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157 Bahamas Holiday Cruise Reviews

We haven't cruised with Royal Caribbean before and expected that its quality was less than we were used to, and it was. However, for the price, it was better than we had expected. The entertainment was fine - very impressed with the ... Read More
We haven't cruised with Royal Caribbean before and expected that its quality was less than we were used to, and it was. However, for the price, it was better than we had expected. The entertainment was fine - very impressed with the orchestra and the dancers. The headliners were a bit weak, but the comedian was particularly funny. The Cruise Director, Leigh Xerbus, was funny as well. We had children with us and much of the entertainment was more adult oriented, whcih was too bad as we like to spend some time with the children after dinner. The ice show was perfect for family entertainment. Not to be missed. If we have any complaints, it was the fact that this boat is out dated and badly needs a rehab. It is unfortunately dirty in places, not for lack of cleaning, just due to long time wear. There is also A LOT of smoking on the ship. Even where people are not supposed to be smoking, there is smoking. Very few of the rules are enforced and it made for a an occasionally unpleasant experience. Kids in the adult pools, smoking, kids in the casino horsing around, etc. I understand not wanting to ruin people's good time, but allowing other cruisers to impose on guests ruins their good time....just sayin'. The food for the first two days was not good. We sat with another family and we broke the ice over the bad food. Other than that, I'm not sure why the chef would have allowed such bad, cold food to be served. By day three, the kitchen seemed to have its act together. Some of the dishes were quite good and the buffet upstairs went from Fair to Good. I can say I always found something to eat, but I can't say the food is a selling point. Portofino, however, was very nice. quiet, elegant and the food was above average. Well worth the extra fee. The staff was fine. The service was fine, but the cruise seemed generally understaffed. You could always get assistance, service, etc., but there was usually a wait. Finally, although it was very convenient to cruise out of Bayonne, the cruiseport itself is an embarrassment. The abandoned shipping port looks like a mafia killing ground, but we weren't there long. The customs officials were fast. God Bless the USA. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
We returned Sunday 12/30/12 from a cruise on the Explorer of the Seas. Other than a couple of minor glitches, it was a wonderful experience. The ship arrived late (9 a.m.) at port on Sunday the 23rd due to storms, but the crew worked ... Read More
We returned Sunday 12/30/12 from a cruise on the Explorer of the Seas. Other than a couple of minor glitches, it was a wonderful experience. The ship arrived late (9 a.m.) at port on Sunday the 23rd due to storms, but the crew worked hard on getting the ship ready for our arrival. We started boarding at 1p.m. and headed to the Windjammer. The food choices were very good, and the staff was ready to get drinks or whatever we needed. At 2 p.m. the cabins were open. We were in a Junior Suite on Deck 6 on the aft. We were met by our Steward Miguel. He took great care of us all week, maintaining the suite, plus chatting with us whenever we seen him in the passageway. He made us feel quite welcome and like part of the family. I went to the dining room to check on our table, while my wife and daughter waited for our luggage. This is where we had some challenges. When the greeter found out we were "My Time Dining", we were told we would be seated wherever they found room for us. This was the first time we had experienced this with "My Time Dining". On all of our other cruises we set at the same table every night. The first night we were in a by the entrance of the kitchen area...Almost felt like we were in the way. The second night we were sat a much better table with Huny as our server and Ice as her assistant. After dinner, I found the head waiter, and told them this is who we wanted to be our server for the rest of the cruise. She immediately took us to the greeter desk, and said something to them, and for the rest of the cruise, we sat in Huny's section and received outstanding service from her and Ice. They were the "Stars" of our cruise. The entertainment was okay. The second production show was very good. The ice skating productions were very good. With it being Christmas, we thought there would be more decorations. However, the decorations were very tasteful and the gingerbread village in the Wind Jammer was cute. We ate most of our breakfasts in the Main Dining Room. The food and service were very good, and we met some very interesting people. This was the best returning cruiser get together I had been to. The singers, the video, and awards were well done. We had two opportunities to meet with the Captain. The first was Christmas Eve and it was the normal shake, smile click...the second was the second formal night and it was calmer and we had a chance to visit with the Captain for a couple of minutes. The only other complaint we had on the cruise was disembarking at ports. Disembarking brings out the rudeness of people. Just a little patience and things would go a lot smoother. We look forward to our next cruise on the Explorer. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
A friend and I decided to get away for the dual holidays of Christmas and New Year's and decided that the Carnival Miracle was a perfect option because it sailed from New York (we're New Yorkers) and we were looking for something ... Read More
A friend and I decided to get away for the dual holidays of Christmas and New Year's and decided that the Carnival Miracle was a perfect option because it sailed from New York (we're New Yorkers) and we were looking for something "all inclusive" Our embarkation went smoothly and we quickly found our room, finding our bathroom was another story because story because it took about a minute of two for the light to turn on. We then took our bottle of champagne and put it in our little refrigerator which did not work and took 5 days of an 8 day cruise to have replaced. Our luggage then arrived in a timely manner. However, my brand new suitcase was damaged with a pretty severe oil stain. We immediately went to guest services to complain, where we were rudely told.. "What do you expect?... Sometimes luggage gets dirty".... The agent reluctantly took the bag and smartly said "We'll clean it, but don't expect it to be "perfect" We then went to the Bacchus room for dinner, I ordered a soda with dinner, only to find out that only Iced Tea and Lemonade were "complimentary" The following day I decided to book some spa appointments for hair and nails. Each appointment lasted roughly an hour.. let me rephrase, the procedure lasted about 1/2 and hour, the sales pitch for the nail cream, hair cream, and face cream took the other half. That evening we dined at Nick and Nora's, the tenth floor steak house. NO COMPLAINTS here whatsoever. The service and the food were IMPECCABLE! On Thursday we arrived in Port Canaveral. We went on a shore excursion called "Pontoon Lagoon", which was a little ferry ride through people's backyards to look at trees where pelicans go to the bathroom. On Friday we arrived in Nassau, Bahamas, again by mistake we booked an excursion to the "Blue Lagoon". After spending more that an hour in a line that changed directions for fun and games, we made it through the hordes of natives trying to sell us anything from bottled water to cocaine. We arrived at our destination at 2:00 to be told that we need to be back on the boat at 4:15... Really screwed on that one! The following day we arrived in Freeport. My friend and I said "screw it" to our planned excursion (Fool me once....) But to Carnival's credit, they were willing to give us a credit on this. THANK YOU!!!!! We proceeded off the boat to go to the little port "village" that was set up. THIS WAS THE HIGHLIGHT OF OUR TRIP. There was a bar/restaurant there called Senor Frogs. This establishment provided an atmosphere of fun and adult entertainment that we could not find on the Miracle. THIS AFTERNOON WAS THE BEST PART OF OUR TRIP.... this was the first time a venue existed for the passengers to mingle and have fun with each other.... The consensus at the bar was that Carnival needed to provide an atmosphere like that.... and this was exactly what the Miracle was missing. We then set sail for New York, which was two more days at sea. This should have been relaxing and peaceful... BUT.... on our floor was a group of about 10 teenagers that amused themselves by knocking on cabin doors and running away at all hours of the night. This and prank phone calls lasted until the end of the trip. The cruise ended with New Years Eve... may have been fun, wouldn't know because at this point my friend and I were so tired of this atmosphere, we decided to stay in out cabin. Also, should be noted that after 8:30 PM the only food available is Pizza... edible, but after 8 nights, barely. Never so happy to see the Hudson River and New York City as I was on 1/1. THINK VERY CAREFULLY BEFORE TAKING THIS TRIP.... The best time you will have is at a bar in a tourist trap.... but that was TRULY an amazing time! Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
This being our third sailing of Pride in past 12 months, mainly due to convenience of Baltimore port, we are in a good position to compare how she has done through the year. Answer, not so good. Reason, I think Carnival is asking less and ... Read More
This being our third sailing of Pride in past 12 months, mainly due to convenience of Baltimore port, we are in a good position to compare how she has done through the year. Answer, not so good. Reason, I think Carnival is asking less and less staff to do more and more. I base that on condition of cabin, service, and number of bar waiters. EMBARKATION: Just have to love Baltimore. Just no fuss, just everything so close. Drive in, baggage handlers take luggage right out of car, drive into parking lane, pay and park. Walk across and enter terminal. Staff in terminal area very nice and helpful. Security a bit more of a TSA approach than previously however making me remove laptop from carry on, a first at any cruise line security point. Really did feel like they had seen a TSA training video and thought they were them. Here's the point security, we are not boarding a secure aircraft. We are boarding a large ship where dinner knives, explosive materials, etc abound. We don't really have to bring it on board. I am a security profession by career, I know the big deal checkpoint is as useful in this regard as a t.t on a bull. The banning of photo's and cellphones is terminal area, really? If needed a picture would go on internet. The only other embarkation comment, really wish they would build a gantry entry instead of making people walk that long uphill 5 story back and forth gangway. It's like it never ends. We arrived about 11:30 disembarking still taking place as we knew it would be. Baltimore at least the Pride arrives late for cruise ships. CABIN: 6173 Ocean Suite - Rosario cabin steward friendly and responded to requests, extra pillow etc no problem. That said, when spare roll toilet paper gone not replaced until requested. Found LARGE empty gift type box behind garbage can left by previous passenger. One faucet obviously broken had to call for repair, top was in pieces. Balcony door handle and latch broken. Repair crew came took them hour and a lot of cutting and drilling to replace. Balcony chairs crusted with salt balcony filthy remained until I called guest services. Steward explained hose didn't work. Table mates told us their cabin, don't know number, plumbing leak had fans in there for days as carpet was soaked. DINING: Table 232 worked hard, great personality did their best but obviously too few people doing too much work. They did their best to be attentive can't complain about them but can about cruise line that is just cutting staff every chance they get if you ask me. Two now do the jobs that were once done by 5. You want escargot this has now been relegated to the $35 per person specialty restaurant. Food itself was excellent no complaints. And again not waiters fault that so few do so much. ENTERTAINMENT: Good, comics always nice touch and Macey is great. Overall decent cruise but have to admit that I think we are Carnival and especially Pride overdone. We will try RCL out of Baltimore for next sailing from there. Staff are trying hard but line is not giving them the tools needed to make this a great cruise any longer. Heck it was hard to find bar waiters at times. One thing they are NOT short of, photographers. maybe they should convert a few of them into wait staff. I like to smoke a cigar and was too cold on balcony coming and going. They have one lounge for cigar smoking, closed it two days for art auction. Day was open asked bar waiter passing by for a scotch, he said that bar was closed, pardon me? Adjacent bar open what's up with that, casino bar open right near there to. When hard to get a drink you know you are understaffed. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Let me start by saying that I am a fan of Celebrity Cruise Line, but that in no way has tarnished my review. My DW, son, d-I-l, and a dear friend traveled from Hudson, NY to Baltimore by train to meet the ship. Upon arrival in Baltimore, ... Read More
Let me start by saying that I am a fan of Celebrity Cruise Line, but that in no way has tarnished my review. My DW, son, d-I-l, and a dear friend traveled from Hudson, NY to Baltimore by train to meet the ship. Upon arrival in Baltimore, (the first time we used that port), we were directed to a line by what deck we were on. My son, and friend were on deck 2 and were sent to a line and my DW and I were on 7. We made it through the line in 25 minutes and upon getting to the front of the line we were told that by being Crown and Anchor members we should never have been made to wait. This was not the end of the world but, it was a lack of attention to detail. We made our way to the buffet for lunch and a young boy dumped a number of dinner rolls on the floor. I have been on many a cruise and the staff would generally converge on picking up a "spill", not on this ship. Wait staff walked over the problem. Okay, I thought this was just a management issue, no attention to detail... We had breakfast out by the pool one morning at 9:00 AM and sat and had coffee, catching up on our hectic lives, and saw that many poolside tables were vacant but not bussed for over two hours. Staff were all around and walking by the tables and not cleaning them off. NO ATTENTION TO DETAIL. We had a balcony cabin. Now I know that maintenance is an important part of upkeep on a seagoing vessel, but we were given a note that our balcony would have work done on it while we were at sea. We were in two ports where painting could have been completed. The only time we could have enjoyed the balcony was when we were at sea the last two days and this was never considered. Again, attention to detail! I took a picture of confetti that was in my cabin when we arrived and that was still there when we disembarked. You know...detail! Now that I have brought up these errors, I will tell you that the main dining room staff and the food therein were fantastic. We elected the "my time" dining option and found ourselves asking for the same wait staff each night. They made the cruise. We also elected to go to CHOPS restaurant and I would recommend this to all passengers. It is truly an experience. I am not yet "sold" on Royal Caribbean. Did I HATE the cruise, no not at all. Is there plenty things that could be improved on, you bet. So, that being said...please don't think I'm judging the whole line by my two Royal cruises. I am not. I am merely stating some facts. Draw your own conclusions. Is this enough to change your thought process for picking a cruise ship? It is up to you. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
A family group of 7 of us cruised on the Enchantment of the Seas from Baltimore to the Bahamas for the Christmas holiday cruise (12/22/12 - 12/29/12). We booked three cabins: (1) a single woman in an inside cabin, (2) two ... Read More
