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157 Bahamas Holiday Cruise Reviews

Had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday on the NCL Sky. Husband, son(16) and I flew into Ft Lauderdale on Friday - rented a car for the 3 days before left on the Sky on Monday 11/24. Did the tourist thing around Miami for three days. ... Read More
Had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday on the NCL Sky. Husband, son(16) and I flew into Ft Lauderdale on Friday - rented a car for the 3 days before left on the Sky on Monday 11/24. Did the tourist thing around Miami for three days. We stayed at the Best Western in North Miami in the Bayside Marina. Location was great - just north of South Beach and 15-20 minute drive to Port of Miami. There were several other people we met in the hotel that were booked on a cruise. Picked this hotel from recommendation of other cruise critic reviews. Older hotel recently renovated. Continental breakfast was okay. Hotel restaurant was great - on the marina. Would definitely stay again. Dropped rental car off at the Miami Int'l airport. Cab fair from MIA was set a flat rate of $24. Lot's of road construction around the drop off area for the rental car companies. Got turned around - was late checking in and Avis charged us another hour at $39. Did call Avis and complain because of the road construction, etc. Got a credit back for the $39. Embarkation was easy. We arrived at 11:15 - paper work processed quickly. After passport check, etc. was put into a holding area with many other people. They didn't start boarding until 12:00. That went pretty quick. Rooms were not ready until 2:00 - so had plenty of time to have lunch and find our way around the ship. You could tell the ship was an older ship - but was very clean. This was our second cruise. First was with Carnival. Was sort of dissappointed in the room size. Had a balcony. Size of balcony was just fine. Room was somewhat smaller than that we had on the Carnival ship, especially the bathroom. Shower was really small - but we were okay. We were across from the crew service area but never heard any noise. Short walk to elevators. Cabin 9233 - mid ship - great location. Staff was great. Cruise director - Matt - was funny. Shows were good - the comedian was kinda lame. No complaints at all about room stewards. They kept our room changed and cleaned in am and pm. We didn't pay the extra to dine in Cagney's or the Italian restaurant. They wanted $20 pp extra. Previous reviews indicated $10 pp - maybe they charged more because of the Thanksgiving week. Food was okay in the buffet lines, seemed to have almost the same everyday. Dinning room was different - great food and great service. Never waited more than 10 minutes. Love the freestyle dining though. Husband and son went to breafast bar every morning - I had room service. They were prompt with time requested. Ports of call were good. Didn't book excursions until we got on the ship on Monday 11/24. Waited in the lobby for the excursion desk to open - was first in line. Great Stirrip Cay, NCL's private island, was wonderful; but you better get out there early. Lounge chairs and umbrellas go really fast. Walked right off the ship onto the tender boat. Waited just a bit for the boat to fill up before leaving for the island. The beach was a bit crowded - but had a great day. Debarkation was quick too. We put our luggage out the night before so we didn't have to drag our bags through the hallways with many others. Just kept a bag with morning essentials and change of clothes. We didn't get off until 9:00 or so. Took cab back to MIA and then rented a car to drive to Ft Lauderdale. It costs us about $15-20 more for the rental car and the cab to MIA than had we taken the NCL shuttle to Ft Lauderdale - our flight didn't leave until 4:15 from FLL to Atl so we didn't want to hang out at the airport all day. Overall cruise was great - will definitely travel with NCL again. P Fountain - Atl, GA Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
We first sailed on the Majesty OTS Thanksgiving weekend 2007 and truly enjoyed the experience. This time, not so much. Though our staterooms were much better (Superior Oceanviews on deck nine), the cruise was not as enjoyable mostly due to ... Read More
We first sailed on the Majesty OTS Thanksgiving weekend 2007 and truly enjoyed the experience. This time, not so much. Though our staterooms were much better (Superior Oceanviews on deck nine), the cruise was not as enjoyable mostly due to the crew. In the course of a three-night cruise, one of our party of six (DH, me, my mom, DD, DG and a family friend) was denied boarding, one was falsely accused of smoking in her room and the spa receptionist insisted our appointments were for 4:00 not 4:30 - argh! However, in our nine cruises, we have learned to handle the big stuff (flight home and taxi to the airport for FF who was denied boarding; ask stateroom attendant why housekeeping supervisor thought DD was smoking in her room - turns out SA had turned in room 9558 but HS called room 9578 - note the HS never apologized) and blow off the small stuff. We like the design of the Majesty, a smaller ship with a more intimate feel. It is nice to have some of amenities RC is known for such as Johnny Rockets and the rock-climbing wall. However, the spa locker room is a joke: there were six lockers but no keys to lock them with, one toilet, one shower, and a tiny steamroom (think three or four people). No sauna. No ambiance. Just a place to disrobe before your spa appointment. When the ship was refurbished, they should have expanded the spa and locker rooms. The ship had all the usual RC activities: belly flop contest, Love and Marriage, etc. We went to all three evening shows. First one was good but SRO - there is not room for all of the guests so why do they combine the first and second seatings on the first night? We left but watched in our room later. "Signed, Sealed and Delivered" was entertaining - singers and dancers are talented. Juggler on last night and he was fun. Ports were good. Coco Cay - we got lucky and had a warm, sunny day. The water was cold but the hammocks and loungers were perfect. This is a delightful island. Nassau - weather not quite as nice but still enjoyed the water park at Atlantis. Got a room at the Comfort Suites (which included four Atlantis armbands) for $220 total. Nassau needs to fix its taxi system - just take us where we want to go when we want to go. I had to exit the first taxi (van) and tell the driver if we didn't leave now, we would find another way. Who wants to waste 15 minutes waiting for other people? The driver complied but was not too friendly about it. We enjoyed the dining room for breakfast and dinner. Service was top-notch and food was fine. Nothing to write home about but certainly edible. Windjammer was a disappointment - fish was not tasty. Room service was excellent. Our DG, age 8, registered and went to the Adventure Ocean on Friday night. Unfortunately, all the activities were the same as last year so she spent the rest of the cruise hanging out with us. The final insult of this cruise was disembarkation. We were assigned Group 2, and supposed to leave between 8:15 and 9:00. We went to our departure lounge on deck five and notice the line wrapped the entire length of deck four. When we went to join the line, we were told it started on deck seven so two and one-half hours later, we finally exited the ship at 10:00. Lessons learned: 1. Make sure everyone's documents are in order. 2. Get a written spa appointment card. 3. Think twice about repeating a cruise - even a good one. 4. SMILE and have fun anyway - it's your vacation. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
My fiance (24 years old) and I (27 years old) sailed on the Thanksgiving Cruise, Monday through Friday. This was our 3rd cruise. We first sailed with Carnival Miracle and then Carnival Destiny. One of the main reasons we chose Royal ... Read More
My fiance (24 years old) and I (27 years old) sailed on the Thanksgiving Cruise, Monday through Friday. This was our 3rd cruise. We first sailed with Carnival Miracle and then Carnival Destiny. One of the main reasons we chose Royal Caribbean was due to the feedback that "going Royal" is taking a step-up. After having an unpleasant experience with Carnival Destiny, we decided to give RC a chance. The first thing I must mention is that the Carnival Destiny was built in 1991 and RC Majesty of the Seas was built in 1992. Though, the Majesty of the Seas looks 10 times better than the Destiny. The decor was of better quality and class. It was not "bright" and tacky. Now on the Carnival Destiny, it was terrible as the ship's condition was the main factor as to why we had a horrible time. Therefore for a ship of this age and in such great shape, I can only imagine what the newer ships look like. The crew and staff of RC was very nice. I was impressed and taken aback by how nice they were. Carnival is known as the "Fun Ship" but I truly believe of the 3 cruises, this one by far gets the better rating in terms of the ships crew and their friendliness. In regards to additional tips, here is some things I noted to help all of you: Do not book a room on the 8th Deck near the Club. I would be pissed if I had a room here, because this is where ALL the traffic is at from 11pm-3am. The noise from the people walking to and from the Club would annoy me. I believe the room numbers were 8500. Please seek out the layout of the ship, and avoid getting a room their. Also, make sure you attend the Game Show "Quest". After being on 3 ships, the activities begin to look the same, but "Quest" was absolutely hilarious. I laughed so much that my voice was gone the next day! And please do enter yourself in the free giveaways. So many people sign up, but don't show up for the actual give-away. We were lucky to win a Spa Treatment after 30 names were called! We were excited about that! In regards to Ports, this time my fiance' and I decided to freestyle this one. We usually do intense research looking for excursions, but this time we decided to do it differently. Though I wish we had something set up for Nassau because although the Atlantis is nice to see, we were bored after a while. We did do the Kayaking in Coco Cay, and that was nice to do. Overall, I would do RC again. I would love to try out a bigger and newer ship due to my pleasant experience on this older ship. Though I will admit that as a young couple, we did find ourselves comparing the activities with Carnival. Both my fiance' and I agreed that in regards to activities, Carnival wins the cake! Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Background - My wife and I cruise two to three times per year. We are Norwegian Latitude Members, Cunard World Club members and Royal Caribbean Crown and Anchor Society Members. This was our fifteenth cruise. My wife is 46 and I am 42. We ... Read More
Background - My wife and I cruise two to three times per year. We are Norwegian Latitude Members, Cunard World Club members and Royal Caribbean Crown and Anchor Society Members. This was our fifteenth cruise. My wife is 46 and I am 42. We have two boys ages 10 and 5. This cruise was our first holiday cruise with the kids. Embarkation - We arrived later than planned due to traffic delays at the Lincoln Tunnel. When we arrived there were tons of people checking in and we had delays in every line. It took us about 90 minutes to board and arrived on the ship by 2:45pm. It certainly wasn't the worst embarkation we had from New York. The good news was that our room as ready, so we could dump our carry on bags and get a snack. The Ship - It is new at just over a year old. The ship was built in Papensburg, Germany like many other of NCL's ships. The ship was nicely appointed and well maintained. The German design is rather compartmentalized and most spaces are single deck, which does not allow for much natural lighting. All of the dining venues are small with virtually no natural lighting. The Grand Pacific dining room is the nicest looking dining room on the ship. It was two decks high and had nice views of the ocean. It is located at the aft end of deck 6, but you must access it though the aft staircase of deck 7. The lobby is also a very nice two deck space with a lovely piano bar and coffee shop. There is also a two deck high TV screen that plays videos, sports programs, and Nintendo Wii games. The kids loved the Wii tournaments in that room. The casino is large and well serviced. The slot machines are also very quiet, so you can hear yourself think when in the room. The most glaring error in design is the Garden Cafe. This is a buffet dining area with a traditional buffet line instead of buffet stations. The area is cramped and there is not enough seating for folks at peak times, so eat early or late. The Great Outdoors is an outdoor dining area on the aft end of the ship to the rear of the Garden Cafe. It is a nice area to eat when the weather is warm. The other public spaces are pretty standard to other NCL ships and I found navigating the ship very easy. I liked the fact that the Tree Top Kids Club is located mid ship, so the movement of the ship through the water is minimal. Accommodations - Since this was a holiday cruise and pricing was higher than usual, so we chose an inside cabin for the four of us. When we first walked into the room, we looked at each other and wondered where all of the clothes and luggage will fit. We had five bags with us. To NCL's credit, the room held all four of us, our clothes and bags. There were two adult size beds, a drop down bed from the ceiling and a cot that was stored under one of the adult beds. It was snug and we won't get an inside for four again. The room was approximately 150 sq.ft. The bathroom was small, but the shower was a decent size. The water pressure was great and we never had an issue in getting plenty of hot water. The housekeeping staff was horrible. Our cabin was not made up until almost dinner time every day and was not turned down until almost 11pm each night. We never saw our cabin stewards. Itinerary - It was a good itinerary for kids. I liked four ports in a seven day cruise from New York. The port reviews are below. They were Port Canaveral, Great Stirrup Cay, Nassau and Freeport. Shore Excursions - Were poorly organized. There was alot of waiting time and the kids got anxious. I realize that local tour companies were running the tours, but NCL needs to make sure they are providing the level of service required. The worst tour was the Atlantis Aqua Adventure. I'll explain below. Entertainment - Good solid entertainment. The Gem Singers and Dancers had three good shows. We enjoyed the comedian, Peter Sasso. We missed the shows when we were in port, but comments by other guests were positive. The New Year's Eve party was not well advertised. When I asked one of the kids club counselors what they were doing for the kids on New Year's Eve, they had no idea. They wound up having a New Year's party complete with top hats and face painting, but I passed on that because their late night party fee, which is usually $5.00 per hour per child was doubled to $10.00 per hour for the first child for New Year's Eve only. I thought that was an awful thing to do especially since there was no notice to the parents until you arrived to drop off your kids at 10:30pm. The kids did like the overall program. My 10 year old loved the Nintendo Wii freeplay. Passenger demographic was diverse with many families traveling with children. There were 642 kids on board for this trip. Dining - The food quality and presentation in the main dining rooms (Magenta and Grand Pacific) was very good and exceeded our expectations. The wine lists were diverse and good. Wines from $14.00 per bottle to $1,350.00 per bottle. We stayed with the $14.00 per bottle stuff. The Garden Cafe buffet was also very good. However, the food quality and presentation in the specialty restaurants we patronized (La Cucina and Tequila) was poor at best. Very bland tasting food with little going for it. My wife put it best when she said the red sauce at La Cucina tasted like Chef Boyardee. Disembarkation - Was very smooth and well organized. One of the best I have had in New York. Overall - We all had a good time as we always do on a cruise, but this ship's service and lack of organization left us with a feeling of emptiness. We did not make any friendships with anyone for the first time. I said to my wife on the last day that I always start missing the ship and it's crew on the last sea day, but not this one. This Gem needs alot of polishing before I would go on her again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
