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19 Barbados to Panama Canal & Central America Cruise Reviews

Saw this advertised on our first ever cruise last April, and we were not disappointed. The Panama canal was awesome, and the South Pacific a lifetime experience. The lectures especially Peter on port excursions was funny and to the ... Read More
Saw this advertised on our first ever cruise last April, and we were not disappointed. The Panama canal was awesome, and the South Pacific a lifetime experience. The lectures especially Peter on port excursions was funny and to the point. James Fraser and the photography lectures were excellent my husband and I learnt such a lot, now I know how to use my camera on the phone, tablet and hand held camera. Please can he join our next cruise in July. We enjoyed the trip dispite the noisy neighbours in the next cabin so much that we rejoined the ship in Dubai 3 weeks after leaving in Brisbane, Australia. So we travelled section 2 and 4 of the world cruise. The other guests were delightful especially on our dinner table for both segments. The stewardess for cabins, bar and restaurant were helpful and friendly. A huge Thank you to the chaplain rev Richard frost and Jill his wife, the morning service on cruise days were always thoughtful. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
Having never cruised previously the idea of going on a tall ship was attractive because of the limited number of passengers and multiple ports of interest. My observations were as follows: 1. Sign in Barbados was not well run. As we ... Read More
Having never cruised previously the idea of going on a tall ship was attractive because of the limited number of passengers and multiple ports of interest. My observations were as follows: 1. Sign in Barbados was not well run. As we were initially attempting to board the ship we were told that we could not board until we had to present an identification card. We had not been given this at the sign in for some reason and no one really knew why. 2. Staff was arrogant and not particularly helpful. The activity director was an Italian whose English was not very well understood and between attempting to speak in both German and English alternately the meaning of what she was attempting to relate was completely lost. She certainly knew very little about each port of call and we could have learned much more by reading a note in trip adviser. She was not helpful at all and I would say a complete waste. 3. The crew was mainly eastern European (Ukrainian) and were not at all friendly. The captain had the most personality and at least gave folks a smile in the morning. The other grew members were sour at best. 4. The dining room waiters and cabin attendants were excellent. The dining room was quite loud and difficult to hold a conversation. 5. The food was plentiful. I would rate the quality as fair. Somewhat repetitive breakfast and lunch selections. Scrambled Eggs for example were under cooked and therefore folks would like up for up to 20 minutes each morning for omelets that a staff member would cook to requests. Staff would not always get your orders correct for dinners because they were obviously overworked as they took orders, bused tables, served, cleaned up, etc.. They tried their best and always with a smile. 6. Accommodations were fine. The ship was tidy although no enough canvas covers to protect passengers from the sun. 7. Evening programs or lectures were adequate if you could understand the descriptions. 8 Prior to leaving 2 ports in Venezuela were cancelled because of the political unrest and therefore we had 4 days at sea. Way too many days at sea. The crew was not helpful nor pleasant at all in describing what one might see regarding sea life, navigation, winds, or sailing. The captain gave a very information talk about the ship itself which was quite helpful. 9. The most concerning aspect of the trip was the last day during disembarking. The seas were not calm and the captain anchored off the port in Panama City. Each passenger leaving the ship had to go down the gang plank as the tenders were crashing into the ship. It was a very dangerous situation with some passengers coming close to having limbs crushed between the ship and the tenders. It was not an acceptable situation at all. I know for a fact that one of the passengers actually phoned the captain to tell him to move the ship as someone was going to get seriously injured. All in all, I doubt if I would recommend this trip. Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
This was our third time on the Dream, having previously encountered the very worst of the many reported problems. However, credit where it is due, Thomson's have resolved the majority of the past problems. The smell is pretty much ... Read More
This was our third time on the Dream, having previously encountered the very worst of the many reported problems. However, credit where it is due, Thomson's have resolved the majority of the past problems. The smell is pretty much gone, the pipework seems to be OK and the air conditioning works in the majority of the ship. There is still one lift permanently out of order and this does cause some problems. That is the good part. On the negative side, this was the worst entertainment on any ship that we have been on. We were very hopeful when we saw that Stephen Guy was the Cruise Director, as we have been on cruises with him several times before. How wrong could we be? He seems to have changed in his whole attitude. Before he was seen around the ship, talking with guests and generally creating a very enjoyable environment. On this cruise, he seemed to disappear completely, only to be heard giving announcements re the so called entertainment for each day. The general standard of the entertainment was very poor. The shows were very weak and lacked content. The bands??? with the exception of Mystique in the Ocean Lounge were simply dreadful. The so called comedians, woeful. The one exception to this was once again the Crew show. This was wonderful and certainly should not be missed. I think that the whole thing can be summed up by the comments from Mr Guy when he was informing the audience about filling in the questionnaires. Quote " When you fill in the form, put in excellent, even if you don't think it was excellent. Leave it blank if you want to and we will fill in excellent. even if you think it was terrible, just put in excellent, we don't care because you probably won't be coming back." I requested a meeting with Mr Guy to discuss the entertainment, but he did not bother to reply. Overall, quite an improvement with the ship, but have to say that there was a very subdued attitude among the staff as if things are not quite right. However, the staff remain the jewel in the crown. They are simply terrific and we were pleased to see many of them once again. Special thanks to Ray the Maitre D', Peter and the team on our regular table in Orion, Monica in Oceans and all the rest of the staff. These are the people that make the cruise so special. Shame about the 4 hour delay on the way home, with no sign of anyone from Thomsons. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
We went on the Christmas Getaway sailing from Barbados. This was not a cheap option, but we chose it due to the excellent itinerary. The Thomson Dream is not as bad as I expected, but the holiday was let down by a number of factors, this ... Read More
We went on the Christmas Getaway sailing from Barbados. This was not a cheap option, but we chose it due to the excellent itinerary. The Thomson Dream is not as bad as I expected, but the holiday was let down by a number of factors, this was mainly the quality of the food, service and entertainment. The good points first, the ports of call were fantastic and we arrived on tome every day and were not diverted or abandoned any ports. The check in process was fairly smooth and efficient, although we were delayed so I think this may well be why we did not experience any delays in checking in. The cabin was of a good size and clean and comfortable. The bathroom was pleasant and toiletries provided. The breakfast in Sirens was always well presented and hot as was lunch and afternoon tea. The bad points, the entertainment was appalling, the main lounge had a group called French Melt, they were out of tune and the lead singer spoke broken English and sounded worse that a cat in agony. The Caribbean duo in the main lounge were good but sang exactly the same songs in the same order for 14 nights. In the Oceans Bar, the group were better but it was impossible to get a seat unless you missed meals and sat all night. The main show lounge did not live up to the normal Thomson standard, the shows were very boring and the performers appeared to be simply going through the motions. The guest acts were a joke, on a 2 week cruise they had 2 comedians, both as bad as each other. This was a disgrace on a special cruise. The food in the buffet restaurants was generally good, however, the selection available late at night was poor and the first week they served you everything and you felt a bit like Oliver Twist asking for some more. The main Orion restaurant was very poor in terms of quality of food and service. On New Years eve it took 30 minutes to get a drink, the staff were rude and unwilling to help. The food was very poorly described on the menus and often did not resemble the food you ordered. Steak was offered once in two weeks and it was more often pork or chicken, with a the over use of spinach. The size of the portions were what you would expect in an OAP home, not on a cruise ship, it was not like it was high quality food they were giving you! I find it very difficult to believe that Thomson's do not enforce rules on their cruise ships, for example, on other cruise lines, under 18's have to be out of the public areas by a certain time, on this ship children as young as 4 or 5 were casing chaos in public areas after midnight. On the days at sea it was a very boring experience, the day time activities were rubbish and every sun bed was reserved from the crack of dawn even if not used, no policy was apparent for resolving the reserving of sun beds, this must be looked at on a small ship with limited outside space. The cabin had very poor air conditioning, I reported this to reception on 3 occasions and nothing was done about it, eventually they admitted a problem and gave us a complimentary bottle of cheap wine! Watch your bill at the end of the cruise, they appeared to be giving people on board credit then taking it off in the second column of the bill, check it carefully before you leave the ship. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Went on the Thomson Dream for 2 weeks having read excellent reviews...However we did not know until we arrived that the entertainment team and bands were changed on the 2nd december. The cabins and food were the best we have ever ... Read More
Went on the Thomson Dream for 2 weeks having read excellent reviews...However we did not know until we arrived that the entertainment team and bands were changed on the 2nd december. The cabins and food were the best we have ever experienced on any other thomson ship and we have been on them all over the past 10 years. The entertainment was by a long long way the worst we have ever experienced on any ship we have travelled on in the past 10 years. The band in the main lounge were dreadful the group were out of tune and the singer cannot sing, she wouldnt even make a joke entry on the x factor so much so that the main lounge was half empty by the end of the cruise (French Melt) the game shows were poor unimaginative and the presenters lacked charisma just going through the motions. They had a 2 piece steel band who were great for 30 minutes however 2 weeks of the same songs night after night started to grate on you. They had a terrific trio playing in the ocean bar however they were that good that the whole ship wanted to sit and listen so no chance there then, as seating limited. The staff in the main Broadway show theatre put in 100% effort though the content was poor. The two guest comedians were the worst ever, week one atrocious ...week 2 just about acceptable..but knowhere near Thomsons normal standard as highlighted by the fact that when they did there one off 1 night show the theatre was half empty ...unheard of on a Thomson ship on past experiences. The only show worth watching was the crew show they knocked spots off the professionals on board To sum up I have never met so many passengers of the same opinion as myself and complaints were flying everywhere to the point that the Cruise Director Stephen Guy was very conspicuous by his absence. Day time activities were very limited and we had no guest speaker on the cruise So if you like relaxing in a nice cabin with good food and do not wish to be entertained then this is the ship for you....Boring !!!! and never again. To top the lot we were dumped at the airport and left to fend for ourselves for a flight 4 hours late back to Manchester. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Having booked this cruise over a year ago at what we were told was a very advantageous price and then having been hit by a fuel surcharge we were not amused to see the cruise being heavily discounted to less than two thirds of what we ... Read More
Having booked this cruise over a year ago at what we were told was a very advantageous price and then having been hit by a fuel surcharge we were not amused to see the cruise being heavily discounted to less than two thirds of what we paid. When we complained they reluctantly gave us a free upgrade from an inside to an outside cabin with a porthole, others who didn't complain did not get any upgrade! It was very annoying to see other people getting superior cabins to us for far less than we had paid. The Thomson flights were good and it was great that the luggage was delivered straight to the cabin from the boat. However, the embarcation at Barbados was dreadful. We waited over two hours to get on the boat. Our cabin was very small, it could only really be described as just about adequate. Other cabins we saw were no larger. It was great to have a teatray in the cabin especially as both the tea and coffee on the boat were terrible - you couldn't really tell the difference between them. The waiting staff obviously couldn't either as on one occasion when I asked for a refill they poured coffee on top of my tea! Our cabin stewardess was excellent and very unobtrusive. Our room had always been done by the time we came back and it was kept very clean. I have to say that the standard of cleanliness and hygiene on the boat left something to be desired. There was no one to ensure that you sanitised your hands before going into the restaurant or getting back on the ship. The staff didn't manage the buffet either. On numerous occasions I saw guests picking up the food with their fingers and not using the tongs provided. I also didn't really see anyone cleaning the railings on the ship and on several occasions I noticed that the toilets were not clean and/or the automatic flushing system didn't work. The quantity and quality of food on offer was good and there was a good variety to choose from. The main dining room was however very noisy. Both the restaurant and bar service were a bit hit and miss, sometimes you were served well and sometimes you weren't. I have never experienced this on any other cruise line. Fred Olsen are obviously having difficulty in filling their ships and are having to cut prices to do so. It would then appear that they are cutting corners on service, cleaning etc. They appear to have a loyal following but in my opinion the service we received on this cruise was not up to the standard we have experienced on other lines. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
We have just returned from an excellent 22 night cruise between April 11 and May 10 2011 on the Sea Princess around the Caribbean, through the Panama Canal and up the Pacific coast of America. Outward Travel:We got a train to Gatwick the ... Read More
We have just returned from an excellent 22 night cruise between April 11 and May 10 2011 on the Sea Princess around the Caribbean, through the Panama Canal and up the Pacific coast of America. Outward Travel:We got a train to Gatwick the day before flying and stayed in the Russ Hill Hotel were we have stayed before. It is fine for one night, but probably not for any longer.For some reason Princess Cruises had advised getting to the airport 4 hours before the flight, so we had to be at Gatwick by 0630. There were 2 flights checking in at the same time which meant quite a queue, but we only waited about 20 minutes before getting to the check in desk. Princess had chartered 6 planes from Gatwick for this cruise, 3 Thomson from North terminal and 3 Thomas Cook from South terminal, with the departure times staggered.We were on the Thomson flight departing at 1030, which was on time and actually landed half an hour early in Barbados. Very impressed with service on flight, including a good hot meal with complimentary wine early in flight, 2 complimentary bar services and a nice snack just before landing.Ship Transfer and Check in:At Barbados airport we got off the plane and straight into coaches for transfer to the ship -- it was great not having to go through immigration and waiting for our cases. These were delivered to our stateroom soon after we had boarded the ship.We did have to queue for around 30 minutes in a shed on Barbados dock for check in and security procedures.Ship:The Sea Princess is slightly larger than the OV1, and takes just over 2000 passengers when full, which it was for this cruise. Some reports have said she is looking tired in some areas, but we thought the ship was clean and in good condition. Incidentally this is the twin ship to P & O's Oceana, so the lay out and size are exactly the same.I realise this is an emotive subject, but one of the first things we did was to remove the automatic tips from our bill. We considered that $10.50 each per day was a lot of money on a 22 night cruise, and we would rather tip who we wanted when we wanted.There are self service laundrettes on most decks, and these were free apart from paying for the soap powder.Sunbeds were plentiful, and we never had any trouble finding one, although on some sea days the ones in the shade were very popular. There is plenty of information on the web about bars, pools, theatres etc so I won't mention much about them here.Cabin:We had booked a guaranteed outside obstructed view cabin, but luckily were upgraded to a deluxe outside. This was very clean, tidy and comfortable, and although not as big as on Ocean