A family group of 7 of us cruised on the Enchantment of the Seas from Baltimore to the Bahamas for the Christmas holiday cruise (12/22/12 - 12/29/12). We booked three cabins: (1) a single woman in an inside cabin, (2) two retirees/grandparents in a deluxe oceanview cabin, and (3) a family of four (two children ages 2 and 4) in an adjoining deluxe oceanview cabin. The experience overall was very much a mixed bag. I would say more positives than not, but the negatives were really bad - especially the fiasco of a shore excursion to Disney World (never again). Pros: (1) Booking through American Express - AmEx Platinum has a partnership with Royal Caribbean, so we had VIP Priority embarkation and didn't have to wait in line at all. Using AmEx also gave us the additional perks of a free bottle of Moet & Chandon Imperial Champagne in our room waiting for us, a free bottle of red wine in cabin, free dinner for two at Chops specialty restaurant, free soda plans for children (which we adults used!), and a $100 onboard credit. These were nice perks. (2) Embarkation - A breeze. Thanks to AmEx, we didn't have to wait in the long line at all. We parked around 12:00 PM and were onboard drinking champagne by 1pm. Our room was ready earlier than anticipated. NOTE: the Muster drill was outside, which was chilly. But the drill seemed a lot shorter than other drills we've participated in, so nothing unbearable. Just be sure to bring your coat in winter! (3) Dining - My Fair Lady / Main Dining. Our entire party agreed that the food onboard was generally excellent in the main My Fair Lady Dining Room. There were delicious seafood options every night, ranging from horseradish-crusted salmon, sea bass topped with shrimp, New England lobster tail one night, rock lobster tail the last night, barramudi, shrimp cocktail, snow crab legs salad, etc. Appetizers were delicious and varied, ranging from salads to soups to shrimp cocktail and everything in between. Desserts were hit or miss....cruises always seem to use the same congealed-pudding-type filling for every dessert, no matter what the flavor, chocolate, strawberry, etc. I am a not a steak eater, but my husband and other family members enjoyed the filet on the second night, but said the NY strips and prime rib in the My Fair Lady dining room were grizzly and tough. Chops Steakhouse - Specialty Dining: We did experience Chops steakhouse one night for dinner because we had a free voucher. I thought the seafood in the main dining room was actually better than Chops' options. But for steaks, Chops was far superior, according to my husband. And Chops also had better side dishes and much better desserts. Overall, I didn't think Chops was worth the upcharge, considering the My Fair Lady dining room food was probably the best we've had in a main dining room on a cruise. Windjammer Cafe -- We only ate lunch here on the first day/embarkation and it was decent, typical cruise buffet food. Some ethnic dishes, burgers, fried chicken, salad bar, pasta bar, fresh fruit, etc. Nothing to write home about, but not bad either. Reminiscent of college cafeteria food. We did have several breakfasts in the Windjammer, which were decent but not outstanding. Similar to a free hotel breakfast with rubbery waffles and pancakes. I will say that the one delicious breakfast option at Windjammer was the egg bar, when the chefs would custom make any type of omlette or egg dish for you. But this require waiting in line (sometimes long). We also liked that Windjammer had turkey sausage in addition to the beef/pork options. Breakfasts in My Fair Lady were superior, if you had the time and patience for a sit-down. Park Cafe -- This was the snackbar type option to go to near the pool when the other dining areas were closed. Apparently Park Cafe is a new option that was just installed a couple of weeks before our cruise, while the boat was in dry dock. There is a bagel bar in the morning, oatmeal, and grab-and-go breakfast sandwiches and panini, similar to what you would see in a Starbucks pastry case, same for muffins and danishes. For lunch/afternoon/evenings there are pre-made sandwiches, panini, soups, and salads. My husband had a particularly good asian shrimp noodle salad. I had a couple of panini that were delicious. A nice addition for a quick no-hassel meal or snack. Ben and Jerrys / Coffee - We didn't go to these because they required upcharges. (4) Entertainment- for a smaller scale ship out of Baltimore, I have to hand it to the entertainment on this cruise! The cruise director, Luke, is a MADMAN...seriously, this guy has more energy and talent then most large-scale Vegas acts. And he is a hottie, too! :) I will never forget how he lead the 70s Disco Party with other staff dressed up like the members Village People, from head to toe in fireman, indian, sailor outfits, bare chested, dancing and singing. Hilarious. True, genuine, energy. This guy loves his job and is great at it. He was a delight to the cruise! The other entertainment was also quite fabulous, much to our surprise. We expected cheesy cabaret-type shows. And while, Yes, there were a couple of those (some of the cruise singers are just so-so), there were some arists and acts that completely stood out. There was a young juggling husband/wife team, who were incredible! The juggler was so into his passion, you could see the excitement and go-for-it attitude when he showed us all some of his tricks-in-progress (even when he missed the first time). The guy was amazing! There was also a magician on-board who, along with his wife/team, were the excellent quality of a Vegas-or-TV style show. It was real good stuff....and we are not gullible, and tend to be very critical/sarcastic with these types of things. We were very impressed by the entertainment onboard. Some of the entertainment singers were just ok. But some were standouts. We saw one show called "Can't Stop The Rock" which was a variety show of movie-themed songs. It was cheesy and pretty boring. The comedian was funny, but not outstanding. But the entertainment was worth it for the juggler and magician! Awesome! Maybe it was because this was Christmas week, but there seemed to be a very special energy on the boat. One of my favorite memories will be the Christmas Caroling in the centrum on Christmas Eve around 10:30 PM, with staff, entertainers, children, and passengers alike, all singing Christmas carols up and down 5-6 levels of the ship in the centrum, with the accompaniment of the ship's live orchestra. It was beautiful. There was also a really nice apperance by Santa, who took photos of the kids. And all children received a complementary gift from Santa. My two year old son received some Fisher Price Little People beach toys, and my 4 year old daughter received a reusable/insulated lunchbag. It was a nice gesture. (5) Ship overall - nicely decorated and well thought out. The centrum was especially nice, airy, bright. The pool decks were nice and not typically crowded (obviously part of the cruise was cold). On the nice days in port, everyone went off the boat, so the pools were nearly empty. There is a nice kiddie splash area, and a separate pool area for older children and adults. There is also a solarium pool that is supposedly adults-only, but because it's indoors and it was cold that policy was not enforced. The only complaint we had about the pool deck is that they have two HUGE scantron screens that blast music all day/night long. When we are lounging at the pool, we don't always want to be blasted by hip-hop music from Justin Bieber and Nicky Minaj. Even grandpa (who is semi-deaf in one year) asked them to turn down the freaking music! (6) Cabin steward - Our cabin steward Elmer was amazing. He went above and beyond to make our very cramped and crowded cabin livable and cheery. Between "decorating" the cabin with our kids' toys to making towel animals. He was a super nice guy and knew all our names within the first day. This guy was top knotch! He was trustworthy and gave us a good vibe. Most of the cabin staff were nice and friendly and helpful. (7) Kids Clubs. The cruise got SO much better for my husband and I for the second half when we decided to take a chance and enroll both our 4-year-old and 2-year-old in the kids club/nursery for a couple of nights, so we could enjoy the entertainmnet/shows and a dinner without food flying and fussing/wiggling/ overstimulated kids. At first we were not comfortable with the kids clubs...the first half of the cruise they were absolutely packed and we didn't trust the staff. But toward the second half/end of the cruise, the kiddie crowds thinned a bit. My daughter spent two evenings in the Aquanots club for children ages 3-5, and had a blast. They have a great evening program when you drop the kids off at 5:00pm and they will feed them dinner in the Windjammer (pizza and fries) and then entertain them with activities until midnight. And it's FREE! My 2-year-old son went to the nursery, which is a separate area for younger babies and toddlers under the age of 3 and not toilet trained. It was a great facility with a 4:1 ratio of childen:caregivers, lots of fisher price toys, cribs for resting/naps, climbing equipment, and a large screen TV with Dora the Explorer on it. We dropped him off at 5:45 PM, and they also fed him dinner and took care of him until about 10pm, after we finished watching the show. He had a great time. For overprotective parents like us, they gave us each a pager in case there were any issues whatsoever. We also inquired about bathroom breaks for our daughter (we didn't want any strangers taking her to the bathroom), and the policy is that children in the 3-5 club have to use the potty by themselves....no staff goes with them. They have a potty right in the aquanots club that the kids use. There is a charge for the nursery of $8/hour, which was a bargain, considering we pay our babysitter over 2x that amount. Both kids were happy to go to the kids club, and seemed well cared for. My husband and I peeked in on them both nights we used the services, and the kids were playing and happy. So for any nervous parents like us, I can recommend it. We were told in an emergency that our 4 year old would be brought to our muster station (she had a wristband she had to wear the entire cruise with her identification, room, and muster station number). For the infants, the staff carry the babies down to their respective muster stations and wait until parents arrive. (8) Coco Cay - This stop at Royal Caribbeans private island made the whole trip. It was a full beach day, relaxing, lots of chairs and space available, lots of things to do for young kids, great lovely beaches, and yummy BBQ lunch. I have read that many times if seas are rough RC will skip this port...how awful! It really is the best stop on the cruise. We thoroughly enjoyed the shopping, beaching, relaxing, and drinks. (9) Blue Lagoon Island in Nassau - This was a positive shore excursion experience. We took a nice 60-min boat ride to a little island lagoon near Nassau. Nice calm beach. Good lunch included in price. The only problem is that we only had about 2-3 hours on the lagoon because the port stop was relatively short. Our ship didn't get into Nassau until nearly 1pm and then we had to be back on board relatively early. But the ferry ride to blue lagoon island, and the experience on the island was very nice. Perfect for young children. Calm and safe. Cons: Shore Excursion. Port Canaveral - Walt Disney World Shuttle. I have no idea why Royal Caribbean even bothered to advertise a shore excursion to Walt Disney World for the stop in Port Canaveral. It was an expensive waste of time and money. The boat didn't get into port until 11am, we were off by 11:30am and it took an hour by bus to get to Disney. We got to the park at 1pm only to be told that the Magic Kingdom was CLOSED because the park had reached capacity and was full. This was the one stop my kids were really looking forward to and talking about for weeks in advance. You can imagine the tears from my daughter when she couldn't see the Magic Kingdom. And the upset parents, grandparents, and children all on the bus. Even worse, we were out $300 for park tickets and $100 for the bus ride. And we had to wait until 7pm to take the return bus back. We also had a character dining reservation in the Magic Kingdom that we couldn't get to because we couldn't get into the park. So I had to spend nearly an hour on the phone with WDW reservations trying to avoid a no-show penalty. It was an AWFUL experience! The bus didn't drop us off at the Magic Kingdom as promised, but instead took us to the WDW transportation hub and basically made us fend for ourselves. With two elderly grandparents and two young children, this was no easy feat. We ended up packed in the Animal Kingdom, which no one really cared to visit. And because we didn't want to have to wait until 7pm or 8pm for the return bus, we ended up shelling out nearly $200 for private transportation back to the boat. When I went the next day to the shore excursions desk to ask for a refund, the gentleman at the desk was rude and hostile. Apparently a lot of other families had complained about the Disney fiasco and he was not in a good mood. He started to write up a report for his supervisor, noting my complaints. When i started to read the report over his shoulder to make sure it was accurate, he yelled at me, put his hand over the computer screen, and said it was "private" and "not for me to read!" This is MY report, and I wanted to make sure it was accurate. I received a phone call the next day from a supervisor, saying I would be refunded the shore excursion bus ride, but I have yet to see the credit on my credit statement, and it's been nearly a week! Guess I need to call back on that one. The Bottom line - Don't bother with a Disney day trip as a shore excursion from Port Canaveral. The bus gets in way too late to enjoy anything. It's a waste of time and money. In fact, the Port Canaveral stop should just be skipped. It's not really warm there, there isn't a whole lot to do, etc. Royal Caribbean would be better off just skipping over it and going straight to the warm and tropical bahamas for another day. And don't bother with anything Disney during Christmas vacation week. The Magic Kingdom park was closed at capacity of 75,000 before 12 noon on both December 24 and I heard also December 25 and December 26 and December 27. The Animal Kingdom was packed body to body. We only got to go on two rides for the entire time we were there. And then we left. Save your money! Cabin - If we were in a deluxe oceanview cabin, I would hate to see the regular sized one. Soooooo small for a family of four with two young children and all their stuff. Especially since Santa paid a visit too. IMPORTANT NOTE FOR YOUNG FAMILIES: our cabin was technically able to sleep 4 however, this room was not equipped to host two young children under the age of 5. We had our two-year-old son in a pack n play, but there was nowhere for our 4-year-old daughter to sleep! The room had two pull-down beds from the wall, but we were told once we were onboard they are for children ages 8+. There was no sofa or sofabed in the room, despite that I was told that by Royal Caribbean reservations at least twice. So, my daughter had to sleep in the bed or on the floor(!) while my husband or I slept with in the pulldown bed. Not exactly romantic. So parents with young children....I would advise to upgrade to a family suite that has a sofabed or sofa for another young child to sleep on. I don't think Royal Caribbean customer service knows what they are talking about. I specifically asked and confirmed with them that the room had a sofa or sofabed for our daughter. They knew the ship and even knew our pre-selected cabin number. But there was NO sofa bed. Service - We opted to do the My Time Dining instead of a regular seating. And I think service suffered because of this. Not only did we have to prepay all our gratuities, but the service wasn't as good because we didn't get to know our waitstaff the way the routine seating times did. We had some servers who were excellent (Lakinder Singh from India - was an outstanding exception...he even cut our children's food for them!), but in general with the Mytime Dining we found the service to be sub-par. Some of the waitstaff seemed bothered or offended when we asked for extra napkins, an extra dessert for the kids, or there were problems like the wrong drink brought to us. Other of our requests were simply ignored! Breakfast service in My Fair Lady was downright rude at times. We found the service in Windjammer to be much nicer for breakfast. The cruise was packed and I think the servers were very hassled and overworked with so many people onboard. Ridiculous Upcharges - This really pissed us off. Sitting for breakfast in the My Fair Lady dining room, a server came by offering fresh