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157 Bahamas Holiday Cruise Reviews

2009 had been a hectic year for my husband and I. We decided to send 2009 out in a big way and welcome 2010 in on a fun note. The choice of Carnival Pride was based on departure port and dates. We had been to The Bahamas before and enjoyed ... Read More
2009 had been a hectic year for my husband and I. We decided to send 2009 out in a big way and welcome 2010 in on a fun note. The choice of Carnival Pride was based on departure port and dates. We had been to The Bahamas before and enjoyed it so we decided to go again. We began our cruise journey on December 27th at 5 a.m. by leaving our RI home and driving to the port of Baltimore. It was sunny and cold, but the ride was an easy one with little traffic. We were off to a good start. We arrived at the port at 1:45 P.M. Parked at the port looking at the ship, and we were struck by it's beauty and size. Check-in was easy and quick. The Staff at the dock were pleasant and cordial. Once on the boat, we headed for the buffet area. The outer decks were open but it was cold. We stayed inside after a brief foray to look out over Baltimore. Brrr... COLD. :) The Pride is a beautiful ship with a great crew. As 50 somethings, we know what we like and fun entertainment and varied activities fit our needs. The first few days we were limited to inside activities due to the high winds and cold temps. We choose not to hang out at the pool area that was open, because of the crowds. The pool area was lovely and clean. Long pants and a light sweater were the daytime attire and we changed for dinner according to attire recommendations. The atmosphere was festive in Keeping with the Time of year and people were dressing up in elegant cocktail attire for the formal nights. We enjoyed the shows and the live entertainment at various lounges. The Atrium bar was a favorite, the bar staff Katharine and Anton were pleasant and fun. The public areas were kept immaculately clean in such a lovely unobtrusive way by the staff. Bring a couple of books for traveling this time of year, there a re many comfortable spots to watch the seas and cuddle on plush chairs and sofas. We had dinner at David's Steak House one evening and the food and service was fabulous. We had Fillet Mignon, and could not finish the meal. Portions are huge. The salads and appetizers can easily be shared. Bring your appetite! We enjoyed the Anytime dining option, and that suited us well. The staff was top notch . The entrees were varied and very good, My favorites were the Grilled chicken breast ( always available because it is a Carnival Favorite), The Steak options were prepared as requested, and quite tender. Please try the signature desert: "Bitter and Blanc" a chocolate bread pudding dish that was only offered one evening on this cruise and once I tried it I would have liked to have it another night. The Cruise director Kirk and His assistant Jaime were lots of fun, watch their morning show, they are a riot! On one of the sea days Kirk and some of his staff have a question and answer session on what it is like o work on a cruise ship, great info, get there early because the lounge area fills up quickly. I was not sure what to expect on New Years Eve, But the ship was all abuzz about the New Years eve festivities, We went to the deck party where the House band, the Jafar Curry band and the ships singers put on a Jam Session with rock and roll flair. The entertainers were having a ball on stage and their enthusiasm carried over into the crowd. People of all ages were dancing and swinging o the great music. The countdown was like being in Times Square and we had a ball. My recommendations would be: Bring warm weather clothes for 3-4 days only if you go during the end of December or January. Nylons will keep you comfortable in the evenings the first two night and the last two nights during evening activities. Ladies shawls or light cover was needed most evenings. Men wore suits or sport coats on the formal nights and often to dinner. The photogs took great photos, be prepared! We used room service a couple of times, and were very pleased with the promptness of the service. On port days we used room service for lunch instead of trying to get through the buffet area with everyone coming back on board together at the same time, and this worked well for us. Very relaxing. I hope that you will consider a holiday cruise in the future, I know we will do I again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Just got off the Gem New Years cruise from December 26th to January 2! We had an amazing time with very few complaints, or rather, suggestions. We have been Princess loyalists since 2002 when we went on the Grand Princess for our ... Read More
Just got off the Gem New Years cruise from December 26th to January 2! We had an amazing time with very few complaints, or rather, suggestions. We have been Princess loyalists since 2002 when we went on the Grand Princess for our honeymoon. We wanted to do a cruise that year but were worried that we'd get stuck sitting with others for dinner if we went on another line. We're sociable people, but we like quiet romantic dinners. Princess had Anytime Dining so we went with them. We weren't aware that Norwegian did Freestyle as well. So six Princess cruises later and hearing lots of negatives about Norwegian, we saw this Florida to Bahamas cruise that left out of our backyard (NYC) and decided to book it. I never really pay much attention to either very negative reviews or very positive reviews. Some seem way too biased in one direction to be reliable. I'm glad to say we experienced absolutely NONE of the negatives I always heard about. We were dropped off at the pier by my father-in-law. I had him let us out a little before where everyone else was unloading as it was very congested right in front of the doors. We just walked a little and walked right in. There was a long line for security, but it moved very quickly. We were given number 77 to board. About 1:00 pm they started calling from 22. They did skip large chunks of numbers and they called 77 and all the rest at about 1:45 or so. We walked right onto the ship, got our glass of complimentary champagne and headed up to the buffet. (This was the first of many times we encountered the dining staff armed with a bottle of alcohol hand wash and the automatic hand sanitizer dispensers.) I didn't plan on doing this as I heard about how crowded it is on the first day and there aren't enough seats. This was true, but not a big deal. We then went down to the Grand Pacific and the hostess gave me a pager. We didn't walk more than 10 feet away when the pager rang! We went into the dining room after doing washy, washy and sanitizing our hands, and had an amazing first lunch. If the quality of the food on this first day was an indication, we knew we were in for some good food! We were cruising with my sister in law and brother in law on this cruise. As an aside after my father in law dropped us off, he drove back to the Bronx and my brother in law and sister in law were getting ready to leave and he dropped them off at the pier as well. Very nice of him! If you are lucky enough to have somebody drop you off, it is VERY convenient. He enjoyed watching the ship sail away while he stood out in the pouring rain near the U.S.S. Intrepid. After our lunch we sat at the Java Bar on deck 7 in the atrium. This is a very nice area with lots of comfortable seats and couches and the very large screen TV. The screen showed a few movies throughout the cruise as well as Monday Night Football and the college bowl games. At other times they showed weird images of skydiving and other assorted images to different types of music. I think the screen could have been better utilized. Maybe music videos or more movies would work well. But this area became one our favorite places and meeting points throughout the cruise. As we waited for my in-laws to board I sat down and ordered my first of many buckets (helmets) of beer. I was served by the charming and warm barmaid, Cris from the Philippines. She called me by name from that first bucket on through the whole rest of the cruise even when she saw me in other places. She was always smiling and made a difference in our cruise. She received a STYLE card and a little extra cash as a result. If you go on the Gem tell her Freddie, Lou, and the Twins say hi! While sitting at the Java Bar, we got to hear the wonderful singer/guitarist Randon. He did party/cruise standards like Margarittaville, New York State of Mind, etc. My in-laws boarded right near us, they had a few drinks with us and the cabins were ready. We all dropped our luggage off and they grabbed some food as we headed to the sail-away party. They usually have it on the pool deck if weather permits. This evening, weather certainly did NOT permit. It was raining sideways, brutally cold, and windy. They still had a great sail-away party in Spinnaker's lounge where I added to my many buckets of beer! It was a very nice touch on Norwegian's part as the ship passed the Statue of Liberty. One of the show singers sang the National Anthem and it received a very nice ovation. Nice job! As we passed under the Verrazano Bridge, which is usually one of my favorite parts of the cruise, I had to brave the elements and go outside. My in- laws had never sailed out of New York before and I wanted to see them experience it. It was really amazing as it was dark out already and we got some great shots. It was worth the cold and pelting rain!!! My wife decided she would forego it this time. (But as I write this, she is at the NY Jets game where it is 7 degrees! Go figure!) Hey I went out for a few smokes and after the second bucket of beers, I didn't really feel the cold anymore, anyway!! We went to Magenta that night for dinner and had absolutely no wait, just like every other night to follow. Maybe it depends on when you go, but we never experienced any type of line or wait. We did go a bit later between 7:30 and 9:00, so maybe that's why. Either way, it was good. After dinner we walked casually around the ship and had a drink at a few different lounges. My brother-in-law loved the cigar lounge and I stopped in here before or after dinner a few times to have a smoke myself. We ended up in Spinnaker Lounge again and had a blast with the rock/pop/dance band Prism. This night was a welcome aboard party and it was packed. This is where one of my suggestions comes in. We were having a blast and the place was packed. It ended abruptly at 12:30 to a full house. They said the party was moving down to Bliss Ultra Lounge. Had they kept this party going, they would have been selling a ton more drinks for 2 or 3 more hours. Most people wanted to stay in this place, but the lights went on and they started cleaning up. We did head down to the Bliss Lounge and it was crowded, but not really with people that were in Spinnaker. It was a much younger crowd here. I am in my mid thirties, act like I'm in my twenties (ok-5, lol) and my whole party could pass for mid to late twenties, but we felt out of place in Bliss. The drinking age on the Gem was 21, but 18 and older could drink with parental permission. This meant that there were 18 year olds buying for 15 and 16 year olds. I wanted to hang out and party, but them cutting the party at Spinnaker caused me and doubtlessly countless others to end the night earlier than we probably would have. I'm sure there are reasons like workers ending their shifts, but keep some of those workers on and I'm sure drink revenue would certainly make up for it, and the workers should be compensated for longer hours if they choose to work them. If it is to give these workers a bit of a break, then I fully understand. The second day was a sea day. I slept late as my slight cold/winter allergies and night before's partying took a toll on me. We had a late breakfast at the Great Outdoors which is aft on deck 12, behind the Garden Cafe buffet. This area had a very nice selection for breakfast and a nice seating area outside. It was still a bit chilly, but not unbearable and we ate outside. We walked around the ship some more and explored. We got excited that it felt so much warmer outside than the previous day and sat on a couple of lounge chairs for a few minutes. Once the wind picked up a little, it made it a bit colder. We went back inside after walking a few windy laps on the walking/jogging track. Had lunch from Garden Cafe and brought it out to Great Outdoors again. As the day went on you could feel it gradually get warmer. We went into Spinnaker in the afternoon and all four of us fell asleep in those funky bed type lounge chairs they have in there. I had my headphones on and while they were playing bingo, I had no idea as it was drowned out by Bon Jovi! That night we had dinner in the Grand Pacific dining room for the first time. As mentioned we had eaten our first lunch there. It is a very nice dining room and this is the dining room they request no jeans in. We went in dressed very nicely and did see some people in jeans. But I have to say, nobody looked un-presentable or sloppy. Towards the last night of the cruise, we went in wearing jeans and were far from alone. I definitely enjoy this about Norwegian. It is NOT so ultra casual as people look like slobs. But, people are dressed in what they might wear to a decent family type restaurant on land. Some people of course were dressed to the nines every night. We fell in the middle. I loved not taking a suit. After a nice evening of making our rounds through bar city on deck 6 and then onto Spinnaker followed by Bliss, we called it a night as we were going to hit our first stop at Port Canaveral, Florida the next morning. We wanted to be rested to see Mickey, Goofy, Donald, and company. We had a transfer-only excursion to The Magic Kingdom for Monday. I bought the Disney admission tickets in advance online for much cheaper than buying the whole excursion (transfer and park admission) through Norwegian. I would have even considered renting a car and driving for much cheaper, but buying the transfer through NCL gave me peace of mind in case there was a delay getting back to the ship. It was well worth doing it this way. We boarded the bus at about 1:00 pm or so after meeting in The Stardust Theater at 11:50am. The theater was full of people going to Kennedy Space Center, Disney, and Universal parks. They were pretty orderly and it probably made sense to do it this way as it streamlined people off of the ship instead of everyone getting off at once and causing chaos at the bus area. We got to the Magic Kingdom at about 2:00. The bus driver announced to us that it was closed because it was full, but not to worry. Even when we got to the front gate, the attendant let the bus in, but said the park was closed because it was full. The driver told us to still not worry. He then dropped us off at the entrance area to get on the monorail. We did this and got right into the park with no problem using our credit card type admission tickets. The park was jammed. We heard the lot that holds 80,000 cars was full. I believe it. However, it was about 65 degrees out and very comfortable, so it wasn't like being in a jammed park at 95 degrees. We walked around and my wife was as happy as one of the 6 year olds that she teaches!! I was so glad we got in with no problem. She loves Disney and was looking so forward to it! As soon as we got in, she took a picture with Pluto and I had to stand in line with families and 3 year olds to get the pictures. Priceless. Taking pictures with characters was the norm throughout the day. They even have photographers around the park that give you a photo card. Each picture you take, you hand them your card and they scan it when they take the picture. You then log-in online and view your pictures. The ones I took came better, so we didn't buy any. We went on a handful of rides as the lines were so long. I was using an APP on my I-Phone that told me the line times and it was very accurate. We really just enjoyed a very nice day of walking around, but in the future I will probably get the express pass where you go back to the ride at an assigned time. It would allow us more rides in less time. But we had a great time. It got chilly at night and the sweatshirts we bought at the gift shop came in very handy. It was a very nice experience walking through Disney in December and seeing it all decorated for Christmas. It was a very memorable night, especially when they started blowing man-made snow off the top of the buildings on the main street. Nice touch! We met the bus in the lot and had a noisy ride back to the ship. We were so tired and were amazed that many of the kids on the bus back were not as pooped as we were and were singing and chatting up a storm. I guess the roles were reversed and we adults get more tired from that type of day. When we got back onto the ship, we quickly just changed our shirts and met my in-laws at the Magenta dining room for another nice dinner. They had gone to Universal that day and had a great time, so it was nice talking about our days and relaxing on a nice evening. My brother-in-law and I went up to Great Outdoors while the ladies looked at photos in the gallery. We enjoyed some beers and a few smokes in the meantime. You can smoke on one side back there. It was empty at night usually. We did our rounds of Bar Central and then hit Spinnaker for 80s night. It was another night where it was fairly busy and could have stayed open a bit later. Oh well, we headed to Bliss and left there a little early as it was very crowded and young. The next day was Great Stirrup Cay, the NCL private island. You had to get tender tickets from the shore excursion desk. They started at number 1 and we had 9. I have been to Princess Cays a few times and if I'm not wrong, Princess lowers their lifeboats as tenders. NCL only had two double-decker ferry boats going back and forth. It took long to get everyone off the ship and then back on. I'm not sure if anything prevents them using lifeboats, but it was very quick and efficient for Princess. Not a very big deal, but just a suggestion. It took a very long time, but we found a nice spot on the pool deck in the sun on a lounger and waited for our number. We made our way down and got onto the tender fairly quickly. The tender ride is about 5 minutes and it was a nice day so not too bad. When we got to the island it was very crowded. We got something to eat and we sought out very scarce chairs. None were to be had, so we laid out our towels and laid near the water. I bought a bucket that went down very easy in the warm sun. It felt amazing and so strange that I was on this warm beach on December 29th. I could get used to it. At this point, some chairs opened up, and we hopped in. About an hour later, we decided to move to the other side of the island near the food and restrooms. We found a spot and the bar waiter that we ordered from couldn't find us, even though we told him where to look for us! Anyway, I found him and it was getting close to departure time and we were going to start chugging all the beers. We were saved when one of the tenders apparently broke down and the line got longer as they had to use only one. A little more time on this tropical paradise was nice. We took the ferry ride back to the ship and while the ladies went to get ready for the evening, I headed to the Great Outdoors for a few beers and to see the ship sail away. From back there, we were able to see the private islands of the other cruise lines, particularly RCCL. You can see that they are not very populated if at all. It looked pitch black as the ship was leaving. That night we met up in Bar Central before dinner and went to the Grand