Well let me start out by saying I have noticed there is a large difference between short cruises and long cruises. The two short cruises we have taken one with Carnival and this one have been a much poorer quality than the long one we ... Read More
Well let me start out by saying I have noticed there is a large difference between short cruises and long cruises. The two short cruises we have taken one with Carnival and this one have been a much poorer quality than the long one we took. That said in comparison to our Carnival cruise this one was much better but still lacking in many ways. Overall you cannot beat cruising for the value. You get hotel, food, entertainment, childcare, and transportation at an unbelievable price. However I think NCL is cutting a few to many corners and dropping the ball in the customer service department. Now specifically the SKY experience. I loved the port of Miami. It was very easy to find and we stayed at the Holiday Inn Port side and were able to see our ship come in. What fun that was. Boarding was a breeze. The crew who checked us in were awesome I wish I could have taken them on the ship with us and gotten that kind of service the entire trip. We were greeted with Champaign but no map of the ship and I had to hunt down a Freestyle Daily. The cabins were not ready till precisely 2pm. We were able to drop off our stuff much earlier in the Dawn. Cabin: Cabin was sufficient for a short cruise but much too small for a long one. Bathroom was tiny. Storage was very limited we kept most of our stuff in suitcase under bed. The beds were very comfortable and room was clean. We did meet the cabin steward and gave him a stocking on Christmas. Entertainment: We found the ship-produced entertainment to be not nearly a good as on the Dawn. The stage was very small because of the size of the ship and the dancers and singers were not as good. The hired entertainment was very good, as we have found on all of our cruises. Rich Purpura the comedian was very funny and Dave Morgan guitar player singer was excellent. The Christmas Eve party was poorly planed and not overly festive but better than the St. Patrick's day party on the Dawn. The poolside band was ok but not nearly as good as others we have heard. The evening parties were not poolside they were inside which made them less fun I think. Kids Crew: Staff very friendly. Daughter complained that children were poorly behaved and this interrupted activities. We did not have a lot of time to participate because it was a holiday cruise. Food: Food ranged from excellent to poor. Appetizers were often better than meal. We did not eat at any specialty restaurants. Service in main dinning areas was very very slow and unorganized. They had plenty of staff but could not get anything done. We had a very hard time eating a complete meal without missing most of the evening activities. We often ate our meals in parts and often missed dessert entirely. We only ate at the buffet for breakfast and lunch. Meals were acceptable but not great. What you would expect form a buffet. It was very hard to get an early lunch nothing was available until noon. All restaurants and the buffet closed by 10 or 10:30. The Longboard bar was the only place to get food after that. Their menu was the same as the Blue Lagoon on the Dawn but the food was terrible in comparison. Overall ship: In very good shape for its age. As with all NCL ships it takes a while to figure out. Pool area was sufficient for size. Hot tubs were fairly hot and open late. Coffee bar is in a poor location. Much of the ship is under used and NCL should look at rearranging things. Clean and bright I did not mind the Hawaiian feel. Port: We were not impressed with Nassau and would most likely not go back there. Our Sailing excursion was canceled the first day because of high winds. We did not leave Nassau to go to the private island because the next day was to be windy as well. The captain secured us a slot to stay in Nassau an extra day. There were 3 NCL ships there. They did not announce this very well and we were all settled into the hot tub before we knew. We may have went back out had we know sooner. Excursions: Because our self-booked excursion was cancelled we booked the Atoll Island snorkel through NCL. This was very poorly run and the age and swimming requirements were not adhered to. Many of the people on this trip were not able to swim well enough. That aside we did enjoy the reef and were impressed with what we saw. The weather was poor but at least we were able to snorkel. We have taken 2 NCL excursions and booked our own and have found booking our own or exploring on our own to be a much more rewarding experience and a better use of our time. Christmas: We were on the ship for Christmas and Hanukkah and found it to be lacking in festivities. There were about 8 Christmas trees and at least that many Ginger bread houses but we did not see a Menorah anywhere. There was very soft Christmas music being played in only one of the restaurants. They did have quite a few activities happening on Christmas Eve however due to the very slow dinning service it was hard to attend more than one. They had caroling which we missed due to dinner then a Christmas party which was more big band dancing than Christmas and a Midnight service, which we did not attend. On Christmas Day they had Santa and Gifts for all the children in the Kids Crew including the teens. This was nice. There was very little else happening Christmas day different from any other day. Medical office: My daughter did become ill on Christmas night. We took her to the medical office after 11:00, which was nice they were open. They gave her an injection to stop nausea, which must have worked because she was fine till the next morning. They were not overly informative or personable but it was a free service, which I did not expect. I did have a hard time reaching them using the automated phone. Leaving the ship was uneventful. We had gray tags because we drove and wanted to take our time leaving. We waited till there was little to no line and got off. The process was a little slow but ok. We were happy to discover Customs did not care that we purchased much more alcohol than allowed. For Christmas gifts of course. We expected to be charged and were not. Things I missed from previous cruises: Coffee mugs at coffee bar, Dinning dress code, can do attitude by staff, food after midnight, large dessert selection in buffet, music on pool deck, spa pool, more days, Blue Lagoon food (longboard was awful), Mexican food, good theater with big stage and good shows. Things I enjoyed: meeting CC friends, Teen smoothie pass (best value NCL offers), longer hot tub hours and more hot tubs, Dave Morgan, comedian, no snow, Tortuga Rum!! I try to be optimistic and find the best in things. Had this not been a Christmas cruise I would have felt we got what we paid for and had a good time. Being a holiday cruise I feel NCL was lacking. I also feel their overall customer service was lacking. The layout of the ship, poor dinner service and all the activities being offered in a 4-hour block make it very hard to enjoy the total experience. We love the Freestyle aspect of NCL but we found on this cruise Freestyle was very limited and you had to choose between dessert and evening activities. We will be exploring other Cruise lines for future Cruises. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
This is the first time that I am writing a review; I hope that you will bear with me. I would like to start by telling the readers something about myself, so that they can have an idea about the perspective from which these observations ... Read More
This is the first time that I am writing a review; I hope that you will bear with me. I would like to start by telling the readers something about myself, so that they can have an idea about the perspective from which these observations were made. I am 56 years old and have been cruising for over 30 years, having taken more than 25 cruises. Other lines on which have sailed include Celebrity, Cunard, Holland America, Oceania, P & O, Premier, Princess, and Royal Caribbean. Other than cruising, I have traveled extensively throughout the world (except for Asia) and I have passion for food (cooking is one of my hobbies). On this trip, we were a group of four adults, including my legally blind, octogenarian mother who cannot stand for long periods nor walk long distances. Now, on to the review. Boarding Manhattan has never been one of the best embarkation ports. But on this occasion, we arrived at the pier into a scene of pandemonium. The ship had docked late, so literally thousands of passengers were everywhere, standing on zigzagging lines and even sitting on the floor wherever they wouldn't be trampled. Despite the fact that I was told on the phone by NCL that a wheelchair would be available at check in, none was, and there wasn't even a place for my mother to sit. When I went to one of the tables and told the NCL representative of the situation, she said "I'm not responsible for what you were told. There's nothing I can do about it". When I asked her to give me one of the chairs that were behind her table, she said no. I had to take it over her objections and told her to use her radio to report the situation to someone who is responsible. Finally, after about 20 minutes, someone showed up with a wheelchair. From that point, boarding went smoothly. Physical Condition The ship is beautiful. As I am very fond of the traditional designs of ships such as Oceania or Cunard, I didn't think that I would like the modern design of NCL. But the mixture of dark wood and color was extraordinary. Also, being practically new, all of the furnishings were still in pristine condition. Everything appeared very clean and well maintained. Because, NCL nearly doubled the price of the tickets for the holiday sailings (as compared to the same itinerary from two weeks before), we only booked balcony cabins. In comparison to some lines, these were on the small side, but well laid out. And the large showers were very much appreciated. Fortunately, opening the divider between the adjoining balconies added to the spaciousness of both cabins. Entertainment The entertainment on board was the best I have seen in years. The big shows were terrific and even the small shows were good: talented singers and dancers and funny comedians. The casino was above average: spacious with plenty of tables and a variety of machines in various denominations. But, call me old fashioned, the computerized Roulette machine went too far! Food The range was from horrendous to very good. In the main dinning rooms, the food was dismal. There was an inedible vichyssoise that tasted as if made from skim milk and potato flakes; many hot entrees were served barely warm at best; and the inattentive service ruined the few good dishes. A sea food platter that was tasty (and served hot) was cold by the time the requested tartar sauce was brought (fully 10 minutes later). On the other end of the spectrum were the upgrade restaurants: good food and excellent service. But it seemed as if the food that was included was deliberately bad to make you pay for the upgrades. Even in the buffet at breakfast, the orange juice was so diluted that one was compelled to pay the extra price for the fresh squeezed juice that was being pushed. Service While cheerful and friendly, the service was poor. Calls to the room steward were slow to be answered. If one slept late and didn't leave the room until after 10:30, the room was not made up until after lunch. Many staff didn't speak English well enough to comprehend simple requests. Yet, in the upgrade restaurants, you couldn't ask for more attentive waiters. This contrast made the service in the main dinning room seem even worse! Another example: Somehow, we were not given our bill on the night before disembarkation. When I went to the desk on the next morning, I couldn't get another copy. This was distressing. But, there was one shining example of good service. We lost a wallet that was found and returned within 30 minutes. This was impressive. Overall There were lines for everything. Even with reservations, there were lines to be seated in the restaurants. Even at off-peek times, there were lines for boarding and disembarking in the ports. There were even lines for the nightly special deserts and the extra charge OJ in the buffet. In my opinion, Free Style meant that one was free to stand on line and pay extra to get what one should have received with the price of the ticket. Given the price paid, especially after all of the extra charges, I would rank this NCL trip at the bottom of my list for value and only in the lower end for overall quality. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
Explorer of the Seas Thanksgiving Cruise (8 nights) Bayonne, Port Canaveral, Nassau, Cocoa Cay, Bayonne November 21-29, 2009 Let me start by saying that as this was my first RCCL cruise, it was a great cruise. Even with the slightly ... Read More
Explorer of the Seas Thanksgiving Cruise (8 nights) Bayonne, Port Canaveral, Nassau, Cocoa Cay, Bayonne November 21-29, 2009 Let me start by saying that as this was my first RCCL cruise, it was a great cruise. Even with the slightly rough seas, on the return two sea days, the trip overall was excellent and well worth trying RCCL as past guest of Carnival. I will preface my review by stating that I'm not going to (or try not to) compare RCCL and Carnival. As mentioned in a previous thread, I made a reservation with Vista Parking (20 Frontage Road) for $82.80 total using a coupon off their internet site. You pay one days charge of $10.35 in advance to hold the reservation. We were in the area two hours early so I dropped off my party at the Sheraton Hotel on Frontage Road to wait for the pickup by Bayonne Taxi and Shuttle. The Vista Parking shuttle dropped me back off at the hotel, which is a few blocks from the hotel. Bayonne Taxi and Shuttle arrived at 11:30, and we had a total of eight people making the trip for the cruise. The rate was $15.00 per person. We found out while driving to the port that BT&S is used by RCCL for their transport service, which cost $27.00pp! We arrived at the entrance to the port in around 10 minutes. Then the line of cars waiting to get into the port took another 30 minutes or so Upon approaching the van drop-off and embarkation area, it looks like mass confusion. The old buildings, tents, and shuttles caught me off guard. I was expecting a terminal like Miami or Port Canaveral. But looks can be deceiving. From the time we exited the shuttle, to check-in, to stopping for our departure photo, to catching the shuttle to the ship took all of 15 minutes. If all your paperwork is in order, the lines move very fast. We entered the ship on deck #1, and took the elevators to Windjammers for lunch. There was large variety of items to select from, and everything was very well prepared and presented. It took me a couple of days to get use to the Windjammer waiters clearing the tables in a timely manner, and checking to see if you wanted a beverage refill. We were then off to check out the ship, when they announced the rooms were ready. Our balcony cabin, category D2 on deck seven was large enough for two or three people with plenty of closet and ample drawer space. The bathroom was the right size for what it's used for. The ship was in great shape, and the crew were always cleaning or repairing something. I really didn't notice anything really worn out or broken. After checking out the ship it was off to the muster drill (no life vests), which was painless, then off for sail-away on Decks 11 & 12. We checked out Dizzy's first, which is great for sail away or just relaxing and taking in the view. We then went outside just in time to pass under the Verrazano Bridge. The first day was spent checking out the rest of the ship, unpacking, and then dinner in Windjammer's. The second day was spent lounging around the ship, hanging out in the library (one of my favorite places) and the hot tub. It was still a bit cool outside, so most of the time was spent participating in onboard activities. This was also the Captains Night and Formal Dinner, and everything went as expected with no problems or complaints. The third day was warm (off the Carolina Coast), so most of the time was spent outside by the pool. Lunch and dinner was in Windjammers. Most of the time, if I wasn't participating in an onboard activity or hanging out in the library or pool, I