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157 Bahamas Holiday Cruise Reviews

Review of 12-25-11 to 1/1/12 Carnival Pride Cruise out of Baltimore to 'Florida and the Bahamas': I would like to set the tone from the outset of this review that I was very happy with my cruise on the 12-25-11 to 1/1/12 ... Read More
Review of 12-25-11 to 1/1/12 Carnival Pride Cruise out of Baltimore to 'Florida and the Bahamas': I would like to set the tone from the outset of this review that I was very happy with my cruise on the 12-25-11 to 1/1/12 Carnival Pride out of Baltimore to 'Florida and the Bahamas'. It was the most relaxing and fun vacation I have had in years. Carnival spoiled me, and I would cruise with them again. However, just so you know, this was my very first cruise and I have nothing to compare it with. I cruised solo, so my perspective may be quite different from most who have cruised before. This review may help those who have never been on the Carnival Pride, or those who have never cruised, or for someone thinking about cruising solo for the first time. And another FYI: my review is a long read, with in a ship log style, so if you do not have time to read all of it, that would be completely understandable. Caveats out of the way, here we go.................. It was one of my all-time favorite vacations. Easy drive there, easy embankment, nice state-room, balcony, great service by most of the staff, wonderful entertainment, relaxing serenity deck, plenty of food, and most of all a grand comfortable ship. It is a great product in a great location for me. I have shared my photos and videos with friends, coworkers and family, and have recommended the Carnival Pride for their next vacation. I cannot wait until I am aboard again! Here are just three questions from the online 'Carnival Exit Survey' I was emailed to take after I got home, along with my answers to them: Did anything happen during your cruise that surprised you in a negative way? I did not like the poorly organized Nassau Excursions on the pier. I did not like the David's Steak House service on New Year's Eve - the waitress could not speak English very well, and it was very difficult to communicate with her. I Did not like the Pizza Cafe, as there was no one there to take my order, and when he finally showed up, there were too many kids butting in line. The TV in room was old and hard to see. My bed was too hard and made my back stiff in the mornings. The 'Singles Meet and Greets' were poorly organized and poorly attended. Did anything happen during your cruise that surprised you in a positive way? Housekeeping staff was excellent, especially Angel on Deck 8. I really liked the Adult Only Serenity Deck, just need to try preventing 'all' kids off of it at 'all' times. I really enjoyed my balcony, but did not like the one side that had spaces big enough for those on the balcony next to mine to see into my room. The Taj Mahal Shows were very entertaining, as well as most of the comedians. The Normandie Restaurant staff was excellent, especially Edwardo(sp?) who told me he had been with Carnival for nearly 15 years, and was very professional and friendly. Would you like to recognize members of the Carnival team who went out of their way to make your experience special? Angel -- My Room Steward on 8th deck -- he was always around and ready to please. Eduardo(sp?) my usual server in Normandie - he was a true professional who was very friendly and always made me feel comfortable dinning alone. Eric - Assistant Entertainment Director - funny and organized. The Waitress in Ivory Lounge - competent and very friendly. Jennifer the Karaoke Lady - who was very friendly and organized. Casino Helper guy who assisted me with cashing out my winnings. All of the Library Internet Helpers. With all of that said, below is my personal daily ship log (with likes and dislikes) in chronological order. 1ST Day Sunday Christmas 12-25-11: I left my house around 10:45 am and drove down I-95 from Wilmington, DE, arriving at the Baltimore, MD Port around Noon (about 1 hour-15 minutes). There was some holiday traffic, but it moved well, as many just passed me while I drove most of the way in the far right slow lane. The exit (#55) to the port off I-95 was the first right after the Baltimore Tunnel. I took the first left at the first light, but I must warn you that there is no sign at the light for the Port. Once in the Port Parking Lot I moved swiftly to the double car lanes to drop off checked luggage, but had to wait about twenty minutes behind 10-15 cars in front of me. Once past luggage drop off, I chose the cash parking line as there was no one in front me there. However, the credit card choice to park had about 15 cars and a long wait from what I could tell. I found a good parking spot near the middle and made my way into the terminal, through the security line(snuck in booze with no problem), and then waited in a long line that moved quickly for check in. Once I was parked, it took about 30 minutes to make it onto the ship. It was quite fast considering all the people in front of me. Once on the ship (after a long up hill gangway) about 1:00pm, I followed the line of people in front of me into the Normandie Dinning room on the same level (Deck 3). It was almost like they shoed us into it. I ate a nice lunch (Pasta) with several others at a long table near a big window. I went to the Library after lunch to purchase my Internet Time (4 hours -- of which I only used about 2.5 hours the entire cruise). About 3:00pm I went to my state room (8168) to see if it was ready. They were in the room finishing it up. My big luggage bag was outside my room, and was carried in by my Steward (Angel). He spoke great English and was very friendly and helpful throughout the entire cruise. I saw him almost everyday, sometimes two or three times a day on my floor. My safe did not work, so he called for help and a maintenance guy had it fixed in about an hour. That was the only problem I had with the room the entire time. The shower was plenty big and the water plenty hot. Everything worked well, but the TV was old and hard to see with my middle aged eyes. The extended balcony was everything I thought it would be and I got plenty of use out of it, just relaxing on it and taking great pictures coming into and out of port of calls. The room was plenty big for just one person, and should also be for two people. I would not want to be in it with any kids though. The bed was a bit hard for me, but the pillows were big and puffy. I took a short nap, unpacked and went to a nice dinner in the main dinning Normandie Restaurant, seated by alone at one of those small tables for two along the upper level center rail. After Dinner I went to the 6:00pm show in the Taj Mahal Theatre. Cannot remember which one it was, but they were all good. Afterward, I went to the Ivory Piano Bar and sang along with Roger the Piano Man, who was very good, but had to laugh a few times at his Asian accent singing Elton John songs, and other such soft rock artists' pop tunes. Most people sitting at the bar and in the lounge sang along with him as well. So, it was fun. After that I attended the late Adult comedy show, and sat and drank with two single ladies. We laughed a lot at Eric the Assistant Cruise Director, but I must warn you, he is by far the raunchiest of all the comedians (5 in total I believe). I finished up in the casino with a nightcap and won some money on the slots (came out ahead for the entire cruise on both slots and poker). I met some young fellows at the casino from Canada, and another one in the U.S. Army on leave. I bedded down around 2:30am exhausted from a long, but unique, Christmas Day. 2nd Day Monday 12-26-11: Woke up around 10:30am, ate a continental breakfast (I ordered it from a menu card that I hang on my door knob each night) received from room service earlier in the morning (bagels are small and danish is dry, but the rest is great, especially the fresh fruit). I showered, and then checked my sign and sail account on the TV. Put away the rest of my packed items. Sat on my extended balcony for awhile, then went to lunch (Spaghetti with meatballs -- very good) around 12:30pm in the Normandie restaurant, and sat with 3 couples (we all talked about our first night on board, none of which did what I did). I then explored every level of the ship and took photos of each deck. I laid out on the Lido Deck Serenity Pool area (about 68 degrees outside and a little windy). About 4:00pm I went down to my room and took a one hour power nap. I woke up and showered again before dressing up in my suit for the first 'Formal' night in the Normandie restaurant. I was seated alone again around 6:45pm, and eat a wonderful meal of crab-cake and prime rib (asked for a second crab cake and received it). Ordered the famous Chocolate Melting Cake for desert and it is everything it is billed to be, and then some. I went back to my room after dinner and changed out of my suit and tie and into a collared pull-over, and slacks. I attended the late Vroom Show in the Taj Mahal, and it was the best of all the shows, imho. I went to the Singles Meet and Greet at the Atrium Bar -- what a waste of time. There were about eight people there, and it broke up about a half hour later. I was asked by one woman to go dancing in the Beauties Dance Club, but responded to her that I do not dance much, and off she went without a chance for me to offer an alternative option. Maybe I should have followed her -- oh well, there were other opportunities to come that were much better ;-) I then went to the Starry Nights Lounge for Karaoke, and was pleasantly surprised by all the talented guest on the ship who could actually hold a tune. Finished up the night in the casino where I lost at Poker, but won at the slots to finish ahead for the night. I was in bed by 1:30am or so. My state-room (8168) was right under the Lido Deck Stage, so I had to use ear plugs some nights due to the loud thumping and chair dragging right above my bed. Not a big problem though, as long as you have ear plugs. 3rd Day Tuesday 12-27-11: I got out of bed around 9:30am. I checked my sail and sign card account, then sat on the balcony and ate the continental breakfast I received earlier that morning via room service. The outside temperature was already 72 degrees. I starting writing this log on the balcony, but did not finish it until a few days after the cruise ended. I went down to Guest Services to clear up a discrepancy I found on my S&S card account(they fixed it quickly), and then went to the library to check email. I ate lunch on the Lido deck Deli around 12:30pm (Had the Grilled Ham & Cheese -- it had not been not heated up long enough, but was edible). I laid out on the Serenity Deck by the pool until around 2pm, then went over to the Apollo Pool to watch the hairy chest contest( It was kind of funny, but tacky as expected, and of course the wrong guy won, imho). I went down to the Taj Mahal around 4:00pm and watched the Wedding Game (very entertaining and funny). I went to the Photo Gallery and purchased three of the photos taken of me by Carnival; the main portrait they take during embankment, and from the first two dinners, including the formal ($11.50 each). I took a quick nap on my balcony, then down to the 7:00pm Juggler show in the Taj Mahal. It was one of the America's Got Talent Contestants last season, and he was very good, not to mention hilarious). I went to the Internet Cafe for a short check on email (was expecting something important in my inbox). Had a quick dinner in Normandie around 8:45pm (Fried Chicken and Mash Potatoes -- not very good). I went to the Butterfly Lounge to see the 9:45pm Adult Comedian Show (a middle aged comedian who looked, and sounded, like Dice Clay (he was very funny). Ended the night at the Perfect Game Sports Bar watching an NBA game, and won $40 on the bar top virtual poker game. I was in bed and asleep by midnight. 4th Day Wednesday 12-28-12: I woke up at 6:00am to the 'room service guy' knocking at my door, and eat the continental breakfast before going down to the deck 3 gangway for the 8:30am Port Canaveral Excursion to the Kennedy Space Center (very organized and interesting tour, but a lot of walking). I especially liked seeing the Hubble 3D IMAX movie). Had lunch at one of the park's cafeterias and was back on ship around 4:00pm). I went to my room and sat on my balcony as it was such a nice day out, and took photos of the port and was able to zoom in on the Kennedy Space Center with my camera. My balcony was a nice way to rest my weary feet after a lot of walking that day. I took another shower and went to my 6:00pm reservation at David's Steak House. I ordered the spinach salad, which was really good, and then had the surf and turf (4oz of tender filet, and two succulent lobster tails). I had two glasses of fine Cabernet Sauvignon to wash it all down with. The only alcohol I had that night. And I finished with the biggest slice of cheese cake I have ever been served that I could only eat about half of. David's Steak House is a must on the Pride. It is at the top of the ship with large windows overlooking the ocean. The service that night was impeccable, but no so on the last night, as I will explain later. I went to the Taj Mahal for the 7:30pm Trivia Competition Show (guessing songs on a few notes). It was very entertaining. I met a nice woman there and we teamed up to come in nearly last place, but it was a blast. We stuck around for the Liars Club Show (really just a knock off of the old truth or consequences TV game show). That was not as entertaining, but we stuck it out through the end. I went back to my room early, watched a pay per view movie and was asleep by 11:30pm, only to be awakened just after midnight to loud thumping coming from above me. Apparently there was a midnight rock it out party on the lido deck stage that lasted until 3am. I put in a pair of ear plugs that allowed me to drown out the late night revelers. In addition to the thumping there was some chair dragging above my room on the lido deck at all hours during the entire cruise, but it didn't bother me too much. If you are on the 8th deck (Panoramic), make sure you bring ear plugs to sleep. 5th Day Thursday 12-29-12: I got up around 7:30am to the knock on the door by room service bringing my daily continental breakfast. I showered and packed a small backpack for the quickly back to the ship in beachwear and flip flops, making it ba'Nassau Bus Tour and Beach' Excursion. I left the ship earlier than I needed to, as I set my clock to Atlantic Time thinking Nassau was on it, but I was informed later they were still on Eastern Time. So, I was the first one off the ship, as I walked up the long dock, then up the long pier to the terminal. Once I realized my ship excursion tour guide was no where to be found, I walked all the way back to the ship to find several tour guides now just outside of the gangway with signs directing a thousand or so shipmates to each respective excursion. It was chaos, but eventually they put it all together and walked us in different lines to the terminal and to our respective buses. After that bad experience, my tour and beach day were great. My Nassau Tour was informative, and the beach was nice. However, be warned that the guide will ask for tips when you depart the bus at the beach, and then again later at the terminal at final drop off. The Poop Deck Restaurant next to the beach had good 'Conch Chowder' and sandwiches for lunch. They dropped us off at the terminal around 3:30pm, and I walked over to the Green Turtle Sports Bar about a block away to watch the Notre Dame Bowl Game. I drank there with some Locals until about 9pm when they reminded me I had to be back to the ship before 9:30pm. I walked very ck just in time before the ship set sail again. I changed out of my beachwear and into my nightly garb and went to the Ivory Bar for another sing-along with Roger the Asian Piano Man. I left there after another great sing-along with a packed lounge, and went to the Butterfly Lounge for the team competition. I teamed up with a woman a little older than me, and a married couple in the 30s sitting near me. At one point the women had to take their bras off under their shirts and the men had to take off our shirts and wear their bras onto the stage. There were several bare chested men with bras all lined up on the stage competing for the grand prize. Some middle aged Asian fellow won the competition (a bottle of Champagne) by doing some pretty crazy acts on stage. It was a lot of wild drunken fun that night. Stayed at Butterflies for the Karaoke All-Stars singing with the Ship Band at Midnight, but only stayed a little while due to the sudden realization I had not had any dinner yet, so I stumbled back to my state-room for a very late supper via room service. I fell asleep around 1:30am after a very long day and night. 6th Day Friday 12/30/12: I woke up early again for some reason. The bright sunrise blasted into my room around 7:00am and my balcony was calling me to watch it with a cup of tea. Room service arrived about an hour later, which I ate on the balcony while we pulled into Freeport. I showered and was off the ship around 10:00am. I did not have an excursion purchased for Freeport, so I just walked around the dockside straw market and took some photos. I went back to the Library to check email around noon. The Mermaid Grille Buffet lines were too long again, so I ate a late lunch on the lido deck Deli again (Reuben and slaw), then a quick swim in the Poseidon Pool. I laid out on the Serenity Adult Deck until about 2pm., before heading back to my balcony, as we left port around 3pm. It was so sunny and warm that day that the photos and videos of leaving port came out phenomenal. It was the most relaxing afternoon of the cruise; while sitting on my balcony watching us leave port and making our way back out to sea again for the long trip back to Baltimore. I went to an early dinner at Normandie(Tilapia -- overcooked), and that deliciously famous chocolate melting cake with two ice creams this time, and a cappuccino as I was not drinking after last night's Nassau Drunkfest! Went to the Taj Mahal Theater at 8:30pm to see the Jazzin Show, and although not as good as the Vroom Show, it was very entertaining, with some very good dancing. I went to the 9:45pm Adult Comedy show and met a couple of single ladies, as we watched what I thought were two only moderately funny comedians, with an hour break in between them. The last comedian was announced as being on the Oprah Winfrey Show. I was back in my room late and fell asleep around 3am. 7th Day Saturday 12/31/11: I was out of bed around 9:30am. I ate some leftovers in my fridge from a previous room service(s) for breakfast, as I forgot to fill out the breakfast card last night. I reviewed the debarkation handout and watched the TV version as well, then showered and went down to the Library to check email again. I went up to the Lido Deck Apollo Pool as there were very few kids up there for some reason, and laid out there until about 1:30pm. I tried getting a late lunch in Mermaids Grille, but only the Pizza Cafe was open. I stood in line for a few minutes before a bunch of kids came running up to the counter and butted in line again, so I went back to my room and ordered room service (Cornbeef on Rye and Chips, with some assorted chocolate chip cookies -- yummy). I sat on my balcony for an hour or so. I went down to the casino to cash out my winnings around 3:30pm, and then I purchased the Voyage DVD at the Photo Shop. I went to the FAIRWELL Party (free drinks -- and they were 'not' watered down) in the Taj Mahal and sat with the two single ladies I met the night before. The three of us then went to the Starry Night lounge for Karaoke until about 8:00pm. I went back to my room to pack and leave my checked luggage outside my room, and to change into more formal wear to rejoin the two ladies at David's Steak House for dinner for a 9:15pm reservation (the service was very bad this time there as the waitress could not speak English well -- but the food was superb -- had the excellent spinach salad again, and a 14oz New York Strip I could not finish, even with no desert). After Dinner I went up to the Lido Deck Stage for the New Years Celebration, and back to my room not too long after to get a good night's rest before debarkation the next morning. 