69 Barbados First-Time Cruisers Cruise Reviews

We were unsure what to expect for our first cruise but the experience with Thomson was fantastic from start to finish (except the flight home)! We travelled as a couple (25 and 26 years old) and were unsure what to expect as we knew ... Read More
We were unsure what to expect for our first cruise but the experience with Thomson was fantastic from start to finish (except the flight home)! We travelled as a couple (25 and 26 years old) and were unsure what to expect as we knew cruises were typically for retirees. When we embarked the photographer commented 'you're the youngest couple on board' but actually we found the age range to be very mixed and all the passengers extremely friendly, so didn't feel out of place at all. The ship was the perfect size to get your bearings and never felt crowded even on our day at sea. We were impressed with the cabin size and were glad we'd upgraded to an outside cabin. The room service twice a day was fantastic and the little touches such as remembering our names, chocolates on pillows and towel animals made it special. The room felt clean at all times and never grubby/filled with sand considering we were on a beach almost everyday. The food on the ship was outstanding from the snack-shack to the buffet to the al a carte. The food was always hot, there was a great choice and the quality and taste was fantastic. The waiters were sometimes almost too attentive constantly topping up wine. The bar service needs a little work as the staff seemed more miserable and less personable than elsewhere. Getting a drink at the bar or from a 'floating waiter' was slow and they didn't serve people in order or ask who was next which caused frustration. There was also a lack of menus in drinks venues so it became confusing what was and wasn't included in the all inclusive package. Drinks that you would expect to be included such as carbonated soft drinks weren't unless ordered with a spirit? If we had the option we wouldn't include the drinks package next time. The entertainment was fabulous and we particularly enjoyed the Broadway show lounge (which was very comfortable) and The Venue for the Game Shows. The pool area and adults only sunbathing was great although a little more attention could be paid to details on the cleaning in these areas, such as around the windows and whirl pool showers. Overall, we would absolutely book a Thomson cruise again and would highly recommend to anyone. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
On board the Carnival FunShip Fascination is like living with “Aladdin's Lamp” First time on a cruise which has been postponed for many years, for many reasons. Then this "oh, never on Carnival" comments we ... Read More
On board the Carnival FunShip Fascination is like living with “Aladdin's Lamp” First time on a cruise which has been postponed for many years, for many reasons. Then this "oh, never on Carnival" comments we heard/read from many, put a stop to our wishes to experience a cruise to the destinations we would love to go to. If you're impatient, or bored of reading long reports you can move to the next one, because this is long!!! Although we are beach people, we do many of the "cultural" and exhausting sightseeing vacations too, or sometimes the two together. But, a cruise! 10 years ago was a straight “no”, then it was a “maybe”, for the last 3-4 years “yes, but can we really do it”?… Let me tell you: it's a fact that we're all getting old, and we all want our peace and quiet when vacationing, but, as much as I am not sociable, no more parties etc in my life, I thought I'd rather be on a party cruise than being on a cruise there is only elegant and quiet dining with high profile businessmen & women! And, this is what we heard about Carnival, only the partiers go on this one!! Finally with my vacation period from work (Henry works for himself, so no concerns with his schedule), we only had one option to the destinations we wanted to visit and that was on Carnival Fascination. Reading cruisecritic.com and many other websites, I was expecting a little boat, with lots of noise, a small room, terrible food, terrible staff, terrible service, and only drunk customers around... Well … It was about 3 weeks before the departure date I was able to get my schedule at work for June, and plan/book the trip. Arranging and organizing everything around it, we arrived at our lovely hotel in Barbados about 5 days in advance ... Yes you can call it a "Vacation before vacation". This was not our first time visit to our little heaven Coconut Court Beach Hotel, and returning somewhere we knew, felt awesome (check my report about this place from several years ago on tripadvisor.com, but now it is even better than the last time). But the real worry on our minds was if in 7 days, were we going to find ourselves getting bored on the cruise, or really enjoying it!... We were at the Barbados port right at 11am on the embarkation day, with some other passengers who were staying at Coconut Court as well. The first observation: the employees at the port, who were lovely, fun & helpful, directed us to a shuttle bus between the port and the ship. When we stepped on the ship we were in awe! My first reaction getting out of the elevator was "OMG... This is like visiting a classic Las Vegas hotel". ... So, it was a love at first sight for me! Yup, I love classic Vegas ...new too...but, you know what I mean. That feel of a well established business is always cool ☺ Then we waited for our official check in, when we got our keys in our hands with tons of info, we got kind of nervous... Are we now really trapped in here? By the way, there were many employees everywhere wearing a red t-shirt, with large text on them “JUST ASK”. This was a really nice arrangement and comforting welcome. While heading towards our room, we bumped into many other employees on duty, and all were smiling, working and welcoming us. And the second we opened our room door... Haaaaaa... Shock, a pleasant shock. The size of the room, the balcony, the view from our balcony, and the way our room was prepared. Let me provide this info before we go on: if one finds these rooms small, and complains about them, one should never travel to Japan (my favorite, my #1 destination). The room & bathroom size together is 3 times bigger than any room in Shinjuku (except Hilton & Westin etc with CAD350+ price tags per night). The cleanliness of the room was better than many hotels anywhere in the world including Canada. I travel for work, and stay at different hotels frequently, so I have a slight idea of hotel room cleanliness. Right after our arrival we met our room steward Tri ... He and his team took care of us for the whole 7 days. Because of him specifically, I used the headline I used. Aladdin's Lamp! Every time we walked into or out of our room, Tri showed up to make sure we were ok. If we needed anything, he was available all the time. Every night when we returned back to our room, he had already turned our bed with a magical towel ornament on it!!!! It was different every night, which put a big smile on our faces. After the first impression of all this, we attended an orientation & mandatory safety briefing. We even won a St. Kitts zip-lining voucher but at our age we are not into it, and also we had other plans there (the details are below). So, we showed up at the shore excursion desk to ask an employee if we could exchange the voucher for anything else that was available, at any of the other destinations. Well, the one and only disappointment was this lady, who just shrugged her shoulders, and took the voucher folded up, possibly for recycling. However, her shrugging shoulders behavior has been recovered by ALL THE OTHER Carnival employees that were on the ship. So I will not belabor this point. I, of course, left a little note with the customer service desk suggesting they look into these situations, as the girl at the excursion desk didn’t seem to care, and didn’t attempt to do anything (not even an apology!). We’re not sure if my note was the reason or not, but on day 2 there was a (1 week early) birthday card for Henry with some wonderful gift vouchers. A spa gift card for USD50, another gift card for a bottle of wine (value USD25), and a voucher to be used towards a photo! So, no matter how this happened, this was an elegant way to engage the customers by the Carnival management. Bravo! Because we are very early risers (6-7am even with the time difference – for us it’s 3-4am), we had our breakfast at the buffet except 3 mornings... Also many of the mornings we were either the first to leave the ship, or within the first 5-6 people as per security.... OK, back to the breakfast! The buffet breakfast is for everyone... If you can't find a breakfast item you like or you can’t eat at this buffet, you must carry your own food. Fruits, eggs, omelette made to order, cereals, yogurts, sausages, bacon, pastries, cheese, toast, French-toast, pancakes and many more ... They are all available. The dining room breakfast was with selected items, which were amazing. I also like my coffee in a porcelain mug, and this was available only at the dining room. They are not available at the buffet. Only plastic (reusable kind) cups... But the reasoning behind is understandable. Pretty much each day we left the ship at around 8 am and returned back at around 230-330 pm. Either we ate our lunch at the shore, or we had a snack on board. Then we hit the “million dollar” view gym! The gym/spa area was so attractive we basically wanted to go to the gym. I know, I know! Magical stuff happens on board Our dinner was "your time" dinner, which we loved. We didn’t have to sit with other people at all. It was at the dining room called Sensation. The staff at Sensation worked also at the buffet with different uniforms. So, I have to say the head-waiters/head-waitress, Elias, William, Ayu are rockstars ... We enjoyed their service immensely. Also, Hendra, Richy, Milagres, Ireneo, I Made and many others who work there every single night are fantastic people, fantastic characters, fantastic workers who knew us by name and gave the best service that can be given to the customers. Although, when we were seated in their section, each one of them introduced themselves and their team for the night, Ayu really stood out with her conversation opening introduction. “Hello, good evening! Welcome, my name is Ayu, I’m from Indonesia, and I’ll be serving you tonight with my colleagues … (and she says the names of her team mates)”. After this kind of a welcome, only one thing happens, your heart warms up … and after the first time she welcomes people (for example us) “Hello Idil, hello Henry, welcome back … how was your day today?”. I have never had such an experience in my whole life. I’m 50 and travelled almost around the world. And, the little music/dance break during the dinner is a fantastic idea. So, the music starts and the whole service team stops what they’re doing and starts singing and dancing (all synchronized!). Sometimes they dance with the customers too. What fun every night! Great choice of music too. Service is one thing that we see and judge … but I cannot NOT mention the kitchen folks... the food quality (taste & presentation), the menu choices... Oh my god … It’s 20 out of 10!!! There is an everyday menu filled with fantastic appetizers, main courses (and there is a choice for vegetarians too), then the second page menu changes every day. Again everyday there would be a choice of a vegetarian meal. I am not vegetarian but I read the menu everyday very, very carefully! For sure you will find something that will tickle your fancy, or something you were always curious about would be showing up, and you’d try! Your taste buds will have a major feast! In the end, whoever prepared that menu did one fine job. I'd say the person who suggested and made the final decision to keep the warm melting chocolate cake on the everyday dessert menu should be the President of the Food and Beverage department (perhaps s/he has already been promoted!). It's just out of this world! Almost every night after midnight, I heard my name being called at the buffet area while Henry was having his “before bed” ice-cream treat at the 24-hour self-serve machines... It was always Ayu finishing her shift at the buffet clean up. It is such a casual environment, but, there is always that knowledge & professionalism. I simply loved the style, mentality and the customer approach of this company, and Ayu for being so personable. It is a pure vacation & pure relaxation! Having said all this, hats off to the trainers who train these people all the same: respectful, knowledgeable, very professional, yet very friendly and genuine. Who are the direct & indirect supervisors and managers of these frontline workers? They have to be commended as well. Obviously, there are some people behind the scenes who are doing their jobs just perfectly! Congratulations! And now the Cruise Directors... Always available, always fun, always laughing, mingling with the passengers (customers). So, good looking Felipe is funny, confident (rightfully so!), knows what he is doing (aka Mr. Woohoo!!!), and very comfortable on the stage. I honestly don’t know what other responsibilities he would have, but I’m sure he is good at what he is doing. The assistant Cruise Director... “Kris with a K” is a very special, solid guy with a great smile. Oh my god, he is so charming, he has such a positive disposition (how? I need tips!). He is fun, he FOR SURE is one of the BEST dancers out there (along with the headwaiter William) and his name tag "Kris with a K" is more than brilliant. And, yes, his charm made me spend “a lot of” money at the bingo games he held. I never thought I'd like bingo this much, and we simply can’t wait to be on one of his future cruises. All these guys have their own personalities that reflect to their jobs & positions to make them perfect at what they are doing. My compliments to the hiring department to hand pick these wonderful people. Way to go! So, overall, those who rated this cruise line poorly must have seen something we haven’t. But for us, if/when we are booking our next cruise, Carnival will get the first choice, and if “Kris with a K”, Ayu, William, Tri etc are there, I’ll be on board before anyone. Food - more than excellent +++++++ and at the Sensation dining room, our waiting time was usually 15 to 55 seconds to get in. Very fast, very efficient service! Drinks (to the Carnival food and beverage department - please do not read this part of the report!) - As we were waiting for our check-in on day 1, we were offered the alcohol drink package. For us, it was not a necessary purchase, as we wouldn’t drink more than 1 to 2 glasses of wine or beer at any time and to be honest, unless you’re a heavy drinker, the bar prices are very affordable and/or they were not any different than any bar/pub (if not cheaper) for a drink or two every night. Also, we were advised that we were allowed to bring a bottle of wine or champagne on board if we wanted. We took 2 bottles of wine, and we couldn’t even finish it all! Bogart’s coffee shop was one of the most affordable coffee shops I’ve seen lately (only comparing to Europe/Asia/N. America/Australia) … and the desserts they sell there ….drooooooollll …. Service - more than excellent +++++++ Staff - more than excellent +++++++ Outstanding … Note: Can you believe Tri thanked us coming to his home, and giving him the opportunity to serve us! Yes, I can imagine living on the ship for 6-7 months at a time makes it their home … but thanking us for the visit made me almost cry! Carnival Fascination - for us it was a perfect size floating hotel as this was our first cruise, we felt extremely comfortable navigating around. And, during this vacation, we simply couldn’t sleep as we were so excited all week, we simply didn’t want to waste our time sleeping! It’s one of those things in life. Also, we were not forced to purchase anything on board (as some people commented on that). We were given the information, opportunity, but never felt the high stress sales tactics etc (which would have irritated me)… that was a perfect customer service. The sea day - I thought we'd be bored out of our skulls, but the day went so fast (even though we woke up at 7!). They kept us busy all day long, they really should have had 2 sea days not just one! On board entertainment - I can’t comment much or compare to anything, as this was our first cruise, but we had a fantastic/fun time. There was almost no time to get bored while on board. Production shows, comedy clubs, music, BINGO and if you don’t like any of that stuff, there is the gym/casino/bar/romantic hang out deck “Serenity” etc. And, “Kris with a K” popped out from every corner & made everything even more fun! (I told you Fascination is the Aladdin’s Lamp!)… you see him running up the stairs, then you turn around and he is in the elevator waiving … you turn around again, he is at the Atrium Bar area chit chatting with people or dancing! The one of a kind majestic itinerary by Carnival – Boarding in Barbados > always amazing, always magical (Coconut Court is the place for us to stay, Barbados Blue is the company to go for a snorkeling/scuba diving tour to swim with the turtles!) St. Lucia > such a pretty place … such a lush, green island! We didn’t have any plans other than going to Vigie Beach right by the airport (we love airports). It was a quiet airport, but the setting while swimming and sunbathing was fantastic. When we first got off the ship we were stopped by many cab drivers quoting USD15-20 to go to the Vigie Beach. But one guy asked me “lady, how much do you want to pay?”, I asked back “how long does it take to get to there?” the answer was “5 minutes”, I added “then USD5 it is!” … He looked at me, he told me we were the first getting off the ship, so it would be ok for him to take us for USD5!... Then as we were approaching the beach he asked if we wanted to see the city and a beautiful view from the highest point and perhaps we would take some pictures. So, back and forth, we agreed for USD20, and that also had to include a pick up from the airport beach. Overall, he gave us about 1,5-2 hour touring, on the way he showed us the school he attended to obtain a certificate to be able to drive the tourists around. Then he stopped at different areas in St. Lucia to have us take pictures, look around, and look at the breathtaking views of the island! When we got back to the city centre we picked up his girlfriend in the market area (she was going to some kind of school enrolment process). Then we got dropped off at the Vigie beach. We were not sure if he was going to come back and pick us up, as we paid him the whole amount, but he did show up to pick us up to take us to the city centre where we had to have our Piton Beers and I had to do a little shopping! By the way, while we were at Vigie beach, we walked to the airport terminal building. Facilities are spotless And, the terminal is just so cute ☺ If you’re there, go see it! Driver Winston’s contact info: Winston’s Taxi Service / Cell: (1-758) 486-0397 or (1-758) 284-2187 (no email contact on his card) St. Kitts > The only place we thought we’d make an arrangement to get around. First of all, do not believe every negative comment you read. But, obviously we did believe what we read, that’s why we booked a cab to take us around. And, I believe everything is for a good reason as we met with this fantastic lady, Rose, who we found reading comments about her on tripadvisor.com You will see many people mentioning little monkeys thrown at you and get asked USD20 for it and you get in trouble if you don’t pay them etc etc … It’s not true! There are many people holding the monkeys (unfortunately some monkeys are even dressed up!), if you want, you can go get your photo taken with them, and pay the fee/tip. Personally, I would rather see the animals at their own habitat, and on the way to the beach we saw tons of them running in and around the bushes by the side of the road. They are everywhere, they are every size! Anyway … Our pick up was at 930 at the port, we the early risers, couldn’t sit on the ship, so we decided we’d go out early to look/walk around the port and see if Rose was there a little earlier than 930, so we could get going. As we were walking out, I saw and recognized Rose with her husband (it was a little after 8 am!). It was great … we were able to start our day early. Rose took us to the famous Cockleshell Beach via fantastic wilderness stopping every now and then to take pictures, and we got to listen to her telling us all the story about the area (although she is from the UK, she’s been living there very happily for the last 33 years!). We ended up staying at the Reggae Beach Bar area, which again was poorly rated by many online, but for us they were amazing, courteous, friendly and welcoming … we were one of the first ones at the beach … it was incredible! So peaceful, so lovely. Later they put the music on but nothing disturbing! And, at around 1130 we got a very quick rain (3-4 minutes) then the guys from the bar came out to flatten the sand! I also treated myself to a nice beach-view massage by Shona. She was good, really good ☺ Then we were picked up at 130 pm by Rose who took us back to the port area stopping again at the most magical spots to take some pictures. And, of course after the beach time, it was the shopping and looking around time … The local vendors at the shopping stalls were really nice, but I felt like they were not in a great financial situation. I purchased a handmade all natural soap made by the vendor herself (I should have bought all the supply she had, but I didn’t! Another reason to go back). After I paid her, she made a very sensitive & kind comment “this is me who is making these, one by one, not your usual made in China product, thank you for supporting us” … I’m glad I was able to help a little! Rose’s contact info: http://roseandjimstaxi.com/ You can send them an e-mail via their website and you will not regret you did! St. Maartin > This one destination has been on our list for a long time which we were not able to get to. Actually this was Henry’s one reason to choose this cruise (remember, I said we love airports!). We took the cab from the port as Henry had to visit Maho Beach asap and add more airplane photos onto his photo collection :D No cab bargaining was possible as all the prices were listed on a board at the taxi stand. But, the famous Maho beach got so crowded after 1130-1200 noon, it made us literally gag … the heat, the noise from the people, the crowd at the Sunset Beach Bar area where we rented chairs and an umbrella (the nice guy there provided 3 umbrellas which was great, but also he charged a whooping USD17 for 2 chairs and an umbrella … rip off? Yup … clearly… but we were at his mercy as there was no shade around). It was nice and quiet between 830 and 1130, it was disgusting after that and we left just after 1pm. Would I ever go back to Maho Beach? Absolutely NO… would I go back to St, Maartin? Absolutely YES … the beaches in the town are out of this world. The colour of the sea, the sand, and long and large beaches … Also, with our luck, I think it was the hottest day during that 7 day cruise. By the way, we took the water taxi from the city to the port, which was nice and pleasant. I wish it was a little longer journey though. San Juan > The one and only destination I’ve never thought I’d go! What a mistake! A wonderful place. I should say, a wonderful place, filled with wonderful people. It was one of those things, you disembark, and don’t know what to expect (especially going through the US customs there and it’s not a fast process). We planned to take a cab to the beach called Escambron. But then when we were quoted the fares we were quoted, we gave up on cabs, and looked for a public transport. We met a couple out of the blue on the street from Florida visiting San Juan (they had been there for the last 6-7 days) and told us that there are two routes for two different trams which are free and they run every 15 mins or so. We decided we would take the tram first to find out the lay of the land. Later we hopped on the other one with a different route, as this was really fun way to go around the old city and the historical points of interest. On one of those tram rides there was a couple from our cruise ship, who wanted to go to the beach as well… so sharing a cab with them to the beach which made it more affordable, less than USD4 per person. We took a cab from the Sheraton Hotel, and we asked the cab driver to come and pick us up at 130 pm as we wanted to walk around the old town. However, the couple from our ship no-showed for the return journey from the beach. Either they left earlier, or they decided to stay longer. Never saw them on the ship after that … Back to our journey…. As it was the Father’s day, the beach was packed with families … and apparently almost everything was closed (good that I didn’t have to do shopping for anything particular!). Although it was crowded, and the music was going on from each family’s shed, it was not disturbing at all. Huge beach … enough room for everyone. When Henry decided to go buy some food, a nearby family kindly offered us sandwiches and bbq chicken which of course we declined. But I thought that was the nicest offer ever at a beach! Really nice, really human, really kind … And the “helado” guy! Go find him, he rings a bell, so there is no way not to see where he is! He sells 3 kinds of gelatos. I asked him how much it was, and he told me “una copa” (one cup) 2 dollares … so my thinking, ok one cup per flavor. And, took 6 dollars to pay, as we thought we’d try all three … well … my mistake … He said as long as it’s in the same cup, it’s 2 bucks. Was it my Spanish that failed, or I’ve never purchased such a cheap gelato here in Vancouver, I don’t know ☺ And, I must add, it was delicious. (flavours: rainbow, coconut, and passion fruit) Our cab driver came to pick us up right on time … but we waited for the British couple for a while. Since the driver