Pacific for another fantastic dinner. We were seated tonight at the table that we would end up, coincidentally, being seated at for the rest of the cruise when we went into The Grand Pacific. That must be where the most tables for two are. It was a great table right at the aft windows, center ship, overlooking the wake. It was a great spot to look out while enjoying a great meal. After dinner we headed up to Spinnaker. I believe this was the night they had the scavenger hunt which was pretty funny. We hung out for some more live music from Prism and when that was over (too early again,), we headed down to Bliss. There was a teen gathering still in progress. I think this should not happen. Adults are not allowed into the Leopard Lounge (teen club), so they should leave the adult clubs exclusively for adults. OR they should have made the event in Spinnaker run later. We walked around the ship a little longer and then headed back to Bliss. The event was supposed to have ended already, but it was still filled with younger teens. We ducked into a little side room in Bliss and waited until the teens cleared out. By then we had gotten tired. Everyone headed back to the cabins, but I made a pit stop at The Blue Lagoon for a grilled chicken sandwich after 1:00am. The trappings of 24 hours of food on a cruise ship!! The next day was Nassau. I did lots of researching what to do here and even that morning, we didn't decide what we were doing until we got off the ship. We all wanted to see The Atlantis, but didn't want to pay the high excursion price for a day at the beach. The ladies weren't going to do the water park and neither was my BIL. I would have, but it was not a deal breaker for me. I had heard of a deal at the Comfort Suites next to Atlantis that offered a deal if you rented a room, you got full access to Atlantis. We took a cab to Comfort Suites and went to the front desk. They do allow all access to Atlantis if you get a room here, but they have a two night minimum at more than $400 a night. No thanks. We decided to just head to Atlantis and see if they had a day pass for cheaper. In the cab there, the driver saved us a lot of money. He told us if we were only interested in the beach, he'd take us to a free beach. My in-laws were interested in the Dig. He told them it was only $35 for that. We decided to split up and we went to Cabbage Beach while they went to the Dig. Best decision we made all day. (Thanks, Bahama John!)We stayed at a great beach, rented chairs for $10 each, and bought a few sodas. It was a nice place. My wife took a walk and came back and said she was able to see some of the Atlantis, so we packed up and took a walk down there. We were able to walk around much of the Atlantis property without a wrist band. We saw the lagoon, crossed the rope bridge, saw Hammerhead Sharks and Baby Sting-rays. We saw a lot that we wanted to see without paying. We were even able to buy a hot dog and fries from one of the concessions. I am glad that cab driver saved us about $150 a person. If we wanted to use the waterpark, then we would have coughed it up, but there was no need to spend any money to do what we did that day. The cab fares were reasonable as well at about $4 per person pretty much anyplace we went. After some walking around Atlantis, we walked through the casino and some of the stores and then hailed a cab right out front. As another side note, and an unfortunate one, we were docked that day next to the RCCL Monarch of the Seas. We had seen her earlier in Port Canaveral which was her home port. When we got back to NYC, we read a news story about a woman who jumped overboard when the ship left Nassau on the same day. It was reportedly the wife of a RCCL crew member. Very sad story and I'm sure it saddened the many crew members and passengers aboard that ship. What a shame. When we got back on the ship, we grabbed some food from Topsiders Grill near the pools. They had a similar selection as The Great Outdoors would have: burgers, hot-dogs, fries, salad, pastas, chicken, vegetables, etc... A good enough selection for when the main buffet, the Garden Cafe, was closed. We had another nice dinner in The Grand Pacific that night. I forget what I ate most nights, as I ate so much. I should have noted it somewhere. I have to say I didn't have even one bad meal. Food is subjective, but I cook myself, come from a family of very good Italian cooks and eat all types of food. I really liked the food. Some of the portions were tiny. My wife ordered a scallops appetizer that we were actually laughing at due to its size. But I did order an extra appetizer on most nights and one night I was bad and ordered two entrees when I couldn't decide. The next day was New Years Eve. We didn't do too much during the day. We went and watched the belly-flop competition at the pools, only because it was comfortable out and we knew it would only get colder. It didn't get colder that day, but it started to pour hard. We were worried that the New Years Eve party on deck would be cancelled. Staff was saying that they didn't know. We went to Spinnaker where they were having some sort of dance lesson so I left and went to buy some t-shirts. They had a buy 2 get 1 free deal and the shirts were decent so I took advantage of the deal! We decided we would get ready early and meet up for dinner earlier than normal to get a jump on our NYE partying. We didn't know if we were going to buy champagne bottles or by the glass. My BIL and I are beer drinkers and the girls drink wine and champagne. We figured we'd see how the night went. After a very nice dinner in Magenta with a great waitress whose name escapes me, us guys hit the cigar lounge, while the women sat outside of the lounge and watched Randon perform with his guitar. This really is a nice little lounge area with couches and soft chairs. Then there is Magnum's champagne bar, Malting's whiskey and beer bar, and Shakers martini bar. All of the bars are really one area in the middle. They are one large bar, broken into three. On the other side of these three bars is another lounge area which is connected to Maltings. This is really a nice little area and each bar does have a different selection of what its intended specialty is. I am a smoker and enjoyed this area as it was right outside of the cigar lounge and we'd have a few drinks and I'd sneak in for a smoke now and again. I heard from non smokers that the smoke was not too noticeable. This says a lot as this area is also right near the casino. I have to admit that it was definitely smokey in there, so if smoke bothers you, avoid it. It is also one deck down from the promenade deck where I would smoke. The girls had ordered a few glasses of champagne. They then decided it was more convenient and economical to buy it by the bottle. So they bought the first of a few bottles that evening. I didn't think I'd be drinking only champagne that night, but got a decent deal when we went up to the pool deck New Years Eve party. Prism was playing and it seemed almost all of the passengers of the ship were up here. This was a New Years Eve I won't soon forget. The rain had stopped and it was in the mid 70's. People were dancing and having a great time. I walked around the pool deck while the ladies danced. Close to midnight, waiters were going around with glasses of champagne. I grabbed a few for our group and we got together for the countdown. The noisemakers and hats were provided by the ship. We got hats at dinner time in the dining room and they provided noisemakers as we were leaving Bar Central, but also up on deck. The captain made a speech from the bridge, but it was very hard to hear as people were blowing noisemakers. After the captain's speech, they started blowing the ship's horn. I believe this was the correct midnight, but for the sake of having a countdown, the cruise staff started a 10 second countdown. Everyone counted along and went wild at 0. It was great to be in such a great place on NYE with my wife and in-laws. I also enjoyed seeing a lot of the crew from a variety of different departments, some in their work attire, some in regular clothes, enjoying themselves. About this time we decided we needed another bottle of champagne. I went to where they were selling them from the hot tub. I was going to buy a certain bottle my BIL recommended, but the salesperson told me he'd sell me a magnum of the same brand for $130 and I'd get another bottle for free. At this point, it seemed like a good deal as the bottles were expensive enough and this was a pretty good deal. My BIL who knows more about champagne said it was a good brand and the deal was pretty good. It was much better than if we were going to keep buying glasses or one bottle at a time. I had to wait a little while as they got the bottles from Bliss on deck 7, but they brought it back and put it into ice for us. We grabbed an ice bucket each and walked back to where the ladies were dancing. It was around this time that the party was about to wrap up and it was ONLY 12:45am- on NEW YEAR'S EVE!!! When the band finished their last song, I and the guy next to me started chanting "5 more songs! 5 more songs!" Cruise director Andy was NOT amused by this. He kept trying to shoo people away and sell everyone on the party at Bliss. We fully intended to go to Bliss, but this party still had legs and should have gone on!! He begrudgingly told the band to play some more and they did one more song!! Almost both decks were covered with people, and they pulled the plug on the party. I can't even begin to wonder how much more they would have made if the party went even just 30 minutes longer. So we were forced to go to Bliss, which we enjoyed, but for a much shorter time than if we were on the pool deck. All in all, it was a great night. I only wish it was a little longer. The next day, the champagne kept me sleeping a little later than I wanted to, but we packed our stuff and walked around the ship one last time. It got quite a bit colder and we couldn't really go outside. We were pretty lazy as we would normally be on New Year's Day, but it was still a nice enjoyable day even though we were getting off the next day. They were showing the college bowl games on the big screen in the atrium and it was crowded. We met for a few drinks with Cris in the Java bar and bid adieu to her. It's always sad saying goodbye to people who really made your vacation something to remember. I guess it means we need to book on the Gem again soon to see her, Matt in Spinnaker (Yeah Baby!!), Randon, Prism, and many others who made our cruise a great one. Of course we ended the night in party mode and started in Spinnaker. They had karaoke, which had I not been sick, would have done every night. I felt so much better by now, so I decided to sing a Bon Jovi song. It was lots of fun. We stayed to see The Second City Comedy Troupe. It was packed in there. It was pretty funny, but not side stitch funny. It made me laugh though! The farewell party, though short, was fun. Prism did a short, but good, set. It was time to leave Spinnaker soon enough and we said our goodbyes to the band. They got a STYLE card for entertaining us just about every night. And they were nice people as well. We then headed to Bliss where there was the Toga party going on. It was fun, although we didn't wear togas. The drinks were going down very nicely, but at a point we had to say goodbye to Bliss one last time. Before bed we made like lots of Bronx nights in the 90's and hit the diner after partying. Really it was The Blue Lagoon, but it felt like one of those nights. The next morning we woke up at 8:45. We opted for self-debarkation and it was a good choice. We got ready, went to breakfast, but the buffet was jammed. We got our food and went out to eat at the seating area of The Great Outdoors. It was FREEZING!! Welcome to New York!! We ate quickly and went inside and found my in-laws. We took our time eating and then went to our rooms for our luggage. We took the elevator up to hang at Java Cafe to wait for my in-laws. Once they got there, it was literally like walking out of a hotel. We didn't have to look for our luggage in what looked like pandemonium! We went through customs in no time and were out on the street. Guess what? It was snowing!!! Again, Welcome to New York!! Random thoughts: So we had an amazing time. I swore when I started this review I wasn't going to do a point by point comparison to my Princess cruises. I'm sticking to that, but will point out some things that were different or the same. They may be for better or worse. We joked that the ship should've been called the Norwegian Germ! They were very germ phobic and anytime you got on or off the ship, went to a dining venue, or blinked your eyes, they wanted you to washy, washy/ smiley, smiley,/ happy, happy. I have no problem with this. I do think having servers at the buffet is not a bad idea as well. However, keeping salt and pepper shakers and no ketchup and mustard in the buffet was a little overboard. I know there were reports of people being sick the few cruises before us, but people get sick, it happens. If everyone keeps their hands clean and take other precautions, you should be ok. They did let us serve ourselves and put shakers and condiments back on the table when we got to Nassau, day 5. There are things that people are bound to touch like menus that are passed to everyone. Unless I don't know and they are sanitizing them between uses, what's the difference in keeping shakers and condiments on table? This really was not a big deal and we thought it actually pretty funny. It made for good conversation and even the staff thought it was funny and made sarcastic jokes about it. I guess in the long run if it kept me from getting sick it was worth it. If washy, washy makes NCL happy, happy, I'll do it with a smiley, smiley on my face! As I stated, I heard negative things about NCL Freestyle. I love Anytime on Princess and I can now say I might like Freestyle on NCL even more. We didn't do any specialty restaurants as we LOVED all of our meals in the dining room. We never experienced a wait. There are TV screens near dining rooms that give estimated wait times. I think they may be a bit off. Some said the main dining rooms were full, but we walked up and were seated right away. Maybe they do it to slow people down from going all at once. The ship was very nice. The bathroom was a plus. The shower stall was a little bigger than on Princess and it had a glass door as opposed to the curtain. It also had a handheld shower head! Awesome!! The inside cabin was an adjustment as we usually get balconies, but with cold days going and coming and it being our second cruise, inside cabin this time. It was clean and comfortable, thanks in no small part to our great stewards, Gioffre and I think his assistant was Mark. I tipped a 20 when we fist met as he went out of his way with his hands full to get me a bottle opener. I also tipped him at the end another 20. This was of course in addition to the tips charged to the room. I have to say that this ship may have had the friendliest staff I ever encountered. Everyone you saw repeatedly would greet you by name and always a smile. Even the captain was walking by in the atrium one evening and we took a picture with him. He was very friendly and even pointed out that the flash didn't go off and posed for another. Little things like that stick with you. The buffet was a little hectic on most sea days, especially upon embarkation. On that day only, we then just went to the Grand Pacific dining room for a great lunch. It was a bit confusing at times what buffet was open at what time. I like that Princess keeps the buffet open 24 hours. But Blue Lagoon is there to serve late night hunger. Relaxed dress code was something we could get used to. I may leave the suit at home on my summer cruise on the Caribbean Princess. Again, people were not dressed like slobs, just not as dressed up every night. There were jeans around at night, but there were also people dressed smart casual. Nothing that was very noticeable. On "Dress Up or Not" night, there were more people dressed up than I thought there'd be. One night, my brother in law felt out of place in jeans, but it wasn't the more formal night. My wife thought there were more vegetarian options on Princess. She did temper this by saying that vegetarians who ate a wider variety of food than her probably would think the selection is just fine. She is not just a vegetarian, but not a very daring eater and pretty much sticks to her favorites. This being said, she enjoyed everything she ate and never went hungry. I have 6 Princess cruises under my belt and one more booked. I do get some perks that would take me awhile to catch up to on NCL, but I am thinking long and hard about booking the same cruise for next Christmas vacation. The only thing I am considering is the weather, which of course the cruise line doesn't control. I may just rather fly somewhere much warmer and be in the warmth that much sooner! Entertainment was pretty much the same as Princess. I caught some of a 70's tribute show and it was entertaining and well put together. It featured TV themes and other 70's pop culture references. As mentioned, Prism was very good and we had fun with them almost every night. They appealed to a broad spectrum of people. Cruise director Andy was good, but I feel some of the events being cut short are in his control. He was very visible and seemed to truly enjoy his job, but I think he needs to reconsider the timing of some events and when to end them. Also, there were some events that said "11:00pm until whenever.." sometimes whenever was 20 minutes after it started. I couldn't comprehend this. I'll wrap up by saying that I never, ever expect perfection on a cruise. It doesn't exist. Therefore I am never disappointed. I have never had a bad cruise. I was a little under the weather on the start of this cruise and still had a blast. It would really take a lot to ruin a cruise for me. Two thumbs up! Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Not a 1st time cruise, but as we'd only cruised the Maldive Atolls before, it was 1st time on a ship this scale/size.This cruise was picked due to embarkation port & duration. We flew UK to Newark the day before we were due to ... Read More