squeezed orange juice. Of course we all said sure. Then he informed us that there was an upcharge of $2-$3 per juice. What? Did we not just pay for a cruise? This was not labeled on the menu. Same for coffee. I ordered a latte only to be told that there would be a $2-$3 upcharge for it. Again? It seems like Royal Caribbean was trying to upcharge us for everything. You want a better steak? $20 more. You want a lobster tail? $29 more. You want better coffee? $2. This happened over and over again. We expected the cruise line to push things like photographs, shops etc, but did NOT expect to pay for fresh squeezed orange juice. I will take the plain old regular juice, thanks. Wifi - In this day and age, there is no need to charge something like $7/min for Internet service. Thank goodness we had it in port. Crowds/illness - This was a very crowded boat, since the holiday cruise was sold out. Lots of sick people, too. And Lots of sick staff. The captain was sick. The shore excursions director was sick in the infimary. Mention of this staffer or that staffer being sick. Seems like everyone had the flu. They blamed it on the boat being in dry dock for the two weeks prior, but I didn't buy that. There definitely was something going around. Thankfully we avoided it...but not everyone did. The grossest was seeing some guy vomiting/hacking into a trash can right in front of the elevators on the first day just after embarkation. We all got into the elevators and prayed he stayed out. Also saw evidence of "illness" in the public restrooms. We made a point of using the bathroom in our stateroom with the kids or for us. Some of the public rooms were gross - for two days the hallway outside of the orpheum theater smelled like vomit. When we embarked, we all had to fill out a health form, certifying that no one you are traveling with has had flu-like or gastroinstestinal symptoms within the past week, otherwise they had to be evalated in the infirmary. I think TONS of people lied on that form. People were coughing and hacking all over the place. Thank God I brought along 3 canisters of antibacterial handwipes for the kids. This is another reason we avoided the buffet in Windjammer....lots of sick people touching tongs and coughing around the food. I actually saw one lady picking up food using her bare hands instead of the tongs. GROSS! Because it was so crowded and it was cold for 4/7 days of the cruise, the inside of the boat was usually packed. On the 6th day of the cruise, while we were at sea, my family spent 30 minutes looking around the boat for somewhere to sit. Every place was packed. On a warmer cruise, folks would be spread out more on deck. Casino - Location was right outside the orpheum theater, so you and your family (and kids) had to walk through a smokey casino back and forth to get to the shows. Poor placement. Also, poor that the casino was so smoky all the time. The smoked waffed everywhere into the theater and around the other public facilities. We appreciated the two "smoke free casino nights" that the boat had on formal nights. That gave my husband and me the opportunity to play a bit of blackjack without infecting our lungs. Overall, the cruise was an enjoyable time for our family. There were definitely some highlights but absolutely some lowlights. On a grade scale, I would give the food an A-, shore excursions a C, cleanliness of boat B-, restaurant service B-, Room service A. ports B-. Overall three stars. I don't think I would do a holiday cruise like this again. Too crowded. But I would cruise with Royal Caribbean again on a different ship to different, warmer, ports. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
MY boyfriend and I took our first cruise aboard the Miracle from Christmas Eve to New Years. For the price we booked (booked an obstructed view balcony room but got bumped to a regular balcony) we felt the cru8ise, ship, staff and service ... Read More
MY boyfriend and I took our first cruise aboard the Miracle from Christmas Eve to New Years. For the price we booked (booked an obstructed view balcony room but got bumped to a regular balcony) we felt the cru8ise, ship, staff and service was excellent. Being that this was a long trip with a total of 4 sea days, it helped that there was lots of food and activities (good food at that )to keep us busy and and a fun fun trip. We went to Port Canaveral in Florida (Our least favorite, and could have done without it), and then off to Nassau and Freeport Bahamas. We did the Atlantis excursion in Nassau and fell in love with the resort and water park. We hit the beach ih Freeport and did some shopping. Overall we felt it was well worth it and made for a great and affordable holiday vaca!!! :) * we did not know that there is no heat on the ship in the rooms. There is only AC (so u can turn that on or off) but there is no heat to turn on. We would've been a little more prepared for that if we had known, since the first 2 days leaving NY was very very cold. They did provide us with extra blankets *Internet via satellite can be purchased (a little expensive however) *You must check out the Nick and Nora's steakhouse- its the only place you pay for food. Make a reservation ($35 per person). We did it one night (NYE night) and the food was awesome Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
For all those contemplating cruising from Baltimore, here is a comparison of the two ships sailing from this port. We went on the New Years cruise of both ships: the Enchantment in 2011 and the Pride in 2013. Of course, cruises change ... Read More
For all those contemplating cruising from Baltimore, here is a comparison of the two ships sailing from this port. We went on the New Years cruise of both ships: the Enchantment in 2011 and the Pride in 2013. Of course, cruises change depending on the cruise director at the time, so it is possible the Enchantment may be different now. To start off, let me state that we had a great time on both ships. A cruise is what you make of it and each ship has strengths and weaknesses. The few negatives I mention do not change the fact that you're at sea with your every need being met--one must keep some perspective. That being said, here is the comparison by category: Ship: We preferred the Enchantment, mainly because of the decor of the Pride. The Pride is like a renaissance art gallery crossed with a Las Vegas casino, with generally darker colors and less light. It is a little jarring at first, but you get used to it after a while The atrium in the Enchantment is much lighter and more open, Both ships have similar amenities. Cabins: The Pride wins this one hands down-especially in the cheaper categories of cabins. The Pride has many more outside cabins, including obstructed view balconies and french doors (the kind we had). These are sold for the same price as an interior, yet have light and fresh air. The cabins are also quite a bit bigger than the Enchantment. Food: Edge to the Pride here. The main dining rooms on both ships were excellent, but the Pride's buffet was better with a greater selection and better food. There were also more choices available off hours. Service: This depends greatly on who you happen to get as your cabin steward and waiters. In our particular experience the Enchantment staff were friendlier and more accommodating, particularly the activities folks. Activities: Enchantment all the way! They had a wide variety of things to do for all: sports, dance classes, lectures, make-up classes, etc. The instructors were great in everything we tried. The Pride really fell short in this area, with most of the activities existing primarily to sell things. Entertainment: I would call this a tie. The evening shows in both were very well done with top notch singing and dancing. The Enchantment had a little more variety in their small musical groups throughout the ship. Atmosphere: The two lines go for a different feel. Royal Caribbean tries to appeal to a wide audience: shows are more family friendly, activities are a little tamer. Carnival has their "fun ship" theme and tends to emphasize the partying aspect more, however it was not as crazy as some led me to expect. We were travelling with an 11 year old and they did label any show or activity that was not appropriate for children clearly. Overall: My wife and I both preferred the Enchantment overall because it fits our personal tastes better but I would not hesitate to go on either again. Happy cruising! Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
We travelled out of Bayonne New Jersey on December 30, 2012. We picked this cruise as we did not want to pay for flights to get to the embarkation port this time. We knew going into this cruise that the itinerary was not that great, but ... Read More
We travelled out of Bayonne New Jersey on December 30, 2012. We picked this cruise as we did not want to pay for flights to get to the embarkation port this time. We knew going into this cruise that the itinerary was not that great, but decided this would be more of a cruise to be spent on the ship. More on this later. We stayed at the Double Tree Hilton across from the airport on the Saturday night. We made arrangements for a limo to take us to the cruise port and left at 10:20 am. We arrived at the port at 10:40 left our bags with the porter and proceeded to the entrance area. The crowds were huge and we thought on no! However, we quickly came to realize that most of the people we actually saw were still disembarking. Anyway, we made our way through the crowds to the entrance area where we were greeted and because we had a Suite were directed away from the main area to a smaller section for suite holders! This was nice and very fast. We showed them our Set Sail Pass, they made up our Sea Cards and then we seated ourselves in a small area to await our bus to the ship. We were on the ship by 10:55 and without a hitch! So, hands off to RCCL for the very speedy embarkation process!! We stayed in Suite 1394 which is at the very aft of the ship on deck 10. Highly recommend this to anyone! Our stateroom attendant was just average however. We had heard that one of the benefits of being on the 10th deck was that we would have the cream of the crop of attendants as this deck houses all the suites, but we cannot attest to this. Also, some have commented about noise. The only noise we heard were the chairs being moved in the Windjammer which is directly above at about 8am and over the lunch hour. It never bothered us as we were always up early and never around at the lunch hour. Throughout the evening and overnight we never heard anything. Overall we thought that the cruise was good, we did not notice any drop off in food quality from our past cruises and the service for us for the most part quite good. We tried the DR for both breakfast and lunch on the first and second day, but switched back to the Windjammer as we found it much better there. If you want to be served at every meal then the DR is for you, but we found the food better on deck 11. You cannot beat the fresh made omelet in the Windjammer! We thought the overall service to be just good on this cruise. The ice show was the highlight for us with respect to the live shows. The only complaint we have is that they have a limited number of tickets for this event and we were lucky enough to get two of them, a perk for being a Cruise Critic member and attending the Meet & Mingle gathering. However, we arrived just a couple of minutes after the start time to be told that we would have to stand as all seats were taken. I guess having a ticket means little if they allow people to take a seat even though they did not have a ticket. Anyway, still enjoyed the show, very well executed and entertaining. The ship band that plays for all the singing and dancing in the Palace Theatre was excellent! They did a set one night of Big Band music and they were fabulous! As stated earlier, the itinerary for this cruise leaves much to be desired for us. With only three stops in the seven days would it not be possible to make those days full days? To arrive at 2 in the afternoon when daylight is gone at 5:30? What's the point of stopping? We will not book this cruise again unless an itinerary change is made. We like being at sea, but when 5 of the 7 days out are on the ship, this is not our cup of tea. Don't get us wrong, we loved the ship and enjoyed our trip, just for us, we need more port time for a change of pace. Debarkation process was the best ever, we took the early departure and were off the ship at 8:00, through Customs by 8:05 and to our car and on our way home by 8:30. You can't get any better than that! We will continue to sail with Royal Caribbean. We think for the most part the value we receive for the money spent is well worth it! By the way, all the posts we see stating how old and run down the Explorer is, well we thought she was in pretty good shape! How would you be if you had over 3,000 guests walk all over you every week for over 12 years? Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
A bit of background: DW and I are on both sides of 50 and pushing 20 cruises, this is our third on RCI (last RCI was about 4 or 5 years ago). Previous cruises were on the Grandeur out of New Orleans and the Adventure out of San Juan. ... Read More
A bit of background: DW and I are on both sides of 50 and pushing 20 cruises, this is our third on RCI (last RCI was about 4 or 5 years ago). Previous cruises were on the Grandeur out of New Orleans and the Adventure out of San Juan. We've lately been sailing mostly Princess (7? -- in June we did a 12day Med). Last Christmas we did an 11day HAL to Panama Canal and ABC islands. Pre-Day 1: Got into Chicago Union Station (Amtrak) around noon and checked our bags to Baltimore (Amtrak allows 2 50# bags person for no additional charge). We got some lunch and walked down to the loop where I tried to stay engaged w/ my wife as we wandered in and out of the various stores. Our train, #50 the Cardinal departed on time at 5:05pm and soon we were rolling south through Indiana, watching the countryside go by from our roomette and then the dining car. Pre-Day 2: I awoke early somewhere in KY and spent much of the morning taking in the breath taking scenery along the New River Gorge area of WV. We rolled into Baltimore on time at 705pm (I enjoyed the 26hrs on the train... DW, not so much) and took a cab to the Fairfield Inn& Suites Inner Harbor. Day 1: I was up early and headed out in a snowstorm to explore the Inner Harbor area while DW finished her slumber and got ready. I returned to the hotel soaked, but ready to head south on a ship. We took a cab to the cruise terminal; the embarkation was painless and we were soon having lunch in the Park Cafe. I enjoyed my first roast beef sandwich and some of the fresh salads. This is a far nicer venue than the hotdog stand it replaced. Around 1:30 we headed to our room to check it out and drop the carryons. This was an inside room, booked last minute, so expectation was pretty low and room did not exceed expectation, although I will give it points for a new large flat screen TV. Compared to other rooms, this had the largest TV and the smallest shower. So, we set off to explore; public areas were very nice for a ship this old. The centrum had that older-ship classic look that spiraled up all 10 decks. There was snow piled on deck 9 (pool deck), so I made a small snowman, just because I could. We had dinner in the Windjammer and while I was a bit underwhelmed, I certainly received my required caloric intake. Later we went to the welcome aboard show and were quite entertained. Day 2: I was up and out of the room early while DW finished her slumbering (typically 'til 11 or so... just because she can). I got coffee, some fresh fruit and a breakfast panini at the Park Cafe and eventually found my way to the trivia at Schooners where I was invited to play with a nice couple from Pennsylvania who have done 50+ RCI cruises with about 5 more booked this year. Funny, we managed to do pretty well, but mostly because they knew the answers from previous trivia matches. I figured by now it was time to roust DW, so I stopped at the Windjammer for some enticements (coffee and sweet rolls) and headed back to the room. We then went to the Windjammer for lunch. I found it OK, but uninspired, but once again, my caloric intake was not forsaken. I met my new trivia buds back at Schooners for something called Triploid or some such thing. You are given 3 words and must find something in common with all of them... for example, the clues : "finger, house, war"; the answer is "paint". We went ten for ten and were rewarded with key chains... my trivia buds gave me