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157 Bahamas Holiday Cruise Reviews

We opted for a NYE cruise over a NYE activity close to home this year, also a way to get 1 closer to platinum. :) We drove to Jacksonville from Atlanta on the 29th, about 6 hours. We stayed at the Best Western on Airport Rd. It is an older ... Read More
We opted for a NYE cruise over a NYE activity close to home this year, also a way to get 1 closer to platinum. :) We drove to Jacksonville from Atlanta on the 29th, about 6 hours. We stayed at the Best Western on Airport Rd. It is an older hotel, yet has been very nicely remodeled and updated. They offered a good deal on a stay and cruise package with breakfast and transportation to and from the port. This hotel is on a street with a whole row of hotels as well as restaurants, good location even without a car. We got up on the 30th, had breakfast, and took the 10:00 shuttle to the port. We had our bags dropped off, through security, and checked in in under 20 minutes. We were in group 2 and when boarding started we were on in 10 minutes. At 11:25 we were on the Lido deck with champagne in hand headed for lunch, they were passing out free champagne upon boarding for New Year's, nice touch. We got to our cabin around 1:30 and both bags were there by 2:30, fastest ever. Our cabin steward was Gabby and he did a great job and was always so polite and cheerful in the hallways. We unpacked and checked out the ship until muster which was at 3:30. Right before and during muster we watched as a bus of people pulled up and ran frantically to the ship that was due to leave at 4. We had late seating in the Sensation dining room with Glenn as our headwaiter. He did a great job and we had great tablemates. Lobster night was not formal night as they had a special NYE menu and gave out party favors. We seemed to stop in the ocean for New Years as I think everyone was on deck after the 11:30 balloon drop. There was music, free champagne, and Time Square for the big count down. The ship's horn blared in the new year so anyone trying to skip the party was out of luck! Freeport is miserable, but we knew that. Had to pay to go anywhere or do anything as it is in an industrial area. They herd everyone to Port Lucaya for $5 a person each way where they advertise shopping, beaches, and fun. We tried to get to Taino Beach as planned but the taxi drivers wanted too much for the 2 of us, $80 round trip which was what they were getting for Port Lucaya. So we went with the herd and walked around for a while. Got some $1 Eclipse beer and then hit up happy hour for $4 margaritas and mojitos. :) Nassua was ok, been there before. We were there during the Junkanoo Parade, definitely something to see with all the costumes, dancers, and music! Afterwards we went to Junkanoo Beach and just lounged. The ship was very clean and it seems the dry-dock removed some of the tackier decorations that went with the theme. The dining room was also the most neutral of the ships we've been on. Casino was a little small, but it is a smaller ship. There is only 1 pool, but it was too chilly for that to be an issue. The kids packed out the hot tubs on the lido deck but we spent a lot of time on the Serenity deck with no kids and really enjoyed the less crowded hot tubs and padded lounge chairs. Overall it was a little different crowd than we're used to doing 7 days (def not as "loud" as I was afraid of) but it was a great vacation. Jacksonville is a VERY efficient port and the ship looked as good as new with a great crew! We were pleased for a short winter getaway over NYE. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
Embarkation: Lines weren't too bad because we had preferred check-in. Stateroom: All the balcony staterooms on the Gem are not created equal. Having cruised on the Gem 2 years ago, I thought I knew what to expect. Our stateroom ... Read More
Embarkation: Lines weren't too bad because we had preferred check-in. Stateroom: All the balcony staterooms on the Gem are not created equal. Having cruised on the Gem 2 years ago, I thought I knew what to expect. Our stateroom was much smaller and there was no glass enclosure for great visibility. Our balcony was metal half way up, limiting the visibility. Check before you book! Our room stewards did a great job. Ship Info: I like the Gem's decor. Its bright and colorful and has a wonderful library, funky furniture in the Spinnaker Lounge, and just brightens your day. Dining: I thought there was a lot of variety on the buffet, but seating was always a problem. The service in the Grand Pacific Dining Room was a little disjointed. Tables with only one water glass, or one bread plate, or lacking silverware happened more than once and the service was slow getting them replaced. We had to ask for our water glasses to be filled and then never saw anyone with water again. They gave us six rolls at dinner, but only two pats of butter. We struck it rich in the Magenta Dining Room. Our first night there, we had the pleasure of being waited on by Joanne. She was just great! The service was so good, that we went back three times. We also went to Cagney's one night. The steak was good as well as the service, but I don't know if it was worth the extra $25. Overall, I did like the food and some of it was exceptional. Activities: Because this was a Holiday cruise, there were about 800 more passengers on board than usual, mostly children. There were adult activities that the children were allowed to attend and in some cases it was totally inappropriate. Staff & Service: I felt there was little customer concern on the Gem. I was not invited to the Latitudes party (for passengers who have cruised on Norwegian before) and missed it. I spoke to Cruise Consultant Paloma Leon and her attitude was one of total indifference. I spoke to the front desk and they very grudgingly said I could have a bottle of wine with dinner. This was my fourth Norwegian cruise and I thought they could have been a little more concerned with customer satisfaction. On the second day of the cruise, my girlfriend entered a dance competition on board and won! During the competition, dancers were told to go to the front desk and pick up a copy of the video. Cruise Director Rob Sugar very rudely told my friend that no one ever told her to pick up a copy and that she couldn't have one (even though it was clearly heard on the video). He said he would have to get releases signed by the other five dancers and he wasn't going to do that. However, the video was shown on the ship channel several times each day of the cruise without getting releases from the passengers that participated. In fact, they didn't even know they were being taped initially. There was certainly nothing sweet about Rob Sugar. He was the most annoying Cruise Director ever. Norwegian needs to take a lesson from other cruise lines on how to treat their passengers. I just booked my next cruise on Carnival. Entertainment: There was some great entertainment on the Gem. I have to say I really liked the crew's show that they put on. Shore Excursions: Norwegian ruined their private island. It was so pretty and unspoiled when I was there two years ago. Now they've built some huge, ugly building (I was told it will be a hotel) right on what used to be their beautiful beach. What a shame. Anyone travelling to Nassau definitely needs to swim with the dolphins. What a phenomenal experience! A little pricey, but I'd do it again. At Cape Canaveral, the Kennedy Space Center is the main attraction. Well worth a visit. Disembarkation: We chose to carry our own bags off, but there was quite a line waiting to get off. Summary: My cruise on the Gem two years ago was wonderful. This time it was spoiled by the uncaring and indifferent attitudes of the staff (not all the staff and not the same staff that was on the Gem two years ago). When you have a Cruise Director and a Cruise Consultant who clearly never heard of customer satisfaction, it truly spoils the whole cruise experience. I saw Norwegian's CEO on Undercover Boss. I wish he would have been on the Gem to see the uncaring attitudes. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
My family of 4 had a wonderful time on the Pride on 12/19/2010. Here are a few of the ship & staff highlights: Embarkation in Baltimore was smooth. It took about an hour(moving lines), and we got there at 1pm. They allowed ... Read More
My family of 4 had a wonderful time on the Pride on 12/19/2010. Here are a few of the ship & staff highlights: Embarkation in Baltimore was smooth. It took about an hour(moving lines), and we got there at 1pm. They allowed boarding at 1:30, and the rooms were ready at 3:30. The ship was tastefully decorated - most of the holiday decor was in the atrium. I liked the Pride's decor, the renaissance style made the ship feel very opulent. We did not notice the ship vibrations that a few of the previous posters had mentioned. We had an extended balcony, and the pullman bed was directly above the sleeper couch. It was a better arrangement than RCI has on Grandeur of the Sea, and seemed more spacious. The food in the Lido was good (perhaps a touch greasy) - though difficult to navigate when crowded. The Lunch and Dinners in the MDR were very good. My husband has many food allergies, and the staff in the MDR were fantastic with accommodating that! The went above and beyond our expectations in this regard. Lactose-free milk was very hard to come by. We spent the first few days requesting it at every meal, it usually took more than 30 minutes to 'find' it. We had been assured by several staff members that the Lido, the MDR and room service would keep it on hand for us - but it didn't work out that way. It was annoying, but we lived with it. Our children were in 2 separate age groups in Camp Carnival - the 6-8 and the 9-11 groupings. They both were surprised when other campers were not corrected for rude, mean or hurtful behavior by the counselors. While the counselors did keep everyone 'safe' - they weren't very involved. My children both chose to spend some time there, but not a lot because of this. The pool, the 'covered pool', the ice-cream machines were some of my kid's favorite things. We just enjoyed spending the week together. I loved the food, the balcony, the ship layout, and reading a lot of books! My hubby and I also enjoyed a few of the adult comedy shows, but found the 'Vegas-style' shows tedious. The MDR chef did make a lovely Christmas night dinner, traditional turkey and stuffing etc. The debarkation process was the best one I've ever been on. They had a movie playing in the Taj Mahal, and the kids were completely entertained while we waited. We were one of the last groups to be called, and we were off the ship by 11:30. We had a great time! The ship is pretty, the staff is friendly and the food was yummy. Enjoy! Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
Carnival Pride Dec 19- 26, 2010. Short review since others taking this same ship in the fall of 2010 present some good advice. First problem: ALWAYS ask your agent (or call Carnival) to tell you what is directly or almost directly ... Read More
Carnival Pride Dec 19- 26, 2010. Short review since others taking this same ship in the fall of 2010 present some good advice. First problem: ALWAYS ask your agent (or call Carnival) to tell you what is directly or almost directly above your cabin. Don't trust that the floor plans will reveal problems. We selected 8210 based on other reviews, but the first night, we were up and down and up and down with rumbles and thump-thump from above. Monday morning I paced off distances and discovered that 8210 is directly under the kitchen entrance for the Mermaid Grill on the 9th (Lido Deck) level. The Mermaid Grill is the major food service facility other than the sit-down dining room (The Normandie Room). It serves food from early (6 or 7 am) to late (10 pm) and then offers pizza all night! The thumping and rumbling above was the food service carts, dish carts, etc., crossing the threshold from the kitchen to the walking area. The walking area is tiled, with stone tiles, while the tables areas have carpeting. But keeping the walking areas clean would be impossible with carpeted floor. We asked for a change of rooms, but Carnival said, "have none." Tuesday, our second full day, they found us a room (5214) that was identical to 8210 but on Deck 5 rather than Deck 8. We moved ourselves in 15 minutes, and that solved the problem. One trial learning: Never, ever, book a room without knowing specifically what is above you! Second problem: we're Baltimore Ravens professional football fans. The BIG game that week was on Thursday, and Carnival noted on their daily Fun list (distributed to every cabin the day before) that the Ravens game would be on the TVs in the Casino and adjacent Sports Bar. We asked about room television but were told that it was only on the Casinos and Sports Bar televisions. But the only inside smoking areas are the Casino and Sports bar! To watch the game, we were trapped in the smoky Casino and Sports bar. We estimate that at least ¾ of the passengers on the ship didn't smoke. That is a common ratio for the USA today. Carnival forced anyone who wanted to watch the game to breathe the stinky air in the Casino or Sports bar. Be aware of this smoking area—it's really unpleasant and we stayed away from the Casino as much as possible, but if we wanted to watch the Ravens football game, we had to stay there. Not very thoughtful of Carnival. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
Fascination Review - a little later than I would have liked. More about that at the end. This was cruise #24 for us and we did the 4 day New Year's Eve cruise to Freeport and Nassau leaving Jacksonville on December30th. The point ... Read More