8th Day Sunday New Years Day 01/01/12: The alarm went off early at 6:30am. I got up with another well deserved hangover, took a long hot shower, got into whatever clothes I had left over, and went down to the Normandie Restaurant for my first hot breakfast of the cruise. I came back up to the room and packed my carry-on bag, and was out of the room by 8:45am and down to one of the debarkation waiting areas(I chose the Taj Mahal as it had a big movie screen with ESPN providing highlights of the bowl games). My Zone 7 was called earlier than scheduled (around 11am), and I walked to the gangway, down it in a long but quick line, through customs very quickly, and found my checked bag quickly, and rolled it out to my vehicle in the parking lot; all in less than an hour. I was on the road before noon, but I would be remiss if I did not warn you about the poor signage for I-95 northbound drivers. The left hand turn you need to make does not have a sign posted to instruct you to do so at the traffic light. Just know when you come upon the first traffic light to turn left to make your way to the I-95 North entrance ramp. It's almost like a u-turn headed back the terminal. The drive home was as easy as the drive down, making it from Terminal to Home in about and hour and fifteen minutes. If you live within driving distance of the Baltimore Port, it is a no-brainer to book a cruise out of it on the Carnival Pride. I may try Royal Caribbean (RCL) out of Baltimore next, to compare the two. I don't know though, as it will be hard to beat the PRIDE for me! Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
There was four of us going on this cruise. My mother and her mother (my grandmother) were in one cabin. My boyfriend and I stayed in another cabin. Embarkation- We were on the ship within 20mins. of getting in line!! Cabins- ... Read More
There was four of us going on this cruise. My mother and her mother (my grandmother) were in one cabin. My boyfriend and I stayed in another cabin. Embarkation- We were on the ship within 20mins. of getting in line!! Cabins- Together we occupied cabins R11 and R19. R11 is a porthole in the fwd. starboard part of the ship. R19 is a interior "sideways" room in the fwd. starboard part of the ship. Our cabins were GREAT. The sideways room had a lot more room to walk around in the room. This factor alone made the room seem MUCH bigger. BEWARE: If the two beds are placed together in the sideways room then I think the room would seem MUCH SMALLER. Room Steward- What an amazing "team" of people!! Our rooms were clean and fresh. I loved coming in every night and having my bed sheets turned down. My pillows were fluffed, there was an amazing towel animal every night, and the beds are AMAZINGLY soft! We brought two of our own pillows just because I like my own and every night the steward would place our pillows on the bed. Food- The Lido was really good at times. The grill has extremely good hamburgers and the Wok is always a treat. I know I was on a News Year cruise but a lot of the food I thought was going to be on this cruise wasn't. The bacon mac-n- cheese was never on the menu in the main dinning room, nor the bitter and blanc, or cappuccino pie. However, we did have other foods such as chilled champagne soup (which was excellent). The 24-hour pizza was good and I NEVER went hungry. Room service was always quick and was good for a late night snack when I didn't feel like going to get pizza. We order breakfast to our room on port days which was a great idea. We were able to eat and get dressed. We were usually the 1st people off of the boat on port days so that we didn't need to spend the hottest part of the day on land. During the hottest part of the day we would come back to the boat and relax near the pool. We had plenty of time to shop and enjoy the beach. TV- Not a lot of channels but who goes on a cruise to watch TV? We enjoyed looking at the channel with the Lido camera. This allowed us to know how crowded the Lido was before we went searching for chairs. Rough Seas- Our 2nd to last night we had rough seas. I wasn't sea sick until this night. When you see the ship you can see how far up the porthole is from the bottom of the ship. This night the waves were covering the porthole window (the made a gurgling sound that made my stomach roll). I NEVER felt the ship movement until this night. Comedy Show- HOW FREAKIN FUNNY!!! I had such a good time! WARNING- Don't go to the Children shows and the adult shows. These shows are the exact same jokes with cuss words and sex added for the adult show. I still cannot figure out why they have not moved the shows in the Universal Lounge. The Forum Lounge is to small for such a large crowd. Every show people had to sit in the floor and stand. It's time to move the shows to a bigger spot!! The Shows- AMAZING! The lead singers were excellent and was very professional.There was nothing amateur about them. Debarkation- Went VERY smooth! We were off the ship and on the hotel shuttle within 15mins. of leaving the room. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
The boarding process in Port Canaveral was the smoothest of any cruise we have been on. We checked most of our luggage with the porters & carried on the rest of our bags. Our room (E51) was ready promptly at 1:15 as promised. My ... Read More
The boarding process in Port Canaveral was the smoothest of any cruise we have been on. We checked most of our luggage with the porters & carried on the rest of our bags. Our room (E51) was ready promptly at 1:15 as promised. My children(ages 8 & 12) were very excited to have a cabin with a window. Our room & the rest of the ship was immaculate. I had read some reviews saying how old & run down the ship was. The bright color changing walls in the atrium didn't bother us in the least. It is truly a fun ship! We did the anytime dining & were fine with having to wait a few minutes before being seated. We met some friends & wanted to dine with them on ew Year's Eve & after some very persuasive begging, they were able to seat our friend with us even though they had the early dining in another dining room. The fun energy on the Lido deck leading up to the countdow of 2011 was phenomenal! We will definitely do another NYE cruise. Food was great. Lines to the MongolianWok were always longer than any other, but didn't bother us at all.:) Half Moon Cay was our second stop. It was by far, the best ever excursion we have ever experienced! We rented the cabana(#11) & loved everything about it. My husband who is fair skinned much appreciated the shade with fans, not to mention the snacks & drinks that came with the cabana rental. Having our snorkel gear & swim mats all ready for us, was a big plus! This was well worth the money. We stayed the entire day & were on the very last ferry back to the boat. Staff very friendly & helpful. There are only 15 or so cabanas, so book early. Great thing was the seclusion from the other thousands of guests. :)) Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Three friends and I have just returned from the Norwegian Jewel cruise to the Bahamas from December 31st 2011 to January 6th, 2012. First off, the good news: 1. The Norwegian Jewel is a very comfortable, easy ship to navigate ... Read More
Three friends and I have just returned from the Norwegian Jewel cruise to the Bahamas from December 31st 2011 to January 6th, 2012. First off, the good news: 1. The Norwegian Jewel is a very comfortable, easy ship to navigate around in. It didn't take long to find your way around and the deck levels are situated nicely. There are plenty of places to find food, comfort and excitement. But watch out that the Mongolian Hot Pot and Bar City do not have any signs on the ship to let you know where they are actually located. 2. The staff is incredibly friendly (especially the bar staff) and the food is quite good. The famous "washy-washy, happy-happy" girls always brighten up even the dreariest of days. And that's good, because the weather was terrible for this trip. But, I don't hold the cruise ship accountable for that. There was plenty to do on-board since the sun decided not to shine and we did not get to dock at Great Stirrup Cay, since the waters were so rough. But, the staff made it nice to be on the ship. The best servers were at Bar City and the Star Bar. And Spinnaker Lounge had great entertainment BEHIND the bar! 3. The food was excellent. I have read some reviews here that the food was bad, but I just don't agree. The food was better than on Carnival. So what if you have to pay an extra ten dollars to eat Chinese at the Chin Chin? It's well worth the "all you can eat" that is included. The free buffet had an excellent diversity of good quality, hot and fresh offerings, which changed daily. Breakfast was pretty much the same every day, but still very good and diverse. 4. The entertainment was outstanding at the Stardust theater. The Jewel dancers were quite good and the singers had possibly the best vocal talents of any cruise ships I have been on. Duo Elegia was OUTSTANDING!!! They are an acrobatic act that just blew us all away! They should be performing in Vegas! And although the cruise director "Dan the Man" was very annoying, we have to give him credit for booking such great talent. We loved "The Fountain" show. Very funny. 5. The staterooms are great. The beds are the most comfortable beds we've slept on in a cruise ship. The stewards take great care of you. Now the bad: 1. Beware of roving gangs of drunken, under-age teens once the sun goes down. I have no idea where security was, but we saw the same group of six under-age teenagers totally wasted throughout the entire cruise. They were obnoxious, rude and downright hostile. They were bribing other (naive) guest with cash to buy them drinks, putting the bill on the (naive) stranger's stateroom card! They would get discovered in one bar and then they would just go to another and do the same thing. They mostly went up to young girls and told them that they had "lost their card." We thought that by the end of the cruise they would be caught, but on the final night, they were in the Spinnaker Lounge already drunk and yelling out obscenities at everyone. Nothing was ever done about it, even though we had mentioned it to the staff. 2. Everything seemed to be about getting more money out of you. We all went to Bingo one day and during the entire game, all the "caller" did was market to us about how to spend more money. We just wanted to play a nice, relaxing game of Bingo, but we just kept being inundated with "Buy these game tickets!" and "Make sure you go and buy things in our duty-free shop!" and "Remember the artwork auction downstairs!" Everything was being marketed ALL THE TIME. It was annoying! In addition, watch out for false advertisements. They lure you in with statements like "Play Bingo for only ten dollars and get a chance to win our jackpot of over $7,000!" But, when you get there, you only get one card for ten dollars and they try to sell you additional cards for a lot more money. 3. Beware of the Bahama excursions. We booked the "Sea and See" excursion and it was pretty bad. The boat they put us on was an old, rickety, oily thing. We were told that we could not sit on the back seat (it was falling apart!). The tour guide had no microphone, so he screamed at us through the entire tour. The people in the front got spat upon and the people in the back couldn't hear a thing. We met a couple that had rented scooters and toured the entire island by themselves and they said they had a great time (although Norwegian specifically discourages this, since they make no money from that). 4. If you want to enjoy the buffet at the Garden Cafe, make sure to get there very early or very late. Any time in-between and you will not be able to find a seat to eat. There are just not enough tables to accommodate all of guests. All in all, the cruise was enjoyable, but I am not sure that I would travel with them again. I'll have to try out some more cruise lines to see how they compare. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
The embarkation and disembarkation was done perfectly without any wait time. Well done. The ship was probably sold out but we did not check with the captain on the number of passengers. The ship was always crowded no matter where we went. ... Read More
The embarkation and disembarkation was done perfectly without any wait time. Well done. The ship was probably sold out but we did not check with the captain on the number of passengers. The ship was always crowded no matter where we went. Dining room, promenade, buffet, any public area, it did feel like a holiday cruise, but somehow I wished it could be a little bit less crowded. The Promenade is beautifully decorated. Dining room food was good, although not exceptional. However, service was extremely good with a Caribbean team (our waiter is from Trinidad and our assistant waitress is from Dominican). Considering we had a group of ten and a large table is usually hard to serve, they really did a great job and we had very good dining experience. RCCL's ice show was always a sold out show so we were asked to obtain ticket on the first night. One member of our group went and waited in line for more than 30 minutes to get our tickets, why could they not let us do the booking on the interactive TV? Or let us reserve our seat online like the other RCCL ships (Allure and Oasis)? Due to the ice show time at 7 pm and our dinner time at 6 pm, we made a special request a day before for an expedited dinner service. We were extremely pleased with the service we got and we did not even miss the dessert and still on time to watch the ice show, well done. There were very good musicians onboard, we like the Latin band Mambo Cliente and the Filipino quartet called New Version the most. Unfortunately they were assigned to two very tiny lounges to play most of the time. Mambo Cliente played at the Aquarium Lounge the most while The New Version Quartet played at the Dizzy Lounge the most. Both lounges were too small to accommodate the number of passengers who wanted to dance. NYE celebration: well done with all the novelty and free champagne, the Promenade was flooded with people, luckily no stampede.... The less than perfects: dining room food quality was less than perfect, it was good, but we felt the cut back. Fish served were not top quality fish, meat dishes were good, but again, did not feel like AAA grade. The buffet food was even less appealing and always crowded. Not enough server to clean the table (since we just got off the Emerald Princess's xmas cruise, that was such a cultural shock to have such a huge difference in the food and service quality). They freq made public announcement asking passengers to leave their table when they were done so other passengers can have a seat. That was so annoying and prob a major design fraud. Activities: outdoor activities were plentiful, but limited to weather as the ship sails out from Bayonne. Indoor activities were limited, we were surprised there were no line dance nor dance lessons on the last sea days, making the last day so boring as we were not shoppers. It seems RCCL is always pushing people to buy buy buy. I did buy some stuff from the stores, including two pairs of costume earrings. When I noticed one pair was defected, I took it back and wanted a refund (right away on the same day), I was told they cannot do a refund, and I had to buy something else more expensive. I did, but the clerk was doing a refund first for the defected item (then why was I told no refund) and then another sales slip for the new item. Internet : A major disappointment, first of all, we cannot have wifi in the cabin, we have to be in the public rooms where it was a hot spot to do our emails and internet surfing. Secondly, its slow (OK, its slow probably on other ships too) and to log on you need at least 2-3 minutes, if you realized you were not getting the internet, you wasted 2-3 minutes time (at 65 cents a minute). I bought a package (at 55 cents a minute), and two occasions, before my package ran out, I was charged additional money for internet access. I had to go to Guest Service, line up, and talked to an agent so he can revert the charge. That was such a waste of time. Lastly, on the last day, from mid afternoon, internet service was off and on often. From 10 pm, virtually no internet service. I still had over $12 worth of internet time left, which I intended to use on the last day to check weather and possible flight delays. Guess what, no internet service on the disembarkation day neither, what a scam. I wrote a complain letter, brought it to the Guest Service, and was only told that it will be handed to the appropriate department. Earlier in the cruise, we wrote a suggestion to have the Maharajas lounge to house the two music groups (Mamba Cliente, and New Version Quartet) for listening and dancing pleasure as the other lounges (Aquarium, Dizzy) were too small to accommodate people who wanted to enjoy the music and did a little bit of dancing. Someone called us the last day from Guest Relation, and asked if I were the one who wrote the suggestion, I said yes, and that was it. No action was taken, no additional words were said, so what was the point of having us writing comments? Port: Bayonne really has nothing to offer, its difficult to get to, and nothing to do if you want to go out after registration. Port: Port Canaveral has nothing to offer at the terminal, you either have to take a taxi to a beach or join an excursion   Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