was in Schooner's. Even though I never thought of myself as a piano bar type of person, this was one of the best spots on the ship. Schooner's was also the location for a lot of trivia games. I spent more time here than in my cabin! Steve, Milan, Kevin and the rest of the crew in Schooner's are great!!! You guys said not to miss the ice show and you were right. This was a very well choreographed, professional show! The skaters, costumes and skating rivaled anything I have seen by Disney on Ice, Nancy Kerrigan or Stars on Ice. I had tickets for the first show and waiting stand by for admission for the second Friday show. Yes, it was that good. Day four we were in Port Canaveral and had great weather although it was cloudy most of the day. We spent the entire day in Magic Kingdom. The park was not really crowded. The one ride I did want to get on (Space Mountain) was down most of the day, even though it just had a multi-million dollar and a several month rehab. Fast Pass was a joke! We were in line at just after 9:00am, and the Fast Pass return time was already at 3:30-4:30pm. Needless to say we'd be gone by then. The parades, shows and music on Main Street have been updated to reflect the times and this generation, and there is entertainment in the streets (jump rope, hopscotch, hula hoops, hokey pokey dancing, etc.) with the kids to keep them entertained before the parades start. In Disney several us of noticed that the dancers and entertainers in the shows and parades were not the youthful teens that had been portrayed in the past. Several cast members could have easily been in their 30's and 40's! The Explorer only offered transport to the park ($33.00pp), and the normal price of the tickets would have cost $84.00 including taxes. This did save us around $20-$30 dollars from what cruise ships normally charge for this excursion. Day five was in Nassau and the weather was beautiful, and not too warm. I guess all cruise lines have deals with Diamonds International. The area just outside the pier was a mix of the typical souvenir and craft shops. The main strip looks like Rodeo Drive with Gucci, Rolex and Fendi. We picked up a few things and stopped at a local place for lunch. After dropping our things off at the ship, we hopped in a taxi ($4.00) to Atlantis in Paradise Island. The place is gorgeous and the aquarium is a bonus. The money spent to view the full aquarium was worth it, along with getting to tour most of the exterior beach areas. The casino (slot machines) was very, very quite (hint, hint). Day six was in Coco Cay which is a tender location. It was hot out on the beach. We spent most of the day lounging on the beach and splashing in the water before grabbing some of the BBQ, which was very good. We picked up more souvenirs in the craft shops and then headed back to the ship early. It was Thanksgiving, and I couldn't see how all those people were going to get back on the ship in time with three tenders, so we left around 3ish or so. Once back on board, we could see the wind and waves were kicking up a bit, so the Captain cancelled the remaining shore leave, as a majority of the passengers were still on the island. All made it back safely. Dinner was in the main dining room, with the Traditional Thanksgiving meal as one of the selections. Day seven and eight, what can I say. The wind and waves begin to get stronger and you really felt the boat rocking. I did take Bonine on the first two days, and again today. I didn't get sick, but heard of several people who did. Most of the time was spent in the library, Schooners or Maharaja's playing trivia, bingo, karaoke or piano sing along. Lunch was in the dining room, and I should have eaten lunch in there every day. I also checked out the Chamber during the day for dancing lessons and at night for the music, which were both comparable to land based locations. I forgot to mention that one of the crew had to be airlifted by the Coast Guard for emergency surgery, but is doing well now. This was one of the highlights of the cruise. You hear about it, but seeing it live is whole nother story. Debarkation even though was well organized; something on the pier threw a monkey wrench in the timing of getting the passengers off in a timely manner. We (Purple Tag, #1) were supposed to meet in the DR and be off at 9:30-9:45, but were delayed by about an hour. Once our color and numbers were called we went down to deck one to disembark (a few minutes), waited on the shuttle to take us to the terminal (a few minutes), waiting to disembark the shuttles (ten minutes). Once in the terminal, we had our luggage and were through customs in less than five minutes. The night before, I called Bayonne Taxi and Shuttle to confirm the pickup at the port, and they instructed me they had a Dispatcher and continual shuttles and taxis running from the port. After customs, we made our way to the taxi area, found the Dispatcher, and were loaded within 3 minutes. We had a 15 minutes wait, while they waiting for more passengers, but we pulled out with 4 people on board. The shuttle took 30 minutes or so to get back to the Sheraton due to a bridge opening in Bayonne/Jersey City. We were dropped back off at the Sheraton, and the Vista shuttle was there in 3 minutes once we called for a pickup. The parking rate and transports was excellent overall. Even though we were a short drive from the port, it was worth not having to worry about if they would be painting this week or not. As a note the rate to the pier was $15.00, while the return rate was $14.00. Taxi cab service would have cost $45.00 plus tolls, if we didn't want to wait for the shuttle to fill-up. The Wrap-up: Overall this was the best cruise I have taken so far. The staff, service, food, activities and accommodations met or exceeded my expectations. The Ice Show along with Comedian Freddie Roman were the best entertainment acts onboard. The Royal Caribbean Dancers and Singers were good, but something was missing from their shows. I don't know if it was the theme, timing, choreography or songs. That is my only little peeve, which really didn't bother me as I sat through all of them, while some people left. The theater was not crowded on the nights I went either. I expected the weather to be cool with possible rough seas the first two and last two days, so this didn't bother me much. It was well worth not having to fly to Florida! I'm already looking into the Explorer for next summer. She'll be like brand new just coming out of dry dock in January. The eight night cruise was the perfect length. Even though we relaxed the first two days, by the time we reached Port Canaveral, we were more than ready for our first port of call. Nassau and Coco Cay were great ports of call as well. Now I'm going to do what I said I wasn't going to do in the beginning. Carnival being the "fun ship" has "fun" activities for the young and young at heart constantly. Notice I did not say partying. The Explorer had a much more "mature (and older)" crowd and "mature activities" even with the amount of children on board. The activities were structured more towards "mature" and "family oriented" cruisers. Having cruised both lines, now believe that when deciding on a vacation if I want to have "fun" I can choose Carnival, and when I want to relax and enjoy my vacation I can choose RCCL. There will be other factors to determine which line or ship I choose, but the next one will be on RCCL. I forgot to sign up for the meet and mingle and once onboard didn't remember to inquire about it. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
We are a family of 4, with 11 year old twins, looking to go on a cruise for the first time. We wanted a budget priced 20th Anniversary/Thanksgiving cruise with a port we could drive to. So we ended up picking the Fascination out of ... Read More
We are a family of 4, with 11 year old twins, looking to go on a cruise for the first time. We wanted a budget priced 20th Anniversary/Thanksgiving cruise with a port we could drive to. So we ended up picking the Fascination out of Jacksonville, a 6 hour drive. EMBARKATION - Probably the area that I have the most comments on, mostly negative. Jaxport is minimal facility not really designed to handle the crowds of a fully booked cruise ship. Take our advice - if you do not have your luggage totally organized and ready to hand over to the porters, skip the front of the terminal and just go park. Then, you can take your time without cars backing up behind you. Just tow your luggage over to the building. It's not that far. Once inside the building, the lines were long, but moved along quickly and the Carnival staff did a decent job getting people through. But, the biggest disappointment was when we finally walked on the ship. I wasn't expecting much, just a smile, a "welcome aboard" and some suggestions as to where to head to first. None of that. Just people milling around in the lobby of deck 3 trying to figure out where to go. I finally tugged on the arm of a Carnival employee and she said that we could go to our stateroom and then eat. Felt kind of like being herded like cattle. STATEROOM - It was great! Even with 2 adults and 2 kids, we felt very comfortable in the space. Luxurious compared to our tent camping trips! The room was very clean and we had plenty of places to store our clothes and stuff. Nigel, our steward was very pleasant and unobtrusive and came by several times a day to straighten up the room. The kids loved the towel animals. Because of weather, we spent more time in our stateroom than anticipated and it felt very cozy. And we loved having a window - so much to see! ACTIVITIES - This was probably the biggest challenge for us. We are kind of low key people and would have been very content to just sit on the deck and read. But during our days at sea, the sky was kind of cloudy and often, the wind was very strong and chilly. Not Carnival's fault, though. We went to the Not So Newlywed Game, which was pretty funny. When not too windy, we played mini-golf. It was hard to get a ping pong table and even harder to play on a rolling ship. :) The kids did some Camp Carnival activities and seemed to enjoy them. My son especially enjoyed the dodge ball games and family scavenger hunt. My daughter is a little bit more shy and didn't spend as much time at the camp as her brother. We decided that our next cruise would like to have more ports and less time at sea. My husband was disappointed by the casino. He was hoping for more variety of card games, not just 21 or Hold 'em. But, I guess that Carnival wants to provide the most popular games. We did visit the gym twice and found the facilities to be very satisfactory. Nothing like working out on an elliptical trainer while the ship is rolling! DINING - We ate in the dining room each night and were pleased with the service. The food was good, not great though. It's hard to crank out 2300+ plus dinners every night and not sacrifice some quality. But, it was all fine and I, being a working mom, was delighted that someone else was doing the cooking. Our waitress was charming and the kids really liked her. The chocolate melting cake was fantastic! Breakfast in the dining room was more relaxed and the food better quality than eating at the buffet in the Coconut Grove. The buffet lunch, both on the Lido deck and in the Coconut Grill was often very busy, but you were able to eventually get around, get what you wanted and find a place to sit down. One word of advice, though. If you are picky about how your soda tastes, bring your own or spend money on the cans in your stateroom. I made the mistake of buying a soda card and discovered that the sodas from the bars, where you get them, were very watered. $27 I really regretted spending. ENTERTAINMENT - We went to one show, Hey Mambo. It was well done, the singers and dancers very good and countless costumes changes. All very Vegas-like. My kids were bug-eyed. We need to get them out more. Both of the ports that the Fascination stops in were fun places and we had a wonderful time ashore. We did excursions on our own, rather than through Carnival and everything worked out fine. It's interesting to observe how cruise lines try to separate you from your money. But, it's not hard to keep the spending under control. We brought 2 bottles of wine and bought a couple of mixed drinks. We also bought a couple of the pictures, a Christmas tree ornament and some time playing laser tag. I didn't mind the built in gratuities. Nearly everyone on the crew was friendly and very hard working. The ship was well maintained most of the time. Any problems we encountered, like public restrooms not always clean or tables not cleaned off in a timely manner, seemed to stem mainly from the sheer overwhelming number of people on the ship. I think that the ship had about 500 people more than it's regular sailings. Disembarkation went very smoothly and we were in our car heading home by 10am. We learned a lot, this being our first cruise. We hope to do it again in the near future and, unless our financial situation drastically improves, it will probably be on Carnival again. You can't beat the overall experience for the price. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
To start off...embarkment went very smoothly. I went directly to the counter and got my sail and sign card....then you had to wait for your zone to be called, which took less than 10 minutes. My first impression of the ship is that it is ... Read More
To start off...embarkment went very smoothly. I went directly to the counter and got my sail and sign card....then you had to wait for your zone to be called, which took less than 10 minutes. My first impression of the ship is that it is very colorful. I did get dizzy when i first got on the ship and so did my step mom, but once we boarded and walked around a while, we were ok. We headed to the lido deck for the buffet. At first, it was hard to find the food. There wasn't a big selection for that afternoon. The food did not impress me at that time. We spent some of our time waiting in line to see the maitre de- Ken (Who was very polite and nice). We had to see if we could get a table for my dad to sit with us at diner. He told us that there was no room, but he would make arrangements to ask the people who were at our table to switch if they would like to. After that, we headed to our rooms. We were in room 10220 lido deck. We didn't see our cabin stewart at that time, actually we didn't get to see him until the second day...his name was Rodney. He never got to know our name and never called us by name. That night, the 1,400 children who were on board, decided they didn't want to stay in the kids clubs. Some children were running on our floors,soi put my head outside my door, gave them the eye, and after that i never saw then again. The food on the ship was nothing out of the ordinary...same as on most ships. The Steakhouse also didn't impress me, but this might be all due to the fact that im a picky eater. They do give you alot to eat there. The cruise Director Todd, kept everyone busy. He's just a pleasure to look at. I do have to say,The dream has the best looking crew i have ever seen on my past 8 cruises i have done. The weather was nasty going out of NYC...We had rain for two days, but as soon as we got there the weather got better. In Florida, I went to CoCo beach with the shuttle. It's 5 dollars each way. I walked on the beach...the water was pretty warm and my dad went for a swim. I also went shopping in Ron Jons and then we went back to the ship. In Nassau, it was very windy. We went to Atlantis, but what was supposed to be a ferry turned out to be a small banged up boat. They loaded about 75 people on a boat that could hardly hold 30 people. I really thought we would sink, but we did make it to Atlantis. Atlantis didnt impress me at all. They wouldn't let you on the beach unless you bought a pass. We went shopping in the town and then went back to the ship. Thanksgiving diner on the ship was not good at all. Not like the average Thanksgiving diner. I was disappointed in that and so was my dad and step mom. Freeport was very nice. We went to the beach by van . We passed the casino, but didn't go in. I rode the banana boat, which was a highlight of my trip. I was the only 51 year old, who had the guts to get on it. I was on it with three kids. The banana boat stopped in the middle of the ocean...the guy ran out of gas, so i spent 20 minutes trying to calm down the kids who were scared and starting to cry. I told them not to worry, we will be OK. They called another boat, and got us the gas and then we were on our way. We had the greatest waiters...SASA, MAXIMO- I called him tea man, and Ne mo-my dad nicknamed him Nicholas, because we couldn't spell his name or ever get it right. I'm glad I got to test out the hot tubs on the ship. I never got to go in the pools, they were too crowded. Some nights i would go back to my dads room To meet him for a show and he would have beautiful towel animals (he was on deck 9) I would be disappointed in what i got...i got all flat things, so i wrote on my comment card, that my room steward needs towel making class lessons. I think he could have taking some more time on what i got in my room but that didn't hurt my cruise. I still gave him an extra tip anyway. All of the activities and shows were fantastic...It would have been nicer to have one or two more shows going on in the afternoon. I especially loved the laser shows. The crew did the best they could with all the people they had to deal with on this sailing...and believe me...some of them were not so nice. They are all very hard workers and i appreciate all the stuff they have done for us. All and all, I loved my cruise and will definitely stick with Carnival Cruise Lines. Thank you Carnival. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