theirs so I had 3... woo hoo! It was still uncomfortably cold on the outside decks, so DW and I went to Boleros and watched football for much of the afternoon. Tonight was the first meet the captain party, oddly though, it was smart casual attire... I'm thinking they switched formal night to tomorrow (New Year's Eve). We attended the capt's affair and enjoyed snacks and sparkling wine. Later we dined in the MDR, we had anytime dining and were seated at a table for 2 immediately (8pm) and shared 3 entrees... our waiter (Ronaldo) recommended the lamb shanks and they were excellent as were the other dishes. Only disappointment was the escargot, which were on the menu, but replaced with tiny scallops served in the escargot plate... these were barely OK. By now it was starting to warm outside, so I grabbed my GPS to see where we were... There was no map on the TV, just the latitude/longitude coordinates. We were a couple hundred miles east of Jacksonville, FL. Day 3: Today DW managed to get up earlier as we were planning to take the shuttle to Cocoa Beach. We arrived in Port Canaveral around 11. I went to the shore excursion desk to purchase tickets for the shuttle and was told to go to the main theater. We got there and were instructed to stand in a line that stretched down from deck 5 to deck two and all the way to the gangway (center ship). While this was a bit different, I figured the shore excursion folks would be the first ones off the ship. Not the case; the shore excursion folks were merged at the gangway with the hordes of others coming down the stairs from the Centrum to the gangway. I still cannot make sense of why the shore excursion folks were herded down to deck two and then led halfway down the ship to the gangway (all the while folks with rooms on deck two were battling the packed hallway to get to and from their rooms)??? Anyway, we get to Ron Jon's and walk the beach to the pier that is about a half mile north. DW and I dined here 20 years ago when the kids were in grade school. We had a nice lunch, DW then goes over to the beach, and I head further out the pier to check out the fishing (I always cruise with a pack-rod). I buy some bait (frozen whole shrimps w/ heads) and proceed to start fishing. I can see DW over on the beach, she is in heaven. I caught a few un-notables, and have a few huge pelicans that seem very interested in my catches... they are a bit intimidating, but mostly amusing. By late afternoon, we are back on the ship and getting ready for the New Year's Eve festivities. Formal night and DW is struggling to get her hair just so... eventually it is to her liking. I don my black suit and we head to the MDR for dinner. Once again, we are seated at a table for two and greatly enjoyed our dinners. Following dinner, the evening's festivities are in full swing and we wander from venue to venue and wind up in the Viking Crown Lounge enjoying the disco music (did I actually say that?). We head down to the Centrum around 11:45 for the balloon drop. It was a very similar chaotic experience as we had on the Grandeur on New Year's Eve some years back... The music was loud, the champagne flowed and a fun time seemed to be had by all! BTW, I've failed to mention our CD, Luke Arrowsmith who has done a fantastic job... one of, if not the best we've had. A bundle of very focused energy. Also, today Capt Gus announced a norovirus outbreak, thus we have stepped our preventative measures. We've witnessed appalling, germ spreading behavior by guests in the Windjammer, folks picking up food with their bare hands, some being returned, etc... all while the staff looked on. I wish they would be more stringent about enforcing preventive measures and general buffet etiquette. Day 4: Awoke to sunshine and warmth this morning... this is where I really don't understand the design of this itinerary. We were in port last night until 11 or 12. Today we arrive in Nassau at 1pm. Why not leave Port Canaveral at 7pm and arrive in Nassau at 8am? The only other ships in port were two Carnival Fantasy class ships (small), so it does not appear to be a port capacity issue? This time, rather than participate, we watched with amazement and intrigue as those with shore excursions were herded from the theater on deck 5, down the stairs to deck 2 and through the hallway to the center-ship gangway. Last night was the Junkanoo Festival/Parade, it runs from 2am to 8am and is the Bahamian equivalent of a Mardi Gras parade. We got there just in time to see them cleaning up. They were taking down the grandstands, hauling away the floats, cleaning the streets... It must have been a heck of a party! We took a walking tour from Frommers (printed google map) and then walked to Junkanoo Beach (off the ship take a right and it is just past the Colonial Hilton) and on to the Fish Fry. The last time we went to this beach was about 6 or 7 years ago and it was an un-named shore comprised of rubble and rock. Now it is a nice sandy beach with beach-shack shops and restaurants. A huge improvement! Day 5: Finally, the destination we had really been looking forward to; the only real destination for us on the itinerary... Coco Cay! We were both up early. I caught the first tender in and although I had not been here before, I had been to the sister island, NCL's Great Stirrup Cay, so I knew exactly where I wanted to go; as far away from civilization as I could. So, I got off the tender and headed to the far end of the island for some peace, some quiet and some fishing. I had a spool of 10lb and a spool of 20lb line. I opted for the 10lb line and after a couple of casts, I was into a nasty barracuda who after a short wrestling match had managed to bite off the lure. Same with the second one ... man these things have a nasty disposition! So I switch to 20lb, but now I was out of the shiny cream-colored soft plastic baits that had fooled the first 2 fish. It was pretty slow fishing and the tide was going out. I had planned to meet DW at noon for some lunch and snorkeling... So, I headed back to where I'd gotten off the tender, met DW and we proceeded to have a nice lunch of ribs, chicken, burgers, fresh fruit and beer. Following lunch, we headed off the beach to snorkel and had a great time. The highlight was a huge spotted eagle ray. This thing had a wingspan of about 10ft, a head like a dog and a tail that was maybe 10ft long. It swam by, turned and came toward us... we were a bit intimidated... ok, more than a bit! But it was awesome! It was now about 2pm, and it was time to get back to fishing... I headed back to my previous haunt (about 1 mile) and by now, it was really shallow, but looked like good conditions for bonefish, so I waded out, donned the light spool, but could only spot the occasional single and no large groups. About 4:15 a RCI worker drove up in a cart and told me it was time to get back to the ship. I told him I thought the last tender was at 5:30, he told me it was 5:00... ??? So I fished a bit more. There was a woman fishing off the point with a throw line (the traditional way the locals fish). There was also a woman fishing a couple hundred yards out in a motor boat who had been out there in the morning as well and she seemed to catch fish continuously. I went out to the point and found out the woman fishing was a RCI employee who lived on the island with about 80 other employees. She is originally from Andros Island. She had caught a couple jacks that were to be her and her husband's dinner that night. Her husband was visiting that week (we also saw lots of ship employee's relatives on board). She said they were contracted in much the same way the ship employees are. She also said that the woman in the boat owned a grocery store on a neighboring island and sold the fish she caught through her store and to restaurants. So, it is now about 4:45 and I figure I'd better get back to the tender just in case the guy who told me to be back at 5 was right (but I figured he just wanted to get his day done so he could get home and have a beer). The last tender left at 5:30 and those riding on the top deck were treated to a beautiful sunset as we made our way back to the ship... a perfect finish to a spectacular day! Day 6: Up early and greeted with sunshine and warmth. This was the big poolside activity day. I watched the belly flop contest and participated in the Crew vs Guests volleyball tournament. It was a great time and there were several (6?) teams of 6 to take on the crew team... About half of the guest teams managed to beat the crew team and the finale was having all the guest teams in the pool together against the crew team. There was very little room to maneuver, but the guests won by one point. I also did the bungee jump much to DW's amusement. Day 7: Sunny and cooler today as we steamed north. I did the 10:00 trivia this morning and we got our butts handed to us by a couple who are staying on the ship for 71 days. I'm told they sold their wintering home in FL and find staying on a ship is more economical than owning a place and staying in FL??? It was a leisurely day; I managed to get 90% of my packing done early in the afternoon. Very quiet on the pool deck as it is quite cold and windy, but there are a few brave souls bundled up out there enjoying the last day of their cruise. Late this afternoon I put on a hooded sweatshirt and went out just to get out. I am glad I did as I spotted some whale spouts and spent about 30min watching spouts and a few flashes of tails and bodies as the pod/herd/flock/gaggle/brood headed south. This evening we went to the farewell/ back to reality show and were amused by the CD, a comedian and the captain. We then had dinner in the MDR and both ordered a seafood combo of fish, scallops and shrimp... they were lightly breaded and very tasty. Disembarkation day: We were out of our room at 8 and had breakfast in the MDR. We were seated next to a family of 4 and found out the youngest (6?) had been quarantined for a day with the norovirus. When my wife got it on the Grandeur she was quarantined for 2 days and because I was in the room with her, I was quarantined for 1, so it looks like they may have changed their procedure??? I couldn't help but notice that during breakfast, this family had almost zero interaction with each other as the parents and oldest kid were heads down, buried in their electronic devices... Is this the typical new millennium family? OK, enough of my social commentary... Anyway, we are off the ship around 9:30, take a cab to Penn Station and await our 12:43 train to WAS where we catch train #29, The Capitol Limited home. All in all it was a very nice winter getaway, Baltimore Inner Harbor is a great area and I hope to sail out of here again. FWIW, below are my likes and dislikes. Likes: With one exception (see below), the MDR food was flavorful and nicely presented. The big flat screen TV in our room was very nice. Embarkation and disembarkation were very efficient. The Park Cafe was a nice addition; I enjoyed most breakfasts and lunches here. Capt Gus was very funny and personable (be sure to catch the farewell show on the last night for a great surprise!). CD Luke deserves high praise as well; he was very energetic, entertaining and approachable. Music fans take note; the live bands on this ship were exceptional (I was a touring musician in a former life). The Shine band played a wide variety of old school country mostly late '50s to mid '70s... avoiding much of that schlocky country rock stuff of the last 30 years. This is not a variety band, this is straight up, drownin' in your beer country music which I found very refreshing. The Roots Vibration band had an incredible singer, Dery, who had impeccable control, strength and range... He blew my sox off! They did a broad range of reggae, calypso, doo-wop and Motown. The Enchantment Orchestra was also very impressive they could really swing those big band classics. It was the strongest live music lineup of all our cruises. I generally do not have nice things to say about the schmaltzy, anemic, amateurish, off-key live music on cruise ships. Dislikes: The procedure for disembarking shore excursion participants was laughable. The lobster was strong tasting and stringy. The buffet was uninspired and virtually the same for breakfast and lunch each day (after the mention of noro I mostly avoided it). The tiny shower was challenging. The shower temperature control was hard to dial in and on the last day there was no hot water. We found closet space lacking and the drawers in the closet practically useless. The TV's navigation channel did not have a map showing the ships position. Nor was there a channel showing an outdoor camera view. The service in the MDR was inconsistent/up and down. I sure wish they still had that Royal Belgian Ale. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Hello future cruisers who plan on taking a cruise on the Jewel :) I know that a lot of people check out the reviews to give them reasons on to why they SHOULDN'T go on this ship, or is this ship horrible, or to tell them about the ... Read More
Hello future cruisers who plan on taking a cruise on the Jewel :) I know that a lot of people check out the reviews to give them reasons on to why they SHOULDN'T go on this ship, or is this ship horrible, or to tell them about the HORRIBLE service. But this isn't going to be one of those. Just so you know. . . all cruise ships have poor reviews, its impossible to please every single person on board, so of course you will have that one person that will complain. Was this ship in perfect condition, no but it sure looked great. So here I go. . . How to start things off, join cruise critic. Why? you can join the roll call, find out what you should bring, and meet fellow cruisers that will be traveling with you. *another thing, the bf and I are 25 and 26. Just so you can read our review from that stand point. (the day before our cruise is snowed 4 inches, we were ready to leave) day 1. leaving NYC. My boyfriend and I decided to go on this cruise in early summer. So we put out deposit down, and made payments on this cruise until October 1st. Which is awesome, not many cruise lines allow you to make payments. But we left the Lehigh Valley at 9:30am, hit a little bit of traffic into NYC (its New York, you will hit traffic, get over it) and got dropped off at Pier 88 around noon. It was not packed at all. Since we cruised before, we are Latitude members and walked straight through security and got our room keys right away. While your waiting on your room key, they make you fill out a form asking if your sick or not. All the Pier Employee's were happy and pleasant. As your walking, you walk in front of a green screen to take a photo that you will see in the photo gallery on board. They did have coffee for you to drink but the bf and I decided to just get on the ship. This is where "Washy-Washy" starts. When you get on the ship, they spray your hands with anti bacterial liquid, which is great, because norovirus STINKS. When you walk on board, they scan your room key card to make sure its you, and off you go. Your on vacation. The first thing we did was schedule our reservation for the Chefs table. They only do one of these so book yours fast. Its amazing. As soon as we did that we went to Tsar's and got lunch. The cheese steak taste just as good as Pat's! If your from the Philly area you know what Pat's cheese steaks taste like. During lunch we heard the announcement that the rooms were ready by 12:45!!! Which is great if you on a cruise. Our room was great. It was a bit odd for us because on our last cruise we got the Owners Suite and went down to the Aft Facing Cabin. But we are ALWAYS doing the aft facing cabin from here on out. The view is amazing, and you smell the bread from the bakery all the time. Its great. The bathroom is a little small, but it was a wonderful room. We ate dinner at the Moderno and almost had to be rolled back to our room. The view leaving NYC out of an aft facing balcony is beautiful, you won't regret it. day 2 day at sea and New Years Eve. This vacation was all about relaxation for me. All I wanted to do was read my nook, catch a few shows and eat great food. Which is what I did. This was the day we met up with fellow cruise critic members and did the meet and greet with a few of the crew and the slot pull. That was awesome, met some really cool folks. New Years Eve was "dress up or not" night, which the bf and I did decide to get dressed up. A lot of people were in ball gowns, tuxedos etc. Bands played in every bar. We partied in Spinnaker Lounge and had a blast. The band on stage was Next Stage, they had confetti when the ball dropped, noise makers, hats etc. It was jammed packed and a very good time. Everyone was happy! DAY 3 This it the day we were in Florida. Everyone still seemed happy from the night before, I ran into a few miserable people who were hung over, but you just ignore them. Sitting on our balcony (aft) seeing all the boats and seagulls was neat. And going into Port was interesting, I enjoyed seeing Port Canaveral and the NASA sign. This was the day we visited family and had pork and sauerkraut. We got back on the boat on time, and left Port on time. It was another great day. The food all over the ship is amazing. Day 4... Great Stirrup Cay. This place ROCKS! I mean that. You can rent a huge blue float, take your drinks, your book (in my case) and a camera, and just float, for hours. Doing nothing. Tons of people had the same idea. Plenty of lawn chairs. Just bring your own towel. If you lose your room towel, you have to pay $25 for yours. Just an FYI. The food was decent, and you get to take a tender to the island. The island right next to it was Royal Caribbeans private island. So they had two ships anchored off shore. It was neat to see. Also the people watching is incredible. You can walk around, there is a mini straw market, and also mini bars everywhere. Loved this place. This was also the night we did the Chefs dinner. Which I had no complaints, some of the food wasn't for me, but I had a bite of everything. 