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30 Baltic Sea Gay & Lesbian Cruise Reviews

Friends told us a Baltic cruise would be good for us. It was. We really enjoyed this cruise. We were told that our cabin was ocean view or better. We were told that meant if there were better cabins available we would be upgraded. There ... Read More
Friends told us a Baltic cruise would be good for us. It was. We really enjoyed this cruise. We were told that our cabin was ocean view or better. We were told that meant if there were better cabins available we would be upgraded. There was better available, but no upgrade. We were on a low deck that was extremely noisy. Not a very romantic send off for our first ever cruise and our honeymoon. The service in many areas left a lot to be desired, however we encountered some staff that was over and above any expectations and really blew us away. Food in main dining areas was bland and very small portions. We had the drink package and the fine dining package. The restaurants in the fine dining were simply amazing. We loved NCL’s freestyle cruising and would love to cruise NCL again but to know that balcony cabins went unused and activities staff seemed unprepared or even uninterested in some of the games and such makes you wonder if NCL even cares that you are there. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
I had a voucher PLUS I like the solo cabin option. However, the solo lounge director staff was unable to get us to know once another.. Still nice to have our own place for coffee, etc. I never had to wait too long at the ... Read More
I had a voucher PLUS I like the solo cabin option. However, the solo lounge director staff was unable to get us to know once another.. Still nice to have our own place for coffee, etc. I never had to wait too long at the complimentary restaurants. However, at Taste and Savour the service was very slow and many of the staff appeared to have a language issue. NCL need to make sure each waitstaff has a good understanding of English. Also, when I asked someone for something and it was NOT in there service area, instead of getting it, they passed the request along to someone else which caused taking additional time. Several time I had to ask the manager to provide menus as no one claimed responsibility as our waitstaff!!!! Speciality restaurant service was excellent. I had three excellent massages. But please cut the hard sell. So off-putting.The LGBT meet and greet in the Sunset Bar was well attended and bar staff friendly. Even the cruise director stopped by to introduce himself. I avoided NCL shore excursions. Very expensive and more intimate to find your own tour guides,especially in St. Petersburg. I only took SPB tour as many of the ports could be seen on your own with a local map. Disembarkation was a disaster. Took much too long. Just get off the ship early and do not wait until you tag color is called. I would book NCL again but only on a smaller ship. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
I choose a transatlantic cruise onboard the magnificent QM2 which departed New York in mid June. I was looking for a complete break after a particularly hectic period and couldn’t have imagined how thoroughly revitalising the experience ... Read More
I choose a transatlantic cruise onboard the magnificent QM2 which departed New York in mid June. I was looking for a complete break after a particularly hectic period and couldn’t have imagined how thoroughly revitalising the experience would end up being. I travelled solo and was amazed at the sheer quantity and variety of things to do - along with the choice to do as much or as little as you like. A typical day for me consisted of breakfast in bed, a walk and sometimes a long sit on the Upper deck, a light buffet lunch, one of the activities in the afternoon (often a short insight tour) or a visit to the library, a workout or pool visit and then the nightly LGBT happy hour each evening at 17:00 in the Commodore Club. I’d then have a late sitting dinner in the Britannia restaurant, where the food was good restaurant quality, on an excellent table of 8 great fellow voyagers, followed by a drink or maybe a spot of roulette in the casino - and repeat! Guests were super friendly and very sociable everywhere onboard and this was really noticeable from day 2, when people started to relax and get into the swing of the voyage. The LGBT happy hour was an absolute blast and a great way to meet like minded people - I met some fantastic people there and also stayed in touch with some of my table colleagues. Service everywhere was genuinely exceptional and the ship is meticulously run - in terms of organisation. As for the ship - she is magnificent in so many ways and I’m so grateful that Cunard had the vision to build a genuine ocean liner to replace the QE2. Gazing out into the vastness of the Atlantic Ocean From the promenade decks is a humbling and wonderful way to spend some reflective tine! I left Southampton totally revitalised with some amazing memories - so much so that I’m doing another crossing, this time from Southampton to New York, just before Christmas and for less than the price of a premium economy airfare. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We chose this cruise because it was sailing to the destination we desired and because of the raving reviews. We can fault NOTHING and praise EVERYTHING. From the luxurious and stylish design of the ship, to the amazing, warm and sweet ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it was sailing to the destination we desired and because of the raving reviews. We can fault NOTHING and praise EVERYTHING. From the luxurious and stylish design of the ship, to the amazing, warm and sweet service we received, to the food, oh my God the food was amazing. To the room, cleaned twice daily. To the itinerary, the entertainment (thank you Eddy!) To the bedroom and bars. We had awesome servers in the MDR- Jerry kept filling my husband's glass with wine, Myo and Rajni were so attentive to us! Filip in the Sunset Bar was great, Gina, our room attendant, was the best. Eddy, the cruise director and Jayne Curry with her wonderful voice and amazing personality. We loved every second of it and although it has been a few days since we returned home, we miss it. My husband opted for the Standard Alcohol Package which offered him quite a variety of house wines, beers and spirits. I had the standard non alcoholic package and enjoyed treating myself to lush teas and premium coffees. The food both in the Ocean View Cafe and MDR was amazing. We did not try any speciality restaurants because we were super impressed with the MDR food. All in all, this was one of the best holidays of our life. We are in our mid 30s so we have def changed our view that a cruise is for the older generation! It was full of young and young at heart 40, 50 and 60 year old holiday makers. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
There were so many interesting locations to view and visit while enjoying luxurious service, dining and comfort. Viking spoils their passengers. Service is impeccable and wonderful selection of restaurants onboard. Cabin service is ... Read More
There were so many interesting locations to view and visit while enjoying luxurious service, dining and comfort. Viking spoils their passengers. Service is impeccable and wonderful selection of restaurants onboard. Cabin service is excellent, from cleanliness to accommodation. This was my fourth trip with Viking River and Ocean cruise and I’m now planning my fifth. Viking makes traveling so easy for you by collecting you at the airport and retuning for your flight home. It’s obvious Viking takes the time to properly train their employees. I actually walked into my once and found someone cleaning under my bed. You’ll find from the stewards, bartenders, servers will help you with anything you ask. The concierge will go out of their way to grant any request you have. Viking has wonderful entertainment. From dancing, singing, comedy etc. to a large current selection of movie and tv programs. After a day of fascinatingly excursions it’s nice to have dinner in or out of your room and then relax with a movie. Again, I’ll say Viking absolutely spoils their guests. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We are a couple in our 50's and booked this cruise because we wanted to see the Baltics/ Northern Europe and we wanted to try a better quality small ship cruise after getting very tired of the mega ships. We were very happy with our ... Read More
We are a couple in our 50's and booked this cruise because we wanted to see the Baltics/ Northern Europe and we wanted to try a better quality small ship cruise after getting very tired of the mega ships. We were very happy with our choice. The small ship experience is so much better for us. Embarkation and debarkation were totally hassle free. In addition we really enjoyed the excellent quality of the food. Azamara upgraded us from a veranda to a suite and we loved the larger room. We ate in the specialty restaurants most of the time and they were excellent, we ordered breakfast in our room several times and loved that. We ate lunches at the patio grill almost everyday, loved the Greek lamb burgers and hot fresh French fries! The staff is exceptional! So friendly and welcoming. The ship never felt crowded even though it was full. It was so nice that all your needs are included in your fare, the included wines were good and certain ones that we really liked the waiters were happy to get for us on days they were serving different selections. We mainly drink wine so cannot speak about the other alcohol options. The ports we visited were great. St Petersburg was one of the highlights. We took the ships 2 day tour and had a wonderful time and saw so much, it really is a small group of around 20 people, we used the 3rd day to relax after the huge crowds in the museums, etc.. Other ports we used the Azamara provided shuttle (again included) and toured on our own. We did not attend the Azamazing evening since we had been out on a tour for 10 hours that day. I heard it was very nice. The entertainment in the evening was not great every night (but some great performances) but that didn't bother us, one night we saw Tony Arias who was terrific!! So funny and a great singer, loved him! Another night was an ABBA night and we loved that! Our cruise director was Alicia Hill and she's wonderful, she had a great standing room only show. Our next trip is probably South America in 2020 and we most certainly will come back to Azamara. Thank you Azamara for such an outstanding trip! Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We chose this cruise this cruise because we liked the itinerary its was my 60th Birthday I have always wanted yo visit St Petersburg .The negative part of P&O Britannia was the bar staff I found some very homophobic bar staff which ... Read More
We chose this cruise this cruise because we liked the itinerary its was my 60th Birthday I have always wanted yo visit St Petersburg .The negative part of P&O Britannia was the bar staff I found some very homophobic bar staff which made very rude gestures to my partner in the bar that as karaoke .I was not told by my partner until we returned to the UK. He never told me because I would have been put off the ship. The cabin we was in was E251 the cabin steward really looked after us it was very clean to be fair the whole ship was very clean . The lifts was a nightmare at peak times . The buffet restaurant the food was ok nothing special . The late night buffet was the food left over from the evening buffet .We really enjoyed the limelight club Claire Sweeney was great what a voice . We went to the Indian restaurant on board ship the food was excellent you try it . Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
Well, this is my 5th cruise, and 2nd time sailing Holland America and believe it or not, my second time on Ms Rotterdam. I had my first ever cruise with her and I loved it and had fond memories of the ship, however this time not so much. ... Read More
Well, this is my 5th cruise, and 2nd time sailing Holland America and believe it or not, my second time on Ms Rotterdam. I had my first ever cruise with her and I loved it and had fond memories of the ship, however this time not so much. I’ll try to just stick with the basics and facts. First, the cleanliness of our cabin was horrendous. One of the first things we had to do upon getting into our cabin was pee, and that’s where I noticed blood on the shower walls from my view whilst on the leu. After that, I entered the main cabin and lamented to my gf there was blood on the shower / tub from the previous guests and that’s where I noticed stained walls from what looked like dried Coke that had sprayed all over the walls behind the couch. And I mean all over, like how could you miss that cleaning crew. So we called to have our room cleaned and that led to a whole other incident where we were locked out of our cabin for 3 hrs. mind you we just got there, wanted to shower and change after a 10 hr flight. So it was not ideal right off the bat. The staff was very laid back about everything, and not in a good way. No hustle to get us situated (that will also come up later) During the process having to walk back and forth over 10 times to the front desk - to see if this key worked and if that key worked they finally resorted to call a locksmith that leasurley came 3 hrs later. Our toilets backed up daily and our room smelled like poop well because there was poop floating in our toilets that wouldn’t flush. At the first port I went to buy some Lysol wipes and wiped the cabin down myself. Being grossed out from everything upon arrival. The blackness that came off everything was nauseating: the phone, the switches, door handles, all black and filthy. I was trying to be a good sport and not complain bc it was my girlfriends first cruise and I wanted her to have a good time. But it just continued to disappoint. The food was not great. Everything was heavy, fried and very salty. The staff in the lido deck didn’t really interact with you and didn’t listen to any requests. Like go light with the salad dressing, they would drench the salad anyway and hand it over miffed and just want to move on to the next person. Customer service in all the food areas were bad, staff had a bad attitude and pretty much just lazy. they had lines at certain stations for 20 minutes or longer, when they had plenty of staff and should have made adjustments for the busier stations, like open another omlet section or salad station. So when having dinner with your companion that ate something different than you, they would be done with their meal by the time you got yours. Never saw any food managers, either. The only thing healthy was the salad bar and the lettuce was often the “last day of lettuce” if you know what I mean. So cleanliness- very poor, food not great, staff - pretty over it and other things like the internet package is 100 bucks for 5 days, but they don’t tell you the internet doesn’t work if you’re in the fjords (that happened to be about 24 hrs or more) and your guest in the cabin has to buy their own internet so it goes by person - definitely felt ripped off that - and when I told them they should have a disclaimer when buying the internet that it wouldn’t work docked in the fjord, she just looked at me like I was speaking another language and had this expression like “oh well” and didn’t do or say anything else. So. Customer service also pretty bad. All in all I was very disappointed with the “management” of the ship. The last thing they messed up was our debark- we didn’t receive luggage tags and had to get them from the long line at guest services. Then they were late delivering our luggage to the luggage drop off center and it caused us to miss our transport bus, that we had to now wait for another bus that in turn had us RUNNING to catch our flight. We debarked the ship at 7:45 am and had a 8:30 am bus, but had to take the 10:30 am bus. So while we waited and waited- we watched the luggage handlers just take their time like no one had anything else to do that day. Very disorganized and very over their “jobs”. New management and new crew ASAP. The ship itself had a lot of cool artwork, and I liked the “antique” vibe - but that’s the best thing I can say about the ship itself and Holland America. There were just a handful of delightful people that do work there with a smile on their face but it kinda sucks the 95% of the bad staff was so bad that those 5% don’t really get the review. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
We've cruised a few times but so far this is our new favourite. The only reason I gave 4 stars was because of the location of the casino, it was right smack in the middle of Deck 7 where all guests including children passed by, so you ... Read More
We've cruised a few times but so far this is our new favourite. The only reason I gave 4 stars was because of the location of the casino, it was right smack in the middle of Deck 7 where all guests including children passed by, so you inhaled the smoke and all, but I guess it had a strategic location and purpose by NCL. The shows were good especially Cirque Dreams, vocalist Karl Loxkey and the female violinist. Food was tasty and had a variety of selection. There were themed nights at the Garden Cafe, and the Grilled Night was the best! The Prime Rib special of the day at O'Sheehans Is a must try, tender and mouth watering, cooked to perfection! The Indian themed lunch at Moderno's was very flavourful and tasted authentic! The cruise director, Dan Dan was my favourite of all. He was quick, witty, smart, hilarious and very generous and attentive! He even rendered a duet with Karl Loxley at the Matinee Farewell Show. He was such a great singer! His staff was amazing! The Matinee Farewell Show by the way is not to be missed! There was so much things to do and see for the family. Lots of free demonstrations and health seminars during the last sea day. Crew were attentive to guests' needs. There was also Lounge and cabins for single cruisers. Overall it was a cruise to remember! Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
Apologies this review is huge (over 9000 words) please see section headings if you don't want to read everything! Reasons for choosing this cruise: I chose this cruise as I wanted to be able to take my two (grown-up) children ... Read More