As a seasoned cruiser, I have been on Regent Seven seas, Holland America, NCL, Costa, Royal Caribbean, Homelines, Carnival before, celebrity and mostly Princess; 20 cruises in all. I love Holland America but can usually get a balcony ... Read More
As a seasoned cruiser, I have been on Regent Seven seas, Holland America, NCL, Costa, Royal Caribbean, Homelines, Carnival before, celebrity and mostly Princess; 20 cruises in all. I love Holland America but can usually get a balcony cheaper on Princess because they have bigger ships with more balconies. So I am happy to report I have been spoiled by cruising. My husband and I decided to take the Christmas cruise because we can afford to be away easily during the holiday week. We are so blessed now to have a cruise terminal in Baltimore, so we booked the Pride. I was so surprised that the ship is similar to the Crown, Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald of Princess. We decided to book an aft balcony cabin. We had been upgraded to one years ago and really enjoyed it. The one before was three times the size of ours on the Pride, but it was big enough. A great choice. Just know that 5297 and 5299 are regular size balconies, just off the back of the ship. We were concerned about all the children that were to be on board. I found out later that there were 700, we never saw them after the first day. Carnival does a great job keeping them occupied. Loved our cabin and it's location. The food in the diningroom was great but some nights there was nothing on the menu I cared for. We have always looked to the Lido to save us if we feel this way, but on the Pride, the hot food served on the Lido deck is the same as the diningroom. You do have the pizza cafe, the salad bar or the grill if you want a burger but was disappointed that we did not have more choices. The first formal night we went to David's Steakhouse. The food and the service was excellent BUT they would not allow us to bring our left over steak back to our cabin to be eaten the next day. It had to be disposed of. Remember this so that you do not over order. It was a shame. However, I checked my refrigerator back in the cabin and found out that it did not keep things very cold. So I see theri point, however, I would like them to change this policy and give us mini frigs to hold our left overs. We also paid $30 each extra, so we felt we should be able to take our leftovers. My husband and I are not big entertainment people. We like to read, gamble and turn in early. The casino was the best I have ever experienced on the high seas. I had a wonderful time. The servers in the casino are attentive and learn your name quickly. Cabin steward was ok. I liked my towel surprises but he forgot lots of things like no glasses the first day with a full ice bucket. The cabin did not have a book that had info about the spa, etc. We requested one but it never appeared. He forgot to leave a breakfast menu twice and one time I made one up on a scrap of paper. His helpers were wonderful.Room service was awesome. I did not think the people in the stores were very friendly. The ship had sent our a picture of the tee shirts that they were selling. I wanted two specifically. I went to the store and looked around but could not find the two designs advertised. When I asked about them, the young man told me I had to come back each day to see which ones they put out. He was so nasty. I did go back every day but I did not want to because I did not want to be treated that way again. The people in the jewelry store ignored you. They hung together talking and when you asked to see something in the case, they seemed annoyed. If you did not buy what you looked at the first day, they would hound you when you came in later about what you looked at before. Kept me from buying alot, so I saved money. Other than these examples, the staff on board was top knotch. The service, food and ship itself was as good as all of he other cruise lines I have taken in the past, including Regent. I was just on that cruise in November. We did not take excursions, so I cannot discuss them but in most cases, we walk off the ship and find something to do ourselves unless we are far from what we want to see and have to book an excursion to get there. Would I take this ship again, YOU BET!! It is in my back yard and the prices other than during the holidays are excellent. I now know the ship well and will be right at home when I return. I plan to do so soon. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Background We are a married couple in our late 30's. This was our 7th cruise having sailed with RCCI, Disney, NCL and Princess. We have sailed in suites, oceanviews, balconies and interior staterooms and recently decided that if it ... Read More
Background We are a married couple in our late 30's. This was our 7th cruise having sailed with RCCI, Disney, NCL and Princess. We have sailed in suites, oceanviews, balconies and interior staterooms and recently decided that if it means we can sail more often we will stick with the interior rooms. This was our 2nd cruise with RCCI. Embarkation The port of Baltimore was extremely easy to drive to from Southwestern Ontario. We stayed one night at the Hunt Valley Marriott ($50 on Priceline) and drove to the port Saturday morning. It took a total of 30 minutes to get to the port followed by dropping off the luggage and then parking. We were in the terminal within 50 minutes of leaving the hotel and checked in within minutes after that. We were on the ship by around 11:30 a.m. and headed straight to the Solarium. We found a seat and headed to the Windjammer to pick up a light lunch. There was a very nice salad bar that included many fresh cut veggies, meat and an excellent selection of dressings. We took our food back to the Solarium and had a nice quiet lunch. Stateroom We booked in November right before Thanksgiving. We booked an interior guarantee cabin and ended up with cabin 8051 a large interior stateroom. We were in the room by 1:30 and were pleasantly surprised with the cabin. It was spacious, had a large closet, vanity, TV and a small loveseat. Everything was clean and the bed was extremely comfy. Overall the stateroom was perfect for us. Overall Impression of the Ship The Enchantment is an older ship but we found no issues with this. The furniture appears to be a bit outdated but all is in good condition and very comfortable. The ship was still decorated for Christmas and it was very pretty. The pool areas were clean and well kept as were all of the bars, public areas, washrooms, casino, decks etc. Overall we had a great initial reaction to the ship. Food We ate dinner in the main restaurant every night. We did not have one bad meal and found the steaks to be absolutely delicious. There was always a wide variety and the desserts, especially the sugar free ones, were extremely tasty. I would rate the dining room food at dinner as above average. The breakfast in the restaurant was another story. We ate their only once for breakfast and the food was cold, stale and basically not worth the time. We stuck to the Windjammer for breakfast and mainly ate from the omelette station which was fabulous. There were barely any lines to wait in and the omelettes were well worth the wait. Lunch was also mainly in the Windjammer although the restaurant did have an amazing salad station. You got to pick your greens, meats, veggies, dressing etc. It was very good. My only complaint with the food is that the buffet closes at 9 pm. You can get room service until midnight for free or for a charge of $3.95 after midnight. The menu is extremely limited. You can also get burgers, fries, pizza and hot dogs in the Solarium from 10 pm until 2 am. The pizza was very tasty. My other issue with the buffet closing is that it is hard to find a coffee after 9 pm and since I like coffee I was a bit annoyed with this. You can pay for Starbucks coffee at Latte-tudes until 11:30pm if you are willing to pay. You can also get Ben and Jerry's ice cream there for a fee but the desserts there are included in your cruise fare. Don't miss out on these desserts; they were some of the best on the ship. And for all the cookie lovers out there.....don't miss out on all of the delectable cookies available. My personal favourites were the sugar free cookies but they were all good! Activities There were 2 main production shows and 2 small production shows on the first and last nights. The dancers are extremely talented and 1 of the female singers was amazing. The other singers were OK but nothing special. There was a magician (nothing that you haven't seen before) a comedian whose jokes were the same as my 16 year old son will tell and Jay Johnson the most amazing ventriloquist who was the best entertainment on the ship. On the final 2 nights there was another comedian who was from Seattle and he was hilarious. There was your typical other activities such as trivia (which we love), games, bingo, karaoke etc. Overall there was a good variety of entertainment and we were never bored. There were a couple of days where they could have had more activities but overall it was very good. Crew Our cabin steward Jimmy from Grenada was very personable and did an excellent job of keeping our cabin clean and stocked with ice. We chatted briefly with him a couple of times and he did an excellent job. Our waitress for dinner was Cherie and her assistant Natalie. Both were pleasant but not overly special in any way. The rest of the staff was pleasant although some seemed like they needed a trip home. Mitch Marucci was the Cruise Director. When we saw him he was funny and spunky but other than the shows, The Love and Marriage Game Show and Quest we never saw him anywhere on the ship. His staff was probably the most boring except for one guy whose name I can't remember of course! Ports We did not book this for the itinerary as it was a Bahamas cruise with stops in Port Canaveral, Nassau and Coco Cay. We ran into some cold weather and got stuck in Nassau for 2 days rather than going to Coco Cay. That was fine since it was cold anyway but I really did want to see Coco Cay. Also, the Captain said that the Majesty would also be staying in Nassau overnight as they were supposed to go to Coco Cay with us as well. In the morning the Majesty was gone and I can't help but wonder where they went. I would not go on another cruise going to the Bahamas in the winter again. The weather at home was almost as nice as we experienced in Bahamas. We did go to Junkaroo Beach in Nassau and would go there again. It was too cold to enjoy but since you can just walk there from the ship it is worth the walk. Debarkation We opted to carry our luggage off. We were in the car by 714 am! It was stress free and the easiest process ever. Overall Sailing out of Baltimore was excellent although I think Brooklyn was the best embarkation experience we ever had and that was with Princess. We will definitely sail out of Baltimore again and most likely on Enchantment of the Seas. Overall it was a good experience at a great price. Hopefully we will sail in the summer to Bermuda and can't wait to experience the Enchantment in nice weather. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
We are cruiseaholics and this cruise was our first this year. We generally sail 2 to 3 sailings per year. We have sailed from Baltimore before, we have sailed Carnival before, first time on the Pride. Embarkation - We drove to Baltimore ... Read More
We are cruiseaholics and this cruise was our first this year. We generally sail 2 to 3 sailings per year. We have sailed from Baltimore before, we have sailed Carnival before, first time on the Pride. Embarkation - We drove to Baltimore and stayed in White Marsh 15 minutes from port, Hilton Garden Inn across from Hampton Inn. Easy drive to port but MUDST stay far right through toll and Key Tunnel for Exit as us IMMEDIATELY after exit from tunnel. Any other lane and you can't make exit. Doesn't get any easier, off exit two lefts and enter pier area. Can't miss it since ship is RIGHT THERE. Drive to luggage drop, then be directed to parking right there. HINT - credit card became 10 minute wait eventually, cash, no wait line. We went cash and were parked and in terminal in about 10 minutes. Since had VIP due to suite 6174 we were processed and boarded in 5 minutes as was starting. Cannot get to cabins until 2:30 however, head right for buffet. CABIN - Suite 6174 was excellent choice. I did a youtube video of some parts of cruise including walk through of suite as I am always looking for these before I book. More than enough closet and storage, great large balcony with lounge 4 chairs and table. Suite has jacuzzi tub and double sinks. Bea out steward(ess) was excellent. FOOD - Excellent in our opinion, loved buffet area though if you have sailed Miracle or Pride ships you know a bit of a walk between stations at times. Sandwich station, burgers, pizza, Asian ( very popular ) and general fare of course. DINING ROOM - Food again excellent staff extremely friendly, BUT that said. Service, local highway diner level. Crappy service with a big smile and a dance almost every night. We were traditional second seating and service is comparable to what we have found in other Carnival ships. Happy, nice servers with not much of a clue about dining room service standards on most lines. SHORTS, too many to count in dining room and it wasn't even warm. Many did dress for formal evening maybe 70%. Manuel heads Matri'd real nice guy, no control of dining room. We anticipated and not a problem since we presumed this would be the mode of trip. CASINO - nice staff machines where you can smoke are individually marked. Also if you obtain 1500 points you drink free while playing in casino. You get a card registered with Casino Manager to present to bar server. Only drink while playing and only one every 15 minutes. My wife earned her cards day 5 I think. Not a big benny for many but something new to us. Depends on how much you gamble and drink. Wife gamble every night, drinks one maybe two wines an evening while playing. GENERAL COMMENTS - Ship was FULL and very family oriented young and teenagers 800 kids on cruise that surprised us to some degree. Not problem for most part they were very well behaved and very well occupied. Last two nights a couple roving flip the do not disturb sign run through the halls kids but exception not rule. Did find two young 11 and 7 riding elevators and eating ice cream at 10:30 at night. Had to wonder about where parents were, such is life.Ship clean, staff wonderful, loved aft pool area ADULT ONLY and enforced thank you. SERENITY it is called and seats were nicely padded even had some hammocks. No charge simply designated adult area. Down side is that on Miracle used to be a great place at bar to smoke cigar while wife sunbathed. No more, no smoking. Have to go up a deck I was told, never bothered. SMOKERS - I stopped cigarettes over three years ago but still enjoy a cigar. There is one large lounge empty in daytime for most part forward next to coffee bar and just before main theatre that is smokers lounge, large ashtrays and cigar permitted. Starry Night Jazz lounge.. Smoking in casino signs say only if playing and only where designated. CANNOT smoke in cabins but can still smoke on balcony if you have one including cigars. Harder and harder for smokers. If I was still a cigarette smoker I could live with it but you can see the writing on the wall. Still I think ALL ships should have a cigar type bar and balconies should remain smoking, they are not on some ships now. Bottom line cruise was great but I think I will forego holiday cruises in the future, just too crowded. Still was on the bucket list so no complaints. Had minor bathroom maintaince problem, called desk respond and fix in MINUTES, impressive. Many Asians and Indians traveling, locals MD and PENN and NY mostly it seemed. PORTS - did Epcot ship excursion tad expensive but worth it for most part. Again busiest day of the year 12-28 hey actually closed entrance to three parks by afternoon. Never on holiday again :) DISEMBARKATION - Again easy enough, off by colored luggage tag, has VIP again so off grabbed porter at car in minutes and on highway. Carry off your own first as is offered on most now. MY Youtube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZoPgsSBJfs George IN NY Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
"Happy New Year 2012" - Embarkation is always so easy for us as we live only 10 minutes from the home port in Bayonne, NJ. A quick move through all the lines and we were in the Windjammer within a half hour enjoying our lunch. ... Read More
"Happy New Year 2012" - Embarkation is always so easy for us as we live only 10 minutes from the home port in Bayonne, NJ. A quick move through all the lines and we were in the Windjammer within a half hour enjoying our lunch. Although the boarding time is listed at 2pm it is always good to go earlier. We were surprised at how crowded the Winderjammer was at 12:30 - It took a while to find a table for my husband (68), my Daughter (44), her husband (46) and myself (64). This was our 3rd cruise - my daughter and her husband's first. We bragged so much after our 1st 2 cruises and tried to get all in the family to join us. It is hard though to set a time when all in the family can make it. Maybe next time. We again had an inside cabin, which is so much more affordable than any other selection. My daughter and her husband had a balcony, and after enjoying some time with them on their balcony, this would definitely be our choice on future cruises. An inside cabin is nice. We really don't spend that much time in our room, but you can't tell whether it is day or night without checking your watch. Food and Service was great. We had the early seating in the MDR but avoided the 2 formal nights - jut not our thing. We also missed the MDR when we went to the 5pm ice show, and couldn't make it in time to the MDR. We always enjoy the Windjammer buffet. The food is good and you always have a large selection of what you want to eat. We also made it one night to Johnny Rockets,and had a lot of fun dancing to Last Dance and YMCA with our waiter. The cheeseburgers and milk shakes were delicious. There is a small cover charge so be sure to check the prices before you go. No reservations needed. The Ice Show was so colorful and enjoyable. Somehow the guy who fell on his backside got the most applause. The comedian, John Wing, had us in stitches. His routine reminded me of the great George Carlin, where you have to think about what he is saying, and when you get it, you can't control your outburst of laughter. Now for the very negative - which cannot be controlled by Royal Carribean. The weather. Out of 7 days, I think we had 2 days of nice weather. In fact we had to skip our port of call at CoCoCay due to 35 knot winds. We wound up staying 2 days at Nassau, Bahamass, which wouldn't be so bad, but on the second day the wind was so bad, we had to stay on the ship. My daughter and her husband had arranged a snorkel adventure which was scheduled on the first day of docking at 2:15pm. But due to the fact the there was another ship in our slip, the Explorer did not dock until 4pm, and with just another hour of daylight left, the snorkeling was postponed until the following day at 9am. Then of course, due to the high winds, the snorkeling was cancelled the following day. They lugged their snorkeling gear on the cruise, but never got a chance to use it. There was a another ship docked nearby at Nassau Bahamas which damaged the dock and was damaged due to the high winds. There was a grand celebration for New Year's Eve in the Promenade, but not being a fan of crowded places, we chose to pass and spend a quiet night in our room. You can always watch the happenings on your stateroom tv. We previously have sailed in the fall of 2010, and although the sailing was right in the middle of a bad huricane season, we were lucky to have 5 beautiful days of sunshine and long days to Bermuda and back. Our 2nd cruise was a 9 day Spring Break cruise in Apr 2011. Never, Never, Never again for 2 cruisers in their 60's. The ship was overrun by unruly gangs of kids. They would jump on the elevator, push all of the buttons, and jump off. They would sit on the floors all over the ship, making the adults walk around them, or trip over them. Three times they stole our Do Not Disturb sign out of our stateroom door.And now the terrible weather and early sundown days we endured during this winter trip. I guess summer is next. The only problem is the prices are much higher during the summer months. In summation, there is nothing like being "treated like royalty". It doesn't matter if you book a high priced suite, or an inexpensive inside cabin, in our experience the employees on the ship have only one objective in mind, that the cruisers have a good time.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
