra sea day. I have to admit there is not a lot to do. I did get bored. I played trivia but found that so many people were cheating it became no fun. One fellow claimed to have all the answers but when she asked for the answer no one called it out, so she told us, later when she asked who got 20 right he raised his hand. Another was cartoon triva this time we had a tie for the win when she asked the run off question "in the cartoon Tom and Jerry which one is the mouse the girl who claimed to have all the right answers did not know, yet she knew a huckleberry hound, secret squirrel etc? no I think not. Ports - we went to Freeport first, not my favorite port so we stayed on ship most of the day then went down to their cruise port listened to music watched some passengers line dance had drinks at Fat Tuesday's because Senor Frogs was packed. Cozumel- We took a cab to Playa Playancar we had our own palapa and beach chair we bought cocktails, beer, and shared Fajitas we spent about $40 with tip and the cab ride was $25 each way the drinks were good and there were only about 20 other people at the beach. Be forewarned that you need water shoes in Cozumel the beaches have coral shell pieces in the shallow parts of the ocean and it will cut your feet and scrape your belly. Roatan Missed port, very bummed the main reason we chose this cruise, and yes the only compensation is refund of your port fees. The cruise line does not owe you anything when nature raises it ire and makes docking impossible. It is nice if they do something like give you a discount on drinks or even better for the kids have a discount in the candy store for a few house. I would rather miss the port than be stuck paying for an excursion that beats you half to death with waves trying to snorkel, riding around in a rocking boat and getting sea sick. One lady said she had booked the private cabana at $250.00 she was very glad that she did not have to pay to sit in cabana on a cold rainy day. Costa Maya (Mahahual) we had arranged to meet a lady who has a mission church that helps feed people, do Bible studies and helps with children education. I had brought a book bag filled with paper,crayons, pens, pencils, heart shaped pencil sharpeners, stickers and flash cards to help them learn their numbers. It was great to meet some of the people and their children. We have done excursions and saw how poor the area is away from the cruise port shops so we wanted to do something to help the local people with educational opportunities. Now for the Really Bad Debarkation- We were doing self assist, well a lot has changed. People who did self assist previously could leave as soon as the ship docked. No longer. Our time was 9am we went down to the elevators at 8:45 to go to the waiting area, the elevators would come by and were full. They were not running very often and were always full. We finally got one of the glass elevators. as we attempt to get off we see the problem the lobby is filled and we had to wait in the elevator until someone shuffled forward and we got off. We find we can not go sit in the lobby chairs they are blocked off. So we inch along then an elevator opens and all the people get off and they are in front of you. The Glass elevators are at the very back. We inch forward boom another elevator opens 10 more people are in front of you, almost out of the corridor and boom the elevator opens and it is a scooter guy and family. Scooter guy proceeds to push forward bumping into people. We inch along dragging our luggage standing there for 20 minutes being pushed and bumped with suitcases, people stepping on your heels. An inch of space opens up and scooter guy speeds up to fill it. I have had it I say "you are sitting for goodness sake and we were all here before you" doesn't faze him he feels entitled. We finally get out and thank God we did self assist the luggage was on a carousel so you have to stand their with the crowd and look for your bag. Embarkation was organized and easy Debarkation was an absolute nightmare. Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
This was our first Carnival cruise, though we’ve previously cruised Royal Caribbean and Princess. We chose the Carnival Sunshine for airport and itinerary reasons, but mostly because it (or Royal Caribbean) seemed like the choice for our ... Read More
This was our first Carnival cruise, though we’ve previously cruised Royal Caribbean and Princess. We chose the Carnival Sunshine for airport and itinerary reasons, but mostly because it (or Royal Caribbean) seemed like the choice for our first cruise with our 4 year-old granddaughter. Her parents didn’t want us to take her on a Disney cruise without them.  “We” are: Dee (me), Ted (my husband), and Evelyn (our DGD) We’d read a lot of negative reviews about the Sunshine, but have often been surprised in the past by some traveller’s unrealistic expectations. From the cruise reviews, we expected a crowded pool and average food, but a fun, family focused cruise. First a word about our pre-cruise Carnival experience. I booked the cruise online myself and when I called Carnival with a few questions I got timely, appropriate help. We wanted, but by no means needed, a table for 3 in the main dining room for dinner. Based on suggestions here on cruise critic, I emailed the maître d for the Sunshine and asked if it were possible to get a table for three. He wrote back within 15 minutes to confirm. Wow! Similarly, questions I had about my account and Fun Shop purchases were dealt with quickly, efficiently, and pleasantly. Colour me impressed with pre-cruise customer service. We live in Alberta, where winter and weather are often unpredictable and cancelled flights are not outside the norm, so we arrived at the Orlando airport two days before our scheduled sailed date. One day to chill after our five hour flight, and then a day at Sea World. DAY 1 – Embarkation – Port Canaveral Our cabin, 5347, was an aft balcony on the Promenade deck, on the same deck as the Alchemy Bar, Red Frog Pub, Casino, the Warehouse, Cherry on Top, EA Sports Bar, Fun Hub, Liquid Lounge and the Ocean Plaza. Below us, the Sunrise Dining Room, above us, cabins. Twelve days before we sailed we did get an upsell call for grand suite at a total cost of $800. We declined, partly because we felt it was still too