had to go for a dinner party, he wanted to leave. We had no choice but leave after waiting for about 15 mins … then we asked him to leave us at one of the highest points in old San Juan, so we could walk down to the bottom and see around before we go to the ship. Our walk was amazing! The architecture reminded us very much of old Havana (where we stayed for a week last year) but way cleaner and very well taken care of. The people are similar, happy looking, talkative but more in English than in Spanish (I was hoping to practice my Spanish, but it was almost impossible). We found a little hidden bar in the end of a dark alley and had some punchy mojitos and tasty empanadas. Café El Punto with live music either in an air-conditioned seating area or patio seating. And, we continued walking from one street to another seeing many historical buildings, churches etc … At the end of this little sampling of San Juan, I think I want to go back there to spend more time ☺ Cab driver Bryan’s contact info: Bryan Jimenez (787) 383-6777 vsjchauffeur@hotmail.com St. Thomas > And, this was the destination I wanted to see the most and my reason to go on this cruise! They saved the best for the last. It’s like a little town in the Mediterranean, be it Italy, or Turkey, or France.. it’s like out of the movies ... the cobblestone old streets with steep hills … and the most beautiful views from those street tops. It’s like the history is bursting out of each and every corner. But as every other destination we have been to, our plan was to go to a beach. We chose the beach that was by the airport (I know! Please don’t think we’re crazy!). As per our cab driver it was called the Emerald Beach!... It was so beautiful, so peaceful it should have been called the Zen Beach. We took the cab again from the port. Apparently, the cab prices are dictated by the government, so no negotiating was possible. And, it was a bit expensive for the drive (USD7 per person), perhaps for a no more than 10 minute ride. He also told us he’s been living there for the last 30+ years, and absolutely loving it. Also, he mentioned there are “only” 32 beaches in St. Thomas, and he doesn’t have one favorite one, as that changes as per his mood of the day. After our beach morning, we took a cab from the beach area to the downtown area where I wanted to stay for at least a month or even forever ☺ In one of the little streets we found a cool place to sit down and have some drinks (Greengos Cantina)… It was nice, good food, refreshing drinks (more expensive than the ship!), and awesome ambiance. This was our very last stop on the itinerary. But we were so pleased with everything on our cruise, I think it was in St. Maartin, we checked online if we could book for another week (also because I had my schedule published for July and I happened to get a great surprise having the first week of July off), but the websites I checked showed this cruise was sold out!... I guess, we’ll have to wait for another vacation period to do this all over again. In my opinion the crew on this cruise won our hearts, the itinerary took us to our dream destinations that we couldn’t have afforded otherwise. Until next time we’ll keep dreaming of what we had … Peace! Ps- I will post pictures/videos on imaginairie.wordpress.com and Henry will post his videos on youtube.com (search for airlinehobby.com DVDs) if you want to see these places and cruise from our point of view … Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
Having never done a cruise before, I was unsure quite what to expect. However, I have been generally very pleasantly surprised. However, I do have some constructive comments and observations. We were flown out to Bridgetown on ... Read More
Having never done a cruise before, I was unsure quite what to expect. However, I have been generally very pleasantly surprised. However, I do have some constructive comments and observations. We were flown out to Bridgetown on Thomas Cook from Manchester. Despite booking well in advance, we could not get seats on the Gatwick flight, so rather than having a one hour trip to catch our flights, I had a four hour drive, and the additional cost of a hotel at Manchester. In the general scheme of things, a minor problem, but one which could have been addressed more effectively by P and O. We contacted them to request the Gatwick flight, and we were told that we would be put on the wait list. No one from P and O contacted us proactively, we had to chase on a number of occasions. This tarnishes otherwise good customer service. The flight was well managed by Thomas Cook and P and O, with swift check in and boarding, and a punctual departure and arrival. Having arrived at Bridgetown, we were taken by coach directly to the docks, on a "Bonded" coach, so the immigration and clearance process was conducted in a giant shed at the dock. During the process, we were issued with a plastic cruise card, which was linked to a credit card. In this way, we were saved from the "inconvenience" of having to carry wallets and or money around on board. The card could be used for all and any spending on board. It could also be used as a substitute for a passport at the destinations. Boarding the ship was simple, and once through the security process (X Ray belongings and pass through detector arch) we were directed to our cabins - or staterooms. This is a Grandiose title that did not adequately summarise the size and decor of our accommodation. We were on deck 8, and our cabin was compact, but with a small balcony overlooking the sea. We were about amidships, so we were well appointed. Toilets are not normal flushing, but vacuum assisted like aeroplane lavatories. In the interests of health and safety, we were instructed to assemble at our muster point for. Safety briefing in the early evening before we slipped our moorings. This was a 20 minute slot where we were briefed on the emergency alarm signal, the use of the life jackets, and the location of gangplanks etc. There are a number of restaurants on board, consisting of The Conservatory on Deck 9, the Sedona, the Pavilion and the Grill, which allows for different tastes to be accommodated. We ate mainly in the conservatory, as this was buffet style, and normally had an excellent selection of menus from breakfast onwards. We chose to eat in the Pavilion Restaurant on a number of nights, including the formal nights, as this enabled us to mix with our fellow passengers. Table sizes range from 2 to 10 guests. So whilst we were a Couple, we chose to dine at a table for ten. There were three formal nights, so for gentlemen, evening dress should be a tuxedo, bow tie and formal shirt. Ladies should bring party frocks! The ship benefits from a sun deck, a walking track, and a reasonably well equipped gym, where I went each morning for a half hour on the exercise bikes, and lifting a few weights. The spa was frequented by my wife, and our friends with whom we accompanied. There is a general shop on deck 5, which sold not just duty free items, but those other essentials such as sun cream. However, the frustration here, is that when one needs sun cream, one is normally in dock, and about to disembark, and due to the duty free nature of the shop, it shuts when in port. Frustrating if you don't know this in advance. However, these are all very minor issues and should be seen In Perspective, given the wider context of the cruise. We went to the Curzon Lounge most nights and the entertainment was superb. The Adonia Theatre Company were excellent, and performed two proper plays, and numerous cabarets. The plays were Private Lives, a Noel Coward farce, and the Opposite Sex, another comedy, which was a risqué comedy. The entertainment team were excellent, and Tracy, Beverly and Laura should be congratulated for keeping the shows rolling. Other features were guest artists, including Roy Walker, who gave excellent performances. The excursions were of good value, if expensive. We chose to organise our own tours on some islands, but the excursions that we did book were great. My wife enjoyed a Caribbean cookery course, and we both enjoyed snorkelling with turtles and a submarine trip. I particularly enjoyed the train trip on the St. Kitts Railway. Disembarkation was smooth and glitch free, and we were bussed to the airport, where our baggage had already been delivered. Security was quick, and out flight back to the UK was fairly uneventful. The only comment was that due to poor weather, aircraft substitution had happened, and our aeroplane was not as comfortable as the outbound flight, and the seats were, to put it bluntly, uncomfortable. The only feedback that I would offer to P and O is that a Caribbean cruise should feature Caribbean food on the menus. Most meals were either Indian, Asian, or bland British. I know that this could be due to the perceived passenger demographic. Secondly, be aware that the Costa Coffee is likely to be shut whenever you need it most - which doesn't help breakfast! That being said, I shall look back on my cruise on the Adonia with great fondness, I had a fabulous trip, and the experience delivered by the staff and crew was exemplary. Overall I rate this cruise as one of my best and most memorable holidays. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
My wife and I are 54 years old, this, was our first cruise. Never cruising before we have nothing to compare it against. However, we did read the mixed reviews beforehand. We made a pledge not to pay any attention to the moaners. ... Read More
My wife and I are 54 years old, this, was our first cruise. Never cruising before we have nothing to compare it against. However, we did read the mixed reviews beforehand. We made a pledge not to pay any attention to the moaners. Additionally, we were not going to play the I paid this and that, for my cruise game. Our first impressions of the Brittania. Well, we both looked open mouthed at this humungous, beautiful ship, docked in wonderful Barbados. For some odd reason we both burst out laughing. Both of us were so excited we just couldn't wait to get on board. Embarking was such a pleasure, your cases are taken straight onto the ship from the plane. Once we landed we were in our cabin in no time at all, what a joy. It took us a few days to find our way around the ship, but, enjoyed exploring and finding interesting parts as we went. The staff are from Asia - they are all supremely well trained, attentive and friendly. The best we have encountered anywhere. The food is fantastic - fine dining at it's best. We paid and additional fee's for the Sindhu, the Limelight Club and the Beach house. These restaurants were great but, how do you improve on food in the normal restaurants, when there food is pretty much near perfection. Just one simple example of this, is the eggs - just how did they cook them to perfection everyday for so many people? beats me. The Atrium was our favourite part of the ship we also enjoyed the Sunset bar. The ship offers something for everyone, fun filled packed days or just lazy days. Be it by a busy or quite pool. We chose the quiet Serenity pool. My wife never had a problem obtaining a lounger - P&0 have noted this as a problem in the past and appealed to it's customers not hog loungers. This seemed to work. We didn't do many of the shows at night - we enjoyed our balcony, t.v. and early nights I'm afraid the day time activities left us shattered at night. However, we did attend all four of the formal evenings, the Caribbean night and the Casino. The Casino staff are brilliant teaching my wife how to lose my money - no really, they were great. The Caribbean and formal nights were fab. The cabin was quite luxurious I think, we loved the balcony and tea making facility. I have never ever slept so well. The bed is super comfortable. We only have some minor critiques - I would estimate about 98% of people dressed appropriately during the formal evenings. It irritated me and many others, that, a few of the non conforming merchants did not dress accordingly. A number of scruff bags were turned away at the Crows nest and Glass house bars. However, a few did elude the P&O officers staged around the ship. Our other critique is nothing to with the ship but, with a few of middle England's rudest people. One elderly gentleman threw his serviette down on the dining table in disgust. All because his favourite wine was not in stock- shocking and slightly amusing. Another example of bad behaviour we didn't like was a huge heffa-lump of a woman from Manchester, blocking the lounger isles with her lounger preventing the disabled and infirm getting past. Her excuse was "I just have to be in the sun - horrendous behaviour, she had no shame. The day's onshore were fun filled sunny beach days. We particularly enjoyed St Maartin, St Kitts and Grenada. We will definitely cruise on the Brittania again. My wife I actually felt quiet proud to be travelling on such a fantastic ship. It is for all these for reasons above that my wife and I say our time cruising on the Brittania around the Caribbean s contributed to our holiday of a lifetime Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