Not a 1st time cruise, but as we'd only cruised the Maldive Atolls before, it was 1st time on a ship this scale/size.This cruise was picked due to embarkation port & duration. We flew UK to Newark the day before we were due to sail (unfortunately storms in NYC prevented us landing in the city till 4+ hours later than scheduled so couldn't do planned sight seeing that day). Sunday had a few hours of sight seeing then headed to pier. Dumped cases at port and joined the queues to collected key card etc. All very organised & straightforward process. Boarded ship & found it a bit chaotic as many people (like ourselves) seemed to congregate in the same area on board. After a drink ventured around to try to get our bearings. Had 1st meal in the Garden Cafe. Buffet style and lovely. Fail to see how anyone couldn't find something to suit as the choice was so vast. Then went to see stateroom. We weren't disappointed as we'd expected it to be tiny and although very compact - we did have enough storage space for everything. Not sure I'd have been too keen to have a room without a balcony right enough.Sailing out of New York was enjoyable. Great seeing the Manhatton skyline, Statue of Liberty etc.Then got unpacked and explored a bit more. After dinner it was off to bed for us as the 26+ hours spent up the previous day, caught up on us!1st full day sailing was cold & windy but from the Tues onwards - weather was great. Right up till the last day (which was an unexpected pleasure as we'd expected another cold day at the end)!At Florida we did the Cocoa Beach trip. Bit of a disappointment to be honest - it was just a beach same as any other! Not sure what I expected.Great Stirrup Cay was gorgeous. Didn't know to take cash tho so couldn't make any purchases from the Straw Market. Fortunately all the drinks are chargeable to your room and they have a buffet on the island to cater for lunch I'd recommend getting there early to get a sunbed etc.Nassau was fun - well for me anyway cos I like shopping - not sure my husband would agree! ;-) Spent a few hours doing that then back to the ship.Food in general was really good. No need, in my opinion to eat anywhere that charges as the food was good enough elsewhere. However, we did eat at Le Bistro as part of the anniversary package and I can't fault it - the food was excellent. Best steak we'd had! Loved it.Didn't do all the shows or activities as our aim was to have a laid back relaxing time. But from what we did see, recommend the comedian (Rod Long, I think was the name), JP the magician/comedian and Le Cirque Bijou.As we'd left the kids behind we were concerned that we'd be overrun by them - but this wasn't the case. We didn't lie around the pool deck & yes they were in the restaurants etc. but can't say we were bothered by them.Disembarkation was an easy process too. Would recommend, if you're able, doing the walk off with your cases. We didn't do this but probably could have. That said we were still of quicker than anticipated.All in all we thoroughly enjoyed this cruise. Can't compare to any of the other cruise lines but would definitely consider NCL for future cruises. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
We just literally got off the ship just a few hours ago. This is not a comprehensive day by day review but rather a summary of lasting impressions, good and bad, from this particular cruise experience. We are first time NCL cruisers though ... Read More
We just literally got off the ship just a few hours ago. This is not a comprehensive day by day review but rather a summary of lasting impressions, good and bad, from this particular cruise experience. We are first time NCL cruisers though have cruised in the past with Disney (recently) and Carnival (a few years ago). Our experience was made better by: a) People : The ship's crew were both friendly, courteous and industrious from our cabin stewards (Jacinto Anion and Ambari team), the bartenders, the pool deck staff, the cleaning crew, and the garden cafe staff (we're amazed at the temperament of the garden cafe staff as we've witnessed them being unfairly abused by a few rude and obnoxious passengers). The results of the ship's crew efforts is shown by how clean and nice the ship is, inside and out.However, This applies for the crew on the ship only. In the NY port, some people we encountered during embarkation were rude & incompetent but not sure if they are NCL employees or if NCL has direct management control over them. b) Entertainment : Excellent shows (the performers and the production band was awesome), excellent music performers (notably Randon & Kenosis) and a variety of entertainment programs available for all ages and taste (kudos to Jamie & team). Our experience was not made better by : a) So-So kids club: Our 3 Kids were in 3 programs (6-9, 10-12, and teen). The problems were more structural than people or execution. The counselors were lively and good with the kids. The problem was that they have to work on very confined places (except for the teen lounge), don't have hours beyond 10:30pm without having to pay extra, and the scarcity of technology options (computers, wii, xbox 360 etc). Our point of reference for this assessment for full disclosure is the Disney cruise line which we have recently sailed on over the past 2 years. This however is not a major negative as we can reset our expectations for this service the next time around and organize our kid's activities accordingly. b) Inefficient process : If there was anything that bothered us greatly on this cruise is having to be inconvenienced because of inefficient processes and procedures. I think this cruise can benefit by looking at its processes and procedures (LEAN, Six Sigma, 5S) leading to better productivity (lower cost) and higher customer satisfaction (higher revenue). This is very evident in the magenta and great pacific dining rooms. There seem to be a lot of restaurant staff moving around like headless chickens. Again, they are very industrious and friendly but that is not enough to have a seamless operation. The checkin/checkout process for the kids club and towels need to be automated (use the key card rather than manually signing in) and needs better queue management (removal of non-value added process and procedures). In summary, while the cruise is not perfect (not sure if one really is), this cruise is definitely a great value. The negatives mentioned above can easily be addressed through lowering expectations and working around it. The positives however definitely outweigh all of this. As long as NCL maintains its price point, it's friendly and industrious crew, keep its freestyle concept and continue to have NY as its port, we would likely be long time and repeat NCL cruisers. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
OK, just returned from a one week cruise on the Norwegian Gem November 20-27, 2010 (Port Canaveral, Great Stirrup Cay, and Nassau, Bahamas, round trip from New York). We had a group of 25 family members, including children ages 6-11, some ... Read More
OK, just returned from a one week cruise on the Norwegian Gem November 20-27, 2010 (Port Canaveral, Great Stirrup Cay, and Nassau, Bahamas, round trip from New York). We had a group of 25 family members, including children ages 6-11, some teens, and adults. This was our seventh cruise, but first on Norwegian (previously Carnival and Royal Caribbean). The first day did not start out well-I jotted down over a dozen "cons" in the first four hours based on comparisons to the other cruises we have taken. I am not usually a complainer, but I just expected a few things to be "automatic". By the end of the cruise, some aspects redeemed themselves, but overall I would rate this experience AVERAGE. We will most likely not cruise on Norwegian again, but we enjoyed the Thanksgiving week with our family together. Here are the good points: 1) Our cabin stewards were top notch 2) I would rate the food above-average for quality and variety 3) The prime rib was one of the best I have ever had 4) The Tex-Mex restaurant was well worth the $10 cover charge. I wish we hadn't waited for the last night-I could have enjoyed every item on the menu 5) You don't have to wear your lifejacket to the safety drill 6) Check in process was reasonably smooth. We arrived at 1210pm and were on the ship by 1pm 7) The ship is in very good condition-I guess this should be expected for a 3 year old ship 8) They serve a full breakfast on the final day in the buffet, not just continental 9) You are allowed to contest the absurd service charge (see below) And now for the "areas of improvement": 1) There was a general feeling that the whole process was unorganized. 2) There was a general feeling of being "nickeled and dimed to death". Extra charges for everything: bowling and 8 specialty restaurants. For comparison, on Royal Caribbean we did the FloRider, rock climbing, and ice skating for no extra charge. Typically I only see 2 or 3 specialty restaurants. 3) FREESTYLE is difficult for large parties-you MUST make a reservation for dinner at least one day in advance. We missed the set dinner time where everyone would meet each day and build a relationship with the service staff. 4) Speaking of service, my biggest complaint is the Service Charge. On other cruise lines, the charge is $10 per day for the first two persons in the cabin ($140 for seven days). On Norwegian, I suppose they want your wallet to be FREESTYLE. The service charge is $12 per day per PERSON OVER AGE THREE! For my family of four, that was $332. To Norwegian's credit I filled out a form giving my reasons and request for reduction-they issued a credit on my final invoice. I prefer to reward individual service performance, but the FREESTYLE approach requires all these fees to be spread amongst all crew-little incentive to give the best service in my opinion. 5) Twice, my reservation for 20 people was messed up at the same specialty restaurant. First, they "forgot" about another reservation for 22 and offered a different venue and/or time. On the second, they booked the wrong restaurant. Fortunately on the second time, the manager was able to honor our original reservation, but not until after some tense moments (since I had already told twenty people when and where to meet for dinner!) 6) Design Problems a. The cabin layout is poor-you cannot easily access the balcony with the bunk beds down b. The cabin was tighter than on other cruise lines-there is no long counter and only 3 small drawers c. The tables and chairs in the seating area of the buffet are way too tightly packed d. On the most populated decks (Promenade and Pool/Buffet), you can only traverse the ship on the starboard side 7) Juice machine is only available at breakfast. After that it is Iced Tea, water, or coffee. 8) The TV is tiny-about 13" and ours was set so that you could not view the whole screen (scores were not visible during football games). 9) There is NO network TV (NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX) and no Kid's channels. The one "ESPN" channel showed cricket, equestrian, tennis, and European basketball. They did get the feed for some NFL games during the trip, but all on this channel-no choices like FOX and CBS on Sundays. 10) There were three red drops on our cabin carpet and a red stain in the bathroom that looked like blood. 11) The first day sign-in for the Kid's Club was a ZOO. The process is so inefficient and they appear very understaffed. 12) My kids were both in the 6-9 age group and rated it "BORING". 13) Only one show time on the first night. 14) The tender process at Great Stirrup Cay was a Catch 22. Either fight the NYC mob to get on the 7th tender. Or wait a half hour and get tender number 13. You then go ashore after two hours, leaving about 3.5 hours of beach time. 15) The BBQ lunch at Great Stirrup Cay was closed at 230pm, before some tenders arrived. 16) I don't expect any improvement-No evaluation feedback form was provided in our cabin on the last night. Maybe they will send us one in the mail after we have forgotten the bad points. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
Let me begin by saying that the wife and I had a great time on the Fantasy for the Thanksgiving sailing. Personally, I am not a fan of the smaller ships, and I think there was room for improvement in a few aspects of the ship. Let's ... Read More
Let me begin by saying that the wife and I had a great time on the Fantasy for the Thanksgiving sailing. Personally, I am not a fan of the smaller ships, and I think there was room for improvement in a few aspects of the ship. Let's start with embarkation. First of all, Carnival did a good job with what they had to work with. I've read in some previous posts that the port staff was unfriendly/unhelpful, and that was not our experience in any way whatsoever. We found the people to be nice, professional, and courteous. What was an issue, however, was the layout of the terminal. We had to go one place to drop off luggage, then drive another place to park, and then catch a shuttle to the terminal, then get in line to check in, then go upstairs to get your picture taken, then go downstairs to get on the ramp to get in line to board the ship. I heard that there were going to be some upgrades to the port by the end of 2011, so this may not last forever, but I can tell you that by the end of 2010 the process just wasn't as streamlined as it is in other ports. Our sailing was the last sailing of the Fantasy for two weeks. She is going into dry dock to renovate the common areas. I thought the layout was fine, not as gaudy as most Carnival decor, but I guess some modernizing wouldn't hurt. Our cabin was a decent size. It was our first time sailing with a balcony, and I don't think we could sail without one again. Our room steward was great. We had early dinner seating, and loved, loved, LOVED our wait staff team of Elder, Sigit, and Janet. They were AWESOME! The food wasn't the best I've had, but far from the worst. I'm sure that in trying to please as many palates as possible they can't get too creative or inventive. Dietetically, I'm pretty adventurous, but my wife is not. She seemed to be fine as long as she stuck to steaks and fruit and potatoes. I experimented with dishes I wouldn't normally eat. I liked some a lot, and some were just so-so. Nothing was bad. Oh, and the sushi at the sushi bar was really good. I thought that the entertainment was a pretty weak, overall. Not much else to be said about that. I didn't get our cruise director "Sexy Craig E." I'm sure many people find his schtick funny, but I wasn't one of them. You're wacky and crazy because you always wear two different colored socks... and because everyone you introduce is a good friend of yours... and it is always their birthday... and they should get a big kiss when you see them... It was old by day 2. I thought the activities were thin as well, especially on days at sea. Port 1- Nassau: We only shopped in Nassau. Some decent shopping, but I think we got off of the boat too early, because many of the shops we still closed at 9:30, and by the time we were done, we just didn't backtrack. Port 2- Freeport: We had a beach day, and apart from it being a little overcast, we had a great time. Port 3- Key West: We rented an electric car and drove up and down the streets of Key West. We got the car for three hours for $85. and it was probably the best $85 we spent. We got to see so much more of the island than we would have on foot. In rereading what I have, I'm afraid it seems like we didn't have a good time, and that was far from the case, but as with most things in life, your vacation is what you make of it. The wife and I had a fabulous time. As for the ship, I think that they may need to work some things out first. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
We just returned from our cruise on the Pride out of Baltimore. Our teens had the full week off school for Thanksgiving this year and we decided on this particular cruise simply because all the criteria fit...we could drive to Baltimore ... Read More
We just returned from our cruise on the Pride out of Baltimore. Our teens had the full week off school for Thanksgiving this year and we decided on this particular cruise simply because all the criteria fit...we could drive to Baltimore from our home in just about an hour, the price was right as was the length of cruise. We did not specifically look for a Carnival cruise and we did not pick this sailing for its ports of call. This was the first ever cruise for my kids and the first CCL cruise for my DH and myself (we have sailed with Princess and NCL before). Embarkation - We had hoped we could board earlier than 1:30 since we were the first cruise post dry-dock but our TA said "regular boarding time." That being said, we wanted to avoid traffic or parking issues, or any unforeseen problems so we left a little early and ended up getting to the port just before 1:00. Parking at the port was a piece of cake and from the parking lot, we could see that passengers were already starting to board! Once we got into the terminal, there was quite a long line but it moved steadily (I hesitate to say quickly). Once through the metal detectors, we were ushered into a second line where we were issued our sign & sail cards. There must have been 14-15 counter agents working this and the line moved very quickly. We were on board before 2:00pm. We went straight to the guest services desk (which only had 2 people in line ahead of us) so we could get additional key cards for our kids' cabin. While we were there, we requested the door between our 2 balconies be opened and they sent someone the following morning who secured the door open for the duration of the cruise. Cabin - we had 2 cabins on deck 7 (Verandah) mid-ship with extended balconies. The rooms were fine, clean, comfortable bed, sofa, small table, ample closet & shelf space. The bathroom was smaller than other ships BUT the water pressure in the shower was amazing and there was plenty of shelf space in the bathroom for toiletries etc. I loved having coffee on my balcony in the morning and also coming back there to read in the late afternoons. We did not end up leaving Baltimore until 7:30pm even though our scheduled departure was for 4:30. I just think they didn't get everything done in dry dock that they needed to accomplish so they were probably scrambling all day in Baltimore. Dining - We had early seating dining and were issued a booth for the 4 of us. Our waiter and assistant waiter were wonderful and remembered our names and favorite items after the first night. He had a running joke with my DS about the chocolate melting cake (and yes, it's as good as everyone raves about). The service at dinner was great and the food was quite good (better than NCL but not as good as Princess - in my opinion). Call me sappy, but I enjoyed the singing and dancing the waiters did on most nights. They did Flo Rida (Low) one night, Tally Ho, Leaving on a Jet plane the last night (with their own carnival words) and I forgot the last song. It was silly and entertaining and I just wish my kids were willing to get up and bust a move with them. We ordered coffee from room service on 2 occasions and it arrived within 20 minutes. We had buffet breakfast a few times and ate in the dining room a few times. Same food in both places. I must say the service in the MDR for breakfast was slow. In many cases they filled tables of 8 and although they took your order when you sat down, the food didn't come out until everyone at the table was seated and had ordered. I just don't think breakfast needs to be an hour long ordeal. We did not eat at the steakhouse nor did we get around to trying the sushi. If you have any specific dining questions, throw them my way...I just don't want to bore everyone with the details of what was served. Ports - We did not book any excursions ahead of time. These ports weren't the reason we were on this cruise and we weren't terribly excited about the excursions. We were in Port Canaveral the day before Thanksgiving and were warned the Disney and Universal Parks would be a zoo so we steered clear (and we had just been to the Space Center 2 years ago). I had booked a rental car before we left for about $43 (which is less than a shuttle anywhere would have cost us as a family) and the Budget shuttle ran continuously from the port to their location and we didn't have to wait more than 10 minutes for it to pick us up. We ended up driving to Cocoa Beach where we did the obligatory surf shop shopping and spent several house at the beach. In Nassau, be prepared to be accosted by independent taxi drivers who want to take you on a tour of the island and to Atlantis etc...it's a hard sell but if you're firm and say no, they'll move on to the next victim, er, visitor. ? We did some shopping in town and walked to the public beach (Junkaroo). I couldn't justify the cost of a day pass at any of the hotels when we had the beach right there. There was a volleyball net, some food and drink shacks (folks were drinking wonderful concoctions out of coconuts and eating jerk chicken, burgers, dogs etc). That was about it for Nassau. It was Thanksgiving day and there were 3 other ships in port with us that day