much, partly because we were really looking forward to our aft balcony. I’d planned lots of Seuss-ish things for this cruise and we started with the “Cat’s Cabin Sweet Pack” decorations – Seuss themed decorations and cookies waiting for us when we opened the cabin door. Our room was spacious enough for the three of us, with more-than-adequate storage. The balcony was a comfortable size with two loungers, a chair, and a small table. We didn’t experience any of the shuddering or noise that we’d read other reviews complain about. We did have a little of the black soot(?) that others had reported, but it was minimal and we probably wouldn’t have noticed it, save for having read others talk about it. Nita, our steward, introduced herself early and did a good job of keeping our room clean and leaving behind towel animals. PORTS Because we were travelling with our granddaughter, we decided to stick primarily with ship excursions. First time alone with her on vacation and we didn’t want to give her parents any reason to say no when we ask again. :-) Cozumel We chose the Carnival Dolphinaris Dolphin Encounter. Evelyn was too little to swim with the dolphins, but we thought she’d enjoy Dolphinaris and the “encounter”. She did. We’ve done a number of Dolphin swims in the past and this was much like those. It was our granddaughter’s first. One thing I didn’t like was that the photographer insisted on taking all our photographs individually – no group shots. It would’ve been nice to have a shot of the three of us together with the dolphin, but of course, one photo doesn’t generate the revenue that three does. Food was included in the price of the excursion – hot dogs, hamburgers, salads. Mahogany Bay We chose Carnival’s Beach Cabana Rental on Mahogany Bay, despite Evelyn’s concerns about the flying chair. :-) Oh. My. God. Spectacular beach. The private cabana was air conditioned and housed a v-shaped sectional sofa, coffee table, small fridge, ceiling fan, mini safe, free wifi access, and flat screen tv (which of course we didn’t even turn on). We stepped out onto a deck with two lounge chairs and an assortment of floaties. Ten steps away was a double hammock suspended beneath a shaded pergola with … oh, I swoon at the memory … a series of misters that pointed to the hammock and kept its occupant pleasantly cool. In front of that was a padded two person lounger that looked out on to the awesome beach and crystal clear water. Best shore excursion ever. Drinks and food were supplied at an extra charge from Fat Tuesday’s. The area sported eight? Ten? private rentals such as ours and had a dedicated waiter who kept us supplied with food and drink. The excursion lists as $225/adult and $225/child, but in actuality it’s $225 per cabana rental for four and includes unlimited chairlift rides. More than four people and there’s a surcharge. Well worth it. I scanned the any of the negative reviews of this excursion simply because I couldn’t believe anyone could possibly have a negative view of it. Here’s what the complaints were: • Long line-up (1 hour wait) to board the chairlift to get to the beach. We didn’t experience this. There were perhaps a half dozen people in front of us at the chair lift and we only waited a couple of minutes. The chair ride over the beach and vegetation was spectacular. On our way back we considered doing a couple of runs just on the chairlift, as we saw another family doing. There were several other ships in port that day, though I couldn’t say how many, and perhaps that affected the other reviewer’s experience. • Cleanliness. We had no problems here. Our cabana and its equipment were clean and in good shape. • Security. Previous complaints of security inadequately keeping others off the beach seem to have been addressed. That said, I was approached by a number of people who were able to walk up the beach to ask how they could book a cabana. That wasn’t security’s fault, they were quick to intercept, and frankly, it was no big deal to answer the questions of the people who did manage to breach the security perimeter. At no time did I ever feel that my “stuff” was in danger of being snagged by anyone. (The beach is private, but the ocean isn’t.) • Food. Dedicated waiter kept our drinks coming. We ordered chicken tenders which my four year-old granddaughter refused to share with us. I snuck a bite and they were hot and tasty. Bar food, as another reviewer noted, but good. • Expense. It was our best spent $$ of the cruise. In fact, I would choose a future cruise solely for this port and this excursion. Belize We spent the Belize day aboard, having decided this was the least desirable port for us and because we wanted to spend one port day onboard. Good decision as we were all suffering from too much excitement and too little sleep. Spent a lot of time in the pool area and hot tub. I’d read other reviewers complain about the size of the pool, and yep, it’s tiny. I’m talkin’ miniscule. Frankly, we don’t spend much time in the pool on cruises as a rule so I wasn’t sure if I was just more aware of its size because we had a tyke with us who loves to swim. Costa Maya We chose a private excursion for this port, the Maya Chan Beach, based on the rave reviews it got here and on other review sites. We struggled a bit with the decision, because it’s a bit of a drive out and this port was our shortest stop, docking at 7 a.m. and departing at 2 p.m. Maya Chan Beach is an all-inclusive private beach - 5 miles south of the Port of Costa Maya – that takes care of transportation, entertainment (kayaking, beach biking, snorkeling, sand wedge golf) and food. Free wifi with computers is available onsite. They serve a Mayan Feast (including chicken thighs, grilled skirt steak, garlic sea bass, mayan pork, and tortillas), and have a children’s menu. From the beginning, the folks at Maya Chan Beach were welcoming and responsive to our questions. Two weeks outside out sail date we got an email with detailed instructions and a port map. They – and other reviewers – caution about the seagrass. If you don’t like seagrass, they say, this may not be the beach for you. We’re landlocked prairie folk and didn’t really know what seagrass was. It smells bad and there was a lot of it. The entire time we were there, there was a gentleman raking up and disposing of the seagrass. Once you got further out into the water, the seagrass wasn’t as much of a problem. We were in a nice little palapa with a hammock, a beach bed, two adult beach chairs, and a small table. They provided a small kids’ beach chair and a bucket of sand toys for our granddaughter. I cannot say enough nice things about the amazing people who run and work at this resort. From beginning to end, impeccable care and attention. It started when we got off the ship and went to the meeting point. In our defence and before I start this part of the story, let me remind you that we were in vacation mode and had, apparently, left our brains in a bucket at home. We couldn’t figure out why no one was there to meet us. Someone finally showed up, very pleasant young man, and as we talked, we realized that we had arrived for the excursion on ship time instead of local time.  