Apologies this review is huge (over 9000 words) please see section headings if you don't want to read everything! Reasons for choosing this cruise: I chose this cruise as I wanted to be able to take my two (grown-up) children for their first cruise and it was a bargain price which meant I could actually afford four adult fares for two cabins without breaking the bank or taking out a loan, ha-ha. I very quickly realised you get what you pay for. A pretty poor experience overall and had it been my first cruise would certainly have put me off cruising again! Thankfully I have far better experiences to compare with having previously travelled once each with Princess and Norwegian and twice with Royal Caribbean. So, it won’t put me off cruising again, but I would not book MSC in future unless I was convinced they had made radical improvements. The itinerary: Rating 3 stars – average – good selection of ports. Southampton, Le Havre, Zeebrugge, overnight in Amsterdam, Hamburg, return to Southampton. However, this cruise realistically began and ended in Hamburg, Southampton was the first stop on the itinerary for those who boarded in Hamburg, as evidenced by the 'Welcome Aboard Party' held on our finally stop in Hamburg for those starting the new itinerary... We chose this itinerary as, having previously done two Mediterranean and two Norway cruises, I wanted something different, and thought this sounded an interesting selection of destinations. Booking/web check-in Rating 1 star – terrible. Before travel we already experienced problems (and it is hard to say how much of these were down to MSC themselves and how much due to our agents). The web check-in was fine, for my cabin, but I was unable to access for the other as I kept being told I needed another booking number, which I did not have as I had only been given one, eventually it was MSC that managed to get me access to check-in my children for their cabin. The MSC website also has a habit of glitching badly if your computer stores cookies so I had to clear the cache frequently to use my account. As my son had Epilepsy and Autism we had completed a special needs request form to request our cabins be close to each other, this was sent to both the agents and MSC. I never actually got a response to this request and after initially seeing we had been allocated cabins on decks 8 and 12 I contacted both MSC and my agents, the agents said the cabins were booked on a guarantee basis so could not be chosen, when reminded I had filled in a special needs form their response was 'oh did you, you'll have to wait and see what MSC say' whilst MSC stated (as it says on the website) that it is for the agents to manage this is you booked with one, when told this the agents said it was down to MSC so I was going round in circles. About 3 weeks before we sailed both cabins were listed on the web account as deck 8 but opposite ends and sides of the ship, by two weeks before sailing the cabins were back to deck 8 (starboard, aft) and 12 (port, fore), so still opposite ends of the ship 4 decks apart, not great when you have special needs. The only good thing was we had been upgraded from inside cabins to an outside partial view (lifeboats blocking windows so outside view pointless really) and a balcony. I would have been happier to keep inside cabins that were next to each other as the distance was a problem once on board as other issues arose. I was also starting to panic about getting our embarkation tickets as two weeks before we had not received them, and after speaking to our agents the tickets for my cabin were sent out, but again they were asking for another booking number for the other cabin, and did not answer my question about if it would be a problem that the tickets they had sent me were not for the same cabin number as was showing on our account on the MSC website. The other tickets finally came a few days later, but I never got an answer or replacement tickets for the ones that were wrong. Port Parking: Rating 5 stars- excellent (but no relation to MSC) We had booked port parking at the same time as booking our cruise. The parking was a little way from the docks (10-15 minutes drive) but the parking agency, Air Lynx, seemed efficient, we received a call from them about 5 minutes from arriving, checking if we were on our way. Once we arrived we were unloaded into their shuttle minibus and taken straight to the docks. Embarkation in Southampton: Rating 4 stars – very good Very good, quick straight on board. Thankfully, the luggage porters were able to give me new luggage tags for the ones we had the wrong cabin number for, and at the check-in desk they also said it wasn’t a problem that the tickets were wrong, and we should just go to the cabin number we knew it should be on board, and if there were any issues then go to guest services. However, our tickets had stated that our embarkation time was 17:45 which I found very late, there was no way I was leaving it that late to arrive, so we actually arrived earlier (around 16:15 and it seems everyone else must have too as there were no other passengers waiting to board. I think we could probably have arrived even earlier without having any problems with the time not matching our tickets. Once on board – initial thoughts. Rating 2 stars – Poor. Once on board a series of signs directed new boarders to the Tiger Bar, where you are pounced on instantly by people selling drinks packages, not really the welcome you would like. We don’t really drink alcohol, and there was no way any of the ‘all inclusive’ packages for that would suit us, they seemed very expensive unless you are an alcoholic. We did end up buying water (14 bottles), speciality coffee (I think it was 14 drinks again), and soft drinks (14 drinks) packages, which were in the form of vouchers you can use as you please during the cruise, for a total cost of 178.25 euros including the 15% service charge, it worked out as just a small saving (1-2 drinks per package) on what you would pay buying them individually, it did feel like a high pressure sales tactic to be accosted this way as you got on board, and it clearly worked as I bought! We then went straight to our cabins, which were open and ready, this was good as often with earlier embarkation there has been a delay in getting to the cabins for me on cruises. However, it later became clear that this was due to the cruise having already started the day before, and there were also people embarking at disembarking at most ports from what I could gather, something I haven’t experienced before. Our cruise cards and a daily planner were waiting for us in the cabins, which were actually the cabins we were expecting them to be at least. In my son’s cabin there was a letter that acknowledged the fact he had additional needs, it stated someone would be in touch to support during the evacuation drill, but this didn’t happen, and I was unable to support my son during this myself as again, due to our cabins being so far apart our emergency meeting points were separate (D and G) at opposite ends of the ship for the drill. In a real emergency situation there is now way I would have allowed us to be separated in this way, so I don’t know what would have happened! Thankfully we didn’t have to find out… The drill itself consisted of sitting in a bar whilst being shown how to put on your lifejacket was explained in around 6 different European languages and that was about it. I’m not convinced I would actually know what to do in an emergency situation based on this drill. Cabins – Rating 3 stars average On deck 8 we had an outside cabin for my son and daughter to share. On arrival this was setup with a double bed, despite having asked for twin beds (they did fix this quickly once we went to guest services, at least). This cabin was an outside partial view, with lifeboats outside the window, to be honest I don’t know why they bothered with the window, it seemed pointless as the view was fully obscured by the lifeboat. The cabin was clean, tidy and compact, nothing to get excited about but nothing to complain about either. On deck 12 we had a balcony cabin, again at first glance, clean tidy and compact. Later, we noticed that the sheet on the bed had stains that had not come out in the wash, and there was a rip in the quilt that had been concealed under the sheet. I was glad I hadn’t bought my usual big ballgown for the Gala/Elegant nights as there wouldn’t have been enough room for me to put it on in either of these cabins, so they were a bit smaller than others I have had. The cupboards and drawers did not have handles and most of the drawers were stiff to open. The showers were okay, pressure a bit low but I think that’s par for the course really, it just makes washing your shampoo out of thick hair a bit harder. As always power points were limited (and being European on this ship) and due to the shape and size of travel adapters you could only use one power point at a time as the two points available are very close together, so you can’t plug in two adapters at the same time. They were also too close to the desk making larger items such as camera battery chargers, impossible to plug in at all (we bought a European extension lead in a supermarket in Le Havre to enable us to use the power points more effectively). Having a kettle, with tea and coffee was a good addition that is growing in popularity on ships, milk rather than cream would be better here and just 2 milk cartons is not enough, we would have to pick up extras at the buffet to bring back to the room, but anything used did get replenished when the room attendant came by. The room attendant was not as attentive as we have experienced before, we did not see him more than once or twice, I don’t even recall his name. And no folded towel animals!? Every cruise I have been on these have been a feature I have grown to look forward to seeing, it was disappointing that there were none, and then they did a demonstration on the final sea day so it’s clear that these do happen on MSC too, so not sure why we didn’t see any? Cruise Card/onboard payments – rating 3 stars average Your cruise card is your onboard ID and payment system. It is in your cabin upon your arrival and requires activation within around 24 hours (up to 23:00 the day after embarking). On previous cruises I have provided my credit card details before going, or at the cruise terminal so this was a bit different. Whichever way you to chose to pay when you activate can be changed until the day before disembarkation, the options are credit card, debit card and cash. You need to take the card to one of the activation point machines located near guest services. Before doing this, I spoke to guest services as I was worried that it authorises 250 euros straight away, and I would be linking my card to all 4 people, I didn’t want a 1000-euro charge, thankfully they said it would only be the 250 euros for all of us and I could link all payments to the one card, but as with so many things on this cruise the original information was not clear so if you didn't go and ask you wouldn't know how things really worked, they could save themselves a lot of unnecessary trip to guest services if information was clearer at the outset, you shouldn't have to go and ask for it to be explained. You can check your account at any time at guest services or on the interactive TV in your cabin. This proved useful as I found that our onboard credit was not being used against my card and charges for a donation to UNICEF had been put against my card, both of which was able to resolve quickly at guest services. Having the cruise card for onboard spending is the same on all cruises I have done, and it is good, but also you can easily run up a big bill if you don’t pay attention to what you are doing (just like a credit card really). At the end of your cruise a bill is delivered to your room for you to verify the amounts charged (or go to guest services to resolve any discrepancies) before you leave. The ship – rating 3 stars average The ship itself was nice looking, inside and out. No spectacular staircases or highlight spots like some cruise ships. It did feel a bit claustrophobic at times as there isn’t much open space, it’s very closed in on all decks except for the uppermost open decks 13-16 (with 14-16 not really being full decks as such, rather bits of deck on top of deck 13). Signage could be better, even though it was smaller than most of the other ships I have been on I found it much harder to find my way around. I don’t recall seeing a single trash can (bin), and the toilets were difficult to locate. It turned out (I discovered on talking to crew later in the week) that the reason bins and toilets are not well signposted is that the wife of the owner of the cruise line considers these things to be private and advertising them ‘trashy’, that isn’t a helpful explanation and ignores that fact that being able to locate a toilet quickly is an accessibility issue for disabled passengers, who may need to be able to locate one in a hurry, not to mention that if you are seasick you might also need to do this! When you did manage to find a toilet other than in your cabin they had this automated flush feature, not that might sound handy, however it seemed to malfunction on a frequent basis. Often the toilet would flush as you sat on it, providing an unpleasant suction sensation you would rather not experience whilst being sat on a toilet! Then it would not flush when you had finished so you had to locate the tiny button to flush it manually. The frequency with which toilets seemed to be closed for cleaning seemed high and unnecessary as I went in and found the cleaner in one cubicle but all the others could be used, it might be better just to put a ‘cleaning in progress’ sign up to make people aware someone is in there, but not close off completely as you can often walk half a ship before you can find another toilet, and then find it is also closed for cleaning! MSC seem to have favoured quantity over quality, cramming as many people in as possible with low fares to entice you onboard, smaller cabins and less space overall. Information and communication are generally lacking in every aspect of the cruise and often misleading in my opinion, you will see more on this in other sections. First Evening/Medical – Rating 1 star terrible if it was possible to give zero stars I would! After the drill, we popped back to our cabins to return the lifejackets, and our luggage was already there, another bonus point for MSC having waited many hours for luggage on some of my previous cruises. We then decided to head up to the buffet for something to eat as it was coming up to 6pm and we hadn’t eaten since leaving home at 12noon. Before we got into the buffet my son starting acting oddly and I knew a seizure was coming, he was already having a complex partial seizure and we were trying to get him to sit down before it developed into a grand mal seizure (it is always difficult to get him to sit down as he is virtually unresponsive in a complex partial seizure, and will just be asking for the nearest toilet) staff began to panic, and people started crowding round and I tried to explain he was about to have a seizure and let us deal with it, but if they were worried then send a first aider. Myself and my daughter caught my son and lowered him to the floor when he went into the main seizure phase. Then what I presumed was a first aider arrived along with a huge crowd of people in uniform. People were speaking to me in German and other languages I didn’t understand, I said that we speak English and I know what I’m doing. Someone was filling a syringe with something and I had to shout at them not to try and stick a needle in my now sleeping post-seizure, severely needle-phobic son! A doctor had now joined the collection of people and was saying he needed to give him something to calm him down, again I said no they couldn’t do that, his seizure had finished he just needed to rest now. I wanted everyone to just back off and leave us alone, but now the doctor was there he insisted on getting a stretcher to take my son down to the medical centre to check him over. The ability of anyone in attendance to speak good enough English to manage a medical situation was inadequate to say the least, they did not understand what I was telling them, and I did not understand them. Once done in the medical centre they again wanted to poke my son with needles which he did not need and kept touching him despite me saying they needed to stop as he doesn’t like being touched, it was only once I said he was autistic that they seemed to understand that word and backed off a little. Whilst he was still coming around the doctor was pestering me for his cruise card, so I had to dig through his pockets to find it. As my son woke up we just wanted to get him back to his cabin, so he could rest and recover fully, but when we tried to leave we were told we had to wait for the doctor to check him over. One of the doctors’ aides returned with his cruise card and a bill for 140 euros, before we were eventually granted a wheelchair to take him back to his cabin. Later, I went to guest services to enquire why I had been billed 140 euros, and to contest this as in my mind nothing had been done that constituted being paid for. I was informed that it would be investigated but that there are fee’s for using medical services, to which I responded we had not wanted, needed or received anything I felt warranted this bill. The bill itself was not clear about what exactly we were being charged for, merely stating ‘Epileptic crisis Examination out of the Medical Center’. I was told I should claim it back on my travel insurance (later in the week I received a call upholding this opinion. Once home I enquired with my insurance but given to value of the excess to be paid it ended up not worth claiming as I wouldn’t get much back, so I am out of pocket 140 euros for nothing. EHIC cards also do not cover cruises so I can’t claim it back that way either). Dining for the whole week - rating 1 star - terrible: We don’t usually bother with the main restaurants as we don’t like taking several hours to eat a meal and having specific times to eat. For us the buffet restaurant option gives the flexibility to eat what we want, when we want. So, I can’t comment on the main dining rooms, and I never buy speciality dining meals at an additional cost, I don’t see why you would want to pay for food onboard when there is all you can eat available for 20 hours a day? Oh wait, quality I guess might come in to play here as you will see… I did hear one passenger mention that being gluten free they were disappointed that, due to having to wait so long for their food in the main dining room, they ended up eating separately from their family, and I think if you had any specific dietary requirements you would need to eat in the main dining room as these were certainly not catered for in the buffet. Once my son was feeling up to it we went back to our original plan of getting something to eat in the Sahara Buffet restaurant by now it was around 8pm. We felt the selection on offer wasn’t great in comparison to other ships I