so it was fairly crowded everywhere. We were happy to get back on the boat and hit the hot tub! In Freeport I had read about snorkeling that I wanted the kids to try but I'm glad I held off booking because the water was rather rough that day. We took a cab out to our Lucaya and went to the beach there. The sand was soft, the water beautiful and the vendors came by in a steady stream but if you said "no thank you" politely but firmly, they'd move on without hassling you at all. They had a tour operator right on the beach offering various excursions (parasailing, snorkeling, dolphin watching, jet skiing and banana boat rides) so there's really no need to book ahead of time if you want to try out some of these activities. We were content to splash around in the water for a few hours before doing some souvenir shopping in the shops of Lucaya. BTW, taxi costs $5 per person each way and we were fortunate to have a driver on the way out who gave us some history and points of interests on the 15 minute drive from the ship to Lucaya. Activities/Entertainment - There was plenty to do for those who need constant organized activities but nothing was pushed too hard. What was really nice was walking by the piano bar or any one of a number of lounges and stopping to listen to the talent on the ship. They even had some performers behind the bar at the casino...so you could watch a game, play some blackjack, get a drink and listen to someone performing all at the same time. Talk about sensory overload! ? I played several of the trivia games and that was fun. Didn't do bingo so I can't comment on that. My kids were eligible for the 2 older teen clubs (Circle C and O2). They went the first night, met others who they hung out with for the rest of the cruise, but didn't necessarily do all the scheduled activities. My DS did pizza night, movie night (they showed Date Night) and played in the basketball tournament. He was bummed it was too windy for the ping pong tourney the last night. Mostly they hung out on the 9th deck. I rarely saw my 14 year old DD. She made a million friends and they were always on the go or in a hot tub somewhere. We did go to some of the shows after dinner as a family. I can really appreciate how hard those dancers work and it was amazing to think about how many costume changes they had. My favorite show was called Vrooom and it was a journey of rock and roll from the 50s to the 80s and encompassed everything from Elvis, Diana Ross, Beatles, Stones, Pink Floyd, Culture Club, Madonna, Prince, Michael Jackson, Elton John and about a dozen others. Very cool costumes and special effects. We also went to some of the comedy shows (the adult-only ones) and really enjoyed all of them. We hit the casino most nights...my DH won in craps but gave it back at the poker table. I was content to play slots all week. They were hot and cold but I was entertained for long chunks of time without losing too much! Debarkation - We pulled into Baltimore around 10:30 (about 30 minutes late because Friday night we had to detour towards the coast so the coast guard could air lift someone in medical distress - it was quite something to see a helicopter hovering over the ship at 1am and they did an amazing job in windy weather). We did self-assist and were off the ship, through customs and in our car by 11am. The fastest we've ever gotten off a ship. Misc - We thought the deal on Absolut in the ship's store was a good one (2 liters for $24.99) so we purchased that and it was delivered to our room the last night on the ship. They had many flavors and had deals on other booze as well. As for the dEcor - it was cool to have artwork everywhere. I didn't find it dark or gloomy and my kids didn't notice one way or the other. Certainly not the reason to pick a cruise. There were places to sit everywhere. Comfortable couches and lounge chairs placed throughout the hallways, near windows, in the lounges...and you never felt like a sardine. There was plenty of room for everyone and they worked hard to keep the ship clean. We must have had every demographic represented on the cruise...babies through folks in their 90s and everything in between. Great group of people. I never witnessed any ridiculously bad behavior and i met many folks traveling with larger groups of family for the holidays. Most of the folks we encountered were from MD, VA, PA, and DE although there were some from NY, OH, MI and IA. Just a nice mix. Would I sail Carnival again? You bet. They work very hard to dispel the "budget cruise" feeling and the crew was more than pleasant and helpful. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
We sailed on the Carnival Fascination out of Jacksonville to Nassau and Key West over Thanksgiving. Since we have cruised out of Jacksonville before on a similar itinerary over Christmas a few years ago, our expectations were not ... Read More
We sailed on the Carnival Fascination out of Jacksonville to Nassau and Key West over Thanksgiving. Since we have cruised out of Jacksonville before on a similar itinerary over Christmas a few years ago, our expectations were not unreasonable. We knew the ship was smaller and older. We also knew it would be crowded. Even so, we were sorely disappointed. Embarkation went smoothly enough. Jacksonville does do a fairly good job of getting you on board quickly. We arrived at about 11:45 and were on board by 1:00. Since our cabin wasn't ready until 1:30, we headed up to the Lido for lunch. We knew enough not to stand in the long, long line on deck by the pool. We made are way to the back of the ship where the line was much shorter for the buffet. At the very back there is also pizza and a deli where they make sandwiches to order -- nice. The salad bar was always very fresh as well. We explored the ship and found what we expected. It's nothing fancy. She's an older ship, but well maintained. The casino, shops, and fitness center are all pretty small. The grand atrium is nice, but nothing spectacular. The highlights of this ship are on the upper decks. The pool is small and basic. But the water slide and water park for the kids on the top deck are awesome. Unfortunately, we had no kids with us and had no use for it. What we did have use for was the Serenity Deck which is a quiet adults-only area. It has great padded lounge chairs, umbrellas, and an adults only hot tub. Its a very peaceful place- unfortunately is was also pretty crowded on this trip. We always opt for the late seating at dinner so that we do not feel as though we have to rush back on board after being in port. Unfortunately, on this cruise it also meant that we did not have the option of attending a lot of the entertainment since many things were scheduled during the late dinner seating. More on that in a minute. We ate in the Imagination Dining Room. The ceilings were very low in there and left me feeling a bit claustrophobic. The decor was average, but our waiter was phenomenal! He was the highlight of our cruise in terms of service. The food was average. Not at all bad, but nothing outstanding either. There was a good selection of main courses, appetizers were excellent, but dessert choices were a bit limited and generally weren't all that great. Overall we enjoyed the service, most of the food, and good conversation at our table with our new friends. Our first "Fun Day at Sea" left a lot to be desired. This is where our real disappointment began. We are used to a lot of entertainment on a Carnival cruise and a lot of fun interaction with the staff. We did not get that on this cruise. There was a whole lot of nothing going on. The staff was not enthusiastic at all. The CD, Squishy, was just as his name implies... squishy. Not sharp and exciting, just kind of there. If you're into laying by the pool surrounded by 1000 of your friends and their screaming kids, you're in luck. If not, you won't find much else to do. Unless you are into downing very, very outrageously expensive drinks -- there are plenty of poolside bar staff ready to bring whatever you want - just keep that sail and sign card handy! But beware -- I asked for a drink of the day by the pool and was served a disgusting concoction is a plastic sippy cup (which can't be refilled by the way) that looked like the ship's funnel then charged $14 for the one drink!!!! Don't expect the entertainment to pick up at night either. The evening shows have always been a favorite part of our cruising experience. We were highly disappointed on this cruise. There were only two full production shows and neither was all that good. If you're into karaoke though, there seems to be plenty of that going on... cheap entertainment for Carnival I guess. What about the ports of call you ask??... Nassau is okay if you've never been there - but you have to be back on board at 2:30 -- you arrive at 7 and nothing opens until 9 or 10, so you don't have much time. We booked an independent charter through Flying Cloud on a 52' catamaran to snorkel on Rose Island. It was awesome - not at all overcrowded and we actually sailed. Most trips of this sort put 100 or more people on the boat the use the motors to get to the spot. Not ours, we had a comfortable number of about 30 on board and we truly sailed -- it was great! Our snorkel spot on Victoria's Reef off of Rose Island was very nice -- live coral and lots of fish. The rum punch was yummy too. A quick word about getting off the Fascination -- it is utterly unorganized and ridiculous! There is only one line to get 3000 people off the ship. It's stupid! If you have to be somewhere, you'd better get in line early... and if you're claustrophobic, you'd better take some Valium! Key West is just fun - its the highlight of the trip if the weather is good. Unfortunately it rained on our day there (Thanksgiving Day). We enjoyed poking around the shops for the day. We were supposed to enjoy a sunset cruise on a schooner with Danger Charters. I pre-booked online. But the weather was not conducive, so I asked for a refund. I expected a hassle but got none -- even though they were still going out, they cheerfully said no problem and gave us a full refund. We will definitely go back and do the trip with them! All in all this cruise is what it is... a quick budget getaway. The lines are long, the food is mediocre, the entertainment is sparse and the staff is disinterested. But you are not at work, you don't have to cook or clean and someone is always more than willing to poor you a drink! Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
Embarkation Day Due to my school schedule, we were unable to fly into Miami the day before the cruise. Flying day-of is stressful, and for good reason. About 3 PM on the day before the cruise, we were contacted by Delta to tell us ... Read More
Embarkation Day Due to my school schedule, we were unable to fly into Miami the day before the cruise. Flying day-of is stressful, and for good reason. About 3 PM on the day before the cruise, we were contacted by Delta to tell us one of our flights had been cancelled (ATL to MIA leg). Instead of routing through Atlanta and arriving at 10:27 AM, we were rebooked to route through Detroit and arrive at 11:27 AM. No big deal there, except we were "confirmed" on the new flights without seat assignments. With an early morning coming anyway (2:30 AM wake up call), this did not help sleep come easily. However, props to Delta ... we had seats assigned at the gate on both of our (completely full) flights and everything ran on time. We flew with checked luggage (free with Delta credit card), and once that was collected, we grabbed a cab from the taxi queue outside of the MIA baggage claim and headed to the ship for a $24 flat rate charge. Upon arrival at a little after noon, we found a porter to tag my parents' bags they had taken advantage of a price drop to upgrade the week before the cruise. After that, we proceeded through security (you need to show your passport/ID and SetSail Pass to get in the building, then go through a metal detector once up the escalator). In the past, I have found this security to be a bit lax, but they actually made me take my belt off on this trip ... interesting. Anyway, we were quickly through, to the C&A priority line, and immediately shown to an agent. I had had my fingers crossed for an upgrade as the sailing seemed to be having trouble filling up, but alas, I was kept in my 3rd deck interior cabin while my parents had their 9th deck superior ocean view. By 12:20 we were checked-in, onboard, and heading to the Windjammer for a much needed embarkation day lunch. The Ship As with many mass-market lines, the short Bahamas cruises are relegated to the oldest ships in the fleet, and the Majesty is no different. I had first sailed the Majesty after her major refurbishment a few years ago, and no startling changes have been made since then. She offers quite a bit for an older ship, with many large lounges, bars, and showrooms. The Schooner Bar, for example, is much larger than on newer ships. This offers more space, of coure, but also cuts into the coziness of the surroundings ... a trade off. The dining rooms, on the other hand, cover two decks and are wholly contained on each deck. Unlike other ships where the dining area shares a large open space between decks, the dining rooms on the Majesty feel a bit cramped with lower ceilings ... it's not hugely detrimental to the dining experience, but it was something I felt/noticed on the first few days. In contrast to the main dining rooms, the Windjammer has a great, open feel. Like newer ships, the WJ has been organized into food sections instead of one long buffet line. This works when the WJ is not overly busy, but when it is overflowing, people start approaching from all angles and get clustered up. This happened duing the one night we ate in the WJ and it was a mess. Seating can also be an issue, especially if the managers are reluctant to open the back area of the dining room. The top floor of the WJ is reserved for Sorrento's pizzaria, the Compass Deli, and Johnny Rockets. Sorrento's was typically open from noon-5AM (I believe), the Deli from 11:30-6:30, and Johnny Rockets with varying hours in the afternoon and evening. There are some sports offerings on the Majesty, incluing a half-basketball court and a rock wall. The deck 7 promenade goes around the entire ship for walking/jogging, though passengers are asked not to jog on that deck between 10PM and 10 AM as it is directly over passenger cabins. There is also a fitness center on deck 9, though it is fairly tiny and, due to the low ceilings, does not offer eliptical machines. There are two pools on deck 11. While the Majesty shows her age, the number of venues and the constant upkeep by the crew make her feel like a younger ship. The biggest sources of passenger consternation I noticed seemed to be the elevators and deck 6. As for the elevators, there is only one main set in the middle of the ship, with three elevators on each side of a large lobby that have seperate call buttons. These elevators fill quickly, especially when people are going to/returning from port as they exit in the embarkation/debarkation area. The centrum elevators are less seldom used, but they only run from between decks 3 and 7. The aft elevators are my personal favorite and pretty much what I exclusively used, even when I was at the bow of the ship. They run from deck 5 up to deck 14 (Viking Crown) and are mostly forgotten besides showtime as they are across the ship from the WJ. As for deck 6, it is a tween deck that only occurs on the front of the ship. In the back of the ship, the decks skip from 5 to 7, leading to confusion for some. Ports Nassau I'll be frank here ... Nassau is not one of my favorite ports. The two big attractions are Atlantis and the straw market. Other than those things, at least in my experience, there is not a lot to distinguish this port. On our first stop (3-day, Sunday), we did not really do much besides get off the ship to look at the Oasis of the Seas and visit the shops at the pier. The shops are definitely lacking, stores have limited hours on Sunday, and with 4 ships (inlcuding Oasis) docked, lines to re-enter the pier area were long as there were a lot of people digging for their ship cards and photo IDs. This stop was a day stop with Majesty pulling out around 5 PM. On our second stop in Nassau (Wednesday), we took the trip to Atlantis. This can be reached by water taxi ($3/pp) or regular taxi ($4/pp in a shared-ride van), though there is evidently quite a walk from the water taxi to the hotel itself. As Majesty had a late night departure (midnight), we visited after 5 PM because we heard there were more things available to see for free in the hotel after that time. We ended up looking at the aquarium, wandering around a bit, and making a small donation in the casino. There were plenty of vans waiting to return us to the ship, but outside of Atlantis, the area seemed pretty shut down in the evening, even with two ships remaining in port. Even Senor Frogs near the pier seemed to close early. Key West (4-day only, Tuesday) The Majesty docks at the Westin pier, which is right near Mallory Square and Duval Street in Key West. This is much better than the Navy pier that Carnival uses which requires a tram to take passengers through the base. Many of the attractions in Key West are very walkable, so I would not recommend ship-sponsored excursions unless you want to do something out of the ordinary. Popular attractions such as the Conch Train, Sloppy Joe's Bar, etc, are within a few blocks of the ship. There is also a CVS pharmacy a few blocks away in case you forgot any supplies or want to buy a few cheaper Cokes ... things like sunblock are definitely cheaper here than in the Majesty's general store. Coco Cay Coco Cay is the cruiseline's "private island" and requires tendering, which is a process by which passengers are shuttled over to the island on small boats or ferries. The water was a bit rought on our first stop (Saturday), but much smoother on our second (Thursday). Once ashore, it is essentially a beach day, though there is a small straw market (cash only). There are also bars on various parts of the island, as well as sports areas, buffet facilities, and a nature trail. There is ongoing construction on the island, and it seems clear that RCCL is definitely trying to improve the area with quite a few changes since my last visit. The general rule for Coco Cay is that the further away you get from the pier, the less crowded the beachers and hammocks are. Traveling to the far tip of the island offers much fewer people (and sometimes seclusion) though of course you are also away from food and beverage servers (if that's a worry). We took the nature trail which is a nice, cleared area that goes to the tip of the island. It takes about an hour to travel the trail (as is warned on the sign), and while the trail has been cleared, there is some stepping and uneven ground. There are also numerous exits from the trail towards the beach. Once you've reached the end, you can return back through the trail, along the beach (if the tide is out), or via a road which is much faster and smoother than the trail. They seem to be creating a shuttle system, but I never saw it running. The tender process is definitely less convenient than walking off of the ship, but isn't horrible. Tendering starts at about 8:30 (I think) and seems to get really crowded at around 10-12 which is when the majority of people seem to have gotten up, gotten breakfast, and gotten ready to head to ashore. There can be waits, especially in between tenders and while the tender is loading. The voyage itself isn't long at all (maybe 5-10 minutes) but is definitely rougher than on the Majesty, so if you are at all prone to seasickness, you are much more likely