Village, it was a reasonable size with plenty of storage space. However, the shower and toilet area were pretty small.We had a couple of problems with a light and the hairdryer during the cruise, but these were sorted out quickly and efficiently.There wasn't tea and coffee making facilities, but room service is complimentary and available 24/7.Food and Dining arrangements:We were on anytime dining for evening meals, and it was nice to eat when we wanted to. Always opted to share a table, which was a great way to meet different people, and on some evenings met up for meals with people we had been in touch with on Cruise critic. The food in the anytime dining restaurant was excellent, and the waiters were very attentive and friendly. There is a separate Pizza restaurant where we ate twice and again it was very good.Breakfast and lunch were mainly taken in the Horizon buffet, and although not as good a choice as on Ocean Village, the food was still good. As some other reviews have mentioned it did get very busy at peak times, but we always managed to find a table and move around the food serving area.We did have a few breakfasts in the waiter service restaurant (mainly on sea days), and these were excellent, again opting for a shared table.Drink prices were quite expensive with a 15% service charge added on, but after 8pm there were certain drinks on offer for $2.99.Entertainment:Overall this was pretty good, although we did have one awful comedian who only did one show before the ship took him off because he was so bad.The best entertainment we saw was Journey South (X-factor), Siobhan Philips (comedy-vocalist), and the show 'Great British Invasion'. We weren't very impressed with the resident group 'Magnitude', but thought the duo 'Walking Miracles' who played in the Wheelhouse bar were good.Apart from the odd night, the disco was very quiet, similar to what used to happen on Ocean Village.There was always plenty to do on Sea days, including dancing, quizzes, demonstrations and talks.Ports of call:These were Martinique, Dominica, St Kitts, Tortola, Princess Cays, Fort Lauderdale, Cartagena, transit of the Panama Canal, Fuerte Amador, Puntarenas, Cabo San Lucas and San Francisco.We should also have called at Aruba, but a few hours out of Fort Lauderdale the ship had to turn back due to a passenger being taken seriously ill, and the next day had another delay for another seriously ill passenger to be airlifted off the ship by helicopter.We mostly did our own thing in the ports, but took an organised ship tour in Fuerte Amador.Homeward Travel:In San Francisco we were taken to the Sheraton Hotel, after chaos on board caused by the American immigration authorities because they couldn't access the electronic visas, so we all had to fill out green cards and then queue up for the immigration procedures.Later in the afternoon we were transferred from the hotel to the airport for our check in. We flew back on United Airlines, and despite poor reviews of the company on the net, the flight was fine with plenty of leg room and good service, and actually landed early at Heathrow.Unfortunately the Sea Princess will not be doing the Caribbean again this winter as it is yet another ship that is going to Australia. However, other passengers we spoke to that had been on other Princess ships said they were just as good.So would we cruise with Princess again -- yes. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
We flew from Gatwick (Thompson charter) to join Arcadia at Barbados, sailed to Aruba, then through the Panama Canal, then Costa Rica, then Huatulco and Acapulco in Mexico, then finally to San Francisco, from where we flew back to Heathrow ... Read More
We flew from Gatwick (Thompson charter) to join Arcadia at Barbados, sailed to Aruba, then through the Panama Canal, then Costa Rica, then Huatulco and Acapulco in Mexico, then finally to San Francisco, from where we flew back to Heathrow (but via Munich on Lufthansa scheduled).These bizarre flight arrangements were not explained to us when we paid for our holiday - we only knew when the tickets arrived. If I had known of these Gatwick-out, Heathrow-in-via-Munich arrangements, I would not have booked. This is principally a criticism of the travel agency but is also indicative of P&O's indifferent attitude to customers' comforts off-ship.Our outbound flight was two hours late, which meant we hardly saw Barbados. More importantly, two other Thompson charter flights from Gatwick were 14 hours late, so the ship sailed from Barbados very late, and lead to a shortened visit to Aruba. After that, the ship went back on schedule.Arcadia is a good ship, and we were pleased with our balcony stateroom. it was a bit smaller than MSC, but was comfortable, and we had a supremely comfortable bed. The cabin steward (Lloyd) was superb, and helped us with minor problems like electrical adapters with no fuss.The ship is large but seemed to have an endless number of public rooms, so it never felt full (it was fully occupied). The facilities on board were excellent, and there was a very wide range of activities freely available throughout the trip to help pass the time - on this cruise we had at least 6 days at sea so it was important to have something to do other than read or sunbathe! Our main disappointment with this cruise was the choice and quality of the food, both in the self-service area, and in the main silver-service restaurant. We had assumed that P&O was a cut above the likes of Thomsons, but in fact the reverse is true in our view. However I have to say that the selection of wines and cocktails was superb and very, very good value.The entertainment in the main Palladium theatre was again reasonable, with a couple of very good celebrity acts, but their in-house dance troupe wasn't really good at all - again Thomson's were leagues ahead.The few shore excursions we did were superb value for money and well-organised - a real plus for P&O.The overall ship organisation left something to be desired. There were several cases of inconsistent information being given out. The worst fiasco was in San Francisco where having told us to be aware that we were under the Golden Gate Bridge at 0500 (and to be immigration starting at 0645) it took no less than 5 hours to process all the passengers for immigration by 12:00 - contrary to popular rumour, the American immigration staff were very friendly, fast, and armed to the hilt! It was Arcadia who forgot to tell passengers to come down for processing, having previously told everyone NOT to attend at the published times due our late arrival in port (due to headwinds, no one's fault).P&O did redeem themselves a bit in that they took us off ship to the airport at 14:00 (flight not due to 21:00) but treated us to an excellent 3 hour free tour of San Francisco - but why not tell us?! Most people didn't know they had a 3 hour tour, hadn't gone to the loo or eaten - they were just expecting a fast transit to the airport to sit around for 6 hours - as it turned out, we saw all the sights, and got to the airport just in time to check-in - excellent! All-in-all, a superb cruise, the highlight being our transit through the Panama Canal. The cruise director provided a superb commentary throughout.We did also dine in the Gary Rhodes 'franchise' restuarant for a modest extra cover charge of £10 - worth every penny - superb service and food -in fact just like the main restaurant shoud be.Bascally a very good ship and itinerary, let down by the standards of catering and entertainment, which smacks of dumbing dowm/cost cutting by Carnival Corporation. I am afraid I now wouldn't recommend ANY Carnival-owned line to anyone - stick with Olsen, Thompson or MSC. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
Oceana at 10 years old is a well founded and maintained ship, cabins are beautifully appointed and our steward Pankaj was telepathic, always on hand when we needed him, worked hard and always smiling. We were waited on hand and foot ... Read More