have been on, lots of bread, and cold meats/salad but limited choices in cooked foods. Pizza and fries were available pretty much consistently throughout the week and as they were often the only edible option we were sick of them by the end of the week, although for an Italian ship the pizzas were nothing like an Italian pizza, more like a frozen one I might get back home. Having several fussy eaters in our group we thought we might have better luck on other nights and that it was maybe just this first evening where the buffet options seemed to be catering to a more European palate, specifically German, and there were also a lot of Indian/Asian cuisines (possibly due to the chefs and galley staff being more from that part of the World). Unfortunately, as the week progressed there was no improvement in the food and being a bit fussy (e.g. two of us not liking seafoods) was clearly not to blame. What we did eat seemed to also be bland and of a lower quality than what I am used to. The only vegetables most of the time were raw/cold. The cooked breakfasts were the only meal of the day worth eating but even those seemed heavily greasy. The mugs for hot drinks were always filthy, dishwasher residue white smears on the outside of the blue mugs, and rims you needed to wipe before using, I presume this was a problem of the dishwasher machine? The selection of desserts was just a bad, we didn’t have any most of the time. It was laughable that they promoted the ‘Traditional British Sunday dinner’ when all they had was beef and Yorkshire pudding, no roast potatoes, and no suitable vegetables, and if you don’t eat beef, there was no alternative like chicken or pork, I ended up with Yorkshire pudding, with greasy, slimy, green beans and a preformed, plastic turkey burger (from the grill), and no gravy. MSC really need to have better look at English meals if the want to cater more for the British market as they claim. I was very hungry for some decent food, especially cooked vegetables when we got home! On board entertainment – first night: rating 2 stars - poor Obviously, the events of the early evening meant we hadn’t really had chance to look at the daily program yet. When we did we were disappointed to see that for the first night aboard there was no sail-away party on deck, or in any of the lounges/bars. The only entertainments available were two dance classes, a Bee Gees & Abba tribute and cocktail demo (at the same time in different locations), a gap of around one and a half hours or so with nothing on and then at 10.30pm trivia. In the theatre a Mime show with ‘poetry, comedy and talent’ was repeated at 19:00 and 21:15 for the different dining times in the main restaurants. But except for the latest theatre show and trivia we had missed everything else, except for some very generic (think karaoke level skill but supposedly professional) singers in the bars, giving us nothing to do on our first night, except try and explore the ship then go to our cabins as we were pretty exhausted. Please see further comments on onboard activities/entertainment for the rest of the week below. Rather than give a minute by minute report on the rest of our week I’ll turn now to the different facilities and activities etc. Onboard Activities (inclusive) – rating 3 stars average For included on board activities, besides the pools, there was shuffleboard, two foosball (table football) tables, two table tennis tables, and the sport deck (deck 16) - a netted sports court for tennis/basketball. The sports deck was very high, windy and cold so we didn’t go out there after an initial visit to find it. The table football and table tennis were always occupied, so even when we collected a ball from the Virtual World centre (where all sporting/game equipment was available to loan) we ended up taking it back not having had a turn, they shouldn’t loan out more balls than they have tables for. With such a limited selection of activities it’s no wonder they were so busy when people were onboard, I imagine if you want a chance to use them you need to stay onboard when docked, but then why are you on a cruise to different ports if you aren’t going to explore/visit them? Other Activities (chargeable) – rating 2 stars – poor So, they have a 4D Cinema, this is not what you might expect, I was thinking IMAX, I was wrong. I was looking forward to watching a movie onboard, as they don’t have the free movies under the stars I have enjoyed on each of my previous cruises I thought this would be a nice alternative, I was wrong. What they have is a set of simulator chairs and a projection screen where they show simulation experience shows (think pretend roller-coaster) behind a curtain in the ‘Virtual World’ on deck 14 and it costs 7 euros per person to watch/ride/experience this, needless to say I didn’t bother spending cinema ticket prices for a simulation. There are no movies on board at all unless you also want to pay 7 euros to watch one on the 19-inch TV in your cabin (which, by the way, has virtually no English language channels). Virtual World was the ‘entertainment hub’ where you could loan games and sporting equipment and swipe your cruise card to play at additional charge air hockey, a motorbike racing game, or two arcade games (a crane toy grab and one of those where you push something in a hole to try to win). Then there’s Mini-Bowling, I made the mistake of swiping my cruise card on this two-lane rip off machine! 6 euros down the drain, as before you have chance to even think about adding other players a 20 second timer pops up for you to start playing, you then get 5 rounds of two balls, each with just 20 seconds to react and boom, game over! No instructions, no warning this is going to happen, how they call this bowling I don’t know, and I learnt the hard way why no-one else was using this game, hidden away in the nightclub that doubles as a teen place right next to the children’s club room, because it is a con, that’s why. On deck 7 in the Sports bar there is a self-righting Billiards/Pool table, now this we did use a few times. At 6 euros for an hour it was probably the best value, paid for, item on board. As we enjoy playing pool this activity was popular with us and kept us occupied for an hour here and there, especially on sea days as there wasn’t much else to do. Even if the self-righting mechanism kicked in at some strange times, wobbling the table unnecessarily causing you to have to wait for it to stop jiggling so you could take a shot. Onboard entertainment - Rating 2 stars poor The daily planner received in your cabin each night for the next day details all the entertainment that will be available for the upcoming day, this is the same on every ship I’ve been on, even if they call it different things. As mentioned, when we boarded the first planner had very little entertainment listed, we which put down to it being embarkation day… until we saw the next one… Again, we didn’t think it too much of an issue that there did was not much on during the day as it would be a port day, but the evening looked rather lacking considering we would all be back on board then. Unfortunately, this was actually the standard for the whole week. Virtually nothing on during the day, so if you were only ashore for part of the day (morning/afternoon only excursions for example) there was not much to occupy you when back on board (and of course as is always the case a lot of other things, such as shops and the casino, onboard are also closed whilst in port due to Maritime law etc). If you wanted a dance lesson, you were in luck, these seemed to be the main feature of the daily entertainment program, with several different sessions each day. There seemed to be a few kids and family activities each day (for those with younger children), the occasional game, and trivia, and that was pretty much it on port days, with the odd additional item in the evenings, the nightly theatre show and a late-night disco. Trivia was our favourite activity, and probably the only thing that was of regular interest to us out of the limited choice available, we attended as many trivia sessions as we could (and even won a couple of t-shirts - when they mega quiz buffs weren’t playing who always won, ha-ha). Even Trivia though had a confusing element, being called different things on different days, and a feature comment one day in the programme about joining the ‘biggest trivia event at sea’ but it didn’t say where, when or how to join in. There was a single craft activity (papercraft) on each of the sea days, but there could have easily been many more of these type of activities – scrap-booking, knit+natter, crochet the list of ideas goes on and on, being a crafter myself! There could also have been activities put on (unhosted) that just gave likeminded people a time and place to meet up – reading group/book club meetup in the library, puzzle/crossword group, chess club – literally anything goes. I saw a single item in the programme about Masterchef at Sea, but no further information was included so unless you went to guest services to ask for more information you couldn’t join in. There were also very long gaps between activities, such that in many cases there would be two or three things happening at one time, then nothing for a couple of hours or more. The majority of entertainment also seemed to only take place in the Tiger Bar, despite there being numerous other locations around the ship (bars/clubs/pool deck etc the ship has 17 Bars & lounges in total) that could also have hosted activities. Heck, even the theatre could have been utilised to show movies seeing as there was no-where else you could watch them on this ship… As for the theatre, the shows seemed to be mostly musical/dance themed items, that I guess were chosen to avoid too much of an issue of the many different languages of the passengers. We only went to one theatre show (Sophisticats) and it was of a below average standard (to me, being someone who attends several theatre performances each year back home). There was also a British Vocalist/Humourist, Paul Fredericks - who was an average voiced singer and humourless - who walked off the stage when an announcement interrupted his performance, very professional (unless that was meant to be a joke!? But it wasn’t funny…) (BTW, never heard of him before, he is not what I would consider a well-known British performer). A noticeable missing item was Karaoke, and when this did appear on the bill it was at 11pm for 45 minutes on the Saturday night – I later found out this was due to a new Karaoke machine having been delivered whilst docked at Hamburg on the Saturday, so maybe it will feature more in future… Spa – rating 3 stars average I’ll be honest this rating is based purely on the pricing as because it was so expensive in comparison to other cruises I have been on I did not use it, despite wanting a massage. A couple’s massage was 230 euros and the only offers came in your daily planner at 9pm or later and if you tried to book the following day you were told it was only valid for the previous day. The offers that did come up were not great and as such I didn’t get to find out if the facilities or treatments themselves were any good. It's a shame as I really could have done with at least one hot stones massage! I'm also a bit of an Elemis snob when it comes to my spas and they don't use Elemis on MSC Magnifica... Fitness centre – rating 3 stars average Again we didn’t actually use the very small fitness centre, any classes were at an additional cost, but I couldn’t see how a class would be possible as the space was so small, unless there were only 2 people attending, or there was a hidden room I didn’t see!? Pools – rating 3 stars average The undercover pool and hot tubs seemed popular and were often busy. I don’t recall seeing the outdoor pool used, when it was open, most of the time it closed as you got back on board after a port stop and seemed to be having work done on the hot tubs must of the week. It felt too cold to use the pools really, so we didn’t bother. They looked small and I could imagine if it was warmer they would have been heaving with people. WIFI – rating 3 stars average Another rating based on costs. You would think by now cruise ships would be starting to bring their prices down for this facility, it’s not really a luxury nowadays but is still priced as one. Art Gallery – unrateable Okay, so apparently there is an Art Gallery (as with every ship I have been on), there are signs for this on deck 7, couldn’t find it anywhere!? Is it hidden behind a wall? If so where is the door? It’s a mystery we didn’t solve… Casino – rating 3 stars average Smaller than other ships but the same sort of set-up, poker tables, slot machines, electronic roulette and a handful of coin-drop machines. We had a couple of games of roulette, which as anyone who has played knows is a game of pure chance so nothing much to say about that. The coin-drop machines used MSC tokens of no currency or face-value, you inserted euro notes in a slot and were granted a number of tokens to play with (20 tokens for 5 euros, giving them a value of 25 cents each). Unless you are an avid gambler, who really knows what they are doing, Casino’s (a staple of all ships) are just a big waste of money, the only reason we played at all was to try and fill a little of the dead time, I guess that it what they hope for… Library – rating 2 stars poor I’ve yet to find a cruise ship that has a library that I would actually consider to be a decent library. My own library at home has more books than all 5 cruise ships I have been on so far! There are sections for each of the languages most likely to be travelling, so in this case many European languages. Each has a handful of shelves. The English language section didn’t have anything of interest at all, good job I bought some books with me (I never travel without a few books). There were a handful of trays with puzzle sheets in different languages, the English one was a crossword. I’m not sure if there were meant to be new one’s daily (on other ships there have been daily puzzle sheets) but on at least one of the days we nipped in to pick one up and there were no English language sheets at all. I’d love to see more happening, even un-hosted, in ship libraries, they would be great meeting points! Photography – rating 2 stars poor I’ve always enjoyed getting professional photos on my cruises and was looking forward to doing the same again on this one. I knew I couldn’t get my kids to run from one photographer to another all night on the formal night, as I would normally do in my Cinderella ballgown, so opted for just visiting two. We chose a plain black background and the staircase. I had already enquired about packages and felt uncomfortable with the lack of transparency in pricing and packages (being used to plenty of detailed information about the range of deals you can get on print and digital images, discounts for more purchases etc). I was told to choose what I liked then I would be told how much it was as it was all done by barcodes…? So, we spent ages going through the photos, easily discarding a large amount as they were blurry, or eyes closed. We narrowed it down to two piles, four must have photos and a larger number of extras that would depend on the deals available. Upon showing these to a member of the photography team, I was told it would be 30 euros per large (12x8) photo and 20 euros for the 8x6 size, discounts only begin at 10 photos, which would be 10% discount. This didn’t seem like a great deal, 10 photos would be a minimum cost of 200 euros, I’ve had deals for less than $200USD where you get EVERY photo taken on board (one time this was almost 200 photos!) so I decided as it was so expensive we would just have the four. I explained that we didn’t want the four favourites in the 12x8 size they had printed them in as it was too big, we would prefer the 8x6 size, to which I was told I couldn’t choose what size I wanted (another never-before-experienced shocker). I couldn’t understand why it was not possible for them to just print the size I wanted and was told the files are locked when I asked, ‘do you not have the original image?’