Fascination Review - a little later than I would have liked. More about that at the end. This was cruise #24 for us and we did the 4 day New Year's Eve cruise to Freeport and Nassau leaving Jacksonville on December30th. The point of this cruise was for me to have a relaxing 60th birthday on December 31st and I certainly did. DH did too. Jacksonville is less than 3 hours away for us and the easiest of ports from which to sail. We drove to the port the morning of the 30th and were whisked through VIP check, obligatory photo op and had champagne in hand well before noon. Having sailed Celebrity Solstice over Thanksgiving we were interested to make some comparisons. While Fascination is an older ship and in no way as elegant as the Solstice, it is in very good condition with no problems that we saw. Although we prefer a balcony, because this was a last minute booking we ended up with OV and it was centrally located on Empress deck. Very convenient for everything. We had any time dining which worked well for us as we eat early rather than late. We always walked straight in. The first night our wait staff was so good that we asked to be seated in their area every night. Juan Pablo [head waiter] was great and Olga [his assistant] was fantastic. One of the best we have ever had. Making some comparisons between the Solstice and Fascination: [our opinion only] Better looking ship - Solstice Better DEcor - Solstice Better Menu Choices - Fascination Better Food in general - Fascination Better Service wait staff - Fascination [by far!!] Better Room Steward - Fascination Better Production Shows - Fascination Better Singers - Fascination Better Dancers - Fascination [by far] Better Costumes/Choreography - Fascination [I used to teach theatre so I notice] Better Secondary Entertainment - Solstice Better Captain's/past guest party - Solstice Friendlier staff - Fascination Activities - about the same number of offerings, just different types. We have been to Freeport before and relaxed onboard but in Nassau I went to buy perfume from my favorite store and discovered a parade instead. We stood chatting to locals and enjoying the spectacle. I never did get to buy perfume. I'll have to do that in March on the next cruise. The aim of this cruise was relaxation and we achieved that. Despite it being a NYE cruise, it so not too loud or rowdy and we did not see any problems. We purchased some more cruise credit certificates for future cruises so we obviously enjoyed ourselves. There is only one complaint I have and we did not discover that until we got home. My daughter had ordered a surprise for my birthday. She had ordered the cabin to be decorated, a birthday memory book and chocolate covered strawberries. When she asked if I was surprised I did not know what she was talking about as I had received nothing! She was horrified and after checking with the Bon Voyage Department, she was eventually told that, "We did not have any of those things on the ship, so the order was cancelled." Her credit card had been charged and she had not received a call to let her know that there was a problem and offer an alternative. Likewise no-one on board contacted me to say that something had been ordered and offer me an alternative either. I refuse to believe that Carnival did not have something on the ship they could have offered and I know I saw strawberries! Her credit card has been refunded now, but there has been no letter of apology either to her or to me which seems to me to be poor guest service. The really bad thing about the cruise is that as I am a scrapbook fanatic I had gathered together some great materials plus a big selection of formal pictures, and about 400 of my own photos to make a special scrapbook for my birthday but last Monday our house burned down and all my tangible memories of the cruise are lost. Oh well, guess we'll just have to look forward to the next cruise and more memories. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
Being that this was our 23 cruise and 2nd on the Jewel ,we should have known better than to book a 7 day christmas/newyears cruise. We've been on 3 holiday cruises before ,but they were 14 day cruises. What we also didn't know ... Read More
Being that this was our 23 cruise and 2nd on the Jewel ,we should have known better than to book a 7 day christmas/newyears cruise. We've been on 3 holiday cruises before ,but they were 14 day cruises. What we also didn't know was that the Jewel added a Nickelodeon program for kids. My wife and I have nothing against kids ,we have one of our own ,grown.But there was just too many under 18 kids on this ship . Plus the normal passenger load is something like 2300 as advertised in brochure ,their was over 2840,passengers on this cruise, 1200 of them being under age 18. Teenagers hanging out in the halls and elevators to the early morning hours ,not that they were misbehaving or causing trouble ,just to many of them . The cruise ship personnel did there best to please everyone. But it was difficult because of the amount of under 18 year olds. The ship was nice the service was good ,being that we are platinum members we had some nice perks ,we eat mostly in the additional cost restaurants ,which were quite good . Don't think that I'm some old fart that has nothing better to do than complain,that's not the case .I;m a 55 year old biker that knows how to party and have a good time and so does my wife. Overall this was a decent cruise,[just getting away from the N.Y. weather was great] But we prefer longer cruises with less kids. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
We booked this cruise because the itinerary included both Nassau and Grand Bahama and we wanted to scuba dive at both of these locations. We were not sure about cruising as we are used to sailing in a small boat as a family. However, we ... Read More
We booked this cruise because the itinerary included both Nassau and Grand Bahama and we wanted to scuba dive at both of these locations. We were not sure about cruising as we are used to sailing in a small boat as a family. However, we were very pleasantly surprised. Both the food and service were excellent. The entertainment was also good, especially the comedian Rich Purpura.The French restaurant cost a bit more but was totally out of this world. The daily special cocktails were also great. The freestyle aspect of dining was good for us as we did not want to be tied down to timings.We were also very impressed with the photographers on board and had some lovely photos.We also enjoyed the towel folding demonstration and bought the DVD!!!If you scuba dive, you must do the famous shark dive at Stuart cove's. This was a magical and unique experience.The main problem with the cruise was that it was only for 4 nights. We think a week or more would have been better if doing a lot of shore activities. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Embarkation: We stepped onto the ship on deck three, in the Colors bar, where there were many servers touting the drink of the day. Because of our prior experience, we knew the drinks would be costly and avoided them. It seemed like ... Read More
Embarkation: We stepped onto the ship on deck three, in the Colors bar, where there were many servers touting the drink of the day. Because of our prior experience, we knew the drinks would be costly and avoided them. It seemed like others there were shocked when they took one from the server's tray and were charged the $10 immediately. The bar was loud and disorienting as well. We made it through the crowd and up to Lido for lunch, then to the "secret" deck ten aft area near the fish and chips that was almost always empty. Sanctuary! Public rooms: The public areas of the ship, each named and decorated a different color, made it easy to see where you were. Other than the Golden Restaurant taking up the entire width of the ship on decks 3 and 4, it was easy to get around, and to the front or rear as needed. Cabin: Our cabin at the front of the ship directly under the bridge was nice and out of the way... most of the time. More on that later. The cabin was kept clean by a wonderful pair of room stewards. Fitness and Recreation: The spa/fitness room music was provided by a CD player that was skipping quite a bit. My wife mentioned it to the spa staff, and they said all of the CDs were scratched. I was riding an exercise bike at the time, and for over 10 minutes, I got to listen to the same half-second of music over and over. Staff in the gym didn't seem interested in fixing it, or asking how I was doing, or anything. Rates: We got decent rates for the cruise, but the spa service was about $30 more than it would cost in the "real world" (even with the "special" rates), and of course drinks were more expensive, and there was always something else to spend money on. Obviously getting you aboard is a loss leader. Dining: Breakfast and lunch were decent buffets on the lido deck. Lunch never started until noon, which was odd to me. There were many times when there was very little to eat other than the extremely busy pizza and hamburger windows. Dinner in the Golden dining room (early dining, upstairs) was an experience. Our waiter team were good, the Maitre'd responsive to requests and knew our names from the first night. The food was mixed... some was very good, some was bland and not worth the cost (ha ha). I liked the experimental menu choices (from frog legs to escargot), but twinged at the "Didja" title. There was never any problem getting multiple appetizers or main courses, and the service was usually quick. Entertainment: Other than one of the comedy club stand-ups (which was pretty funny), we didn't do much of the entertainment things on board. Many of our conversations and games were interrupted by the cruise director piping up with all of the events going on, hawking bingo, casino tournaments, the shops, the photography area, going for more and more upcharges. By the middle of the cruise, our group was quoting along with him more often than not. Service: The only people who gave any service at all were the ones included in the customary tips, and one amazing bartender at the Burgundy wine bar, Serakit. The lido waitstaff was mixed, some were attentive, while some let trays sit around for far too long, not cleaning tables, and one of them even seemed stoned most of the times we saw him. There was no evidence of a manager around when we wanted one. The lido staff had no problem when we camped out on deck ten to play board games for hours at a time. Shore Excursions: We didn't do any shore excursions, but in Nassau we took a bus (for $1.25!) to the south end of the island to go shopping away from the tourist traps... That was an experience. Once you get outside of the cruise zones, you see the conditions that people in the Bahamas live in, and it just brings the excess and luxury that even the poorest of Americans have. Sobering sight. Value for money: You get what you pay for. It was a cheap cruise, and with most of the entertainment requiring extra costs, we didn't do too much. I think the worst part of the cruise was the fact that it left out of Norfolk, and not Florida. Many of the guests on board were really the "People of Wal-Mart" crowd, and not the normal cruising demographic we were used to seeing, and excepted from Cruise Critic reviews. Many of them were loud, obnoxious, and dragging along their loud and obnoxious kids, even to the elegant dinners. They cut in lines, blocked stairwells, and were generally unruly to the staff and other guests. We felt sorry for our team of waiters and room stewards who had to put up with some of their guests. The last night of the cruise was a stormy night, with choppy seas, high winds, and rolling decks. It would have been fine if not for the storage bench outside our cabin being unlatched and slamming shut every few seconds after being opened by a wind gust. I complained to Guest Service at about 9:00pm, and was assured that the noise was the anchor lifting and dropping, there was nothing they could do, but they'd make a note of it. A while later, my wife looked outside the cabin and saw the bench seat raising and dropping. She called back down to guest service, explained what she saw, and they sent someone down to fix the problem. 45 minutes later, it was still banging around. She got dressed, went down to speak to guest service in person, and was assured it was secured. It turns out she had the one on deck six latched, not on deck seven. So they sent someone to get the one on seven... Problem is, there were two of them out there, and they only closed one of them! The second one was still making a huge racket. All told, we got maybe three hours of sleep on the last night, and were offered a whopping $28 refund for our troubles. Thankfully, they said they would address the root problem, and get the bench boxes on the bow of the ship added to the foul weather checklists. Hopefully nobody else will have to deal with them in the future! Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
We had great expectations of this cruise vacation before leaving - becaus of all the suite perks that we should have. Compared to the other cruises we have taken with regular cabins it should be great. The check in in New York was slow ... Read More
We had great expectations of this cruise vacation before leaving - becaus of all the suite perks that we should have. Compared to the other cruises we have taken with regular cabins it should be great. The check in in New York was slow - very slow. We arrived at 12PM and our agent used almost 45 minutes to check us in. She should not have been working at the suite check in. We were directed to the lounge where we were taken on board by the butler to the Tsars Palace (not Cagneys were we could have eaten). The food was cold and bad - a bad beginning of the cruise. After lunch the cabins was ready - the luggage arrived after a short while and we unpacked. We found baby bottles, baby toys, q tips (the ones which you clean your ears with), hand sanitizer, garbage on the Verandah and so on in the cabin. it was not a good start. The second morning we would like to place an order for breakfast at 9AM (2 BLT and 2 cheese sandwiches). It took the butler 1 hour to get this - on other cruises it has never taken more than 45 minutes - normally about 30 minutes. We tried again 2 days later to order a bootle of wine - still 1 hour. The kids club is nothing for Europeans at least. The only thing they seem to care about here is their own rules. No bumping (we were travelling 2 families with 2 kids that not see each other that often - and just 6 months apart - no they are not allowed together), not able to sign in before the opening time - even though all employees were there and it was 2 minutes before opening time. On our Celebrity Cruise in April they did everything so that the kids and parents could be happy - on NCL it seemed like the kids was a burden for them and that the customers was not there for them at all. We hade great expectations with Concierge, Butler, Nick Cruise and Kids club - but was disappointed. We are Norwegian ourselves - and this is not the Norwegian way to treat customers. On the good side - the cabin was great (except from dirty) and the food was better than expected. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Overall, this was good value for the money we paid. Embarkation was terrible - with very long queues. After nearly 1 hour 45 minutes, we finally boarded the ship to find a 'so called' balcony cabin. The spare bed for my ... Read More
Overall, this was good value for the money we paid. Embarkation was terrible - with very long queues. After nearly 1 hour 45 minutes, we finally boarded the ship to find a 'so called' balcony cabin. The spare bed for my teenage son was so small that his legs from the knees down would have been out of bed. Our balcony was surrounded by a wind shield, which reduced the view dramatically. After complaining (as I had checked that we had a proper balcony before we left!) they eventually moved us to an alternative cabin which was much better and was very nice. Generally the staff were very friendly and the food in the Garden Cafe was good, but sadly in the Tsars Palace and Azure restaurants, the menu was the same every night, with just a change to the Chefs Recommended dish. The dishes sometimes had different names, but were exactly the same as on previous nights. The entertainment in the theatre and the dj was poor, with the exception of Crazee Horse, but in the bars the entertainment was much better, with particular praise to Fire and Ice who were excellent, as was Nathaniel and the on board band, ie the Caibbean band and Mondial Magic. They were constantly trying to make money, apparent by the many speciality restaurants (all with a cover charge) We felt it would have been better to have had less specialist restaurants and therefore have more staff in the standard restaurants to improve on the service. Also, the ship overall was clean, with the exception of the toilets, which were always wet and untidy. Have cruised with other companies previously and have to say that the competition is better on the whole. However, for a cheap holiday if you are in the States, its worth a try. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