This was our fourth cruise on the Explorer of the Seas leaving from Cape Liberty which is about 1 1/2 hrs.by bus from our home in PA. This was the quickest boarding we have experienced so far.Our stateroom was available when we boarded ... Read More
This was our fourth cruise on the Explorer of the Seas leaving from Cape Liberty which is about 1 1/2 hrs.by bus from our home in PA. This was the quickest boarding we have experienced so far.Our stateroom was available when we boarded and we were having lunch in the Windjammer by 2PM. The weather cooperated and the seas were calm for the first three days. New Year's Eve was fun but we thought there would be a more organized celebration ie Fireworks or something special in the lounges and bars.There was a special menu,hats and a few balloons at our table.We rang in 2012 in the 19th hole lounge. We stayed on board in Port Canaveral on New Year's Day and enjoyed the quieter ship. We arrived in Nassau on 01/02 to find the shops were closed for a local holiday parade.We weren't planning to shop but it was a major disappointment for first time visitors to Nassau.We took a cab to Atlantis,$4/person one way,and had a great time in the casino with our friends. Our third port,Coco Cay, was cancelled due to a high wind warning for 01/03 so we stayed in Nassau a second day.The forecast was correct.It was cold and extremely windy.The seas were high and it was pretty rocky until the wee hours on 01/04. The last sea day was calm and sunny but too cool to be outside for any length of time. Disembarkation was the usual chaos at the elevators getting to our assigned waiting area.We were at our bus with luggage by 8:45 with all but four passengers but waited on the bus for over an hour for them.But departure time was 10AM so we couldn't be too upset. We were all early,they were on time. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
As someone who has been on 12 Cruises (Carnival, Princess and Royal Caribbean) I can attest that NCL is the worst cruise experience. If you rode the Staten Island Ferry you would get a smoother ride, better food, and better service. My ... Read More
As someone who has been on 12 Cruises (Carnival, Princess and Royal Caribbean) I can attest that NCL is the worst cruise experience. If you rode the Staten Island Ferry you would get a smoother ride, better food, and better service. My family and I just came off a 7 day cruise aboard the NCL Jewel. We were apprehensive to try the freestyle cruising because we traditional enjoy the same servers at dinner, but tried this one because we heard mixed reviews and the price was right. After taking this cruise, I do not know how NCL is still in business. The crews from the front desk staff to the servers throughout the ship were extremely rude and had the "I do not care" attitude. This is attributed to the fact that $12 per person per day is automatically charged to your account and there is no accountability for their service because they will not serve you every night. The ship is narrow and does not handle well in 4-7 foot swells. The ship rocked from the Verrazano's Bridge and kept rocking for 7 days. The constant rocking was so bad, people were throwing up and the pools were closed on the warmest days. If you choose this ship, bring your wallets. The price may be less for the cruise, but you will spend money on specialty restaurants because the food in the dining room and buffet are horrible. NCL nickel and dimes you for everything from meeting SpongeBob for breakfast, to sushi, to cake in the main atrium, to eating decent food. In addition, be prepared for only 2 ports of call because the private island is typically canceled due to weather and the ship generates revenue as people fight for deck chairs, purchase high prices drinks and play $50 bingo. Lastly, since we ate in the specialty restaurants every night, paid extra and tipped those servers so we removed the tips from our account (we did tip the cabin steward cash). When we made this request to the front desk, we were given much resistance as they asked us why... said it was not possible... said it was for everyone on the ship... etc; however, please know gratuity is for services well performed and are NOT Mandatory. If you wish to have your tips removed... stand strong and you can have the tips removes. The total for tips for a family of 4 was $336 in addition to the specialty restaurant fees. In short, go on Carnivals newer ships, Princess or RCCL.... It will be worth it. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
We live in Central Florida so it was an easy drive to Port Canaveral. I am 68 and my husband is 69 years old but we are young at heart. Embarkation was very smooth. No waiting line and top notch staffing to answer any questions we ... Read More
We live in Central Florida so it was an easy drive to Port Canaveral. I am 68 and my husband is 69 years old but we are young at heart. Embarkation was very smooth. No waiting line and top notch staffing to answer any questions we had. This is our 3rd cruise aboard the Carnival Ecstasy - 1992, 1997 and now 2011. We were very pleased at the cleanliness of the ship - very well maintained, in our opinion. Our stateroom had a balcony which was very nice. Our cabin steward (U201) was exceptional. One of the first ships we have cruised where the cabin steward actually cleaned the balcony every day - like new! The cruise director was very personable and had an amazing talent of playing the fiddle. The country show they presented was super thanks in a large part to the cruise director fiddle-playing. We normally do not eat in the formal dining room. We frequent the Lido Deck and the buffet they offer each day. We did not go on any excursions but we know the water activities are exceptional. The country show was the best of the shows on this cruise. There was a good variety in the show which made it enjoyable. We no longer get off ships when going to Nassau since we have been there so many times. Freeport was very nice and clean. Enjoyed the casino at Port Lucaya in Freeport. The four night cruise was just fine for a get-a-way! The waters are beautiful and the water excursions are top notch. Disembarkation: This was the first time we disembarked with self-assist. Being the first one off is not necessarily the best way to get off a ship. We were winded by the time we got out of the terminal and reached our car. We are just too old to try that again. We honestly couldn't find anything to complain about - very nice experience. The entire staff should be commended for their efforts! Great time! Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
Last year, our family took a Thanksgiving cruise because our children and I are off for the week of Thanksgiving. My husband learned of an outstanding one day sale for this several weeks before the cruise and we couldn't help but book ... Read More
Last year, our family took a Thanksgiving cruise because our children and I are off for the week of Thanksgiving. My husband learned of an outstanding one day sale for this several weeks before the cruise and we couldn't help but book it. We actually went on this ship back in 2003. It has since been refurbished. We live in Florida and so we did not need to use a hotel in Miami. The ship Majesty of the Seas is a lovely ship. It is smaller than many of the RCI ships and it typically is used for their 3 and 4 night cruises. It was refurbished a few years ago and is what I'd call understated classiness. I believe it holds about 3300 passengers. It never seemed crowded to me, which was a pleasant surprise. I was impressed with the list of activities that they offered on this cruise. We didn't do much on the ship because it was only 4 nights long and there were three ports of call. All of our party found the service to be excellent on the ship. The staff and crew members were very gracious. It was some of the best service I recall on a cruise ship. We did not use any of the ship's offered shore excursions because they are typically overpriced. The first stop was in Nassau, Bahamas. The second, was Coco Cay, RCI's "private island." The third was Key West, FL. All cruisers had to go through immigration before going to the island. They started it at ten and there were people who stood in the line for TWO HOURS. The line went ALL the way ACROSS the ship on the fifth floor. It was ridiculous. We didn't even bother getting in line. We hung out at the pool for a while, then got lunch. At 12:30, we went to immigration and walked right through. I know that the line was very frustrating for many people. Coco Cay is their private island. This was a very fun stop. We went directly to the closest beach when we got off of the tender. It was also the busiest section of beach. However, as you went further down the beach, certain areas were almost like quicksand because of low tide time. The snorkeling was very good here. We had our own masks and flippers, but they make you rent a vest, which is $6 per person. Those sneaky little RCI planners! There are a lot of activities you can pay to do, or you can just enjoy the beach. There is a "nature trail" but it's very short. There is a shopping area, of course and the people working there are actually all people from the outlying islands. They have plenty of restrooms and a few freshwater showers. A lunch was provided on the island and there was a decent selection for the lunch. There were things like burgers, hot dogs, grilled chicken pieces, ribs and various salads, along with a few desserts and lots of drinks. All in all, that was a very fun day. We live in central FL, and were actually staying in Naples the previous night with some family. We drove to the Miami port and parked in an off the port lot. The particular company we used was NOT good, but it looks as though Premier is a good parking choice and it's much cheaper than parking at the port. The stateroom was a very small interior stateroom. Because the ship is a bit older than many of the big ones, there were fewer balconies and the rooms, in general, were a bit smaller than other ships. The room was very very clean, thanks to an excellent room steward. It was well maintained and the carpet and furniture were in good condition. It had two twin beds and two bunks that pulled down. There was a little pop up table between the beds, a small desk with drawers and one side on the top with little shelves. There was also a little closet with a good bit of hanging space. The bathroom was little with a shower, but it sufficed. The food was excellent. We had dinner in the Starlight Dining Room every night and our servers were great. My children especially liked the assistant waiter who did a new magic trick every night for them. My son appreciated this waiter because he helped him out when he saw my son in the buffet restaurant one morning at breakfast. There was a nice menu every night. The chicken marsala night was outstanding. I wasn't crazy about the duck when I got that one night. We had lunch and breakfast in the Windjammer, which is where the buffet is served. The breakfast selection was exactly what was available in the main dining room and it was always very good. The lunch selection was varied and everything was delicious. We also really enjoyed the Compass deli where they had a variety of premade specialty sandwiches, a small salad bar, and three soups with bread, along with a couple of desserts. The crepes there were a very tasty treat, as well. Our kids especially liked Sorrento's pizza. There was a constant supply of fresh baked pizza selections available when they were open. The yogurt and soft serve ice cream machine were open for limited hours. I never tried it, but heard the stuff was very good. The children's facility was very nice, but we did not use it this time around. Since we were in port every day, our children stayed with us and were actually pretty tired by evening. I met a few of the workers and they seemed very nice and the kids appeared to have a lot of fun. The entertainment was average to excellent. On opening night, the comedian shared for a while and was hilarious. My kids even loved him. I didn't see his regular show that was the following night. I think it might have been more suited for adults, from what I heard. There were two shows presented by the cruise singers and dancers. I'm a musician so I am fairly picky. Only one of the four main singers was very good, and even he had only a limited range. The other guy was fairly quiet and one of the girls sang WAY too loud and was off pitch. The other lady had a tough time singing out on her part. The dancers were very good but the choreography was pretty flashy and their costumes drew your attention away from the dancing, really. The themes were 1960's music and soul music each time. The afro wigs were just cheesy! During the soul show, I found it unusual that they were singing songs that were all done by African American performers, and they were showing slides of African American performers, yet only three of the cruise singers/dancers were African American. The band was actually one of the best I recall hearing perform on a cruise. They were the best part of the show. There was a juggler who had won some international competition. He was AMAZING! He had written and recorded all of his own music and his performance just blew my mind. The whole audience gave the guy a long standing ovation at the end of his performance, it was so good. It reminded me of the type of thing you'd see at Cirque de Soleil. We were supposed to disembark at 9:00 a.m. We did not get called to leave the ship until about 10:00 a.m. Then we stood in line for 15 minutes. Then we were sent to get our bags and customs, where we stood in line for 30 minutes. The backup was an annoyance to us, but would have been disastrous for someone who was needing to get to the airport. We were told that this had something to do with Thanksgiving, but when you are dealing with so many people, a business needs to be better prepared to handle something like this. The only real negatives were the lines in Key West and on disembarkation day. Overall, it was a wonderful cruise. The ship was enjoyable to be on, the service was excellent, and the ports of call were a lot of fun. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
I have sailed a few other ships with carnival before, the last being a couple yrs ago or so. So things have changed and it was interesting. Checking in and checking out of the ship is faster now than ever before which is a plus. The ... Read More