This was our first cruise and I was apprehensive but I have to say it exceeded expectations. We ate on the freedom dining in the meridian dining room. I wasn't expecting the food to be great and I am a bit of a foodie but overall I ... Read More
This was our first cruise and I was apprehensive but I have to say it exceeded expectations. We ate on the freedom dining in the meridian dining room. I wasn't expecting the food to be great and I am a bit of a foodie but overall I was delighted. The epicurean was exceptional the pudding especially . Breakfasted in the horizon and yes it was busy but the food was more than good don't know how they managed with the numbers, ant their afternoon tea was very good. I thought the cabin was better than expected have certainly staye in much smaller hotel rooms. Thought the excursions were a bit prices compared to the ones you could book onshore. All the staff I dealt with were fine . I found the entertainment to be very good some of it wasn't especially to my taste but you cannot expect everyone to like the same things. Embarkation took a while but we were in an air conditioned coach while we waited so just had to be patient. Disembarkation was much smoother. Overall a wonderful experience Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
We have just returned from our first ever cruise. We went to the Caribbean on the Braemar and I had no idea what to expect but I am very impressed with Fred.Olsen cruises and we had a great time. The cabin was small but well designed and ... Read More
We have just returned from our first ever cruise. We went to the Caribbean on the Braemar and I had no idea what to expect but I am very impressed with Fred.Olsen cruises and we had a great time. The cabin was small but well designed and the space was maximised. A lifeboat blocked the view from the picture window but I was advised about this prior to booking. The mattress was comfortable and the room was serviced twice a day and towels were changed twice daily. The room was surprisingly quiet at night and I was never disturbed by noise from the ship or neighbouring passengers. The service was outstanding, the staff without exception are helpful, polite and friendly and there was not a single instance in the two weeks on board when a member of staff was anything less than helpful. The food is also outstanding, along with the service in the restaurant with two dedicated waiters who knew our names serving us every night, I would describe the service as exceptional. We were served lobster, venison and Beef Wellington. The breakfasts were buffet style but also with a menu choice and champagne was served on formal days. Lunch was a choice of buffet or a four course meal from the menu. Against my expectations I loved the formal nights but if you do not wish to participate there is the option to dine in The Palms buffet. I enjoyed the entertainment too, the Braemar Show Company gave very good performances as did the singer, comedian and magician and the In Tune Band was good with a particularly good lead guitarist. The cruise line appears to attract a loyal clientele mainly aged 50 + who regularly cruise with Fred Olsen, though there are a few younger passengers. This might be why I did not find many of the day time activities on board of interest, but that did not matter as I like to leave the ship when in port and the itinerary was excellent. I have to say that fellow passengers were very pleasant and friendly, the whole cruise had a bit of a 'family feel' to it. There was a wide choice of day trips which in my opinion were reasonably priced and were in the main very good. Braemar is a medium sized flat bottomed cruise ship. This brings many benefits such as being able to access more ports (ie Havana), less people on board means easier embarkation/ disembarkation. It also makes the cruise a more friendly and personal experience. The one downside is that if like me you are prone to seasickness you feel the movement of the ship more when the sea is rough. However, I still think it I probably better than travelling on a huge cruise ship, that does not appeal to me at all. Overall we had a great time, the itinerary was fantastic and the staff, food and the service was exceptional and I would recommend Fred. Olsen cruises to any apprehensive first time cruiser. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
Our first cruise and first time away at Xmas. We had two adjoining balcony cabins (wife and me in one and sons 21 and 18 in the other). Cabins were mid ships (F420 deck 9). Balcony divider opened between the rooms. We had a great ... Read More
Our first cruise and first time away at Xmas. We had two adjoining balcony cabins (wife and me in one and sons 21 and 18 in the other). Cabins were mid ships (F420 deck 9). Balcony divider opened between the rooms. We had a great view, unobstructed by life boats, and mid ship so close to lifts and main facilities below and above. We set high standards as this cruise was a lot of money but we were not disappointed. The accommodation, staff, food and entertainment were excellent. We were not overly impressed with some of the islands especially Jamaica (Ochio Rios) and the areas around the port in Grenada. Some of the other though were beautiful. We had the freedom pass so we could have flexible eating times. Well worth it. We heard several more experienced cruisers complain about the busy lifts and design of the ship but as first timers we have nothing to compare against. It was a very expensive holiday and I'm not sure overall the experience was any better than a much cheaper family holiday in Mexico (Xcaret is my favourite) for example, but we are pleased we tried it and had a terrific time. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
Just back from an unbelievable cruise sailing around the warm Caribbean on the Britannia. The Caribbean was the perfect place to leave behind the wet and windy UK. The Britannia, with our balcony cabin, was the perfect ship to enjoy the ... Read More
Just back from an unbelievable cruise sailing around the warm Caribbean on the Britannia. The Caribbean was the perfect place to leave behind the wet and windy UK. The Britannia, with our balcony cabin, was the perfect ship to enjoy the experience. We were so pleased that we had booked a standard balcony cabin on G Deck with its excellent facilities instead of an inside cabin. The balcony with its 2 comfortable chairs and table was the perfect place to enjoy our morning cuppa as we sailed into a different Caribbean island on 9 mornings. What can be better than waking up on a December morning, pulling back the curtains, opening the balcony doors and stepping into the early morning warm Caribbean sunshine. I read from one of the professional moaners that the balcony was too small - too small for what? Too small for a party yes, but ample for 2 people to enjoy a drink, read a book, have a chat or just marvel at the scenery. Everything else in the cabin was perfect, large bed, powerful shower, large screen TV, fridge, towels and all well looked after be the cabin boy. Once out of the cabin there are an excellent choice of restaurants, bars and activities to choose from. In an evening we were on Freedom Dining as we don't like being tied to a meal time. We ate in the Meridian restaurant on 12 of our evenings and on each occasion the choice and quality of food and drinks was exceptional. We shared a table with other guests initially which was fine but later on in the holiday opted for a table for 2 after being worried that we may end up with a couple of the professional moaners who were on board. The moaners were very much in the minority but we didn't want to risk a perfect dining experience ruined by pathetic complaining. We ate once in Sindhu, the Indian restaurant on board, which was excellent and on the first evening in the Horizon buffet, which again had an excellent choice of food and drinks. Breakfasts were always in the Horizon for us as we liked to relax and enjoy the fresh fruit followed by a selection of the warm food on offer. After our evening meal we usually had a few drinks in one of the many varied bars and also watched a great Robbie Williams tribute act in Headliners. On the days in port we would make use of the local taxis to take us to a beach, rain forest, waterfall etc. We would usually share with other passengers from the ship and this worked out very reasonable. Many of the organised shore excursions left at 08.30am which is too early for us on holiday. All of the islands were amazing, possibly Tortola was our favourite but we also enjoyed our last day at the Boatyard beach and bar in Barbados (walking distance from the port). On the 4 days sailing we relaxed on deck making the most of the lovely warm weather that we had. As it was usually around 11.00am when we arrived on deck most sun loungers were usually taken but we found that if we just sat in a chair then sooner or later beds would be free. On these 4 sailing days the formal evenings took place and 99% of the passengers got involved and dressed up which was good. The Disembarkation process was well managed and meant that the journey from ship to plane run smoothly. Anything that I would change? 1. I would take a change of clothes in my hand luggage for the first evening on the ship as our suitcases did not arrive in the cabin until after we had eaten. 2. I would request that the moaners stay in the UK next winter and moan about something there instead - they'll find plenty :-). Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
This was our first P&O cruise and we are totally hooked, everything from the staff to the trips were excellent. I understand from other passengers that they had bad experiences on their excursions but we must have chosen well as we ... Read More
This was our first P&O cruise and we are totally hooked, everything from the staff to the trips were excellent. I understand from other passengers that they had bad experiences on their excursions but we must have chosen well as we had absolutely no complaints. The best the final one which was the Champagne Sunset Cruise which ended the holiday perfectly. The food in the Oriental Restaurant was excellent and so was the service. We also tried a few of the other restaurants which were also good the only negative place in my eyes was the Beach Club mainly as the food wasn't cooked as well as i liked but that was more personal choice. There was plenty of sun beds for everyone, even though people tried to reserve them. We opted to stay near the outdoor big screen as this seemed to be a quieter area. The entertainment was plentiful we went to the Play house a few times to see acts like the Cuban comedian and Zoe Tyler who were both excellent. Most of the times we tended to do the quiz and activities in Brodies bar as we met up with other couples. The outdoor Cinema was also fab even though the rocking of the ship sent you to sleep as soon as the film started. We would definately cruise on the Azura again totally enjoyed the whole Cruise Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
Having never cruised before and after reading some of the reviews on here i must admit I was very apprehensive about this holiday and was wishing I had booked my usual style winter holiday (Thailand/Australua). As a fit 46 year old woman ... Read More
Having never cruised before and after reading some of the reviews on here i must admit I was very apprehensive about this holiday and was wishing I had booked my usual style winter holiday (Thailand/Australua). As a fit 46 year old woman travelling with my Auntie and reading that the cruise was geared for the over 60s on some reviews I feel I should point out that that is simply not true. Yes there was over 60's but there was lots of age ranges too. The whole trip was fantastic from start to finish and it was one of the best holidays I've ever had. The ship was lovely (perfectly preportioned and sleek). The decor was tasteful and it was spotlessly clean at all times. The staff were all friendly, courtious courtious and seemed happy in theur work. Paul Evans the cruise director is brilliant at his job. He's lively, funny and caring. Other passengers I spoke with also thought so. I saw him onshore when he was off duty on a number of occasions and he was just the same. A great asset to Thompson. I would also like to mention our cleaner Sukran who ws brilliant. I'm sure he has eyes in the back if his head as he never once disturbed us but our room was always prepared even when we had onky been away from it for half an hour! Giovanni also stood out as being really lovely in the Meridian. Which leads me nicely into talking about the food, which must have been ok for me to put on half a stone even as a fussy eater. All of the restaurants catered for food alergies and woukd also make up meals to suit if required which is amazing considering how many people they were catering for. The lido buffet always had plenty of choice and seemed to be always open. The meridian menus were well thought out and it was lovely sitting with strangers (by choice) to eat and thus meeting some wonderful people. The two A la carte restaurants cost £20 each and had to be booked. I must say they were both scrumptious and the 5 courses worth every penny. The service was also impeccable. The things tbat people moan about on these websites seemed crazy in my opinion but then some people criticise everything and make their own lives miserable in the process. For example, when walking past reception I heard one gentleman complaining about a loud noise as 7.20 in the morning. That was the ship docking!!! The entertainment was varied and was well organised. Some of the shows were not to my taste but others were right up my street. We all like different things .... The dancers were absolutely brilliant and never seemed to put a foot wrong. I only have 2 teensy criticisms. Firstly the bottled water shouldn't be classed as Premium on a drinks package as it's more of a necessity in my opinion, especially in the heat. The tap water was safe to drink but awful tasting. Secondly, tne staff in Horizons bar on the top deck were not as friendly as on the rest of the ship on the 4 occasions I went there for afternoon tea . I would definitely recommend this cruise and would quite happily of stayed on tbe shio forever! Thank you Thompson for a great and unforgettable holiday! Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