to feel it on a tender. Food I would rate the food on Majesty to be a bit above average. Admittedly, I'm a bit jaded when it comes to cruise food, but I felt that there wasn't too much that was absolutely outstanding, but neither was there too much I ate that was completely awful. We ate breakfast every morning in the dining room (in the Diamond section) which was OK ... probably the weakest meal of the day in the MDR. I found the pancakes uninspiring and opted for french toast on most mornings. One morning there was also Chocolate breakfast, complete with chocolate waffles, pancakes, parfaits, and even a chocolate milkshake. The pancakes and waffles were not that great, though the milkshake was pretty tasty and definitely indulgent. Cooked-to-order eggs seemed to come consistently well after the rest of the food, even if the items were asked to be delivered together. At new addition, at least for me, was a self-serve cereal bar with various varieties. Cappucinos and other specialty coffees tended to either take most of the meal to arrive or never arrived at all (saying the machine was broken). I did not find service in the diamond portion of breakfast to be up to par with other ships, but part of this may have been that there were different waiters in charge of the section every day as opposed to other experiences I've had where the same team worked those tables every day and learned preferences pretty quickly. Lunch was offered in a variety of venues. One lunch per cruise was in the main dining room. On the 3-day, the MDR is when the ship is at Coco Cay. On the 4-day, it is the day of an early-afternoon arrival to Nassau. Lunch in the MDR is open seating in that unless you request a private table for your party, you will be seated with others at a large table. There is a set menu as well as a great salad bar where you can go up have a salad made, tossed, and chopped to order (with toppings like proscuitto, fresh mozzerella, etc). Besides the MDR for lunch, other options include the WJ buffet (except for Coco Cay day on 3-day) which I found just OK. We actually ate most of our lunches at the Compass Deli on deck 12 which offers a ceasar salad bar, sandwiches, pressed-to-order paninis, and made-to-order crepes. I generaly stuck with a cuban or cheese panini with a sweet crepe (five minute wait) for dessert. My mom enjoyed the savory mushroom crepe. Many people never seemed to discover the Compass Deli, though at a few points between 11-noon, it is the only food venue open, so it seemed very crowded at those times. Other options for lunch were Sorrento's pizzaria (not the greatest pizza, but kind of OK), the BBQ buffet on Coco Cay (never tried it), and Johnny Rocket's ($4.95 cover charge + upcharges for sodas and milkshakes). We mostly ate dinner in the main dining room and had a few repeated menus on the B2B. I thought that appetizers were generally very good, though of course the shimp in the cocktail were tiny. Entrees were decent, though some of the beef dishes were just not make with good cuts. I ordered a NY strip that was served thin and gray. After that, I tended to stick with pasta or poultry and was generally happier. Desserts, I thought, were much improved over past cruises with almost no "gel" desserts where creams are replaced with a wobbly, weirdly textured gelatin (though these were still in abundance in the buffet area). Dinner in the MDR was fairly quick in on the first leg with our wonderful waiter Godfrey, taking about 1.5 hours. The second leg was a different story, however, with dinners extending up to 2 hours and actually cutting into showtimes. The one dinner we ate in the WJ was during the late night in Nassau on the 4-night cruise. We arrived at about 7 PM and the WJ was overwhelmed. Only the front portion was open, there were people swarming every station from every direction, and not nearly enough free tables. The WJ manager would keep moving the ropes blocking the back portion of the dining room back one table at a time to accomodate more people, but it seemed obvious they were not prepared for dinner that night. FYI ... Dress in the main dining room was unsurpisingly casual, though there seemed to be more of an effort to dress up on formal nights. About the only dress code enforcement I saw (and experienced on debarkation breakfast of all times) was the denial of hats. Cabins This is the one area where you really know ... well ... that you are on a Sovereign class ship. I had a standard interior cabin for both cruises, and make no mistake about it, those puppies are tiny. The cabin itself consisted of a queen bed (two twins pushed together) in the back corner under a TV suspended from the wall. With the beds together, there was perhaps a two foot gap between the edge of the bed and the wall. There is a chair with a desk/vanity (mostly taken up by snack bar items ... which can be moved ... and the ice bucket. The closet has a few sections and a safe. The bathroom is tiny with a stool, sink, and shower with curtain. One of my cabins had a long shower curtain and the other had a short one that did not effectively block the water which was annoying. Though tiny, it was perfectly comfortable for just me. Shared with another, it could be a bit cramped. With 3-4 people ... I have no idea how that works. On the first leg of the B2B, my parents had a superior oceanview on deck 9 and the difference in rooms was astounding. Besides the large window, there was much more room around the bed as well as a half-sofa with a coffee table. The drawer space in this room was doubled from the interior, and the bathroom was also larger and much less cramped. I'm not saying these cabins are huge by any means, but compared to the interiors, they are expansive. Crew Every crew member I interacted with seemed friendly and helpful. There definitely seems to be a satisfied quality to the crew on this ship, and they seem to have a good bit of comraderie. Both of my cabin stewards were fine. As noted above with food, Godfrey was an outstanding waiter. Zelpha and Suzzianne (sp?) in the Viking Crown Lounge were always outgoing during the nightly Diamond event. The biggest area of complaint I have is about the guest relations desk. I don't know if it was just staffed with slow workers or there were mostly new cruisers with lots of questions, but there always seemed to be a long line at the desk on both cruises. At one point in the evening after early dinner, all of the switchbacks were completely filled and there was only one person working the desk. On debarkation day, there would be lines of 30-40 people waiting to settle bills or address problems and there would only be 2 people behind the counter, and some people were quite upset, mentioning they had been in line for over an hour. Again, I don't know if this is par for the course nor not, but I had a complaint with guest relations the last time I was on Majesty and things seem not to improved over the years (though I will say the crew members were exceedingly nice once you finally reached them). Entertainment We only attended the Welcome Aboard show the first night of the first cruise and it was OK. As the other shows seemed to be clones of ones we had seen on other ships (Signed, Sealed, and Delivered, etc), we did not see any production shows. I personnally didn't care for any of the comedians. I spent a little time listening to music in the Schooner Bar in the evening which was decent, though some of the songs really needed an electric acoustic guitar instead of a straight electric. The lounge singer, generally placed in the Centrum, was almost laughably bad as she seemed to only have a phonetic understanding of the songs she was singing (my dad swears it is the same woman on every cruise we've been on). As for daily activities, these seemed more sparse than I remember in the past. There were a few trivias, but other activities such as scapbooking have switched into pay events. There was actually a progressive trivia, but it was held during the Diamond event each night. rown and Anchor I'm always interested to look at the current state of the loyalty program. I haven't cruised since March, and the coupon books are definitely a step up from what they were then. Majesty had a Diamond event each night in the Viking Crown was was only lightly attended on the 3-night and decently attended on the 4-night. I don't necesarrily think that room is quite make for socialization and most seemed to keep to their own groups. We recived chocolate-covered strawberries in our cabin for both cruises as well as robes. On the 3-day, the welcome back party was held in between dinner seatings. On the 4-day, it was held in the morning before arrival in Nassau. The LA seemed pleasant and of course spent the time talking up the RCCL credit card and the Allure. B2B The B2B process was fairly simple (at least in theory). On our last evening of the 3-night cruise, we received evelopes in our stateroom with our new keys (unfortunately they messed this up and gave us the wrong keys) along with directions for the next morning. Since we were moving cabins, we packed, then put the luggage tags for the next cruise on our bags. These were left in the cabin on debarkation morning and then moved to the new cabin by the room steward. We ate breakfast in the main dining room, then since we had no plans for getting off the ship, were directed to the library on deck 4 by 9:30 AM. We waiter there with the other B2Bers until a little after 10 when the ship was finally cleared. A crew member came by and checked us off of his list. We were then lined up, taken off the ship to a customs agent waiting to take our declaration forms. We were then led back on the ship (with officers welcoming us back), had security photos take with our new cards, and then were let go to do as we wished. We headed to the pool deck and read/talked until passengers started boarding at 11:30. When we made it to our cabins at 1 PM, we were given a nice letter thanking us for staying along with a fruit basket and a bottle of champagne. Conclusions While the Majesty shows her age, she is more than adequate for a week's worth of relaxation and entertainment. Besides the tiny cabins, you would be hard pressed to be bored on the ship unless you can only be satisfied with Voyager or Oasis-class offerings. The best part of the smaller ship is the crew who all seem to know each other, and their seeming happiness makes it a happier ship. There's definitely more new cruisers and hard-drinkers on these short cruises, espeically the 3-nighter, but I didn't notice an above-average level of obnoxious behavior. People seemed to be having fun (at least until it came time to settle the bill). For a reasonable price (and sometimes dirt cheap), you get quite a lot, meet new people, and can spend a few days doing only what you want to. Sounds good to me.  Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
Reviewer This was a family cruise. DH and I have cruised six times, four of them on Carnival. Our kids are 4 and 7. This was their third cruise, all on Carnival. We live NW of Baltimore and drove to the port of Charleston. ... Read More
Reviewer This was a family cruise. DH and I have cruised six times, four of them on Carnival. Our kids are 4 and 7. This was their third cruise, all on Carnival. We live NW of Baltimore and drove to the port of Charleston. Photos http://picasaweb.google.com/cyntil8ing/ThanksgivingCruise2010# Pre-cruise We hit the road as soon as my daughter got off the school bus Friday afternoon. We headed west hoping to avoid DC rush hour, but a mishap with our GPS had us heading right back into the thick of it. It was after 7:00pm before we got around DC. After that, we made great time down I-95. We stopped for the night in Florence, SC about 2:00am. We slept until 8:00, ate breakfast at the hotel and continued on without delay. We stopped at a grocery store for last minute items and arrived at the Port of Charleston just before noon. Embarkation The line to check documentation (boarding pass and passports) was fairly long, but since we were in the comfort of our car, we just popped in a Jimmy Buffet CD and made the best of it. It probably took about 20 minutes. Next, there was a less than five minute wait to pay for parking ($15/day) and then another five minutes to drop off the luggage. We parked our car, caught a shuttle bus across the street and got in line to go through security. Again, it was only a few minutes. We waited about 10 minutes to get our sign and sail cards and were onboard by 1:00. Cabins were not available until 1:30 so we were taken up to Lido for lunch. Cabins This was our first inside cabin. We've always been balcony snobs. We originally booked an inside guarantee because the price was too good to pass up. Then, about three weeks before the cruise, the prices dropped even more and we chose a 4C. We were in U196, which was port side aft on the Upper deck. We liked the location, except for early in the mornings when we were docking. The thrusters were loud and vibrated the room enough to wake up me and dh. The kids slept right through. Our cabin steward was very efficient and kept our room nicely. Our shower head broke one morning and it was replaced by the time we returned to our cabin that afternoon. Main Dining Room We were waitlisted for anytime dining, but ended up assigned to late dining. This has always been our normal choice anyway as we rarely eat before 7:45 at home. The kids enjoyed the dining room and my seven year old occasionally tried some new things from the adult menu. My four year old stuck to the kids menu. Many nights, they ate plain pasta. We were seated at a table for 10 and had hoped to meet some new people, but we were alone at the table every night. Our server told us another family with two kids about the same ages was assigned there, but I guess they always ate at the buffet. We were disappointed. When we boarded, we checked the table size and had it been a four top, we were going to ask if we could move to anytime dining so we could eat with our roll call friends. But since it was a large table, we decided to wait and meet our dining companions first. Our wait staff, Amira, Jean Paul, and Alexis were fantastic. They were the best we have ever had. I'm not sure if this is fleet-wide, though I suspect it is. About two months ago, they told us they switched to three person teams so that there would always be one person with the guests. We found our needs anticipated and when my daughter accidentally knocked over a glass of water, they were cleaning it up before she even reached the glass. The food was good. I am doing Weight Watchers, so I ordered from the Spa menu every night. I enjoyed most everything. DH had his warm chocolate melting cake every night and has started our seven year old along the path to the same addiction. We ate breakfast there twice, but we weren't normally ready to go to breakfast before they stopped serving. We ate there for lunch all three sea days. I really enjoy dining room lunch. It's relaxed and the food is interesting. I am not a buffet fan. Buffet Nothing remarkably good or bad here. We ate breakfast here most mornings. The kids had cereal and I had fruit and yogurt. DH tried many things. For lunch, we tried the pizza and the deli and were pleased. I waited for the Mongolian Wok twice and thought it worth the long wait. Other food DD and I enjoyed tea time all three times it was offered. It was very crowded at the beginning, but within 10 minutes, there were always empty tables. It was held in the piano lounge. The salmon sandwiches were very good. The sushi bar was open most nights and it was ok. We're sushi fans and this was nothing to rave over. Entertainment We went to both the production shows and enjoyed them. We went to Punchliners family shows for all four comedians. We liked one and the other three were just ok. We always went to the 7:30 show, which fit well with our 8:15 dinner. We arrived 20 minutes early to get seats up front. The one time we got there about 5 minutes before the show started, I had to hold ds on my lap and dh stood in the back of the room. We dropped the kids at Camp Carnival babysitting and went to the disco one night. We were the only ones in there for nearly half an hour. It was after midnight before the place picked up. We left to get the kids at 1:00. The seven year old really enjoyed Camp Carnival. She went at least some every day except the Key West day. Every evening that there was dancing at the disco, she was there. My four year old only went twice for about an hour. He isn't as social as his sister and preferred to hang out with us. We did the family activities, even winning a ship on a stick in the scavenger hunt. Ports Nassau. We walked around the port area. DH bought a pair of cigars and sampled the local beer (Sands). Freeport. We took a taxi over to Our Lucaya ($5 each, even though DS sat on my lap). We walked along the beach for a bit then wandered through the shopping area. It rained for about an hour. Key West. Another walking around day. Since we were in port for so long (8:00am to midnight) we spent the morning at the deserted pool and water works onboard. Around 2:00pm, we went ashore and had lunch. We walked to the southernmost point and watched the sunset, then went to the Key West Toy Factory store. Debarkation We were in no rush, so we used general debarkation. We got number 15. It was about 9:45 when our number was called. It took quite a while to get our luggage, get through immigration, on the shuttle and back to our car. It was 11:00 before we got on the road home. Here's a hint -- choose the immigration line to the right. There are six immigration stations and two lines. However, the left line shares the stations with the special assist line so the wait is much longer. Also, the left hand line goes out the side of the terminal building and all the way around to the front where the shuttles are. The right side goes out the front of the terminal building. I'm sure we lost a good 30 minutes by choosing the left hand line. Overall This was my favorite cruise. I really liked the atmosphere. It was a holiday and everyone was in a good mood. Fellow passengers were pleasant and polite. Our last cruise was on the Valor, and the ship was just too big and busy for me. I liked the smaller Fantasy much better. I would do this cruise again, even with the unexciting itinerary and the long, long drive to the port. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
We were on the Gem the week of Thanksgiving and I will most likely never sail on a holiday week again. Embarkation We arrived at the terminal around 12:30 pm and we were on the ship by 1:30. After we received our key cards, we ... Read More
We were on the Gem the week of Thanksgiving and I will most likely never sail on a holiday week again. Embarkation We arrived at the terminal around 12:30 pm and we were on the ship by 1:30. After we received our key cards, we were able to board the ship. Port of Calls We stopped at Port Canaveral, Great stirrup Cay and Nassau. Great Stirrup cay tender ticket process was pure chaos. Tickets were to be distributed at 10 am at one of the bar lounges. People were waiting for tickets at 9am. The line stretched onto the staircases at which point you could not tell where the line ended. We were on the first tender (which holds 450 people)and people were pushing and shoving to board waiting to board the tender. The island was well-kept despite construction. The barbecue food was standard fare with long lines. I would advise wearing beach shoes because the lagoon has lots of sizable rocks. Food: The waits for the main dining rooms was ridiculous on certain day. I will assume it was because it was Thanksgiving week.The wait to be seated was 45 minutes and longer. After a hour, we decided to eat at the buffet. I thought breakfast was pretty good and the crepe station at the Great outdoors. Whatever was on the menu for lunch at the buffet was on the menu for dinner with a few changes here and there. Overall, I would never sail on a holiday week leaving from NYC. I will stick to the one-night cruises from NY. I would sail on NCL again. However, only for 3-4 night sailings. Kudos to the housekeeping staff on the Gem. I was very pleased with my room stewards as they went above and beyond. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