We booked adjoining cabins for this cruise... my wife and I, and my daughter and her two children, ages 4 and 10. Being wheelchair bound, we were leery about the children. It was unfounded! In fact, the 10 year old boy did most of the ... Read More
We booked adjoining cabins for this cruise... my wife and I, and my daughter and her two children, ages 4 and 10. Being wheelchair bound, we were leery about the children. It was unfounded! In fact, the 10 year old boy did most of the pushing, giving my wife a respite. The food was HORRIBLE on the first night! The escargot tasted weird and, as anyone would tell you, ALL food was good... some was better than others, but ALL food was good to me. We wondered just what we were getting into. Carnival always had great food... no worry, as the next night and for the rest of the cruise, the food was excellent! Also, Ronaldo, our waiter, was very friendly, and he really helped us with the handicapped stuff. Carnival did a GREAT job entertaining the kids, and we didn't worry about them (well, not much) The weather was bad... it rained most of the time, but that's Mother Nature's fault, not Carnival. The only problem we had was the rocking of the boat. My wife became sick and I nearly needed a seasick pill. Is that because of the size of the ship? Carnival Glory and other ships that size that we were on were stable... All in all, the cruise was enjoyable, and we wouldn't hesitate to invite the kids again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
First, let me say, we had a wonderful cruise on the Carnival Fascination. We had 6 in our group. My wife and I, an accountant and travel agent respectively, have had 18 cruises, 14 of them on Carnival. (This was our fourth cruise on the ... Read More
First, let me say, we had a wonderful cruise on the Carnival Fascination. We had 6 in our group. My wife and I, an accountant and travel agent respectively, have had 18 cruises, 14 of them on Carnival. (This was our fourth cruise on the Fascination.) Also with us was my brother- and sister-in-law (a retired police officer and his wife); they cruise with us most of the time, so they have as many cruises as we do. The final members of our group were two sisters (a registered nurse and administrative assistant) who were on their first cruise. My DW and I booked a suite since we were celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary. The suite was nice, but for the extra price we paid, I think next time I will just stick to a balcony or ocean-view depending on the class of ship. We are planning a 15-day Hawaii cruise on the Splendor in 2013; I think we will have to book a balcony on that one. I love leaving the door open at night and listening to the sea. We checked in at Jaxport about 10:30 Saturday; by 11:15 we were on the ship. We parked at a local park-and-ride lot for just $5 per day, and they were Johnny-on-the-spot as far as getting us to the ship and being there when we got off. In contrast, the cruise port in Jacksonville charges $15 per day to park. I noticed as we set sail the Jaxport parking lot was only about 1/3 full, even though we had a almost full ship. It appears that cruisers are cutting corners by using these park-and-ride lots around the cruise ports. Can you blame them? Our first night at sea was a great kick-off to our cruise. Our wait staff, WeeWee and PeePee, were great. Our drinks were kept full, the bread hot and fresh. Our food was delivered in a very timely manner and was pretty good. Carnival has changed their menus and some of the dishes. My wife, who loves soups, commented that they were very good but not as good as past. I had a steak one night that was on the tough side, but the next one I had a couple days later was much much better. Our first full day was a "Fun Day at Sea." The food throughout the day was very good. Lines were not too bad; I don't think anyone in my party had to wait in one more than 15 or 20 minutes. The pizza was great, and the deli sandwiches were outstanding. All day long there were plenty of activities. I've read several pieces that have put down the CD, Jen. However, I thought she was pleasant and did a good job. Her staff was well prepared for all the activities they were responsible for. I have been on cruises where the CD staff was late for every event. Our sea day also included Formal Night. I really am disappointed that a good many of the passengers do not dress up for formal night as they did when we first started cruising 10 years ago. I have a tux I wear, and my wife will dress up also, but I only counted three other tux-wearers in our dining room. 650 people in our dining, and many of them were dressed like it was any other dinner seating! And the other nights the dress for dinner has gone downhill. At one time, shorts and T-shirts were not allowed, but that's not the case anymore. The show the first night was the same old tired show that Carnival has been doing for 5 or more years. It's a great upbeat show, but I think it's time for a change. The weather and seas were a bit choppy that day. We had a passenger get very ill around dinnertime, so the CD announced that we would have to go into Miami to get the passenger off the ship. As we made the turn back to the west, the waves went from 4-6 feet to 8-10 feet. As we got closer to Miami's port, the rain was hard and winds picked up. It took about two hours to get into the Port of Miami, get the sick passenger off and get back on our way. We were scheduled to get into Key West at 7AM the next day; however, we didn't dock there until about 8:30. We did get to stay until 4:30. Though our ride to Key West was bumpy, the day is Key West was absolutely gorgeous. We docked at the Navy base and had to ride a tram to the main areas. That went very smooth, and there appeared to be a steady flow, so I don't think anyone had to wait long. This is a wonderful island, and we enjoy our time there. This time, we just made our pilgrimage to Kermit's Key Lime Shop for a frozen slice of pie dipped in milk chocolate. Baby, this is so good, "It would make a puppy pull a freight train!" Day three we found ourselves in Nassau. We have been there several times. We now take the #10 bus from downtown to Cable Beach, $1.25 each way. We visit the Sheraton, which charges a daily fee of $25 per person to use their beach, pools, and non-motorized water sports. It was windy, and light showers moved in and out as the day progressed. We splashed around in the warm waters and enjoyed the time relaxing. On our way back to the ship on the bus, part of Bay Street was blocked for road work, so our driver took us the scenic route. If you have never seen the neighborhoods of Nassau, it's something to see. The people along the path we took were very poor, but they appeared happy. Some of the roads we traveled down, I wasn't sure if they were actual roads or someone's driveway. At one point the traffic was backed up and our driver had to aggressively apply the brakes, leaving some tire marks on the road and making the passengers on the full bus gasp. However, no harm, no foul. We made it back to the port area and were walking into the terminal/mall, and I noticed that the usual tourist harassment about taxis, hair breading, etc. wasn't as in-your-face as it has been in the past. There was some, but a polite "No, thank you," seemed to do the trick. We were not slated to leave Nassau until 10PM that night, so dinner population was light. This was a good thing, though, since this was the night of the past passenger reception. I don't drink, so I wasn't there for the free alcohol, but to cheer at the ship slideshow. I did get on stage for the Carnival trivia contest. I won it two years ago on the second question; this time, I was out on the second question. I couldn't remember the first Carnival ship that had the "whale tail." We didn't go to the show that night as we had seen it several times before. We elected to sit on the Lido deck and play several rounds of cards. I did sample a calzone from the pizza bar. It wasn't a tasty as is looked, so I picked it apart and shared the pepperonis with my wife, Shirley. The next day, the ship turned north, and we had a great day at sea. Between my wife and me, we totaled three 24-Carat-Gold-Plastic Ships-on-a-Stick. My wife also won a medallion. We really enjoy playing the trivia games. I also got on stage for the disco dance lesson. I did it to get our two "blue card" cruisers up there. I did pretty well since it had been several decades since I did my last disco dancing. The show that night was based on the 1980s. Before the show they played a 30-minute video of 80s commercials and TV shows. I like it; it brings back some good memories of my younger days. The Carnival dancers were very good; the male dancers were some of the best I have seen on Carnival. The two lead singers were good as well. We have had the female singer on other ships; she tries to sing notes that are too high for her, but she did blend very well with the guy. Getting off the ship when we returned to Jax was flawless. One of the CD staff told us the night before that Carnival already knew they would not be able to sail out for the next cruise until 8PM because of the high tide and bridge clearance, and they had already canceled their port call to Freeport. Bummer for the next cruisers. Overall, we had a great cruise. Of our 14 Carnival cruises, this would be in the top half of all of them. I read a lot of the reviews, and I see many negative remarks about Carnival. They are a good cruise line. Are there some problems? Yes, but what large cooperation doesn't have them? Can they do better with customer complaints? Many times. But there are people who will let one irritation fester the rest of the cruise and will then blast everything about the cruise. My DW and I try to find the positive and just enjoy our time together getting away from it all. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
My mother, sister and I take a girls cruise every October. We are all over 55 and mom has a scooter, oxygen and other health equipment she takes along for the cruise. First let me say our cabin was huge. We were pleasantly surprised at ... Read More
My mother, sister and I take a girls cruise every October. We are all over 55 and mom has a scooter, oxygen and other health equipment she takes along for the cruise. First let me say our cabin was huge. We were pleasantly surprised at how much room we had and that they actually have these rooms on a ship. We had a full sized door, which would have accommodated mom's regular scooter but we didn't know that, so we rented a smaller one, to be on the safe side. We had a dining room with a full sized table and four chairs, and on the other side of the room, a long dry bar. The balcony is by the bar. Our living room was large with a king sofa that converts into a bed. There is a coffee table, two sitting chairs, one with an ottoman, a writing table, and a large flat screen TV with a DVD player. There was plenty of storage throughout the suite as well as ample outlets to plug in anything you might need to plug in or charge-up. The king sized bedroom had a large chest to store all of your belongings and a large flat screen TV above it and another DVD player. No DVDs and none to check out or rent. No one told us that they would be in our suite, so they really were a waste. The vanity area was very spacious with two sinks and usable outlets. To your left is a walk-in closet with rods on both sides of the closet.To the right, is a huge bathroom, with a large glass shower, a large jacuzzi bathtub and a higher than normal commode. The bathroom has a towel bar and a hook for robe or towel. We really enjoyed the room and all it had to offer us. However, the bar was not useful without wine or other drinks, which were not a part of the fabulous room. The dining table was not much use when we couldn't order meals from the dining room. Room service was available but they only delivered certain items. We still had to go to the buffet to get grits and omelette and other items. I would have thought a nice set of salt and pepper shakers would have been on the table, but no. On other cruise lines I have traveled, suites automatically had concierge service or accommodations for the services, free wine, beer and/or soft drinks as well as ordering from the main dining room menu. None of this was offered or a part of the suite. We were told the last day, that we could have brought a bottle of wine in our carry-on, to be enjoyed in the privacy of our cabin. A little late then. As you can tell, things could be handled in a better fashion than they currently are, to help maximum the full potential of this suite. Not sure I'd pay the price for it on this ship again without all the perks available for free on other cruise lines. There were about 10 full length windows for great views all around. I'll be glad to answer any questions. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
It's taken me this long to get home, settled in, and down off the clouds after my back to back cruises on the Norwegian Sky. What an incredible cruise, and what an even more incredible crew!! My trip starts out with the usual ... Read More
It's taken me this long to get home, settled in, and down off the clouds after my back to back cruises on the Norwegian Sky. What an incredible cruise, and what an even more incredible crew!! My trip starts out with the usual arrival at the port of Miami. If you've not sailed out of Miami yet, have no fear, it's completely painless. You'll be dropped off right in front of where you need to be. If you were smart and put your luggage tags on back at the hotel, you'll simply drop them with the luggage handlers and go directly to the port house. At that point, you'll receive a little form to fill out to make sure you don't have the flu or other assorted bugs, and go thru an airport-security type screening checkpoint. As long as you don't have any opened bottles of anything, like at the airport, you will be fine. If you have an unfinished soda, you'll have to leave it behind. If you are staying in the suites or have a VIP designation, then head right over to the VIP Registration office and they will take great care of you while you snack on treats. If not, then proceed to the general registration counter with your flu form, your eRegistration docs (you did print them off, right?), and passport in hand. Hand the agent the paperwork, smile for the camera, present a credit card, and receive you stateroom key card. From there you will go to the waiting area (if you are early) to pause for full clearance of the ship, if it's after twelve, you will saunter right on board. I can tell you that it took longer to type this paragraph than it took me to board. It was smooth, seamless, painless and actually quite fun! As I made the final zig-zag turns and arrived on board, I was met by Richard Matic and Gio, the Cruise Director and Assistant Cruise Director respectively. They were grinning from ear to ear, waving, and joyously welcoming the guests on board. Now when you consider that this crew does 3 and 4 day cruises back to back, it's no small feat to be so upbeat, charming and energized time after time. Not to mention they are adorable! I'm already excited and I'm not even inside yet! In all fairness, I had met Richard before on the Pearl for my Alaska cruise, but none the less it had been nearly three months and a few thousand passengers for him. Yet he recognized me right away, we shared a big hug and promises to catch up later. He kept that promise and made this cruise one of my favorites. Upon entering Deck 6, you will marvel at the atrium lobby. Unlike the new