Maya Chan arranged for a taxi and got us to the beach an hour early. Once we arrived at Maya Chan and settled into our palapa, we were served drinks and homemade chips with fresh salsa and guacamole. Delicious. Drinks and food were included in the cost of our excursion. $58/adult, $30/child. And the food was amazing. t was set up buffet style, locally sourced. The fresh fish – catch of the day – in a wine sauce, I think, was delicious. Our granddaughter had spent the vacation in search of a real coconut and they obliged her by hacking down a coconut and giving her one to try. She was disappointed in the taste, but loved the experience! You will not find more hospitable hosts than the people at this resort. Oh hey, they also have a treehouse that you can rent (instead of a palapa). Cruise Director: Jamie Dee February was Jamie’s last month on the Sunshine, I believe. The CD has never been a huge deal for us in the past, but having heard soooo much about Jamie, I was curious to see what made her the Super CD. She’s everywhere all the time. High energy and lots of fun. So friendly. Rumours of Bad Smells, Crowds, Ill-Tempered Staff First off, the crowds. Yep, the Carnival Sunshine is noisy and crowded. I don’t know how that compares to other Carnival ships as this was our first Carnival experience. Here’s where we began to realize, perhaps even pre-cruise, that we may not have selected the right ship, the right cruiseline, for us. Because it’s all about finding the cruiseline and ship that are right for you. The crowds overwhelmed us a little. This started at embarkation as we entered the incredibly loud and crowded atrium and headed for the Lido deck and a burger at Guy’s. Too loud for us and certainly too loud for our granddaughter. But that was us, and the people around us were having a blast. The bad smells and ill-tempered staff … heck, we looked for them, given the complaints we’d read before leaving. I think we caught a whiff of something somewhere (by Guys?) one day, but seriously, nothing consistent or even mentionable in our opinion. Our staff interactions were unfailingly pleasant, save one situation where *I* was grumpy with the bar staff who didn’t want to give me a soda on my husband’s soda card (he was laid up in the room, having trouble walking after a bad sunburn following our excellent day in Mahogany Bay). We are not the type who feel slighted when we aren’t acknowledged by name. Having said that, we were overwhelmed when staff all through the aft part of the ship on our level consistently greeted our granddaughter with, “Good morning Princess Evelyn”. In the dining room each evening as well, the maitre d’ would pop by and check on the princess. We’d sometimes run into our wait staff in other parts of the ship (at breakfast, or in the Marketplace) who’d greet the princess in the same way. I cannot begin to tell you how that thrilled Evelyn. The Food. So again, different ships/cruiselines for different people. I was disappointed in the food. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t as good as I thought it would be. One aspect of my life experience is as a bit of a foodie. I use that term hesitantly, as I don’t think I’m a food snob. I like a good dining experience, where the food is high quality, creatively prepared, and attractively served. So. I loved Guy’s Burgers for what they were. Yummy burgers topped with whatever topping you chose. The Main Dining Room. The appetizers were good and attractively served. The main course, not so much. Again, not that it wasn’t good, just that it wasn’t as good as I’d hoped. There is no dish that stood out as spectacular for me. My husband thoroughly enjoyed the food, though he did say he liked Princess food better. The dining room seating felt very crowded. It didn’t help that our table was right beside a table of eight kids whose parents chose to dine together at the table behind them. Most of the kids were decently behaved, but there was one girl in particular who kept running up and down the space between our tables and bumped my husband every time. Her parents were oblivious and it was ultimately up to us to gently remind her to be more careful. I get it; she’s excited about being on vacation, but her parents should’ve been more aware of her. Evelyn loved the ice cream cone machines on the Lido deck and had two or three every day. Must-try dishes that people recommended came off as a bit of a disappointment, too. The Hey Porkchop on the sea day brunch menu didn’t wow me. The Warm Melting Chocolate cake was ok, but I don’t get the hype. The pizza … we didn’t care for it all. A note about the Marketplace that I didn’t realize until the last few days. It seemed to carry mostly items that were also served in the dining room that night. So, if you didn’t want to do the dining room experience, you weren’t missing anything. I’ve read complaints about its organization, but I didn’t find it confusing to navigate. I’ve heard people complain about the reduced serving size and, while I agree that the servings were small, I see that as a plus. I’d rather order a second app/entrée/dessert than have a heaping plate I couldn’t finish. In my mind, smaller servings only encourage the sampling of other dishes if you’re still hungry. We never left the table hungry, though. :-) We were really looking forward to Seuss Brunch and it did not disappoint. The food was creative and good. The entertainment and general tone of the brunch was