After waiting enthusiastically for months to take our Carnival Dream cruise, we embarked from Manhattan, New York for what we believed to be 8 glorious days aboard Carnival's newest, largest, most highly anticipated cruise ship, The ... Read More
After waiting enthusiastically for months to take our Carnival Dream cruise, we embarked from Manhattan, New York for what we believed to be 8 glorious days aboard Carnival's newest, largest, most highly anticipated cruise ship, The Dream. The embarkation went smoothly enough. It took about an hour to get onto the ship. Because the cabins were not available, cruise guest were directed to the Lido deck where we could get lunch. We immediately went to the Mongolian station where we waited in line for over an hour to get food. The food at this station was very good. The area inside was crowded so we had to seat outside which was cold. We then went to our cabin which was very nice and clean. As people began to file onto the ship, space began to slowly become an issue. It slowly began to feel crowed with nothing to do. It was clear the planners seemed to overlook the fact that it was cold outside therefore people, some 4,500 plus crew would be wandering around inside, bumping into each other. By the end of the second night, it was obvious that the staff had overlooked the 18-20 yr olders as there was absolutely nothing planned the entire 8 days for this age group. A friend had an 18 yr old who showed up for a meet and great which was supposed to be planned (it was listed in the cruise caper), but noone, including activity crew showed up. Therefore, they just ran lose, drank ed liquor and got in trouble. She tried to talk to the Cruise director, Tood several times leaving written requests, but he never responded. This lack of response seemed to permeate the cruise ship. Crew members were rude, seemingly tired and overworked. While this was a ship twice the size, 130,000 tonage as one of their regular size ships, 80-90,000 tonage, the crew appeared to not reflect the increase in number of cruise guests. Often our cabins were cleaned after we returned from late dinner seating which was after 9:30pm which would include getting ice, clean drinking glasses, etc. Getting ice and drinking water were indeed a nightmare!!! Of course, if you wanted water in your cabin you could buy it for almost $4 or wait 45 minutes to an hour for room service. Often we did not receive a cruise caper, so you would find out that something happened after the fact. The food was one of the two biggest disappointments of the cruise. Other than the Mongolian station, the food simply did not taste good. The lines were always long no matter where you tried to get food. The pizza was awful. The food in the two restaurants (I ate in the Scarlet restaurants some evenings) was simply not good. As the days past, the number of people eating in the restaurant began to dwindle. One night I asked for a fruit salad (it was on the menu) and simply asked to not have pineapples (as I am allergic) to be removed. This would have left watermelon, honeydew and cantaloupe. I was told that this could not be done because the food it "pre-prepared". My last night I tried it again, asking to have some red sauce removed from my shrimp plate and was again told it could not be removed. The sauce completely changed the taste of the shrimp. We ate at Scarlet's 5 of our 8 nights, not one of the night did we get offered tea, juice, even alcoholic beverage until after dinner, during desert. This was only after we asked. Drink order were never taken!!!!! Our table guest just gave up and stopped eating in the restaurant. Between 2:30pm and 6pm, it seemed that hot foods became scarce. However, until 2:30 or 3pm you could get the Mongolian food if you choose to stand in line for over an hour to get it. And, even at that the food station closed down at that time regardless how long you had been in line. I witnessed daily arguments between guest and crew over this fact. Room service had a limited menu, cold and again took nearly an hour to get it. Only continniel breakfast in your room. In short, the food, taste and service was sub par. The second disappointment was the entertainment. The shows were just not good. I did not go on a cruise to see break dancing, ventriloquist acts. The dancers were slow and just not good. This was not my first cruise, however it was my first carnival cruise. So, I had some sense of what I thought I would experience. Please note, the cruise had two comedians during the first 3 days who were very, very good. At this point, I'm speaking of the Encore theater entertainment. However, the other acts were also sub par. I am sorry, but I just don't have the words to describe it. The buzz around the ship was its level of disappointment. You could always judge by the majority of seats being empty, always more seats empty than occupied. One night there was a big party on the Lido deck. For the first time during the cruise it was really full. It was fun even though the music selection was not good. After about 2 hrs it ended. The planner immediately started this "Laser show" which was consistently not good. The laser show lasted about 25 minutes just long enough to clear out the crowd. This was one of the warmer nights, you would think folks would hang around for the show and listen to the band. The reason is because the laser show and band was awful. It was one of the bahamas port nights and good planner would have kept with the theme, perhaps Bahamian or island music, but no, a bad band playing rock music. Often the cruise seemed to lack coherent, just poor planning. I don't recall one crew member, other than the spa staff who seemed to pay attention to the guest, other than trying constantly to sell me a drink. I observed a waiter serve alcoholic beverages to a table of kids I know where under 21 yrs of age. Because the ship has 14 decks, the elevators were the means of getting from deck to deck unless you choose to walk the stairs. They were always slow. The ship is big and beautiful without a doubt. The service, friendliness of the crew, food and entertainment is indeed sub par. This was a Thanksgiving Holiday cruise. which means it extended into the beginning of the Christmas holiday. I expected the ship to reflect at a minimum the thanksgiving holiday, at the most a Christmas tree.....something that reflected the Holiday. Absolutely nothing!!! We went to the restaurant that night, again nothing. they had turkey on the menu, but I guest I expected the planners to take into account that it was Thanksgiving, maybe wear a pilgrim hat, crave a turkey, put a piece of thanksgiving decoration on the table, play holiday music.....nothing happened!!! Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
Just returned from our 7th cruise, on the Carnival Dream, the largest in the Carnival fleet, sailing out of New York. Don't expect the Dream to return to New York anytime soon, as it appears it's doing most of its sailing out of ... Read More
Just returned from our 7th cruise, on the Carnival Dream, the largest in the Carnival fleet, sailing out of New York. Don't expect the Dream to return to New York anytime soon, as it appears it's doing most of its sailing out of Port Canaveral. Embarkation went very well. The wife & I arrived at the docks around 2pm, and within half an hour we were on the ship, which was a pleasant surprise. The Dream is huge !! Over 1000 feet long !! Everything was nice and clean, as it should be, as its less than a month old at this point. We made our way to our inside cabin, which is fine for two, but no more. Three large closets, but only two electrical outlets. Our room steward Elio was nowhere to be found, but the room was perfect, so we didn't really need him. We went off to explore the ship... Most of the action takes place on Deck 10, Lido deck, including the main dining hall. It's big, but not as big as I thought it was going to be; it doesn't appear that they could seat everyone on board if they wanted to. The weather for the first couple of days was bad, but the Dream seemed to take it in stride. We're not big gamblers, so we didn't care for the casino, which again was not as big as I expected it to be. I lost my $20 allowance pretty quickly, so I didn't really spend too much time there. The shops are good, but nothing special, just standard Carnival fare. Plenty of Bingo, if that's your thing, but we didn't care for it. We arrived @ Port Canaveral on Thanksgiving Day, and all went well. The wife & I stayed on-board, since we didn't care to go to Orlando or the beach at this point. They offered Disney for about $180 per person, including the bus trip, which seemed steep to me. Can you imagine going with the wife and kids ?? Bring your wallet !! The second day brought Nassau in the Bahamas, which is interesting, but... we've been there so many times, and it's NOT getting better with age. A lot of the local shops have closed down, probably due to the economy, so there are more vacant shops than occupied ones. We did get a good deal on Bacardi rum at only $5 per bottle !! The Paradise is located here, but we've already been. Beyond that, I've read some articles about the recent crimes that have taken place here, so we never ventured too far. We always felt safe, the police are everywhere, and the locals seemed friendly, so do as you will. Our last port was Freeport in the Bahamas, which again is interesting, but... The port is located in a shipyard, so you have to take a taxi or shuttle to see anything. We didn't care for any of the excursions being offered, especially at the prices, so we just wandered on our own for a while before returning to the ship. Back to the Dream... The food ? Good, but not great, as is typical with Carnival. I enjoyed the Mongolian Grill (45 minute wait...) Pasta Bar (30 minute wait...) Indian Grill (No wait !!) and more. We were always able to find a seat, but sometimes you have to look for it. We didn't try the extra-cost Steakhouse, especially since we heard from others that it's nothing special. The shows ? Dancin' In The Streets was excellent, Get Ready was good, but then there was Hee Haw night.... The performers were fine for the most part, but not as good as some others we've seen, especially on the Miracle or Valor. Other shows were fine, but nothing we haven't seen before. Literally. I think we saw the same Juggler and Ventriloquist, with the same acts, years ago. The comedians were very good, too, as long as you don't mind the colorful language, which we don't. Some other things that come to mind... Where did all the children come from ? Aren't they supposed to be in school in November ? Also, while we met some nice people, we also met some not so nice people. Do you really need to leave your dirty dishes in the elevator ? Do you really need to slam the door to your cabin ? Can you wait in the food lines like the rest of us ? And finally, one of the best things Carnival has ever come up with is Serenity, the "adults only" area. No kids, better seats, and finally, some peace and quiet. If Carnival is listening, I would love to have an entire "Adults Only" cruise ! Perhaps once a year, couldn't each ship in the Carnival fleet have such a cruise ? Overall, we enjoyed ourselves, and would love to sail on the Dream again. Carnival met our expectations as usual, and we look forward to our next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
this cruise was the worst i have ever gone on . If this is there newest and best ship i do not want to see the older and smaller cruise ships I do 2 cruises every year ! to start the food disgusting ! The same repeat food items every meal ... Read More
this cruise was the worst i have ever gone on . If this is there newest and best ship i do not want to see the older and smaller cruise ships I do 2 cruises every year ! to start the food disgusting ! The same repeat food items every meal and what we did get was poor quality , the service what service did not exist , the ship was always dirty tables at lunch still full of empty trays full of breakfast food in the dining halls and the pool areas , the floors covered with pieces of food , the stairways even had plates of food on the steps for hours , the main dining area is too close to the kitchen dish washers the main room smells like a sour dish rag that has been sitting out . the stage shows and the comedy acts were very good . the smaller entertainment like trivia ,planed group activities ,pool side games were very disorganized . my wife loved the spa package ! It was cold and rainy i got board on the cruise after the first day . The ship is cut up into small pockets there is really no promenade to gather in either your in a lounge or a hallway . it was hard to get across this ship sometime having to go to higher or lower floors to cross . we booked theis cruise because it was a little cheaper than royal caribbean wow ! was that a mistake i wont make again ....the kids programs an hour wait to drop off the 6 year old to the kids club, just too drop off she was already registered , and almost as long too pick up , the 14 yr old program had no rules , and no supervision .there were 5 fights in the halls ,i had too stop my daughter from going there ! she had fun but at what cost ? Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
It was a dark and dreary day in New York City. We were very disappointed with the weather. As we arrived at the pier, we couldn't help but marvel at the size of the Dream. Could this really be our ship for the next 8 days? George and ... Read More