I have sailed a few other ships with carnival before, the last being a couple yrs ago or so. So things have changed and it was interesting. Checking in and checking out of the ship is faster now than ever before which is a plus. The airport transfer is still smooth and hassle free. Embarkation day on 11/20 was good. Got to the ship around 12 noon and breezed right through the check in process. The muster drill is a little easier now too which I like, don't have to bring the life jackets to the drill. I happened to be on this cruise thanks to getting the last available room on the ship. Therefore, I get my set and sail card and see I have the 8:15pm dining. At 1pm I head to the dining room when it opened, to make changes, and got the 6:00pm dining which was cool. The water was very rough heading out on Sunday night the 20th. Was a rough sail all night, the boat rocked pretty good and had people bouncing off walls. Felt like I was hammered but I only had 2 drinks for the night. Bought the bottomless bubbles soda card after I left port for 27.00. Would have costed 29-30.00 in port. Dining staff - Maitre D Orhan was a lame duck. Yes, a lame duck. He really showed no interest in stopping by tables during the week to mingle with the crowd, little to be seen or heard from it seemed like all week. Kind of weird if you ask me when all my past experiences, maitre d's get invovled and their dining room staff involved with their tables. The waiters were ok but nothing to cry home about about. Very low key and straight to business. I also did not leave any tip at the end of the cruise. According the information I read, the tip in the maitre d is not included in the 40.00 billed tips. The food was pretty good though as usual that carnival has had over the years, in the dining room. Food in the other lounges - Pizza I think has gone downhill a little from my past experiences on carnival. Didn't seem like it's the same. They always had soft serve ice cream available. The food cooked around midnight was good and plentiful. Loved the prime rib and chicken. Sandwiches were good, loved their tuna yummy. Also loved all the different desserts they had mmmmmm.. Breakfast was ok but not super great. Eggs are kinda wet and not much taste to them, and they come scrambled. Omlettes are available on request. Room Service- Always got the room service within 20 minutes of ordering every night. I took advantage of it since it is free. The only thing not free is drinks. Even if you have bottomless bubbles they'd charge for it. The chocolate cake thing they have for dessert in room service is soooo yummy. Bar / Drinks - I stay away from the 7.50 drinks of the day as that can rack up the bill pretty quick. The classic mixed drinks run 8.95ish, drink of the day 7.50, and the other mixed drinks run around 6-9.00. In the lounge on the Lido deck where the other food is, there is only Lemonade, White and Chocolate Milk, and Unsweetened Iced Tea as well as coffee. They didnt offer fruit punch which ive had years ago on other ships with carnival, kinda bummed about that. So with no juice really, I took the soda card. Sodas are normally 1.95 each. So 15 sodas for the week breaks you even. I shared my soda card with my mom which is another way to save costs. This time around, I notice carnival actually swipes the set and sail card for the bottomless bubbles soda card, when years ago they just looked for the sticker on the set and sail card. I guess they try to limit people abusing the unlimited sodas (such as passing the card onto others, picking up someones set and sail card and using it, etc). I would just go to 1 bar get a soda, then go to another bar and get the other soda for mom. Real easy. Highly recommend for people looking to save a buck. Staterooms - I had a steward, Edison, he was awesome. Rooms were prepared nicely and perfect each day, couple times a day. Never an issue. Everything worked well, bed was super super comfy as usual. Edison was super friendly and personable, awesome to have staff around that care (unlike the dining room staff). Comedy Shows - Somewhat funny, one guy with cerebral palsy wasnt all that funny, but the other comedian was funny. Couple of R rated comedy shows which was funny as can be. Karaoke - Superstar live is awesome! I love how now they have that on the ships, where people do karaoke along w/ the show band playing the music. Ty, the karoake host, was awesome. She always had me laughing in her superstar live entertainment. She would do the back-up singing for the guest and joke around as well. Showtime Band - Welcome Aboard show was PHENOMENAL. One of the best I seen in years. The Farewell show, the 2nd and final show of the cruise on the last night was lame and not really that entertaining. The dancers were great and good at what they do. Obviously, still very sexually suggestive type of show with their clothing. Cruise Ship Director - What a shame to have this guy Danny being the cruise director. He was really out of the loop most of the cruise except for the morning announcements on what the day is to offer. He really never came on stage in the lounge and had any sort of fun like many other cruise directors i've seen. He never really came around the open areas and mingled with the crowd, and made himself known. Kinda pitiful if you as me. Piano Bar- Barry is the man. He is funny and good with the music. This was a lot of fun to look foreward to every night after midnight until 2-3am. He is a jokester and not just a guy who plays piano all night, well on this cruise anyways. Highly recommend people to hang out with Barry late nights, he is a trip! Freeport Bahamas- Arrived on Monday morning, rolled out of the ship around 10am and went to get a taxi outside the ship (5.00 per person each way, 10.00). Took the ride to Our Lucaya and got dropped off at the central pick up and drop off spot by the stores. Walked 5 minutes back to the beach entrance (next to the police station which the taxi driver will point out, free access). Did the inflatable banana boat ride which was great. It's pulled by someone in a motorized about. The excursion is about an hour and you get it when you arrive at the beach. $25.00 per person which is a steal and a great way to go for a little ride out in the water. It takes you down into this little cove where you get to see dolphins for 5-10 minutes, the ship used in the pirates of the carribbean movie, and some beautiful beach front houses. It's quite a ride on the inflatable banana boat. They provide a life jacket too. Water was warm but it was a little windy. Last taxi pick up was at 4:00 and caught that taxi back to the cruise ship. There is nothing to do around the cruise ship by the way, you end up by oil refineries for those who have never been to freeport. Everything is a taxi ride away or thru a carnival overpriced excursion that will cost you around 60-100.00 per person on average Nassau - Arrived on Tues 11/22 and stayed there overnight til 6:00am on Wednesday 11/23. Ship says, all back on board at 5:30am. Nassau was very very windy and according to the lifeguard at the sheraton resort I went to, it's very normal this time of year, the rough waters and the wind. So that bummed me out. Ended up just laying out on a beach chair at the resort. Admission is 25.00 per person and the bus is 1.25 each way, which leaves 1 block away from the pier and returns to the same spot. Real easy to find the bus, the locals will direct you to where they are. The #10 bus is what will take you to cable beach / breezes / wyndham / sheraton resorts. You do get towel use at the sheraton so leave the carnival towels on ship. Also do get to use snorkels if you want. There are 3 pools. The food at the Sheraton is overpriced, like 15.00 for a burger. So I opted to wait it out til I got back a few hours later to Carlos n Charlies at the pier. The food was amazing there I must say. mmmm Chicken tacos so yummy and well worth the 18.00. The drinks for 5 something each were awesome too yummmy... They do include the tip on the bill there which makes things easy, I think it's 15% if I added it up right. Seaday - Played laser tag which was a ton of fun. At as much food as possible as I did all week. The boat roacked a little in the early evening on wednesday night but wasn't as bad as leaving port on sunday. Ate in the dining room for this final night and the staff did a little entertainment and sang us a song about how now it's time to go and they hope for us to come back to another carnival ship. How it's sad to see us go and so on. Was a great song too I must say. Played the slot tournament and blackjack tournament 2 times each to try and get to the grand final round, but lost both times on both tournaments. The fee to play is 20.00 each time. I didn't play any of the bingo in the lounges all week. That's just a scam that I know will never win haha. They had the hairy chest competition which was kinda lame. There was no "big party" on the lido deck like other carnival ships do on the final night. Kinda bummed about that too.. Dembarkation - Smooth, Fast, Efficient. Everyone was off the ship by 930-10:00am. All in all, not the worst cruise I ever been on, but not the best. There could be much improvements starting with the entertainment staff / cruise director / dining room staff. I'll of course sail carnival and stay loyal to them, I know not all ships can be the same experience since staff move around all the time. I'd recommend this cruise if you want something relaxing and enjoyable. But not for those looking for a grand ol' party. For the 1,000 kids that were on this cruise, I thought camp carnival did a great job keeping them occupied all day and night. Late night they would be running around the ship freely as usual when the parents were at the bar stonefaced. Other than that... happy trails cruisers! Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
Disney Dream thanksgiving cruise 11/23/2011 Background This was my 19th cruise. I have travelled on most major lines. What I look for is itinerary, timing, ship, cost, then features etc. For this cruise,it was just my wife and I. I ... Read More
Disney Dream thanksgiving cruise 11/23/2011 Background This was my 19th cruise. I have travelled on most major lines. What I look for is itinerary, timing, ship, cost, then features etc. For this cruise,it was just my wife and I. I did not have my kids for this trip. I believe a bad day on a cruise ship is better than a good day at work. As I go through this, I am pointing out details that may not be significant to all. That is understandable. I hope to inform all types of cruisers. Booking Right away, for the avid cruiser, you notice that the price is much higher than the other lines. Considering that many of the Disney cruises are the standard Nassau and Disney cay, it is unusual to see prices close to 700 to 1000$ per person. Considering this was a holiday, and it fit our schedule perfectly, I knew that we would pay more. We used a TA for this. Disney is so good with their product, all ways work well. I do not think their log on system is anything like their competitors. For example, once you login in, you have to type in your reservation numbers each time. Carnival, RCL, princess etc all quickly show any and all reservations that you have made. RCL even shows your previous dream trips you have saved. The Disney land vacation system is a little better. Getting to the port I always recommend going a day earlier for the trip. It allows you some prep time and peace of mind. In the case a plane is cancelled, you have time to get on another flight. We stayed at Caribbean beach. A cheaper Disney option that worked well. There is a nice transportation system to get you around. I definitely recommend the transfers. Cabs will cost you about 55$ for two one way airport to hotel. Keep in mind, when you stay at the resort, you will not be the first on the ships. Depending on what location you stay at, you may arrive just a few hours prior to departing. Your bags will be picked up from your room around 8am. You will see them next outside your cabin prior to the ship departing. Smooth process. Relax. It is about an hour to hour and a half trip depending on traffic and other pickups. If you fly in the day of, definitely do the Disney transfers, that will save you trouble. At the port Disney has a dedicated port. It is very nice. It is sandwiched between two other ports that house a variety of carnival, RCl, and HAL ships. We had the Carnival pride there when we left and sensation and freedom of the seas when returning. The check in process is almost a walk through if you are not there right when it opens. Since Disney transfers get you there later, it is a quick check in. On line check in works great. The ship There were two reasons we took this trip. The ship and timing. Both were a hit. The ship is beautiful. The first thing you notice is the beautiful foyer. It does not look like anything out on the see. Very 20's traditional with no neon and flare. Simply classy. The Christmas decor was perfect. The ship is filled with music 24 7. Not annoying music, unless you do not like Disney music. It is soft and pleasant. Staterooms are my favorite. The split family style bathroom was really cool. One room for the commode and sink. Another room for the tub/shower and a second sink. Lots of storage on the balcony room. Keep in mind that they won the 2011 award for best inside and outside cabins. Did I say storage? The beds are nice with a large space under for luggage storage. The balconies are standard size. Most rooms have the Pullman drop down beds. They are not in the way of course. The tv's have flat screens with 24 access to sports, on demand tv shows and disny movies. These Disney movies are free. Hundreds of them. Note.... If you are in the back of the ship, you will feel a shimmy. If this bothers you on those sea nights, get a room towards the center. If you are on the right side, you will get the best view of cast-a-way cay and the port. Aka starboard. The rooms have a iPod, I phone dock. All rooms have cell phones that are used to communicate on the ship while you are around the ship. No Wilkie talkies needed. Two for each room. I am sure they would give you more if needed. Three dining rooms This is a clever idea. Everything they tell you is true about the dining. You move from place to place. Repeating on 4 nights or more trips. The meals are a little more elegant than I expected. The kids like the kids menu. The food was well displayed. Multiple portions allowed without any problems. Best news..... Sodas are free, except for the bars. Easy access to sodas. They servers are quicker with it than other lines too. Self service of sodas are available on deck 11 in the cabanas lido restaurant and on the pool deck. The royal palace restaurant is beautiful. It is laid out well and actually allows the servers more room. You feel less cramped. No problems getting to your seat. They seat you quickly and service is fast. One thing we notices right away is that they do not clean up after each course, other than the used plates. Even on carnival, they will swipe the table between each course with the medal scoop. Not on Disney. They do give you wipes before you enter instead of the spray. That actually is a nice touch. It does not dry your skin. The animators pallet is a cute restaurant. It is different than the Disney wonder and magic. There are screens all around that give the illusion you are surrounded by a fish tank. Characters from Nemo entertain you through out the meal. At one point, crush actually talks to the people. I was surprised that he did not get to all of the sections. He only got to 2 or 3 of the 6 sections. The garden restaurant that is modeled after Versailles is very pretty. A low sealing with some clever lighting, make this restaurant evolve nice throughout the day. A little cramped compared to the other two, but very nice. Nice lobster ravioli. The cabana .... Aka lido deck. A wonderful surprise. Clean. Fresh chilled shrimp and crabs served during the day. You do not see that on other lines. The silver ware is wrapped and ready on the tables. Very clean and well kept up. I have to brag on one employee. I told their boss before we left. A little girl tripped and broker her plastic flashing cup. He asked for a look at it and notice the crack. He went and got her a brand new one. Nice touch!!!! Nice selections on deck. There are also 6 flavors of soft serve and three flavors of regular ice cream served throughout the day. The cones are not as good as the other lines.... Pizza is available.. , but Disney really has an awful pizza compared to the competition. Bring in new pizza Disney! Aqua duck... And he pools Relax, you will have plenty of time to ride it. They rush is right when everyone gets on the ship. Go at night. Hardly no wait. Ride during the firework show. Night rides till midnight! I rode it twice. Fun. Nothing amazing, but your on a ship!!! the pools are nice and were heated. The spa is nice, but needs actual bubbles. They hand over the side of the ship with glass sides and bottom. The adult pool does get general traffic, but is very nice. We saw no issues with young folks hanging out there. The towels are laid out for you. Easy access for towels. Service around the pools is pretty good. We have seen better. The drink options are plentiful. The kids will fill up the other pools. Cool feature..... The funnel vision is the biggest and best at sea. Followed up with an amazing sound system, it is the way to go. Wow!!! They showed several football games on it, most of the dads were out there watching the games. Four of carnivals could fit on this one screen. Three of princesses screens would be close. Wow! Entertainment.... This is where Disney rocks. All three shows, golden mickey's, the villains, and believe we're excellent. Great for all audiences. There is also a movie theater - very large - on board with an amazing sound system and 3d technology. We saw cars 2 in 3d, real steel, and the new muppet movie onboard. Throughout your trip, there are seemingly impromptu shows by the Disney characters. The kids love this. Times are announced for the kids. The downside for them is they have no live band, and their comedians and entertainment choices in the other areas are lacking. No band, very little options for the great live entertainment you get on the other ships. The district The adults only areas are not crowded. They are well decorated and are non smoking. We like the non smoking aspect. Each bar has its own feel. The dance club is nice. They look nice, but last the excitement you see on other lines. Expected for Disney. Service is great. Kids areas..... They rocked. This is what they are known for. They have the largest staff at sea to take care of the kids. We did not have kids on this trip, so I can only go by what I heard. Zero negative comments. Their kids areas were not an after thought, but a forethought. Service The service is great, but not excellent. If you go outside of their process, like carnival, they flinch or may even say "I don't know." this was a let down. I expected higher level of service. Still not bad, but not as expected. Itinerary Nassau - a nice stop with plenty of things to do. The water is a little cold, but not impossible to swim in. Not too bad. Not going into the stops as much. Cast-a-way Cay This is a great stop for Disney. You feel as though you just went onto a new deck of the ship. All you need is your room key. Food is provided and sodas are free. Ice cream and all sorts of goodies. A few Disney store shops and beach item shops on shore. It is all about the beach and the water sports. So many things to do. The bike rentals cost 6 dollars per hour. Nice easy bike ride around the island. Beautiful and wonderful time there. Debarkation was the best yet. No calling out. If you want to get off early, be in the lobby at 7am to hang out. They will start letting people out by 8 am at the latest. No issue over waiting in common areas. They actually like when you go to your breakfast spot and leave when things are free. The luggage tags are set up by character. We were Goofy. Simple process there. Walk out. All in order. Help standing by. Easy time through customs and out you go. Took us just a few minutes for the whole process. Busses are waiting outside to load up folks for the different destinations. Definitely recommend transfers. We actually went back to beach club resort for a day at Epcot. Wou walk out the back of the resort and you are next to the back entrance to Epcot. We stayed at Epcot until 4 pm. We took a cab from the hotel and got to our flight early. Our flight was at 7:30pm. The hotel held our luggage. Awesome service there. My favorite Disney resort! Disney did a great job. It was a wonderful cruise. I am a little nit picky due to costs difference, but don't lose sight, the cruise was great Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
Jewel: Thanksgiving Week 2011 Other than not wanting to stuff and cook a turkey ourselves, my friend and I booked the Jewel just for the ship ride and to stare out at the sea all day if we chose to. Therefore, everything else ... Read More