. It all seemed rather strange, and I just said to forget it, what a rip off. Later, after having complained about this, I was told that it is something to do with the system (outdated system by the sound of it) that if they amended my photos to the smaller size it would ‘ruin’ all the others as they would also be changed (errm, you’ve already printed them, don’t offer people the chance to choose what ‘they’ want, and don’t offer additional prints or digital versions so what difference would it make changing it now???), but I was offered the chance to have the files on CD for 10 euros per picture which I accepted despite still feeling it was far too much really. When I got home I found these images were not the originals, but as printed, so two of the four were black and white, so in the end I was still not happy with the result and had to then go and print them myself. MSC really need to look at updating their system so people can have the photos they want, in the size they want, colour, black and white, print or digital and a better range of offers, 10% off 200/300 Euros is the only offer, and it really isn’t much of a ‘deal’ (they also do not offer the CD option, I only got that because I had complained). Not really sure why they felt it was acceptable to print blurry images and attempt to sell these either!? Shopping/Public rooms/Bars - rating 3 stars average Signage on board was poor (as mentioned before in relation to toilets) small, vague maps of your current deck hidden away on walls, bar names identified by seat colour in many cases from what I could tell, and god help you if you happened to get in the wrong lift and end up at the rear of a closed restaurant, trying to navigate to which floor you could then actually get round to the stuff you were looking for was bonkers. I normally only take a few hours to get oriented with where everything is on a ship, but I still wasn’t sure which way to go for anything, other than the most frequently visited areas, by the time we got off this one! The public areas on the whole are very difficult to navigate. Onboard shopping is always a bit of a gamble on cruise ships. Depending on the exchange rate you can either be getting a bargain or totally wasting your money. MSC is no exception to this rule. It’s handful of shops include a few of high end watch, jewellery, fashion and bag shops, a mini-mart and their signature logo store. No duty free on this ship, not really sure why, location or onboard currency being the Euro I guess? Not much to say about the shopping as we didn’t really buy much, prices were a bit high in comparison to when the US dollar is the onboard currency on a ship. The main atrium where the shops and other public rooms are mainly found is the most open part on the inner ship with a waterfall feature and staircases connecting decks 5-7. Guest services, future cruises, the excursions desk and internet cafe are amongst the public rooms. Bar service is slow, you can often wait 20-30 minutes for a drink even if it’s not that busy. In most bars there are staff floating round who might eventually come to your table, or you can go up to the bar yourself, neither gives a quicker service than the other, many bars seem to have a number of floaters but only 1-2 people actually behind the bar making/preparing the drinks. There is no self-service launderette, but you can use the bag in your room to send things down to be washed, ironed etc, the prices seemed about average for individual items, however you should buy a package before boarding if you want more as the price difference is quite a lot, the deal to buy a laundry package beforehand was really good. Of course, you might not need any laundry doing or are happy to wait till you get home, but if you do be aware of when you want your items for as it requires being sent off before 10pm the day before you want to receive it after 5pm… Staff/Crew – rating 3 stars average (entertainment team 4 stars – good) The entertainment team are a credit to the ship, they make everyone feel welcome, encourage participation and are a lot of fun, they also try to remember names. Elsewhere the staff are fine, but not as interactive as some places, only one bar member was actually up for a bit of conversation and we hardly saw our room attendant (and never got any towel animals). In some cases, there were those that seemed a bit rude or ignorant, but it might have just been another indicator of the language and cultural differences (although I’ve not experienced this on other ships that are just as diverse). Cruise critic and Crew Coffee & Chat meetings – rating 3-4 stars average to good There were two opportunities on board to voice your opinions/give feedback about the ship and your experiences, one for Cruise Critic members (with cake) and a crew coffee and chat meeting. These seemed to only be attended by a handful of British passengers who didn’t interact with each other much. Several senior crew members attended each meeting and I had the opportunity to mention most of the things that I have included in this review. The response in relation to the medical issue was not great, but at least the people I spoke to were aware of the situation so that shows there is communication between the staff. Most of the rest of my feedback was well received, even if nothing ever comes of it. The entertainment director seemed the most enthusiastic about taking on board our suggestions in relation to entertainments, such as the karaoke and virtual world (cinema). Most other British passengers I spoke to either at these meetings or elsewhere on the ship had the same concerns as myself in relation to the toilets, food, and lack of entertainment on board in particular. I think these meetings are helpful for passengers to feel listened to in their concerns and ideas for helping MSC improve to meet the needs and expectations of it’s guests and good because I have not seen them on other cruises I have been on (although they may have been there but I didn’t feel the need to attend being much more satisfied with my experiences) It remains to be seen if anything actually comes of it… Obviously, there are many different types of individuals, couples, and groups who travel on cruises, as a youngish couple this was the first time we had travelled that wasn’t just the two of us and I would certainly say it is much easier when we don’t have the kids, even if they are grown up themselves. A few group types require a bit of a mention as to the suitability of this MSC Magnifica cruise for them, as far as I am able to comment: For families with children/under 18’s – rating 3 stars average Not having younger children I can’t say much, but there did seem to be adequate activity for the younger children in clubs, I’m not so sure teenagers would feel as well catered for on here as they would on ships with more adventurous activities such as rock climbing walls and bigger video game arcades. The ship did seem family friendly and there were always a few family activities on the lean activity programme. For solo travellers - rating 2 stars - poor I didn’t see anything for solo travellers mentioned on the daily programme, and I heard someone mention they had struggled with the pricing and packages when booking as a solo traveller. Having been a solo cruiser in the past, I would say Norwegian Cruise line were far more geared up for solo travellers, with solo cabins, special prices and a host of activities/meet-ups specific on the programmer for solo travellers. LGBT – Rating 2 stars - poor My youngest identifies as non-binary and was pleased to see an LGBT meetup on the programme, not once but twice during the week. Unfortunately, this was short lived as it appeared either no-one else turned up or anyone else attending was as clueless as they were as to if they were in the right place, if anyone else was there for that meet-up or were just sitting in the bar having a drink. The bar in which the meet-up was scheduled to take place was split over both sides of the ship and although the programme indicated left/right for those unfamiliar with what would be the left/right of the ship it was not easy to work out if you were in the right place, a better location would be one of the bars with a clearly identifiable meeting point. At one of the crew meetings we asked why these meet-ups were un-hosted and suggested that maybe something could be done to identify the meetup point. It was explained that there had been complaints about being too ‘obvious’ in the past but they liked our suggestion of just putting a small rainbow as a discrete indicator of the meeting point and it is un-hosted as although there are crew who identify as LGBT they didn’t necessarily want this identified to passengers, which is understandable, but at the same time shows how much improvement is still required in the general public in relation to diversity and equality. Hopefully other LGBT passengers find they have a better experience and feel more welcome to be who they are in future. For those with Disabilities/special needs – rating 2-3 stars poor to average (depending on disability I guess) As already mentioned we faced a few issues having a member of our family with autism and epilepsy on this ship. At times the constant flow of announcements in 6 or more languages is overwhelming even for those of us without sensory issues, I feel this persistent flow just after we boarded may have been a contributory factor in my son’s seizure as it could have been a sensory overload for him. In addition, I noticed accessibility issues for disabled passengers with things such as the toilets being difficult to locate, and the corridors being too narrow to get a wheelchair down when the room stewards/cleaners were about (when they were not then it was just about wide enough for wheelchairs, but there seemed to be obstacles more often than there were not). Being aware just how much the medical charges would be for things would be very helpful, apparently these are listed in the medical centre itself, but we didn’t see them there. And of course, we had completed a special needs form to request close cabins which we did not get any response to at all. There was a note in my son’s room when we arrived but other than that we did not get any other acknowledgment or support for him on board. For smokers – Rating 3 stars average As with all ships now, no smoking on balconies and cabins (it doesn’t stop everyone, but I can’t say I’d want to be in a cabin that smells like an ashtray!). For now, at least, there is still smoking on one side of deck 13 and one side of the casino (only when it is operational), these areas are quite well marked so if you do want to smoke you can easily find where you can, or if you want to avoid it you can clearly see and smell where to avoid! Disembarkation – Rating 1 star – terrible I know it might not have been the ships fault that we docked late (although it might have been for all I know, we seemed to be in the port at around the expected time but didn’t dock for ages, so who knows what was going on) but what a shambles! Information about disembarkation was left in the cabins the night before giving luggage labels and a time for attending your meeting point – no option for self-disembarkation, but on asking at guest services I was told we could do this. Our meeting point was the theatre at 9am but we had to be out of our cabins by 8am, (and the clocks needed changing back to UK time which wasn’t mentioned in the information, and we forgot that they had changed when we left!). We kept our luggage to take off ourselves as we didn’t want to get stuck in the terminal waiting to pick up our luggage, and I’m so glad we did this as when we eventually got into the terminal most of the luggage had not been unloaded. In the morning we got up early, went for breakfast in the buffet, then collected our luggage vacating our cabins by 8am. We went straight to the theatre to wait despite it being an hour before our allotted time, expecting to be able to get off at 9am, what else can you do when everything is closed on the ship due to docking and you have all your luggage (which they did have an option for leaving in the ‘Poker lounge’ but then you would just be stuck waiting to get it out of there instead of the terminal). Unfortunately, getting off at 9am wasn’t to be as we hadn’t fully docked yet. In fact, it was around 10 am before we could join the ship long queue of people waiting to get off. You see, by the time we had docked (now very late) and the ship had been given the all clear to allow disembarkation all the other groups were also waiting as their allotted time had come and gone. During the waiting there was a series of short comedy clips playing on the theatre screen, of which we saw the same clips at least 4 times during the wait. Other than that there was nothing to keep people entertained, announcements were infrequent (but repeated in multiple languages as always, and only provided minimal information that we were waiting to be cleared – stating the obvious) and only one member of staff in the theatre to guide people, so you can imagine it was just a free-for-all once they finally said we could get off, no-one paid any attention to being told it was ‘pink’ group to follow the staff member to the exit, everyone just started heading there (those who hadn’t already gone straight for the exits rather than join the rest of us in the theatre. It was such a relief to get off the ship after 2 hours of being stuck, we were lucky as we just had to get on a shuttle back to our port parking, but others missed connections as result of the chaos. Worst disembarkation I have ever experienced, and as Southampton wasn’t even the main stop on this cruise it was definitely the largest number of people getting off, we hadn’t seen hundreds waiting the morning before at the start/end point of Hamburg. Ports/Excursions – Rating 2 stars – poor Most of the ports were heavily industrialised and you needed to head away from them to find the local town or anything of interest, but this is not uncommon around Europe, so isn’t a problem in itself, but if you are looking for picturesque ports you might want to consider Norway instead, or other destinations where you won’t be docked in freight ports! The distance to the local town varied greatly for each port, Le Havre just a 10 minute short walk, Bruges 30 minutes away by coach/shuttle, Amsterdam 30 minute walk, Hamburg 20 minutes coach/shuttle. To be honest I’m not a fan of cruise excursions, they often cost far too much for what in many cases is just a coach ride to a location, but sometimes a necessary evil as it can be hard to work out how to get to some places yourself unless you have been before, or it isn’t far. As such I organised my own excursions/activities for each port and highly recommend others do the same. I will write about those separately and have given them reviews on TripAdvisor. The options available for each port were limited, over-priced and in some cases so far from the port it seemed crazy that people would consider it an ‘excursion’ at all, for example in Le Havre you could get on a coach for around 3-4 hours to go to Paris, with the same length journey back to the ship, you would be lucky if you got 3 hours in Paris itself for your 6 hours plus sat on a coach – no thank you, there are far better and cheaper ways to visit Paris. It’s a shame the focus of excursions is generally to take you away from the port in which you have docked, Le Havre has a rich history of its own that could easily be explored with a guide, walking tour, or as we did a Segway tour (booked privately at a fraction of the cost a ship excursion might charge for such a thing) but there were no options for this. We had to book a ship ‘excursion’ to get to Bruges from the ship, I pre-paid for this before we travelled, and it cost far too much for a 30-minute coach ride to Bruges, and back to the ship. Don’t get me wrong, it was nice to have the guide on the coach talking a little bit about Bruges, but it wasn’t worth £41GBP per person. And in Hamburg there was a shuttle bus to the town centre which was 15.90 Euros per person, cheaper but no better value for money and the return was chaos as the shuttle only ran every 45 minutes. We got to the pick-up point to find that it was already full and had to wait for the next one, and by the time that arrived there was already enough people to fill two coaches so half of them would have to wait for the next one again. I suggest looking up local tours, activities, museums etc before you go, buy your tickets online direct or via TripAdvisor and print your self a map of the dock/port area so you can plan out how to get to your chosen activity from the ship once docked. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
If you want dance lessons then this cruise is for you . Cos thats your entertainment .I felt on the first day i was sat in a waiting room all day .Very bad if your english speaking . I found the staff ignorant . I got more sence out of our ... Read More
If you want dance lessons then this cruise is for you . Cos thats your entertainment .I felt on the first day i was sat in a waiting room all day .Very bad if your english speaking . I found the staff ignorant . I got more sence out of our cleaner . He was good at his job. Each port looked like a chemical plant . Excursions are very dear . We also found that they take money from your account with out asking. In hamburg they was charging 16 euro for the bus in to the city .If you went on the street behind , were msc had there buses .you could get to the city for 2 euro.and we was told by an msc crew member about this . Fine dining was ok , but the canteen on the top deck was horrid , food was oily and cold .If im totaly honest MSC dont cater for the English . Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
We have heard very mixed reports about MSC, some saying they are dreadful, others saying they are making great improvements so we thought a simple couple of nights on the ship from Hamburg to Southampton would be a good way to experience ... Read More
We have heard very mixed reports about MSC, some saying they are dreadful, others saying they are making great improvements so we thought a simple couple of nights on the ship from Hamburg to Southampton would be a good way to experience it ourselves. It was a shambles, I don't actually think shambles reflected the level of disorganisation experienced on the trip. We arrived at the terminal, luckily I had seen it was different to the normal terminal but this was by luck and other passengers had gone to the wrong one. We are used to queues waiting to get on board but nothing like this, it took over three hours to get on the ship with zero explanation from the cruise terminal or the ship. It was a poor experience for us but even worse for those travelling with older relatives or young children, no attempt was made to look after them, not even water was offered. Eventually we got past security to be confronted by photographers asking for us to pose with a ships wheel, when I declined I was told it is part of the embarkation process, I then firmly declined as this was nonsense. More queuing ensued just in case we hadn’t had enough queues again no reason or explanation given. We finally reached our stateroom and although I had requested a double bed I found the room was set up for two single beds. The room was ok but the TV was tiny and the interactive features didn’t work, there was a kettle but no milk, sigh. The buffet was carnage but that is more of a reflection of some passengers inability to form an orderly line. Dinner was very nice both evenings and staff very friendly The one obvious thing was too few staff on the bars and because of this they kept their heads down rather than acknowledge you, very frustrating. They had also run out of various items like diet coke and bottles of water, I'm not sure if MSC hadn’t paid their bill or just were as badly organised with food as they were with everything else. The second day at sea everyone had to present their passports for checking, not a big deal but MSC couldn’t get the scanners to work used for verifying who had been through, I complained and got a "not my problem" shrug so left. Disembarkation should be very straightforward but no, it was chaos, it took hours to get off the ship with some passengers doing laps because the system hadn’t cleared their account, madness! It’s a shame the ship was nice, the staff friendly but massively overstretched, would I sail MSC again - no. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
A good 2nd RC cruise, generally. The ship is lovely; there's lots to do. The food is great, the staterooms nice and the staff/service are amazing. Sadly it's getting quite Butlins. For the price, it's less swish and ... Read More
A good 2nd RC cruise, generally. The ship is lovely; there's lots to do. The food is great, the staterooms nice and the staff/service are amazing. Sadly it's getting quite Butlins. For the price, it's less swish and luxurious than you'd imagine, especially compared to other lines. Whilst it was fun, it was over-crowded, and quite ropey in-parts, where activities/entertainment were aimed at families/young children. It was quite low-brow and populist; endless Bingo and Karaoke, people going to dinner in hoodies/tracksuits. There were children everywhere, and this was encouraged by nature of the activities/entertainment. It felt more like a holiday-camp than a nice, posh cruise, which seems a shame, given it's marketed as a luxury. Also, facilities couldn't accommodate the number of passengers. The Windjammer was over-capacity, bars were full; you couldn't find a seat anywhere. Too many people packed-on without thought of how they would spend their time on-board. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