9 course meal, why wouldn't I? Day 5 . . . Nassau, I've been to Nassau numerous times now. Nothing great. The straw market is cool, negotiate all your prices. But Senor Frogs is where ALL the fun is. We drank a lot, and enjoyed looking out at the 5 cruise ships that were docked. (yes 5!) beautiful at night, totally different world down there. I can't remember where we ate at that night, but I do recall saying that the bread was amazing. Day 6. . sea day -_- This was the day I wished I didn't drink so much. I was sick most of the morning because I was a moron and drank to much the day before. All my fault. By noon I was walking around feeling normal. That night we ate at Chin Chin. Incredible food. It was amazing. Jean Pierre sat next to us, and he talked to us a bit, he was funny. (See his show! You will laugh your butt off and think to yourself, "did he just say that?") This was also the night of the variety show, they do this beautiful masterpiece at the end called "Fountains". Its great. Sit in the front or as close to the front as you can get. I loved it, I sat right in the center. Day 7... Sea Day I walked around a lot, and ate a lot. I didn't want the food to go to waste, so I made sure I had a bit of everything. This was the night of the chocolate buffet, just try it out or walk through it in the garden cafe. Did a lot of packing, and we tipped our room steward, who always read my little post it notes, made great towel animals and was very sweet. Things I missed, which were a lot. We also seen the show Cirque Bijou. This show was amazing, The strength and creativity that these performers have is out of this world. I couldn't imagine doing this on land, let alone on a moving ship. The Variety show you get to see a bit of everything, its like a sampling, see that show on the first night, read your Freestyle Daily. Tells you everything you need to know. Did our stateroom show wear and tear? Yes it does, but it isn't anything horrible. The first time I showered, my shower drain was clogged, and I was standing in 4 inches of water. I called the front desk, and someone was there right away to fix it. We always had clean towels, beds made and hot food. Dan the Man was a really funny cruise ship director! Always smiling. Captain Lars was very funny as well to hear over the loud speaker. I know this was really lengthy, but I wanted people to know what a great time this was. Oh and we had one night of poor service in the mdr but we didn't let that ruin our night or our cruise. It was packed. I didn't blame anyone... Getting off the ship was a breeze, the bf and I decided to just walk off at 8am, we had our own luggage, and we waited in a small line. Walked off, it was that simple. There are a ton of taxi's waiting at the end of the pier, we took our bags, jumped in a cab took it up to the Staten Island Ferry. Which is free! (not the cab, the ferry) Went on the ferry, dropped off our bags. Went on the ferry again. Got our tickets for the WTC tour, seen that. Then we went to Crumbs bake shop. A great end to our trip. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Usually it's my whole family going on the cruise but this time it was me, my 18 year old sister, and my grandmother. We had cruised like that one time before on the Explorer. I have been on 23 cruises and have been on the Explorer of ... Read More
Usually it's my whole family going on the cruise but this time it was me, my 18 year old sister, and my grandmother. We had cruised like that one time before on the Explorer. I have been on 23 cruises and have been on the Explorer of the Seas 4 times. I have also been on Celebrity, Holland America, Norwegian and Carnival. I have also been to the Panama Canal and all the way north to Greenland and Iceland. Of all the cruises and ships I have been on, the Explorer can definitely be said as my favorite ship. Besides its convenient distance from our home, it has a beautiful layout, great entertainment and activities and a real "home" feeling. Ship-Even though the ship is almost as old as I am, I saw no major flaws-there were some little things here and there that were noticeable though. The ship is laid out in a very nice way; most things being easy to find in a short amount of time. All of the lounges are very beautiful also. My favorite lounge was Dizzy's where you looked over the pool deck of the ship. It was so relaxing you could fall asleep. Activities- The activities were very good. Some of the activities like the 70's Dancing in the Street party were not as fun as it was previous trips even though the music was great. This time it just seemed to focus mainly on the t-shirts they were shooting and the light-up rings they were throwing. The New Years party was very exciting, even though the whole crowd changed when the champagne was handed out. Most of the people around us were incredibly drunk; dancing and screaming like idiots. The Welcome Aboard reception was held before that also. Nobody let the officers speak- people were talking like he wasn't even there and I thought it was incredibly rude. The ice skating was one of our favorites. I do figure skating so I brought my skates and did the advanced skate session along with my sister. The skaters working there seemed to get a kick out of the tricks I was doing that were very similar to the ones they do. They have great Mini Golf and Inline Skating that we did not use this time due to weather but had used other times we were on the ship. Service-The service is what makes our trips so enjoyable every time. From the waiters to the entertainers, they are so nice and welcoming we come back on the ship again to see the same ones. We knew some of the singers, one of the girls in the shops, and some waiters who were all so surprised to see us again. My grandma would constantly say "If they were any nicer, they would kiss me goodnight". They work so hard yet treat everyone like royalty. Ports- The ports were okay. We didn't get off the ship in Port Canaveral because we thought we wouldn't have enough time to do what we planned. Instead, we stayed on the ship and went to the pool all day. In Nassau, we got off, walked around and did some of the shopping in the town. It was a great day and our only complaint is the pier stretched practically a mile! It was our first time in CoCo Cay and we were impressed! We were expecting it to be like their private island in Labadee, Haiti that we've been to several times. The actual beach itself was wonderful- except the hundreds of fish surrounding us in the water. The buffet grill was delicious too! Really good food knowing it wasn't "on the ship". The only bad thing about the ports was the terrible times that made doing things on land hard. Embarkation- The embarkation was as easy as ever. It seems that whenever we board the Explorer it gets easier every time. We got there about 11 o'clock and were on bus #1. We only waited about five minutes in the "Platinum" waiting area. The only bad thing was the weather that no one could control. Stateroom- The interesting thing about our cabin was it was the same room as our last cruise in August. We could have just left our stuff there! Compared to other ships, the storage was great and there was enough room for everyone. The beds were as comfortable as always and our veranda was as lovely as always- except the fact that it was cold outside the majority of the trip which made it hard to spend time sitting out. Our room attendant was extremely nice, constantly asking us if we needed anything. Dining- The menu had changed since the last time we were on the ship. The food was better than ever! Some of our favorites were the Duck, the carrot cake I had the first night, the Lobster (best I ever had), and the Baked Alaska. We were given a table for 8 even though we spent the night just the 3 of us the whole trip. Our two waiters were amazing, showing just how great service could be. I did not use any of the Teen Club activities. I never really go to the teen club on most of my cruises. I find that I can "hang out" with people my own age at home rather than wasting my vacation time doing nothing. Entertainment- The entertainment was also better than ever. The production shows proved how amazing the singers, dancers and musicians really are. The music itself was very nice to listen to because of its familiarity- even to a 15 year old. The comedian from the first night did not have a great preview show but had a hilarious late night show. There was also a comedian/ magician that was very entertaining. The 6th night there was Judy Kolba. We had seen her perform on the Explorer before but this time her show was more "friendly" unlike wild from before. The ice shows were definitely a highlight. It was more enjoyable for me to watch knowing that I was capable of doing what they could do. The overall entertainment was very memorable and outstanding. Disembarkation-Leaving the ship was just as easy as getting on. We went to the Palace Theater where we walked in and walked out to an elevator. They held up certain elevators for us to go straight down to Deck 1. I think they did that because we were all listed under Emerald for our grandmother. Even though it was cold, we waited for about a minute to get another bus back to the terminal where we easily found our luggage and left. Summary- All in all, our trip was fantastic and well spent! I would recommend this line and this ship in particular to people of all ages. They have something for everyone and their service truly makes them one of a kind. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Although a friend of mine had many good things to say about Norwegian, negative reviews and word-of-mouth had me a bit worried as I approached my cruise on the Sky. I booked it anyhow because the location and timing were perfect for a ... Read More
Although a friend of mine had many good things to say about Norwegian, negative reviews and word-of-mouth had me a bit worried as I approached my cruise on the Sky. I booked it anyhow because the location and timing were perfect for a short cruise with 20 and 24 year old sons, the price was also excellent, and I thought they would appreciate the livelier vibe (compared to our usual Princess or Celebrity cruises.) We had a great time. I would not hesitate to recommend Norwegian, and the Sky, to anyone--unless they are looking for a luxury cruise, in which case they should take a luxury line! The ship was very well-maintained. The embarkation process was incredibly quick and simple. Getting off and on the ship at the ports was just as easy. Disembarkation was also the least painful process of any cruise I have taken. (I'm sure it helped that I have moved to Florida so was able to drive to/from the port, which made disembarkation timing much more flexible.) We booked a dinner in each of the for-fee restaurants onboard after reading complaints about the MDR. However, we had our first night's dinner in one of the MDRs and ate lunch in the other, and we found them to be perfectly fine. The food in the MDR and buffet is unpretentious and mainly American fare but it was quite tasty and service and cleanliness were great. The for-fee restaurants were enjoyable as well. We never waited more than a minute or two to be seated in any venue. We had an unexpected sea day as wind made it impossible for the tenders to operate at GSC, which I understand is a frequent problem this time of year. We enjoyed the sea day though, even though it meant I had no beach time since I'd stayed on the ship at Nassuau (my sons walked to Junkanoo Beach and reported it was clean though rocky.) At Freeport we just walked around the shops and spent some time at one of the bars on the pier. My 20 year old son was determined to have some bar time since he was legal to drink there! (I also signed the waiver onboard to allow him to order beer and wine on the ship, and it worked very well--servers were very careful to adhere to the rules.) Our oceanview porthole room was quite small and my poor 6'3" son was much longer than his pullout bed, but we made do just fine. The entertainment was quite varied given the smaller size of this ship, and while it seemed to me to be even a tad cheesier than most cruise-ship entertainment, it was enjoyable. We went to most of the theater shows and enjoyed the musicians in the various bars. We also went to Dancing with the Sky Stars. We didn't do any of the for-fee options (Deal or No Deal, bingo, etc.) so cannot comment on them. If I have any complaint it is about the loud announcements for bingo etc. But honestly, it was not a big deal to me. Maybe I'm just a lot less picky than many people, but I give the Sky and the 4-night Bahamas itinerary a big thumbs-up! Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
Let me start this review by saying the cruise was very enjoyable, the crew fantastic, and we had a wonderful time. The things I am pointing out that I noticed to be a distraction were very minor. We took this particular cruise because ... Read More