fun. My only complaint is that we felt a little rushed. There was a seating after us. Afternoon tea. So much fun for a little girl and her grandparents. Sweets and biscuits and cucumber sandwiches. Very nice. Camp Carnival My husband did not want to drop Evelyn off at Camp Carnival; he wanted to spend every minute with her. I convinced him to let her try it. She loves pre-school and I thought she’d love Camp. Like the dining room, though, it was just ok. She went the second night of the trip and we told her to have them call us if she wanted us to pick her up. We left her at camp for two hours and, when we picked her up she was happy to see us. She said she’d asked the staff to call us, but they’d discouraged her. We got that. They thought we wanted some time to ourselves, so they encouraged her to stay and play. The next night, we told the staff to give us a call if she asked them to. After an hour, we got the call. We picked her up and grilled her a little on the experience. She just said she’d rather stay with us. So, not that Camp Carnival wasn’t fun. I can’t say we were disappointed she rather spend the time with us. :-) In Summary Our favourite bits of the ship itself were watching the sun come up from the balcony while we sipped our room service coffee or hot chocolate, chatting about the day over dinner, hanging out on the beaches at port. Evelyn loved dressing up in fancy clothes for dinner. She also like trying new dishes, her favourites were the frog legs (two plates of them) and smoked duck. She liked the Seuss Parade and story time, too. We aren’t the party demographic that Carnival appeals to. I guess we knew that about ourselves, but chose the cruiseline and ship for Evelyn. I haven’t even talked about the 2.0 Waterpark upgrade that was one of the main reasons we chose the Carnival Sunshine. That’s because we visited them on the first seaday and Evelyn didn’t care for them at all. Too loud, and she thought the waterslides were scary. So that’s on me. I chose poorly. She preferred to swim, or explore the ship or watch the water from the balcony or even watch the ship information channel (she loved seeing where we were relative to where we were going or where “home” was). We are setting up our cruise with Evelyn for next year, but not with Carnival or Royal Caribbean. We’re going to try Holland America (a first for us) or Princess (known to us).   Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
We went on Freedom of the Seas for my 40th Birthday this November(2014). I had my two boys with us (age 8 and 10) this year and was extremely excited. Now, we may have been spoiled by Disney Cruises, but Royal Caribbean just was not up to ... Read More
We went on Freedom of the Seas for my 40th Birthday this November(2014). I had my two boys with us (age 8 and 10) this year and was extremely excited. Now, we may have been spoiled by Disney Cruises, but Royal Caribbean just was not up to the standards I expected of them. -First was the toilets backed up in some rooms on our floor. Our room happened to be one. Fortunately we were in the room to try and stop the water from coming into the room. It was very disgusting because my husband had to scoop water(toilet water) with a trash can and dumb it down the shower drain as quickly as possible to stop the water from coming in the room. We called customer service 3 times before the water was shut off----15-20 minutes later. Needless to say my husband had a sore back and was exposed to who knows what. I can only imagine what the other rooms encountered. We were left with no apology from the manager and pretty much the crew acted like it was no big deal. We complained a couple of times to the customer service about the ridiculousness of it and after the 4th time, a maintenance manager finally came by to offer apologies and a 100.00 credit. Big Whoopee -The crew: While there were some crew members we adored( our room attendant, the greeter at Jade, and others) the deck lady was not one of them. Yes, I understand you can not "save seats" on the pool deck. BUT when I am sitting in a chair, have my things in another chair, and clearly show you that my children who are using the chairs are swimming in the pool, you harassing me that you will have to remove my items if they do not come back and sit in the chairs in the next few minutes, is not a very relaxing time. Rude and annoying is all I will say. -Family. The kid areas were pretty dull compared to other ships. My children wanted to stay in the kid area the whole cruise on OTHER cruise ships, but they Never wanted to go to the kids area here. They didn't really have any great activities for their age group. The staff was very nice though. They also didn't do that many family activities. None at the pool, except for a couple of movies, that were ditched for a unscheduled football game. I loved waiting for a hour to watch the movie that never came on. They did this for the following movie too---a announcement would have been nice. The kids water area was closed several days on board too and they didn't utilize the 3D movie screen. They had one movie pretty much the whole time we were at sea. I was not thrilled at all with this ship. I can 100% say I will NOT be going back on this ship again. I hope other Royal Caribbean ships have better standards. I was so disappointed. Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
*We tried to submit this letter to RCCL before posting so that they could respond directly, unfortunately we were informed that we would have to try another time. After 3 failed attempts, we decided they could read our review here. Just ... Read More