It was a dark and dreary day in New York City. We were very disappointed with the weather. As we arrived at the pier, we couldn't help but marvel at the size of the Dream. Could this really be our ship for the next 8 days? George and I dropped our luggage off with the porters, and then went inside to the cruise terminal. As usual, embarkation was a breeze. We were on the ship no later than 12:45 P.M. As we waited on Deck 0 for the elevator, we couldn't help but notice how brightly lit the area was. We were very impressed with the way they presented the ship right from the start. However, we were not pleased with the amount of time we had to wait for an elevator. With over 4,000 passengers, you'd think there'd be enough elevators for everyone. It wasn't so in that case. When we finally were able to grab one, one of the crew members was taking us up to the 10th floor for the Lido Deck. When we stepped off the elevator, again, we were impressed with the way the ship looked. We ended up running into Michelle, one of the members of cruise critic, who we had met on our previous cruise, on board CCL's Triumph in June, 2009. She was with her friends, Jessica and Joe, with whom she worked with at West Point. Justin, Michelle's fiance, wasn't with them at that point. George was somewhat disappointed that he wasn't there. We went to find out what line was the shortest, as we scoped out the food situation. Justin had gone to see a man about a horse, and was heading back as we ran into him. George and Justin bonded on our last cruise, and it was great to see Justin once again. We finally found a place to stand in line. George got food at the Taste of Nations, while I sat and held our seat. We weren't too impressed with the lay out of the Lido dining area. It wasn't as spread out as we'd hoped. At times, it was too crowded. We could barely move. Once we both had our lunch in front of us, we discussed what our game plan was for the day. We had been assigned the late dinner seating, and wanted to go and talk to the Matre'D about changing to the early dinner seating. When we got to the Crimson Dining Room, we met with some guy who wasn't the Matre'D. The Matre'D came in as we were standing there, trying to get our request accepted. He wasn't even working. He wasn't dressed as the Matre'D, and we were not at all impressed with his persona. We were told that we'd get our response in our stateroom the next night. After we had our first disappointment, we ended up going up to our room. We got in contact with Justin and Michelle later on that day. It turned out, againb, we were seated at the same dinner table. George and I were pleased to know who we were sitting with. Jessica, Joe, and Joe's two boys were also sitting with us. It was great to know that we were eating with people we could get along with. The shops on board the ship carried the best of everything at rock bottom prices. We bought some souvenirs and ended up spending quite a lot on them. However, we didn't care because we were on vacation. They had cartons of cigarettes and bottles of liqour for sale, and they beat the prices we have in Connecticut. We had this African-American sales representative who was very friendly, and quite a gentleman. He made our shopping experience comfortable asw we purchased away. The shows were fantastic! We saw "Dancing in the Streets" which will make it big in the theaters some day. It was by far the best show we have seen on the high seas. The costumes, dancing and music really captured our attention. The lead singer had an awesome voice, as she sang her heart out. However, there were some down sides to our trip. We went in to see the Matre'D on the first Fun Day at Sea. It was formal night, and we had gone into the dining room in our regular clothes, just to see if we could change our seating. Claudio, the Matre'D, insulted George. He said that it was formal night, and he wasn't allowed to wear shorts in the dining room. George got really offended, because we weren't there to eat, just to plead our case for the early dinner seating. That set George off on a bad note. There were plenty of things he wanted to say to him, but instead, we turned the other cheek, and walked out of the dining room. However, George was fuming! He shouldn't have been treated like that. Our waitresses were Tatiyana and Romona. They were a lot of fun, and met our every request. Even though we didn't have the early dinner seating, we still enjoyed our company. Justin and Michelle are the two coolest people we've met on our past cruise. At one point, I found out that we were arriving into New York earlier than expected. Our friend Pete was going to pick us up around 8:30 AM, however, we found out we'd be arriving around 6:30 AM. I found a quiet place on the Lido Deck to call Pete, but these people, who sat down after I was talking on the phone, asked me to move. I responded with "I was here first." If they didn't want me talking on the phone, they should have found another place to sit. So of course, they were making rude comments behind my back. I turned the other cheek, and left when I couldn't make any progress with my phone call. However, we enjoyed the ship, and most of the people we met on board. We went to the Cruise Critic meet and greet, and met Justin and Michelle there. Everyone ignored us, so we just left and went elsewhere. I was disappointed. Thanksgiving dinner was great. They had the traditional turkey dinner, but we all opted for something different. There was shrimp and steak. Of course we decided on that food instead of a turkey dinner. They really made our time worthwhile, and we were glad to be with friends we enjoy spending time with. All in all, the ship was a great experience. 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Sail Date November 2009
Having not been on an NCL cruise in almost 8 years I was a little unsure what to expect. But we were eager to get away from the cold of NE Pennsylvania and a have a nice break after the Thanksgiving holiday. Overall, I was extremelly ... Read More
Having not been on an NCL cruise in almost 8 years I was a little unsure what to expect. But we were eager to get away from the cold of NE Pennsylvania and a have a nice break after the Thanksgiving holiday. Overall, I was extremelly pleased with our experince on the SKY. She may be an older ship, but having recently refurbished, she showed no signs of wear. Sure, she isn't the biggest and she is missing a lot of the bells and whistles....but one thing she does have is a really great price tag!! For just over $200 we spent 4-days and nights floating around the carribbean and loving it!! Try and find a place in South Florida (or anywhere) that will do that and include all meals and entertainment!! YOU CAN'T! I have read a lot of the negative reviews and do what I did...try it out yourself. You won't be disappointed! My partner and I travelled with several other couples. Most of us agreed that the ship was nice...but some prefer the Atlantis cruise where couples of our type are catered to. I found the staff, crew & ammentities just fine. I found the food, for the most part, to be quite good. Sure...it wasn't 5-star...but it was by no means diner fair. Definitely try the prime rib, the rack of lamb, the 8oz sirloin (add bleu cheese crumbles!) & the seafood and more seafood pasta (w/ Lobster tail). And remember...you're on vacation...order seconds...or mix and match entrees. I don't think there was one meal where we didn't order almost one of everything amongst our group. Sure...you could pay extra and go to one of the 'specialty' restaurants...but I don't know why you'd want to! The food was definitely better than I expected. My only major complaint was the slow service in the main dining rooms. Becuase it is freestyle, you run the risk of hitting the restaurant at it's peak time. Dinner took over two hours on two occasions...but we were a group of 10 and we had no where to go! It was worth the wait. Another minor complaint...Freeport.....BORING...Either book an excursion or stay on board and pretend it is a day at sea! All things considered, I would do the same cruise tomorrow! Worth every penny! And hell, it beats the 6" of snow we got over the weekend! Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
This was mine and my 15 year old son's first cruise and my boyfriend's second. We picked this cruise because we live in Maryland and wanted to try the convenience of leaving from Baltimore, and wanted to go on vacation when ... Read More
This was mine and my 15 year old son's first cruise and my boyfriend's second. We picked this cruise because we live in Maryland and wanted to try the convenience of leaving from Baltimore, and wanted to go on vacation when schools were out. Embarkation: Parked our vehicle at my workplace and took a cab from there as it's a few minutes away rather than pay the $15.00 a day at the Port to park(that's $105 bucks). We arrived at 3:30 to get on the ship and it was easy and quick. The Pride was a clean ship and beautiful although you can tell it is an older ship by the decor. We had an inside stateroom with no windows, it wasn't too bad for the first time cruising. We had anytime dining, which I would recommend to anyone. We assumed big party families would only choose the scheduled time dining choices. The dining room food at dinner was always excellent, lunchtime- not so much. We ate in the dining room at lunch twice and were disappointed both times and just opted to eat at the buffets thereafter. I was extremely disappointed at the drinks on board. This may be a little long because I'm a little still upset: I started off with the Drink of the Day and after 2, realized it was a rip-off and did not buy them again. I am not a big drinker(limit 2)and I expected drinks to be weak...but I could not taste ANY alcohol and they filled the cup mostly with ice...so two sips and you are done. So I switched to wine as that is what I really enjoy...they watered down the wine too! So we tried to enjoy our alloted two bottle minimum while on board. I also had a Bailey's on the rocks and that tasted watered down as well. This really disppointed me all in all because the drinks were not cheap, more expensive than what you would expect to pay and smaller glasses to boot. The weather this time of year and probably the choice in Ports, was colder than what we expected. We only had two days throughout where we could wear our bathingsuits..once on the ship and once during our stay in Nassau. Port Canaveral, my son stayed on board and we got off mainly to go to Ron Jon Surf Shop. We also were able to walk a block or two from there to Cocoa Beach but it was cold and rainy and mainly looked like the Jersey Shore to us. Nassau: we did not do any excursions but planned to get off, and get the Jitney to Cable Beach where I heard was the nicest beach. Little taken back by the swarms of taxi drivers harassing you for a ride as soon as you get through the Port building there. But being originally from NY my boyfriend navigated pretty easily through that mess. We looked through the town there at the stores before getting a taxi out...jewelry stores galore that try to make you think they have some great deals but don't...I heard later that there is some nice Mall that the locals go to where all the deals are...the Port stores are set up to rip tourists off. So we went then to use the beach at the Shertaon, paid some beach patrol guy $10 each for the 3 of us and he gave us towels and left us alone. He told us the Sheraton charges $25 per person to use the beach...but I expect not because we walked right through the hotel and no one stopped us. $30 was a good deal I thought...they have to make money I guess. We used the Windham next doors pool because it had a slide...but the hotel was a mess...old and I would have been disappointed if I paid to stay there. We ate at their hut outside and food was awful...again...I would have been disappointed to stay there for a week! We headed back to the Port area to eat and/or drink before getting on the ship...and no one tells you the whole place closes down at like-I think it was 5:00pm on the DOT! I mean the place looks abandoned at 5:01 and you are standing there scared like you are in a horror movie scene because the store fronts pull down big metal grates to protect their stores, etc. This was definately not a place I would roam around without my boyfriend with me. Then we find out about a group of 10 tourists getting robbed by gun point few weeks prior on an excursion. No wonder! Something Carnival did not warn about during their excursion talk on the ship, LOL! FreePort: Got off only to check out the straw market right at the Port...10 huts in all and sold junk...I bought a straw beach bag to use whenever we go to the beach again...and then we got back on the ship...took all of 20 minutes. Wasn't even a nice day to go to the beach, so we put clothes on and froze on deck reading all day! After the Ports, I just wanted to be home honestly. The shows were okay, my boyfriend enjoyed the dancers (of course) but the performance you can tell was all written in the 80's and they haven't updated since. It just made the shows a little hokey but they really could update them and write some new material. Extra notes: We did not book any excursions through the ship, we thought they were expensive at best and if we really wanted to snorkel,etc we would have done something aside from the ship. We bought some liquor on board that was a deal and one liquor we were told you could not buy in the States, then we see it at our liquor store at home! The ship holds sales all cruise long and held a sale on watches...for $20.00...well it caused a mob that sort of reminded me of something you'd see at WalMart on Black Friday...two men almost started fighting...there were $20 watches on sale for $19.99...in very bad taste for Carnival. All the jewelry including expensive watches in the ship's store was not priced for sale as back home if not for more! Staff: the staff on the ship was what you would expect, no one besides our room steward stood out for me. Darma (our room steward) knew our names and remembered them throughout our stay, and we remebered him of course...we left him an extra tip and a bottle of rum from the Bahamas :) Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
We really enjoyed sailing the Ruby Princess, but not for the reasons we thought we would. It had been about a year since we last sailed on Princess Cruises, our last sailing on favorite ship Caribbean Princess. Since then we had sailed ... Read More
We really enjoyed sailing the Ruby Princess, but not for the reasons we thought we would. It had been about a year since we last sailed on Princess Cruises, our last sailing on favorite ship Caribbean Princess. Since then we had sailed on several other cruise lines, some not as great, some about as great and one greatly less than wonderful. We are on a health management program that required we follow certain guidelines and hoped we would be able to on the ship. What we found were plenty of good, healthy options aboard Ruby Princess that worked well with our program. What we did not count on was a deadly combination of two factors that drove us off our plan: Fabulous food and an equally fabulous, helpful crew. We just were not counting on either being as good as they are. As a result we went far off our plan, have no regrets and nothing but nice things to say about both. This ship truly blew us away in most all areas so let's get right into it Embarkation A breeze. We entered Pier 2 at Port Everglades about 11:00 and were on the ship by 11:30, in our aft balcony stateroom by 11:40. Very nice. Food As mentioned, fabulous. What made it difficult to stay strictly on our plan was Maitre d' Jose who just could not do enough for us. From a personal phone call upon embarkation, to his personal commitment throughout the cruise, this was a first for us. It seems more the norm for Maitre d's and other dining room management people to stop by tables occasionally during a cruise. This man was really into being sure we had a good time and did what it took to see that happened. The ship Beautiful. As this was a holiday cruise the ship was decorated quite tastefully and was spotlessly clean throughout the voyage. The familiar basic layout of the ship mirrored other Princess ships so we felt at home and enjoyed the new features added, especially the International Cafe offering a nice variety of light meals and snacks throughout the day plus some fabulous coffee selections. The crew Again, fabulous. From our cabin steward to electricians and maintenance people met in random encounters walking the halls, everyone seemed so happy to be there doing what they do. It was really refreshing to see. Not that other lines do not have happy people on board there working, they do, the crew on this ship just seemed so over the top happy to be there that it was a real pleasure to see. Itinerary This was the perfect ship to miss a port when we could not stop at Princess Cays for safety concerns about the tender operation in high seas. It was a great day to spend in our stateroom for the most part even though a revised and updated activity schedule was promptly distributed and featured plenty for everyone to do on the ship that day. Disembarkation We needed to get off the ship early for our drive back to Orlando and got just that, off the ship and on the road before 8am. Very nice. I like that they keep it simple and their "silent disembarkation" without a bunch of annoying announcements was pure heaven. Some highlights: Internet Access in-cabin- Decent. We had an aft balcony cabin, all the way at the back of the ship, probably about as far away from the Internet Cafe as possible and got a signal. A low signal but it worked. Others I talked to, closer to the center of the ship, had signals much better. I chose to go sit at the International Cafe, within view of the Internet Cafe on deck five, to connect. Very good signal there Motion in the Ocean- We sailed away under rough sea conditions and a rain storm. I can not remember sailing on rougher seas since a transatlantic crossing on the Queen Mary 2 but this ship handled it well. Our aft balcony stateroom on the Baa deck was rocking and rolling all night long that first night. Lisa always takes Bonine for this purpose, forgot to take it until we were well under way and had no problems but I would suggest a more midship location