Let me start this review by saying the cruise was very enjoyable, the crew fantastic, and we had a wonderful time. The things I am pointing out that I noticed to be a distraction were very minor. We took this particular cruise because it departed from Baltimore, (a one and a half hour drive)and it fit in with my wife's work schedule. After reading all of the reviews and some of the negative comments I was a little leary of what we had to look forward to. The first thing I want to mention is the fact that the ship was late arriving at the port. We were notified ahead of time and adjusted our departure accordingly. However even with our delay it seemed we all arrived at the port at roughly the same time, making what could have been a very bad situation. This is where I have to commend the entire Port and Carnival Personnel. They took a very hectic situation and made it flow smoothly and we were through it all and on the ship within 2 hours of arrival. Tired and rushed at this point and not in the best of spirits we got to our cabin to find the room ready so we were able to drop of our carry-on and go to dinner. Because of the delay in departing dinner was open seating, within minutes of arrival we were seated and our first real introduction to the Carnival attitude. Our Wait staff headed by Rossana (a true gem) greeted us as if we were old friends, the professional attitude and care was wonderful. They cheered us up in no time. I cannot emphasize enough how this effected our cruise experience.Fortunately my family is not effected by motion sickness,so the fact that is was quite rough on the first two sea days did not hinder our enjoyment of the cruise. Knowing the time of year we expected this to a point. I say this as we did encounter some seasick passengers, and know many that sat in their rooms, the medical staff was kept quite busy too. The weather did not cooperate and was cloudy and cold most of the time outdoor activities were at a minimum. All that being said the staff had their hands full. This is where I want to commend all the the staff we encountered, Cruise Director Eric, his assistant Gumby and all of the hosts did a wonderful job. I never saw them act in any manner other then happy to be there. Our cabin was cramped with 4 adults sharing space, but closet space was more then adequate, our room Steward (Jono) did yeoman service in keeping our room spotless, while dodging all of the extra "stuff" we had in the room. We ate breakfast in the Mermaid Grill, and in the dining room. The dining room was very nice the food good to excellent, the service very good and the food was delivered in a timely manner. Breakfast in the Grill was very similar to that in a good buffet restaurant. Had no real problems with layout or finding a table. We also ate lunch at both the Grill and Dining room. I found the Deli Grill to be very good and like being able to get sandwiches made to order. I also like the daily variation in the menu for lunch. The dining room service and food was very good. Now to bring us to the highlight of our day. Our evening dining experience was something we looked forward to each and every day. Our dining staff, head waiter Kwame, and the two Andi's made our meals a true experience, always cheerful, very attentive, and left you feeling you were royalty. I will say that the food quality and choice are not what they were on carnival years ago, but I was very satisfied overall. I do have a little problem with the ships decor, (no not the nudes)in fact I like the art. My problem is with all of the art it makes the ship seem dark, along with the weather this could actually depress you. I would like to commend the bartenders (specially addidta in Starry Nights) and all of the wait staff. I am also an ex-smoker, I will say that the smoke did not bother me. This brings me to the one low spot of our cruise. I am a lover of the shows on most cruises and look forward to these shows, I also have some experience with the theatre, and my adult children are both Music majors. This being said my criticism is more then just a passing thought. I cannot say this more bluntly, the designers of the shows took money under false pretenses. The singers and dancers are very talented but are completely crippled by sorry material. Choreography is way to busy, dancers are rushing and wasting good moves, scenery and settings for the around the world show are rife with negative sterotypes. Classic Jazz number have their tempo's changed. (who could write or arrange it better then Ellington or G. Miller). I could go on but have gone on enough. Carnival really has to look at their shows. I do want to say that we had a very enjoyable time, and want to thank involved in making this a most memorable experience. Will do this again very soon. Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
The Travelers: Two 30-something single ladies. It was my first real cruise (other than a budget, 4-day deal in high school) and her second (previously cruised on RCCL). The cruise was booked through my friend's timeshare company -- ... Read More
The Travelers: Two 30-something single ladies. It was my first real cruise (other than a budget, 4-day deal in high school) and her second (previously cruised on RCCL). The cruise was booked through my friend's timeshare company -- we wanted to cruise out of NY or Baltimore, and had to cruise Thanksgiving week, so there were only a couple options. The main objective of our trip was rest and relaxation! The Room: We were in Balcony Stateroom #10086. It was a great location...near the mid-ship elevators and stairs, and either up or down just a couple decks to almost everything important to us (food, alcohol, spa and gym, pool deck, theater, etc.) Unfortunately we had smokers in the cabin next door, and also somewhere else around us, and rarely found it enjoyable to spend any amount of time on the balcony. The cabin was a little tight, but there was a ton of storage and it was more than adequate for a week. Our cabin steward was okay, but not great -- we stopped getting towel animals on the third day, we never got ice, and didn't even get turn down service a couple nights. The Itinerary: Let's just say we didn't choose this cruise for the ports of call. The weather all week was incredibly windy -- Captain Lars remarked on it several times. Even in the warmer locales (Florida and the Bahamas), it was WINDY. We didn't get off the ship at Port Canaveral, instead taking advantage of spa specials and a less-crowded pool and hot tub. Our visit to Great Stirrup Cay was cancelled because of the choppy seas, and we ended up pulling into Nassau the night before we were due to arrive. That was the only port we had booked an excursion -- the sea lion experience at Blue Lagoon. We really enjoyed it, although there was a little bit of confusion about when and where exactly we needed to be for our swim. I would go back to Blue Lagoon again. By the last sea day of our cruise it was very cold, very windy and very rainy. The Spa: Even before we boarded we had kind of decided to purchase the week-long spa pass, and it was totally worth the $149 cost. The women-only side (and I'm assuming the men-only as well), had a large hot tub, steam room, dry sauna, fancy showers, plunge pool and comfy Adirondack-type chairs. The co-ed Relaxation Room had the larger "therapy pool" and the much-discussed heated ceramic loungers. Heaven! We went to the spa every day and sometimes twice a day. We often showered in the spa rather than in the cabins. I do think the spa pass should give you a discount on spa services (say, 15%) for a little added value. We took advantage of a port-day special for a massage/facial combo, which was great. My friend even went for acupuncture on the next to the last day, in hopes that it would help her seasickness. The Food and Drink: This was definitely an area that I had some concerns about before we sailed. My friend is a vegetarian and is allergic to onions, so finding food for her can sometimes be a challenge. And I am a bit of a foodie, and had heard mixed reviews about NCL cuisine. I will say that I was pleasantly surprised on all accounts! I would rate the food as good to very good. There were some outstanding selections in the MDR, as well as the Blue Lagoon. We usually did breakfast, and occasionally lunch, at the buffet. It was generally kind of a madness but there was a lot of variety, and we loved eating in the Great Outdoors section. We ate at both Le Bistro and Cagneys, and of the two, I would definitely recommend Le Bistro....I still think back on that Coq Au Vin! My friend didn't make any advanced arrangements for her special diet, but on the first night we were introduced to one of the "Special Diets" servers in the MDR. The two women she worked with throughout the cruise -- Nancy and Rebecca -- made it possible for her to order ANY food on the menu to meet her dietary restrictions, with advanced notice (usually 24 hours). The only downside is that we couldn't be totally flexible in our dining plans (although we could eat whenever we wanted, in either MDR), and that sometimes our meals weren't timed to come out exactly in synch -- so maybe I would still be on my app while she had her main course. No biggie. I didn't find the alcoholic drinks much more expensive than I would pay in any big city or upscale bar, and there were Happy Hour and other specials advertised in the Freestyle Daily. I loved the champagne cocktails at Magnums, Margarita Madness at Moderno bar and the fact that they also had hard cider on board, as well as beer. The Entertainment and Shipboard Activities: We took advantage of a lot of the fun activities on board, like trivia, game shows, dance and exercise classes and interactive events. We saw a couple live productions, which I thought were well-done and there was always live music in one or more of the venues. The Cruise Director (Dan the Man) and his staff were GREAT. We found so many things to do that they often overlapped and we missed out on something. The pool deck was usually very crowded (unless we were in port or getting ready to dock) and we didn't spend that much time up there. Lots and lots of kids (700+) on board that week! OVERALL, I loved my week on the NCL Jewel. The service was great, the amenities were great and I found it to be good value for my vacation dollars. I will definitely cruise NCL again. Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
My niece was married on the ship before we set sail. The wedding was lovely & no detail was spared. The wedding took place in the Library & the reception was held in Michelangelo's Lounge. Both were decorated in in good taste. ... Read More
My niece was married on the ship before we set sail. The wedding was lovely & no detail was spared. The wedding took place in the Library & the reception was held in Michelangelo's Lounge. Both were decorated in in good taste. The minister was great along with the photographer, Avril. The food& drinks were delicious during the one hour reception and staff were very attentive.We were given ample opportunity to view the numerous pics that were taken for the Wedding! The food was god at the Ecstasy dining room & Richard was most attentive to all our needs. We were 16 & could not seat together until the last night. I prefer your own time dining,but we ate at the 6pm seating.That worked well except when some of the group was late.They held up the second seating because we ran over.The staff was extremely accommodating, even the Matre D My room was fine because I was by myself & had ample room & enjoyed the King Size Bed! My room adjoined my sister's room & another guest. It was convenient. Our steward, Yogi, was attentive, except when we ran late one day & did not get the room made up till night time. but that was okay.I do room service in the Am & except for a few mistakes, the food was fine.We enjoyed lunch at the Fantasy dining room, last day at sea! Buffet & deli was standard fare. The casino was very smoky & that seems to be an ongoing occurrence with many of the Carnival Ships. Wish they would get some better ventilation for us, Non-Smokers! The ship is dated & very mismatched in areas that were updated and had loud colors in some common areas-not my taste at all! We all had a good time for such a short cruise & I received more perks than I expected for being VIFP! Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
We went on a three day Christmas cruise filled with families and first time cruisers. This was our first cruise in nine years. We booked a porthole room which was adequate and the same size as the ocean view rooms. There is always a lot to ... Read More
We went on a three day Christmas cruise filled with families and first time cruisers. This was our first cruise in nine years. We booked a porthole room which was adequate and the same size as the ocean view rooms. There is always a lot to do and the "people watching' on the pool deck is always interesting.Shore excursion to Atlantis was OK.. too much money for what it was,, take a taxi and go yourself. The food was good, but my memory was that the food used to be a little more gourmet, but it was tasty and well presented. I felt the 6:00 seating was a little rushed for dinner. The late seating which we previously had was better paced between courses. One dining room had assigned seating which we had, and it appeared to have better organization. The other dining room was open seating and at times there were lines. Also the open seating dining room served breakfast and lunch. They appeared short staffed for the pampering I expected, with coffee cups not being refilled without asking. Some of the entrees for breakfast were like McDonald's food.. like the hash brown potatoes... but we learned what to order. At lunch we complained that our server had not approached us in over 15 minutes and the host took our order directly. buffet was good with long lines. The music was loud and we prefer quiet soft background lounge music, and we found a bar that met our needs. The shows were spectacular with the best dancing I have seen on a cruise.. Broadway caliber.The acoustics were too loud and need to be altered for the size of the room. The debarkation had some glitches in that we were not at the usual terminal.there was along wait to get our bags and we stood in line for a while, although we were traveling with VIP guests that were supposed to be the first to leave the ship. I assume they have ironed out the issues in operations. All in all, we had a great time, and I recommend the cruise, but don't expect perfection.. This is a nice, short cruise at moderate prices and good value, and you will like it with that attitude and approach. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Review of the December, 12, 2011 sailing on The Majesty of the Seas from Miami. The Majesty of the Seas is my favorite. A small ship, I think, feels more like classic cruising. Better service results from a better crew to passenger ... Read More
Review of the December, 12, 2011 sailing on The Majesty of the Seas from Miami. The Majesty of the Seas is my favorite. A small ship, I think, feels more like classic cruising. Better service results from a better crew to passenger ratio. Less time in lines to get on or off, and far fewer lines on board. This was my forth cruise on Majesty. The last one was a year and a week before, so I got to see a year of differences. The ship is looking a bit more worn. While I understand that the Majesty is scheduled for dry dock, most of things I saw were just a simple lack of general maintenance. More things were broken and left that way. For example: Water jets in the hot tubs. Only the bubbles worked. Major dents from a tender. More rust showing in many places. Many lights around the ship were out, including the pool deck. Most of the windows were dirty. My cabin window was foggy from salt build up on the outside. Leaking fire hose connections Broken elevator buttons Don't get me wrong, I do think that she's in good shape for her age. I think most of the issues in dry dock will be to update the styles. Not my area of expertise, but the 1990's chrome look is dated I guess. Just a thought for future designs, a choice of classic design will need less updating over the ship's life. With no new ships on the way, I have to think RCL will keep her going for at least a few more years. When she must be retired, I hope you will bring another smaller ship to Miami. The biggest omission is closing both of the hot tubs at 11 PM. When the ship is refurbished, I understand that they can not put in any new ones. That's a real shame. But please make the two huge to compensate. And there is NO technical reason that they need to be closed at the same time. Each should be totally independent. As crowded as the Majesty hot tubs are you have to realize you need more space and more hours. The pools are ice cold. When people from Chicago say they're too cold, you KNOW they're too cold. And the highs were in the 80s so we can't blame the weather. There are huge amounts of free heat available from the engine room. USE IT to heat at least one of the pools. And throwing the ice sculptures in the pool just adds insult to injury (and also looks lazy). I hope for the day that all smoking is banned from all ships. But in the meantime, cigars on the pool deck this time were bad. I was smelling some 100 feet away while at dock. I don't know where you can put them, but the pool deck isn't working. I brag that the service is better on the smaller ships. This cruise was no exception. Dining room, cabin, all excellent service. My cabin was spotless twice a day. One problem with a clogged shower drain was fixed quickly. Entertainment was down a notch this time. The dancers a year ago, especially Pete and Nicolas, had a lot more spirit. They were dancing around when talking to passengers even when they weren't officially 'on'. This year it was like they were waiting for a signal to entertain, then they danced. Then they left the party. They were friendly, but not the usual outgoing ice breaking party starters I've seen before. Last year it really felt like they enjoyed making us enjoy the cruise. This year it was just part of the job. I got the impression this was the second string. Again, not bad, but not as good as before. No one grabbed my attention this year enough to point them out. About the music. I totally understand that the pool area is made for the Caribbean music. But after a couple days, I've had more than enough Bob Marley. Please let some of the other bands play at the pool. The rock and latin bands were quite good but I only got to hear them in passing. Let them have a few hours at the pool. Bar service at the pool in the evening was lacking. I would have been happy to have another beer, but no one came around for hours. If the bar is open, why not have someone walking around to take bar orders? Thanks for the second ice cream machine. You have a hit here. Make it your own. Try getting blue cones with