ships with just 2 or 3 decks of atrium, the Sky's atrium ascends all the way to the top of the ship. The lobby is flanked by glass elevators that offer a fantastic view as you ascend! The lobby is bright and cheerful as are the assorted crew members all awaiting to take your wine order, sell you a soda package, hold your carryon's while you wander and wait for your stateroom, take your dinner reservations, and direct you to where you might find lunch or anything else your little heart desires. As the days passed, I experienced nearly everything possible on the Sky. And I do mean everything! From food, to fitness, to entertainment, to relaxation, to exploration, to more fun that I though imaginable sailing alone. That's right, this was a solo cruise for me, and I must say that I was attended to with as much care and interest as the larger parties and full families staying in the Suites. The cuisine was fantastic! I did eat in the Palace Main Dining room once and the food was delicious and the service perfect. I also ate in my favorite haunt, Le Bistro and the meal was nothing short of exquisite. Don't leave without trying the French Onion Soup and the Escargot. There is an up-charge for this restaurant but it will be the best $20 you spend on board. Another up-charge restaurant I sampled was La Cucina, and it didn't disappoint. Try your best to avoid the traditional pasta favorites and delight in some non-traditional but scrumptious Italian delights! Not because they aren't good, but because you shouldn't miss out eating something truly out of the ordinary. My breakfasts in Cagney's were way too yummy with my favorite being what I would call "pound cake turned into French toast"...need I say more? Then there is a buffet of fresh fruits and pastries that should be enough to fill you for the entire day. The Garden Cafe Buffet was adequate with plenty of selections that you would expect at a buffet, with some surprises such as some Indian and Asian food selections. I do miss the fresh chocolate chip cookies that are usually there, but can I really complain with a dozen other desserts to choose from? I do enjoy comedy and magic, but typically these shows on a cruise ship are more of an option for your evening's entertainment, rather than a "must see". My mind was changed when I attended Rich Purpura's comedy and magic show. I was hooked, and attended each and every one of his shows and events. I laughed so hard, and I can't begin to tell you why. There isn't a joke I could retell, because it wasn't really so much an "act" as a conversation with a man musing about things on the ship and in life. It was total hilarity on a level I've not experienced in a long time. The Norwegian Sky Production company was yet again another surprise. I've sailed several NCL ships, and I'll be the first to say that I miss the Jean Ann Ryan Company (JAC) performances. Most ship's productions companies I've seen were good and entertaining, but not the caliber of the JAC's. This theory was dispelled on the Sky. The Sky Production Company not only met and matched but exceeded what I'd seen with JAC. The connection between the performers was authentic and electrifying. You could see the chemistry and feel the energy among them and it was contagious! In addition to the regular stage entertainment, the Cruise Director Staff kept anyone and everyone that wanted to be involved very busy with an assortment of onboard activities that not only pleased but genuinely entertained. There was something for everyone among the assorted classes, tastings, clinics, game shows, bingo events, and exciting nightclub entertainment. Just to name a few of my favorites: Dancing with the Stars; The Fountains Show; Adult Quest (if you are over 18, you MUST do this); 70's and 80's Disco; White Hot Party; the Ship-N-Males Revue; and the assorted crazy pool deck antics such as the Mr. Sexy Legs Competition; Ice Sculpting demo; the Pub Hub crawl; and more. All that was just on the ship! They continued to carry on with more activities on the beach on NCL's private island "Great Stirrup Caye". Now admittedly, I spent my time holding a beach lounger down and not participating, but there were ongoing events on the beach such as a Hula Hoop Competition; a Limbo Contest; Parasailing; Snorkeling; Jet Ski use; and Kayaking, along with great live Caribbean music and a beach BBQ that left nothing behind. I would like to pause here and take a moment to mention the Cruise Director by name, Richard Matic. He has to be one of the most dedicated and under-rated Cruise Directors in NCL's fleet. You will not only have the time of your life on a ship with him, but you will leave the cruise with a new friend and having a better experience for knowing him. Richard went out of his way to make his guests feel personally welcome. If you sail the Sky, and Richard is still the CD be sure to tell him that "Tonette says hello" and if you are so inclined give him a great big hug. Richard heads a fantastic Cruise Directors staff including Assistant Cruise Director Gio, who also is an amazing personality that will leave a great big smile on your face every time you chat with him. I'm sure we will see Gio on a ship of his own as CD very soon! Please tell him hello for me also, and don't forget the hug! Another person that single handedly made my cruise everything it was, is Concierge Omar O'Besso. You simply cannot find a more dedicated concierge in all of NCL's fleet. Omar loves his job, but more than that he takes a very sincere interest in his guests in a way that I've not encountered before. By the time your cruise is over, you will want to take him home with you! Here is another chance for you to hug another NCL crew member for me! Give Omar two!! The Hotel Director -â€" Steven Knot, F&B Director - Mike Van Bokhoven, and Beverage Director - Raj Rodrigues, were also outstanding examples of Officers who take great pleasure in what they do, and that being making sure you are having the best experience possible. I don't think these men ever slept, as I saw them first thing when I got up and they were still going late into the night. I just have to add a couple of points of interest, and insist that you verify these facts. The Hotel Director and the Guest Services Manager can dance a very steamy, albeit rough tango! The Beverage Director is from India and quite possibly a reincarnation of Michael Jackson. These details may seem silly (and they are), but they attest to what lengths the Officers of this crew go to in order to not only entertain guests, but have a good time with each other! I've just been mentioning Officers, but let me assure you the remaining crew is equally as dedicated. I can attest that my room steward Gusti on the Norway deck, never sleeps and spent the entire cruise posted outside my stateroom door awaiting my every request. The charming young lady, Uneza Shaikin selling the "chain by the inch" in the gift shop never failed to stop me for a hug and a hello. The Cruise Consultant Martin took it upon himself to personally resolve an issue I was having with my Latitudes number without my even asking. Christian in the Crossings Dining Room met me on embarkation day, and she never failed to remember my first name. I could go on and on. Even the photographer staff is friendly and fun. The photos are still FAR too expensive, but I have to admit their charm even seduced me into purchasing a couple of the prints. You just can't help yourself when the photo was so great (me in my Queen of Hearts Halloween costume on the grand staircase), and the gang is just so friendly. Always a stop for me was the fitness center and the spa. The fitness center is more than adequate with state of the art equipment, and plenty of it. There is a free weight section as well as the rows of treadmills and ellipticals all facing the large picture windows with a great view. I have to wonder though, why do they attach televisions to the tops of those things when there is such an amazing view?? LOL I never had a problem finding a free machine. I did take a couple of classes but have to say I was a bit frustrated a couple of times, so didn't attend the usual amount that I normally would. Once the instructor decided to do "abs" instead of what was on the schedule which was "stretch and relax"; and once during a stretch class a cartoon was on the television at a pretty hefty volume. I was thinking more like Enya for a stretch class, and not Sponge Bob. I'm sure I could have said something, so the onus is on me for not doing so, but just some observations. The spa was nice, crisp, refreshing, and rejuvenating looking with a full salon and barber services, along with assorted spa treatments. There is a small one-person hydro therapy tub but it's an extra charge unless you purchase a Poultice Massage. I was a bit disappointed that I wasn't able to use it for a bit before my Bamboo Massage, but those are the rules. There is also a steam room and sauna in the locker room, which you can use if you purchase a spa treatment. I took the spa tour on the first day, which is always fun, and you can sign up for the drawing which were several really great prizes. I signed up for a Bamboo Massage and a Therapie' Facial. Both were very enjoyable albeit it still pretty pricey. Make sure you take advantage of port day specials to make it affordable. I must say that I prefer the NCL Mandara Spa's with the Relaxation Spa section, but considering this is a small ship, they did quite well with their space. The spa staff is friendly and helpful and knowledgeable. Since I was on a back-to-back, I'd like to share some about that experience. I was lucky and was assigned the same stateroom, so that meant that I didn't have to pack up at the end of my first leg. I was able to get up, go for my run, work out in the gym, shower and get dressed, have a lovely breakfast in Cagney's, and leisurely make my way to Captain Cook's Bar at 10am. I was met there by a crew member from Guest Services that walked me off the ship, and handed me to a Port Crew Member who literally walked me off the ship, and down to Immigration and Customs. This was a simple process of handing them my Customs Document, my passport, smiling and answering "yes" to the question of "So you had so much fun you are staying on board?" I was then again escorted to the waiting area, and in very short order, as soon as the ship cleared, I was the first to be escorted back on board. I slipped back up to my stateroom, grabbed my iPad, and found a spot in the sun on Deck 11 to relax and await the rest of the new batch of passengers. Then I had a bright idea and went up to the spa and took advantage of it being completely empty and got a massage and facial. Ahhhhhh! When I emerged from my bliss, the ship was full of new guests and my adventure continued! The ports of call we visited were Freeport, Nassau and Great Stirrup Caye (GSC), all islands in the Bahamas. The four day portion of my cruise stopped at all three ports. The three day portion stopped at Nassau and GSC only. I must admit I didn't spend much time on shore in either Freeport or Nassau. My plan, to be honest, was to simply stay on board and exquisitely take part in every aspect of my floating 5 star resort at sea, but I did venture on land twice and want to share those highlights with you. Freeport is your typical port pier shopping experience with the "straw market" hawkers and a live Caribbean band that breaks into action whenever a passenger appears on the gangway coming off the ship. I can't tell you anything about any of the ship's excursions or any excursions for that matter, nor the famous or infamous "Our Lucaya" as I didn't make it anywhere near it. I can share with you one of the highlights of my cruise, and that was a visit to the Perfume Factory in the old International Bazaar in Freeport. I had read about it online, and decided that was my one stop. I disembarked and tried to get a taxi. "How much to the International Bazaar?" I asked. "It's closed lady, go to Our Lucaya, its better!" Now I knew this was coming. From having read on CruiseCritic, the taxi drivers make $5 to take you to Our Lucaya and only $4 to the International Bazaar, so they tend to stretch the truth. It's true that about 50% of the shops in the International Bazaar are closed. Due to the hurricanes and the main hotel there closing, many shops just never reopened. There is endless gossip about how may be buying the hotel and resurrecting the area, but those rumors have been going on for a few years now. Who really knows? One historical icon that still stands at the International Bazaar is the Perfume Factory. Its history goes back being founding in 1969 by Albert Whisnant, later sold to Peter and Patricia Aston in 1976, and since Mr. Aston's death in 1993, is now ran by Mrs. Aston and daughter Chrisanne, but you can read all about that on their website. In brief, it's a free standing building that appears to be a replica of an old Bahamian Mansion. Inside, your nose will be delighted with an exotic dance of refreshing delightful fragrances coming from tropical perfumes, lotions, oils and soaps. The friendly staff will be grateful you came and more than happy to escort you throughout the premises for a tour. If you are so inclined, you can sit down before a myriad of essential oils and create your very own fragrance, which you will hand mix and create yourself. For a very reasonable fee, you will leave with 1.5oz of your signature scent and a certificate of registry for your formula. It may sound very kitschy, but I spent my afternoon taking the tour, creating my fragrance and speaking with Chrisanne (daughter of the Astons). No doubt this lovely woman has given this tour hundreds, no thousands of times, but by her demeanor with me, I would have sworn it was one of her first. Her excitement and joy in helping someone understand fragrances was contagious. So I simply had to create my own. Make the time to visit the Perfume Factory. If Chrisanne is there, please tell her that I said hello. Great Stirrup Caye is NCL's private island that is still under construction. That said, there are many things ready and waiting for you. There is a functional dock now that the tenders use, and getting off and on the Caye is very easy. Unless of course there are high winds and rough seas. It is said that 2 out of 3 stops at GSC are cancelled due to this condition, so keep that in mind. My back-to-back had two stops planned at GSC, and one was cancelled. The day we made it to the Caye was lovely! There is a nice stretch of beach along a protected cove that makes for softly rolling waves onto a white sand beach. They still need to do some work grooming the beach regularly, as the coral embankment surrounding the cove is in an ever constant state of depositing broken pieces of coral and shells. This isn't a big deal, but be sure to bring aqua socks or beach shoes if you have tender tootsies. NCL's Cruise Director's Staff has a long long list of assorted beach activities going throughout the day, along with a variety of aquatic excursions. You won't be bored. There is live music, a simple straw market, three full bars, and a beach BBQ buffet that won't leave you wanting for anything. I chose to make it my mission to make sure that my beach lounger didn't try to escape and kept myself firmly planted on it most of the day. There are lots of beach loungers and beach chairs available at no charge, but I would still suggest you get off the boat early if you wish to make sure you have one closer to the water's edge. There are no beach umbrellas, but you can rent a clam shell style shelter. The cabanas are not yet completed, but there are a few assorted buildings that you can seek some refuge from the sun. There are also palm trees a plenty if you can score one early. Another blissful day on a white sand beach in a tropical island setting. Here are some random assorted tips: *Grab your breakfast and slip into the Long Boards Bar to eat it. It's quieter than in the buffet, and offers a unique venue for breakfast. *There is a fantastic bar outside Cagney's called the Plantation. They rarely advertise on ship, but most nights from 6p-8p they offer two-for-one martinis! The best alcohol deal on the ship! *There is a "quiet zone" just above the pool deck around the front of the ship; it has a nice quiet private hot tub and splash pool. *Take in the Art Auction preview for the free champagne and you might learn something about art. *Take in the Gift Shop Presentation for free liquor tastings. *Take advantage of the laundry special half way thru the cruise. Get all those delicates done before you go home. It's a great deal AND they fold. *At least ONCE, get up and go have coffee on the far aft of the ship on Deck 11 and watch the sun rise. *Do NOT miss the Fountains Show or anything with Rich Purpura. *Give Richard, Omar and Gio big hugs for me...did I say that already? Bon voyage! Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