for those who experience motion discomfort...and a note to take precautions before getting on the ship Quality of the food- It is difficult for me to believe that the cuisine on this ship could be rated anything less than remarkable but as I have said many times before, food is such a subjective thing that I suppose it could happen. Our experience as noted earlier: fabulous. For those with food issues, look forward to your sailing on this ship; they really try hard to make it work for you. Dining room issues: None. Best advice: see the Maitre d' once on the ship no matter what. I think this is going to be a new rule for us, just something we do. Knowing the Maitre d' proved to be richly rewarding for our dining experience. These people really do want us to have a good time, we just need to give them the chance to make that happen Clientele- Short cruises on lines that don't do a lot of them often draw the curious. I know we had never sailed Celebrity until the Century offered shorter cruises so we could give them a try. We saw and talked to a lot of people just like that. Nice people who were regular guests on other lines, trying Princess for the first time. It might have been just luck but I did not talk to anyone who was not blown away by the Princess experience. I also talked to a number of repeat Princess guests, all mostly happy to be there. Front desk personnel- Bob from Tulsa had experienced less than wonderful service from the Pursers desk on a different Princess ship and was concerned. Bob, relax, this was one of the best bunches of Pursers desk staffers I have ever seen. I did have some issues with my bill, a double charge that was just a mistake and a charge for something I did not buy. Both were handled quickly and efficiently. I could not have asked for more. Past Guest perks- Sailing on Princess a bunch in the past had earned us Elite past guest status which was fabulous. From complementary laundry, to a priority disembarkation lounge and very accessible Captain Circle host, this program is a real winner, I think the best of the bunch. A couple we talked to while waiting to board who had not sailed the ship before had booked this one and the next two sailings for a total of 22 days on the ship. We happened to see them the last day at breakfast and were happy to see that they really enjoyed the ship. Princess past guests can be a really vocal group and don't hesitate to mention something they don't like. This couple thought there should be more places to sit and "people-watch" but were solidly loyal Princess fans who had tried other lines and said they "always come back to Princess". I can sure see why. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
My husband and I took the cruise together from 12/19-12/26/2009. Overall we had a very nice time, but in some ways we had to make the best of it as the service of a large number of the staff was not good at all. Embarkation was rough. We ... Read More
My husband and I took the cruise together from 12/19-12/26/2009. Overall we had a very nice time, but in some ways we had to make the best of it as the service of a large number of the staff was not good at all. Embarkation was rough. We could not get into our cabins immediately and had to take our carry on luggage with us to lunch. The service for lunch in the Grand Pacific was extraordinarily slow and I did not get all of the food I ordered. The food we got was very good. Our key cards worked fine as key cards, but not for the onboard account and when we went to the desk to get them fixed, both my husband and I were chastised about putting them near magnets which neither of us did. The cards didn't work from the moment we got them. The first night was rough. The seas were very rough (which I know no one can control) and many people got sea sick. It took the staff until the next day to put out vomit bags and by then everyone was fine. My husband and I didn't sleep very well that night due to the high waves. The first sea day was nice. We did a wine tasting and a beer tasting. The wine tasting was not very good. The sommelier was knowledgeable, but the location was overflow dining for the Garden Cafe so we had a hard time hearing about the wines over the crowd. The beer tasting was a lot of fun. The bartender was excellent and we all had a good time and they were pretty generous with the beers. We also went to the art auction where we enjoyed a free glass of champagne and saw some great paintings. Most were well over our budget point. We ate in the La Cucina restaurant which was a specialty restaurant with a $10 additional cover. The food was excellent. The second day was spent in the Orlando area. We took the shuttle to Historic Cocoa Village and did some shopping. Unfortunately on Monday a good number of the stores were closed which was unfortunate. We did buy some excellent Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar from a shop called From Grapes and Olives. We ate dinner in Teppanyaki back on the ship which was another speciality restaurant and probably one of the best ones on the ship. There was $25 cover charge per person, but it was a good show and good food. We then ended up at Great Stirrup Cay which is NCL's private Island. If you go, stay on the boat. We did enjoy parasailing, but honestly it wasn't really worth the trouble of leaving the boat. We had to take a tender boat from the boat and it took hours to get everyone off the boat who wanted to get off. We were in the "first come first serve" line for tickets when it opened and we still ended up on the fourth boat out. I do not know how others snatched up the better tickets. The food for the island barbecue was cold and terrible and the island was insanely crowded. Getting back on the boat was even more difficult. We were given no instructions other than to wait until the boat was docked, but since we sat down below there was no way to tell when it was docked. It was a very uncomfortable trip. We ate this night at Le Bistro where we both had the duck which was excellent. This really was an excellent place to eat and I would go there again. Then we did go to Nassau where we participated in the stingray adventure which was pretty neat. The island we went to for the stingray show was quiet and sunny and we had a lovely day. We would have liked to have more time in the Bahamas than in Florida. We ate in another specialty restaurant-Orchid Garden, which was okay. It isn't worth the cover charge and I don't recommend it. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day we were told we could not get dinner reservations until after 9 PM. This was not entirely true. We were frustrated by this fact because we were told we could not make a reservation until the day before. My husband went as soon as the reservation desk was open and they were booked. He can be very persuasive and got us a 6:30 reservation at Teppanyaki for Christmas Eve, but we were still going to have to wait until 9:00 for Cagney's on Christmas Day. Christmas Eve Day was a fun day at sea. We had a martini tasting at Shaker's Bar which was another great time with the head bartender. They are very generous with the alcohol and we really enjoyed ourselves. We also bought a painting at the art auction (no more champagne though) and ate at Teppanyaki again. Christmas Day at sea was not very much fun. There were very few activities scheduled that were of interest to us (as you can tell-tastings and art). They had game shows and Bingo and a toga party-none of which suited our interests. It was too cool to sit outside and read and we were left with nothing to do. We did have brunch at Le Bistro which was again excellent. We took a long nap and prepared for our late dinner at Cagney's. We met some friends for drinks before and we spoke to the manager and got into dinner an hour earlier than our reservation. The food at Cagney's was good-not as good as Le Bistro though. Our friends ordered prime rib and it was tough. I had lamb chops which were also rather tough and a little overcooked, but overall the food was good. Dessert was delicious. Cagney's also has a $25 cover charge per person. Throughout the cruise we also ate at Grand Pacific and the Garden Cafe and Blue Lagoon for breakfasts and lunches. We never went to the Magenta because it was always insanely crowded. They do have a sign board posted everywhere which indicates how crowded each restaurant is at all times which is helpful. The food at Grand Pacific is good but the service is terrible. It is slow and some servers are truly rude and unpleasant. The food at the Garden Cafe is okay-it is a buffet. Eating after 8 AM will mean a long wait and overcrowding. About halfway through our cruise they started serving people at the buffet which was annoying as we had to wait in long lines to eat. We also typically got up for the early breakfast at 6:30 which they stopped providing without notice. The Blue Lagoon service was good sometimes and awful sometimes and slow always. The food there is okay. Coffee on the ship was consistently good wherever we ate. We then ended up at Great Stirrup Cay which is NCL's private Island. If you go, stay on the boat. We did enjoy parasailing, but honestly it wasn't really worth the trouble of leaving the boat. The guides did a great job and were very entertaining, but they were not shy about asking for their tips! We had to take a tender boat from the boat and it took hours to get everyone off the boat who wanted to get off. We were in the "first come first serve" line for tickets when it opened and we still ended up on the fourth boat out. I do not know how others snatched up the better tickets. The food for the island barbecue was cold and terrible and the island was insanely crowded. Getting back on the boat was even more difficult. We were given no instructions other than to wait until the boat was docked, but since we sat down below there was no way to tell when it was docked. It was a very uncomfortable trip. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
We sailed on Dec. 19. The cruise was to celebrate my Mother's 87th birthday. We were so glad when it was over. I've been on many cruises. This was horrible. First let me say the food was ATROCIOUS! It was overcooked, over ... Read More
We sailed on Dec. 19. The cruise was to celebrate my Mother's 87th birthday. We were so glad when it was over. I've been on many cruises. This was horrible. First let me say the food was ATROCIOUS! It was overcooked, over seasoned, over sauced or otherwise tasteless. Even the deserts were bland. I enjoyed one creme brulee. I am not picky but expect well prepared food on a cruise. If anyone from NCL is reading this, please, take a cruise on Princess to see how it's done right. The NCL Garden Cafe buffet is a joke. No trays, one buffet area and not enough seating. My elderly Mom could not manage. There is no place to relax near an adult pool. Only one adult pool! And it's adjacent to the childrens pool with slide. Very noisy. To top it off people were smoking cigarettes and CIGARS in the lounge area next to the children's pool. Who planned this ship!! To top it off I got a horrible stomach bug and then my Mother got it. She was very sick on her birthday! I read on a previous review that people also got the bug on the previous week's cruise. And I know other's on our ship got it. We literally spent most of the week in the cabin. The room stewards and waiters were very sweet and helpful although they and the crew denied anyone was sick! The daily newsletter was difficult to read and there wasn't anything about daily activities on tv except for sales promotions. Not well organized and difficult to get information on this ship. Not even weather on the tv. Psgr services only had it for the next day. I made it to a bingo game and thought the bingo announcer mc, whatever person, was unclear, rude and generally lacking in personality. On the positive, the minisuite was quite nice and spacious. The entertainment seemed good, although we only got to 2 shows. Talented singers and dancers. I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS SHIP! Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
This is our first cruise and considering that it was to depart when the east coast was experiencing some of the heaviest snowfall in many years we were very happy that our departure port was baltimore as it was a couple of hours drive for ... Read More
This is our first cruise and considering that it was to depart when the east coast was experiencing some of the heaviest snowfall in many years we were very happy that our departure port was baltimore as it was a couple of hours drive for us. Getting on the boat was a lengthy process starting from dropping your luggage off(1hr)to getting thru security and giving your credit card information(1 1/2 hr). When we finally made it to the boat we headed straight up to the Lido deck to grab a bite. Im gonna break my review down by category as I think it is easier to write. Decor: OMG, so GAUDY!!! Considering that the reputation of carnival includes kids I did not feel that their decor was appropriate at all. Lets start with the wall paper upon entering the cabins. They were 1/2 naked women with breasts exposed. Mermaid grill had lots of breasts exposed. Davids restaurant had all of David exposed. Just was not impressed with the designers choice of decor and placement. Its not that the materials were even cheap...there was granite, mosaics, slate etc..that could have been placed very tastefully....BUT WASNT!!!The atrium was dark and garish, the dining room although nice and bright was very old fashioned looking. The casino had beat up tables, torn vinyl on the tables,stained chairs, and was congested. Food: On a scale of 1 to 5 I would say that the food was a 2.5. There was a variety of food on the first day but then I felt that the following days(7)it was all the same. I just wasn't so impressed with the quality of food. I didn't feel that it was upper/top quality especially where the steak, shrimp, sushi was concerned. I didn't feel that they had a lot of healthy options for snacks like fresh veges, fruit was there but other options??? I just wasn't impressed. Entertainment: Was not impressed with the shows at all. I didn't feel that there was variety in this area. Bingo was okay. Comedian, mark simmons, was funny and I did enjoy his show. A variety show?? Chrismas show was okay. Love and marriage show--okay. Hairy chest contest--I guess that this is entertainment for some. On the Lido deck 2 calypso singers would sing with a keyboard--this was okay. I felt that there should have been more interactive activities like dance classes, couples shows, more comedians, game shows etc... Kids club: My kids btw the ages of 5 and 8 did enjoy it however I felt that whenever i dropped them off i had to pick them up an hour later due to lunch time or break time etc...they did enjoy the activities. People: Okay we by no means are snobs and enjoy mingling. I would consider us to be a white collar hard working family. We enjoy spending time with our kids and doing activities with them, we like to vacation at least 2 times a year and we enjoy eating out at non-fastfood places.  I was very disappointed in the quality of people. There was not even a handful of people that I spoke to more then hello. Very disappointing. I will never leave out of Baltimore again, NEVER!!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
This cruise departed from New York City on 12/19/2009 with three scheduled ports (Port Canaveral, Big Stirrup Cay and Nassau, Bahamas) before returning to New York on 12/26. This was the fourth cruise for my wife and me but our first ... Read More