*We tried to submit this letter to RCCL before posting so that they could respond directly, unfortunately we were informed that we would have to try another time. After 3 failed attempts, we decided they could read our review here. Just back from our cruise on Freedom of the Seas which sailed August 31, 2014 from Port Canaveral. Just though I would "highlight" some things that may be of interest to future sailors. We have sailed on many lines and we are Diamond on RCCL. Traveling with us were 3 young adults (24-35) 1 infant 10 months, my husband and self (mid 50's). PARKING: As suggested by many on cruise critic we parked at the Radisson. The line was long and felt disorganized. EMBARKATION: This was fast and easy. Elevators and escalators were all in working order. LUGGAGE: Bags were all labeled and passed on to a porter curbside....with a substantial tip. Most of the bags showed up by the time the muster had ended. However, by 9pm we still did not have my husband's bag. After repeatedly asking at Guest services and being reassured that it would be "OK.," We confronted them again. This time they went in back and rolled out my husbands bag. the 2 desk officials (Giselle and Leyze sp?) then proceeded to lecture us that it should have been tagged with our name. We looked at them in surprise and showed them the tag with our name on it. Why weren't we call? Why did it take numerous inquiries? Instead we were met with indifference ad accusatory comments. Two days later, a bottle wine with a note did show up in our room. FOOD: We were "my Time Dining." For the most part they were able to seat us at our time requested and by the window. Overall the food variety was interesting and varied. Presentation was lovely. Now the WINDJAMMER--Overall the food was repetitive. Lunch options felt limited during this cruise. The dining room was only open twice on sea days.. Therefore upstairs you were faced with swimsuits and towels draped around necks, hot dogs, hamburgers, pasta with white sauce, sliced swiss or yellow cheese, bread pudding and a brown stew. The uniqueness of the vegetarian or ethnic station was gone. The 2 venues on the 5th floor offered the same food everyday. Gone is the surprise of discovering something new to try. VENUES: Our young adults were disappointed with the music and dancing. The designated night club, Crypt, was unavailable during part of the cruise. The night it was available RCCL decided to forgo a DJ and do a "silent disco." We felt robbed of our night out. CASINO: The staff here frowned upon excitement and enthusiasum. The other people were not bothered...just the staff. Language and behavior were not inappropriate. This certainly was not like a Las Vegas experience. They sure squashed the fun out of it. CABIN: We had the Royal Family Suite. The beds were wonderful. We loved the walk-in shower with a door not a curtain. Great privacy even in the shared space. The master bath had a tub which was convenient for a baby. Since our baby was not walking, the suite offered great room for a pack n' play and crawling space. Also, our large balcony had a table with seating for 4 adults and room to add an additional chair. We used this every morning for coffee and dinner when the baby decided to sleep. DOWNSIDE--they decided to do painting above us so the power washed the old paint which ended up on our balcony. These pieces of paint were the size of a 1/2 dollar and needed to be vacuumed up so the baby wouldn't get them. We did feel terrible using the in room towels to wipe off the water every morning from the table. BABY SERVICES: Infants pay full fare--yes you read that right--they are not free. Therefore, when the baby splash pool (the only play area available for us to use) was closed, we were EXTREMLY disappointed. It was a sea day and it was hot. We received no explanation, just servicing. We were told it would reopen at 4pm. There was nothing visable in the pool. They never completely drained it nor did they repair the worn patches. Prior to boarding we were advised by RCCL that baby food was available for purchase as a package for approx. $79. We brought our own on but come to find out another couple was offered pureed food for their baby by the wait staff. This was never offered to us. BAR SERVICE: "We are out of cabernet." "Sorry, we are out of glasses." These are not statements we expected to hear at 7:30pm in the champagne bar or Vintages, but we did on several nights. These are the bars located right outside of the dining room. Furthermore, during this prime time they were clearly understaffed and seemed flustered by the onslaught of orders for drinks. By the end of the week, we found another bar. They served us cheerfully and in the proper red wine glasses. Our son discovered the pub. The staff was attentive and friendly. Kudos for this team. ESPRESSO: Traveling as Diamond or Suite guests does have its perks. One of those is the availability of cappuccinos and steamed milk. Unfortunately the machine was broken on the 14th floor. By the middle of the week, the 10th floor machine had some functions not working. One of the attendants at the 14th floor, Javet (sp?) told me it would be fixed on embarkation for the next sailing. His attitude bordered on confrontational. I was told to use the one on the 10th floor. Not all diamond members stay in the suites. We have never been told to access the suites lounge before. Is this a new policy? I was lucky we were both on this cruise. GENERAL SERVICE: With the exception of our room steward and the concierge lounge staff, we felt the general disposition of the crew and staff was different this cruise. Being long-time cruisers, we are used to being greeted with knowledgeable, smiling, and helpful people. This time, we were often told "I don't know" in surly tones. Many times we felt yelled at. Overall there was a sense of inconsistency on all levels. DEBARKATION: Can we possible check on working status of escalators before we return and unload 3,900 people? While RCCL takes much pride with being able to move 3,900 passengers on the their boats, getting them off seemed quite a task this week. Only 1 elevator was in use and no escalators. The lines were long and frustrating. The staff was GROUCHY. As a family, this is still one of the best ways for us to spend quality time together, have great meals together and explore various parts of the world. But we also hate to see this brand lower itself to become another "carnival" catering to masses of people and compromising the high standards they set when we first began cruising 30 years ago. The McAdam Family   Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
Pros: The ship is beautiful and well laid out. I loved that they had electronic maps to help you get to anywhere else on the ships near the elevators. They are serious about cleanliness and you must use Purell to go into the buffet area. ... Read More