As someone who has been on 12 Cruises (Carnival, Princess and Royal Caribbean) I can attest that NCL is the worst cruise experience. If you rode the Staten Island Ferry you would get a smoother ride, better food, and better service. My ... Read More
As someone who has been on 12 Cruises (Carnival, Princess and Royal Caribbean) I can attest that NCL is the worst cruise experience. If you rode the Staten Island Ferry you would get a smoother ride, better food, and better service. My family and I just came off a 7 day cruise aboard the NCL Jewel. We were apprehensive to try the freestyle cruising because we traditional enjoy the same servers at dinner, but tried this one because we heard mixed reviews and the price was right. After taking this cruise, I do not know how NCL is still in business. The crews from the front desk staff to the servers throughout the ship were extremely rude and had the "I do not care" attitude. This is attributed to the fact that $12 per person per day is automatically charged to your account and there is no accountability for their service because they will not serve you every night. The ship is narrow and does not handle well in 4-7 foot swells. The ship rocked from the Verrazano's Bridge and kept rocking for 7 days. The constant rocking was so bad, people were throwing up and the pools were closed on the warmest days. If you choose this ship, bring your wallets. The price may be less for the cruise, but you will spend money on specialty restaurants because the food in the dining room and buffet are horrible. NCL nickel and dimes you for everything from meeting SpongeBob for breakfast, to sushi, to cake in the main atrium, to eating decent food. In addition, be prepared for only 2 ports of call because the private island is typically canceled due to weather and the ship generates revenue as people fight for deck chairs, purchase high prices drinks and play $50 bingo. Lastly, since we ate in the specialty restaurants every night, paid extra and tipped those servers so we removed the tips from our account (we did tip the cabin steward cash). When we made this request to the front desk, we were given much resistance as they asked us why... said it was not possible... said it was for everyone on the ship... etc; however, please know gratuity is for services well performed and are NOT Mandatory. If you wish to have your tips removed... stand strong and you can have the tips removes. The total for tips for a family of 4 was $336 in addition to the specialty restaurant fees. In short, go on Carnivals newer ships, Princess or RCCL.... It will be worth it. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
We live in Central Florida so it was an easy drive to Port Canaveral. I am 68 and my husband is 69 years old but we are young at heart. Embarkation was very smooth. No waiting line and top notch staffing to answer any questions we ... Read More
We live in Central Florida so it was an easy drive to Port Canaveral. I am 68 and my husband is 69 years old but we are young at heart. Embarkation was very smooth. No waiting line and top notch staffing to answer any questions we had. This is our 3rd cruise aboard the Carnival Ecstasy - 1992, 1997 and now 2011. We were very pleased at the cleanliness of the ship - very well maintained, in our opinion. Our stateroom had a balcony which was very nice. Our cabin steward (U201) was exceptional. One of the first ships we have cruised where the cabin steward actually cleaned the balcony every day - like new! The cruise director was very personable and had an amazing talent of playing the fiddle. The country show they presented was super thanks in a large part to the cruise director fiddle-playing. We normally do not eat in the formal dining room. We frequent the Lido Deck and the buffet they offer each day. We did not go on any excursions but we know the water activities are exceptional. The country show was the best of the shows on this cruise. There was a good variety in the show which made it enjoyable. We no longer get off ships when going to Nassau since we have been there so many times. Freeport was very nice and clean. Enjoyed the casino at Port Lucaya in Freeport. The four night cruise was just fine for a get-a-way! The waters are beautiful and the water excursions are top notch. Disembarkation: This was the first time we disembarked with self-assist. Being the first one off is not necessarily the best way to get off a ship. We were winded by the time we got out of the terminal and reached our car. We are just too old to try that again. We honestly couldn't find anything to complain about - very nice experience. The entire staff should be commended for their efforts! Great time! Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
Last year, our family took a Thanksgiving cruise because our children and I are off for the week of Thanksgiving. My husband learned of an outstanding one day sale for this several weeks before the cruise and we couldn't help but book ... Read More
Last year, our family took a Thanksgiving cruise because our children and I are off for the week of Thanksgiving. My husband learned of an outstanding one day sale for this several weeks before the cruise and we couldn't help but book it. We actually went on this ship back in 2003. It has since been refurbished. We live in Florida and so we did not need to use a hotel in Miami. The ship Majesty of the Seas is a lovely ship. It is smaller than many of the RCI ships and it typically is used for their 3 and 4 night cruises. It was refurbished a few years ago and is what I'd call understated classiness. I believe it holds about 3300 passengers. It never seemed crowded to me, which was a pleasant surprise. I was impressed with the list of activities that they offered on this cruise. We didn't do much on the ship because it was only 4 nights long and there were three ports of call. All of our party found the service to be excellent on the ship. The staff and crew members were very gracious. It was some of the best service I recall on a cruise ship. We did not use any of the ship's offered shore excursions because they are typically overpriced. The first stop was in Nassau, Bahamas. The second, was Coco Cay, RCI's "private island." The third was Key West, FL. All cruisers had to go through immigration before going to the island. They started it at ten and there were people who stood in the line for TWO HOURS. The line went ALL the way ACROSS the ship on the fifth floor. It was ridiculous. We didn't even bother getting in line. We hung out at the pool for a while, then got lunch. At 12:30, we went to immigration and walked right through. I know that the line was very frustrating for many people. Coco Cay is their private island. This was a very fun stop. We went directly to the closest beach when we got off of the tender. It was also the busiest section of beach. However, as you went further down the beach, certain areas were almost like quicksand because of low tide time. The snorkeling was very good here. We had our own masks and flippers, but they make you rent a vest, which is $6 per person. Those sneaky little RCI planners! There are a lot of activities you can pay to do, or you can just enjoy the beach. There is a "nature trail" but it's very short. There is a shopping area, of course and the people working there are actually all people from the outlying islands. They have plenty of restrooms and a few freshwater showers. A lunch was provided on the island and there was a decent selection for the lunch. There were things like burgers, hot dogs, grilled chicken pieces, ribs and various salads, along with a few desserts and lots of drinks. All in all, that was a very fun day. We live in central FL, and were actually staying in Naples the previous night with some family. We drove to the Miami port and parked in an off the port lot. The particular company we used was NOT good, but it looks as though Premier is a good parking choice and it's much cheaper than parking at the port. The stateroom was a very small interior stateroom. Because the ship is a bit older than many of the big ones, there were fewer balconies and the rooms, in general, were a bit smaller than other ships. The room was very very clean, thanks to an excellent room steward. It was well maintained and the carpet and furniture were in good condition. It had two twin beds and two bunks that pulled down. There was a little pop up table between the beds, a small desk with drawers and one side on the top with little shelves. There was also a little closet with a good bit of hanging space. The bathroom was little with a shower, but it sufficed. The food was excellent. We had dinner in the Starlight Dining Room every night and our servers were great. My children especially liked the assistant waiter who did a new magic trick every night for them. My son appreciated this waiter because he helped him out when he saw my son in the buffet restaurant one morning at breakfast. There was a nice menu every night. The chicken marsala night was outstanding. I wasn't crazy about the duck when I got that one night. We had lunch and breakfast in the Windjammer, which is where the buffet is served. The breakfast selection was exactly what was available in the main dining room and it was always very good. The lunch selection was varied and everything was delicious. We also really enjoyed the Compass deli where they had a variety of premade specialty sandwiches, a small salad bar, and three soups with bread, along with a couple of desserts. The crepes there were a very tasty treat, as well. Our kids especially liked Sorrento's pizza. There was a constant supply of fresh baked pizza selections available when they were open. The yogurt and soft serve ice cream machine were open for limited hours. I never tried it, but heard the stuff was very good. The children's facility was very nice, but we did not use it this time around. Since we were in port every day, our children stayed with us and were actually pretty tired by evening. I met a few of the workers and they seemed very nice and the kids appeared to have a lot of fun. The entertainment was average to excellent. On opening night, the comedian shared for a while and was hilarious. My kids even loved him. I didn't see his regular show that was the following night. I think it might have been more suited for adults, from what I heard. There were two shows presented by the cruise singers and dancers. I'm a musician so I am fairly picky. Only one of the four main singers was very good, and even he had only a limited range. The other guy was fairly quiet and one of the girls sang WAY too loud and was off pitch. The other lady had a tough time singing out on her part. The dancers were very good but the choreography was pretty flashy and their costumes drew your attention away from the dancing, really. The themes were 1960's music and soul music each time. The afro wigs were just cheesy! During the soul show, I found it unusual that they were singing songs that were all done by African American performers, and they were showing slides of African American performers, yet only three of the cruise singers/dancers were African American. The band was actually one of the best I recall hearing perform on a cruise. They were the best part of the show. There was a juggler who had won some international competition. He was AMAZING! He had written and recorded all of his own music and his performance just blew my mind. The whole audience gave the guy a long standing ovation at the end of his performance, it was so good. It reminded me of the type of thing you'd see at Cirque de Soleil. We were supposed to disembark at 9:00 a.m. We did not get called to leave the ship until about 10:00 a.m. Then we stood in line for 15 minutes. Then we were sent to get our bags and customs, where we stood in line for 30 minutes. The backup was an annoyance to us, but would have been disastrous for someone who was needing to get to the airport. We were told that this had something to do with Thanksgiving, but when you are dealing with so many people, a business needs to be better prepared to handle something like this. The only real negatives were the lines in Key West and on disembarkation day. Overall, it was a wonderful cruise. The ship was enjoyable to be on, the service was excellent, and the ports of call were a lot of fun. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
I have sailed a few other ships with carnival before, the last being a couple yrs ago or so. So things have changed and it was interesting. Checking in and checking out of the ship is faster now than ever before which is a plus. The ... Read More