This was our first cruise and I was a little apprehensive but there was absolutely no need. Thomson could not have looked after you better. Yes the décor is a little dated and could do with a refurb but it still has a certain charm. ... Read More
This was our first cruise and I was a little apprehensive but there was absolutely no need. Thomson could not have looked after you better. Yes the décor is a little dated and could do with a refurb but it still has a certain charm. The food was exceptional and you will grow outwards! The choice and variety each day was amazing. Look out for the fruit and veg sculptures! The puddings were beautiful and you couldn't ask for anything more. You have the choice of 3 restaurants - we tried Meridian and the Lido. The staff work incredibly hard and are a real credit. Now the entertainment team - Jake, Jack, Keiron and Laura are a certain phenomenon!! They bounce of each other very well and are cringingly funny. Again very hard working, friendly and engaging. We loved the different bars and areas you could sit. If you wanted to sit quietly, you could. The shows in the Broadway bar were good although a couple could have been better. The comedian was very good. The band Protege who played mainly in Liberties bar are wonderful and how they haven't yet made there own CD I don't know. If you worry about feeling sea sick - don't be. The only night it was a little choppy was the last night but nothing major and apart from a gentle rocking, you don't really know you are on a boat. The Caribbean is absolutely stunning. We booked 3 excursions. The first was the glass bottom boat at Pigeon Bay. The bay itself is stunning BUT the boat leaves a lot to be desired. A small fishing boat with a bit of glass in the hull. It was quite choppy in this and a few of us felt quite unwell. We were allowed to snorkel further out but when you try it was really too choppy and dangerous. A lot of money for what it was. We hardly saw any fish and would have preferred to stay on the beach. Our next trip was the Rum Runner. If you do one trip - you must do this one!! It was fantastic! Plenty of rum, an amazing funny crew and a beautiful beach to stop and snorkel from. Sean even bought us rum whilst we were swimming. There was a great calypso band and an attempt at limbo dancing. A really great fun trip. Our third trip was to Trafalgar falls - which is a bit of a walk but worth it. We visited Tobago. St Vincents, Grenada, Dominica and St Lucia. Just be aware if you choose to walk around the towns, not to go too far off the main roads.A little disappointed that we didn't see any of the beaches in St Lucia but this was due to the port stop and taxis charging $25 each way but the shops are quaint and lovely. Thank you Thomson for such a great holiday where we truly felt rested and looked after. The organisation is second to none. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
This was our first cruise ever, and I'm glad to say the ship is wonderful. Very elegant art deco style, lovely ballroom and dining areas. The staff are very polite and professional, and very smartly dressed. The only complaint is, on ... Read More
This was our first cruise ever, and I'm glad to say the ship is wonderful. Very elegant art deco style, lovely ballroom and dining areas. The staff are very polite and professional, and very smartly dressed. The only complaint is, on sea days you can't get a sun bed, and there is no shade from the hot sun. Apart from that we thought everything was almost perfect. A lot of people complained, about the ship being too big, or the food was not good. In our opinion the food was good and service very efficient. Lots of well travelled cruises, felt the other ships were better. We found there were a lot of moaners over nothing, or people were cruise snobs. Its a lovely big ship and everything was pristine, its almost perfect. The entertainment could be average on some nights though. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
Have just returned from our first ever cruise, Eastern Caribbean on P & O Azura. Everthing was perfect from cabin, to food, to entertainment, to staff. Flew on Thomson dreamliner to Barbados, had to wait a while for bags to arrive ... Read More
Have just returned from our first ever cruise, Eastern Caribbean on P & O Azura. Everthing was perfect from cabin, to food, to entertainment, to staff. Flew on Thomson dreamliner to Barbados, had to wait a while for bags to arrive on board but when there are 3000 odd passengers, hey what do you expect. Ate with freedom dining in Peninsular Restaurant, superb food, breakfast, lunch & dinner. Buffet was also acceptable and plentiful. Cabin on deck 10 with balcony. spacious and very quiet, was able to totally relax Entertainment varied and to all tastes. Also used well equipped gym Staff always pleasant and friendly Islands called at varied and interesting (but would like to avoid Martinique again), didn't seem like caribbean island, more south of France port town! Azura is large but at certain times and locations you felt alone, quite strange with 3000+ passengers, everything was clean, absolutely perfect, well done P & O Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
My husband and I took an incredible first cruise from Basal, Switzerland to Amsterdam on the Viking Sun. It was a first class experience from the minute we stepped on to the ship until the morning that we left. Each included excursion ... Read More
My husband and I took an incredible first cruise from Basal, Switzerland to Amsterdam on the Viking Sun. It was a first class experience from the minute we stepped on to the ship until the morning that we left. Each included excursion was lead by knowledgable and personable guides. The extra excursion we chose was through a winter palace and hunting lodge and was equally well done. We can't praise all of the staff enough to do them justice. The captain was as friendly as all of his crew. We realize we were very lucky to have spectacular weather, but nothing will ever replace our memory of our morning of cruising past the castles on the Rhine. Thank you, Viking. We look forward to our next journey with you! Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
the crew hospitality were excellent. I want to give big thanks to Mel and his team (name to long so Mel for short)for the excellent job there done in the room***** (big thanks Mel). The dining staff great people Rey, James, Alann and ... Read More
the crew hospitality were excellent. I want to give big thanks to Mel and his team (name to long so Mel for short)for the excellent job there done in the room***** (big thanks Mel). The dining staff great people Rey, James, Alann and Ruffeno and team ***** great set of people lovely personalities. Now to the cruised director Mr Fillippa (now sure if its the right spelling) but that man is the correct man for the job lol I will talk about him for years to come. Good job wow whooo lol. Now to the ship activities, lilo deck and all other things. I'll give it all 5 star. great set of people I will be back if the lord spear life fa sure. It was my first cruise and I love every day of it Woo Whoo. To the Capt thanks for a safe and fabulous sail. I enjoyed the food,activities and the crew. Great service Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
This was my first cruise and I had a blast. We embarked from Barbados, the process was smooth and easy. The atmosphere from the port was upbeat. We got name tags and were sent on our way to the cruise ship. Being my first cruise the ... Read More
This was my first cruise and I had a blast. We embarked from Barbados, the process was smooth and easy. The atmosphere from the port was upbeat. We got name tags and were sent on our way to the cruise ship. Being my first cruise the ship was beautiful so I cannot compare. After receiving our fun card, we traveled to our cabin; the lift, the lighting and ambience just oozed fun. People we calling our names and saying hi (at first I thought wow psychics, then I realized they were seeing my name tag lol). The cabin loooooovely, comfy and homey. It was a balcony and that made it even more pleasurable, despite us hardly being in it. The bath was adequate for us. The different towel creations were a joy to come "home" to each night. The service provided by our stewards was excellent. They were friendly and being fun loving people we enjoyed our daily meetings. Our waiter for the evening Guillermo was friendly and helpful, even though we only dined once, we would always look for him to say hi. I commend all of the cruise ship workers on their ability to remain being hospitable because they work really hard Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
This was the first time I have been on a cruise, I boarded the ship in Barbados after a 4 night holiday there, I was a little bit apprehensive to do a cruise as I was travelling on my own as no one wanted to come with me, I don't no ... Read More
This was the first time I have been on a cruise, I boarded the ship in Barbados after a 4 night holiday there, I was a little bit apprehensive to do a cruise as I was travelling on my own as no one wanted to come with me, I don't no what I was worried about the whole experience from start to finish was incredible I only wish I had booked a longer cruise, I don't no how the cruise company put these holidays together every thing just seemed to flow effortlessly there was no queuing for anything my room was immediately available as soon as I entered the ship. the room was spacious plenty of room for all your clothes the room was very clean it was cleaned 2 times a day with clean towels and bed turned back in the evening with chocolates laid on the bed in the evening, there were plenty of restaurants to chose from so something for everyone, the main dinning in the evening was amazing I choose anytime dining plan and opted to sit at tables with other quests which was really nice to meet other people from different counties, the food menu was amazing something different every night the staff were amazing nothing was to much trouble they work incredibly hard, not only the restaurant staff but the staff in general all over the ship. There were many types of different entertainment going on and again something for everyone. I was worried about being bored and not having much to do on a ship how wrong was I, There was an extensive range of shore excursions I went on a different excursion every day , the ship stopped at a different country every day so there is no way you could be bored we only had 1 day at see and I bought a ticket for the "behind the scene's " we were split into 2 groups and got to see the every day workings of the ship this was very enjoyable and very interesting insight as to how much hard work goes on behind the scenes just to make our holiday more enjoyable, (spare a thought for the workers in the kitchens and the laundry rooms it's so very very hot down there) at the end we got to meet the captain on the bridge, which was something like out of star trek so many lights, buttons, clocks and dials were we had our photo taken with the captain , when I returned to my room the group photo was on my bed with a complimentary tray of cup cakes and chocolate covered strawberries and a goodie bag, later that afternoon I went to the spa. Last of all dis-embarkment I didn't want to get off in fact I could have done with a week at a hotel resort because I was exhausted from every thing I'd participated in. I am now a cruiser for life all my family now want to go on a cruise and I am now looking to book a cruise for next year. Last but not least I booked my holiday with Virgin and as usually !st class service as always with Virgin from the booking staff to cabin crew thank you. Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