My wife, 4 year old son, and I took a Thanksgiving cruise in November, 2008 on the Sky and had a wonderful experience. So we decided to repeat the experience in November 2010. It was good, but not as good. Allow me to itemize. Checkin: ... Read More
My wife, 4 year old son, and I took a Thanksgiving cruise in November, 2008 on the Sky and had a wonderful experience. So we decided to repeat the experience in November 2010. It was good, but not as good. Allow me to itemize. Checkin: Very smooth. Attendant was very helpful funneling us into the quickest line. No longer than 30 minutes from parking garage to onboard. Food: No complaints. Service: Dining Room: The first night, Lobster night, we had Thomas. He was excellent, so much so that we bragged about him to the asst. maitre'd. Big mistake. After that, his service went from 10 to 1. The assistant waiter brought a bowl of lobster tails to the table next to us for seconds, and did not even acknowledge us. After what seemed like an eternity, we were finally able to get her attention to request another lobster, and she acted like how dare you disrupt my system. Poor service. They brought me a dry lobster tail with no butter. The next night we dined in the forward dining room and had Pasek. Totally different experience. If we had had Pasek the first night, I would have no complaints regarding restaurant service. Other dining venues: Overall, very good. However, I found that if you asked a bar runner for a soft drink and showed him my drink card, he became very uninterested in serving. As a matter of fact, I ordered one Pepsi from a bar runner in Il Adagio at lunch and still have not received it. I guess they figure no tip, so why bother, but they got their tip when I bought the drink card. Bartenders were sure to explain that they made the drinks "extra strong, just for you". Not really. Cabin Steward: very good. After the first night, he did not make up the sofa bed for my son. We got him to do it again on the fourth night. Also, had a hard time getting him to return to the cabin to bring a change of sheets (toddler accident). But overall, he was very good. Kids program: OK, two years ago, when my son was 4, he could not wait to get to the boys and girls programs. I mean like he would sprint down the hall and be the first in line when they opened. I mean like 10 minutes early so he wouldn't miss any of it. This is the main reason we chose to take this cruise again. But now he is 6, and in the older group. I watched as an older kid prodded him as they were sitting around in a circle, and the leader said nothing, even did not appear to notice. There were more than 30 kids in that 6-9 yr old kids' area room and only one leader was apparent. Poor supervision. They simply did not have enough staff to accommodate 700 kids on this cruise. And I think they should have had some idea of how many kids were to be on this cruise. On a positive note, with the staff being composed of primarily Canadian workers, there were no accent issues to deal with, like we had on the Carnival Inspiration (heavily European). Entertainment: Trivia, game shows, entertainment, and quest were excellent and well run. Matt and Felix did an excellent job. Pools: COLD Casino: Only had 1 $5 blackjack table open the night I was there. $25 tables sat unused with attendants smiling at guests. Specialty restaurants: We did not try any of the specialty restaurants, but we did sign up for the murder mystery dinner ($20 each) at Il Adagio. However, the meal was held in the rear dining room at 5:30 to 7:00. This was Ok, except when the dining room opened up to everyone, the noise made it difficult to hear at our table. This could have been held at the specialty restaurant. However, that is really my only complaint. The food was good and the murder mystery was fun (I didit). Shore excursions: Nassau: we took a buggy ride tour. Interesting. Ate at a Bahamian restaurant. Not bad. I bought a "Cuban" cigar. Horrible. I would not recommend anyone buy a "Cuban" cigar from the Bahamas. The one I bought last year in Grand Caymans was great. This one, and the one I bought two years ago in Nassau, were HORRIBLE. Did Atlantis two years ago, not worth it again. However, Avoid Johnny Rockets on Paradise Island. Very expensive. Freeport: Pat and Dianne's snorkeling cruise. Boat was the Fantasia. Two snorkel ladders on the back, waterslide into the ocean on the front. Great, with very attentive and friendly crew. Would love to do them again. Great Stirrup Cay: A lot of fun. Snorkeling was awesome, food was great. Note to NCL, do your pizza that way ON the ship too. Overview: Enjoyable but not superior. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
Christmas get away for my husband and me, our two young adult children, son's girlfriend and our niece. First time cruising for everyone but me, I have gone on 2 other Carnival cruises with friends. I have loved cruising so much, so I ... Read More
Christmas get away for my husband and me, our two young adult children, son's girlfriend and our niece. First time cruising for everyone but me, I have gone on 2 other Carnival cruises with friends. I have loved cruising so much, so I wanted my family to try it too. Pros: Fun group on board - there were 8 college basketball teams sailing, including one from our area - Northwest Iowa, so plenty of young people to keep things upbeat. Great food and plenty of it. The band that played at the main shows was amazing. Skip was a great cruise director, very funny guy. Amazing service, from porters, to waiters, to Customer service peeps. Variety of activities available at all times. Serenity deck - peace and quiet. Freeport = Junkanoo Beach. Clean, almost had the place to ourselves, beautiful Nassau = Blue Lagoon Island Beach Day. We booked it ourselves thanks to tips found here on Cruise Critic boards. Paradise - would recommend this anyone who wants to get away from the crowds and experience heaven on earth. Cons: There were a couple of not great things, but who cares? It's vacation - don't let it bother you. Bottom line: Our daughter suffered from sea sickness, no more cruising for her. But our son and his girlfriend are planning to go again, the jury is still out for our niece, and hooray for me......... dh is up for more cruising. That makes this cruise a success ! Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
Being from the mid-Atlantic region, the Port of Baltimore was very appealing for embarkation. In less than 2 hours, we arrived at the Port and began the check in process. For the most part, it was painless. As we were traveling with a 4 ... Read More
Being from the mid-Atlantic region, the Port of Baltimore was very appealing for embarkation. In less than 2 hours, we arrived at the Port and began the check in process. For the most part, it was painless. As we were traveling with a 4 year old, we didn't participate in the late night adult action but we had plenty of fun and opportunity to enjoy family time and couple time. We ate just about every meal in the My Fair Lady Dining Room and found it to be beautiful with exception service. We had Table 470, which was located right next to the Captain's Table (he only ate there once during the main seating of 6:00 pm). In addition to ordering off the extensive menu, we enjoyed the breakfast cereal/fruit bar as well as the lunchtime Tutti Salads. We were not impressed with the Windjammer Cafe but I wouldn't say it was bad. We are not buffet people and would rather be waited on instead of waiting in line and choosing food after others. However, the Windjammer is conveniently located on the Pool Deck. Speaking of the Pool Deck... it's fantastic. We had a few nice days to sit and enjoy the sun while our daughter splashed around. One day, the water was heated so mom got in with her! The Solarium is gorgeous and a nice, quiet getaway from the congestion of the pool deck. The water is always warm and relaxing. The Spa and fitness room is located next to the Solarium. I was able to enjoy a relaxing pedicure on the first day at sea. Very nice! The fitness room was up the stairs on Deck 10 and overlooked the sea. Very motivating! The LifeFitness equipment was in good shape. My husband and I enjoyed working out every day. Outside the gym was the Rock Wall. I am proud to say I gave it a try but only managed to get half way. My husband made the climb look easy and rang the bell at the top! Our daughter LOVED Ocean Adventure! This service was a treasure for us. She loved the time away from us to play with other kids (Aquanauts 3-5) and the staff was professional, organized, and FUN. They followed the posted schedule that included wonderful daily themes. Kudos to Little John, Tinkerbell, Marshmallow, Andy, and Simon! The Ocean Adventure staff played elves and helped Santa hand out gifts to all the children on board on Christmas Day. One complaint I have is that they held their 2nd formal night on the same day as the CoCo Cay Beach day. With the main seating time of 6:00, it was a mad rush for us to get tendered back, get all of us showered, dressed and dolled up in enough time. I think it would have been better to have it on an At Sea day (Christmas Day). It was an exhausting day! The only other complaints I have is the time spent in the ports. Port Canaveral was WAY too long at 10 hours whereas Key West was WAY too short! Great vacation!!! Thank you RCCL and Enchantment of the Seas! Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
We have traveled many times with RCCL. We normal go for a 7 day cruise with a balcony. This ship was an older ship 18 years old and we wanted to see what changes they have done and also a quick Christmas weekend. The price was right. They ... Read More
We have traveled many times with RCCL. We normal go for a 7 day cruise with a balcony. This ship was an older ship 18 years old and we wanted to see what changes they have done and also a quick Christmas weekend. The price was right. They added some great things a Johnny rockets, Delly, Pizza place. Rock wall. The cabin have all the new bedding. The ship really looks great for the age. The entertainment was a joke. Small stage the head liner was a juggler and dropped his stuff more then you could count. The main show was so bad we walked out. Some things need to change. They need more food around the ship. There was no extra things like afternoon or late snacks except for pizza. The staff seem to not really care much about the passengers. The shop area is so small that one night there was a riot to get a sale. Im use to lots of different venues for food. This was the first cruise we lost weight. I like the my time dinning and the food in the dinning room was ok. They even offer a chops menu in the dinning room at a small charge. The ship was nice for a small get away but im staying with the larger ships and new ones. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
We received cruise as gift from Mom so I would be more MAD if I had to pay for this crap... EMBARKATION Got ride into NYC pier from family member... if you wanted to leave car at pier could cost $30 a day...Being Latitude ... Read More
We received cruise as gift from Mom so I would be more MAD if I had to pay for this crap... EMBARKATION Got ride into NYC pier from family member... if you wanted to leave car at pier could cost $30 a day...Being Latitude members, the line was relatively short and embarkation a painless process... BOAT As soon as you enter the boat there is somebody there already trying to sell you a drink(get ready for the nickel and diming to death)Entry in atrium is nice and boat is nicely laid out with many activities but a few years ago they did not charge for bowling w/c they do now and free meals only limited to dining rooms blue lagoon. Many rest. require an additional fee. CREW Mostly Filipino and maybe it is the way Norwegian pays their employees, compulsory gratuity or maybe it was b/c of the holidays but staff seemed inattentive, slow and uncaring for the most part. FOOD Garden grill has quick making grills ranging burgers, fries, sandwiches, soups, salads and deserts..pretty standard fare.. you get a little better quality, but you have to pay for it and it aint that much better... Cagneys(steaks and lamb chops) and LeBistro(French food, escargot, duck,foie gras). CABIN Unfortunately the cabin was and inside stateroom and with 2 adults and 2 kids quearters were pretty thight... it did not help that weather was cold the entire trip, swimming at your own risk of hypothermia, so when we wanted to chill, we got cabin fever really fast and felt compelled to leave. Also people smoking cigarttes and marijuana on our floors, called security, and told they have zero tolerance for drugs... unfortunately you cannot control other passengers behavior CRUISE DIRECTOR Robert Sugar... WORST cruise director... actually NONEXISTENT we've been on the Oasis of the Seas and had the pleasure to meet Richard Spacey who by far blew this guy away ACTIVITIES standard stuff, trivia, dance lessons, drink tasting but you still have to pay for stuff(see a pattern yet) SPA if you do need to go on the GEM spend the $100 for the spa w/c was our saving grace... therapy pool, sauna, steam and quiet place EXCURSIONS port canveral... Kennedy Space Center.. very cool to visit since it wont be around in a couple of years anyway Stirrup cay... would have been nice if weather was better... nice beach and nice barbecue... need a tender to get there Bahamas... aquairum at Atlantis but honstely also a big rip off.. you are probably better off going someplace else... felt like a second-class citizen when walking the grounds KIDS ACTIVITIES Tree Toppers... left our kids there on many occasions and they enjoyed their time there...entry and exit could run more smoothly but overall well run OVERALL DON'T WASTE YOUR MONEY... If you like bad food, bad service and waiting in long, exasperaring lines this is the cruise for you... if you like to be with a crew that has NO clue what they are doing and feel that you basically have to fend for yourself... you will enjoy this cruise... needless to say we will NEVER cruise on Norwegian ever again... HAD been on PEARL and DAWN and they were great but quality has gone down SOOOO much...! Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
After a long year of work without much time off, this was a much needed respite for my wife, 2 daugthers (13 & 10) and me. The weather wasn't quite as warm as we'd hoped, but the cruise was fantastic anyway. After a rough ... Read More
After a long year of work without much time off, this was a much needed respite for my wife, 2 daugthers (13 & 10) and me. The weather wasn't quite as warm as we'd hoped, but the cruise was fantastic anyway. After a rough first day and a half (the snowstorm that crushed the northeast made the ride aboard fairly bumpy), the weather was clear and beautiful in Florida and the Bahamas. We are fairly experienced cruisers; not looking for super-luxury or gourmet food, just an enjoyable family vacation that allows us to forget about work for a week. Mission accomplished. First, I have to congratulate whoever came up with the idea of Freestyle cruising, because in reality it's just another way of saying we're going to charge you more for the privilege of eating slightly above average food and pay a premium for it. The food: A couple of the restaurants were worth the extra money. Both the Teppanyaki and steakhouse are must-dos. Sushi was average at best; Tex-Mex slightly above average, but nothing spectacular. Main dining rooms were good, but again nothing superb. The buffet (Garden Cafe) was ridiculous. Almost always overcrowded with people pushing and shoving to get at the food, as though they were eating their last meal (of course, those who pushed hardest and whose plates were piled highest were also the ones who clearly didn't need that fourth piece of cake...). Food was what you'd expect from an average cafeteria, but omelets at breakfast were good. Bottom line -- get there early for breakfast and don't go back. Chocolate buffet not worth it at all. We were worried that there would be too few activities on the days at sea, but the cruise director did a good job of having enough varied activities to keep everyone happy. Ports: Florida -- the Universal trip for the family was definitely worth it; had enough time in the park to ride almost everything we wanted to. Great Stirrup Cay -- plenty of activities to keep people busy, from waterslides to parasailing to just relaxing on beach chairs. Nassau -- the Atlantis aquaventure and dolphin encounters were popular. And since it warmed up to over 70 that day, the water park was enjoyable. Cabin -- mini-suite -- was an ok size for 4, but would recommend a larger suite or separate rooms for slightly older kids. Cabin stewards were terrific as far as making up the room and turning it down at night. Kids' activities were fantastic in both the teens and tweens clubs; both kept the kids entertained for hours on end so we could enjoy some adult time. Maltings Whisky bar on deck 6 had some interesting scotch, bourbon and beer tasting seminars that are worth attending. Overall, one of the best family vacations ever. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
12/25/10 - 1/1/11 Norwegian Gem Embarkation. Arrived 11:10 AM. Dropped luggage off, took escalator upstairs, through security, and lines to desk. Photos taken, credit card swiped and to waiting area in 15 minutes. Very organized and ... Read More