I have sailed a few other ships with carnival before, the last being a couple yrs ago or so. So things have changed and it was interesting. Checking in and checking out of the ship is faster now than ever before which is a plus. The airport transfer is still smooth and hassle free. Embarkation day on 11/20 was good. Got to the ship around 12 noon and breezed right through the check in process. The muster drill is a little easier now too which I like, don't have to bring the life jackets to the drill. I happened to be on this cruise thanks to getting the last available room on the ship. Therefore, I get my set and sail card and see I have the 8:15pm dining. At 1pm I head to the dining room when it opened, to make changes, and got the 6:00pm dining which was cool. The water was very rough heading out on Sunday night the 20th. Was a rough sail all night, the boat rocked pretty good and had people bouncing off walls. Felt like I was hammered but I only had 2 drinks for the night. Bought the bottomless bubbles soda card after I left port for 27.00. Would have costed 29-30.00 in port. Dining staff - Maitre D Orhan was a lame duck. Yes, a lame duck. He really showed no interest in stopping by tables during the week to mingle with the crowd, little to be seen or heard from it seemed like all week. Kind of weird if you ask me when all my past experiences, maitre d's get invovled and their dining room staff involved with their tables. The waiters were ok but nothing to cry home about about. Very low key and straight to business. I also did not leave any tip at the end of the cruise. According the information I read, the tip in the maitre d is not included in the 40.00 billed tips. The food was pretty good though as usual that carnival has had over the years, in the dining room. Food in the other lounges - Pizza I think has gone downhill a little from my past experiences on carnival. Didn't seem like it's the same. They always had soft serve ice cream available. The food cooked around midnight was good and plentiful. Loved the prime rib and chicken. Sandwiches were good, loved their tuna yummy. Also loved all the different desserts they had mmmmmm.. Breakfast was ok but not super great. Eggs are kinda wet and not much taste to them, and they come scrambled. Omlettes are available on request. Room Service- Always got the room service within 20 minutes of ordering every night. I took advantage of it since it is free. The only thing not free is drinks. Even if you have bottomless bubbles they'd charge for it. The chocolate cake thing they have for dessert in room service is soooo yummy. Bar / Drinks - I stay away from the 7.50 drinks of the day as that can rack up the bill pretty quick. The classic mixed drinks run 8.95ish, drink of the day 7.50, and the other mixed drinks run around 6-9.00. In the lounge on the Lido deck where the other food is, there is only Lemonade, White and Chocolate Milk, and Unsweetened Iced Tea as well as coffee. They didnt offer fruit punch which ive had years ago on other ships with carnival, kinda bummed about that. So with no juice really, I took the soda card. Sodas are normally 1.95 each. So 15 sodas for the week breaks you even. I shared my soda card with my mom which is another way to save costs. This time around, I notice carnival actually swipes the set and sail card for the bottomless bubbles soda card, when years ago they just looked for the sticker on the set and sail card. I guess they try to limit people abusing the unlimited sodas (such as passing the card onto others, picking up someones set and sail card and using it, etc). I would just go to 1 bar get a soda, then go to another bar and get the other soda for mom. Real easy. Highly recommend for people looking to save a buck. Staterooms - I had a steward, Edison, he was awesome. Rooms were prepared nicely and perfect each day, couple times a day. Never an issue. Everything worked well, bed was super super comfy as usual. Edison was super friendly and personable, awesome to have staff around that care (unlike the dining room staff). Comedy Shows - Somewhat funny, one guy with cerebral palsy wasnt all that funny, but the other comedian was funny. Couple of R rated comedy shows which was funny as can be. Karaoke - Superstar live is awesome! I love how now they have that on the ships, where people do karaoke along w/ the show band playing the music. Ty, the karoake host, was awesome. She always had me laughing in her superstar live entertainment. She would do the back-up singing for the guest and joke around as well. Showtime Band - Welcome Aboard show was PHENOMENAL. One of the best I seen in years. The Farewell show, the 2nd and final show of the cruise on the last night was lame and not really that entertaining. The dancers were great and good at what they do. Obviously, still very sexually suggestive type of show with their clothing. Cruise Ship Director - What a shame to have this guy Danny being the cruise director. He was really out of the loop most of the cruise except for the morning announcements on what the day is to offer. He really never came on stage in the lounge and had any sort of fun like many other cruise directors i've seen. He never really came around the open areas and mingled with the crowd, and made himself known. Kinda pitiful if you as me. Piano Bar- Barry is the man. He is funny and good with the music. This was a lot of fun to look foreward to every night after midnight until 2-3am. He is a jokester and not just a guy who plays piano all night, well on this cruise anyways. Highly recommend people to hang out with Barry late nights, he is a trip! Freeport Bahamas- Arrived on Monday morning, rolled out of the ship around 10am and went to get a taxi outside the ship (5.00 per person each way, 10.00). Took the ride to Our Lucaya and got dropped off at the central pick up and drop off spot by the stores. Walked 5 minutes back to the beach entrance (next to the police station which the taxi driver will point out, free access). Did the inflatable banana boat ride which was great. It's pulled by someone in a motorized about. The excursion is about an hour and you get it when you arrive at the beach. $25.00 per person which is a steal and a great way to go for a little ride out in the water. It takes you down into this little cove where you get to see dolphins for 5-10 minutes, the ship used in the pirates of the carribbean movie, and some beautiful beach front houses. It's quite a ride on the inflatable banana boat. They provide a life jacket too. Water was warm but it was a little windy. Last taxi pick up was at 4:00 and caught that taxi back to the cruise ship. There is nothing to do around the cruise ship by the way, you end up by oil refineries for those who have never been to freeport. Everything is a taxi ride away or thru a carnival overpriced excursion that will cost you around 60-100.00 per person on average Nassau - Arrived on Tues 11/22 and stayed there overnight til 6:00am on Wednesday 11/23. Ship says, all back on board at 5:30am. Nassau was very very windy and according to the lifeguard at the sheraton resort I went to, it's very normal this time of year, the rough waters and the wind. So that bummed me out. Ended up just laying out on a beach chair at the resort. Admission is 25.00 per person and the bus is 1.25 each way, which leaves 1 block away from the pier and returns to the same spot. Real easy to find the bus, the locals will direct you to where they are. The #10 bus is what will take you to cable beach / breezes / wyndham / sheraton resorts. You do get towel use at the sheraton so leave the carnival towels on ship. Also do get to use snorkels if you want. There are 3 pools. The food at the Sheraton is overpriced, like 15.00 for a burger. So I opted to wait it out til I got back a few hours later to Carlos n Charlies at the pier. The food was amazing there I must say. mmmm Chicken tacos so yummy and well worth the 18.00. The drinks for 5 something each were awesome too yummmy... They do include the tip on the bill there which makes things easy, I think it's 15% if I added it up right. Seaday - Played laser tag which was a ton of fun. At as much food as possible as I did all week. The boat roacked a little in the early evening on wednesday night but wasn't as bad as leaving port on sunday. Ate in the dining room for this final night and the staff did a little entertainment and sang us a song about how now it's time to go and they hope for us to come back to another carnival ship. How it's sad to see us go and so on. Was a great song too I must say. Played the slot tournament and blackjack tournament 2 times each to try and get to the grand final round, but lost both times on both tournaments. The fee to play is 20.00 each time. I didn't play any of the bingo in the lounges all week. That's just a scam that I know will never win haha. They had the hairy chest competition which was kinda lame. There was no "big party" on the lido deck like other carnival ships do on the final night. Kinda bummed about that too.. Dembarkation - Smooth, Fast, Efficient. Everyone was off the ship by 930-10:00am. All in all, not the worst cruise I ever been on, but not the best. There could be much improvements starting with the entertainment staff / cruise director / dining room staff. I'll of course sail carnival and stay loyal to them, I know not all ships can be the same experience since staff move around all the time. I'd recommend this cruise if you want something relaxing and enjoyable. But not for those looking for a grand ol' party. For the 1,000 kids that were on this cruise, I thought camp carnival did a great job keeping them occupied all day and night. Late night they would be running around the ship freely as usual when the parents were at the bar stonefaced. Other than that... happy trails cruisers! Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
Disney Dream thanksgiving cruise 11/23/2011 Background This was my 19th cruise. I have travelled on most major lines. What I look for is itinerary, timing, ship, cost, then features etc. For this cruise,it was just my wife and I. I ... Read More
Disney Dream thanksgiving cruise 11/23/2011 Background This was my 19th cruise. I have travelled on most major lines. What I look for is itinerary, timing, ship, cost, then features etc. For this cruise,it was just my wife and I. I did not have my kids for this trip. I believe a bad day on a cruise ship is better than a good day at work. As I go through this, I am pointing out details that may not be significant to all. That is understandable. I hope to inform all types of cruisers. Booking Right away, for the avid cruiser, you notice that the price is much higher than the other lines. Considering that many of the Disney cruises are the standard Nassau and Disney cay, it is unusual to see prices close to 700 to 1000$ per person. Considering this was a holiday, and it fit our schedule perfectly, I knew that we would pay more. We used a TA for this. Disney is so good with their product, all ways work well. I do not think their log on system is anything like their competitors. For example, once you login in, you have to type in your reservation numbers each time. Carnival, RCL, princess etc all quickly show any and all reservations that you have made. RCL even shows your previous dream trips you have saved. The Disney land vacation system is a little better. Getting to the port I always recommend going a day earlier for the trip. It allows you some prep time and peace of mind. In the case a plane is cancelled, you have time to get on another flight. We stayed at Caribbean beach. A cheaper Disney option that worked well. There is a nice transportation system to get you around. I definitely recommend the transfers. Cabs will cost you about 55$ for two one way airport to hotel. Keep in mind, when you stay at the resort, you will not be the first on the ships. Depending on what location you stay at, you may arrive just a few hours prior to departing. Your bags will be picked up from your room around 8am. You will see them next outside your cabin prior to the ship departing. Smooth process. Relax. It is about an hour to hour and a half trip depending on traffic and other pickups. If you fly in the day of, definitely do the Disney transfers, that will save you trouble. At the port Disney has a dedicated port. It is very nice. It is sandwiched between two other ports that house a variety of carnival, RCl, and HAL ships. We had the Carnival pride there when we left and sensation and freedom of the seas when returning. The check in process is almost a walk through if you are not there right when it opens. Since Disney transfers get you there later, it is a quick check in. On line check in works great. The ship There were two reasons we took this trip. The ship and timing. Both were a hit. The ship is beautiful. The first thing you notice is the beautiful foyer. It does not look like anything out on the see. Very 20's traditional with no neon and flare. Simply classy. The Christmas decor was perfect. The ship is filled with music 24 7. Not annoying music, unless you do not like Disney music. It is soft and pleasant. Staterooms are my favorite. The split family style bathroom was really cool. One room for the commode and sink. Another room for the tub/shower and a second sink. Lots of storage on the balcony room. Keep in mind that they won the 2011 award for best inside and outside cabins. Did I say storage? The beds are nice with a large space under for luggage storage. The balconies are standard size. Most rooms have the Pullman drop down beds. They are not in the way of course. The tv's have flat screens with 24 access to sports, on demand tv shows and disny movies. These Disney movies are free. Hundreds of them. Note.... If you are in the back of the ship, you will feel a shimmy. If this bothers you on those sea nights, get a room towards the center. If you are on the right side, you will get the best view of cast-a-way cay and the port. Aka starboard. The rooms have a iPod, I phone dock. All rooms have cell phones that are used to communicate on the ship while you are around the ship. No Wilkie talkies needed. Two for each room. I am sure they would give you more if needed. Three dining rooms This is a clever idea. Everything they tell you is true about the dining. You move from place to place. Repeating on 4 nights or more trips. The meals are a little more elegant than I expected. The kids like the kids menu. The food was well displayed. Multiple portions allowed without any problems. Best news..... Sodas are free, except for the bars. Easy access to sodas. They servers are quicker with it than other lines too. Self service of sodas are available on deck 11 in the cabanas lido restaurant and on the pool deck. The royal palace restaurant is beautiful. It is laid out well and actually allows the servers more room. You feel less cramped. No problems getting to your seat. They seat you quickly and service is fast. One thing we notices right away is that they do not clean up after each course, other than the used plates. Even on carnival, they will swipe the table between each course with the medal scoop. Not on Disney. They do give you wipes before you enter instead of the spray. That actually is a nice touch. It does not dry your skin. The animators pallet is a cute restaurant. It is different than the Disney wonder and magic. There are screens all around that give the illusion you are surrounded by a fish tank. Characters from Nemo entertain you through out the meal. At one point, crush actually talks to the people. I was surprised that he did not get to all of the sections. He only got to 2 or 3 of the 6 sections. The garden restaurant that is modeled after Versailles is very pretty. A low sealing with some clever lighting, make this restaurant evolve nice throughout the day. A little cramped compared to the other two, but very nice. Nice lobster ravioli. The cabana .... Aka lido deck. A wonderful surprise. Clean. Fresh chilled shrimp and crabs served during the day. You do not see that on other lines. The silver ware is wrapped and ready on the tables. Very clean and well kept up. I have to brag on one employee. I told their boss before we left. A little girl tripped and broker her plastic flashing cup. He asked for a look at it and notice the crack. He went and got her a brand new one. Nice touch!!!! Nice selections on deck. There are also 6 flavors of soft serve and three flavors of regular ice cream served throughout the day. The cones are not as good as the other lines.... Pizza is available.. , but Disney really has an awful pizza compared to the competition. Bring in new pizza Disney! Aqua duck... And he pools Relax, you will have plenty of time to ride it. They rush is right when everyone gets on the ship. Go at night. Hardly no wait. Ride during the firework show. Night rides till midnight! I rode it twice. Fun. Nothing amazing, but your on a ship!!! the pools are nice and were heated. The spa is nice, but needs actual bubbles. They hand over the side of the ship with glass sides and bottom. The adult pool does get general traffic, but is very nice. We saw no issues with