I typically cruise on Celebrity but wanted to give NCL a try since the sailing date for this particular itinerary worked best for the group. The ship was newer so I figured I could not go wrong. First the PROS. I stayed on a Spa Mini ... Read More
I typically cruise on Celebrity but wanted to give NCL a try since the sailing date for this particular itinerary worked best for the group. The ship was newer so I figured I could not go wrong. First the PROS. I stayed on a Spa Mini Suite cabin on deck 14 middle, which was excellent. It was just the right size but the bathroom really impressed me, particularly the size and amenities of the shower. The cabin attendant was excellent and worked around our schedule. Storage in the cabin was nice and the room was always immaculate even after we left it a mess. The food (both quality and offerings) in some of the restaurants was great, particularly Cagney's (specialty), Taste and Tropicana (general dining). And service at Cagney's was incomparable, especially in light of the horrible service at another specialty restaurant Le Bistro. The professional nightly shows were amazing, whether Burn the Floor or the Cirque or the Magician. The staff throughout the entire ship was very friendly and knowledgeable with the exception of some folks down on the deck 6 customer service. There were plenty of bars throughout the ship, which when combined with the ultimate drink package made it for a very enjoyable experience. The tours were pretty good and the tour guides pretty knowledgeable with the exception of Finland. Overall, the ship was very clean across all public areas. Now the CONS, and there were plenty of those. For a 4000 passenger ship that often sails the Caribbean, the pool deck was tiny. Not sure how they would accommodate those many passengers in sunny/pool weather days. Thank God it was chilly during this voyage so I was able to pretty much stayed out of the pool deck. There were too many kids on this cruise, which when coupled with the lack of rules enforcement by both crew members and parents made it the whole experience excruciating. Kids were in the adult pool, jacuzzis, bars etc. For a 4000 passenger ship, the fitness center was a fraction of the size found in similarly sized Celebrity cruise with far fewer passengers. Compounding the problem was the # of KIDs under 16 years old that were allowed to come into the gym and get in the way of people actually trying to work out in an already overcrowded facility. Food (quality and service) at some restaurants was pretty bad, including Savor, Le Bristro, O'Sheehan's, Garden Cafe and a couple of others. And speaking of the Garden Cafe, or as we often referred to it THE ZOO, it was the worst set up of any cruises I have been on. First of all, the Garden Cafe was too small, again for a 4000 passenger ship, particularly when compared to Celebrity. The setup of the cafe was linear/aisle so people had to walk and bump into each other to get to a station even if they had no interest in the to the other 3 stations in between. In some other ships, the main breakfast cafe is set up via stations in a circular format so that folks that are vegetarian, for example, do not have to bump into people waiting at the meat section. The food at the Garden Cafe, both quality and offerings, wasn't great particularly for folks living a healthier lifestyle, or folks that do not consume meats. Also, some of the cafe attendants (again given the setup of the room and # of folks trying to squeeze into the stations) could not act fast enough to address issues with spoons falling into the food and passengers putting their hands all over the food to grab the spoon. I also observed a couple of cooks in the Garden Cafe sneezing all over the food being cooked. The dinner theater at the Cirque was pretty awful; food was bad and service was worse. Thank Goodness for the actual show. The embarkation process on day 1 and disembarkation process on the last day went pretty smoothly but the embarkation during the tours was painful in some instances. Not enough scanners available to quickly move thousands of passengers through the line. Getting back to kids, my group was unlucky enough to end up with the same family and kids on a couple of tours. The infant kid was screaming the entire bus ride and during most of the actual tour. The cruise line should able to coordinate kids free tours for those passengers interested in a more relaxed experience. Entertainment during the day, particularly the days at sea was pretty mediocre and so was the White-themed party on the next to last night. Heavy smoking fumes where all around most of the middle section of decks 7 & 8. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
We chose this cruise because of its perfect itinerary and our fantastic experiences with MSC. Starting conveniently in Warnemunde, Germany (we're German) we cruised the baltic sea and had stopps in Poland, Latvia, Ltiuania, Estland, ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of its perfect itinerary and our fantastic experiences with MSC. Starting conveniently in Warnemunde, Germany (we're German) we cruised the baltic sea and had stopps in Poland, Latvia, Ltiuania, Estland, Poland, Finland, Sweden and Denmark plus one sea day. Honestly, we were a bit concerned because of MSC Magnifica's bad ratings for but gladly non of them turned out as true. We had an awesome cabin (balcony fantastica, 12007 thanks to an upgrade) with a super comfy bed. The food in the main dining room was delicious and if portions seem too small (not in my opinion), there was always the possibility to order more than one starter or main course. Food in buffet was not as good as in the MDR though. We also went to the Oriental Plaza, which turned out as a good choice (it is very dark and not very homely there though...). Staff was more than friendly and the ship was always clean. The ship was completely booked, but there was always a quiet space and deck chair available. Gym and Spa was not crowded as well, which we really liked. We booked shore excursions in St. Petersburg (Spilled blood cathedral) and Gdansk (City walk) and they were perfect. We had to tender in Stockholm because there were too many ships in town. It turned out, that we were shipped directly to Gamla Stan (Stockholms old town) though, which was, again, perfect for us. Conclusion: perfect ship when it comes to size, entertainment, food and staff and a destination we would suggest to every cruise lover Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
This was my first cruise so will perhaps mostly be of use to those who have not cruised before. First the company, NCL, Norwegian Cruise Lines. My impression of certain level of corporate sloppiness. On the website, and emails, some ... Read More
This was my first cruise so will perhaps mostly be of use to those who have not cruised before. First the company, NCL, Norwegian Cruise Lines. My impression of certain level of corporate sloppiness. On the website, and emails, some of the links lead no place. I asked a question on their 1- 800 number and all the 'expert' could do was read out corporate brochures. The first days safety drill was a farce. After several conflicting instruction as to where I was to go I found my assigned designation the Versailles dining room where we did? Nothing really but listened to announcements and were shown how to put on a life vest. My impression of this was that this is where we peasants go to drown while the worthwhile guests sail away in uncrowded life boats. I will definitely not be sailing with NCL in the Caribbean at any time even vaguely close to hurricane season. But the sea was as flat as a board, so no problems, though I would love to know what was that BUMP that we hit in the middle of the night July 30 on our return to Copenhagen. As a hotel the Star rates much better. To me everything looked shiny and new and to someone who has never been on a cruise before down right impressive. I found the service generally excellent, perhaps even more than excellent in the buffet as my table would be cleared whenever I left it unguarded. My cabin on the rear 8th level was supposed to be less than ideal because of the Spinnaker Lounge on deck 7, but I heard absolutely no noise from there. Note that the stage is at the very back of the ship. The same could not be said about noise from adjacent cabins. I would judge the wall construction to be that of a cheap motel, of course the fact that on one side children seemed to be literally bouncing off the walls did not help. Aside from the neighbours my cabin was better than I expected, and the steward took good care of it with the room always looking nicer and neater when I returned than when I left it. I mostly booked tours from the ship, though I 'did' Stockholm on my own, and used Alla Tours for St. Petersbourg. Though getting off the ship in St. petersbourg the first day was a worse farce than the safety drill (with the Russians blaming the NCL, and NCL blaming the Russians), I very much enjoyed my Alla tour especially the part where we walked in ahead of other tours lined up, at the Hermitage, and also the gardens at Peterhoff. The 'FREESTYLE DAILY' thing placed in your room aside from all the buy this buy stuff will have some useful information, and the most important is exactly where in the port the ship will be docking. You should take note of that information when you go ashore, or take that first page in your bag. If you get lost or loose your tour, the name of the ship may not be useful to a taxi driver but the port location will be. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
It’s been two weeks so it’s time I write this review! A little background first so you have a point of reference on where this is coming from. I (Todd) just turned the big five-oh and Troy (husband) is in his late 40’s. Our cruise ... Read More
It’s been two weeks so it’s time I write this review! A little background first so you have a point of reference on where this is coming from. I (Todd) just turned the big five-oh and Troy (husband) is in his late 40’s. Our cruise history is mostly Neptune suites on HAL up until around 2006 and then Sky and Celebrity suites on Celebrity for the past 10 years with two Windstar thrown in there. On land trips we stay in Waldorf’s, St. Regis’ and Four Seasons. We enjoy a refined, hip, lively atmosphere and while we don’t consider ourselves foodies, anyone listening to us talk about food certainly would……or maybe that’s gluttons……oh well, fine line haha. I haven’t written reviews on our last few cruises and promised I would this time so here goes but be warned that it turned out a lot longer than I expected. I’ll start by saying we had an amazing cruise. I wish I could give 4.5 stars as there were some things that didn’t fit our cruising style or that we thought could be improved but I rounded up since Azamara, the officers and the crew really seemed to care and were just all around good people. I never had the feeling that they were out to get you for all your $$ or argue silly points of policy/procedure. All of the officers were very visible and it was great to see the captain interacting and being dad with his family who were onboard. Embarkation was quick and easy, no lines and onboard in a few minutes. The had a desk set up to the right of check in for specialty restaurants and we were able to book those before boarding and was nice to get that out of the way. We lucked out and received the $398 upgrade to the Club Continent Suite (#8046) and we really loved that! The room was very comfortable in size and while I thought I would miss the loveseat and bank of drawers across from the bed, the chair and a half did fine and we had more than enough storage. The new décor is very relaxing and the bed and linens were not what I would call “luxury”, but were very nice. The bathroom was also a nice surprise since I thought by the photos that our toiletries would be flying around due to the lack of space on each side of the sink and open shelving. That was not the case and it all worked out great. Towels were thick and the toiletries provided were About Rose and very nice. We did have a tub and being 6ft I had to bend over to rinse my hair but we have that same thing in the suites on Celebrity and it wasn’t the end of the world. Our butler and stewards did a great job of making the room up twice a day and keeping the fridge stocked with mostly Diet Cokes. Being under the lounge area on the pool deck we really didn’t hear all that much noise. The only times I remember are when they were setting up and breaking down for the White Nights BBQ. Our only complaint would be the limited selection on the TV. Just a few shows and movies were run over and over and the pay selection was very limited. The ship itself is beautiful! They did a great job on the refit and it has a nice relaxed elegance. If I had to give two small, very petty comments it would be to lose any and all dark green marble and switch out what looks like builder grade tile around the pool. A nice mosaic like on Oceania, Celebrity or the new Regent Explorer gives big bang for little buck. I know, I know, silly and petty but it did cross my mind. A place I didn’t think we’d use but ended up several times was the lounge area by the pool. We found ourselves curling up on the large chaise lounges and reading/sleeping for what felt like hours. Pure relaxation! We appreciated the size of the ship when we were able to dock so close to the center of town in Copenhagen and St. Petersburg while other ships docked at the main port. Now to the food. It was mostly good, sometimes great and every now and then….well not so great. First the buffet - We ate all of our breakfasts in the buffet and one of our gripes was that the buffet didn’t open until 7:30am. That seemed a little late, especially when pulling in to port at 8:00am. We managed to survive haha but that is something I would adjust. Yes we could have ordered room service but we like to sleep all we can, mill around and eat when we’re ready. Breakfast items on the buffet were your standard variety and we didn’t notice any higher quality than we found on Celebrity. I will note that we thought the waffles were horrible being undercooked and flavorless. We did enjoy the nice table settings and the fact that a server always rushed over when you sat down to take your beverage order. The buffet is very compact but had everything you would need and everyone was polite and civilized, even when it seemed crowded with people crisscrossing and going every which way. One of the benefits of this size ship is that the crew do get to know you and the omelette……um….master?....well the guy in charge of omelette orders knew us by day 2 and my egg beater, no oil, ham & cheddar omelette and Troy’s sausage omelette order were always started the moment he saw us. We didn’t have any lunches in the buffet but we did have many dinners, being drawn in by the ethnic themes. Most were very good and our only two comments would be that more spice is needed for the dishes that should be spicy and we wish they used chicken breast instead of the dark meat pieces you find at a mall food court restaurant. Things like vindaloo should have some kick but it was more like a mild tika masala. With the exception of some of the warm cobblers and bread puddings and the gelato, the desserts on the buffet were like what we’ve found on all of our cruises, bland tasteless and with a weird consistency. Definitely room for improvement with the desserts. All in all though it was a good buffet experience with lots of variety. We only ate in the MDR twice and both times were good. The breads were the same as what we received on HAL and Celebrity and we did enjoy the trio of XXX provided. The food choices were a step above Celebrity MDR but equal to what we found in Blu and Luminae on Celebrity. Portions were on the small side and I had to order more lamb chops as only 2 small loin chops were provided. I will note that they were cooked a perfect medium rare and had great flavor and of course there was no problem ordering an additional serving. Service was always spot on and we never felt rushed or forgotten. The first night out we ate at Prime C and the views, service and the food were all magnificent. For apps we had the chicken lollipops and crab cakes, both great. Then we enjoyed the pumpkin soup and warm water lobster salad, also great. Troy loved his Pheasant and my filet was cooked perfectly. The steak sauce choices were a nice addition and I had a wonderful Gorgonzola sauce. Little donuts with caramel, chocolate and vanilla dipping sauces and a bowl of gelato were a great way to end the meal. No complaints here! At some point we also ate at Aqualina and with the exception of the dessert we did enjoy that meal as well. The Carpaccio and gnocchi appetizer, my duck and Troy’s Dover Sole were all wonderful. We had the soufflés for dessert but they were undercooked and not so wonderful. Entertainment and atmosphere, hmmmm how do I cover this? Well I think this is where we thought Azamara fell short and didn’t fit with our cruising style. Like I mentioned before we like a refined, hip, lively atmosphere which to us is enhanced by some background music. The Azamara Quest is a very silent ship. So much so that we often felt like we had to whisper or be told to shush. There was a constant “I just wheeled mum in from the garden and she’s having a rest” feel to the public rooms. Some background music would have really helped. And I’m not talking about thump thump club music, but some classical or jazz in the atrium/Mosaic area, some funky chill in the casino or high energy in the gym. I mean who doesn’t have music in a gym? And again, not asking for high volume or thump thump, just something…..ANYTHING! They did have a performer in the Living Room performing folk and 60’s/70’s but it certainly wasn’t the elegant, upbeat, we’re on vacation, feel we were looking for. We love to gamble and the casino was so quiet that it had no energy and we just ended up walking through each night. We’re not production show people so we never went to those but did go to the Glen Miller tribute which unfortunately was played off key many times. The band tried hard and I hate to ever knock someone giving it their all but unfortunately that’s the way it was. After a while we found ourselves bored in the evening (remember there’s not much on the television either) and I ended up doing a lot more reading than I ever thought I would. I realize that some will disagree as to whether this is a negative and may choose Azamara for these aspects and that’s great. I certainly don’t feel any cruise line should tailor everything to just us but it did affect our enjoyment of the actual cruise experience and wanted to let potential cruises know what to expect and our take. The ports were amazing! I won’t go in to detail but will say that the times in port were perfect and getting on and off was a breeze. We did our own thing in each port using Tripadvisor to find tours and Rick Steve’s Baltic Ports book for information on the ports themselves. In St. Petersburg we used SPB Tours and had a great group of 12 wonderful people to share the experience with. That was definitely one of the highlights! So where do we stand? Not sure actually :-0 We were bored in the evenings and didn’t think the food was above what we get being in a suite on Celebrity BUT loved the size and finish of the ship, the crew and the itinerary. But that pool tile…..HAHA just kidding. Seriously though we’re still thinking about trying another premium/luxury line like but find the itineraries on Azamara to be the best with the most overnights. Maybe the few things that we find to be a negative are just the compromises we’ll have to make. And trust me, it does not escape me that if this is the problem I have in life then I don’t have any problems and am truly grateful. I hope this helps and please feel free to contact me with any questions at tadiebold@msn.com. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