Oceana at 10 years old is a well founded and maintained ship, cabins are beautifully appointed and our steward Pankaj was telepathic, always on hand when we needed him, worked hard and always smiling. We were waited on hand and foot - didn't even have to collect our luggage in Barbados it was delivered from plane to cabin and were made to feel welcome on arrival. The food, standard of catering and organisation was for the most part faultless (minor complaint about hot plates for cold food on the buffet and the coffee not great). Lunches were superb in all venues and our dinners in the Ligurian (Freedom Dining) were awesome. Dinner at Cafe Jardin was not worth paying the extra for - lunches there were excellent but the dinner menu was the same for two weeks and the service poor in comparison to the main restaurants. Sightseeing was superb although in EVERY destination you would do better going ashore and taking one of the many tours on offer at half the price - most people like an easy life and Oceana's staff certainly provided that. Entertainment on board included Fogwell Flax (so very funny), a brilliant concert pianist, after dinner speaker Tommy Docherty (who was amazing and fielded questions from the audience with a true sense of humour), with shows and high octane dancing - they did really well. Daytime at sea there was so much to do we found ourselves racing from ballroom dancing classes to windows 7 seminar, go-yoga, how to improve your photography to talks and films on the Panama Canal. Which brings me to the highlight of the tour - The Panama Canal. Oceana had an expert historian on board with a wealth of knowledge, he kept us enthralled all day with his commentaries - a really fantastic experience. Now comes the downside of our trip Ionithermie: I went along to one of the many seminars 'how to deal with those troublesome fatty areas on your body' The answer was Ionithermie currently not available in the UK, it's a treatment with special clay and electrodes and you can lose up to 8" Too good to be true? I signed up for the free consultation and Stephanie told me I needed 3 treatments on board and she would give me a simple regime to follow at home. If I booked all three appointments there and then with the discounts it would cost only £189.00 - "wow" I said "that is a serious amount of money are you really sure it works with long term results"? She was very confident and said she would measure me before and after. I booked my three appointments. After the first treatment Stephanie displayed the items needed for the simple regime at home the cost...£200.00+ I queried why this wasn't disclosed prior to the treatments, she wanted to know why I thought it so expensive, she said some passengers had spent over £3,000.00 on stuff to take home. I felt very pressured and said I need to think it over. Afterward I cancelled my next two appoints (losing the discount and had to pay £89.00) I did lose 4" - I was measured in 8 places and the losses were aggregated IT LASTED ALL OF one day. Having got home I goggled Ionithermie and was so grateful I didn't spend any more money on it. I will be writing with my concerns to P and O. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
Star Clipper--Barbados to Panama Canal, 15 January 2011—14 Days Overall, we had a very good trip. However, we were a little disappointed with the "on board" experience compared to our 5 previous Star Clipper voyages. I ... Read More
Star Clipper--Barbados to Panama Canal, 15 January 2011—14 Days Overall, we had a very good trip. However, we were a little disappointed with the "on board" experience compared to our 5 previous Star Clipper voyages. I identified the major issues below, and just took the smaller issues with a grain of salt. It is all part of the adventure. We made some great friends and laughed ourselves silly. I hope this info helps you with your planning! Barbados Stayed at Butterfly Beach Hotel—Good value, on the water, had A/C, great rum punch with Bitters and nutmeg. Walking distance to food store—our room had a kitchenette. Used the local buses and small white vans-- very easy--$1 US each way. On Friday, went to Oistins for the fish fry. It was crowded and loud (as expected). Flying fish are very tasty. The locals take pride in the preparation—they are not fishy tasting or boney. Star Clipper (SC) SC had just arrived at noon for a 1600 boarding. They had just been in dry dock in Martinique for 10 days. She has a rebuilt engine and new hull paint. Not sure what else they did. Ship was in "Good" condition. The 4 hour turn was a little tight for them, as they were still cleaning up when we boarded at 1645. There had been a change out of some crew, and also there were some "brand new" crew. The Royal was also in port for its standard 7 day sailing. This itinerary does not sail very often—when I booked in May 2010 (8 months prior) there were only about 5 or 6 cabins left. We ended up with an interior room, #404-cat 5. It is a little smaller than cat 2 & 3. The location was very quiet. I didn't mind it, but my DH did not care for it—he called it the "Rabbit Hole". It is very dark at night, and in the morning you have to depend on your watch as there is no morning light. That being said, we spent most of our time on deck anyway. Some people were wait-listed for this cruise, and some of them made it after some cancellations. Only 2 cabins were empty on the cruise and some cabins that held 3 people (like ours with a fold up bunk) had just 2 people. There were 157 passengers on board, one half were Americans, next came the UK, followed by Germans. The passengers represented 9 nationalities--80% were returning passengers! The Royal left at 2200; we departed next and trailed her for awhile. Captain's Best Grenadines Anchored Chatham Bay, Union Island, 1200-1600 The Royal anchored here just before we arrived. She left right before we did—good picture ops. Water toy day. Snorkeling at the rocks on the left side (looking from the boat) of the bay was good. Nice beach to walk all the way down. Beers at Bollhead's (left side of beach) $3 US—bring small bills, esp. $1. We met Bollhead several years back. Smart guy, fun to talk to—lived in the US for quite awhile. Grenada Docked, St Georges, 0900-1700 The Royal arrived after us and anchored out. Because we were at the dock the sports team could not take out the toys or even take scuba divers out—"it would take business away from the locals". Nice terminal, free Wi-Fi in secured area. Duty free and a lot of shopping in terminal; supermarkets nearby if you need supplies. We had already toured the island during previous trips—waterfalls, gardens, nutmeg/spice farms, hiking, etc. A newbie might consider the tours. We took a water taxi to Grand Anse Beach ($8 pp return) which you can see from the dock. Very nice clean beach @ 2 miles long. There is a nice bar/ restaurant with clean restrooms at a small hotel at the right end of the beach. The inner harbor is also a nice walk. A few people did the "challenging" hike. Some fell on the trail, and most were muddy when they returned. They had a good time. Isla Margarita, Venezuela Anchored 1000-1700 Port area remote, @ 45 minute taxi ride to largest town—Porlamar. I don't know if anyone went to that town. We got off the ship, looked at the local vendor stalls, looked at the beach, and went back to the ship. An Aida cruise ship was there, and this is also a favorite of Venezuelan day trippers. Some shipmates said the tiny/crowded beach was full of rubbish and broken glass. Two tours offered—not too thrilling according to the takers. Island very third world and dirty, with partially built abandoned buildings. Very arid. Most shipmates did not like this port. There might have been a political reason why the ship visited this port---in order to visit anywhere else in Venezuela. The immigration team came by boat with @ 10 people! Blanquilla, Venezuela -------This was substituted for Los Roques by the Venezuelans, not the Star Clippers. Anchored 0800-1400 Another immigration team by boat—with a dog! Beach/water toy stop. Flat, scrubby island. Nice beach, no buildings in sight. Cruisers anchored. Weather was rainy and windy with whitecaps upon arrival. Went toward beach via tender, transferred to zodiac for final wet landing. Worked OK, except some people had a hard time getting back into the zodiac. It eventually got sunny, but the wind was off and on. Many people just chilled out on the ship. Only 3 divers went out with the dive team—not the best conditions. Snorkeling "fair to good" depending on sea state. Bonaire Docked at Kralendijk, 1400-2000 Wonderful clean, clear water everywhere—even under our boat at the dock (could see the bottom). You could swim and dive just N of Karel's pier—a 5 minute walk along the nice waterfront promenade. It is located by the boats on moorings. A lot of parrot fish and other types can be viewed from the promenade—a very nice walk. We walked around to the marina. A few waterfront bars. The Caribbean Princess was also in port (3000+ people) and had hired most of the water taxis to take passengers snorkeling to Klein Bonaire (a small island just across the harbor). Some people on the SC hired a taxi ($12 return per couple) to go to a nice beach south of town near the airport. They said the visibility was great. The town had some standard shopping—not much else. It was a nice stop. This island is known for its pristine waters and great snorkeling and diving. Curacao Docked at Willemstad, 1000-2330 Fun arrival, passed through the Queen Emma swinging bridge—docked in the middle of town. You can walk to everything in town. Very colorful—don't forget your camera. Floating market, narrow alleyways, old buildings, lots of shopping opportunities. Waterfront cafes, friendly locals. Punda side was more interesting. We stayed in town all day, some took the tours. Most people thought this was the best stop. Grand Princess (3000+) in town-they left @ 1700. Town pretty much shuts down at 1800 except for bars and restaurants (even on Friday). Aruba Docked at Oranjestad, 1000-2000 Main area seemed like a tacky little Las Vegas. A lot of jewelry and watch shops. Walked around the marina and checked out the big yachts. Island Princess in town, but it left @ noon. Internet/Wi-Fi was $5 an hour in main terminal building. Bus station a 5 minute walk from ship. #10 line to low and hi-rise beaches--$1.30 one way, or $2 return pp. Driver has US dollars and gives change. Nice A/C bus. About a 12-15 minute ride—runs @ every 20 minutes. These beaches are for walking and swimming—nothing to see underwater. You can take a good long walk on the sand or the paved walkway. Hi-rise area (Eagle and Palm Beaches) has lots of bars and restaurants (Hard Rock, Fridays, Tony Romas, Burger King, etc). Some people