Pros: The ship is beautiful and well laid out. I loved that they had electronic maps to help you get to anywhere else on the ships near the elevators. They are serious about cleanliness and you must use Purell to go into the buffet area. The service was great, especially in the main dining room. Randy and Ismael made dining fun and went above and beyond for us. The shows we got to see were better than I had expected. Some were late night, like the comedy shows and we are not late night people so missed several. Our cabin was comfortable for being so small. Our cabin steward Ally was great. Cons: With a few exceptions (the rolls were great and a favorite of the five of us) the food was disappointing. There were exceptions, like the crab cake appetizer and one night the prime rib was great. The last night it was not. The dining room was good, not great as a whole, but the buffet was not very good. We were told that RC was much better than Carnival in that department and we found the opposite. Carnival does a much better job in the buffet department. We also don't like that we pay a premium to go on this line instead of the other and then find out we have to pay an additional $280 for us to have bottled water and premium coffee and soda. Another thing we were surprised about; other than 6-9 for the buffet, there is little available. REALLY bad pizza (think cheap frozen pizza) and sandwiches made hours before. We felt bad - the last evening we were talking to another group who did not know that was included and not an upcharge. They should make that clear to everyone. The last - we had a balcony, upgrade cabin but our cabin was cozy but really small. We chose RC over Carnival because it was suppose to be so much nicer - was on the other a few months ago and was surprised to see all were much smaller. We really had a good time, and it is a beautiful, well run ship. But they really should make some changes to make it a ship you want to return to. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
We cruised the Dream Jan. 4-11th. We left our hometown a day early due to the impending winter storm. Thank goodness we did! I do not drive in snow. We arrived on Friday in Cocoa beach. It was in the 60's, but was very cloudy and ... Read More
We cruised the Dream Jan. 4-11th. We left our hometown a day early due to the impending winter storm. Thank goodness we did! I do not drive in snow. We arrived on Friday in Cocoa beach. It was in the 60's, but was very cloudy and windy. We stayed at the Radisson. We were not impressed. I am in a wheelchair and requested an accessible roome. The room we received was difficult to find. We had to go up the elevator in one building, walk through an outdoor walkway and down a long corridor. The room was advertised to have sleep number beds, and it did...from the 1980's! The room was clean but it certainly was NOT worth the cost. We had a delayed embarkation, but were onboard an hour earlier than we thought. We had a suite, so we were given priority embarkation. We had some assistance getting into the seating area, but my husband was left to push me and pull our carry on when we boarded the ship. We didn't have a picture taken when we boarded...the portrait station was not set up yet. Once on board it was similar to all other Carnival ships. Nice decor. The buffet was crowded, but short lines. Muster drill was fast and effecient. I was glad the muster drill was held inside the ship as it was bit chilly. It was impossible to find a chair on deck. Chair hogs were out in full force. We attempted to sit outside on the last sea day but no chairs were available. The aft pool and chair area is very nice but we didn't get to enjoy it due to the vast number of people. The weather was not good. It was cloudy everyday except on the last sea day. We were caught in a tropical downpour in Cozumel, but at least it was warm. We missed Belize and Roatan due to rough seas. Carnival was very good to us and refunded port fees, served complimentary champaign, and gave us a 25% discount on future cruises. The food was good. Nothing new on the Dream yet. Buffet needed more choices. Each station served the same meals. Lines were present but moved quickly. We attended the sea day brunch and were not impressed. It actually felt like the staff didn't want us there. We were placed at a table with a BIG post next to it and our waiter didn't even notice us for a long time. We won't do this again. We ate in the dining room every night. Our waiter was great. He is leaving Carnival this month - good luck to you Somporn. The food was always hot. Bar service for cola was a little slow. We attended every show. We were disappointed in the evening shows. There were only 3 shows that included live dancing and singing. The shows are usually our favorite part of a cruise but these were not that great. The female singer was extremely loud, like she was screaming instead of singing. The male singer was good, but he would sing behind stage where he couldn't be seen. I thought that was strange. The cruise director was never around. We cruised on the Liberty last year and Karl was EVERYWHERE. We loved him. This cruise director, I believe his name was James, could only be seen at night in the theater. His assistant was better. We attended several comedy shows. The fun guy made our trip! He was a hoot. All in all, it was a good vacation. The weather was bad, but it was warm. We will cruise Carnival again but will choose a different ship. The Dream was ok, but do not care to return. Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
About us: DH and I travel as a couple only, with the exception of an Alaska cruise in 2012, when one of our sons, and his wife, traveled also. (He liked it, she found cruising too rough… both of them LOVED Alaska!!!). We’ve tried ... Read More