Royal Caribbean was so disappointing this time around. The staff did not seem sympathetic to our plight of lost luggage, and assured us that we would be able to shop for clothes on our excursions. We were not able to shop for any ... Read More
Royal Caribbean was so disappointing this time around. The staff did not seem sympathetic to our plight of lost luggage, and assured us that we would be able to shop for clothes on our excursions. We were not able to shop for any essentials on our excursions as we only went to souvenir shops. I suggested that Royal help us find a way to get to shopping and they did not. All they were able to give us for the five days that we had no luggage was a white t-shirt and sub very sub-par toiletries. They offered us laundry service, but the guest services desk lady must have not been very in touch with what was happening because when I asked how long our laundry would take to get to us she said "48 hours." Luckily, housekeeping was a bit more realistic and when we discussed it with them, they were able to turn our laundry around in a couple of hours. For formal night, she offered to give my husband a free tuxedo, but offered nothing to me. The lady at the front desk (Jasmine) told us she would locate our luggage, and then told us she couldn't locate it. When I asked her who she called, she told me SAS. To that I told her that we had a transfer from United to SAS and our luggage was most likely with United. She asked ME if I wanted to call United myself! My husband firmly recommended that she do it herself. Later that day, she told us she was able to locate it with United. So that caused an unseemly delay in getting our luggage because of her ineptitude. I came crying to the front office after four days of no luggage , no makeup and no toiletries and she offered me 100 dollars credit to my account (any outfit on the ship cost no less than 54 dollars each) and a night at one of their restaurants in her words "out of my own goodwill towards you." I was aghast at the lack of sympathy. She later told me our luggage would be waiting for us in Estonia on the morning before our excursion. To my dismay, we did not get our luggage as promised in the morning but at night. The ladies in the spa, were very gossipy and rude, even talking about guests behind their backs. The people working in the Windjammer never smiled or offered any table service. The whole crew (aside from a few people in housekeeping and in various bars) were amazingly lacking in customer service. After this trip, I will never want to board a Royal Caribbean trip again! Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
We chose this cruise particularly because of the ports of call. Embarkation and disembarkation were very quick with no waiting. Everything about our cruise was amazing. Our balcony cabin was very spacious and had plenty of storage ... Read More
We chose this cruise particularly because of the ports of call. Embarkation and disembarkation were very quick with no waiting. Everything about our cruise was amazing. Our balcony cabin was very spacious and had plenty of storage space. The bathroom included a shower cubicle and was a good size with plenty of storage. The food on the ship was always of very high quality, the speciality restaurants are well worth the extra we had to pay. The theatre shows were very good, as were most of the other entertainment, particular the Russian folk group, the German oompah band and the Beatles tribute band. I like to be very active on holiday and there was plenty to do, I joined the choir, attended Zumba and dance classes, as well as walking miles round the promenade deck and up and down stairs, particularly to deck 14. (Had to do at least 10,000 steps and on most days far exceeded this) We loved the sky lounge for all the entertainment there, live music and trivia quizzes, and just for relaxing after a busy day in port. All the ports we visited where really well worth it with plenty to see and do. Brugge - only a short stay, so just get the bus outside the port for Eur 20 return. Stockholm - got shuttle bus from ship. Really enjoyed changing of the guard at the Royal palace, it's at 12 o'clock everyday, lasts about 45 minutes with marching band and soldiers marching - well worth a visit. Tallinn is a really beautiful medieval city. Lots of beautiful old buildings with lots of character. We were lucky as there was a medieval festival whilst we were there, with many stalls selling local crafts, and there was also a live band playing traditional music. St Petersburg - 3 day excursion with SPB travel. I would thoroughly recommend this company, everything was very well organised from our initial enquiry, to our booking including the necessary Russian visas. They were much cheaper than the excursions from the ship and in my opinion much better. We were a small group of 12 so it was easy to keep together in the places we visited which were also extremely busy. Warnemunde, Germany - no need for excursions here, it's only a short walk from the ship to the railway station. We got the train to Rostock (only EUR 4.90) which is a larger town, with many beautiful old buildings. The town hall/ market square is particularly nice with lots of restaurants and bars. try the local Flammkuchen - delicious. Warnemunde is also a lovely old town worth exploring and a beautiful beach. Copenhagen - loved this place, although much larger than I imagined. took the hop on, hop off bus from the ship which also included a boat trip on the canal. It's also not very far to walk - probably only about 20 minutes. Celebrity of course will try to sell their excursions, but these are more expensive and not necessary in any of these places. Except St Petersburg when I believe a local company is much better. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
From the beginning to the end, everything turned out to be amazing -- activities, shows, dinners, on-shore tours, ballerinas, attendants, guest colleagues... We had a lot of fun and met a flock of new friends. In one of those days Mother ... Read More
From the beginning to the end, everything turned out to be amazing -- activities, shows, dinners, on-shore tours, ballerinas, attendants, guest colleagues... We had a lot of fun and met a flock of new friends. In one of those days Mother Nature didn't help much (when it got to visiting St Petersburg) but, nonetheless, and under a cold mild rain, it was great to be there even so. Got to get back there someday though! A special and very important (huge) "detail" was that the whole crew personnel who took care of us -- room attendants, chefs, waiters, helpers and sommeliers, not forgetting the house musicians and other people servicing around -- was incredibly nice and actually treated us like kings and queens. Thanks to them our cruise was increased with tender care and all of those small little daily amenities that added up to a feeling of safety and tranquility: exactly what we needed to soothe our hectic life of "workers enjoying a period of rest". Well, after all that, we hope to see them on our next vacation, already programmed for 2017 with Celebrity Cruises. Thank you too! Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
Hello! Well this is our 3rd Cruise with Norwegian and would say it was a VERY GOOD Cruise. We chose this cruise based on the Ports / Germany, Estonia, Russia, Finland & Sweden. This cruise we were going with 2 sets of friends ... Read More
Hello! Well this is our 3rd Cruise with Norwegian and would say it was a VERY GOOD Cruise. We chose this cruise based on the Ports / Germany, Estonia, Russia, Finland & Sweden. This cruise we were going with 2 sets of friends from New York, who we would meet in Copenhagen, with a 4 day stopover in London on our way home back to Vancouver Canada. Traveling to Copenhagen. We booked with British Airways from Vancouver to London, then London to Copenhagen. We chose this airline as they were going to offer the A380 DoubleDecker and the layover would have been 2 Hours in London. After booking the fights and about 2 months prior to our departure they changed the connecting flight time thus making an illegal connection in London. We decided that we had to fly a day earlier from Vancouver spend the night in London and then off to Copenhagen. The flights were uneventful booked in Premium Economy - Made it a little more conformable for that long haul. Arrived in Copenhagen stayed the Scandic Palace Hotel - We met up with our friends and had an amazing night exploring the city - Found a TapHouse with 61 Brews (Amazing!) The next morning we headed to the ship, we were all booked in Suites (3 Penthouses) so we had priority boarding. We had already done our Online Checkin and by the time we arrived at the Pier to when we boarded the ship would have been about 15 minuets When we booked the cruise Dec 30/14 we were able to get the Promo's Unlimited Dining, Beverage, Gratuities and $250 OBC Stateroom 12510 (SG) - There are only 4 of these on the ship, we chose this cabin because of the bathroom - Bigger and we liked being forwards upper on the ships. (We have cruised 2 other times with NCL - Breakaway & Getaway both in the Haven) This would be our first Non-Haven Cruise, however in Suite (So with some perks) The stateroom was nice and modern in appearance however some of the furniture was a little worn - the couch was extremely worn to the point you couldn't sit down on it without your knees in your ears - Not a deal breaker but a bit of a disappointment. The Bed was amazing and comfortable with great sheets and pillows. We ate at all the restaurants onboard except for Aqua & Ginza our group preferred La Cuncia along with Cageny's (We ate 2 times at each restaurant) We used room service once for Breakfast and it was just "OK" the eggs were extremely runny and the toast was non edible As we were a group of 6 our Lounge of choice was Gatsby's however we were always disappointed when the singers would come - not because we didn't want to hear them sing it was because they were too LOUD, we wanted to chat and visit with friends and new friends we made onboard - NCL would have the Friends of Dorothy meeting point there at the same time the lounge singers would come in. I would say that was our disappointment with the cruise was no where to relax and lounge and visit with Bar Service - Maybe Sprinklers but it's so dark and depressing in there when you're a group of 10 apx The Ports all were great and offered a little something different. We did the Friends of Dave Tour in Germany which was outstanding - It was great because we didn't have a 6 hour train ride into Berlin. Estonia - We did our own walking tour and ate at an amazing Vegan Restaurant - Old Town. Russia - We booked through the ship the best of Russia in two days - This was simply amazing - Our tour guide was fast and efficient - Got us to some stunning places - sadly for the 2nd day I woke up severely congested and lethargic, I figured It would be best for me to stay back on the ship. The rest of the group went and enjoyed it immensely. Finland - We did our own walking tour - Loved it! Just wondered through the city and enjoyed the Architecture throughout, found the Starbucks (Hehe) Sadly we were not able to dock in Sweden due to Weather so we ended up going back to Copenhagen a day earlier (Which for us was fantastic because we had only 15 hours there) and missed a lot on our first day - So this gave us an opportunity to see the city. Service; Our Butler Ravi I would say was just ok, nothing outstanding he brought us breakfast once, and normal basic treats were in the room, nothing over the top or special. Which is fine as we are the people who would go get something it wanted to. Karin our Concierge seemed to be frazzeled at any request, It seemed asking for anything would cause to her panic or almost like she was going to run away. The requests always came through but we felt bad for asking her as we felt it was causing her discomfort. Joel our Room Steward - AMAZING! He was simply the star of the ship for us. Any room request was done and done fast! He even anticipated a lot of extra items in the room for us. Brining us extra reading pillows when we came in and found us reading. Simply put amazing. Bar Staff - AWESOME! They were always so friendly and attentive - I was worried with some reviews people said its as difficult to get service - Not the case. The drinks were good and plentiful and a smile and their face. Fellow Passengers, There was a big group of Asian traverls on board and we found their manners to be HORRIBLE. They would cut lines, grab food off trays and put it back?!?! I would watch them in the washroom use the facilities and not was their hands! It was horrific - We were doing a tour in Russia and in one of the rooms they were touching the GOLD LEAFED walls etc! I was horrified ! Flight back to London we booked through NCL for our transfer - It was fast and efficient got us to the airport. Copenhagen airport however is not designed for influx of 5 cruise ships in port - Security lines were well over an hour, we ended up using our Lounge Access to get away from the crowds London was amazing - We booked a Flat north West of the city and just played tourist. Flight home from London was a surprise - British Airways upgraded us to Business Class. - Now that was a serious treat and a beautiful way to end our trip. Overall this was a trip of a life time! Saw places I thought I would never see, the crew and ship made the trip that much more spectacular Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
We are just so thrilled with Oceania that we booked TWO MORE cruises with them. I couldn’t imagine sailing any other line after this experience, and we’ve sailed most of the mass market and even some of the premium lines (Azamara, ... Read More
We are just so thrilled with Oceania that we booked TWO MORE cruises with them. I couldn’t imagine sailing any other line after this experience, and we’ve sailed most of the mass market and even some of the premium lines (Azamara, Cunard, etc.). This is my first review, so be gentle. :) This was an 18 day (10 day on Marina) trip from Stockholm to Copenhagen. We spent 4 days in Stockholm prior and 4 days in Copenhagen after. STOCKHOLM: First off, Stockholm is almost utopia, albeit expensive. I’ve lived in big cities my entire life, and THIS is the city to beat. One almost has to wonder, too good to be true? Then the price factors in. It is VERY expensive, but you do get quality for that price. So I’d translate to say “value”. We stayed at the Sheraton right by Central station (on reward points) and it was perfect. Day 1 was jet lag day after flying overnight from NYC. We took the Arlanda Express (which you should too) and it was super. ARN to Central Station in about 20 mins, plenty of room for luggage, and just a well oiled operation - buy your tickets in advance for a steep discount. After walking out of the (busy) central station, they have a dedicated taxi line just for riders of the train. 