took a taxi to Arashi Beach (past Palm Beach) for excellent snorkeling. Only 2 people signed up to dive, the sports team wanted a minimum of 5, so that was cancelled. Tour was supposedly "so-so". It is a very small arid island. Recommend walking the main town, then head out to Eagle and Palm Beaches. At Sea 2 days Lots of activities—mast climbing on day one (second time so far), but cancelled the next day due to large swells and 33 knot winds. Great sailing! A pod of dolphins played with the bow for @ 15 minutes the first afternoon. The second afternoon, there were thousands of flying fish off the bow. Even though they were asked not to, quite a few people "reserved" their lounge chairs by leaving books and towels on them all day—even when they were gone for hours at a time (this happened everyday). Some passengers got pretty upset with this and there were some heated exchanges. Cartagena, Columbia Docked, 0830-2345 The modern cruise terminal is about 10 minutes from Old Town (Centro) by taxi. The terminal is in an industrial area—you will need transportation. Most passengers took the 3 ½ hour ships tour of the Old City—33 Euros. That tour was well received by most, especially since the city is very hot and the buses had A/C. We took a taxi to town. Unfortunately when we walked out of the terminal, we were harassed by way too many taxi drivers/ tour guides that had a "special deal" for us. The going standard is $10 US for a cab to or from Centro. Current rate $1 US= $1860 pesos (they use the dollar sign too). Some drivers were quoting as high as $20 per person one way. There is actually a taxi rate sign in front of the larger terminal building, but we came through the smaller building and the drivers steered us away from that sign so we never saw it until we returned. The Old City is very interesting to stroll through. Great photo opportunities. You can walk part of the wall. It does get hot and crowded by mid-morning. The cruise terminal has a very nice Wi-Fi area. $1 US for 15 minutes, $5 for 2 hours. The ship took on a full container of food during the afternoon. It was loaded through the service elevator in the Tropical Bar floor—check it out if you can. At 2215, the ship had a "Local Folklore" program. It was "OK" according to some passengers that attended. At Sea 1 day A following sea—a lot of rolling. Mast climbing cancelled. Sails were lowered and we slowed down during meals. Standard day at sea. San Blas Islands Anchored, 0900-1800 Hot, humid, and hazy. Quite a few cruisers anchored off the islands. The local "chief" came aboard to negotiate with the ship's Captain and officers about what we could do. Negotiations took about 80 minutes. Tenders started taking people to the village on Crab Island (Sugtupu or Suitupo) first. It is very poor and sanitation is nonexistent. The Kuna's are friendly and not too pushy. The cloth molas were lovely. Some mola favorites of the shoppers were: purses, bags, potholders, eyeglass cases, and molas to frame or use on pillow covers. There was a mola table set up in the tropical bar until about 1700. The beach was another tender ride to Needle Island (Abjuja?). This was a beautiful, clean little island full of coconut trees and sandy beaches. The sports team set up all the water toys there. Panama Canal Transit We were originally supposed to arrive at Cristobal for the "authority arrangements" by 0600, and then expected to go through the Panama Canal in the evening. We lucked out. Due to mast clearance and the tides, we had to be through the canal by 1700 in order to get under the Bridge of the Americas. We got "bumped up" on the list and were headed to the first set of locks by 0600. Star Clippers brought on a Panama Canal expert, so we had live commentary throughout the journey—very informative. It took about ten hours. We cleared the canal, and had to kill about half an hour for the tide to finish going out. We made it under the bridge by 1700 (boy, was that tight!) and anchored off Isla Flamenco by 1800. There is no pier here and cruise ships have to tender people in. Although it was not scheduled to arrive until 0800 the next morning, the ship was cleared through customs and immigration, and provided tender service until midnight. There are quite a few restaurants in the area and on the Causeway. Regular disembarkation started the next morning around 0800. Suitcases went out first in the wee hours of the morning. Panama City Stayed at a nice 4 room B&B, Dos Palmitos, on Ancon Hill. Very international flair—guests and owner. You could walk or take a $2 taxi ride to Old Town, which was a fun place to go. Had a wonderful lunch there at Cafe Rene'. For $8.50 you get an appetizer, salad, entrEe, rice, and dessert. It was great and so light tasting. Another day, we walked to the summit of Ancon Hill. Lots of fauna and wildlife; and views of the canal, Old Town, and Panama City proper. It was a $30 taxi ride to the airport—about 25 minutes at 0600. Allow two hours for international check-in/security. You cannot take drinks or water bottles on the planes even if you bought them in the terminal after going through security. There is another security check where they go through your carry-ons right at the gate. Misc Sailed quite a bit on this cruise. House wine---glass 3.5E, bottle 14.5E Draft beer---glass 2.8E Spirits---3.5E+ Cocktails---5.3E+ Ships laundry—cost in Euros: Dress-4.5, blouse-3, pants-3.5, shorts-1.5, sports shirt-2, regular shirt-3, t-shirt-1.5 with 24 hour turn time. This sailing lacked good port info (do your homework ahead of time). Also, we have been used to daily updates made by the Captain (via intercom) on sea status, depth, weather, and ships progress—it did not happen on this voyage. The ships temperature was warmer than normal. People complained about the heat, especially in the dining room at dinner time, and in their cabins. The heat was almost unbearable during the Captain's Dinner. Smoking (cigarette and cigar) was an issue. People left scheduled programs due to the smoke. The Captain smoked in most public places--including the bridge. There appeared to be a lot of crew change-outs and brand new crew on board, so it took quite awhile for the teamwork to develop. Due to all the new technology, internet cafes with computers seem to be a dying breed. Mostly found Wi-Fi places. Bring your own notebook or I-Pad or whatever. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
There are two things that P and O are brilliant at. One is the glossy brochures trying to sell excellence. The other is the way they fleece every single penny from the punters once they are trapped on their ships. This was our ... Read More
There are two things that P and O are brilliant at. One is the glossy brochures trying to sell excellence. The other is the way they fleece every single penny from the punters once they are trapped on their ships. This was our first holiday for five years and we were sold on the wonderful brochure rhetoric about Oceana and the Panama Canal cruise Jan 2011. A mini suite seemed perfect for us to view all from the stern. Once aboard, after unecessary security worse than Gatwick, we waited 6 hours for our cases to be delivered to our cabin. 5 hours! A very bad start with no apology or satisfactory explanation. Everyone was fuming. Oceana is a tatty ship, carpet torn, stuck down with Duck Tape. Carpet edges lifting, rust coming through paintwork, unchanged duff lightbulbs, low pressure hot water, muck in the bottom of the pools and jacuzzi etc. If P and O spent as much money refurbishing this faded hulk as they do on glossy brochures it could be quite good again. OK, let's be more specific...... This was a very expensive cruise and we expected the luxury to reflect the price. Sad error here! This can only be described as Butlins at Sea. In fact the facilites, entertainment, food and ambience are probably better at Butlins for a fraction of the price. The prices on board for alchohol are an outrage. One cannot compare with UK prices. Remember, this a Bahama registered vessel and buys it's alchohol locally paying no UK excise. So, one is shafted twice over, the profit margins are obscene. Smokers are treated like lepers. EU(UK) law should not apply to a Bahaman registered ship in international waters with a mainly foreign and Asian crew. The full spectrum xray security measures coming back on board from ashore are not designed to protect but to confiscate any booze one buys ashore at sensible prices. They want a totally captive market. The entertainment team must have come straight from school, lacking any talent, childish and immature, all giggles, hyena laughs and corny. Not a pro amongst them. The cruise director? Lost for words here, where did they drag her from? The food, well, think Butlins, bland and average. The Plaza? Think 1970s Motorway Services at Newport Pagnell! The signature restaurants charge outrageous cover charges for food that is no better than your average town eaterie. Just remember, this cruise was advertised and sold at high prices!!!!!!! We are always happy to spend but want value for money, when you pay top dollar you expect top dollar. All in all, total rubbish, never again. Sorry P and O, everything about this ship is a disgrace. A two star experience for a five star price. A total miss sell! The only highlight, The Canal, amazing. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