About us: DH and I travel as a couple only, with the exception of an Alaska cruise in 2012, when one of our sons, and his wife, traveled also. (He liked it, she found cruising too rough… both of them LOVED Alaska!!!). We’ve tried several cruise lines, but tend to enjoy NCL most. This cruise had been booked for almost two years (with multiple changes, since NCL altered ships/itineraries), so we had tremendous anticipation for this trip and cruise! Port Canaveral Cruise Terminal: We were dropped-off at 11:10 AM. We gave our luggage to a porter, tipped, and got in line at 11:15 AM. Passing through Security took less than 10 minutes. Getting to a port agent’s desk (Platinum line) took only a few minutes. Check-In at that desk took another 7-8 minutes. We were directed to take a seat until they called Platinum guest. (Boarding was based upon 1) Haven (separate waiting area), 2) Platinum, 3) guests needing assistance (Wheel chairs, etc.), 4) Gold, 5) Silver, 6) Bronze. Embarkation: Around 11:45 am Platinum guests were called. As we headed toward the gang-way, there was a ship’s photographer offering to take pictures. However, it did not appear that any special screen was set-up. First impressions onboard…. NCL employees were available upon entering deck 7, but they were not pushing to head to any particular deck. Some did say “Garden Café is open.” We headed to the pool deck and each got a drink at Waves. Then we headed to Taste and enjoyed a peaceful and delicious lunch. Afterwards, we walked around a bit and headed to deck ten when “the rooms are available” announcement was made. Stateroom: We went to our Mini-suite stateroom 10274 at approximately 1:45 pm. We found our Room Steward, Barry, finishing up. DH commented that we did not get robes… not that he uses them. They arrived on Sunday! Location: Deck 10, Port-side (left), Aft (back), just a short walk from the aft stairwell. Easy and quiet. Port-side (left) stairwells have Orange-framed mirrors on each deck, Starboard-side (right) have Blue-framed mirrors on each deck (port and starboard also reflected the orange or blue, along with tan and brown in their respective hallway carpeting). I cannot comment much about elevators, since DH and I almost always take stairs. Bed: Our room had the bed near the bathroom area. We both found the bed to be rather comfortable. The length was not an issue for us, but we are not tall. The pillows are more firm than either of us are used to sleeping on, but we made do. Shower: Long and narrow with a rain-shower head. The only thing we would have liked would be towel bars instead of small hooks, but we understand why they avoided the bars. Toilet area: The frosted glass did not bother us. Storage: There are bins, plenty of shelves, and drawers (at the sink), and three different places to hang clothing! DH hung everything he wanted, I could have used a few more hangers. Balcony: Nice-size (6’ x 9’), with a small table and two chairs…loved it! We enjoyed some spectacular views during the week. Room Steward: Barry was efficient, welcoming, quick and thorough. Manhattan Room (Main Dining): Dinner on Saturday evening was the normal first night crazy. We had a 5:30 reservation, but just trying to get to the reception desk at MDR was a bit of a wait. Eventually, we were seated somewhat near the aft windows at a 4-top table, yet an entire row of 2-tops were left empty… odd! Our orders were taken, we got our salads (Bib lettuce with pecans and Gorgonzola and a traditional Caesar) and our entrees (Grilled Shrimp with white rice and broccoli, and a New York Strip “Dinah” with scalloped potatoes and broccoli) in a timely manner. We skipped having drinks and dessert, so we could shoot over to the theater to see The Epic Beatles. Le Bistro: Sunday evening, we enjoyed the first of 2 Platinum meals at Le Bistro. Our reservation was for 5:30. DH loved the Mushroom Soup and the Filet de Boeuf (beef steak). I enjoyed a Frisee salad and the Dover Sole. On Wednesday we again had our 5:30 reservation. DH had the Mushroom soup again and the Sole. I had Stuffed artichoke and Coq Au Vin. Taste (Main Dining): We ate lunch here on Embarkation Day. I had a salad and crab-stuffed potato skins… yum! DH enjoyed a Caesar salad and a shrimp dish. On Tuesday evening we ate dinner at 5:30. I had a salad and the Chicken Kiev… both excellent! DH had a Caesar Salad and Cavatelli with clams in a garlic creamy sauce. He loved both. O’Sheehan’s: Breakfast here on the morning of Cozumel… We both ordered the Country Breakfast consisting of 2eggs, pile of bacon, 1 sausage link, 2 hash-rounds, baked tomato, beans… and toast we never received. Food: DH and I constantly say that we just don’t understand why there are so many complaints about food! Maybe having grown-up in large families, and military life, made us grateful for “three-square meals daily!” With that said, while some of the food could look “tired” at some buffet tables, overall, we found the Garden Café, Great Outdoors, and Spice H2O to serve sufficient variety for the main-stream palate. We appreciate the wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh and varied breads, and multiple varieties of meats, pastas, rice dishes, etc. We found ourselves returning to the Garden Buffet for breakfast most days. Bars: I had a plan to follow regarding the UBP, which meant I would try every “Drink of the Day” and also try drinks I ordinarily would not think of ordering! With that in mind, on Saturday, I ordered the Daydreamer’s Daiquiri. Sunday was a Long Island Iced Tea. Monday was Rebellious Fish. Tuesday was The Painkiller (needed that one!) Wednesday was Bahama Mama. Thursday was Moscow Mule. Friday was Signature Mai Tai (they were NOT available on GSC). Drinks included in UBP (that I also tried): Aviator, Bacardi Mojito, Basil Cucumber Twist, Bushwhacker, Emperor’s Nectar, Mango Meltdown, Matador, Mudslide, and a few that I neglected to write down (and therefore, don’t recall). DH mostly stuck to Gin and tonic, Negroni, Perfect Margarita, red wines, and a Johnny Walker Black/Rocks. We both found Flordeliza Bolivar (Head Wine Steward) from the Philippines, to be the best bartender for our tastes. We found her during the afternoons, several days, at the Waves bar. Shows: Priscilla Queen of the Desert – I loved the costumes, the set, the performers. Everything was well-done and done remarkably well! Burn the Floor – Once again, the set and costumes are phenomenal!!! Burn the floor is pulse-setting… awesome! The Epic Beatles - We saw them on Embarkation night in the Epic Theater. They were crowd pleasers for certain! Other entertainment: The comedians Mia Jackson and Bob Kubota are each quite funny and enjoyable. The music and entertainment on the pool deck was nice, although, we did not hang-out there much. We played BINGO on the first morning and the final afternoon. Although pricey, BINGO provides a fun diversion for us onboard