12/25/10 - 1/1/11 Norwegian Gem Embarkation. Arrived 11:10 AM. Dropped luggage off, took escalator upstairs, through security, and lines to desk. Photos taken, credit card swiped and to waiting area in 15 minutes. Very organized and pleasant. Waited until noon when promptly they started calling groups to board. They boarded on two gangways so it went quickly. We were aboard by 12:15PM. Headed for Grand Pacific dining room for quiet civilized luncheon. Met Christopher who would be my liaison for my Gluten-Free ding needs. He recommended I eat there with him in the Grand Pacific Dining Room and just let him know where else I wanted to eat during the cruise. Every night I picked my dinner selections for the next night. Christopher was a Gem himself!! They announced staterooms were ready about 2PM. Had a lovely balcony room deck 9 aft port side. Mark took good care of us all week. He and his partner were very visible in the hallway, whistling a happy tune most days. Ship. Big, glitzy and brightly colored. Thought the Grand Pacific Dining Room the loveliest area aboard. Stardust Showroom was also especially nice. Buffet area was cramped due to a terrible selection of chairs -- too heavy and the chair arms made it impossible to get between tables. NCL, if you are paying attention to this -- DITCH THE CHAIRS!!! Replace them with armless slightly smaller chairs. I heard complaints about the ships layout, but we found it rather straight forward once you got the hang of the three stairwells and which one you needed to be able to get up or down to the location you wanted. Crystal Atrium --interesting concept as a gathering place. Horrible furniture. Someone was on drugs when they selected it, or had a brother-in-law in the business that got the Line a deal on the ugly non-functioning over sized plush ugly stuff (IMHO). Likewise the furniture up in the Spinnaker Lounge. Horrible. Kept us out of these two venues. We didn't have a lot of pool / sun weather but spent a couple days around the hot tubs. Enjoyed the hot tubs, the music, the lunches on deck. Food. I know it's terribly subjective subject. We have travelled and cruised a great deal and thought the food overall very good. Nice presentation, enough variation to always have something that was good. Kudos to Chef Vaughan Sanft (sailed with him on the Norwegian Crown in 2005). Breakfasts we took in buffet, and lunches we tried Grand Pacific, buffet and Topsiders at the pool. The usual fare, nothing too outstanding. I did enjoy the Indian offerings as something different. I wasn't shopping for it, preparing it, or cleaning it up, so perhaps I am easy to please. But overall the food was better than I was expecting. Bars. Lots of opportunity for a cool one at any time of day or night. I thought prices were a bit high for the portions given, but oh well. I did enjoy my BBC and my Bahama mama at the pool, and wine before dinner. I never felt pestered to consume anything if I just wanted to sit somewhere and listen to the music. And the wine steward always arrived at our table when seated for dinner, but if we didn't want wine for dinner, we never felt pressured. We spent the most time at Magnums Champagne and Wine Bar and at the Star Bar which we thought was a lovely and small venue. Pre Ordered Champagne for New Year's Eve which came to our stateroom about 7:30PM. Drank it there while watching football. Then headed to Star Bar to ring in the New Year. Michael the Piano Man was there, with a quiet crowd and superb atmosphere tor the Captain's countdown at midnight. Good times! Staff. Super staff. Never saw a frown, never was treated with anything but the utmost professionalism and courtesy. Had good service in all the food venues. Officers were very visible and approachable. Very eager to interact with the passengers. Much more so than on other lines I have cruised. We enjoyed that. That being said, we turned Freestyle into our style which is NOT Freestyle. We ate early 5:45 - 6:30 every night. Zena Petrova, hostess at Grand Pacific did a great job juggling every-one's reservations and walk-in times. We never had more than a minute or two wait before being seated. We always wanted a table for two and there were plenty of them. We did see some unhappy people that would show up at 7:00 and want a table for 12 or more without a reservation. We learned very quickly to make a reservation at breakfast time for the next night. Because of my gluten-free eating needs, we did not eat at the other restaurants aboard for dinner. Cruise Critic Meet & Greet. Thanks to Dan for setting up the Meet & Greet. It was at 10AM on the Monday we were due into Port Canaveral at noon after 24 hours of very rough seas so some of those signed up didn't make it. It was so nice of the officers to show up to mingle with us and listen to us all. Especially Hotel Director Steven Jacobsen. It was good to meet the other Cruise Critics that are merely a moniker on the Boards. Now I have faces to put with many of those monikers. Shows. We enjoyed the Singer/Dancer shows the best. They really did a lot with a small stage and limited time. Not Broadway, mind you, but entertaining. The juggler was okay. The comedian wasn't. Skipped the Improv show. Ports. As far as we were concerned Port Canaveral was a waste, Didn't get off the ship and it was only 50 degrees so we didn't even use it as a pool day. Took a nap! Great Stirrup Cay: would have been better on a warmer day with lots of sun, but I went over, looked around, and went in the water so I could say I did. Nassau: I have been to Nassau numerous times, but DH had not. I had printed out a walking tour of Nassau on the internet which we did in the morning. Then I had arranged for a local birder to meet us and take us around to the local spots to look at birds. Had a great time birding and seeing parts of the island no ever gets to see. Disembarkation. I had read so much about this procedure, I was dreading it. But it seemed to work well. We were self disembarking, so we had breakfast in the buffet about 7:30AM. We were at the dock early so the ship was cleared right on time. We went to Crystal lobby about 8:45 to see what was happening. Sat for a while and when the passenger line started moving off the ship (9:00AM), we joined the line. Line was quite long. but moved quickly. Once in line we were off the ship, through Immigration and Customs and at the taxi stand (no line!) by 9:20AM. I was impressed with their organization with this. We chose this cruise because it left from NYC -- DH said no way he was getting on a plane Christmas weekend due to crowds and weather uncertainties (and he was right about that!!) so for us that meant the Gem or Jewel. I love cruising out of NYC anyway so I was okay with using a northern "winter" port,. We normally sail Cunard or HAL as we like a dressier, older, more traditional line and crowd. We cruised NCL once before and didn't mind Freestyle too much, so we were determined to enjoy ourselves this week. We packed light, but were dressed appropriately for evenings. We were a bit concerned there would be rampaging hoards of kids and teens, but there were not. It seemed for the most part the children were very well behaved and just really "into" the cruise and what was going on. So, yes, I'd sail on the Gem and with NCL again, and I would look forward to it. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
Drove through a snowstorm on Christmas night from New Jersey to Charleston to beat the blizzard before it hit NY area. Virginia/NC got 10 inches or so, but we took it slow and steady - we were determined to make our cruise!!! ... Read More
Drove through a snowstorm on Christmas night from New Jersey to Charleston to beat the blizzard before it hit NY area. Virginia/NC got 10 inches or so, but we took it slow and steady - we were determined to make our cruise!!! Charleston: A very nice city - we spent a night before cruise ate at a great seafood restaurant (Hymans) and loved it. We stayed overnight at the Best Western they have a park and stay package, very nice hotel I would recommend it. They provided a taxi for the five us us to get to ship, did not include round trip though, which we were not aware of. Embarkation: Very messy port to use. It is a muddy mess, you cannot walk or be dropped off with luggage, you have to check your luggage in at a tent location, then get on a shuttle bus to take you to building. Ship was late getting into port due to rough seas night before (blizzard) and someone died on the ship that morning (freaked my kids out alittle). Once we were in the building we were on the ship in 20 minutes. Lines moved fast. It was just getting into building that was a bit annoying. Charleston has alot to see and do, so spend time doing this before, once you are on ship you cannot get off. Terminal is right infront of customs building in downtown Charleston, walkable distance to shuttles from downtown area and fleamarket. Ship is small, but nicely kept. It does show its age though, carpets and stairways look older. Ship is clean though, they work hard to keep it this way. We booked two cabins, an ocean view and an inside for our teenaged children. They were right across the hall from us, very convenient and they are older so I felt ok about it. Oceanview rooms are roomy and the inside rooms are a bit smaller it seemed. There was three beds in it though. Kids were happy, they could sleep as late as they wanted, no windows, they did not know the time!!! We had to bang on their door to wake them up. Cabins were clean, bathrooms were clean and big enough. No blowdryers, you had to ask for one. No irons, but there was a laundry room down the hall with two irons for use and 4 washer dryers, which with all my cruises I did not know you could do laundry!!! Very convenient with kids!! Next time I will pack less. One bad thing - very noisy, walls and doors were thin, so we did not sleep too well, heard noise all the time. I had to put a pillow over my head to sleep well. Our room was under a kitchen we think so we heard alot of noise. Dining: Breakfast - Windows had a buffet breakfast with standard food, not as nice as last cruise (Norwegian) but OK. My hubby and I only ate once, we went to Celebration dining room other mornings for a sit down breakfast - much better quality and fast service. I enjoyed this very much. Kids slept in and ate later or missed out all together and ate lunch for breakfast! Lunch: We ate on Lido deck and windows on the Sea all days, except for day infreeport, ate at Our Lucaya restaurant. Food was plentiful and good. Not great just good. Dinners were great, I thought food was very good and nice selection. We ate in Jubilee late seating. Our waiter AJ was great. Entertainment: We only went to one show and it was very good. Other show was a Beatles tribute and we opted to do pictures instead (it was New Year's Eve and we were all dressed up). Water park is great, but I can imagine it gets crowded on hot days, our weather was cool. Serenity deck is nice for adults, but small and was shady and cold most days. Two nice hottubs though with no kids peeing in them!! I recommend this deck. Nice cushioned lounge chairs, gotta get up early though to claim one!! Pool area was nice too, they did a nice job redoing this deck. I have been on this ship before renovations, very nice job renovating the decks. Kids clubs: My 13 year old loved her club, she is very outgoing and social so she made lots of friends, my 15 year old boy went to his club a few times, did not like it as much as she did. My 19 year old was bummed that he could go to bars and casino, but not drink. Carnival has 21 or older strict policy. Other lines are 18 with parents consent. He spent alot of time in casino - feeling like a big man. He also went to disco a few times to laugh at all us old folks!!! New Years Eve was a very spectacular night, Carnival really went out of their way to make it very special, exciting and entertaining. Champagne was flowing (for free no less!!!) Everyone was dressed to the nines, just like a formal night. It felt very special and it is one of the main reasons we did this cruise. Big party on Lido deck with a big 2010 Neon light that changed to 2011 at midnight and ship blew horn, alot of fun!!! Want to do it again next year. Nassau - we just shopped and walked around Bay street - we have been here three times, so felt like just shopping and enjoying the ship when it was empty! Kind of wish we did the beach or something though, ship was chilly and windy. Freeport - did the sanddollar snorkel cruise you can book online. It was TERRIFIC! It was only us and three others, normally 20-40 people. Catamaran was very nice (except for restroom - yuk) and reef was great. We have snorkeled before and never saw this many fish. It was great! Included all you could drink Bahama Mamas!!! Only $45 per person too, much cheaper than any ship excursion. Did a facial in the spa - a bit pricey by nice. It was a special on first day - the oxydermy facial, including a microderm abrasion and collagen treatment. Nice and relaxing hour! Fitness room is small, hot and very crowded early morning. I opted to use aerobics room and use freeweights and my pilates routine. I did use a treadmill twice but had to wait to get it. There is a sports track around mini golf area that you can run/walk on, windy though. Embarktation - a nighmare. We were told you could either carry luggage off and then they start letting you off at 7 am (early for me) or wait till 9 and they took your luggage night before. We opted for latter, but they told us only use elevators no stairs- total nighmare, so we tried stairs and they lied - we easily go right off ship if we had waited for elevators,like others, we would have been waiting over an hour at least. Very unorganized. Port is small, luggage was all crammed together you had to run off line to grab luggage then try to get back on line to go thru customs, then if you did not have a private ride, you had to get on shuttle bus and let them take your luggage again!!! We had a private ride - much easier, but still involved alot of walking with luggage and tired kids. Not fun. New port to open in a year, then I would go out of Charleston again, it is really a beautiful town and an easier drive than Florida from NJ and cheaper than NY Cruises!!! Overall a great cruise for the money and a great job by Carnival celebrating the New Year!!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
To begin, I'll offer a disclaimer. I'm generally not a great fan of Freestyle Cruising. I really prefer a more traditional style of cruising, but I live in New York City and was willing to go along with the Freestyle program ... Read More
To begin, I'll offer a disclaimer. I'm generally not a great fan of Freestyle Cruising. I really prefer a more traditional style of cruising, but I live in New York City and was willing to go along with the Freestyle program because of the opportunity to leave from Manhattan and avoid flying during the busy holiday season. This was a very full cruise; the capacity of Norwegian Gem at two passengers per cabin is about 2,400. There were about 3,000 passengers on board, but the Gem's staff did a very good job keeping people moving around the ship. There were only a few isolated situations where the ship felt crowded. We had a party of three: my wife, my 16 year old son, and myself. We have cruised a fair amount, with 20, 18, and 19 cruises, respectively, on six lines. This was our third cruise on NCL. Embarkation Embarkation was relatively easy; since the cruise departed on Christmas day, we weren't anxious to get to the pier and on the ship at the earliest possible minute. We had intended to leave the house about noon, but ended up leaving 30 minutes later and arrived at the terminal a little after 2:00 pm. As is usually the case at this terminal, the check in process was relatively efficient and without any major incident. We received our cruise cards and proceeded to the gangway with bags in tow, ducking around the embarkation photo as we usually do. We travel light, so we did not check bags and had everything with us in carry-on bags and backpacks. After having our cruise cards scanned at the ship, we were greeted by bar waiters with embarkation drinks for sale. Now, on some lines, one may receive a complimentary flute of sparkling wine (definitely not Champagne), but on NCL the embarkation drinks are for sale. Some reviewers of NCL cruises have a problem with this and at this point bitterly complain that they are being "nickled and dimed." The reality is that on all but a few lines, drinks are available only at additional cost. If you don't want to buy a drink, use the three magic words, "no, thank you," and the waiters will move on to the next guest. In fact, while I'm on the subject, a little more use of "please" and "thank you" on the part of some passengers would go a long way. Cabin We had a category G obstructed oceanview aft cabin on Deck 8. The room was accessible for persons with disabilities, and the bathroom was somewhat less claustrophobic than the standard cruise ship bathroom. The cabins on board seem to be fairly standard ones - colorful, with lots of fake woodgrain. We had a queen bed with a single bunk that folded down for our son, with a small desk, flatscreen tv, and minibar/fridge. The view out of the cabin's picture window was over a lifeboat tucked into the side of the ship, but it still provided a good view of the scenery in port and while underway. One plus with this cabin was that it was extremely conveniently located to restaurants, public areas, and bars. We've cruised in inside, oceanview, and balcony cabins, depending on cost and itinerary; on this trip this cabin worked for us. Dining One feature of NCL is a large number of specialty restaurants that require payment of a cover charge, as well as several options that do not have an additional charge. We did not eat in any of the specialty restaurants, and I won't comment on them, but we ate in the outdoor casual restaurants (Great Outdoors and Grill), the Blue Lagoon indoor casual dining restaurant, the Garden Cafe, and the main dining restaurants (Grand Pacific and Magenta). The food was not life changing, but it was good, on about the level of the restaurants in a business hotel like Radisson, Hilton, or Marriott. Appetizers and entrees were generally better than deserts, and there was no real "signature" desert as is true with some lines. I have seen some reviews of the Gem that describe the food as "inedible" and "disgusting," and that certainly wasn't our experience. Other reviewers have said that the food is the same at every meal and there was nothing available that was worth eating (except at the sainted specialty restaurants that come at an additional cost); we did not find this to be true. I am not sure where the authors of these negative reviews are eating, but I'd be surprised if they have better food at home. It is true that NCL has a core of dishes that are available every day, but there are other options in the non-specialty restaurants that change from day to day. The exception is the Blue Lagoon, which is open 24 hours and serves breakfast and non-breakfast menus that do not change from day to day Freestyle cruising is not the same as traditional cruising where one eats at the same time at in the same room at the same table with the same waiters. I personally like having our waiters get to know our preferences and getting a chance to talk with them and learn something about them as well. We generally give our waiters a gratuity in addition to the recommended amount, but that really doesn't work with the freestyle concept and different waiters every day. Also, the maitre 'd's didn't seem to be as involved in dealing with the passengers as on other lines, but this may be by design. We did notice that NCL did seem to be making some efforts to make the specialty restaurants a more special experience. There was not, for example, a traditional "lobster night", and the staffing in the main dining (i.e.: free) restaurants appeared to be somewhat tight, although the high occupancy on the cruise may have had something to do with this. There was sushi at the Garden Cafe as well as the specialty restaurant, but the Garden Cafe sushi was vegetarian, without seafood. While some dishes were available only at the specialty restaurants, many items on the specialty restaurant menus were available at the main dining restaurants or the Garden Cafe. Many of these dishes were a real treat; the Indian items that I sampled from the Garden Cafe were uniformly excellent. Entertainment The parts of the production shows that I saw were fairly standard and just so-so. My DW attended a cabaret style show with the production singers and thought that they were in some cases very talented and comparing favorably with Broadway and Off-Broadway performers. The featured performers (juggler Barry John, singer Lumiri Tubo, and comedian Rod Long) were all good. The ship has a resident Second City troupe, but I'll just say that I've seen better and leave it at that. The ship's orchestra was, as is usual on ships, excellent. The musicians who performed at smaller venues around the ship were generally very good; we particularly enjoyed a guitarist named Leo Jostol. We found the most enjoyable entertainment was generally the events and shows organized by the Cruise Director's staff. The crew show was the best of its kind that I've seen and was very funny. Ports Okay, it was cold. When we got to Port