We flew in from Manchester and had a bit of a delay getting off the flight and also at the port actually getting off the bus. A bit of a delay booking in but they must had got more people on the desks as this queue soon went down. ... Read More
We flew in from Manchester and had a bit of a delay getting off the flight and also at the port actually getting off the bus. A bit of a delay booking in but they must had got more people on the desks as this queue soon went down. On board around 6pm but cases not arrived so checked out where we could get dinner which was in the Lingurian Restaurant (normally used for flexi dining) and had a very good meal before returning to our cabin to find the cases had now arrived. Cabin was a reasonable size we were in an outside on Deck 8, starboard side near the front. The bathroom was extremely small but adequate and there was a good selection of toiletries from the "White Company" which I assumed was the Luxurious Pamper Package. Had a wander round the ship to find our bearings and ended up on the top deck having a drink in one of the many bars and pleasantly surprised with the price of the drinks which were comparable to English bar prices and no service charge. I have covered our port destinations of St Lucia, Grenada, Bonaire, Aruba, Punta Arenas & Acapulco separately. We also visited Zihuatanejo in Mexico before going on to Acapulco. This was by tender and we just got a local water taxi (around US$5 each way) to the Playa Las Gatos which was excellent plenty of space and we used the sunloungers and umbrella of a local restaurant on the understanding we had lunch at the restaurant, very fair deal as the food was excellent and drinks cold and a good price. You can snorkel here as there is a small reef a little distance from the beach and this makes the water quite calm. There were a number of talks whilst on board about the Panama Canal and navigation which my husband attended and he enjoyed them and found them very informative. The highlight of the holiday was going through the Panama Canal and we were very fortunate in having just a couple of showers of rain on the day but well worth it. The entertainment on the ship was very good in some respects, Steve Larkins (Freddy Mercury tribute), Dain Cordean (magician and comedian), Fogwell Flax (impressionist and comedian) and the shows put on by the Headliners which we went to were also very good. Some of the other acts not so good but you don't have to listen as there are other places to go. Disappointing though that there wasn't more on lots of things repeated. The entertainment team were a bit of a mixed bag and some things went really well and others not so. Mainly attended the quizzes just to while away sea days. If you could manage to get a teak sunlounger or chair on Deck 7 to us this was an excellent place to watch the world go by and read your book and watch the odd turtle pass by. We did not really attempt to go on the sun deck as we had heard so many passengers complaining about being able to get a chair and it was very hot up there anyway. Note that port side of Deck 7 allows smoking. We opted for first seating dining and shared a table with a lovely couple from Wales and had an enjoyable two weeks with them. The food although not as good as expected was still very good and there was no issues with having extra portions or a different meal if you didn't like the one you had chosen. We also opted for a wine package at the beginning of the cruise which averaged out the cost of the various wines to about £12 a bottle the usual price of the house wine. Overall we found the cruise to be very good and better than expected having read reviews of Oceana before we left. The ship is a little tired but maintenance was ongoing whilst we were onboard which didn't affect us at all. We were advised though that the Oceana is going in for a £5million refit some time in the next year so hopefully it will be back to it's former glory. As our last cruise was on Royal Caribbean on a Baltic Cruise, we found this a much cheaper cruise whilst on board and would certainly go on another P&O cruise in the future. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
Background Information: This review describes my cruise on the Silver Cloud in November 2010 from Barbados to Los Angeles, via the Panama Canal. Travel To Port of Embarkation: After disembarking the Silver Spirit and ... Read More
Background Information: This review describes my cruise on the Silver Cloud in November 2010 from Barbados to Los Angeles, via the Panama Canal. Travel To Port of Embarkation: After disembarking the Silver Spirit and spending 4 days touring Barbados, on cruise day, I got a taxi to the port and was the first person to check in. It was so nice and relaxed - much better than when I disembarked the Spirit, which was chaotic. Silver Cloud was the only ship in port and my bag was spirited away as soon as I got out of the taxi. I was driven to the ship in a shuttle, photo taken and told my suite wouldn't be available until 230pm but I could have lunch and relax until that time. The whole embarkation procedure had taken less than 30 minutes...an awesome start to the last part of my holiday! Ship Info: I had been totally spoilt by travelling on the Silver Spirit with it being a larger and new ship. I immediately noticed the Cloud being run down. I'm not complaining, it was just very noticeable to me. I found the ship to be incredibly noisy, with lots of vibration. I did not like the Bar, it stank of stale smoke and the noise from the engines got on my nerves. I loved the Panorama Lounge and spent most of my time there. Stateroom: My suite was 445 on Deck 4, nice and close to the Restaurant. When I first went to my room, I discovered a few of the big carpet dryers along the hallway - this didn't look promising. So here I was back in a Vista suite, down in the dungeon. They really are lovely but the bathroom, after being on the Silver Spirit, was a real let down. The shower was in the bath and quite small in comparison. Ok, I know, the Cloud is a much smaller ship but I didn't like this bathroom. I seemed to be dyslexic when it came to the shower. I either scalded myself with hot water or took cold showers. During the 17 days, I could never get it right. Even when I changed suites, I couldn't get it right (more about that later). Dining: I had no idea that the ships have the same menus so I was able to partake in a number of meals that I'd eaten and enjoyed previously on the Silver Spirit. Generally speaking, I enjoyed the food although I did have some dud meals. One was pigeon - never again, it was dreadful but that was no one's fault but mine for ordering it. La Terrazza: LT was not up to expectations. If you have read my review on the Spirit, I described my best ever pasta dish. This dish was on the menu also but the night that I dined there, it wasn't on, so I requested it. This didn't seem to be a problem but became one. My friends got their main courses and mine had been forgotten. When it finally arrived, it wasn't nice, the sauce was too runny and they hadn't used the same cheese that they'd used on the Silver Spirit. I was disappointed. I had dinner at LT 3 times during the trip and pretty much found it disappointing each time. Very unlike Silversea! However the lunch buffet was always very nice even if it did get a little busy. The quiches (a different flavour every day) were to die for. I also dined several times under the stars on the pool deck. The menu is similar to the Hot Rocks Cafe on the Spirit but there weren't any hot rocks on the Cloud. One night when we were bunkering outside of Panama, there was a smoker who blew smoke all over us between each course. It wasn't very pleasant and it was also very dangerous but nothing was done about it. Another night, it was so cold that the waiters got us rugs. A very nice touch. Room service: Room service was a bit iffy. One night, I ordered some guacamole & chips. What I got was a bit of guacamole on top of a crab salad. Obviously this was a leftover so they just sent it on to me. One of my favourite room service meals is the TexMex turkey burger which I have eaten on the Whisper and Spirit so I ordered it from Room Service. Yuck, instead of the yummy turkey mince, it turned up with a Macca's style patty!! Why on earth would a luxury cruise line have a hamburger patty? And they were also putting plastic style cheese on the hamburgers - yuck! (sorry Jean) Service: The service was excellent. My butler and room attendant (Ray and Lakmal) were great. Even after I moved suites, they wanted to come up from Deck 4 to look after me. That wasn't allowed so I got Yogish and Larry who were also very good. I was served by the best bar attendants ever: Monteza, Elbert and Arthur. When I walked into the Panorama Lounge, Monteza would start making my morning coffee. In the evening, she, Elbert or Arthur had my Bellini waiting for me. We even came up with a new version of the Bellini and called it "the Jennifer". Martin in La Terraza always looked after me at lunch time and Myra at the Pool Bar mixed a mean Mudslide. They are all fantastic employees. Activities: I really did far too much eating and drinking but when I wasn't doing that, trivia was my favourite activity (as usual). I had a good crowd of people but not as smart as my Silver Spirit buddies. Most of the time we were either second