We have just returned from a week on The Celebration. As we were unsure for many years about cruising, we chose The Celebration as it was smaller than a lot of the cruise liners and trusted the Thomson name. We were not disappointed. From ... Read More
We have just returned from a week on The Celebration. As we were unsure for many years about cruising, we chose The Celebration as it was smaller than a lot of the cruise liners and trusted the Thomson name. We were not disappointed. From booking to the end of our cruise it was all so easy and effortless. We upgraded to a deluxe cabin on Deck 6 and chose to pre book our cabin to avoid a life boat or gantry obstruction. We also bought the drinks package and that worked out fine as we found ourselves not worrying about how many cocktails we had and the costs ! We pre booked some excursions through Thomson which were fine.. Also took advise from other reviews about an excursion of St Kitts with a company called Royston's Tours ! What a good decision. He was a very nice chap took us all over his island, provided lunch, drinks and overextended our tour by three hours !! but always mindful of return time to ship. $45US each. Bargain ! check him out on the internet. No payment until the end of the tour either. On board we ate in the Lido self service restaurant as it suited us better. Other options are there if you want waiter service or pay a supplement for separate a La carte restaurants. The Lido was absolutely fine for us. Food was very nice, well presented and lots of choice. We chose to sit out on deck after dinner in the evening as it was so warm and relaxing. But there are many options for entertainment: Broadway show Lounge with nightly shows, Liberties for quizzes, bands and nightclub later on. Horizons on the upper deck for more intimate singers etc. Enjoyed the early morning island arrivals where we would get up and go straight to the bow to watch us docking. We will definitely cruise again especially with Thomson. Many other passengers who sailed with us commented that the really big hotel ships, while having the top name in luxury, didn't allow for seeing the same person twice ! We met many people and got chatting on board which had such a nice friendly informal atmosphere it also extended to the lovely staff without exception. Happy chatty friendly and nothing was too much trouble for them. Well Done Thomson !!   Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
We're quite a young couple for cruises (24 and 28), but when an opportunity comes to see the Caribbean, we just couldn't say no! First of all, we were told there will be a balanced mix of passengers of different age. Well, yes, ... Read More
We're quite a young couple for cruises (24 and 28), but when an opportunity comes to see the Caribbean, we just couldn't say no! First of all, we were told there will be a balanced mix of passengers of different age. Well, yes, if you take the ages 50-80 ;). However, it completely doesn't matter, as we had the time of our life anyway! We are generally quite withdrawn, but the atmosphere on the Dream was so friendly that there was no way not to make some acquaintances. After all, cruises give a great opportunity to meet different people and hear their story. As to the ship, it's fabulous. I saw some reviews complaining that this or that is dated, and yes, the bathrooms have probably seen 80's and I've never seen anybody actually catching a lift, but I loved it. It has this old elegant charm and elegance about that I wouldn't change for anything modern. We booked the cheapest inside cabin and didn't even choose any particular one. On the arrival we found out we got a spacious cabin on deck 9, close to restaurant and with a window offering a lovely unobstructed view of the deck and sea! Now I'm not sure if all the cheapest cabins were taken or do we owe it to it being our honeymoon. Either way, we were over the moon. Also, due to our honeymoon/anniversary, a girl of heavenly voice sang for us in the Grill restaurant, which brought a tear to my eye. If that wasn't enough, the amazing band 'The Peakles' plaid 'Lady in red' specially for us in the Medusa. Unforgettable! The food. It was plentiful, fresh, tasty, in any of the restaurants on the ship. I find it funny that people praise Orion and slight the Lido, as they pretty much served the same food, the difference being that in Orion you had to choose one of each courses and in Lido you could stuff yourself with everything if you were indecisive (not saying we did ;). Perhaps it was not Michelin dining, but it was always very tasty and available pretty much 24/7. The service was outstanding, as everybody will agree. I'm rather unsociable and they even made me smile all the time and say hello to every person who passed me. For the ladies, if you have enough hair to play with, I compel you to go to the Oceans beauty salon and get Maja to do your Captain's Gala hairdo. Mine was mind blowing! Best ever thing I had done on my head. I would be very careful with the make up there though. Make sure you are given a mirror and check as you go along or you might end up with a look a' la Russian beauty pageant '87 ;). Finally, destinations. Barbados, Antigua, Tortola, Dominica, St. Bart's, St. Vincent. All absolutely stunning, each in a very different way! Some would not be worth staying for a long holiday unless you just like to frazzle, but that only makes the cruise so absolutely amazing. If I made it sound all too sweet, don't think I'm so easy pleased! The flight attendants on Thomson flight to Barbados were terribly lazy and you would wait eternity for someone to bring you water, let alone food. That, however, ends when you get off the plane. Also, be careful with money. Lots of overpriced services and shops on the Dream. You'll be better off doing shopping in Barbados airport or any other duty free. As to Thomson shore excursions, they ARE extortion overall, but sometimes they offer things you won't be able to get on shore (like catamaran cruise). If you want to see the dolphins in Tortola, book directly. We did Thomson excursion on our last day, to go see the green turtles. We had a lovely time on a shabby barge, with lots of drinks and rum punch and we even stopped on way back for a splash on a beautiful beach. That came out way too long, but I just had to share! Everybody should do this and enjoy every moment! Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
My wife and I booked our first ever cruise on the Thomson Dream, flying to Barbados and boarding the ship at the port in Barbados. After reading some negative reviews prior to this trip, I had one or two concerns before boarding. I.E. ... Read More
My wife and I booked our first ever cruise on the Thomson Dream, flying to Barbados and boarding the ship at the port in Barbados. After reading some negative reviews prior to this trip, I had one or two concerns before boarding. I.E. Cabin size, food and ship hygene. We had booked cabin 6087 which is an inside cabin on deck 6. The cabin was quite small, but the design has used the space to a premium. There was an adequate wardrobe, a four drawer unit, two bedside cabinets. There was a two seater sofa and table. There was another mirrored unit which hosted a kettle, two cups and coffee, tea etc. and a wall hung television. The double bed was really comfy and there was a small toilet/shower compartment that did the job. All in all the cabin more than met our needs. Although there was no window, I didn't see the point of paying a lot more for this when the ship sailed at night, therefore nothing to see and every other day we were disembarking the ship at different ports from approx 8.00am till 5.30pm. The cabin was spotless and maintained the same standard throughout the cruise, thanks to Andre, our young charming Philipino cabin steward. Most of the the crew are Philipino, who are the most friendly and courteous people I have ever met. Always smiling, like a joke or two, and nothing is too much trouble Any concerns about the standard of food was soon dispersed. Breakfast, lunch and evening meal had a great variety of food. I especially recommend the Orion restaurant for the evening meal. Waiter service, six courses of deliciously prepared food and the menu was changed every day. Never once was it repeated during the 14day cruise. The evening shows were excellent and very professional, but the highlight was the once a week crew talent show. Not to be missed. Tips:- Do not take the drinks package, not worth it. Dont buy the cruise ship excursions, grossly overpriced and can be bought at a fraction of the price at each port terminal.. To Summarise, The whole trip surpassed my expectations, hard to find any faults, and although the Dream is an old ship and one of the smaller Caribbean cruise ships, I would recommend it to anyone. Well done Thomsons, Good job.   Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
Just back from a week onboard the Royal Clipper, a 5 masted square rigged sailing ship [ apparently the largest in the world ]. It was an amazing experience to be on deck when the sails were unfurled each evening to the background sound of ... Read More
Just back from a week onboard the Royal Clipper, a 5 masted square rigged sailing ship [ apparently the largest in the world ]. It was an amazing experience to be on deck when the sails were unfurled each evening to the background sound of stirring classical music. The cabin, one of only 2 at deck level, a the stern end was very well appointed, all wood veneer pannelling and a huge bed. Although it was a bit of a tight squeeze and access to the bed was from one side only, so night time ventures to the loo involved clambering to the end of the bed to try and not disturb my good lady. The bathroom was quite large and well appointed with a big jacuzzi bath, a smaller bathroom and larger cabin might have worked better. Lots of soaps and lotions provided and a good sized cabinet for all our bathroom bits and bobs. The cabin had plenty of storage space for clothes and suitcases [ placed under the bed ], and access was from the deck so people would walk by throughout the trip, but we soon got used to this and it was nice to have the privacy of a cabin away from all the other accomodation. Cabin No.315. The food was excellent and the service first class, seating was as youplease so you get to meet different folks every meal if you choose. It was a very eclectic mix of passengers, Usa, Brits, Canadians, German and French made up the majority of the 220 onboard. A nice mix and most seemed friendly and happy to socialise. One thing to note, this is a sailing vessel NOT a mega liner so it moves about quite a bit. So if you suffer from sea sickness come prepared, my wife suffered quite a lot because of it, and we noticed that a few passengers had sea sickness patches on, worth considering. This was evident on the first night when our room steward raised a panel at the side of the bed to help prevent us falling out during the night. The voyage itself was great because, as this is a smaller vessel, it can get into places where the large vessels can't venture. Such as Ille Des Saintes a beautifull tiny French island. Apart from mooring at Martinique all other stops involve using the small tenders to get to and from the shore, these were well organised and seemed to run all day. Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
We've visited many Caribbean islands over the years, love the region for it vibrancy and warmth - the people sort as well as that of climate. But we'd never made it to Barbados. We had taken a three day cruise on Carnival - and ... Read More