Canaveral on Monday (third day out) the temperature was in the 50's, and that was once it warmed up. As every cruise line, NCL wants to sell you their shore excursions, but they were at least honest about what is available through their excursion desk and otherwise. We attended the shore excursion presentation where we were told that the Disney Magic Kingdom might reach capacity and be closed to additional guests before NCL could get you there and that passengers might consider another option. While the ship's excursions weren't the lowest cost option, they appeared to be fairly priced. The ship also set up an easel with port information for Port Canaveral, including taxis and non-NCL shuttles, which is different from some ships where the prevailing attitude is that the only way to get off the ship is through the official excursions. By the way, there were a number of shuttles to Cocoa Beach at Port Canaveral, including a free one sponsored by a local bar and surf shop. We used it to and from the beach area, and went from there to Cocoa Village for some shopping; this worked out well as we weren't up for the Orlando attractions and heard that the Kennedy Space Center was a zoo. NCL's private island, Grand Stirrup Cay would have provided a nice beach day if the temperature had made it over 70 degrees. There was a barbecue and activities like volleyball, and we had a good time hiking down to the end of the island, but the weather wasn't ideal for the beach, to put it mildly. The range of activities in Nassau, likewise, was impacted by weather. The afternoon temperature wasn't much over 70, and we stayed away from the beaches. We did a little sightseeing and shopping in town, but not much else. Again, there are abundant options either through the ship's shore excursion desk or off the dock. Services and Shopping The on-board shopping was serviceable but not great, with the standard duty-free liquor, jewelry, t shirts, clothing, and souvenirs. There weren't as many rotating sales and specials as we've noticed on other lines. Other reviews have mentioned feeling pressured to spend money, but we didn't find this to be the case. I didn't feel that there were more announcements promoting on-board sales than is the case on other cruise lines, as some reviewers have claimed. I did attend the art auctions twice and thought they were rather slow paced and left to do something else. Management I don't think that you can say that these guys don't care about the quality of the experience on the ship. I've never been on a ship where the department heads were as much in evidence. Steven Jacobson, the hotel director seemed to be everywhere and we spoke with him on several occasions. At one point I saw Vaughn, the Executive Chef, working with a group setting up a deck barbecue. Rob Sugar, the Cruise Director, put something of a different spin on the CD role, but was visible around the ship and very approachable. Rob Sugar and Steven Jacobson were out in the cold on our arrival back in New York on New Year's Day sending the passengers off. Overall I'd give the cruise a four out of five. It wasn't perfect but in general the staff appeared to be making a legitimate effort to make the passengers' experience a good one. NCL doesn't control the weather and there were some elements of the cruise that don't fit into my vision of an ideal cruise. For what NCL is seeking to do, the Gem seems to do fairly successfully. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
First time NLC Cruise, New Years from New York My wife and I have cruised a number of times both on smaller ships ( Windward and Nautica and larger ships Princess and Costa Atlantica). On an impulse we booked on NLC on their ... Read More
First time NLC Cruise, New Years from New York My wife and I have cruised a number of times both on smaller ships ( Windward and Nautica and larger ships Princess and Costa Atlantica). On an impulse we booked on NLC on their New Year's cruise out of New York on the NLC Jewel. The sheer luxury of going from home to a ship without first flying somewhere is a major pro. The boarding process was flawless. Bravo NLC. They surely show other lines how to do it! All around there is a sense of great thought in the decor of the rooms and restaurants. IMHO without much inspiration. A few touches would have made a big difference. The Staff is extremely pleasant, helpful, and truly sweet. We had the pleasure of the service of a butler whose services we appreciated more and more as the week went on. Once I got past feeling I was being a jack-ass ( butler? Ha!) and asked politely for what I needed he was always helpful and delighted to make our stay as luxurious as we could imagine. The specialty restaurants were generally vey good. Cagney's a "prohibition" style steak house , was quite adequate . Chin- Chin, Asian fusion, in my wife and my opinion the best of the lot, food wise. Tappanyaki , a Asian fare we cooks that perform for the kids, quite good. The buffet seemed ample, though crowded and had a sense of a cafeteria at high school. Too much going on, so we avoided it, the food though, looked adequate. We saw only one "big" show with a comedian and a Magician/comic. The comedian was not very funny. The Magician was very good. The rooms very tiny. We had a penthouse suite, which was OK but not a suite, just a large room. I peeked into our neighbors rooms and they were really bearly adequate. If you put more than 3 people in a room , it is really tight. As this cruise was during vacation time for the kids there were many on the ship. Much of the time it was no problem at all , and rather charming. To hear a child have a temper tantrum at the next table through dinner is no geat pleasure , and some of the charm of their presence surely is lost. If you are contemplating bringing the kids, they seem to be having a ball! by and large and there were activities for them, throughout the day. We were very grateful to have a place to retreat too. It certainly would have been more difficult for us , if we had not had the privilege of having breakfast and lunch at Cagney's which , from our perspective was worth the added expense. Leaving the ship was not quite as flawless , not NLC's fault security and immigration has to cooperate and they do, but only a little. One has the sense on boarding that one is there to be pitched. beer, drinks, raffles, art, diamonds, precious jewels , specialty restaurants, expensive shore excursions, future cruises , massages, spa packages , they are all paraded before you. Though the passenger is never pressured to buy , I found the constant pitching off putting. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
I'm writing this only because I read the person who reviewed this cruise before me, and can't even believe it was the same trip. Parking in NY is expensive. This is a no-brainer, and has nothing to do with NCL. They don't ... Read More
I'm writing this only because I read the person who reviewed this cruise before me, and can't even believe it was the same trip. Parking in NY is expensive. This is a no-brainer, and has nothing to do with NCL. They don't set the cost of parking in a NYC owned terminal. Our room was always immaculate, the staff were accomodating and extremely friendly. Perhaps because we had a balcony, and there were only two of us, I was extremely satisfied. I never felt pressured to buy anything I didn't want to buy. The buffet was a buffet. I wasn't expecting gourmet food, and it was hot and plentiful. We ate there only for breakfast. To complain about the weather is asenine. When you get on a ship in NYC in the winter, you're taking your chances. We made the most of it, as did the (seemingly) thousands and thousands of children in the pools. We spent a lot of time reading out on the deck, and it was lovely and relaxing in jeans and a short sleeved shirt. There were several free restaurants, and only once did I have a meal I returned (fish--vastly overcooked). The for-a-fee places were all great with attentive service. When we didn't want wine or anything from the bar, they didn't nag. We didn't bowl because there were only four lanes and there was always a wait. The New Year's celebration was a lot of fun. It was good to see the crew hanging out with their friends and cutting loose. Disembarkment was a snap, we were out and off by 9:15. All in all, take everyone's review with a grain of salt. Some people look for the worst in everything. I had a great Christmas week with loved ones on a great ship! Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
Arriving at the Pier in NYC: Embarkation processing was seamless, and we have already learned that arriving early (10 AM), before the posted time on the NCL Itinerary (Noon), is better than facing the crowds. The parking fee of $30 ... Read More
Arriving at the Pier in NYC: Embarkation processing was seamless, and we have already learned that arriving early (10 AM), before the posted time on the NCL Itinerary (Noon), is better than facing the crowds. The parking fee of $30 per day is more than the airport, but we wanted the security of having our car visible and waiting for us upon our return. We were impressed with the sign-up tables for the spa and restaurant reservations, and we purchased the Spa Thermal Room package for $99 that lasted the whole cruise. We were also impressed that we were allowed to board the Gem shortly after noon, which guaranteed a table in the Garden Cafe buffet for lunch, while we waited for our stateroom to become available. The spa package turned out to be problematic. Cruising in cold temperatures meant that lots of people also signed up in anticipation of not using the outdoor pools. It became obvious during the cruise that the advertised limit of 84 passengers had been overbooked. During the seven day cruise, we were only able to use the thermal room twice, and each time it was extremely crowded. At the pier, we were assured by the NCL staff that the spa experience would be quiet and restful; the reality was the opposite - the spa was very crowded and some passengers became rude and abusive to others. Stormy Start: We already knew that a snow storm was going to hit New York City the day after Christmas when we boarded the NCL Gem on December 25. But, the realization that we were going through the Nor'easter hit us almost immediately the first night. The rocking began on Sunday and became so intense that many passengers vomited in elevators and corridors. We later learned that the previous week's cruise on the Gem was much worse, but this was no consolation. I give the crew a lot of credit for donning haz-mat suits and cleaning up the mess immediately. Also, we already learned the benefits of using hand sanitizer on previous cruises. This simple washing protects everyone on the ship. Unfortunately, the seas were rough until we docked in Port Canaveral. The bed kept jumping around and we found it almost impossible to walk to the bathroom at times. The public restrooms were often dirty with vomit and we ended up using our private bathroom at all times to avoid the possibility of contamination and sickness. I witnessed one worker in the Garden Cafe leaning against a wall with the look of sickness on their face. They recovered enough to continue serving food, but we were now concerned of more sickness among the staff behind the scenes in the galleys and the safety of the food being prepared. We became very careful about the food we put in our mouth. Port Canaveral: We chose the trip to Historic Cocoa Village for our Monday shore excursion. It was a choice between Cocoa Beach/Ron Jon Surf Shop and shopping and sightseeing in the "historic" town. The guide for the shuttle bus trip used the 15 minute ride to have us looking for dolphins and manatees in the bay, and gave us little in the way of "historical" information on the location. She also made a big deal of pointing out Osprey nests along the road. We were dropped off at the perimeter of Cocoa Village and given a rudimentary map that a fifth grader could have improved on. Upon entering the first shop, we found a much better map produced by the Village, which gave us far more information that the guide did. However, it didn't take much time to visit the few shops that were open. A few restaurants were also closed (possibly due to it being a Monday) and we took the one suggestion of merit made by the guide to eat at Norman's Raw Bar & Grill. Norman's Chili was superb, and we learned from the waitress that it had won an award at the Annual Chili Cook-off. I also ordered the Fish Taco, which was great, and far superior to those I had on the California coast in Pismo Beach. There was nothing more to do in Cocoa Village, so we took the next shuttle back to the ship. We felt that the $20 per person charge for the shuttle was too high, considering Cocoa Village has little to see. Great Stirrup Cay: NCL's private island is usually a nice stop. But, because of the cold temperatures, we were not able to go into the water. We did have a nice BBQ lunch on the beach; however, we returned to the ship within an hour afterwards rather than be uncomfortably cold. We spent the rest of the afternoon attending lectures onboard. We were impressed with the lectures on "Boosting Metabolism" and "Detox" held in the fitness center. We both had our Body Composition tested in the spa for a couples price of $52. We refused to accept the recommendation of a staff member to purchase an expensive detox product package until we consulted with our doctor, which we felt was prudent; but, the staff member told us that our doctor doesn't know as much about detox as she does. This sent up red flags and we stopped going to the free lectures because we now felt pressured to purchase questionable treatments and products. Nassau, the Bahamas: We finally found some heat in the Bahamas! We were able to shed the windbreakers and jackets and wear shorts. We only had one day in port, so we had to make the most of it. We booked the Harbor Cruise and Atlantis Tour for our Wednesday excursion. The tour departed late due to an inexperienced guide who led us the wrong way to the ferry boat to Paradise Island. When we got to Atlantis, we found that security was very tight and we were treated like third-class tourists and not allowed to deviate from the tour. The guide is only given a limited time to complete the tour and we were not allowed to linger or fall behind the group. To our guide's credit, she spoke well and was able to be heard by the large group. But, her schedule didn't allow many questions, and she departed as soon as she made sure each one of us exited the private sections of the Atlantis resort. The aquariums at Atlantis are beautiful, however, and we took many photos of the undersea world of the Bahamas. The cost of food and beverage is extremely high in Atlantis and Paradise Island, as well as the high-end stores in the public shopping village. We returned to Nassau for a fun-filled day of inexpensive food and drink on Bay Street. The Straw Market was also excellent, and we ended up buying all of our souvenirs for the cruise in Nassau. It was Junkanoo Festival time in the Bahamas, which included the music and lavish costumes used in this local custom. It was a wonderful time of year to be in Nassau, and this port made up for all of the discomfort experienced during the rest of the cruise. We would have loved to spend another day in Nassau, but instead faced two sea days until our return to NYC. One highlight of the cruise was the Second City ComedyTroupe that performed onboard. They also held workshops that taught improvisation and comedy history and techniques. The other entertainment was spotty, with the exception of the two major shows, "World Beat" and "Get Down Tonight," which were very well done. New Year's Eve was festive, but the music was sporadic and confined to only a few venues. We chose to greet the new year in the Crystal Atrium with the Caribbean band, which we believed was better than the piano players in other lounges. We all received a champagne toast provided by NCL at midnight. Overall: The cruise was very enjoyable, which is why we continue to book with NCL; but, the weather was very cold. In the future, we will either choose warmer seasons or cruise out of Florida, to avoid the rough winter seas and temperatures. The quality and diversity of the food on NCL is not as good as Royal Caribbean and other lines, but the salads and weight management selections are better on NCL, as is the service of the staff. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
My husband & I booked this cruise as a present to ourselves to celebrate our wedding anniversary. As our anniversary is on December 30th, this meant we would also be onboard for New Years Eve. This is our 4th cruise; prior to this ... Read More
My husband & I booked this cruise as a present to ourselves to celebrate our wedding anniversary. As our anniversary is on December 30th, this meant we would also be onboard for New Years Eve. This is our 4th cruise; prior to this we've cruised on Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas once and Grandeur of the Seas twice. We've been to the western Caribbean, the Mediterranean, and most recently Canada/New England. I'm in my late forties, and my husband is in his early fifties. My husband does have mobility issues and is unable to do much walking. We're not the most outgoing people, but enjoy just getting away and being able to relax. This was our first cruise without the kids. Pretty much by the second or third day of the cruise, we had decided we would probably not cruise Carnival again. We both feel that Royal Caribbean is far superior in food, elegance, helpfulness and friendliness of the staff, and overall a better value for our money. Our Carnival cabin did have more storage space, and it seemed the room had a better layout. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
There was a group of 6 of us (ages 67-15) to celebrate my 40th on New Years Day. The day before the cruise we arrived in Cape Canaveral and stayed at the Best Western Oceanside (great deal) and Thursday morning took the shuttle to ... Read More
There was a group of 6 of us (ages 67-15) to celebrate my 40th on New Years Day. The day before the cruise we arrived in Cape Canaveral and stayed at the Best Western Oceanside (great deal) and Thursday morning took the shuttle to the pier. Customs/registration was a breeze and we were on board within 30 minutes of arrival. A quick lunch and our rooms were ready at 1:30. We splurged and had a balcony, which was great. The room was nice & clean-smaller than our balcony room on the Legend, but still roomy. The ship is very 80's and even though its clean,clean,clean, she is a little worn in some places.But that didn't bother me any! What did bother me was how crowded the Lido deck got when everyone was waiting to dock in Nassau-yikes! But once we docked, it was great. We went on shore and did a little shopping and headed over to Fish Fry area to try some Conch Salad at Goldy's. Yum! We actually were in Nassau for New Years so we grabbed a spot on deck for the Countdown. It was awesome! At midnight there were fireworks from a couple places on island and they could all be seen from deck. Alter, part of our group went ashore to see the Junkanoo parade-a kind of Mardi Gras/Carnivale celebration. It was awesome. The food was good, with some really yummy dishes here and there. I do wish there was a 'snack' time at like 4:30-5:30 when chips (and veggies/pretzels), dips & cheese/crackers were out for snacking....i ate far too much cheese pizza to fill that role! Overall it was a really fun couple of days...plotting our next cruise in 2012! Read Less
Sail Date December 2010

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