or third. I played Bingo again but it was a bit of a dead loss for the first week because they had lost a few of the balls. Later I went back when I discovered they had found the full set. No point playing if you can't win! The personal shopper, Catherine, presented some good seminars on watches, jewellery and precious stones. She was on hand to assist passengers who wanted to make large purchases and could advise what shops gave the best deals. When we diverted to San Diego, Catherine found a shopping centre for us and photocopied the floor plan. She was very professional and that shopping centre was amazing! Other seminars included history of perfume, how to tie a scarf and the various fitness seminars which are just hard sells for the various fitness extras that are available on the ship. Port & Shore Excursions: It was raining on and off in Aruba so I just walked around the port and visited the shopping centre. We were only there for ½ a day so couldn't really do too much. We had a lovely SS evening in Cartagena with folk dancing and this was followed by authentic Colombian finger food and drinks. Many of the passengers whinged and complained that they didn't like the dancing and that it was too long. I thought it was very nice. After sailing into Cartagena, I would have liked more than a few hours there. Sailing up the river and into the harbour was spectacular. We spent the entire day at San Blas Islands. Why does SS stop there for the whole day? There's nothing to do but feel sorry for all the poor people there and donate to their charity. Many people were complaining about this stop and I had to agree, especially when we only had half a day in Cartagena and half a day in Cabo San Lucas. Transiting the Panama Canal was by far the highlight of the trip. It was incredibly interesting and a phenomenal engineering feat. In Puntarenas, I went zip lining. This was such great fun, zipping through the rainforest on the 2 cables. There were 8 lines and one of them was 550metres long. Can't wait to zip line again. Big disappointment in Puerto Quertzl, Guatemala. 14 of us had booked the private plane to take us to Tikal (the Mayan pyramids). We arrived at the military airstrip and waited and waited and waited. Later we discovered that because the farmers were burning off their sugar cane, the plane could not take off/land because of all the smoke. SS immediately advised that they would refund our cost and give us another tour for free. So we all got back in the bus and off we went to La Antigua, the world heritage site. Unfortunately our bus broke down (this happens to me a lot!) and we had to wait quite awhile to get another van to pick us up. Anyway we finally got to La Antigua, saw the sights and had a very nice lunch. Incredibly disappointing to not see those pyramids but there was nothing we could do about it and the SS tour desk did their best for us. We spent too long in Acapulco, all day & night, and as I'd already been there many years ago, felt no great urge to see if it had changed. We also had the pool BBQ that night. Whilst it was very nice, it started off being a total kerfuffle because no one knew where to start on the buffet queue and there ended up being two lines that crossed over in the middle. It was quite chaotic. Later in the night, there was a fantastic cultural dance show and that was quite the highlight of Acapulco for me. I went to Walmart in Puerto Vallarta - I was looking for Mexican Walmartians - unfortunately I didn't see any. In Cabo San Lucas, we arrived just after lunch and had a long wait for the tender to take us in to go on our excursion. No one seemed to know what was going on and many passengers that were not going on excursions were allowed to take the tender first. Anyway we got there and then transferred to another boat to see the Hole in the Rock and the lovely scenery around it. Then we went to a restaurant on a hill overlooking Cabo - great view. After that, we went to a glass blowing factory - waste of time and I don't think anyone bought anything. Then we drove a long distance to San Jose del Cabo where we went to a lovely cactus garden, walked around the town and then had to high tail it back to the ship. We were the last tour back to the ship and as the tender approached, we could see the anchor going up. It was a shame that we had to rush through the remainder of the tour. Ensenada was cancelled and we re-routed to San Diego. This was fantastic because I was able to go to a shopping centre that had every US department store under the same roof. I had a great time but my credit card didn't. Entertainment: I went to a couple of shows, one where the CD, Judie Abbott (who is superb at her job) sang and another show where a French-Canadian named Claude-Eric Brunelle, sang. His style was a bit like Michael Buble. I had dinner with him the previous night and he was a very charming guy. Issues: As I mentioned above, when I embarked, there were a lot of carpet dryers on Deck 4. Everything was ok for the first 7 days, then when we left Puntarenas, a noise developed outside the window of my cabin. It was one of those noises that drives one crazy - like a can banging on the side of the ship, non-stop. As well as this, water started seeping out of the carpet in front of my bed. I reported this to Reception and many people came to "look" at the problem. The next afternoon I went back to Reception and asked what was happening. No one could tell me what the noise was so I was told that I would be moved to another suite, "once we've dried the carpet". Oh dear, I thought I'd be swimming to Los Angeles. Anyway, they moved me to a balcony suite and everything was good. There was no flooding again in this suite. On the second last day of the cruise, a pipe broke in a suite a few doors down from me and there was water everywhere. Despite the fact that so many people came to look at my problem, Reception resolved it quickly. Disembarkation: We had a leisurely breakfast and were ready to disembark after the US port authorities had cleared us. I took the bus back to the airport. All good. Summary: There were a few little niggly things but what I remember most about this cruise is having the worst lot of whingeing passengers I have ever come across. This cruise was heavily discounted and marketed to the British Isles and whilst I met some great people, particularly the Cruise Critic people, there were some that didn't stop complaining about the food, the wine, the service, the Chef, the berries, the fish. OMG, the whingeing never stopped. Many of these passengers were first time SS cruisers and a lot were constantly comparing the Silver Cloud to the large Celebrity ships! Despite this, I thoroughly enjoyed my cruise on the Silver Cloud. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
We decided on this cruise because of several factors - mainly for the islands they would be visiting and the Panama Canal passage. And, we like Star Clippers cruises, as you always meet other great people who love to cruise and have a ... Read More
We decided on this cruise because of several factors - mainly for the islands they would be visiting and the Panama Canal passage. And, we like Star Clippers cruises, as you always meet other great people who love to cruise and have a great time. This was an opportunity to be on the ship for two full weeks, as the one week cruises go way too fast. Our cabin was fine, typical of most of the cabins, although being near the back of the ship we had the constant noise of the engines - something you do get used to. Meals were fine, but as always, breakfast seems to be the weakest meal with the buffet, although the omelets are cooked to order and good. The dinners to us are special times, to enjoy an hour or so of conversation and good food and wine, and make lifelong friends. We often met in the piano lounge and enjoyed a glass of wine and the music before dinner, and this became a popular spot for many. Casual, but no jeans or shorts for dinner, which seemed to suit everyone. And, limited after dinner activities, but they were usually fun and seemed to please everyone. Hurricane Tomas tried to put a damper on things, but we were only slightly impacted by the large swells in the ocean. The crew and cruise director were great as always, and good to see familiar faces from past cruises. Only limited water sports activities, as the majority of this crew had not visited any of the islands in the itenerary, and was not aware of good snorkeling or diving locations for the snorkelers/divers. And, limited excursions also, but there was always plenty to do where we docked (with the exception of Aruba that was mainly closed since it was on a Sunday). The three days at sea the same week were fairly boring, and you had to get your deck chair early as people would hog them and not show up. We really enjoyed Cartagena, San Blas Islands, the Panama Canal passage, and most of the islands, and highly recommend the itenerary (except for the 3 days at sea). Main complaint was around the smokers on the ship, as they seemed to not care about what anyone thought about non-smokers, and pushed the limits on where they smoked. There was one morning I got up early and enjoyed the beautiful morning and the clear air and coming into port, and then there was smoke in the air, which pretty much ruined the moment. And, there were people that smoked cigars and had no respect for those that it affected. I believe it would be nice if Star Clippers could have non-smoking cruises every month, or at least have a better policy, but as long as there are smokers, this could be difficult. In fact, this along with the current economy, may be why the percentage of Americans on these may be dwindling over the years. This cruise was about 65-75% Europeans, 15% Americans and 10-20% others, when 10 years ago it was about 50% Americans. As mentioned above, this seemed more like a reposition cruise, than a regular cruise, since the main objective was to get the ship to Panama for their Costa Rica/Panama/Nicaragua cruises that go through March 2011. We seemed to arrive late and leave way early from islands that were only 35 miles apart, and the fact that there was limited knowledge on excursions and water sports. But, as always, we thoroughly enjoyed the total cruise experience and the great people we met from all over the world. Where else can you go on a cruise with only 150 great passengers, see some of the best spots in the world, and really sail on a great ship. Would we recommend to others, and will we go again? - you bet!! But, it would be so much better if there were a few improvements. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