2 Seconds and we were in a cab to take the 5 block ride to our hotel. Taxis are expensive - this 5 minute ride cost us about $20 US. But we had luggage and were exhausted so that was money well spent. Tipping here is minimal, so keep that in mind (they make a living wage already, so while appreciated, it is not necessary to tip more than a few dollars (round it up)). We arrived at the Sheraton and our room was not yet ready (granted it was 9am). They had a WONDERFUL coffee shop attached and we sipped and noshed. Again - very expensive by US standards, but it was really really good. Wifi abound we started telling our folks we made it alive and happy, then the front desk manager tells us our room is available. ….5 Hours of wonderful sleep ensue…. We woke up around 4pm and took a shower and got gussied up a bit to head to our Dinner Cruise (en route to Drottningholm and back which just so happened to leave from basically across the street) and we were thinking “buffet food” - Um, NOPE. Let this be the intro into what we found absolutely solid - the food here is TOP notch, and you will pay as such. We drank and ate our way around the archipelagos, and it was simply fantastic. Don’t miss this and it may be the perfect way to start your trip. We got back to the hotel about 10pm and proceeded to pass out. Day 2 - We woke up bright and early, very refreshed and grabbed a bite from the hotel restaurant buffet which, again, was expensive but VERY good. We immediately headed to the subway (T-Bana in Swedish?) and headed over to the Vasa Museum stop. A nice 15 minute walk - and did I say this place was beautiful? - very enjoyable. We were literally the only ones in that museum as we arrived when it was opening. MY ADVICE - DO THIS. We spent about 3 hours, including a guided tour and it started to get VERY crowded. When we left, there was a 2 hour wait to get in. We made the right call going super early and it was fantastic and not to be missed. Just go early or you run the risk of mega crowds (aka Disney World on Christmas day). We actually high fived each other as we walked out and seeing that line. GO EARLY! We took the train back to our hotel and took a nap. We then got gussied up again, had a drink at the popular bar on the corner, and headed out to our special dinner via subway yet again - and boy was it special. Erik’s Gondolen. Hard to explain so look it up, but think a bridge over the water that you can eat in. Food again was very pricy but SO good - and about ½ way into our dinner, fireworks started going off. I kid you not. Could be one of the best meals/experiences I’ve ever had, and I’ve been around. Do not miss this place. Return to hotel around 11pm and pass out again. Day 3 - We pack up and checkout after doing that amazing breakfast buffet again. Time to head to the ship (which is in port overnight). We took a cab to the ship as we had that luggage and check in was about as easy as could be. Maybe 5 minutes tops, and a class act.. Dropped our luggage, did the typical check in routine of passport/credit card, and off we were. We had lunch aboard at the pool deck since the rooms were not ready yet. Um - here’s where it gets better. Lobster AND fillet sandwiches? Yup. We noshed and sipped and were just happy campers. I love to cook, but nothing like having this served, included! We then did a quick exploration of the ship (Marina) and by God it was beautiful. And there seemed to be so much to do. Or not. Either way, best ship I’ve been on and it was the perfect size. Our room was available about 2pm so we headed there and unpacked, met our steward who was just as fun as could be, and he grilled us on our likes/dislikes (and took note of the bottle of champagne we brought, and the liquor) and took a nap on those AMAZING beds. We then met another couple from CC for dinner at Red Ginger after taking a very refreshing shower (two showers at a time in a standard verandah? Pinch me). Red Ginger was just great. Very tasteful and TASTY and the miso sea bass was divine! And the foreshadowing begins. After bidding adieu to the fantastic company, we headed to the Martini bar for a nightcap - what a crowd and fun and the piano player was quite the character!! Somewhat tipsy, around 11p we hit the sack and slept so well in those wonderful beds. Turns out our steward had taken care of everything (loungers on the amazing 7008/7009 extended balcony, double ice, fully stocked mini fridge (mixers) and put our champagne on ice). Classy all around and he got an extra tip from us when we saw him next. We started to think we made the right choice…. Day 4 - Ship leaves at 3pm, so we get up early and head out to explore more of Stockholm. We did one of those sightseeing cruises (there were free shuttles via the ship to town). It was great. We hit up the Absolut museum, the Viking museum, and just saw a lot of this city. Unfortunately we screwed up and got off at the WRONG cruise port after a boat tour (the cruise port is NOT YOUR CRUISE PORT) - please be careful here - and ended up almost having to take an overnight ferry to Helsinki to meet the ship. By the luck of God, we found a cab driver who would bring us to the ship. There are three ports - KNOW WHICH ONE! We arrived about 20 mins before gangways up, however my non-chip credit card would not work. Our driver, cool as a cucumber said “do you have euros?” to which I said yes, but up in the stateroom. ME RUNNING UP THE GANGWAY, THROUGH THE HALLS, OPENING THE SAFE, REVERSE, and BACK AGAIN! It’s times like this you just must love the thrill of travel or you’ll be miserable. It was an experience to say the least. Either way, we are now on board and happy (though tired) campers. Guess what? Now we have a Culinary class at 4pm. Frazzled as we were, we headed there and seriously, had so much fun, we stopped being exhausted. Our instructor, Chef Anne was a trip. We ended up making the best dishes, and like 5 of them of varying degrees of difficulty. Don’t miss the Culinary classes. I cook a LOT and I learned a bunch of things from her. This would not be our first run-in. After that we cleaned up/showered and headed to dinner at Toscana. This is the anti-Carnival. Food was spot on, service was spot on, and we met a couple we had seen in town so we asked to be paired up. No problem. A great dinner. Needless to say, we didn’t partake in anything other than glorious sleep after that. Day 5 - We arrived bright and early in Helsinki. This is our one Cruise Sponsored excursion. We met up with Chef Anne and boarded a little (12 people) bus. Off to the market we go. And what a market! Again, I LOVE cooking and eating and this was just sensory overload. Our mission - find things to make crepes out of, and she even provided us 5 euros each to do so. So we went overboard with the amazing forest berries and mushrooms. We then went to the Helsinki Culinary Institute. AMAZING. Broken up into teams of 3-4 we all conquered a traditional Scandinavian dinner of 5 dishes. Let’s just say a few of us made Reindeer Sausage (self included). It was so gross and yet so much fun. Nobody went away unhappy after that. Who gets to do that? After our heavy lunch, requip with wine, we return to the ship, and have an hour off. Then back to the culinary class to make our findings from the market into crepes. And you know what - I’ve been terrified of crepes for the longest time. WE can now both confidently make them, with a saffron spiked base too boot! That was just fun and we met more people and were actively scheming for each other’s time on board as company. Happy dudes. After that we were kind of wiped so we took an hour nap, then headed up to Main Dining Room. FANTASTIC. So unlike other cruise lines where there is a “banquet” feel to the meal. Food was fresh and on spot and really, very good quality.. We headed to bed as the next day was Russia and we knew it would be a long one. Day 6 - St. Pete Day one. I won’t elaborate other than to say, it’s a LONG DAY of a “lot of gold” and “opulence.”. Be ready for a long wait to clear customs the first day. It won’t be so bad after that first day, but again - give yourself ½ hour the morning you arrive… (and we were warned via Currents). We left the ship at 7:30am and didn’t get back until 6pm. We used Alla Tours and it was good - just hectic and lots of “stuff” to see….. It was good - but we were wiped. EXCEPT we had the ballet that night. So we literally quickly freshened up and changed, ran back down, cleared customs, and met our hero (more on that later) bus driver and off we went. The ballet was good but we were starving. We got back to the ship around 11:30pm and ordered room service. Fantastic and rather fast. Thanks guys, because…. Day 7 - Moscow. Up at 4:30am to catch the 6am Sapsan express from SPB to Moscow. Our hero bus driver is there waiting for our group of 11 (again, via Alla Tours). We had one late couple who resulted in our group RUNNING behind Dimitri (the driver) to the train. We got there just in time. Then a 4 hour train ride which was comfortable and not that bad since everyone slept it seemed. Moscow was awesome, but again, very long and tiring. It was told to us that for whatever reason, we could not take the train back as it sold out - thus we were to fly back to SPB. I was actually thrilled since the prospect of another 4 hour train ride didn’t really jive at that moment. EXCEPT - Moscow airports are very different! Anyways, we had a nice dinner/drinks and finally got on the plane, all spread out which was weird. We got through it all and landed back in SPB around 11:30pm. Just in time for…. Day 8 - SPB, DAY 2 - Much more sightseeing, and crowds, and of course the G20 was getting ready to convene so it was a mad house. In retrospect, I’m glad I saw Russia, but I probably would not go back. No fault of Alla Tours - it’s just too much. We were so exhausted by of our day that we all agreed - “bring us back to the ship!” And such we were. We proceeded to take a nap around 3pm, then have dinner at Jaques that evening. Jaques was great and we both raved about it. We were asleep by 10pm after a quick nightcap in Reflections where they had a small band playing hits from the 70’s. The ship left sometime that overnight (we were asleep)..... Day 9 - Tallinn, Estonia. What a surprise! We got up early to have breakfast feeling somewhat rested and dined in the MDR. Very good - not exceptional, but good. Service, as a given, was spot on. We scarfed down our food and headed out to meet our next tour, which was great. First, this city shocked me. It’s a smaller picturesque “old town” vibe. But it’s also extremely cosmopolitan. It’s just hard to explain unless you go. We loved not only our guide who was so laid back in comparison to the last 3 days in Russia, but also the whole vibe. This was a unanimous feeling in our group of 16 on our short 3 hour tour. We loved it and spent all day there after our tour (4 hours)... We got back on the ship around 4pm via the ship shuttle, and headed to our balcony to relax for a bit and sip on some locally sourced wine and admire our wonderful craft purchases. It is really a special place and we almost decided to skip the tour since we were so tired - glad we didn’t. We sailed off at 6pm as we headed to dinner again in the MDR. Again, very good. Went to bed after trying our hand a few times at the Roulette table over a nightcap (one of us hit hard twice) then called it a night. Day 10 - A much-needed sea day… We woke up around 10am. Lazy and Laundry is the word of the morning. We skipped breakfast opting for Baristas (which is AWESOME) and just read, drank coffee and nibbled while loads went round and round. We also sent out a bunch of laundry on their 20 for $20 deal, as well as some dry cleaning. We basically had a lazy sea day, and I’ll remind you - we have had nothing BUT perfect sunny warm weather this whole trip so far. It was fantastic. I had yet another 4pm cooking class which was, like always, a blast. When that ended, it was time to “gussie up” for our La Reserve dinner. DO NOT MISS THIS. Yeah, it’s a big surcharge. But the food and wine you get (7 courses, and tons of very high quality wine) make it worth it. Very intimate, very special. We made so many friends that night we still keep in contact with and the conversation just flows as does the wine. Just fantastic. Needless to say, we were toast after that 3 ½ hour event. Off to bed. Day 11 - Gdansk, Poland. Got up early, had breakfast at the wonderful lido buffet, and then headed out. We had low hopes for this place. Boy were we wrong. There are groups who offer tours by local people and I suggest you look them up. Private and affordable. Just the three of us took his car, and we saw it all, along with walking some of the not-so-touristy streets. It was just fascinating and we loved it. Of course, the three of us sat down to drink a beer at the local brewery and just really had such a good time. A highlight of this trip. He brought us back to the ship around 2pm and we had a milkshake at the ice cream bar (YUM - and I’m not a “sweets” kinda guy), then got ready for another cooking class. Again, a total blast and we loved it. We headed back to get ready for dinner and dined in Polo Grill - at this point the ship was cruising through VERY rough waters. Literal swells of 12 feet + Thank goodness we don’t get seasick but I can say pouring anything was a challenge and walking after a bottle of wine was even more so. We decided to call it a night after a nightcap at Martini’s around 10 pm. Got back to our room and upon checking our email (we bought internet) unfortunately our tour the next day (independant) was cancelled as the guide was sick. We were kind of happy since 1) we wanted another sea day and 2) we would get our money back. We slept like babies that night Day 12 - The first day of bad weather/Warnemunde/Berlin (it had been perfect up till now). We stayed on board since there was no reason to wander around Warnemunde in the pouring rain. Many had booked trips to Berlin, where it was also raining. It was nice to have the ship to ourselves for the most part. We drank coffee at Baristas, planned our upcoming 4 days in Copenhagen, and just relaxed. Also, they had good strong non-ship wifi in the port so we skyped home from the balcony. Also gave us time to leisurely pack up since this was the “night before” - and we had our bags out by 7pm. Dinner was in the main dining room, then we partied a little bit at Martinis again with our new friends. Day 13- Arrive Copenhagen. Disembark. OK - if you get there early, GET OFF EARLY if you plan to take a cab to a hotel or anything. The line was incredibly long and slow. We got off after breakfast around 8am and it took us no less than an hour. Hundreds of people. And it got far worse as we waited. The cabs are in the city taking people around for work, then AFTER 9, they slowly start showing up. Arrange private transport or be prepared to wait. It’s in a covered area, so it wasn’t terrible - and we got to see all the friends we made as we weaved back and forth. So not terrible - just bring your patience. Finally, around 9:15 off we go, and we immediately realized this was ALSO a fantastic city. He dropped us off at our hotel, and we spent 4 wonderful days in Copenhagen at the Hotel Anderson. It’s right near the central station, and near Tivoli (not to be missed at night - plan dinner there!!!!!). It’s such a cool city and we still talk about it and Stockholm. We will be back. OVERALL: Best cruise we’ve taken, and Oceania and the staff did that. We are hard pressed to find fault, and we’ve already booked 2 more on that same ship. Is it a little more expensive? Yes. Is it worth it? YES. Value is what we saw. See you back onboard friends in 10 months then again in 2015! Don't think twice about a cruise on Oceania. They are fantastic. Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
My partner and I sailed on 10th Aug 2013 from the port of Southampton. We booked to go on the Cunard Queen Elizabeth in a Balcony stateroom for 8 nights. Our Destination was to Norway on a Fjords and Waterfall Cruise. Here is our ... Read More
My partner and I sailed on 10th Aug 2013 from the port of Southampton. We booked to go on the Cunard Queen Elizabeth in a Balcony stateroom for 8 nights. Our Destination was to Norway on a Fjords and Waterfall Cruise. Here is our experience with this cruise: Embarkation- We went to the port of Southampton early in the morning, having travelled from Kent. We arrived in Southampton at around 10.30 and after a look around the town ( to kill time before our allotted time to embark) we drove down to the main terminal. We were showed where to pull up in the car, from very helpful dock attendants. We had booked for our car to be valet parked and looked after while we were on the cruise. I would highly recommend this service ( cruise and passenger service) we had no problems with them and as soon as we pulled up a team of porters took our luggage and a car park representative came and within minutes the car was driven away and we entering the terminal. Once inside check in was quite quick. We were given our key cards and once passed security we had our picture taken before going on the gangway to get on the ship. ( I felt though the photographs were a little forced on you. And I believe that you should have the option to say no and walk onto the ship) anyway, we were greeted be a small team of ships company and they told us directions towards our cabin. We then got in the large lift to Deck 6 and found our cabin with ease. Cabin- We were in Cabin 6163 a starboard side Balcony cabin. we placed one of our keycards into the slot to turn the electricity on and we were quite impressed with the room. we had a super large comfortable bed ( which could fit 3 persons in, it was that wide) and nice writing desk and two seated sofa. A large TV and mini bar. In the bathroom, it was quite small but equally well equipped. a shower, toilet and basin with storage facilities and complimentary little lotions and cotton buds/pads. The Balcony was of quite good size and gave excellent views. Our Cabin Stewardess Valentyna was very attentive and very friendly and approachable. She came in twice daily to make the room up and turn down our bed at night. it was quite remarkable as we never saw her do it. we went down for breakfast ( at different times each day) and when we came back, the room was spotless. the same was in the evenings unless we decided not to leave the cabin. Dining- We were assigned to the Britannia restaurant ( the main dining room) and as requested by myself before the cruise, we got our two seated table in a secluded area of the room. our waiter Edward was a very nice chap whom was informative and did not rush you when making choices. our wine waiter though, we found quite in your face and rude. questioning you as to why we were not in the dining room sometimes through out the voyage and why we did not buy lots of wine!! because of him, we only ate in there twice through the whole voyage. We instead dined in the Lido Restaurant and buffet. The food in there is the most loveliest food ever. a wide selection and self serviced, you were not questionable to anyone and the fresh pizza opens were the best!! a must try. Room service was excellent and we had a few room service breakfasts, which is complimentary to all guests and staterooms. Entertainment- very good. going to the theatre felt like you were in the West End. The ships singers and dancers were quite good but a little repetitive with moves. perhaps I noticed it more as I'm an ex West end performer. We on one formal night booked a private box. at an extra charge but well worth it. we had champagne chocolates and a small bottle of pink Champagne. we had pre Theatre nibbles and was escorted to our box by a bell boy. very nice. There is also a very large ballroom for all you ballroom pros which has a house band with it. Facilities on board- On the whole pretty good. The swimming pools and whirl pools were lovely. nice and warm and the decks were not that busy. Even in the heat. you were always guaranteed a lounger. The select coffee bars were competitively priced and the staff were fast and friendly. Alcohol on board was not over priced for what we wanted and a sunset Blush cocktail is a must. I had three and they certainly hit the spot. The ship had a selection of shops and a casino. and there were quizzes and Bingo in the Golden Lion pub. Our itinerary was a little more to be desired. our ports of call were Stavanger, Burgen, Gieranger and Olden. 1st port. Stavanger- a healthy little town with a selection of shops and places of interest. it only took us a couple of hours to look around it and went back onto the ship. 2nd port. Olden- Beautiful but boring. you are here for the longest time from 8am- 5pm and it was literary like 'Little house on the Prairie' with less interesting people and even less amount of buildings. the scenery was lovely and waterfalls and streams were also good. we, as most passengers on the ship, lasted about hour and a half to two hours before heading back on board. 3rd port. Gieranger- A personal highlight and what sold this cruise to me. it is a stunning little town, deep in the Fjords. we went passed the seven sisters waterfall and I got my picture taken with it in the back ground. At this port it is a tender boat port. Queues off the ship were not that large and 4 boats were used to get us to shore. A delightful array of shops and quirky houses. We walked up a long road and the views were breath taking. though the walk almost killed me!! 4th and final port. Burgen- The larger of the ports of call. we were so glad that this one and not Olden was the last port. A large selection of shops and things to do. Including going up in a cable car to the top of a mountain. Sea front orientated place with a large fish market and market. Sea Days- A wide variety of entertainment options available including an afternoon Cinema screening in the Theatre. There was also Bingo and quizzes in the Golden Lion Pub and enrichment talks from special guests on board. Afternoon Tea was always served everyday between 3.30 and 4.30 in the Queens room. Results On the whole, a very enjoyable and luxurious cruise ship, highly presented and the majority of the staff were very helpful. we have decided that next time, we want to come back to Cunard but purchase a Princess or Queens Grill stateroom so we can have access to all areas of the ship. We would say as a first time cruise on this cruise ship line, to go on the Norway itinerary to see if it is for you. One thing I will say, It is a class ship. What I mean by this, it is set into two classes. First and second. First Class- Queens and Princess Grills and maybe Britannia Club rooms Second Class - Balcony, Outside View and Interior Staterooms. you can tell who is in what class in terms of the rudeness to staff and the high almighty attitudes they process. ( from the first class) I had to on several occasions pull rank on some First class passengers for the continual rudeness and disregard of others, both staff and fellow passengers. ( I am not saying all Queens and Princess Grills guest are like this, but there are a select few and from myself coming from a privileged and aristocratic background with title, I can say this) We are looking forward to our next cruise with Cunard.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