This cruise departed from New York City on 12/19/2009 with three scheduled ports (Port Canaveral, Big Stirrup Cay and Nassau, Bahamas) before returning to New York on 12/26. This was the fourth cruise for my wife and me but our first cruise with NCL. I had read many positive to very positive reviews about the NCL Gem and its crew. Many had said good things about the NCL's "Freestyle Cruising" so we were prepared for a great holiday cruise with our two adult daughters who had never been on a cruise. Having outrun the Blizzard of 2009, we arrived at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal just after 11:00 am on 12/19, easily found the parking area, paid for parking, checked our luggage and quickly made our way through check-in. We made it onboard the Gem about 1:00 pm and did some exploring until our staterooms were available just after 2:00 pm. After we checked out our staterooms (deck 4 forward), we made our way to the Garden Cafe (deck 12) for some lunch. It was very, very crowded and we ended up sitting outside (in the freezing cold) because there was no room in the inside dining area (this was a chronic problem throughout the cruise). By the way, no trays were available to carry your plates and drinks which made things cumbersome. The most favorite things on our cruise were the efficiency of the stateroom stewards (they were very pleasant and asked how things were going every time we saw them), the evening shows, the easy embarkation, the walk-off disembarkation (very quick), the availability of the elevators, the large showers (at least for a cruise ship), numerous storage shelves in the stateroom and the comfortable beds (which were by far the most comfortable we have slept in on any cruise). While much of the food was a disappointment compared to our other cruises, it was far from our biggest disappointment. The biggest disappointments on this cruise were the uninformed crew (particularly at the Guest Services desk and dining servers), the always crowded buffet dining room (Garden Cafe), the long waits for seating in the main dining rooms (Grand Pacific and Magenta) and the unwillingness of the crew to help with most problems. The most common answer we received whenever we asked a crew member a question was, "I don't know," with no willingness to do anything to find out. Let me provide some examples of issues that we had (these are just a few). After dinner on 12/19 in the Grand Pacific at about 7:15 pm, we stopped by the Guest Services desk to ask if there was going to be any religious services on Sunday. The answer was, "I don't know." We asked about Christmas services, (note: my travel agent had told me that NCL had services scheduled at 6:00 pm on Christmas Eve and midnight and 6:00 am on Christmas). The answer from Guest Services was, "I don't know, but you can check in the Freestyle Daily on Christmas Eve." As we are Catholic, we asked if a priest was on board. The answer, "NCL does not provide a priest, if a private family has a priest with them, I am sure they will offer daily services." We learned from the 12/20 Freestyle Daily, which unfortunately had not been delivered to our stateroom on the evening of 12/19, that there was a priest onboard who offered Sunday and daily masses at 8:00 am. A member of the Cruise Director's staff mentioned to those in a lounge, where we were playing a game, to remember to pick up tender boat tickets at the Shore Excursion desk for our second port (Great Stirrup Cay). Before dinner, we stopped by the Shore Excursion desk and asked when tickets for the tender would be available. Their response was, "I don't know. Maybe you should ask at Guest Services." We went to Guest Services, which is about 20 feet away, and asked about the tender tickets. The answer, "I don't know, but you should probably check with the Shore Excursion desk." When we returned to our stateroom after the evening show, we checked the 12/22 Freestyle Daily and, sure enough, it directed us to pick up tickets for the tender at 10 am on 12/22. However, it did not say whether everyone had to pick up their own ticket or whether a single member of a group could pick up tickets for everyone. We didn't even call to ask because we knew the answer we would get. So, all four of us lined up at the Excursion Desk at 9:30 am. (Note: The tender tickets really seemed like a great idea, as it was meant to prevent crowding the disembarkation deck. A great idea which failed because of very poor communication.) With our tickets in hand, we went back to our stateroom and waited to be called. When the first ticket number was called, I opened our door and asked several passengers that were filing past if they had their tender tickets. Surprise, surprise, most did not and had even heard about the necessity of getting tickets. My final examples happened on Christmas Day (last day of the cruise). These examples demonstrate our general frustration with the dining staff throughout the entire cruise. In every previous dinner menu, NCL provided an "Always Available" menu in addition to each specific day's selections. On Christmas Day, the menu was formatted differently and did not show the "Always Available" menu. My daughter didn't care for any of the Entrees and asked if she could have a steak (which had been shown on the "Always Available" menu). The server looked at her as if she did not understand the question. My daughter repeated her request. The server just pointed to the menu and asked which entrEe she wanted. No offer to find out if the steak was available. Under the Desserts, Ice Cream was one of the choices, but on Christmas Day the menu stated that there were "special favors available, just ask". So I asked. The server's answer was, "I don't know." I requested that she please check in the kitchen and let me know. She said okay. As the dishes from the main course were being cleared, we asked the server if she had found out what the special flavors of ice cream were. She said she had not, but would go find out. About 15 minutes later, she returned and told me the special flavors were Frozen Peach Yogurt and Pineapple Sherbet (both of which had been listed separately on the menu above the Ice Cream choice). On my way out of the restaurant, I asked the Maitre D' what the special flavors of ice cream were. Her response, "I don't deal with the menu." To make matters worse, on Tuesday, the Garden Cafe went from self-serve, to crew service only. This unexplained action immensely increased congestion and wait times. We began using the main restaurants and Blue Lagoon for breakfast and lunch in order to get a seat. (The rumor was that there were numerous, severe illnesses onboard during the first two days.) Here is my estimate of the average wait times at the main restaurants after being seated; to get a menu - 5-10 minutes, to place an order after getting a menu - 15 minutes, service time after finishing each course - 10 minutes and very, very slow water refills (my daughter had to hold her glass up above her head for 5 minutes at breakfast one day to get a refill). We only ate in the Grand Pacific, Magenta, Blue Lagoon and Garden Cafe. (I suspect service in the Specialty Restaurants was much better but can not comment.) Overall, our take on Freestyle Cruising means that NCL has disregarded their responsibility to accommodate their guests and has shifted that responsibility to the guests to take care of themselves. On our first day at sea, my wife and I attended the CruiseCritic.com Meet and Greet with the senior crew including the Captain. The Captain even gave us his and others' phone extensions so we could contact them if there was a problem. To quote the Captain, "I don't want you to write a review stating that the trip was the Cruise from Hell without giving us a chance to rectify the problems you are experiencing." I noted the numbers but figured I never have to use them. However, when I did use them, a notice came up on the phone that the extension was either "incorrect" or "out of service." So much for getting help from any of the senior staff. During the Meet and Greet the Captain said that we had 2,970 passengers on board. This significantly exceeded the 2,466 passenger capacity listed on NCL's website. In NCL's frequently asked questions, the maximum passenger capacity is shown as 2,807 with a crew of 1,110. While the extremely high number of passengers may explain much of the overcrowding, delays and wait times, it does not explain the lack of information, the misinformation and general lack of helpfulness that we received from many of the crew throughout the entire cruise. (Not the "Cruise from Hell", but certainly close enough that we won't be returning.) Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Let me begin by saying our family vacation on the Carnival Pride was memorable and wonderful. We choose the Pride mainly because of the location, much more convenient (and cheaper) to drive to the port for our family of five. I've ... Read More
Let me begin by saying our family vacation on the Carnival Pride was memorable and wonderful. We choose the Pride mainly because of the location, much more convenient (and cheaper) to drive to the port for our family of five. I've read other posts where past passengers were somewhat disappointed in various parts of the cruise, such as dining, entertainment, tipping, ports of call, activities, etc. We aren't seasoned cruisers, so we don't have much to compare the experience against, so for us, the cruise worked and we had a family vacation full of positive memories. Our fellow passengers were a true cross-section of the country... practically every age, gender, race, color, creed, nationality, religion, weight category, etc were represented... each bringing their own unique perspective to the entire experience. If you are the type of person that likes to stay in your own comfort zone cocoon (and thinks everybody else should be in that cocoon with you), then you might have some challenges enjoying your experience. However, if you enjoy talking to and getting to know different people, then your perspective and trip might be more enjoyable. Embarkation and Departure - Driving to the Port of Baltimore is so easy... it is literally right off I-95 (from either direction). The only downside to the entire cruise experience was the operations by the port authorities from the time we arrived in the lot to the time we entered the terminal. After spending several extra hours on the road due to the road conditions following the snow storm, we spent almost two more hours in the car waiting in line to offload luggage, then to pay for parking. They only had one credit card terminal to pay for parking and it was a very slow process. I don't believe these operations are tied to Carnival, but they should be improved to get the cruise started off on the right foot. The security and check-in operations inside the terminal were fine. We boarded the ship at around 4:30 and headed straight to our rooms to drop off our carry-on bags. An announcement was made at around 5:00 that the departure time would be moved to around 8:00 to accommodate those passengers delayed due to the winter storm. I wish they would have made this decision sooner, like when we were on the road heading to Baltimore and calling the emergency travel number. There was a message, however, on our home answering machine when we got home telling us the cruse departure time was delayed. Since we got there later in the afternoon, and we were all hungry and frazzled from the long trip (we drove straight to Baltimore with very few stops), we went upstairs to Mermaids for dinner... The food line set-up was a bit confusing, particularly since there were so many people up there at the same time and all of us were trying to figure our way around the operation. Our luggage was waiting for us when we got back to our rooms after dinner. After unpacking, we attended the registration and orientation for Camp Carnival (more about CC later), walked around and got orientated to the ship, visited the arcade with the kids and the casino with wife... Days One and Two - On Monday we had to turn around near the Outer Banks of NC to take a very sick / hurt passenger to Norfolk. The only impact was the casino and shops were closed for a few hours once we entered Hampton Roads. Since it was pretty cold outside there weren't too many people hanging out around the outdoor pools, but there were various other activities planned on the sea days, pretty much something for everyone. We did the art auction (didn't buy anything, but learned a lot), food demonstration in David's, gambled, consumed some adult beverages, Love & Marriage show (hilarious), beanbag toss tournament, just to name a few activities... The dinner during the first day at sea was the first of two formal nights. Sailing was smooth and we didn't seem to have the rough seas that I've read about in other posts. Day Three (Port Canaveral) - Instead of booking a shore excursion through Carnival, we arranged for a car rental and purchased Disney tickets from the military ticket office (all in all, saved us around $300). Had originally booked the rental through Enterprise, but they weren't there to pick us up when we got off the ship and the Hertz guy offered us $20 off whatever rate we had from Enterprise. Dive to Orlando / Disney couldn't be easier... just make sure you give yourself enough time to get back to the ship. Disney was PACKED!! Not much time to take in any rides, but did see the parade and people watch. It was great just to walk around and be with the family. Depending on what you do, this is a long day... You get up early and stay up late with activities once you get back on ship. If had it to do over again, would have probably still rented the car, but gone to Downtown Disney instead (wouldn't have been as crowded and less expensive). Day four (Nassau) - Christmas Eve and temperature was around 82 degrees... Didn't book any shore excursions, figured we could just find something our own once off the ship. Wife and daughters did some shopping in the market and jewelry shops... Had some snacks and adult beverages in Senor Frogs... took a water taxi to Paradise Island and walked to the public beach. If had it to do over again, would take a regular taxi vice the boat (the public beach is a pretty long walk from where the water taxi drops you off) and would have maybe looked at one of the lower cost shore excursions to one of the resorts. We didn't take in any night life in Nassau, too tired from the previous day and all the walking in Nassau (can't say it's because we are getting old, the kids were beat as well). Day five (Freeport) - Christmas Day and upper 70s and a bit windy... We were delayed in off loading, apparently a young teen on board for a "Make a Wish" trip passed away over night... very sad. The captain extended our departure time a few hours to make up for the delay. The ship docks in a pretty industrialized area (there is the obligatory basket market and trinket shops right off the boat). You either have to take a bus on a pre-arranged excursion or get a taxi to the different beaches (there were a large number of passengers waiting for cabs, best advice is to just be patient and not get caught up in the riot... there are plenty of taxis... it just takes a little bit of time). We were able to book a dolphin encounter for our kids to give them for Christmas at the last minute and they loved the experience. Wife and I went to Port Lucaya beach and did some shopping and had some snacks and a few adult beverages at Rum Runners. There was a Christmas show in the Taj Mahal after we get underway... it was very nice and featured the kids from Camp Carnival and a very touching singing of Silent Night that included members of the crew representing their various countries. After we left Freeport the seas were pretty rough... the dinner that night was the second formal night. Unfortunately, there were so many people queasy from the waives they had to get up from the dinner tables. Day six - Similar to days one and two sea days, there are so many different activities planned on board to keep everyone busy. Went to Kirk's disembarkation talk... very informative and it included a nice recognition for the ship's crew. This was actually the only day we ate lunch in Normande and it was pretty good. One of the on board shops had a watch sale, men's and woman's watches for $20 each. I thought the mob scene waiting for taxis in Freeport was bad; this was worse... reminded me of a Black Friday stampede at Walmart the day after Thanksgiving. Pushing, shoving, grabbing, hording, all for a $20 watch... Dinner was nice and is a great opportunity for you to thank your waiter and assistant with a nice additional tip... during dinner they all sang a funny farewell song. We chose to check our baggage for the debarkation so we needed to have the bags packed and outside of the room before midnight. Day seven - As mentioned above, we checked our bags so we didn't have too much to carry for the debarkation. However, if you choose this option, be prepared to leave the ship after all the self-debarkation passengers. The key for this day is to relax and just wait your turn. A lot of passengers choose the self debarkation option and I can't believe some of them were able to carry all their stuff off the ship by themselves. There are porters in the terminal to assist you in getting your luggage to your car. Few tips, notes, observations, and thoughts: - The Ship - I've seen various posts from previous passengers who were taken aback or offended with the