young folks hanging out there. The towels are laid out for you. Easy access for towels. Service around the pools is pretty good. We have seen better. The drink options are plentiful. The kids will fill up the other pools. Cool feature..... The funnel vision is the biggest and best at sea. Followed up with an amazing sound system, it is the way to go. Wow!!! They showed several football games on it, most of the dads were out there watching the games. Four of carnivals could fit on this one screen. Three of princesses screens would be close. Wow! Entertainment.... This is where Disney rocks. All three shows, golden mickey's, the villains, and believe we're excellent. Great for all audiences. There is also a movie theater - very large - on board with an amazing sound system and 3d technology. We saw cars 2 in 3d, real steel, and the new muppet movie onboard. Throughout your trip, there are seemingly impromptu shows by the Disney characters. The kids love this. Times are announced for the kids. The downside for them is they have no live band, and their comedians and entertainment choices in the other areas are lacking. No band, very little options for the great live entertainment you get on the other ships. The district The adults only areas are not crowded. They are well decorated and are non smoking. We like the non smoking aspect. Each bar has its own feel. The dance club is nice. They look nice, but last the excitement you see on other lines. Expected for Disney. Service is great. Kids areas..... They rocked. This is what they are known for. They have the largest staff at sea to take care of the kids. We did not have kids on this trip, so I can only go by what I heard. Zero negative comments. Their kids areas were not an after thought, but a forethought. Service The service is great, but not excellent. If you go outside of their process, like carnival, they flinch or may even say "I don't know." this was a let down. I expected higher level of service. Still not bad, but not as expected. Itinerary Nassau - a nice stop with plenty of things to do. The water is a little cold, but not impossible to swim in. Not too bad. Not going into the stops as much. Cast-a-way Cay This is a great stop for Disney. You feel as though you just went onto a new deck of the ship. All you need is your room key. Food is provided and sodas are free. Ice cream and all sorts of goodies. A few Disney store shops and beach item shops on shore. It is all about the beach and the water sports. So many things to do. The bike rentals cost 6 dollars per hour. Nice easy bike ride around the island. Beautiful and wonderful time there. Debarkation was the best yet. No calling out. If you want to get off early, be in the lobby at 7am to hang out. They will start letting people out by 8 am at the latest. No issue over waiting in common areas. They actually like when you go to your breakfast spot and leave when things are free. The luggage tags are set up by character. We were Goofy. Simple process there. Walk out. All in order. Help standing by. Easy time through customs and out you go. Took us just a few minutes for the whole process. Busses are waiting outside to load up folks for the different destinations. Definitely recommend transfers. We actually went back to beach club resort for a day at Epcot. Wou walk out the back of the resort and you are next to the back entrance to Epcot. We stayed at Epcot until 4 pm. We took a cab from the hotel and got to our flight early. Our flight was at 7:30pm. The hotel held our luggage. Awesome service there. My favorite Disney resort! Disney did a great job. It was a wonderful cruise. I am a little nit picky due to costs difference, but don't lose sight, the cruise was great Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
Jewel: Thanksgiving Week 2011 Other than not wanting to stuff and cook a turkey ourselves, my friend and I booked the Jewel just for the ship ride and to stare out at the sea all day if we chose to. Therefore, everything else ... Read More
Jewel: Thanksgiving Week 2011 Other than not wanting to stuff and cook a turkey ourselves, my friend and I booked the Jewel just for the ship ride and to stare out at the sea all day if we chose to. Therefore, everything else considering the low price for a holiday sailing was a bonus. The ports of call are not the most exciting option available in the cruise industry but it sure is if you want to ride space mountain at Disney, see the NASA space shuttles, or just go to Nassau, Bahamas! Both of us have sailed NCL in the past and both have sailed other cruise lines as well. The last time we were on the Jewel together was Thanksgiving 2006. If you are new to NCL, or have sailed on other cruise lines in the past, be sure to understand the freestyle concept. Plenty of information exists on NCL's website that includes information about the ship booked, how to sign up for excursions, how the freestyle dining and how the freestyle dress code works, the spa offerings while onboard, activities for the children, links to pre boarding information, the 12 dollar service charge per person per day, and how to print documents and cruise ticket online. We knew all this but I often read reviews where others do not and then get frustrated about it. Our balcony guarantee, booked five weeks prior to sailing, landed us cabin 10162 located at the far aft starboard side of deck 10. Cecilio, our steward, was efficient, friendly, and always took a few moments to say hello and to ask how we are doing. Since we were on the end, our balcony appeared to be about 1 to 2 feet longer than the standard. The extra space had a protected enclosed area and the rest open. A very quiet area onboard, we hardly heard any noise out in the hallway. I was thankful to not hear the stern wake in the back of ship since I knew it was so close. Many evenings we had the balcony open and only heard the gentle light swish of the starboard wake. Overall, our seas were surprisingly smooth most days and nights. The Jewel class ships have great stabilizers for the times when the ocean waves are more active. Temperatures on this sailing averaged in the 60's to 70's heading down to Florida and the Bahamas and back. Once there, we had weather around 80 degrees. For this particular itinerary and time of year, we had a mixture of dress/casual and a mixture of light/heavy clothing. Thank goodness for freestyle...I sure appreciated the ability to wear yoga pants or jeans and a sweatshirt from morning until bedtime. We did dress up on other nights too. The dress up or not nights on the Jewel are Sunday and Thursday. There are some dining rooms that Do have a dress code so be sure to read your Freestyle Daily to ensure you are not showing up in shorts or jeans to Tsar's Restaurant or Le Bistro French Restaurant. Although there are many dining options that have a fee, we selected the options that did not and were very satisfied. This included the Garden Cafe for breakfast and lunch, and the main restaurants for dinners. I enjoyed the fresh fruit, the freshly prepared omelets, the chocolate pastries, the eggs benedict, the soups, the salads, the marinated chicken, the fried cod, and the beef ribs. Be sure to check out each food station because they also had Indian food, Asian, pizza, sandwiches/paninis, freshly prepared pastas and sauces, and casseroles all in different areas of the buffet. I have had better desserts on other cruise lines yet I somehow always managed to find the bread pudding and vanilla sauce every day...! If the buffet table sections are too noisy or crowded, you can bring your plate into Mama's restaurant during breakfast and lunch. If the crowd in the Garden Cafe scares you, then another smaller buffet area is set up in the Great Outdoors Aft from which you can enjoy your meal alfresco. The dining room for breakfast and lunch is always an option too but we only ate there at night. For six dinners, we ate in either Tzars or Azura, the two main restaurants. We found a variety of choices and it took a while to notice the menus are not the same for both. Both restaurants have the left side of menu that changes every night. Although the right side of the menu remains the same each night, they are not the same for both restaurants. This was a pleasant discovery. Since we were not eating meats or pastas for dinners most nights, we enjoyed perch, salmon, mahi mahi, and Caribbean lobster tail. Ask your server what the Chef's regional specialty is each evening. Try at least one specialty restaurant. We ate at Le Bistro the last evening and enjoyed the French onion soup, escargot and the beef tenderloin. On any NCL ship, always attend the cruise critic meet and greet if one is set up on your roll call. They make the most effort out of all the cruise lines I have sailed (Carnival, Princess, Royal Caribbean, and Holland America) to have as many officers available to meet you and to answer your questions. At our cruise critic meet and greet a question asked of the officers was whether or not a traditional Thanksgiving dinner would be served on this sailing. Hugo Vanosmael, the Hotel Director, answered a special delivery of turkeys had been ordered and a special menu created in the dining rooms for that particular evening. The Thanksgiving dinner was better than I expected. Kudos go out to the executive chef and the to all the chefs who helped prepare it. As two middle aged females traveling without our hubbies and without children, we certainly enjoyed the entertainment available for all age groups! The entertainment on board varied. We often danced off our caloric intake from the early portions of our days into the hours after midnight in Spinnaker's Lounge. During the earlier evenings, we were fortunate not to miss Cirque Bijoux, Fire and Ice's performance in the atrium, Dancing With the Jewel Stars, and the White Hot Party. Even earlier hours than that, we were fortunate to not miss Magician Jean Pierre's presentation to the kids onboard, the 10 dollar Bingo session, the crew talent show, Nickleodeon's Slime Time Live, and the Captain/Chief Engineer/Hotel Director's question and answer session. The Jewel's ports of call occurred on three consecutive days. The only "shuttle" we selected in Port Canaveral was a round trip bus ride to Cocoa Beach. We walked the beach about a mile to a pier and then walked back. Ron Jon Surf Shop is nearby and the bus shuttle runs every ½ hour up until a certain time. Check out Florida weather before you go as sometimes it can be cooler than you think during the winter months. A short tender ride to the private island, Great Stirrup Cay, one can enjoy swimming, snorkeling, a giant inflatable water slide, walking trails, parasailing, kayaks, wave runners, and what appeared to be a future zip line set up. A beach barbecue is prepared and the ship's band plays nearby. The cruise staff hosts volleyball and dance activities but if you want more solitude, a short walk further down the beach area can provide more quiet. Plenty of beach chairs are now available, hammocks, new bar areas, a restaurant building, and more outdoor picnic areas are also more convenient to the passenger experience. Bathroom are also conveniently nearby. Do not go barefoot if you plan to explore the island beyond the beach area. Construction is still going on and we were glad to have sturdy flip flops and sneakers on our feet as we walked to the other side of island. Most activity on the island occurs in the late morning to early afternoon. The more quiet time (hence less crowded) is from 2pm until the last tender back to the ship. In Nassau, we got off the ship to walk around on land for an hour. The straw market is getting upgraded and lots of interesting souvenirs are available for purchase. Do not be overwhelmed by the offers of tours and people approaching you at the pier. A simple no thank you and keep walking will suffice if you are not interested. We returned in order to enjoy a quiet day at the Jewel pool area in the sun. Some passengers went to Atlantis, to public beaches, or to hotels that offered day rentals to use the pool/ocean/restaurant areas. Other excursions are available for purchase but if you do some research, you might save more money on your own. Just remember though, the ship leaves without you in case something happens while out on your own and you are not able to get back. All aboard is at 5:30pm and a few solo passengers were very lucky on this sailing to be walking on the gangway by 5:50pm. We spent all other moments onboard relaxing. My friend had a bamboo massage during the first day at sea and reported she enjoyed it very much. On embarkation day go to the spa and they will perform samples of what they offer on you. We joined the spa raffle for the prize giveaways but we forgot to attend the session in the afternoon. I enjoyed the salon onboard and had my hair colored, cut, and styled. My final price was still a better deal than what I pay to have it done in Montreal. Shhhhh, do not tell NCL this! The price was even better when I purchased a future NCL cruise deposit that enabled me to receive an extra 100 dollar onboard credit. David Ward, the onboard Cruise Consultant Manager promotes this very well. He also runs the onboard latitudes desk and gives the talks about cruising NCL. He is extremely knowledgeable about the business, is very friendly, and fun to talk to. At the silver/gold/platinum party he took time to visit with each guest in attendance as did HD Hugo and the Group services coordinator. Anytime we saw Hugo or David or other officers/staff/crew throughout the week they all were very gracious, very professional, and ensuring a great vacation experience for the passengers. A passenger comment made on day 2 at the cruise critic gathering was regarding the entire staff and how the Jewel seemed to be such a happy ship overall. Even the front desk staff in the atrium appeared happy by the end of the week and some of know what they have to put up with sometimes. Any time I asked for a printout of my charges, they were always very accommodating. I do this a few times a week and it is very easy to do when walking by. Know however it can get busy on the last day or evening as everyone else has the same idea! I appreciated the employee who assisted passengers as they waited in line by asking their need ahead of time so he could help direct them. All I needed was to drop off a few thank you letters and he said he would take them and deliver to the appropriate mail box. This saved me time to enjoy the remaining hours of vacation and I was impressed with the overall service. I am very fortunate and very thankful at this point in my life to be able to cruise. A day will come when it will not be this easy. During any holiday week make sure to take time to count your blessings and to appreciate those who help make a vacation special. I am grateful to NCL for consistently providing me with vacations to share with family, friends, with cruise critic members, or to enjoy all by myself. After sailing the Jewel during a busy holiday week, I came home relaxed, rested, rejuvenated, and recuperated. My husband is extremely thankful for that too! Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
This was my and my 6 year old daughters first time on the Sensation but my 10th and my daughters 6th cruise. I found the Sensation as fun and nice as the Ecstasy. We had VIP boarding on this cruise since this was my first platinum cruise. ... Read More