We've visited many Caribbean islands over the years, love the region for it vibrancy and warmth - the people sort as well as that of climate. But we'd never made it to Barbados. We had taken a three day cruise on Carnival - and decided the large ships aren't our favorite. Vacation for us means getting away from it all and we just had the feeling on the big ship we were taking it all along with us. We had cruised on the late lamented Windjammer Barefoot Cruises and had a marvelous time but they departed the scene alas and we're a bit older than once we were. So when the combination of the destination (Barbados) and trying out an upscale cruise experience (my wife loves the idea of having a balcony as a refuge, a place to read, relax and get completely away from it all) presented itself with Silversea line's Silver Spirits cruise #5401, Ft Lauderdale to Barbados, we jumped on. So to speak. It had the added advantage of happening in January, raising some concerns about the possibilities of weather interfering with travel, raising costs at the far end of the cruise (we stayed a week in Barbados after our cruise) but allowing us the chance to see it all during high season. Much of our previous travel to the region has been just outside high season, generally in mid-April including sailing around the BVI with a friend in his 35 foot sailboat, a Sabreliner. We looked over cruise lines, were highly intrigued by several especially Star Clippers, loved by friends of ours, and of course Seabourne. We had a fantastic vacation in French Polynesia a few years ago and realized after the fact that probably the best way to do that for the very first time would be to book on the Paul Gauguin, a gorgeous ship (we saw it a couple times on our trip there) and given that airfare is included a terrific way to see multiple islands in addition to experiencing the marvelous experience that ship offers. So when we came across Silver Spirit's itinerary and learned more about the ship itself, we were hooked. We flew out to Ft Lauderdale a couple days early just in case - the polar incursion that pretty much crippled transportation throughout the NE USA made that precaution seem quite a good choice; a number of passengers were delayed, some joining us in Puerto Rico on the third day into the cruise, others i presume not making it at all. Having time on our hands we spent a very pleasant day visiting Ft Lauderdale's fine art museum which happily had three exhibits up, each quite different from the other two, all of very high quality. We went down and strolled along the riverfront park area and wound up watching my alma mater's basketball team play (and happily win) a game at a sports bar quite near our at the port hotel which served excellent fresh fish as well. We took a cab over to the port on launching day - January 6th - and were very pleased with the process. There was little in the way of lines the ship's capacity being just over 500 passengers and the weather, as mentioned, having intervened even with that number. (i do believe we reached at or near 500 by the time we departed Puerto Rico so it wound up being a good test of the Silver Spirit experience.) We checked in and went to our suite (as the cabins are referred to) where we met our "butler" (seems to be what stewards are called on this line and perhaps others, i wouldn't know about that) - Rowena - and Larry who would be cleaning and tidying the suite throughout the cruise. They were very personable, very welcoming, quite professional. Rowena showed us around. Larry - who seems always to be smiling happily - was smiling happily and made us feel quite at home. The suite was beautiful. Lots of wood, mirrors in both the bed and sitting areas with television pictures as rectangles "embedded" in the center of each, a desk, writing desk and lots of cabinet space in the sitting room and of course the teak veranda/balcony beyond that. The bathroom was on our left in the narrow hallway as we entered and beyond it the walk in closest with lots of space, hangers and the room safe atop a chest of drawers at the far end. Plenty of room for the clothing we brought along - and we had three suitcases given the nine night cruise and our planned week-long stay afterwards on the island. i know, over-packing, but we hadn't been quite this way before and when all is said and done i prefer to work a bit harder getting somewhere than to find i have prepared inadequately for the bulk of my time. i figure i'll learn to conserve before we do this next time. We preferred to do our own unpacking - perhaps a mistake as i could take some lessons from Rowena who packs and unpacks on a professional basis - more on that later - but it's not much to do it oneself. We stowed two of the cases at the very back of the closet - lots of room; Rowena wound up putting the third simply under the bed, an easier solution. Having a bit of time we set off to explore our floating home for a bit before the required safety drill - attendance is taken - and departure from port which we watched from the deck off the Italian restaurant - La Terrazza - where we met a couple of passengers from Ireland in the process, mother and daughter, who quickly became our friends (and added to the family feel of our trip when we would run into them and join with them for a meal or a walkabout in one port or another). Okay, hint #1: at this time passengers have the opportunity to go to i think it was the Stars supper club (deck 7) to make dinner reservations at the various restaurants. The hint is do it as some of the restaurants are smaller and more intimate and if you don't make your reservation right at the start you might not get in. This is especially true for the line's well-advertised Le Champagne restaurant which holds about 20 people. By the time we thought to try to go there, we could only get on the waiting list and never did make it in. (Although some with whom we spoke were not all that impressed with it so we didn't worry too much about that.) Restaurants: there are several - we did not make it into all but next cruise we would try to do so. Le Champagne - deck 4 - intimate, highly advertised by the Italian cruise line, an elegant approach; there is a surcharge involved to eat here. Seishin - also deck 4 - also a surcharge to eat here. We did so twice. There are three options for dinner, each beginning with an amuse buche followed by a marvelous sashimi and sushi plate, the sushi chef located in the middle of the space preparing this, the tables - 7 or 8 iirc - around the edges of the room. At lunch there is the option of getting a bento (boxed) lunch; at dinner there are two three course meals dinners at a surcharge of $20 as well as a full 9 course degustation meal at a $30 surcharge. We tried both versions, the 9 course our first visit and the 3 course meals our second visit. We had marvelous service from MaryAnn assisted by Sharlotte and, our second visit, when i asked to have the first three-course menu but substitute the main course from the second MaryAnn just smiled and assured us it would be no problem at all. Nor was it. We very much liked this restaurant. The main restaurant is, naturally, called The Restaurant. It too is located on deck 4 (the aforementioned two flanking the entrance to the Restaurant.) We found this one good; not great, but quite satisfactory. We have some food restrictions - one of the joys brought by advancing years - which limited us just a bit in our selection but service was excellent, the surroundings fine - think upscale restaurant 'most anywhere, and the food good. We enjoyed it - but chose other options for the rest of the cruise rather than repeat this one. The aforementioned La Terrazza - being the Italian venue on an Italian-run ship - was quite good. Indoor seating is good and there is also the option of outdoor seating, delightful at breakfast and lunch. Starting with dinner, i found the pasta quite good; our new friend and fellow passenger Art said the lamb rack was outstanding. The wine selection was okay - and they were quite happy to offer an alternate selection such as the Bordeaux i preferred to the offered Burgundy. They would have been happier still to provide one of the for-purchase selections the prices of which were in the range of "if you have to ask the price, don't bother with these." We demurred and did just fine with the included selection, my wife especially appreciating the whites while i explored the reds. For breakfast and lunch, the buffets in the La Terrazza venue were marvelous. Can't think of anything they might have done to have made them more appealing to us. Our Irish friends took the culinary tour offered on board and came away very impressed that they prepare all of the bread and pasta offerings from scratch every day, even the bread sticks. They certainly succeeded with those and most passengers we got to know wound up eating breakfast and lunch at La Terrazza. The Show Lounge - deck 5 - served smaller platters and our friends Art and Cindy just loved it. We planned to make it but never did; we will do so on our next cruise on this line because of the raves about it. There was entertainment - and we simply opted for a quieter dinner experience this voyage. The experience that i loved was Hot Rocks. You need reservations though there is no additional surcharge. This is on the pool deck - deck 9 - at the Pool Grill area (there is also a pool bar of course) or at tables on deck 10 which overlooks the pool at The Grill. Hot Rocks is called that for the obvious reason: you order a steak or the huge (and delectable) shrimp or a combination of both and your server brings your entrée to you already cooking - searing - on a lava stone that has been pre- and slowly-heated to 900 degrees. The stone is about three inches thick and perhaps 12 inches square. The server places the stone on its platter in front of you leaving room for your dinner plate between it and you and then turns the meat over so it starts cooking on the other side. It's up to you when you want to remove it from the stone to stop cooking it. They advertise that it's perfectly done just for you every time, an element that is completely under your personal control. As we eat simply at home - and far less often - the chance for simpler fare was very appealing and as the dinner itself was outstanding, we ate there twice including our last night on board. Your platter comes with baked potato with a range of toppings, vegetables and salad first course. Desserts here and throughout the ship were also quite good. There's even a choice of sorbets throughout the afternoon on the pool deck. If i've forgotten other venues it is only because we failed to try them. There's only so much and so often a person can eat no matter the variety of choices and the quality of the offerings. So, overall - was this the quality of Carlos' in Highland Park north of Chicago? No, not quite to that standard imo. But very good - high quality - very happy with the variety and the quality offered. And as throughout the ship with the service. i should add that the bar (called The Bar) is located on deck 5 just beyond reception and the shore concierge desks. Quite attractive and this is where we all went on debarkation day, at least those of us leaving the cruise in Barbados. Voyage 5401 actually continued on to Rio, to Buenos Aires, around the horn and up the Pacific Coast of South America - Chile, Peru - and on through the Panama Canal and back to Ft Lauderdale and Port Everglades. Our new friends Art and Cindy were among those doing the entire cruise, a total of 66 days long. Others were going on as far as Rio or Buenos Aires. When we left in Barbados, others boarded for the next segment of the cruise. It was in all a lovely thought and we continue to mentally follow Art and Cindy and the others on their adventure. The first couple days of the voyage are at sea, a portion of the cruise we found to be our favorite. The TV screens in the suite had camera options that included a camera facing ahead which was very nice entering each port, a second that included the relevant ship's environmental information including temperature, wind velocity, ship's speed, ocean depth beneath us, course, etc. along with cameras that showed various views including one of the pool area. Then there was a selection of channels including CNN, BBC, Fox, i think they had MSNBC, international sports, ESPN Caribbean (lots and lots of soccer, a bit of cricket, we did get one of the NFL playoff games - but not the other), etc. The veranda (at the outboard side of the suite) got some use; the ocean was a fine companion; the ship was stabilized of course - there was a bit of rocking that didn't feel like that at all, it was just that at times you did need to watch your balance a bit. i noticed there were always waiters at the buffet to assist by carrying one's platter to one's table, a precaution perhaps more for the rest of the diners than for the person who would actually eat the food. We used the first day to visit the boutiques and were surprised to find the prices quite reasonable there. There were sport coats - a light colored one and of course a blazer - as well as more formal wear. The blazer - light colored - was $179 and seemed of a quality that made that a reasonable price for it. The exercise room was well equipped and very nice. We didn't use the spa services - massages and such - but have no doubt as to their high quality as well. In the suite, i should mention the bathroom. There is a tub which was of a generous size and the shower was well thought out and organized, encased in a clear plastic enclosure with a tight-closing door and both a rain shower head and a hand held - whatever your preference it was easily arrangeable. Hint #2: in our suite anyway the water temperature varied between the two shower heads. If you started with the rain shower head, directly overhead, and then wanted to switch to the hand held to direct the spray while you shampooed or such, the initial spray of water would be cold for a second or two and then significantly hotter than the rain shower. It was important to turn the temperature down before switching and then adjust a bit up after a couple seconds to feel. There is a sign posted that cautions you to always test the temperature before stepping in. If you're used to hots that don't