dEcor. Again, we aren't seasoned cursers, so don't have much to compare the dEcor against, but we didn't have much of a problem with it. My nine year old son did chuckle the first time he saw the David stature up in the Steakhouse, but hey, he's nine. We didn't think it was as bad as others have made it out to be. The atrium and other indoor common areas were decorated with some nine holiday decorations. - Rooms - We were on Deck 5 and had two balcony rooms (8B category) next to each other, we didn't have an adjoining door (which was fine and worked out better for our situation). We requested through Guest Services that the divider between our two balconies be opened and it made movement between our two rooms easier. One room had two twin beds together and the other had two twin beds and sofa converted to a twin. The rooms were adequate and had plenty of storage (to include room under the beds for luggage). We found the beds surprisingly comfortable and slept great. You can't hear hardly any noise from the hallway and having the balcony is great. The in-room TV is fine and has a decent channel selection of both on-ship and cable channels (it does seem kind of odd that the CBSABCNBC affiliates were all out of Colorado). Our room steward, Cayaha, took care of everything. All you had to do was ask, and he was on it right away. - Normandie Restaurant - We had the late seating. If had it to do over again, we might select open seating (but with that, you will get a different waiter each time and don't build a relationship and connection with a particular wait staff team). Our waiters were great... Dedi and Felix were terrific and did everything to make us happy. I've read other posts where people had bad dining experiences or complained about the food or the wait staff... I tell you, they must have been on a different cruise or are just never satisfied with anything. Those guys are working their tails off to make you happy and get all the meals out correctly. Treat them with respect and dignity, and you'll be amazed at how they'll treat you. Dinner portions were more than adequate and tasted fine. If you want one or all appetizers, all you have to do is ask. If something didn't taste right, just ask for another plate or another entrEe. They'll quickly take care of it. Many times we'd ask Dedi for a recommendation on a particular entrEe and he would give an honest opinion and sometimes would recommend another choice. Between the five of us, we tried almost everything, some stand outs include the jerk pork loin (was awesome), filet mignon, lobster tail, barbeque ribs (too many to eat - half of the order would have worked just as good), chicken/mushroom pasta, all the salads, cappuccino pie (surprisingly delicious), and of course the chocolate melting cake. We ate a few breakfasts in Normandie as well... and requested seating in Dedi's section. Just like the dinner, you can ask for as much as you want (for example two orders of hash browns or corned beef hash). I wasn't totally impressed with the eggs benedict, but realized it is hard to mass produce a dish like that... so I just got eggs to order the next time. If it's not too busy during breakfast you have a good chance to talk to and get to know your waiter. - Mermaids - We ate a few breakfasts, lunches, and late-afternoon or midnight snacks here... And apparently most of our fellow passengers did too... it is a very busy place and can get pretty crowded at peak times. It is buffet style and there is a different theme each day for the main entrEe selections. You can get pretty much anything you want... for breakfast - eggs to order, omelets, hash browns, bagels, toast, pancakes, French toast, oat meal, grits, sausage gravy, bacon, sausage, cereal, fruit, danishes, etc... and for lunch and dinner - burgers, dogs, fries, deli sandwiches, themed entrEes and sides, pizza, salad bar, sushi (in the evening at the end of the salad bar - go easy on the wasabi, it will definitely clear out your sinuses), dessert, etc. Overall, food wasn't bad... just understand, it ain't the Normandie or David's. One downside, there isn't a wide sections of healthy options during non-peak times (such as late-night snack time). - David's - My wife and I ate dinner there on the Wednesday night. I had booked this online before the cruise, but when I checked on the reservation on board, it wasn't in the books (don't know what caused this, but recommend if you want to schedule a dinner there, do it once you get on board). We originally made reservations for 8:30, but were able to change to 7:30. This is a first class experience that I strongly recommend, and well worth the $30 per person cover. Everything was perfect, from the small starter from the chef, to the appetizers, main course, desert, and wine. Don't go there expecting to get in and out in short order, this is an experience that must be savored and enjoyed. I ordered the 9 oz. filet mignon and my wife got the 24 oz. porterhouse (there isn't a similar smaller cut and that's her favorite cut of steak). The meat was prepared to order and beautifully presented. I wanted to try something different for desert and got the cheese selection, which was wonderful (although it didn't do wonders for my breath). We were seated in a location where we could watch the chefs at the grill and it was a pleasure watching them work. If it's not too busy in the restaurant, ask to talk to the chef... we asked to talk to the head chef during desert and had a real nice conversation with him. We told him how much we enjoyed watching the food demonstration the day before and complemented him on the entire evening (plus it was just cool talking to him). - Cruise Directors - Kirk and Jamie were fantastic and worked great together, as were other members of their team... all of them had great personalities and full of energy. - Entertainment - Again, I've see other posts where people really knocked the shows and entertainment (I sometimes think some people just like to hear themselves complain). In our opinion, the entertainment wasn't too bad. We went to many of the shows and thought the singing and dancing was fine. My wife and teen-aged daughters went to some of the comedy shows and said they were pretty funny, but not out of the park funny (but that is the way some stand up comedy acts are and the same when we go to comedy clubs at home). The singers in the various clubs and lounges (casino, atrium, piano bar, etc) were good, and guess what, sounded about like lounge singers (this isn't a critique, but its true). I didn't go, but I heard some passengers talking that they really enjoyed the piano bar and sing along. Go to the shows understanding this is a cruise ship, not Broadway. These entertainers are performing at about the right level (hopefully that doesn't sound bad, I meant for it to be somewhat of a compliment). - Casino - Denver gave a great class on craps, blackjack, and roulette on day one. He is very personable and we really enjoyed talking to him about his home in Australia. My wife loves to play slots so she spent quite a bit of time (and money) in the casino. There are plenty of blackjack tables, two roulette tables, and one craps table. There is also a pretty neat electronic poker table. All the dealers and casino workers were professional and took the time to explain many of the games to the novices. - Camp Carnival - This is a great service that Carnival offers. They had activities planned for the kids every day and evenings (even those days we were in ports, which I thought was kind of odd, but I guess is a need). Our nine year old son loved going and making friends with the other kids. He was able to sign himself in and out during the days and then we would arrange to meet him back in the room. They had late-night activities one evening and even brought him back to the room in the wee-hours of the morning when they were done. He had an awesome time. They also have babysitting services available at a very, very reasonable price. - Tipping - The basic tips are taken care of on all your bar purchases and pre-paid on your S&S account, but you can always give more. We choose to give our room steward, waiter, and assistant waiter additional tips the evening of day six for the great service they gave us. The afternoon of day six your steward leaves you various debarkation paperwork, plus an envelope to put a tip in for the Normandie matradee; again, we aren't seasoned cruisers, so we thought this was a bit odd... considering the first time we saw him was at dinner that night standing at the door waiting for people to give him their envelopes (maybe we were wrong, but we didn't give him a tip... we preferred to tip the wait staff that actually waited on us). - Weather - I've got a little secret for you, If you book a cruise that sails out of the northeast in the December, January, February timeframe, it is going to be cold outside and you should pack appropriately. Don't expect too much deck time on the Lido Deck to work on your tan... Even Florida isn't terribly warm during that time. Buy some kind of travel insurance, just in case... - Passports are a must, but only seemed to be needed during the embarkation and debarkation in Baltimore... all other times you just needed a picture ID and your Sail & Sign card to get back on ship. - Bring a bungee cord to hold your balcony door open to enjoy the sounds of the water and catch the sea breeze... however, be careful opening you cabin door at the same time... - I wished Carnival would have scheduled some kind of service on board ship for Christmas. - Follow the message boards on both the Carnival and Cruise Critic websites. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
This was our first cruise on this ship. Previous cruise was on Carnival Destiny. We booked at the very last minute for a New Year's Eve cruise. This ship was completely full. Our cabin (coach)had two lower bunk style beds. This was ... Read More
This was our first cruise on this ship. Previous cruise was on Carnival Destiny. We booked at the very last minute for a New Year's Eve cruise. This ship was completely full. Our cabin (coach)had two lower bunk style beds. This was the primary negative to our experience. The mattress was hard and the bed had a metal frame around it that made it uncomfortable. Surprisingly there was no top sheet, just a quilted blanket that was too warm for our taste. Otherwise the room was adequate for a two night cruise. We had to take an interior room so we missed out on a view. Dinners were excellent! We are picky about our food and must say that paying the extra $25 each for dining in the Cove was well worth it. We had a superb and relaxing dinner befitting a true four star restaurant. It barely misses a five star rating by a tad. Make it your business to eat there. The other night we dined in the Crystal Room, and this was just a tad below the Cove so I would say it is a solid four stars. The help were friendly, and the shows were worth watching. Embarkation went fairly smooth as well as disembarkation which took a bit longer. We spent the day at Atlantis and did the dolphin encounter. Loved it! All in all I would say that if they upgraded their bedding we would be steady passengers, but would not return unless they improved on the bedding. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Overall the cruise was good. Food was decent but not as good as others, activities were fun, shows were mediocre. Room was excellent, as was the service. Only complaints were that the only "dance club" on the boat was 18+, which ... Read More
Overall the cruise was good. Food was decent but not as good as others, activities were fun, shows were mediocre. Room was excellent, as was the service. Only complaints were that the only "dance club" on the boat was 18+, which meant most of the people in it were under-21 and the adults were elsewhere. I wouldn't recommend this cruise to anyone with teenagers as there seems to be a steadfast rule regarding the age cutoffs for each of the various kid's clubs. I have a 14 year old who has cruised extensively and participated in the teen clubs (as opposed to the 12-14 group) and a 15 year old who "qualified" for the teen club. Spoke to Allison (youth director) and was told "no way, no how" that my 14-year-old could move up (even though she's done so on many other cruises). Because they didn't want to hang out with the 12-year-olds, my two daughters wound up roaming the decks every night in an unsupervised manner, watching 18-year-olds smoke and throw up due to alcohol consumption (particularly on new years eve). Again, this isn't the cruise for anyone who has children that don't perfectly fit into the categories assigned for the various children's clubs. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
We cruised on the Gem this past week(12/26-1/3) and overall were not disappointed. Pros: We breezed through registration and embarkation with ease. The pink princess had a great time at the kids crew program;she met a lot of great ... Read More
We cruised on the Gem this past week(12/26-1/3) and overall were not disappointed. Pros: We breezed through registration and embarkation with ease. The pink princess had a great time at the kids crew program;she met a lot of great kids there. We spent time hanging out with fellow passengers shooting the breeze,playing bingo and trying the restaurants. Made it to all but Cagney's & Le Bistro, didn't have a bad meal. Tepanyaki was a blast. New Years Eve on the Pool Deck was off the hook. Cabin stewards were very attentive. Cons The coffee in the buffet was far better than in the restaurants. Couldn't add a passenger to our cabin 5 days before cruise due to homeland security,or so the NCL cruise consultant said. No more chocolate at turn down Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
My husband and I knew that we wanted to go somewhere to start our Christmas holidays, we just did`t know where. We are on a limited budget, so wanted to get as much for our buck as we could. I signed up for many web sites with all ... Read More
My husband and I knew that we wanted to go somewhere to start our Christmas holidays, we just did`t know where. We are on a limited budget, so wanted to get as much for our buck as we could. I signed up for many web sites with all inclusives and cruise lines for emails with vacation specials. I practically lived on the computer for the months of October and November reading all the specials on the emails I was receiving. I have always wanted to go on a cruise, but hubby wasn`t too excited about spending a week on a boat. Boy, was he mistaken! When the last day came, I think he was more depressed than I was and I was pretty bad. He now wishes I would have talked him into a longer vacation. The balcony we had was sooo much bigger than I thought it would be. It was clean and set up very professionally by the stateroom stewards. The service was impeccable starting with the people at the call centre when I called to book, the bar stewards, the cooks and servers in all the restaurants (and there was lots to pick from), the captain, the great and funny entertainment. I know I am rambling, but their was so many things that were just perfect! Our first port excursion was the Grand Bahama Island and we went on the Caves and Beaches tour. What a let down! The caves were just holes with water in them and the fish we were suppose to be able to feed were little minnows and we could not feed them. The beach was ok - a little raw - no buildings, no bathrooms, not very nice. Although the water was beautiful. Then we get back on the bus and go to lunch which you had to buy and spend one and a half hours at lunch and another beach. Well we just came from an hour at another beach. The lunch was not cheap, the food on the boat is free.........It was a waste of time. I wished we would of just walked around town and looked at the local shops. Will know better next time. Great Stirrup Clay was sooo nice. We decided to try the snorkeling, which we had never done before. The only complaint I have is that there is no one to give you a lesson on what the heck you are doing. My husband got the hang of it pretty quick, but I had the can`t breath problem. But the water was perfect temperature and beautiful. The boats were taking passengers back and forth all day, so you could go as early as you want and stay as long as you want. It was a great time. Only next time I think I would save the money and pass on the snorkeling and just go for the beach and swimming. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009

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