This was my and my 6 year old daughters first time on the Sensation but my 10th and my daughters 6th cruise. I found the Sensation as fun and nice as the Ecstasy. We had VIP boarding on this cruise since this was my first platinum cruise. They knew we were coming and had everything ready for us. As usual the food service and and room service was fantastic. Our room steward was Picard. Our Head Waiter was Martin. Outstanding individuals. This was my first 4 day cruise. It was to Freeport and Nassau. I would recommend this particular cruise to anyone from first timers to seasoned cruisers that are just looking for a quick short trip. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
Our party of 16 stayed in 1 inside, 2 balconies and 4 suites. We chose this cruise due to cost, embarkation port (NYC) and freestyle concept we love with children. This was my 4th NCL cruise and 2nd on the Gem. Being from RI, NY is an ... Read More
Our party of 16 stayed in 1 inside, 2 balconies and 4 suites. We chose this cruise due to cost, embarkation port (NYC) and freestyle concept we love with children. This was my 4th NCL cruise and 2nd on the Gem. Being from RI, NY is an easy port to get to and airfare is just way too expensive during the holiday season. The ports were the least attractive part of the cruise but at least they were warm :) Embarkation went well for my immediate family as we were in a suite. My aunt had an issue with not having a letter for her grandson to travel with her. I was afraid they wouldn't be able to board but NCL was great in my opinion as they worked with her to get a letter from her daughter faxed to the terminal. Another good reason to arrive early to the port, you will have time to deal with any unexpected issues. Our cabin was an SC (former AB) #11012. It was the nicest cabin I have ever had and I miss it every day since :( Cagney's for breakfast and lunch was great. MDR meals was very good in my opinion and I AM A FOODIE! Buffet was good, the only thing was the soft serve was gross as always. Shows we saw were Worldbeat, Man from Mars and Get Down Tonight. All were good. Bingo was fun, first time I had ever played. Didn't win but has a good time. The ship was in great shape and the crew was excellent. Pools could have been warmer and a big "thanks" to whoever put their child with a diaper in the family pool. It was closed a day due to feces. People are just so selfish. I've been there with an infant/toddler and never considered such an absurdity. My daughter was obsessed with the slide and used it about 50 times! LOL Bowling was fun too :) Had a great time and look forward to sailing NCL again soon Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
We went on a three day Christmas cruise filled with families and first time cruisers. This was our first cruise in nine years. We booked a porthole room which was adequate and the same size as the ocean view rooms. There is always a lot to ... Read More
We went on a three day Christmas cruise filled with families and first time cruisers. This was our first cruise in nine years. We booked a porthole room which was adequate and the same size as the ocean view rooms. There is always a lot to do and the "people watching' on the pool deck is always interesting.Shore excursion to Atlantis was OK.. too much money for what it was,, take a taxi and go yourself. The food was good, but my memory was that the food used to be a little more gourmet, but it was tasty and well presented. I felt the 6:00 seating was a little rushed for dinner. The late seating which we previously had was better paced between courses. One dining room had assigned seating which we had, and it appeared to have better organization. The other dining room was open seating and at times there were lines. Also the open seating dining room served breakfast and lunch. They appeared short staffed for the pampering I expected, with coffee cups not being refilled without asking. Some of the entrees for breakfast were like McDonald's food.. like the hash brown potatoes... but we learned what to order. At lunch we complained that our server had not approached us in over 15 minutes and the host took our order directly. buffet was good with long lines. The music was loud and we prefer quiet soft background lounge music, and we found a bar that met our needs. The shows were spectacular with the best dancing I have seen on a cruise.. Broadway caliber.The acoustics were too loud and need to be altered for the size of the room. The debarkation had some glitches in that we were not at the usual terminal.there was along wait to get our bags and we stood in line for a while, although we were traveling with VIP guests that were supposed to be the first to leave the ship. I assume they have ironed out the issues in operations. All in all, we had a great time, and I recommend the cruise, but don't expect perfection.. This is a nice, short cruise at moderate prices and good value, and you will like it with that attitude and approach. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Review of the December, 12, 2011 sailing on The Majesty of the Seas from Miami. The Majesty of the Seas is my favorite. A small ship, I think, feels more like classic cruising. Better service results from a better crew to passenger ... Read More
Review of the December, 12, 2011 sailing on The Majesty of the Seas from Miami. The Majesty of the Seas is my favorite. A small ship, I think, feels more like classic cruising. Better service results from a better crew to passenger ratio. Less time in lines to get on or off, and far fewer lines on board. This was my forth cruise on Majesty. The last one was a year and a week before, so I got to see a year of differences. The ship is looking a bit more worn. While I understand that the Majesty is scheduled for dry dock, most of things I saw were just a simple lack of general maintenance. More things were broken and left that way. For example: Water jets in the hot tubs. Only the bubbles worked. Major dents from a tender. More rust showing in many places. Many lights around the ship were out, including the pool deck. Most of the windows were dirty. My cabin window was foggy from salt build up on the outside. Leaking fire hose connections Broken elevator buttons Don't get me wrong, I do think that she's in good shape for her age. I think most of the issues in dry dock will be to update the styles. Not my area of expertise, but the 1990's chrome look is dated I guess. Just a thought for future designs, a choice of classic design will need less updating over the ship's life. With no new ships on the way, I have to think RCL will keep her going for at least a few more years. When she must be retired, I hope you will bring another smaller ship to Miami. The biggest omission is closing both of the hot tubs at 11 PM. When the ship is refurbished, I understand that they can not put in any new ones. That's a real shame. But please make the two huge to compensate. And there is NO technical reason that they need to be closed at the same time. Each should be totally independent. As crowded as the Majesty hot tubs are you have to realize you need more space and more hours. The pools are ice cold. When people from Chicago say they're too cold, you KNOW they're too cold. And the highs were in the 80s so we can't blame the weather. There are huge amounts of free heat available from the engine room. USE IT to heat at least one of the pools. And throwing the ice sculptures in the pool just adds insult to injury (and also looks lazy). I hope for the day that all smoking is banned from all ships. But in the meantime, cigars on the pool deck this time were bad. I was smelling some 100 feet away while at dock. I don't know where you can put them, but the pool deck isn't working. I brag that the service is better on the smaller ships. This cruise was no exception. Dining room, cabin, all excellent service. My cabin was spotless twice a day. One problem with a clogged shower drain was fixed quickly. Entertainment was down a notch this time. The dancers a year ago, especially Pete and Nicolas, had a lot more spirit. They were dancing around when talking to passengers even when they weren't officially 'on'. This year it was like they were waiting for a signal to entertain, then they danced. Then they left the party. They were friendly, but not the usual outgoing ice breaking party starters I've seen before. Last year it really felt like they enjoyed making us enjoy the cruise. This year it was just part of the job. I got the impression this was the second string. Again, not bad, but not as good as before. No one grabbed my attention this year enough to point them out. About the music. I totally understand that the pool area is made for the Caribbean music. But after a couple days, I've had more than enough Bob Marley. Please let some of the other bands play at the pool. The rock and latin bands were quite good but I only got to hear them in passing. Let them have a few hours at the pool. Bar service at the pool in the evening was lacking. I would have been happy to have another beer, but no one came around for hours. If the bar is open, why not have someone walking around to take bar orders? Thanks for the second ice cream machine. You have a hit here. Make it your own. Try getting blue cones with a logo. In the quantity you use, it should be practical. About the refurb coming up. There's what seems to be a lot of wasted space on 12 above the Windjammer. I get the impression that the priority on the last refurb was to add space to the Windjammer but the space above was just defaulted to be more tanning area. Think about doing an adults only section here with a bar and hot tub. Add some shade. This space would give an alternative to the noise of the pool area. On food, Windjammer was good, as usual. One suggestion, leave some yogurt out at all meals, along with the fruit. Many of us eat a little in the evening as a healthy alternative to desert. For the dinners in the dining room, all was good, except the NY Strip Steak. It was dry and tasted like it had been under heat lights for hours. I understand that when serving that many people at once there's no way to serve fresh off the grill, but this time it was worse than I remember it last year. And last year it was pretty bad too. You might want to omit NY Strip from the menu. The sliced steak was good, just too fatty. But I asked for more and I got it quickly, so no complaints there. The best meal was the lamb shank. A classic done very well. Our early arrival at Key West and the resulting REPEATED announcements to come to Immigration check ruined my day. I was up late the night before and this was just too early. When I got back and tried to get back to sleep, the announcements just continued. When you have to do something like this, use technology. When someone hasn't come, use an automated phone system to call the cabins. Once everyone in the cabin has checked in, stop calling that cabin. Let the rest of us sleep. Of course, where people are already awake, like the public areas, you can continue to announce. I'm sure you have heard it before. The two ports of call are backwards. Key West is a nighttime town. That's where we should have stayed until midnight. Nassau at midnight just seems like killing time in a cheap parking space. The dock we are at in Key West does not block Malory Square's view of sunset, so I don't think that's the excuse. Please consider making Key West the first night of the 4 night. Then Immigration and Customs are back to being the same time, in Miami, when we all have to be awake anyway. Again, overall, a good cruise. I will be back aboard the Majesty. But I think I will need to wait until the dry dock before scheduling my next one. I hope it will also return some of the spirit that was missing on this cruise. Thanks Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
I like to start out with the Pro's of this cruise: Expensive ticket price but caught a good sale so I liked the price I paid. They also gave us VIP check in because my husband is Active Duty Military. Overall great food but the dining ... Read More
I like to start out with the Pro's of this cruise: Expensive ticket price but caught a good sale so I liked the price I paid. They also gave us VIP check in because my husband is Active Duty Military. Overall great food but the dining room had better dining than buffet style. The entire dining staff, stateroom attendants and bartenders were amazing! Fairly smooth sailing. They also had a great holiday show. Cons: FIRST when I called to inquire if the online ship map was to scale the person from NCL lied. Deck 10 room 0106 is in fact the smallest style room (2.5' x10' less). So for the same price I was guided in to picking the smaller of the two room choices. I verified with my neighbors during the cruise of the sizes vs my initial options. SECOND the entire cruise experience seemed confused and not so organized. I called guest services 6 times during the 3 day cruise, of that 4 times during the day it FLAT OUT was never answered (ohh and I waited while it rang)! I had to go down to the guest services desk which was NOT at all busy. The entire upper level staff was curt and would constantly cut you off to answer the question they think you were asking. Several times I received contradictory information when asking questions because the initial answers did not pan out. THIRD our stateroom smelt like mildew BIG time. It was mainly the bathroom but the smell hit us when we walked in. When we got home MOST of our clothes WREAKED! Every single thing in my luggage (unpacked on the ship or not) wreaked when we got off the ship. Because the closet was right across from the bathroom we all smelt pretty bad on the drive home. Ironically my swim top smelt like chlorine inside the zip lock bag...lol I didn't notice my clothes smelled in the room but when we left the ship on the third day WOW my shirt was eeewww mildew smelly! FOURTH, I realized quickly that some things were discouraged on NCL Sky that is advertised as available. For example I did not receive a menu for room service (not the only one), nor did I receive one after telling guest services that I did not have one and wanted to see the menu. They said I have to call, they will tell me, when I did they said call back (NEVER ordered room service). Our parents had a menu in their room. Another example is carrying your own luggage off the ship. We did not fly so we could easily carry our three bags off, but were constantly told we HAD to check luggage off ship yet in the newsletter it stated it was optional but vaguely worded. Finally second attempt trying to reach guest services at 7pm they said it was optional and that we may actually carry our bags off. It sure didn't seem that way with the constant barrage of people reminding us we HAD to. FIFTH, we booked a shore excursion to tour forts and a museum. It was severely rushed to say the least but liked the tour. We also booked the hippo water slide (FUN!) but they shut it down nearly 2 hours early! So total waste of money. SIXTH con, we found a big roach in our stateroom. Sadly we had never brought food in the room and this last night I had just brought back a fruit plate, needless to say no so hungry after hunting down a cockroach. Perhaps this is why they discourage room service. I have been on another cruise and ordered constant food, never seeing a roach, big time EEEEwwww NCL! NEVER AGAIN, If I were a first time cruiser I would honestly never cruise again period. Since I am not, it will cruise again... just not be with NCL. Overall not worth what they charge. Thank goodness for Royal Caribbean! Read Less
Sail Date December 2011

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