Well - to make it easy: you can pay more - and you get more... but I am always asking myself is there a need to have more and spend the money for another cruise for some comfort of one cruise only. With NCL I can afford balconies while ... Read More
Well - to make it easy: you can pay more - and you get more... but I am always asking myself is there a need to have more and spend the money for another cruise for some comfort of one cruise only. With NCL I can afford balconies while with the same budget I would only get lower categories. But you must accept some lower standards in the free food. Our cruise started in Copenhagen. A great embarkation port. Close to airport. Only problems when you are someone extremely "cheap" and loves to carry your bags 20 minutes to the next public transport an on weekends. But pre-/post-cruise could be a little more expensive than somewhere else as Copenhagen is not the cheapest city but beautiful and worth to see. Drop-off bags at curbside: no problem, check-in: no problem either. As we really have a great TA with great revenue with NCL and great contacts we got an upgrade from Balcony to Mini-Suite. The Mini-Suite was just (like the whole ship) from a time where maritime feeling decides. Great furnitures - enough space. Only problem was door to balcony and the drawers need to fixed for unintentional movements. Walkable closet and a seperate beauty table incl. hair dryer in the bathroom: wonderful! Only disadvantage: bath tub instead of shower - especially if you had sea movements and no handle to get in or out. Our cabin steward did a very good job and every special request we had was done asap. The ship itself had space and maritime feeling. Not like NORWEGIAN EPIC which reminds more to a floating casino mall... You had great lounges like Observation Lounge to look forward - not like NORWEGIAN STAR/DAWN only looking back! You had atriums which gives you the feeling how tall the ship is with glass elevators. Open deck: not so crowded that you have the feeling to be squeezed with others. Well... food... We did not die of hunger... but somehow variation and quality become worse and worse. Even when you pay extra like with the Musical bruch: Salmon as starter, salmon as entree... and the next days salmon salmon salmon... Compared to our last experience on NORWEGIAN JADE it was poorer: like Cesar's Salad: no options like anchovies or tabasco. It was plain and you can top chicken, shrimps or croutons. As they sold 2 for 1 you had also very "cheap" fellow-cruisers: no habit how to queue up and ignoring existing queues, pushing you away because they arrive and need space, early arrival before buffet was finished and starting to store desserts before coffee was served because they were afraid that when they finished their entree the desserts might be gone. I am willing to pay 20 or 25 USD to have a nicer atmosphere but such guests who obviously never participated to any better buffets before. Therefore PLEASE NO MORE 2 for 1-OFFERS!!! They still had surf and turf, but with two shrimps instead of a lobster tail. But they still have lobster. Lunch in the MDR: same every day! No general variation. The offer day by day: regional specialities for lunch and dinner: but if you get a waiter who does not know and they forgot to display you do not get it. But even the regional specialities: nothing upscale: things like Meat Loaf, Saussage, Wiener Schnitzel. Soups: as I am a soup lover and so I was quite disappointed that flavour was a word the chef in charge for soups did not know. They had days simple things like chicken broth were excellent and other days it tasted like water. Before you book Royal Caribbean or Carnival: they are not better either - but NCL lower their standards later than Royal Caribbean. We had two occassions to eat two dinners in Le Bistro and Moderno. Le Bistro unchanged so far (Latitudes Platin) and Moderno: not as good as on NORWEGIAN EPIC due to capacity reasons: buffet is smaller on NORWEGIAN SUN so something which we knew from NORWEGIAN EPIC was missing. Nevertheless: an experience you should not miss. A new experience was Las Ramblas Tapas-Restaurant... well I could not say that this reminded me very much to classical Spanish Tapas-Bars but it was a nice place to sit and listen music or to have a snack. It was the second time that we were drawn for the Hosted Dinner Table. No idea why they put us on a pure German speaking table. I had to learn that the HR Manager and the Staff Captain are not the same person and it was great to learn many many new things during this dinner. I can only recommend to go to the front desk and let them know that you are interested to join this event. It's complimentary and you get free drinks you normally have to pay and very nice company like us. It was our first time on NCL to join the Chef's Table. But honestly COMPARED to Princess and Carnival the 75.00 USD was a little poor since you get cooking books and food preparation in the galley! Furthermore the "best" was a veal chop while you get Lobster Thermidor on Princess! It was also a little sad: it was hold the night when we set sail in Torshavn and so we missed the passage between the islands as our separate dinner room was kept dark. We need to say it was still a great food and service experience we would not like to miss and therefore a reason to be first onboard on NORWEGIAN SPIRIT in January 2013 to book it. The coffee was an up and down and my fellow had his French Press and his own coffee with him. What was very good: Breakfast variation: you can choose in the MDR if you like la carte or buffet. And if you did not find anything in the menu you can just top by food from the buffet and vice versa. A "secret": Breakfast at Moderno: nearly the same standard like with the VIP breakfast in Il Adagio but no warm menu. Although the food could be better we accept that we had to "suffer" because of the great crew. We really did not expected anyone might be onboard whom we know but just 10 minutes after embarkation we heared already "Welcome back onobard - nice to have you back with us again!". There were so many good "friends" with the crew that they even could read our mind: like I did not get the same teabag I am used to have: someone who served us many times before came and asked what was wrong. I normally say: when you have a quota of 90 good / 10 bad - I can live with it. But with NCL you normally have 98 /2 but on this cruise it as 99.5 / 0.5!!! Maybe because of the ship's management: Richard Jarnicki whom we know from previous cruise and his entire team did really everything to accomodate us. The word "No" we have never heared. We can only say: we had no reasons to go home and tell people not to go NCL. We finally made it to "Shout" after we missed so many times on NORWEGIAN JADE. A great show - most of the songs I downloaded later as iTunes. "Rock it" we did not like, so we left after few minutes as it was too hard and too loud for us (Sorry: too young to be "EasyRider"-Generation"). Claire Maidin was nice but when she had an additional Matinee show we left also early as she started to repeat songs from her 1st show which we did not like. Rope artists are not my world but we stayed to see the crew farewell... Anyhow we were so busy that we had no more time see anything. Jaime was a great Cruise Director and really one who was available for their guests. The only thing I need to claim: if guests are using signal horns to disturb the performance it's no fun - it's a reason to send security. We went on cruises and we experienced also concierges whose body language let you know "Do not bother me when you are not a suite-guest and only Latitudes Platinum". But not David Contreras: he showed up after few days, asking how we were as he was wondering that we never showed up so far and told us one more time that he was there to assist us and we should not be shy and come. A great concierge. I think they could treat their Latitudes Platinum guests better: You get a letter what you kind of amneties you get. Like "fruit basket". Never delivered but a box of chocolate (Godiva but the cheapest selection!!!): Background: guests can walk to the Garden Cafe and grab their fruits. That was why they sent chocolate. Nightly chocolate was never available: reason run out - could not find any supermarket in Copenhagen to buy new one... 10 addtional minutes for internet and only once. Cheese and Wine for Gold and Platinum: service went not fast enough: so guests took away tray with cheese from waiter and deliver to their friends and family while eating from the tray. What was great: when you arrived back from your tours someone was always there to welcome you with warm and cold beverages or cakes and a hot/cold towel. Something we even did not get with Holland America with 100 F in Asia! We choosed the cruise because of the itinerary: Copenhagen, Denmark: as we knew Copenhagen well we arrived very late and spend Saturday in Karen Blixen Museum (Out of Africa) and Kronborg (Hamlet's to be or not to be). We missed an insigth of Louisiana as our US-friends had to see the airport because their bags were missed. But we were on vacation - so no stress. The dinner we met Danish friends. The day of embarkation we spend a little time in Malm' in Sweden before returning to Copenhagen to get on the ship. Bergen, Norway: 90% of the days of the year it is raining. So what? It was raining. We send our friends to Norway in a Nutshell BUT the tour offered by Fjordtours on boat (Naer'yfjord), train (Flaam-Railways) and bus (Stalheim) and sitting with the ship's tour 27 miles in a tunnel to miss the UNESCO World Heritage. We stayed the day in Bergen and went on Mt. Fl'yen and did some shopping. In the evening we left with our friends on Hurtigruten (Norwegian Coastal Line) Bergen to Aalesund. Aalesund, Norway: Hurtigruten was testing the acceptance of H'jrundfjord instead of Geirangerfjord for the next year. So we were lucky to go into the fjord what we missed with NCL: Aalesund itself: season was over and they did not go to Geirangerfjord - how sad! We returned by taxis who took us to Geirangerfjord in Hellesylt and Mt. Aksa back to our ship. Lerwick, Shetland Island, Scottland: we rented a car and drove ourselves to Jarshof to buy some gloves and hats. A calm day. Torshavn, Faroe Islands: the port with the lowest expectations! So I felt the right to cancel just in case the weather might be too bad. But the tour went that day. The tour operator arranged that we had a one-way and must not return with our boat the whole way back and so could see more and arranged that public bus would wait for us. We have not seen one bird on the bird cliff tour. But just the voyage on the public bus from Torshavn to Vestmanna was worth to see. It was calm because my 20 fellow-cruisers who followed me (it was a open public tour everyone could join and I did not want them to enroll etc...) were so surprised of the scenery that nobody said a word on the tour. Later once they saw the boat for the ship's tour and our boat it was the moment they liked to kill me. But our small Viking boat could enter grottos etc.. Same with the boat tour: nobody spokes... what should you say, when you have Kau'ai (Hawai'ian Island), Norwegian Fjords and Halong-Bay (Vietnam) at one single place. It was the biggest surprise for me and I definately want to come back and see it again but with birds. Reykjavik, Iceland: unfortunately I got the same morning a message that a very good friend passed away. So my attention to The Golden Circle tour was very limited. We booked a public tour. It was cheaper and was fine. Geysir, Guldenvoss, Thingstatte... all the essentials. We stayed the night in Reykjavik because we thought that Iceland was worth to see more. So the next day we did Perlan (Saga Museum), a helicopter ride and Blue Lagoon. While the day before tons of buses arrived we had only about 30 cars in front of the Blue Lagoon. Greenock, Scotland: So we had the luck to miss the 2 days at sea with 15 ft high waves. When we arrived the day earlier in Glasgow we informed the port agent and I need some time to arrange some flowers for the funeral. So the afternoon we went to Edinburgh to see the Royal Yacht Britannia and meet friends for dinner with typical Scottish food. The next day we followed our friends' recommendation to see the Loch Lomond area and had more scones for our US-friends. It was nice - but after Torshavn it was somehow a little weak... Everything was done by a rented car. Dublin, Ireland: Again we booked a private taxi tour for Glendalough and Powerscourt. Well Glendalough was not my world as I hate bunch of old stones (but same with Stonehenge, temples on Malta or Ostia Antica... but I liked Angkor Wat, Tulum, Leptis Magna or Ephesus...) The Powerscourt were worth the money and time. But best was the lunch our driver took us with for. Never had better corned-beef before and fun!!! One picture says more than thousands words: Here in the postings of the boards you find pictures of our voyage incl. information of the ports and events on board: http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1713888 In summery: there were few little weak points but I would do this tour again and I would recommend all my best friends to go on this cruise again. You cannot get more for the price we paid! You can pay more and get more! But I prefer to go another cruise for this budget. I hope that someone from NCL read this too and take it as inspiration to become better with the food. I do not mind to pay a little more if I get a little higher standard with the food. But do not touch your crew: wonderful: can I adopt them for my home? Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
A ride on the QM2 cannot be compared with a 'normal' cruise ship, since its is built to cross the atlantic. We were (mostly) very pleased with the set-up. Cabin 11072 on the 11th floor was very comfortable (bigger than a ... Read More
A ride on the QM2 cannot be compared with a 'normal' cruise ship, since its is built to cross the atlantic. We were (mostly) very pleased with the set-up. Cabin 11072 on the 11th floor was very comfortable (bigger than a comparable cabin on the Crystal Symphony) and it had every one needs for 11 days (enough space in the bathroom (shower only) and in the closets for cloth. The Maid service was ok but not more. She did the minimum she had to do but nothing more (the windows and the balcony floor were very dirty during the entire 11 day cruise). The dining room (Britannia Restaurant) is huge, but we had for 4 days a table for two and for 7 day a nice table for 4 next to the window. The food was good however the service lacked standards of other cruise lines. The sommelier was always late with hour wine (after having had the appetizer). We ate once at Todd English (extra charge of US$ 30.- per person). Here the food was excellent and the portions were huge!! The self service Restaurant Kings court is the worst we have seen on any cruise ship. It is divided into 4 Restaurants in the evening and thus for breakfast and lunch the layout is very confusing. For BFST no fresh eggs are prepared and the buffets are small and crowded. We preferred to eat BFST at the Britannia Restaurant which offered a nice BFST Menu and good and mostly fast service. QM2 also features a large selection of Bars. We loved to have a drink at the Commodore Lounge (below the bridge), the Chart room (good music) or the Champagne Bar. For the best coffee on the ship and a light lunch we often went to Samuel's. We made 2 excursions which were organised by Cunard (in Olden and Flam). As on all Cruise ships the excursion are totally overpriced but at least well organised. We visited Hamburg, Oslo and Stavanger on or own since we knew these cities from earlier visits. The overpricing is also valid for the photo service ($25 for a single photo is robbery). Check-in and check-out were well organised and quite fast (we sneaked out earlier than mentioned on the check-out sheet we had received since we had organised our own transport to/from London Heathrow to/from Southampton with Smith for Airport/SfA(which we can definitely recommend to everybody). SfA is much cheaper than the limousine service offered by Cunard (UK£ 72.- compared to US$ 299.- !!!)and we had two excellent drivers with clean cars. Overall we were satisfied with the ship, the cabin, the Bars and Restaurants but the personal service did definitely not reach the standards of Crystal, Celebrity or RCCL. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012

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