Jewel: Thanksgiving Week 2011 Other than not wanting to stuff and cook a turkey ourselves, my friend and I booked the Jewel just for the ship ride and to stare out at the sea all day if we chose to. Therefore, everything else considering the low price for a holiday sailing was a bonus. The ports of call are not the most exciting option available in the cruise industry but it sure is if you want to ride space mountain at Disney, see the NASA space shuttles, or just go to Nassau, Bahamas! Both of us have sailed NCL in the past and both have sailed other cruise lines as well. The last time we were on the Jewel together was Thanksgiving 2006. If you are new to NCL, or have sailed on other cruise lines in the past, be sure to understand the freestyle concept. Plenty of information exists on NCL's website that includes information about the ship booked, how to sign up for excursions, how the freestyle dining and how the freestyle dress code works, the spa offerings while onboard, activities for the children, links to pre boarding information, the 12 dollar service charge per person per day, and how to print documents and cruise ticket online. We knew all this but I often read reviews where others do not and then get frustrated about it. Our balcony guarantee, booked five weeks prior to sailing, landed us cabin 10162 located at the far aft starboard side of deck 10. Cecilio, our steward, was efficient, friendly, and always took a few moments to say hello and to ask how we are doing. Since we were on the end, our balcony appeared to be about 1 to 2 feet longer than the standard. The extra space had a protected enclosed area and the rest open. A very quiet area onboard, we hardly heard any noise out in the hallway. I was thankful to not hear the stern wake in the back of ship since I knew it was so close. Many evenings we had the balcony open and only heard the gentle light swish of the starboard wake. Overall, our seas were surprisingly smooth most days and nights. The Jewel class ships have great stabilizers for the times when the ocean waves are more active. Temperatures on this sailing averaged in the 60's to 70's heading down to Florida and the Bahamas and back. Once there, we had weather around 80 degrees. For this particular itinerary and time of year, we had a mixture of dress/casual and a mixture of light/heavy clothing. Thank goodness for freestyle...I sure appreciated the ability to wear yoga pants or jeans and a sweatshirt from morning until bedtime. We did dress up on other nights too. The dress up or not nights on the Jewel are Sunday and Thursday. There are some dining rooms that Do have a dress code so be sure to read your Freestyle Daily to ensure you are not showing up in shorts or jeans to Tsar's Restaurant or Le Bistro French Restaurant. Although there are many dining options that have a fee, we selected the options that did not and were very satisfied. This included the Garden Cafe for breakfast and lunch, and the main restaurants for dinners. I enjoyed the fresh fruit, the freshly prepared omelets, the chocolate pastries, the eggs benedict, the soups, the salads, the marinated chicken, the fried cod, and the beef ribs. Be sure to check out each food station because they also had Indian food, Asian, pizza, sandwiches/paninis, freshly prepared pastas and sauces, and casseroles all in different areas of the buffet. I have had better desserts on other cruise lines yet I somehow always managed to find the bread pudding and vanilla sauce every day...! If the buffet table sections are too noisy or crowded, you can bring your plate into Mama's restaurant during breakfast and lunch. If the crowd in the Garden Cafe scares you, then another smaller buffet area is set up in the Great Outdoors Aft from which you can enjoy your meal alfresco. The dining room for breakfast and lunch is always an option too but we only ate there at night. For six dinners, we ate in either Tzars or Azura, the two main restaurants. We found a variety of choices and it took a while to notice the menus are not the same for both. Both restaurants have the left side of menu that changes every night. Although the right side of the menu remains the same each night, they are not the same for both restaurants. This was a pleasant discovery. Since we were not eating meats or pastas for dinners most nights, we enjoyed perch, salmon, mahi mahi, and Caribbean lobster tail. Ask your server what the Chef's regional specialty is each evening. Try at least one specialty restaurant. We ate at Le Bistro the last evening and enjoyed the French onion soup, escargot and the beef tenderloin. On any NCL ship, always attend the cruise critic meet and greet if one is set up on your roll call. They make the most effort out of all the cruise lines I have sailed (Carnival, Princess, Royal Caribbean, and Holland America) to have as many officers available to meet you and to answer your questions. At our cruise critic meet and greet a question asked of the officers was whether or not a traditional Thanksgiving dinner would be served on this sailing. Hugo Vanosmael, the Hotel Director, answered a special delivery of turkeys had been ordered and a special menu created in the dining rooms for that particular evening. The Thanksgiving dinner was better than I expected. Kudos go out to the executive chef and the to all the chefs who helped prepare it. As two middle aged females traveling without our hubbies and without children, we certainly enjoyed the entertainment available for all age groups! The entertainment on board varied. We often danced off our caloric intake from the early portions of our days into the hours after midnight in Spinnaker's Lounge. During the earlier evenings, we were fortunate not to miss Cirque Bijoux, Fire and Ice's performance in the atrium, Dancing With the Jewel Stars, and the White Hot Party. Even earlier hours than that, we were fortunate to not miss Magician Jean Pierre's presentation to the kids onboard, the 10 dollar Bingo session, the crew talent show, Nickleodeon's Slime Time Live, and the Captain/Chief Engineer/Hotel Director's question and answer session. The Jewel's ports of call occurred on three consecutive days. The only "shuttle" we selected in Port Canaveral was a round trip bus ride to Cocoa Beach. We walked the beach about a mile to a pier and then walked back. Ron Jon Surf Shop is nearby and the bus shuttle runs every ½ hour up until a certain time. Check out Florida weather before you go as sometimes it can be cooler than you think during the winter months. A short tender ride to the private island, Great Stirrup Cay, one can enjoy swimming, snorkeling, a giant inflatable water slide, walking trails, parasailing, kayaks, wave runners, and what appeared to be a future zip line set up. A beach barbecue is prepared and the ship's band plays nearby. The cruise staff hosts volleyball and dance activities but if you want more solitude, a short walk further down the beach area can provide more quiet. Plenty of beach chairs are now available, hammocks, new bar areas, a restaurant building, and more outdoor picnic areas are also more convenient to the passenger experience. Bathroom are also conveniently nearby. Do not go barefoot if you plan to explore the island beyond the beach area. Construction is still going on and we were glad to have sturdy flip flops and sneakers on our feet as we walked to the other side of island. Most activity on the island occurs in the late morning to early afternoon. The more quiet time (hence less crowded) is from 2pm until the last tender back to the ship. In Nassau, we got off the ship to walk around on land for an hour. The straw market is getting upgraded and lots of interesting souvenirs are available for purchase. Do not be overwhelmed by the offers of tours and people approaching you at the pier. A simple no thank you and keep walking will suffice if you are not interested. We returned in order to enjoy a quiet day at the Jewel pool area in the sun. Some passengers went to Atlantis, to public beaches, or to hotels that offered day rentals to use the pool/ocean/restaurant areas. Other excursions are available for purchase but if you do some research, you might save more money on your own. Just remember though, the ship leaves without you in case something happens while out on your own and you are not able to get back. All aboard is at 5:30pm and a few solo passengers were very lucky on this sailing to be walking on the gangway by 5:50pm. We spent all other moments onboard relaxing. My friend had a bamboo massage during the first day at sea and reported she enjoyed it very much. On embarkation day go to the spa and they will perform samples of what they offer on you. We joined the spa raffle for the prize giveaways but we forgot to attend the session in the afternoon. I enjoyed the salon onboard and had my hair colored, cut, and styled. My final price was still a better deal than what I pay to have it done in Montreal. Shhhhh, do not tell NCL this! The price was even better when I purchased a future NCL cruise deposit that enabled me to receive an extra 100 dollar onboard credit. David Ward, the onboard Cruise Consultant Manager promotes this very well. He also runs the onboard latitudes desk and gives the talks about cruising NCL. He is extremely knowledgeable about the business, is very friendly, and fun to talk to. At the silver/gold/platinum party he took time to visit with each guest in attendance as did HD Hugo and the Group services coordinator. Anytime we saw Hugo or David or other officers/staff/crew throughout the week they all were very gracious, very professional, and ensuring a great vacation experience for the passengers. A passenger comment made on day 2 at the cruise critic gathering was regarding the entire staff and how the Jewel seemed to be such a happy ship overall. Even the front desk staff in the atrium appeared happy by the end of the week and some of know what they have to put up with sometimes. Any time I asked for a printout of my charges, they were always very accommodating. I do this a few times a week and it is very easy to do when walking by. Know however it can get busy on the last day or evening as everyone else has the same idea! I appreciated the employee who assisted passengers as they waited in line by asking their need ahead of time so he could help direct them. All I needed was to drop off a few thank you letters and he said he would take them and deliver to the appropriate mail box. This saved me time to enjoy the remaining hours of vacation and I was impressed with the overall service. I am very fortunate and very thankful at this point in my life to be able to cruise. A day will come when it will not be this easy. During any holiday week make sure to take time to count your blessings and to appreciate those who help make a vacation special. I am grateful to NCL for consistently providing me with vacations to share with family, friends, with cruise critic members, or to enjoy all by myself. After sailing the Jewel during a busy holiday week, I came home relaxed, rested, rejuvenated, and recuperated. My husband is extremely thankful for that too! Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
This was my and my 6 year old daughters first time on the Sensation but my 10th and my daughters 6th cruise. I found the Sensation as fun and nice as the Ecstasy. We had VIP boarding on this cruise since this was my first platinum cruise. ... Read More
This was my and my 6 year old daughters first time on the Sensation but my 10th and my daughters 6th cruise. I found the Sensation as fun and nice as the Ecstasy. We had VIP boarding on this cruise since this was my first platinum cruise. They knew we were coming and had everything ready for us. As usual the food service and and room service was fantastic. Our room steward was Picard. Our Head Waiter was Martin. Outstanding individuals. This was my first 4 day cruise. It was to Freeport and Nassau. I would recommend this particular cruise to anyone from first timers to seasoned cruisers that are just looking for a quick short trip. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
Our party of 16 stayed in 1 inside, 2 balconies and 4 suites. We chose this cruise due to cost, embarkation port (NYC) and freestyle concept we love with children. This was my 4th NCL cruise and 2nd on the Gem. Being from RI, NY is an ... Read More
Our party of 16 stayed in 1 inside, 2 balconies and 4 suites. We chose this cruise due to cost, embarkation port (NYC) and freestyle concept we love with children. This was my 4th NCL cruise and 2nd on the Gem. Being from RI, NY is an easy port to get to and airfare is just way too expensive during the holiday season. The ports were the least attractive part of the cruise but at least they were warm :) Embarkation went well for my immediate family as we were in a suite. My aunt had an issue with not having a letter for her grandson to travel with her. I was afraid they wouldn't be able to board but NCL was great in my opinion as they worked with her to get a letter from her daughter faxed to the terminal. Another good reason to arrive early to the port, you will have time to deal with any unexpected issues. Our cabin was an SC (former AB) #11012. It was the nicest cabin I have ever had and I miss it every day since :( Cagney's for breakfast and lunch was great. MDR meals was very good in my opinion and I AM A FOODIE! Buffet was good, the only thing was the soft serve was gross as always. Shows we saw were Worldbeat, Man from Mars and Get Down Tonight. All were good. Bingo was fun, first time I had ever played. Didn't win but has a good time. The ship was in great shape and the crew was excellent. Pools could have been warmer and a big "thanks" to whoever put their child with a diaper in the family pool. It was closed a day due to feces. People are just so selfish. I've been there with an infant/toddler and never considered such an absurdity. My daughter was obsessed with the slide and used it about 50 times! LOL Bowling was fun too :) Had a great time and look forward to sailing NCL again soon Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
Embarkation: We stepped onto the ship on deck three, in the Colors bar, where there were many servers touting the drink of the day. Because of our prior experience, we knew the drinks would be costly and avoided them. It seemed like ... Read More
Embarkation: We stepped onto the ship on deck three, in the Colors bar, where there were many servers touting the drink of the day. Because of our prior experience, we knew the drinks would be costly and avoided them. It seemed like others there were shocked when they took one from the server's tray and were charged the $10 immediately. The bar was loud and disorienting as well. We made it through the crowd and up to Lido for lunch, then to the "secret" deck ten aft area near the fish and chips that was almost always empty. Sanctuary! Public rooms: The public areas of the ship, each named and decorated a different color, made it easy to see where you were. Other than the Golden Restaurant taking up the entire width of the ship on decks 3 and 4, it was easy to get around, and to the front or rear as needed. Cabin: Our cabin at the front of the ship directly under the bridge was nice and out of the way... most of the time. More on that later. The cabin was kept clean by a wonderful pair of room stewards. Fitness and Recreation: The spa/fitness room music was provided by a CD player that was skipping quite a bit. My wife mentioned it to the spa staff, and they said all of the CDs were scratched. I was riding an exercise bike at the time, and for over 10 minutes, I got to listen to the same half-second of music over and over. Staff in the gym didn't seem interested in fixing it, or asking how I was doing, or anything. Rates: We got decent rates for the cruise, but the spa service was about $30 more than it would cost in the "real world" (even with the "special" rates), and of course drinks were more expensive, and there was always something else to spend money on. Obviously getting you aboard is a loss leader. Dining: Breakfast and lunch were decent buffets on the lido deck. Lunch never started until noon, which was odd to me. There were many times when there was very little to eat other than the extremely busy pizza and hamburger windows. Dinner in the Golden dining room (early dining, upstairs) was an experience. Our waiter team were good, the Maitre'd responsive to requests and knew our names from the first night. The food was mixed... some was very good, some was bland and not worth the cost (ha ha). I liked the experimental menu choices (from frog legs to escargot), but twinged at the "Didja" title. There was never any problem getting multiple appetizers or main courses, and the service was usually quick. Entertainment: Other than one of the comedy club stand-ups (which was pretty funny), we didn't do much of the entertainment things on board. Many of our conversations and games were interrupted by the cruise director piping up with all of the events going on, hawking bingo, casino tournaments, the shops, the photography area, going for more and more upcharges. By the middle of the cruise, our group was quoting along with him more often than not. Service: The only people who gave any service at all were the ones included in the customary tips, and one amazing bartender at the Burgundy wine bar, Serakit. The lido waitstaff was mixed, some were attentive, while some let trays sit around for far too long, not cleaning tables, and one of them even seemed stoned most of the times we saw him. There was no evidence of a manager around when we wanted one. The lido staff had no problem when we camped out on deck ten to play board games for hours at a time. Shore Excursions: We didn't do any shore excursions, but in Nassau we took a bus (for $1.25!) to the south end of the island to go shopping away from the tourist traps... That was an experience. Once you get outside of the cruise zones, you see the conditions that people in the Bahamas live in, and it just brings the excess and luxury that even the poorest of Americans have. Sobering sight. Value for money: You get what you pay for. It was a cheap cruise, and with most of the entertainment requiring extra costs, we didn't do too much. I think the worst part of the cruise was the fact that it left out of Norfolk, and not Florida. Many of the guests on board were really the "People of Wal-Mart" crowd, and not the normal cruising demographic we were used to seeing, and excepted from Cruise Critic reviews. Many of them were loud, obnoxious, and dragging along their loud and obnoxious kids, even to the elegant dinners. They cut in lines, blocked stairwells, and were generally unruly to the staff and other guests. We felt sorry for our team of waiters and room stewards who had to put up with some of their guests. The last night of the cruise was a stormy night, with choppy seas, high winds, and rolling decks. It would have been fine if not for the storage bench outside our cabin being unlatched and slamming shut every few seconds after being opened by a wind gust. I complained to Guest Service at about 9:00pm, and was assured that the noise was the anchor lifting and dropping, there was nothing they could do, but they'd make a note of it. A while later, my wife looked outside the cabin and saw the bench seat raising and dropping. She called back down to guest service, explained what she saw, and they sent someone down to fix the problem. 45 minutes later, it was still banging around. She got dressed, went down to speak to guest service in person, and was assured it was secured. It turns out she had the one on deck six latched, not on deck seven. So they sent someone to get the one on seven... Problem is, there were two of them out there, and they only closed one of them! The second one was still making a huge racket. All told, we got maybe three hours of sleep on the last night, and were offered a whopping $28 refund for our troubles. Thankfully, they said they would address the root problem, and get the bench boxes on the bow of the ship added to the foul weather checklists. Hopefully nobody else will have to deal with them in the future! Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