a logo. In the quantity you use, it should be practical. About the refurb coming up. There's what seems to be a lot of wasted space on 12 above the Windjammer. I get the impression that the priority on the last refurb was to add space to the Windjammer but the space above was just defaulted to be more tanning area. Think about doing an adults only section here with a bar and hot tub. Add some shade. This space would give an alternative to the noise of the pool area. On food, Windjammer was good, as usual. One suggestion, leave some yogurt out at all meals, along with the fruit. Many of us eat a little in the evening as a healthy alternative to desert. For the dinners in the dining room, all was good, except the NY Strip Steak. It was dry and tasted like it had been under heat lights for hours. I understand that when serving that many people at once there's no way to serve fresh off the grill, but this time it was worse than I remember it last year. And last year it was pretty bad too. You might want to omit NY Strip from the menu. The sliced steak was good, just too fatty. But I asked for more and I got it quickly, so no complaints there. The best meal was the lamb shank. A classic done very well. Our early arrival at Key West and the resulting REPEATED announcements to come to Immigration check ruined my day. I was up late the night before and this was just too early. When I got back and tried to get back to sleep, the announcements just continued. When you have to do something like this, use technology. When someone hasn't come, use an automated phone system to call the cabins. Once everyone in the cabin has checked in, stop calling that cabin. Let the rest of us sleep. Of course, where people are already awake, like the public areas, you can continue to announce. I'm sure you have heard it before. The two ports of call are backwards. Key West is a nighttime town. That's where we should have stayed until midnight. Nassau at midnight just seems like killing time in a cheap parking space. The dock we are at in Key West does not block Malory Square's view of sunset, so I don't think that's the excuse. Please consider making Key West the first night of the 4 night. Then Immigration and Customs are back to being the same time, in Miami, when we all have to be awake anyway. Again, overall, a good cruise. I will be back aboard the Majesty. But I think I will need to wait until the dry dock before scheduling my next one. I hope it will also return some of the spirit that was missing on this cruise. Thanks Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
I like to start out with the Pro's of this cruise: Expensive ticket price but caught a good sale so I liked the price I paid. They also gave us VIP check in because my husband is Active Duty Military. Overall great food but the dining ... Read More
I like to start out with the Pro's of this cruise: Expensive ticket price but caught a good sale so I liked the price I paid. They also gave us VIP check in because my husband is Active Duty Military. Overall great food but the dining room had better dining than buffet style. The entire dining staff, stateroom attendants and bartenders were amazing! Fairly smooth sailing. They also had a great holiday show. Cons: FIRST when I called to inquire if the online ship map was to scale the person from NCL lied. Deck 10 room 0106 is in fact the smallest style room (2.5' x10' less). So for the same price I was guided in to picking the smaller of the two room choices. I verified with my neighbors during the cruise of the sizes vs my initial options. SECOND the entire cruise experience seemed confused and not so organized. I called guest services 6 times during the 3 day cruise, of that 4 times during the day it FLAT OUT was never answered (ohh and I waited while it rang)! I had to go down to the guest services desk which was NOT at all busy. The entire upper level staff was curt and would constantly cut you off to answer the question they think you were asking. Several times I received contradictory information when asking questions because the initial answers did not pan out. THIRD our stateroom smelt like mildew BIG time. It was mainly the bathroom but the smell hit us when we walked in. When we got home MOST of our clothes WREAKED! Every single thing in my luggage (unpacked on the ship or not) wreaked when we got off the ship. Because the closet was right across from the bathroom we all smelt pretty bad on the drive home. Ironically my swim top smelt like chlorine inside the zip lock bag...lol I didn't notice my clothes smelled in the room but when we left the ship on the third day WOW my shirt was eeewww mildew smelly! FOURTH, I realized quickly that some things were discouraged on NCL Sky that is advertised as available. For example I did not receive a menu for room service (not the only one), nor did I receive one after telling guest services that I did not have one and wanted to see the menu. They said I have to call, they will tell me, when I did they said call back (NEVER ordered room service). Our parents had a menu in their room. Another example is carrying your own luggage off the ship. We did not fly so we could easily carry our three bags off, but were constantly told we HAD to check luggage off ship yet in the newsletter it stated it was optional but vaguely worded. Finally second attempt trying to reach guest services at 7pm they said it was optional and that we may actually carry our bags off. It sure didn't seem that way with the constant barrage of people reminding us we HAD to. FIFTH, we booked a shore excursion to tour forts and a museum. It was severely rushed to say the least but liked the tour. We also booked the hippo water slide (FUN!) but they shut it down nearly 2 hours early! So total waste of money. SIXTH con, we found a big roach in our stateroom. Sadly we had never brought food in the room and this last night I had just brought back a fruit plate, needless to say no so hungry after hunting down a cockroach. Perhaps this is why they discourage room service. I have been on another cruise and ordered constant food, never seeing a roach, big time EEEEwwww NCL! NEVER AGAIN, If I were a first time cruiser I would honestly never cruise again period. Since I am not, it will cruise again... just not be with NCL. Overall not worth what they charge. Thank goodness for Royal Caribbean! Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Choosing to spend a week with Royal Caribbean durringg thee holiday, was a good idea for my wife and I. We were picked up by a shuttle service at our Baltimore suburban home for a short 20 minute ride to the port. Check in was quick and ... Read More
Choosing to spend a week with Royal Caribbean durringg thee holiday, was a good idea for my wife and I. We were picked up by a shuttle service at our Baltimore suburban home for a short 20 minute ride to the port. Check in was quick and easy. We were on the ship in less than 30 minutes. We did not have to touch our bags from our driveway until they arrived at our state room. The ship was decorated tastefully for the holidays including most of the religious preferences. Santa made several appearances throughout the ship at different times. There was a special showing on Christmas morning for pictures and gifts from Santa, sponsored by Royal Caribbean. Christmas dinner in the main dining room was a good mix of traditional holiday meal favorites nicely presented and prepared. Our waiter and dinning staff were excellent. They provided us with as many items as we cared to eat or taste. We shared a table with other couples, meeting and chatting about different cruises, all up for a different kind of holiday experience. We ate all of our meals in the main dinning room for the service and pampering. We grabbed an occasional snack from the Windjammer when pool side. The ship is aging but in good condition and well maintained. Our state room was well appointed and comfortable. Our stateroom attendant was exceptional, providing just the right amount of room care and amenities. The shows were tastefully creative and entertaining with a holiday presentation on Christmas eve. All of the performers had professional experience. They were all enthusiastic, costumes were colorful, dancing was chorographed well, energetic and fun. One of the excursions was cut short by bad weather in Coco-Cay. We had good weather in Cape Canaveral and Nassau. Our overall opinion of this cruise is great. We would do it again, and we would recommend it to others. There is a lot of negative noise out there on the web about this line and the staff of the Enchantment Of The Seas. One can find disappointment in anything if one looks close enough. Happy Cruising to all other happy cruisers ! Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
I've read many reviews of this ship, some ok, some good, some not so good. Here is my pinion of this ship and the ports of call. First, the ship is actually quite nice. I liked the decor and the renaissance themed art. It was ... Read More
I've read many reviews of this ship, some ok, some good, some not so good. Here is my pinion of this ship and the ports of call. First, the ship is actually quite nice. I liked the decor and the renaissance themed art. It was easy to get around and had everything I would want on a cruise ship. The fitness room and spa was nice, never had trouble getting to the cardio or weight machines. While we never went into any of the pools or hot tubs, there were plenty of them, though the pools were a bit small and frequently crowded with yelling kids, but that's to be expected I suppose. Fortunately this ship features the Serenity Lounge on the stern, that is for adults only and has its own bar, hot tub, and lots of hammocks and lounge chairs - but it was full most of the time. We were able to spend some time there and it was most relaxing! Being gamblers, we spent a LOT of time in the casino. The slots are no more or less loose than any land-based casino I've been to, and there are plenty of table games to play. I would have liked to see some newer slot games, as the machines are rather old, but they are still fun. We were able to rack up our 1500 points on day 2 of the cruise so we drank free while in the casino 9and playing) the rest of the cruise. the trick to this is, once you hit your free drinks, just play the penny machines at the lowest bet when you want to drink, and you'll be spending as little as 9 cents, yes 9 cents, gambling while getting $8 to $10 drinks free! The food at the mermaid grill was typical buffet fare - ok, nothing special. The Normandie Dining Room food was a little better, usually well prepared, good variety, and promptly delivered. We elected the anytime dining and never waited longer than 5 minutes or so to be seated. The final night of the cruise we got lobster and prime rib and had all we wanted! David's steak house, however, is a MUST EXPERIENCE! The food, the service, the decor, absolutely rivals any of the finest eateries we have here in Boston! And THAT'S saying something! Our cabin was nice, nothing special, but again, suited our needs nicely. The cabin steward was very nice and always took care of us. We never met a rude or inattentive member of the crew, everyone was great. Now, here's the one BAD aspect of the cruise. WHATEVER YOU DO, DO NOT TAKE THE BLUE LAGOON SHORE EXCURSION in Nassau! If I could, I would have sued for false advertising! The description is a "luxurious, private white sand beach with great luncheon and drink availability". Ok, not even CLOSE! There is chain link fence running along the dock into the water and oil spill looking booms roping off the swim area, which is tiny! The food is advertised as 100% Angus beef burgers, but I can assure you unless the server's name was "Angus", there was no Angus to be seen, only dried chicken, cold rice, and hockey-puck like hamburgers. I was completely disappointed with this excursion and, to top it off, Carnival charges $90 per person for this, while you can get it on line for a mere $50 if you're NOT a cruise ship passenger. HUH??? Yes, you must book this through the ship so Carnival can apparently get their commission. When I brought my concerns up with the shore excursion desk, I was told "we have to get in touch with the trip provider". Now, if I book this trip through Carnival on the ship, why do they have to contact ANYONE else in order to make it right? We were told it was a 4.5 hour excursion, and it ended up being 2.5 at best, but only an hour for us as we left early it was so bad. All I asked for, was a refund of ONE of the tickets . . .I figured whereas we did go on the excursion I should at least pay for what I did "use" of it. I figured it would have been a nice gesture for Carnival to refund basically just half of the price, as we only got about half of what was promised. In stead, I got a letter from the assistant shore excursion manager telling me he was passing along my concerns to the tour operators and was sorry my excursion sucked, but please continue to sail with carnival. Having dropped over $3000 in the casino, I would think a lousy $90 refund would have been not too much to ask for - after-all, they would have gotten in back in a slot machine anyway! All in all, it was a good trip, a good time and pleasant experience. But, again, a reminder, DON'T BOOK EXCURSIONS TO THE BLUE LAGOON!!!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
OK first let me say we where very worried after reading so many negative reviews. This was our first cruise that had freestyle dining and the tips "forced" upon you. Most reviews we read stated that the employees where lazy and ... Read More
OK first let me say we where very worried after reading so many negative reviews. This was our first cruise that had freestyle dining and the tips "forced" upon you. Most reviews we read stated that the employees where lazy and don't expect anything extra. I must say as a experienced cruiser we where pleasantly surprised. The Sky isn't the best ship we have been on but it was a blast. The Positive things: The food was nothing like we expected according to prior cruisers and their reviews. We ate everywhere except the pay places like Cagneys and the Italian place. Everything was always fresh and hot. There was a large variety from vegetarian,Indian,Asian and others. We ate at the buffets inside and pool side. Excellent burger and that type fare. Our room was small but was kept clean and neat (9345) They have 24 hour room service that is included unless you order pizza (5$ for large) Drinks are like most high price and easy on the liquor. (We carried on our own vodka and rum) Btw way in to types of ways to test their checking. They caught neither. They constantly are cleaning and picking up you plates and replacing silver/napkins. Their organization for exiting the ship was some of the best we have seen.Their private island Stirrup Cay blows away other private islands we have visited by a long shot. All newly built buildings, bathrooms, kitchen/buffet etc. Food on island was ribs,chicken,burgers, hotdogs and all the other fruit and side dishes. I could go on and on but I'm sure you get the point. We was pleased with our experience and will be back. Negatives: The ship is layed out really weird and cut up. Not sure why this is. But we are not that difficult. To wrap this up let me add unless you are a pain in the ass type traveler or one of those people that can never be pleased or maybe your a billionaire and used to 200$ a plate meals every day I would ignore the majority of the previous negative reviews. After using this site for the last several years to review ships prior to travel Ive found most negative comments to be 90% B.S. Check them out and have a great time. We will be going again soon. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
My family of 4 children, ages 11-14 and 2 adults sailed to the Bahamas on Carnival Fantasy in December, 2011 Christmas cruise. We have sailed a half dozen times on Carnival, Princess, and Royal Caribbean. Although a relaxing cruise, we ... Read More