occasionally. We watched parts of other activities, but didn’t hang around long. The more crowded and noisy those events were, the less I enjoyed them. Especially when I got bumped or had my feet stepped on. Spice H2O: Each afternoon we visited, it was crowded: however, for the most part, it was a fairly quiet area. Grill selections were available on the Port-side. The bar was always hopping. Unfortunately for us, the bar area is also the SMOKING section. The pool was quite warm on the one afternoon that I went in. We also viewed a movie here one evening, which was a pleasant change of pace for us. Noteworthy on the EPIC: As others have posted, we found the lack of walking spaces to be limiting. The fitness center makes up for that with a wide variety of equipment (timing to use them is everything!!!) The “secret stairs” were not particularly impressive for us, but it was fun to check them out. The Casino was okay, smoky to me, but tolerable with my usually quick pace. Overall, we had a wonderful vacation, consumed some fabulous food and drinks, met some great people (special greetings to Andrea and Jon), saw some fantastic shows and performers, and enjoyed the lovely islands. We most likely will not book the Epic again, but that is because we enjoy other NCL ships more. PORTS Cozumel, Mexico: Having been to Cozumel more than six times before, we decided that we would venture-out “On Our Own” (O.O.O.) for the day. We had walked to the Money Bar two years ago, and knew that we wanted to do that again. Carrying our snorkel gear, the walk took us about an hour and a half to get there from the ship and Punta Langosta Pier (we believe the distance is 4.5 + miles). The water felt fabulous when we went in. It is easy entry to the water and fish are abundant all around (think Caribbean colors)! I found some beautiful corals that I had never seen before, but I did not have a water-proof camera to take any pictures (darn it!) We decided to take a taxi back, since the afternoon had warmed considerably. The taxi driver said we walked over 10K… (Maybe?!) George Town, Cayman Islands: We have also been to Grand Cayman several times, so again, we ventured O.O.O. Carrying our snorkel gear, we headed to Sunset House at 390 S Church St, via Church Street, for about 1 mile. We enjoyed the sea life we found here, but decided to head to Seven Mile Beach. Once we walked past the port, we hailed a bus, which took us only as far as Calico Jack’s (cost: $5 US for both of us, one-way). We headed to the beach to enjoy some beautiful warm sand and sea! When we had enough of that, we headed back towards town, walking along the beach. Overall, we figure we walked about 6 + miles this day. IF you want to walk from the port to a close public beach, it is easily done by turning left after leaving the pier. Walk north until you see a small sign that says public (or beach) access. I remember there was one of these just north of the Burger King, but if you are inclined, there are more along the way as you head further north. Ocho Rios, Jamaica: We decided to keep things “simple” for the day, so we walked into town to see, Turtle River Falls and Gardens. The walk was much longer than the “12 minutes” that Google had estimated! If you can’t walk up the entire ship’s stairs from deck 4 to 15, DON’T try walking to TRFG!!! Anyway, we were “picked-up” (joined us on our walk) by 2 men who started telling us about the area, the flora, etc. We couldn’t lose them! We were led up, up, up the hill to a (in my opinion) “suspicious” entrance where we gave the “guard” $20 each for DH and I. The 4 of us then wandered through the garden area seeing the falls and learning about agriculture. We declined further excursion as DH was quite winded. That’s when we found out that the 2 gentlemen wanted $40 each for their escort. We offered them the $28 that we had left between the 2 of us, and headed down the hill on our own. We were not happy with the situation, definitely learned a lesson, and want others to know what to be aware of. Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas (Berry Islands): We had been to GSC several times previously. However, the last time we were on the island was May 2012. There certainly have been many remarkable changes since then! Most notable: The grounds have been updated with: Cabanas on the Cay have more than doubled in price since we last visited. A pre-booked Large Cabana would have cost us $499.00 at 90 days prior to cruise, but went up to $599 at some point prior to embarkation (the price can vary for different ships and dates). Small Cabanas costs were $549 during this cruise. Clamshells (shade) can be rented for the day @ $35 which are set-up over two lounge chairs. There are multiple locations open to rent them. More water sports and excursions have been added. The Snorkeling has been expanded to include the Underwater Sculpture Garden. We snorkeled near the small cabanas, so I cannot remark on the Sculpture Garden. The Stingray Encounter is new, but we saw a small sting ray at the beach where we snorkeled, so we are happy. More bars are open and an additional eating pavilion was added. “Included” food venues: Abaco Taco and Jumbey Beach Grill. (Ala Carte at Jimmy Buffets Margaretville.) We ate lunch at Abaco Taco, where beef, chicken and fish tacos are available with guacamole, lettuce, pico de gallo, onions, peppers, and cabbage slaw available on the side. Drinks included in UBP on GSC are available at: Patron Bar, Bacardi Bar, Lighthouse Beach Bar, and Bertram’s Bar. The tender back to the ship took a long time to fill. Final evening on Epic: Sadly, we packed on Friday afternoon and then enjoyed a quiet dinner at Taste. We realized that we never did take either of our Celebration cards (for cakes) to any of the restaurants for my birthday and his retirement. (That’s okay, we still have the cards as souvenirs and we both had fewer calories to burn off!) We walked around a bit, and then decided to just go back to the room early. Disembarkation: We were back in Port Canaveral by 5:00 am. Easy Walk Off started early. Our Yellow (Platinum status) tags were called before 8 am (maybe 7:40). We were off the ship, gathered our 2 suitcases, and had cleared Customs by 8! Read Less
Sail Date January 2017

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