We had great expectations of this cruise vacation before leaving - becaus of all the suite perks that we should have. Compared to the other cruises we have taken with regular cabins it should be great. The check in in New York was slow ... Read More
We had great expectations of this cruise vacation before leaving - becaus of all the suite perks that we should have. Compared to the other cruises we have taken with regular cabins it should be great. The check in in New York was slow - very slow. We arrived at 12PM and our agent used almost 45 minutes to check us in. She should not have been working at the suite check in. We were directed to the lounge where we were taken on board by the butler to the Tsars Palace (not Cagneys were we could have eaten). The food was cold and bad - a bad beginning of the cruise. After lunch the cabins was ready - the luggage arrived after a short while and we unpacked. We found baby bottles, baby toys, q tips (the ones which you clean your ears with), hand sanitizer, garbage on the Verandah and so on in the cabin. it was not a good start. The second morning we would like to place an order for breakfast at 9AM (2 BLT and 2 cheese sandwiches). It took the butler 1 hour to get this - on other cruises it has never taken more than 45 minutes - normally about 30 minutes. We tried again 2 days later to order a bootle of wine - still 1 hour. The kids club is nothing for Europeans at least. The only thing they seem to care about here is their own rules. No bumping (we were travelling 2 families with 2 kids that not see each other that often - and just 6 months apart - no they are not allowed together), not able to sign in before the opening time - even though all employees were there and it was 2 minutes before opening time. On our Celebrity Cruise in April they did everything so that the kids and parents could be happy - on NCL it seemed like the kids was a burden for them and that the customers was not there for them at all. We hade great expectations with Concierge, Butler, Nick Cruise and Kids club - but was disappointed. We are Norwegian ourselves - and this is not the Norwegian way to treat customers. On the good side - the cabin was great (except from dirty) and the food was better than expected. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Overall, this was good value for the money we paid. Embarkation was terrible - with very long queues. After nearly 1 hour 45 minutes, we finally boarded the ship to find a 'so called' balcony cabin. The spare bed for my ... Read More
Overall, this was good value for the money we paid. Embarkation was terrible - with very long queues. After nearly 1 hour 45 minutes, we finally boarded the ship to find a 'so called' balcony cabin. The spare bed for my teenage son was so small that his legs from the knees down would have been out of bed. Our balcony was surrounded by a wind shield, which reduced the view dramatically. After complaining (as I had checked that we had a proper balcony before we left!) they eventually moved us to an alternative cabin which was much better and was very nice. Generally the staff were very friendly and the food in the Garden Cafe was good, but sadly in the Tsars Palace and Azure restaurants, the menu was the same every night, with just a change to the Chefs Recommended dish. The dishes sometimes had different names, but were exactly the same as on previous nights. The entertainment in the theatre and the dj was poor, with the exception of Crazee Horse, but in the bars the entertainment was much better, with particular praise to Fire and Ice who were excellent, as was Nathaniel and the on board band, ie the Caibbean band and Mondial Magic. They were constantly trying to make money, apparent by the many speciality restaurants (all with a cover charge) We felt it would have been better to have had less specialist restaurants and therefore have more staff in the standard restaurants to improve on the service. Also, the ship overall was clean, with the exception of the toilets, which were always wet and untidy. Have cruised with other companies previously and have to say that the competition is better on the whole. However, for a cheap holiday if you are in the States, its worth a try. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
We booked adjoining cabins for this cruise... my wife and I, and my daughter and her two children, ages 4 and 10. Being wheelchair bound, we were leery about the children. It was unfounded! In fact, the 10 year old boy did most of the ... Read More
We booked adjoining cabins for this cruise... my wife and I, and my daughter and her two children, ages 4 and 10. Being wheelchair bound, we were leery about the children. It was unfounded! In fact, the 10 year old boy did most of the pushing, giving my wife a respite. The food was HORRIBLE on the first night! The escargot tasted weird and, as anyone would tell you, ALL food was good... some was better than others, but ALL food was good to me. We wondered just what we were getting into. Carnival always had great food... no worry, as the next night and for the rest of the cruise, the food was excellent! Also, Ronaldo, our waiter, was very friendly, and he really helped us with the handicapped stuff. Carnival did a GREAT job entertaining the kids, and we didn't worry about them (well, not much) The weather was bad... it rained most of the time, but that's Mother Nature's fault, not Carnival. The only problem we had was the rocking of the boat. My wife became sick and I nearly needed a seasick pill. Is that because of the size of the ship? Carnival Glory and other ships that size that we were on were stable... All in all, the cruise was enjoyable, and we wouldn't hesitate to invite the kids again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
First, let me say, we had a wonderful cruise on the Carnival Fascination. We had 6 in our group. My wife and I, an accountant and travel agent respectively, have had 18 cruises, 14 of them on Carnival. (This was our fourth cruise on the ... Read More
First, let me say, we had a wonderful cruise on the Carnival Fascination. We had 6 in our group. My wife and I, an accountant and travel agent respectively, have had 18 cruises, 14 of them on Carnival. (This was our fourth cruise on the Fascination.) Also with us was my brother- and sister-in-law (a retired police officer and his wife); they cruise with us most of the time, so they have as many cruises as we do. The final members of our group were two sisters (a registered nurse and administrative assistant) who were on their first cruise. My DW and I booked a suite since we were celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary. The suite was nice, but for the extra price we paid, I think next time I will just stick to a balcony or ocean-view depending on the class of ship. We are planning a 15-day Hawaii cruise on the Splendor in 2013; I think we will have to book a balcony on that one. I love leaving the door open at night and listening to the sea. We checked in at Jaxport about 10:30 Saturday; by 11:15 we were on the ship. We parked at a local park-and-ride lot for just $5 per day, and they were Johnny-on-the-spot as far as getting us to the ship and being there when we got off. In contrast, the cruise port in Jacksonville charges $15 per day to park. I noticed as we set sail the Jaxport parking lot was only about 1/3 full, even though we had a almost full ship. It appears that cruisers are cutting corners by using these park-and-ride lots around the cruise ports. Can you blame them? Our first night at sea was a great kick-off to our cruise. Our wait staff, WeeWee and PeePee, were great. Our drinks were kept full, the bread hot and fresh. Our food was delivered in a very timely manner and was pretty good. Carnival has changed their menus and some of the dishes. My wife, who loves soups, commented that they were very good but not as good as past. I had a steak one night that was on the tough side, but the next one I had a couple days later was much much better. Our first full day was a "Fun Day at Sea." The food throughout the day was very good. Lines were not too bad; I don't think anyone in my party had to wait in one more than 15 or 20 minutes. The pizza was great, and the deli sandwiches were outstanding. All day long there were plenty of activities. I've read several pieces that have put down the CD, Jen. However, I thought she was pleasant and did a good job. Her staff was well prepared for all the activities they were responsible for. I have been on cruises where the CD staff was late for every event. Our sea day also included Formal Night. I really am disappointed that a good many of the passengers do not dress up for formal night as they did when we first started cruising 10 years ago. I have a tux I wear, and my wife will dress up also, but I only counted three other tux-wearers in our dining room. 650 people in our dining, and many of them were dressed like it was any other dinner seating! And the other nights the dress for dinner has gone downhill. At one time, shorts and T-shirts were not allowed, but that's not the case anymore. The show the first night was the same old tired show that Carnival has been doing for 5 or more years. It's a great upbeat show, but I think it's time for a change. The weather and seas were a bit choppy that day. We had a passenger get very ill around dinnertime, so the CD announced that we would have to go into Miami to get the passenger off the ship. As we made the turn back to the west, the waves went from 4-6 feet to 8-10 feet. As we got closer to Miami's port, the rain was hard and winds picked up. It took about two hours to get into the Port of Miami, get the sick passenger off and get back on our way. We were scheduled to get into Key West at 7AM the next day; however, we didn't dock there until about 8:30. We did get to stay until 4:30. Though our ride to Key West was bumpy, the day is Key West was absolutely gorgeous. We docked at the Navy base and had to ride a tram to the main areas. That went very smooth, and there appeared to be a steady flow, so I don't think anyone had to wait long. This is a wonderful island, and we enjoy our time there. This time, we just made our pilgrimage to Kermit's Key Lime Shop for a frozen slice of pie dipped in milk chocolate. Baby, this is so good, "It would make a puppy pull a freight train!" Day three we found ourselves in Nassau. We have been there several times. We now take the #10 bus from downtown to Cable Beach, $1.25 each way. We visit the Sheraton, which charges a daily fee of $25 per person to use their beach, pools, and non-motorized water sports. It was windy, and light showers moved in and out as the day progressed. We splashed around in the warm waters and enjoyed the time relaxing. On our way back to the ship on the bus, part of Bay Street was blocked for road work, so our driver took us the scenic route. If you have never seen the neighborhoods of Nassau, it's something to see. The people along the path we took were very poor, but they appeared happy. Some of the roads we traveled down, I wasn't sure if they were actual roads or someone's driveway. At one point the traffic was backed up and our driver had to aggressively apply the brakes, leaving some tire marks on the road and making the passengers on the full bus gasp. However, no harm, no foul. We made it back to the port area and were walking into the terminal/mall, and I noticed that the usual tourist harassment about taxis, hair breading, etc. wasn't as in-your-face as it has been in the past. There was some, but a polite "No, thank you," seemed to do the trick. We were not slated to leave Nassau until 10PM that night, so dinner population was light. This was a good thing, though, since this was the night of the past passenger reception. I don't drink, so I wasn't there for the free alcohol, but to cheer at the ship slideshow. I did get on stage for the Carnival trivia contest. I won it two years ago on the second question; this time, I was out on the second question. I couldn't remember the first Carnival ship that had the "whale tail." We didn't go to the show that night as we had seen it several times before. We elected to sit on the Lido deck and play several rounds of cards. I did sample a calzone from the pizza bar. It wasn't a tasty as is looked, so I picked it apart and shared the pepperonis with my wife, Shirley. The next day, the ship turned north, and we had a great day at sea. Between my wife and me, we totaled three 24-Carat-Gold-Plastic Ships-on-a-Stick. My wife also won a medallion. We really enjoy playing the trivia games. I also got on stage for the disco dance lesson. I did it to get our two "blue card" cruisers up there. I did pretty well since it had been several decades since I did my last disco dancing. The show that night was based on the 1980s. Before the show they played a 30-minute video of 80s commercials and TV shows. I like it; it brings back some good memories of my younger days. The Carnival dancers were very good; the male dancers were some of the best I have seen on Carnival. The two lead singers were good as well. We have had the female singer on other ships; she tries to sing notes that are too high for her, but she did blend very well with the guy. Getting off the ship when we returned to Jax was flawless. One of the CD staff told us the night before that Carnival already knew they would not be able to sail out for the next cruise until 8PM because of the high tide and bridge clearance, and they had already canceled their port call to Freeport. Bummer for the next cruisers. Overall, we had a great cruise. Of our 14 Carnival cruises, this would be in the top half of all of them. I read a lot of the reviews, and I see many negative remarks about Carnival. They are a good cruise line. Are there some problems? Yes, but what large cooperation doesn't have them? Can they do better with customer complaints? Many times. But there are people who will let one irritation fester the rest of the cruise and will then blast everything about the cruise. My DW and I try to find the positive and just enjoy our time together getting away from it all. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
My mother, sister and I take a girls cruise every October. We are all over 55 and mom has a scooter, oxygen and other health equipment she takes along for the cruise. First let me say our cabin was huge. We were pleasantly surprised at ... Read More
My mother, sister and I take a girls cruise every October. We are all over 55 and mom has a scooter, oxygen and other health equipment she takes along for the cruise. First let me say our cabin was huge. We were pleasantly surprised at how much room we had and that they actually have these rooms on a ship. We had a full sized door, which would have accommodated mom's regular scooter but we didn't know that, so we rented a smaller one, to be on the safe side. We had a dining room with a full sized table and four chairs, and on the other side of the room, a long dry bar. The balcony is by the bar. Our living room was large with a king sofa that converts into a bed. There is a coffee table, two sitting chairs, one with an ottoman, a writing table, and a large flat screen TV with a DVD player. There was plenty of storage throughout the suite as well as ample outlets to plug in anything you might need to plug in or charge-up. The king sized bedroom had a large chest to store all of your belongings and a large flat screen TV above it and another DVD player. No DVDs and none to check out or rent. No one told us that they would be in our suite, so they really were a waste. The vanity area was very spacious with two sinks and usable outlets. To your left is a walk-in closet with rods on both sides of the closet.To the right, is a huge bathroom, with a large glass shower, a large jacuzzi bathtub and a higher than normal commode. The bathroom has a towel bar and a hook for robe or towel. We really enjoyed the room and all it had to offer us. However, the bar was not useful without wine or other drinks, which were not a part of the fabulous room. The dining table was not much use when we couldn't order meals from the dining room. Room service was available but they only delivered certain items. We still had to go to the buffet to get grits and omelette and other items. I would have thought a nice set of salt and pepper shakers would have been on the table, but no. On other cruise lines I have traveled, suites automatically had concierge service or accommodations for the services, free wine, beer and/or soft drinks as well as ordering from the main dining room menu. None of this was offered or a part of the suite. We were told the last day, that we could have brought a bottle of wine in our carry-on, to be enjoyed in the privacy of our cabin. A little late then. As you can tell, things could be handled in a better fashion than they currently are, to help maximum the full potential of this suite. Not sure I'd pay the price for it on this ship again without all the perks available for free on other cruise lines. There were about 10 full length windows for great views all around. I'll be glad to answer any questions. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
It's taken me this long to get home, settled in, and down off the clouds after my back to back cruises on the Norwegian Sky. What an incredible cruise, and what an even more incredible crew!! My trip starts out with the usual ... Read More