My family of 4 children, ages 11-14 and 2 adults sailed to the Bahamas on Carnival Fantasy in December, 2011 Christmas cruise. We have sailed a half dozen times on Carnival, Princess, and Royal Caribbean. Although a relaxing cruise, we would not select again for the following main reasons: 1) The food. Breakfast and lunch were fine at the buffets. Dinner detracted from the experience. Our poor waiter was so overwhelmed by all his tables and new assistants that the service was poor. The food was surprisingly bad - even foods that are relatively easy to prepare. How can you botch a cheese cake? Answer: be too cheap to include any cheese - tasted like a bad sponge cake. On a six night cruise, 3 meals were fine and the other 3 were poor. Service was slow. Kids couldn't get refills on "bottomless" soda. Some nights hard to get refills on water or another slice of bread if the meal was delayed. Menus and food were disappointing. I'm a diabetic and have enjoyed sugar-free desserts most recently on Princess. In 6 nights I enjoyed only one dessert. We didn't starve - but we didn't really enjoy the meals. Carnival has skimped too much from the dining room budget. Major problem. Wouldn't sail again. 2) Camps. We were told our 11 year old camp is in a 9-11 year old camp. NOT TRUE. The camp is 6-11 most of the time. There is simply no way our 6th grader is going to camp with 1st graders. I looked at the camp schedule, there was really nothing he would have enjoyed anyway. In the other camp 12-14, we had 3 children. 2 passed, and 1 did everything. They all said the games were lacking, e.g. the basketball NBA video game is from 2007, there is nothing from after that on board to play. Nothing great - doesn't seem like there is any real effort. 3) There isn't much to do in the Bahamas. Freeport is basically a waste. We went to the beach on our own in Nassau (the Sheraton Hotel - $5 taxi, and $25 beach fee - both per person) and had a nice afternoon. Key West is completely overrun with tourists - a shame because when I went 20 years ago it was special. 4) Entertainment: the carnival dancers were great - when they performed (2 nights and a holiday show in 6 evenings). The other three nights there was a terrible blues singer from New Orleans, and C-rated comedians. However, the costumes and enthusiasm of the carnival dancers was wonderful on the nights they performed. [Note the theater of this old vessel has poles, and the balcony slopes very little making it hard to see from the 2nd row upward - want to get there early to watch]. Staff is nice, ship is in great shape for 20+ year old vessel - little noise or shaking. Showers are hot, nothing bit us. Only issue is with public bathrooms being dirty - but the boat is small and it is easy to get back to your room. There was also an odor in a few of the hallways. Rooms are fine (we were interior - no problems). No lines of any significance except for laser tag. Convenient port to our home in Atlanta. Charleston port is inefficient takes over an hour to get in and it is easier to take your own bags off the boat than let them remove them. Candidly, if they would fix the food, it would be fine for the money - as it is, I would spend more on airfare to cruise elsewhere. It isn't bad and you will have nice memories with your family. It just isn't special - and that's a shame because we would cruise annually out of Charleston if we enjoyed it. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
We have cruised disney before and loved it. That is why we booked again but I have to say we were dissappointed. We were on a waiting list for a suite but were never called. We ended up in a cat 4A. we were required to pick a check in ... Read More
We have cruised disney before and loved it. That is why we booked again but I have to say we were dissappointed. We were on a waiting list for a suite but were never called. We ended up in a cat 4A. we were required to pick a check in time and it only allowed a 230p and a 300p. When we arrived at 230 the photographers were gone and we missed our picture(thats a big deal to us) we keep all of our welcome pics for our children. The food on the previous cruises wonder magic was unbeleivable. Fresh warm every meal. Plenty of fruit and salads.This cruise we had 5 in our party. every night we had to ask for the bread that was served with dinner. They brought enough for 3 people. They gave us bagels one evening? not sure why. With the exception of the final night in the royal palace The food was cold hard and flavorless, It was a shocker because in the past it was so terrific. The dream is very chopped up. Hard to find remy palo and meridian bar. The rooms were same as in past.dont look different.The photographer was sparce couldnt get too many pics. the pics that were taken were unflattering as is if they were snapped by a person off the street. The crew in the past esp at dinner ect did tricks with the kids and they became used to that, The servers were good but impersonal.I imagine they work very hard and maybe dont have the time. Not sure. The pool areas are swamped with children and the pool for adults was tiny. we enjoyed castaway great as always, The magic is my favorite ship. spacious flows nicely warm crew. Many many pics alot of excursions. All in all just dissapointed in the dream expected a special experience for new years. Wont travel it again. we may do the fantasy and see how that ship turned out. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
As noted above, this was our first cruise with Carnival. We chose this short four-day cruise over New Year's as a good way to test the waters, and get some fun in the sun. It was myself, my wife (who celebrated a birthday on the ... Read More
As noted above, this was our first cruise with Carnival. We chose this short four-day cruise over New Year's as a good way to test the waters, and get some fun in the sun. It was myself, my wife (who celebrated a birthday on the cruise), and our 12-year-old daughter. We traveled with friends; a family of four, first-time cruisers, with two children. Having cruised on Holland America, Princess, and Norwegian multiple times, I set my expectations for Carnival -- I thought -- accordingly. We flew in to Jacksonville, which was not a problem. It seems that the vast majority of Fascination cruisers drive to the port rather than fly. As we unfortunately learned upon our return, the small size of Jacksonville's airport and lack of frequent flights can be a problem if flights are cancelled. There certainly aren't the plethora of options that stranded fliers might find in say Orlando, Miami, or Ft. Lauderdale. Getting a van to the pier was easy and the ride for seven cost $45. As is known, the terminal at Jacksonville is a temporary structure. That said, it serves its purpose fine, as the only ship using it is the Fascination. It is small and for reasons still unclear, the time it took for us to clear security, complete check-in, and board the ship was the longest we've ever encountered. The check-in staff were not overly efficient, and the whole process took nearly an hour. By contast, boarding the Epic -- more than twice the twice -- took 10 minutes, door-to-door. As soon as we entered the ship, the "missing little things" started to show. There were no people waiting to greet you on board; no one handing out daily schedules or maps, or even offering to help you find someplace on board. I have to note that during the ENTIRE cruise, I did not hear one single announcement from the captain; not one. In fact, I can remember no announcements other than those from the Cruise Director, Jen, and they were always for bingo, dance parties, etc. Being a sold-out New Year's cruise, it was crowded -- particularly as we boarded -- but we were surprised to find an available table in the Coconut Grove buffet area as we waited for rooms to be readied. From this meal, it was obvious that the food was to be substandard at best. The lines were very long and the food was high-school cafeteria quality, and that is being generous. The ship, I must admit, is in very good shape. She does not show her advanced age and the crew does an excellent job on maintenance. We sailed on the Norwegian Spirit earlier this year, and that ship is younger, went through a more-recent renovation, and still appeared MUCH older and in worse-repair than the Fascination. Kudos to her team. We had an oceanview cabin, category 6B, on the Main Deck. We were pleased with the overall size. The third bunk folded up against the wall and was not too intrusive when open. Princess still has the best layout we've seen (other than a sofabed), with their third and fourth berths that fold up and away into the ceilings. The bedding and mattresses were TOP NOTCH. Very nice and comfortable, so kudos again to Carnival. Bathroom was large and functional, nothing more. I never did get fully accustomed to stepping on a huge "soft spot" in the floor when you enter the bathroom; an artifact of the marine toilets, I suppose. What the room lacked was a hair dryer (though our steward was able to secure one), a fridge, a clock (hello?!), writing pad and pen, and a coffee maker. They chose to take up much of the desk area with an assortment of canned soda and bottled water, which is not complimentary. I would have prefered to use that space for a coffee maker, or just leave it open. We asked the steward to remove the sodas, but they remained there for the entire cruise. Aside from the glaring omission of a clock, what the room really needed was a thermostat. The room was very cold and when we looked for a thermostat, all we could find was a vent knob on the bottom of the air diffuser on the ceiling. It basically allows you to turn the flow of air (one temperature) on or off. As it was, we had to close it off to try and warm up the room (which didn't really help -- we ended up using extra blankets at night to stay warm. With the air off, however, it made all of the noises made in the hallway and in neighboring rooms VERY loud. I usually love sleeping on ships, as the hum of the air system is usually so loud and constant, that it drowns out all other noises. Not so the case on the Fascination. Not only were we cold, but we heard every hallway conversation. Also, a minor point, but it would be great if Carnival invested in small rubber stoppers to stick onto the insides of the closet doors. They now are bare, and whenever one of the three closet doors close, there is a loud "bang"...the sound of doors banging in other cabins was very noticable, and it seems some cheap rubber bumpers would be an easy fix. We had the traditional fixed dining (early seating) in the Imagination dining room. Our server was good, but the table was small, with seven of us put at a table meant for six. The food in the main dining room was much better than on the buffet, but it was still of very poor quality. None of the meals we had there was more than average, and most were below standard. Biggest complaint about the dining room, however, is the noise. It was, by far, the loudest dining room we've ever had on a ship. I suspect it had to do with the relatively low ceilings, but it was impossible to hold normal-level conversation across the table and that ruined whatever ambiance the room has. The other main dining room is exactly the same configuration, only midship vice in the rear, so I'm sure the sound there is just as bad. As noted, aside from sushi -- the times for which change daily -- there are no eating venues aside from the buffet and main dining room, and the main dining rooms only serves dinner -- no breakfast or lunch. The buffet at breakfast and lunch was very crowded and the food often inedible. The breakfast selections are very basic, and the salad bar at lunch was wholly unappetizing. Pizza is always available, but it was freezer-quality and not enjoyable. On our day in Freeport, we took a Carnival excursion but weren't returned to the ship until after 6:00pm. We thus missed our dinner (which was the captain's formal night) and had to eat in the buffet. I have to say that that meal was truly disgusting. The selection was meager and the food was of embarrassingly poor quality. Even a simple hamburger would have been nice, but the grill is only open during the afternoons. The ship is fairly easy to navigate, given its small size, and motion was not a problem for us. Reaching some areas of the ship was frustrating, as not all elevator banks go to the higher floors, and the galley serves as a natural barrier between the two dining rooms. Still, it is easy to get around. Elevators were sometimes hard to get, but there were never too many flights of stairs to climb, so no big deal. Despite her obvious abundance of balcony cabins, I have to give Fascination BIG points for the amount of deck space and readily available deck seating. With four+ decks with outdoor space, it was never hard to find a lounge chair or simply a place to enjoy the outdoors. The top-deck minigolf and jogging track were also quite nice, as we enjoyed the adults-only Serenity area. The pool was adequately sized. As always, the lone hot-tub open to children was often overflowing. Activities on board were adequate. We participated in many of the trivia and game shows. The cruise director staff was plentiful and always busy, and the cruise director did a good job. Jen is definitely "unique," but she works it well, and her personality seems to match the Fascination's. That is a compliment, by the way. I liked her work. They did put on a New Year's Eve balloon drop and pool-side party, and they did a very nice job. It was fun and well organized. Entertainment was good to average. We attended the family-friendly comedy shows, and they were fun. We didn't have an opportunity to attend any of the adult-themed shows. We attended both "Vegas-style shows," and they were classic cruise ship fare. Again, compared to our other cruises, though, they were high-school vice Vegas-level quality. For disembarkation, we were pleased that Carnival offers the option of walking off with your bags or having them remove your luggage. We had a noon flight, which we thought would give us plenty of time. As it was, our steward left us luggage tags to put us in an earlier disembarkation group, as noon is their cutoff time for determining an "early flight." Originally we were in Group 17, but we were moved to the earlier Group 2. We toyed with the idea of taking our own bags, but decided against it -- we later regretted that choice. We were at the dock before 0700, and as we dressed for breakfast, I discovered that our flight had been cancelled. I reached the airline, only to find that the only option of getting out that day was aboard an already-overbooked 1045am flight. We rushed to let our friends know -- who were on the same flight. By the time we found them and they got through to the airline, no more seats were available and they were bumped until the next day. Hence, my comment about the lack of flights into/out of Jacksonville. We were now faced with the daunting task of getting off the ship as soon as possible, hoping to make the earlier flight. Guest Services on the ship were understanding when I explained what happened, but they confirmed that there was nothing they could do to get our bags out of Customs any earlier. They said we would have to wait on the ship until all of the "walk-off passengers" were cleared; that would not be until around 0930. Against recommendations, we did exit the ship with the walkers. When we cleared Customs -- without our bags -- a VERY helpful terminal worker pulled us aside. I explained our situation, and she had us wait in the boarding area. She explained that the bags were all in a separate area of the terminal, under Customs control, and there would be no one over there until they were done clearing all of the walkers. This is when we realized just how many people had elected to walk off -- they just kept coming and coming. While waiting, a very nice Customs agent asked about our situation, too. After about 15 minutes of waiting, the head of the terminal and a great Customs agent came and got us and escorted us to the area where all of the bags were being held. They allowed us to retrieve our bags and then did another inspection. With that, we were clear and literally ran outside to grab a waiting cab. Thanks to the outstanding help from the terminal and Customs officials, we made it to the airport with about 15 minutes to spare. We cannot thank them enough. I know all of this does not apply directly to our Fascination experience, but for what it's worth, I would recommend you walk off with your own bags if possible, and I'll vouch for the helpfulness of the crew in Jacksonville. Overall, I'm not sure if we'll do another Carnival cruise. I know they sell on their price point, and had we not paid a huge New Year's premium for this cruise (more than three times the cost of non-holiday Fascination sailings), I might feel otherwise. That said, the dismal quality of the food and lack of alternate food options weighs quite heavily in my dismissive tone against Carnival. Barring a truly superior price advantage, I do not see us repeating the Carnival experience. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011

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