really get hot, think again - when they say "hot" on the Silver Spirit, they truly mean hot. It was a marvelous surprise to us. Combine that with amenities by Bvlgari and the suite and bathroom were quite up with our anticipation of what such ought to be on a luxury cruise. The ship's shore excursions: we signed up only for two - the Rain Forest excursion in Puerto Rico and a snorkel and scuba excursion in St Barths. (see below) A separate word - from what i've written under port reports below about St Maarten. St Martin (smallest piece of land in the world divided between two nations: the port and Phillipsburg are in Sint Maarten and are Dutch; the northern area of the island are St Martin and are French. We spent a marvelous week once in the French Village of Grand Case and highly recommend that.) Phillipsburg is a duty free port with outstanding shopping particularly for jewelry and watches. Silver Spirit carries with it a designated ship's shopper. On our cruise it was Phillip. He's a Californian and he was expert, thorough and always available. Landing in Phillipsburg (a coincidence? well, okay, but it did seem rather apt), St Maarten, we cruised the shopping area and when anyone heard the name of our ship (they ask when you enter a shop such as Diamonds International) they would say, "Oh, you're with Phillip." Quoted prices dropped significantly once it was established that you were with Phillip and he made the rounds of the shops and seemed constantly available to consult or assist anyone from the ship. Prices in port seemed quite good for expensive items. But such items are individual enough i really couldn't tell you. Phillipsburg and St John Antigua however have widespread reputations for being excellent ports for the purchase of jewelry - especially diamonds - and watches if you are into such things. Phillip was definitely one of the ship's very useful features and a number of our shipmates commented very appreciatively about him and his services. Disembarking came. You can choose your preferred disembarking time but are asked to clear your suite (the ship is nearly entirely suites with verandas) by 8:30 in the morning. Rowena assisted with the packing - in my case she did a lot more than simply assist. We all applied the provided tags to our luggage - each color corresponding with the requested disembarkation time in what appeared to be half hour intervals - in the hallway outside our door when we went to bed, retaining only what we would need for the morning and our carry-ons. In the morning we left our carryons in the room while we went and settled up at the reception desk, reclaimed our passports, had a last breakfast at La Terrazza, reclaimed our carryons and joined our friends in The Bar area to await the call for our group to disembark and reclaim our luggage at customs. Disembarkation was easy and straightforward. A bus took you - again by color designation - to where your luggage was waiting and customs was quite a simple process. i'm sure i've forgotten something but that's a whole lot already up above so a short summary. My wife had wondered how she would like it, on the ship with 500 others, upscale food and service all the time, etc. Short answer, she loved it. Silver Spirit was about her favorite vacation ever - and when that includes 14 days in French Polynesia (Tahati and all that), that's saying something. The number of people was enough that we found great companions and i hope lasting friends - and enjoyed running into friends in whatever port we happened to be - and yet small enough that we rarely felt we were in a crowd. Food was very good, breakfasts and lunches superior. The suite was more than simply comfortable - we certainly do miss it. The service was wonderful - so many going out of their way obviously their hope was to please you. Lovely experience. Would we prefer one of the line's smaller ships? (Silver Spirit is their largest - others carry up to 380 or fewer passengers) Perhaps so. We look forward to finding out one day. But this was pretty terrific - and in our case the itinerary was perfect.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
As a first time cruiser I was really impressed with this ship. It was clean and well appointed, the food was good and the service prompt and friendly. Having booked at the last minute we got excellent value for money. The Thomson ... Read More
As a first time cruiser I was really impressed with this ship. It was clean and well appointed, the food was good and the service prompt and friendly. Having booked at the last minute we got excellent value for money. The Thomson Dreamliner flights were probably the most comfortable economy class flights we have had. The transfer was quick and easy. I was impressed with the infection control procedures, just a shame all passengers didn't follow them. Our cabin was small but well appointed, tea and coffee, a fridge with daily ice provided by our excellent steward and a very comfy bed. There was not much to watch on the TV. Lots of towels and you could take the blue ones ashore to use at the beach. All the staff were attentive. I was impressed with how quickly the tables were cleared. There was never any sign of litter and I only saw one fly in a fortnight! The food in the Beach house restaurant at night was our favourite. The freedom dining option was flexible, meaning that we could pick our entertainment and then fit dinner in to suit our itinerary. There was plenty of choice of entertainment and food venues. The drinks were not overpriced and the service charge was reasonable. The Sailaway parties were not my cup of tea, but you didn't have to go far to find a quiet spot to sit and watch the land disappear and the sunset. On sea days the decks are packed with sunbeds, some people had two each, one in the sun on in the shade, perhaps P&O need to employ a sunbed policeman. In conclusion two weeks in the Caribbean for £71.43 per person per night, including flights, can't be beaten. Two tips don't buy the bottled water, the tap water is fine. Do your own thing when ashore, it's cheaper.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
We have been to the Caribbean on holiday before and on P & O before, but this was our first time on Azura. We were told t was the sister ship to Ventura, but somehow seemed easier to navigate than Ventura. We had a fitness walk on the ... Read More
We have been to the Caribbean on holiday before and on P & O before, but this was our first time on Azura. We were told t was the sister ship to Ventura, but somehow seemed easier to navigate than Ventura. We had a fitness walk on the promenade each morning, which sadly was also the smoking area, so our lungs while exercising where filling up with the smoke fumes, from out fellow unfit passengers. Mad to have that mix on the same deck. Our room was restricted view, but actually I prefer an inside cabin, it's more private, as at every port we were next to another cruise ship, and could see into their cabins and them ours, so if you wanted privacy, you would have to close the curtains. We had seen most of the shows before on other cruises, so we didn't go to them all, but the ones we did go to were really excellent, I couldn't fault one of the singers or dancers. There is normally one or two who don't quite make the grade, but I was very impressed with these performers. I didn't enjoy the celebrity impersonators and the venue isn't big enough, They should have been performing in the theatre. There was a local band playing, but the music was a bit middle of the road, I'd liked to have heard some songs that have been released in the last 18 months, not stuff from the 60's and 70's that I don't remember Such a shame, we watched two films outside along with about 6 other passengers, it wasn't a popular attraction. We had blankets if we needed them. When it's a black tie night, I am very disappointed that there are so many lounge suites, it spoils the specialness of the evening, I don't like that standards are allowed to be lowered. The women mostly make an effort, and I think the men should too, it's only respectful. Don't book a holiday with rules and expectations, if you don't want to abide by them, there are plenty of other places you can go, and the ship does sell dinner suits so there is no excuse. I've noticed that people don't abide by the no reserving of seats rule. I just throw their towel or whatever off, if they are not there, and sit on the chair, staff should monitor this more, and not leave it up to the passengers to fight over. It clearly says no reserving of seats, and that applies to the theatre and bars in the evening, if you are not there tough. The only time I think it's ok is if you have gone for a swim and leave your stuff on your chair, but doing this and going for lunch is just selfish and greedy. Please think about others and we can all have a nice holiday, not just you. Service in the restaurants was excellent, but the standard of the food has gone down. I expect they are 'nicking' it off the plate, as seems to be the norm these days. It's very difficult to get anything different at any speed. At breakfast I have hot water and lemon and my husband has cream in his coffee, every morning we had a long wait for both. We were on Freedom dining, which means you are not stuck with the same old people every night, which is such a joy, for them and me. There is only so much you can talk to complete strangers about night after night. The reception staff were really helpful One member of staff manning the library and also having to help with internet problems is not enough, nearly everyone had a tablet or lap top these days, so that really needs addressing. I liked the idea of extra perks once I had bought my internet package. Beware the internet is very slow, especially if you are attaching a picture. I had my hair cut on board, it is one of the best cuts I've had, and for a very reasonable £30. Do be careful in the Caribbean, some passengers had watches and necklaces taken off them, the people are poor and we look very wealthy to them, saying that I didn't wear any jewellery , and didn't feel afraid. We went on local transport except for one port where we took the trip to Virgin Gouda, a really excellent trip, but on the whole we like to integrate and give our money to the locals. We went in Maxi taxi's for the most part, and the drivers are so proud to show you their islands. Barbados was the worst embarkation I've ever had. We were met on the tarmac of the plane, so no customs- the bane of all our lives. We got onto tiny coaches with no place for the luggage except our laps, which is not good for our legs after a 9 hour flight. I wouldn't recommend the Thompson flight either, with a choice of 4 films all on at the same time, so you can't watch them all, and there was no way of pausing the screen. We did pay for an upgrade, which wasn't worth it. My gluten free meal wasn't put on the plane both ways, the stewards were lovely, really really lovely, they explained I was down for a GF meal, but it wasn't on board, so they cobbled together a lovely meal for me, but if you have a dietary requirement, you could starve, if you don't bring your own food on board. Be warned. We are trying Cunard for the first time this May 2014, no flights, sailing from Southampton   Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
After the awful flight and arrival at the dream if we had been asked if we would like to go home we would have been first on the plane home. Muster drill was not until 8pm and by this time our stress level was through the roof. After a ... Read More
After the awful flight and arrival at the dream if we had been asked if we would like to go home we would have been first on the plane home. Muster drill was not until 8pm and by this time our stress level was through the roof. After a good nights sleep deck 4 as never cruised before and just got given this room by Thompson not knowing we could book rooms! Got up at six and the holiday started. Had no problem with the room very comfortable and didn't notice any noise.(Friday night the waves swept over the porthole brilliant) Had the most fantastic time and will be booking next year, Loved deck 10 staff great and being in the fresh air in the evening WOW. Food was good tried the Orion and although had to pay for steak it was so nice had no complaints. We never used deck 11 after the first night although must say speaking to Adam from entertainment helped us calm down. We did not use the indoor bars as we do like being outside. Our steward Sauib was great and I learnt to make towel animals. All the staff we found polite and nothing was any trouble. Booked trips on the ship and although pricey felt safer being our first time. Loved them all. The one moan at the end was having to queue at reception for 30 mins to find out what time to leave the ship to pick up the coach for the airport, maybe when they put our paperwork in the room they could have put the time in the instructions. Read Less
Sail Date December 2013

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