It's taken me this long to get home, settled in, and down off the clouds after my back to back cruises on the Norwegian Sky. What an incredible cruise, and what an even more incredible crew!! My trip starts out with the usual arrival at the port of Miami. If you've not sailed out of Miami yet, have no fear, it's completely painless. You'll be dropped off right in front of where you need to be. If you were smart and put your luggage tags on back at the hotel, you'll simply drop them with the luggage handlers and go directly to the port house. At that point, you'll receive a little form to fill out to make sure you don't have the flu or other assorted bugs, and go thru an airport-security type screening checkpoint. As long as you don't have any opened bottles of anything, like at the airport, you will be fine. If you have an unfinished soda, you'll have to leave it behind. If you are staying in the suites or have a VIP designation, then head right over to the VIP Registration office and they will take great care of you while you snack on treats. If not, then proceed to the general registration counter with your flu form, your eRegistration docs (you did print them off, right?), and passport in hand. Hand the agent the paperwork, smile for the camera, present a credit card, and receive you stateroom key card. From there you will go to the waiting area (if you are early) to pause for full clearance of the ship, if it's after twelve, you will saunter right on board. I can tell you that it took longer to type this paragraph than it took me to board. It was smooth, seamless, painless and actually quite fun! As I made the final zig-zag turns and arrived on board, I was met by Richard Matic and Gio, the Cruise Director and Assistant Cruise Director respectively. They were grinning from ear to ear, waving, and joyously welcoming the guests on board. Now when you consider that this crew does 3 and 4 day cruises back to back, it's no small feat to be so upbeat, charming and energized time after time. Not to mention they are adorable! I'm already excited and I'm not even inside yet! In all fairness, I had met Richard before on the Pearl for my Alaska cruise, but none the less it had been nearly three months and a few thousand passengers for him. Yet he recognized me right away, we shared a big hug and promises to catch up later. He kept that promise and made this cruise one of my favorites. Upon entering Deck 6, you will marvel at the atrium lobby. Unlike the new ships with just 2 or 3 decks of atrium, the Sky's atrium ascends all the way to the top of the ship. The lobby is flanked by glass elevators that offer a fantastic view as you ascend! The lobby is bright and cheerful as are the assorted crew members all awaiting to take your wine order, sell you a soda package, hold your carryon's while you wander and wait for your stateroom, take your dinner reservations, and direct you to where you might find lunch or anything else your little heart desires. As the days passed, I experienced nearly everything possible on the Sky. And I do mean everything! From food, to fitness, to entertainment, to relaxation, to exploration, to more fun that I though imaginable sailing alone. That's right, this was a solo cruise for me, and I must say that I was attended to with as much care and interest as the larger parties and full families staying in the Suites. The cuisine was fantastic! I did eat in the Palace Main Dining room once and the food was delicious and the service perfect. I also ate in my favorite haunt, Le Bistro and the meal was nothing short of exquisite. Don't leave without trying the French Onion Soup and the Escargot. There is an up-charge for this restaurant but it will be the best $20 you spend on board. Another up-charge restaurant I sampled was La Cucina, and it didn't disappoint. Try your best to avoid the traditional pasta favorites and delight in some non-traditional but scrumptious Italian delights! Not because they aren't good, but because you shouldn't miss out eating something truly out of the ordinary. My breakfasts in Cagney's were way too yummy with my favorite being what I would call "pound cake turned into French toast"...need I say more? Then there is a buffet of fresh fruits and pastries that should be enough to fill you for the entire day. The Garden Cafe Buffet was adequate with plenty of selections that you would expect at a buffet, with some surprises such as some Indian and Asian food selections. I do miss the fresh chocolate chip cookies that are usually there, but can I really complain with a dozen other desserts to choose from? I do enjoy comedy and magic, but typically these shows on a cruise ship are more of an option for your evening's entertainment, rather than a "must see". My mind was changed when I attended Rich Purpura's comedy and magic show. I was hooked, and attended each and every one of his shows and events. I laughed so hard, and I can't begin to tell you why. There isn't a joke I could retell, because it wasn't really so much an "act" as a conversation with a man musing about things on the ship and in life. It was total hilarity on a level I've not experienced in a long time. The Norwegian Sky Production company was yet again another surprise. I've sailed several NCL ships, and I'll be the first to say that I miss the Jean Ann Ryan Company (JAC) performances. Most ship's productions companies I've seen were good and entertaining, but not the caliber of the JAC's. This theory was dispelled on the Sky. The Sky Production Company not only met and matched but exceeded what I'd seen with JAC. The connection between the performers was authentic and electrifying. You could see the chemistry and feel the energy among them and it was contagious! In addition to the regular stage entertainment, the Cruise Director Staff kept anyone and everyone that wanted to be involved very busy with an assortment of onboard activities that not only pleased but genuinely entertained. There was something for everyone among the assorted classes, tastings, clinics, game shows, bingo events, and exciting nightclub entertainment. Just to name a few of my favorites: Dancing with the Stars; The Fountains Show; Adult Quest (if you are over 18, you MUST do this); 70's and 80's Disco; White Hot Party; the Ship-N-Males Revue; and the assorted crazy pool deck antics such as the Mr. Sexy Legs Competition; Ice Sculpting demo; the Pub Hub crawl; and more. All that was just on the ship! They continued to carry on with more activities on the beach on NCL's private island "Great Stirrup Caye". Now admittedly, I spent my time holding a beach lounger down and not participating, but there were ongoing events on the beach such as a Hula Hoop Competition; a Limbo Contest; Parasailing; Snorkeling; Jet Ski use; and Kayaking, along with great live Caribbean music and a beach BBQ that left nothing behind. I would like to pause here and take a moment to mention the Cruise Director by name, Richard Matic. He has to be one of the most dedicated and under-rated Cruise Directors in NCL's fleet. You will not only have the time of your life on a ship with him, but you will leave the cruise with a new friend and having a better experience for knowing him. Richard went out of his way to make his guests feel personally welcome. If you sail the Sky, and Richard is still the CD be sure to tell him that "Tonette says hello" and if you are so inclined give him a great big hug. Richard heads a fantastic Cruise Directors staff including Assistant Cruise Director Gio, who also is an amazing personality that will leave a great big smile on your face every time you chat with him. I'm sure we will see Gio on a ship of his own as CD very soon! Please tell him hello for me also, and don't forget the hug! Another person that single handedly made my cruise everything it was, is Concierge Omar O'Besso. You simply cannot find a more dedicated concierge in all of NCL's fleet. Omar loves his job, but more than that he takes a very sincere interest in his guests in a way that I've not encountered before. By the time your cruise is over, you will want to take him home with you! Here is another chance for you to hug another NCL crew member for me! Give Omar two!! The Hotel Director -â€" Steven Knot, F&B Director - Mike Van Bokhoven, and Beverage Director - Raj Rodrigues, were also outstanding examples of Officers who take great pleasure in what they do, and that being making sure you are having the best experience possible. I don't think these men ever slept, as I saw them first thing when I got up and they were still going late into the night. I just have to add a couple of points of interest, and insist that you verify these facts. The Hotel Director and the Guest Services Manager can dance a very steamy, albeit rough tango! The Beverage Director is from India and quite possibly a reincarnation of Michael Jackson. These details may seem silly (and they are), but they attest to what lengths the Officers of this crew go to in order to not only entertain guests, but have a good time with each other! I've just been mentioning Officers, but let me assure you the remaining crew is equally as dedicated. I can attest that my room steward Gusti on the Norway deck, never sleeps and spent the entire cruise posted outside my stateroom door awaiting my every request. The charming young lady, Uneza Shaikin selling the "chain by the inch" in the gift shop never failed to stop me for a hug and a hello. The Cruise Consultant Martin took it upon himself to personally resolve an issue I was having with my Latitudes number without my even asking. Christian in the Crossings Dining Room met me on embarkation day, and she never failed to remember my first name. I could go on and on. Even the photographer staff is friendly and fun. The photos are still FAR too expensive, but I have to admit their charm even seduced me into purchasing a couple of the prints. You just can't help yourself when the photo was so great (me in my Queen of Hearts Halloween costume on the grand staircase), and the gang is just so friendly. Always a stop for me was the fitness center and the spa. The fitness center is more than adequate with state of the art equipment, and plenty of it. There is a free weight section as well as the rows of treadmills and ellipticals all facing the large picture windows with a great view. I have to wonder though, why do they attach televisions to the tops of those things when there is such an amazing view?? LOL I never had a problem finding a free machine. I did take a couple of classes but have to say I was a bit frustrated a couple of times, so didn't attend the usual amount that I normally would. Once the instructor decided to do "abs" instead of what was on the schedule which was "stretch and relax"; and once during a stretch class a cartoon was on the television at a pretty hefty volume. I was thinking more like Enya for a stretch class, and not Sponge Bob. I'm sure I could have said something, so the onus is on me for not doing so, but just some observations. The spa was nice, crisp, refreshing, and rejuvenating looking with a full salon and barber services, along with assorted spa treatments. There is a small one-person hydro therapy tub but it's an extra charge unless you purchase a Poultice Massage. I was a bit disappointed that I wasn't able to use it for a bit before my Bamboo Massage, but those are the rules. There is also a steam room and sauna in the locker room, which you can use if you purchase a spa treatment. I took the spa tour on the first day, which is always fun, and you can sign up for the drawing which were several really great prizes. I signed up for a Bamboo Massage and a Therapie' Facial. Both were very enjoyable albeit it still pretty pricey. Make sure you take advantage of port day specials to make it affordable. I must say that I prefer the NCL Mandara Spa's with the Relaxation Spa section, but considering this is a small ship, they did quite well with their space. The spa staff is friendly and helpful and knowledgeable. Since I was on a back-to-back, I'd like to share some about that experience. I was lucky and was assigned the same stateroom, so that meant that I didn't have to pack up at the end of my first leg. I was able to get up, go for my run, work out in the gym, shower and get dressed, have a lovely breakfast in Cagney's, and leisurely make my way to Captain Cook's Bar at 10am. I was met there by a crew member from Guest Services that walked me off the ship, and handed me to a Port Crew Member who literally walked me off the ship, and down to Immigration and Customs. This was a simple process of handing them my Customs Document, my passport, smiling and answering "yes" to the question of "So you had so much fun you are staying on board?" I was then again escorted to the waiting area, and in very short order, as soon as the ship cleared, I was the first to be escorted back on board. I slipped back up to my stateroom, grabbed my iPad, and found a spot in the sun on Deck 11 to relax and await the rest of the new batch of passengers. Then I had a bright idea and went up to the spa and took advantage of it being completely empty and got a massage and facial. Ahhhhhh! When I emerged from my bliss, the ship was full of new guests and my adventure continued! The ports of call we visited were Freeport, Nassau and Great Stirrup Caye (GSC), all islands in the Bahamas. The four day portion of my cruise stopped at all three ports. The three day portion stopped at Nassau and GSC only. I must admit I didn't spend much time on shore in either Freeport or Nassau. My plan, to be honest, was to simply stay on board and exquisitely take part in every aspect of my floating 5 star resort at sea, but I did venture on land twice and want to share those highlights with you. Freeport is your typical port pier shopping experience with the "straw market" hawkers and a live Caribbean band that breaks into action whenever a passenger appears on the gangway coming off the ship. I can't tell you anything about any of the ship's excursions or any excursions for that matter, nor the famous or infamous "Our Lucaya" as I didn't make it anywhere near it. I can share with you one of the highlights of my cruise, and that was a visit to the Perfume Factory in the old International Bazaar in Freeport. I had read about it online, and decided that was my one stop. I disembarked and tried to get a taxi. "How much to the International Bazaar?" I asked. "It's closed lady, go to Our Lucaya, its better!" Now I knew this was coming. From having read on CruiseCritic, the taxi drivers make $5 to take you to Our Lucaya and only $4 to the International Bazaar, so they tend to stretch the truth. It's true that about 50% of the shops in the International Bazaar are closed. Due to the hurricanes and the main hotel there closing, many shops just never reopened. There is endless gossip about how may be buying the hotel and resurrecting the area, but those rumors have been going on for a few years now. Who really knows? One historical icon that still stands at the International Bazaar is the Perfume Factory. Its history goes back being founding in 1969 by Albert Whisnant, later sold to Peter and Patricia Aston in 1976, and since Mr. Aston's death in 1993, is now ran by Mrs. Aston and daughter Chrisanne, but you can read all about that on their website. In brief, it's a free standing building that appears to be a replica of an old Bahamian Mansion. Inside, your nose will be delighted with an exotic dance of refreshing delightful fragrances coming from tropical perfumes, lotions, oils and soaps. The friendly staff will be grateful you came and more than happy to escort you throughout the premises for a tour. If you are so inclined, you can sit down before a myriad of essential oils and create your very own fragrance, which you will hand mix and create yourself. For a very reasonable fee, you will leave with 1.5oz of your signature scent and a certificate of registry for your formula. It may sound very kitschy, but I spent my afternoon taking the tour, creating my fragrance and speaking with Chrisanne (daughter of the Astons). No doubt this lovely woman has given this tour hundreds, no thousands of times, but by her demeanor with me, I would have sworn it was one of her first. Her excitement and joy in helping someone understand fragrances was contagious. So I simply had to create my own. Make the time to visit the Perfume Factory. If Chrisanne is there, please tell her that I said hello. Great Stirrup Caye is NCL's private island that is still under construction. That said, there are many things ready and waiting for you. There is a functional dock now that the tenders use, and getting off and on the Caye is very easy. Unless of course there are high winds and rough seas. It is said that 2 out of 3 stops at GSC are cancelled due to this condition, so keep that in mind. My back-to-back had two stops planned at GSC, and one was cancelled. The day we made it to the Caye was lovely! There is a nice stretch of beach along a protected cove that makes for softly rolling waves onto a white sand beach. They still need to do some work grooming the beach regularly, as the coral embankment surrounding the cove is in an ever constant state of depositing broken pieces of coral and shells. This isn't a big deal, but be sure to bring aqua socks or beach shoes if you have tender tootsies. NCL's Cruise Director's Staff has a long long list of assorted beach activities going throughout the day, along with a variety of aquatic excursions. You won't be bored. There is live music, a simple straw market, three full bars, and a beach BBQ buffet that won't leave you wanting for anything. I chose to make it my mission to make sure that my beach lounger didn't try to escape and kept myself firmly planted on it most of the day. There are lots of beach loungers and beach chairs available at no charge, but I would still suggest you get off the boat early if you wish to make sure you have one closer to the water's edge. There are no beach umbrellas, but you can rent a clam shell style shelter. The cabanas are not yet completed, but there are a few assorted buildings that you can seek some refuge from the sun. There are also palm trees a plenty if you can score one early. Another blissful day on a white sand beach in a tropical island setting. Here are some random assorted tips: *Grab your breakfast and slip into the Long Boards Bar to eat it. It's quieter than in the buffet, and offers a unique venue for breakfast. *There is a fantastic bar outside Cagney's called the Plantation. They rarely advertise on ship, but most nights from 6p-8p they offer two-for-one martinis! The best alcohol deal on the ship! *There is a "quiet zone" just above the pool deck around the front of the ship; it has a nice quiet private hot tub and splash pool. *Take in the Art Auction preview for the free champagne and you might learn something about art. *Take in the Gift Shop Presentation for free liquor tastings. *Take advantage of the laundry special half way thru the cruise. Get all those delicates done before you go home. It's a great deal AND they fold. *At least ONCE, get up and go have coffee on the far aft of the ship on Deck 11 and watch the sun rise. *Do NOT miss the Fountains Show or anything with Rich Purpura. *Give Richard, Omar and Gio big hugs for me...did I say that already? Bon voyage! Read Less
Sail Date October 2011

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