Oceana was the second cruise ship we sailed on, the first being her sister ship Adonia, which went back to Princess Cruises after a couple of seasons. We have been on Oceana 4 times now. We love the theatre and and the starlights lounge ... Read More
Oceana was the second cruise ship we sailed on, the first being her sister ship Adonia, which went back to Princess Cruises after a couple of seasons. We have been on Oceana 4 times now. We love the theatre and and the starlights lounge on Oceana. The staff always seem happy and friendly. Cabins are smaller than some ships, but perfectly adequate for a 14 night cruise. The public rooms and bars are good, and it is easy to find your way around the ship as you can walk all the way round on most decks. The best feature of the ship is the Atrium, which is much more attractive than on other ships. Overall, plenty of positives and no negatives I can think of. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
After a nightmare journey getting to east midlands airport through blizzards on the morning of 6th February, we boarded the flight to barbados and the holiday started then. Plenty of room on the A330 thomas cook flight no need to upgrade ... Read More
After a nightmare journey getting to east midlands airport through blizzards on the morning of 6th February, we boarded the flight to barbados and the holiday started then. Plenty of room on the A330 thomas cook flight no need to upgrade as plenty of leg room. Complimentary drinks and plenty of food. Took 8 hours and arrived 30 minutes early into barbados. Transfer to ship brilliant, cases took about 2 hours to arrive. Cabin was inside and was OK but could do with an update in the shower room. As flights were coming in late because of operational problems we had to stay in barbados an extra night and we had to miss our first island of Mayreau where we were looking forward to a restful day on the beach. Next we were of to Grenada and took a local taxi around the island, We would never book a trip with the Ship as these tours are simply brilliant as we did the same one 10 years ago. Next we were off to Margarita in Ven, this was made via tender and although described as mosquito hell it was your typical tropical island, people who visited inland said it was a dump with rubbish all over the place and not very nice, should have stayed on the lovely white beach and enjoyed a swim - not a mosquito in sight. next off to Curacao a dutch island that looks like amsterdam, lovely for photos. Day at sea then arrived at Colon, this was one time when everyone should take an organized trip as Colon and Panama City are very dangerous places to walk around. We went in a mini bus with 5 other passengers and was dumped in the middle of dock area and everyone had guns. We had wanted to go to the local mall but was taken to the warehouse quarter where you could only buy in bulk no less than a dozen items a time. Early the next day we started our transit through the Panama canal and I can only describe this as truly breath taking, it was fantastic, I will never never forget the experience, through the locks and into the gatun lake was unbelievable wow, wow, wow. A helicopter went around the ship and took photos and film which we could buy as a DVD for £16 it was well worth it as we could see ourselves at the front of the ship waving. Tell family that they can watch you transit the canal either via the ships web cam or the one on the side of the canal (panama web cam). Some mobile phones did not work while we were in Panama or the pacific. Someone said that the Panama authorities blocked them. My vodafone did not work until I was back in the UK. Then at sea and off to Puntarenas in Costa Rica. This was truly wonderful as we went on an organized trip to the jungle and went skywalking across several rope bridges (like the one in I'm a celebrity) fantastic and worth the £32 which the trip cost. Day at sea and onto Porto Quetzal in Guatemala more jungle trips if you wanted. Day at sea and off to Acapulco we berthed right by the beach and the town. we were looking forwarding to spending a day and night there but we were told that we had to move back out to sea for the night as the ship had to take on sea water for processing into drinking water. This caused some problems as people wanted to spend the evening in Acapulco and had to be back on board by 10.30, we got the letter telling us about this change after we arrived home. Don't do the trip Amazing Acapulco as it is the same trip that takes you back/from the airport. We went on a trip to see the divers and you could do this by hiring a taxi for a few dollars as it is only around the corner. Oh I forgot to mention Oceana, it was a very clean comfortable ship but is beginning to look its age and a passenger said she had heard that it was being downgraded to an Ocean Village but it may be just a rumor. Food was excellent and a good choice was available although I have had just as good on a Thomson cruise. Weather and sea conditions were perfect as one officers said it was the best weather he had every had in all the years he had been cruising, sunny and very hot especially in Acapulco. Diana Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
We only booked this Cruise at short notice as it was advertised as having Direct Flights from Leeds Bradford to Barbados and same on Rtn from Acapulco. Two wks before we were due to leave we were informed that our Flt to Barbados would ... Read More
We only booked this Cruise at short notice as it was advertised as having Direct Flights from Leeds Bradford to Barbados and same on Rtn from Acapulco. Two wks before we were due to leave we were informed that our Flt to Barbados would need to make a Technical Stop to refuel(Runway at LB too short to take off with full fuel load), we had a 20min Flt to Manchester where we sat on the Aircraft for 1hr 10mins whilst they refueled it. During the Flt we had free drinks and reasonable meals compliments of P&O served very well by Thomsons Staff, the Flt was operated by Thomsonfly on behalf of P&O. We arrived in Barbados on time and within 20mins were on a bus on the way to the Ship, Traffic was heavy and our Driver thought he knew a quicker way to the Ship/port, we eventually arrived 2hrs Later(normal time for rest of Buses was 1hr) we ended up in a queue of buses and sat for another 30mins before being allowed off the bus, just what you need after a 10hr+ flt. Check in when we eventually got there was quick and we boarded the ship and were shown to our cabin on A deck our luggage arrived 1hr Later. The ship itself was fine but did some signs of wear and tear but nothing untoward, we were allocated Freedom Dining which did work out quite well as we like to eat early and managed to get the same table every night, our 2 Waiters(Ved & Jo) were excellent. The food in the MDR was varied with lots of choices and quality was excellent. However our cabin A506 which was directly below the pool deck was very noisy with banging and scraping when the staff were arranging the sunbeds late at night and early morning, there was also some sort of machinery starting up on a regular basis which kept us awake, after bringing this to P&Os attention we were eventually moved to another cabin on the same deck A437 which was quiet while in Port but as soon as we sailed there was a constant Tapping from the bulkhead/ceiling, this was investigated and as it could not be fixed we were moved to B542, this cabin was fine with no noise other than normal ship noises. Entertainment was good with the CD being Mr Rob Boyd who in our view is one of the best CDs around, the Singers and Dancers were terrific with their shows and full of energy, guest entertainers were Ok and did 2-3 shows each wk of the cruise, John Sergent did a talk and that was very well received. We did miss Mayreau due to bad sea conditions but did get into St Vincent instead, we didn't find St Vincent to good, all other ports of call were completed and the weather was fine and hot everyday except for Colon when we had a Tropical Thunderstorm in the afternoon, so we can say we really enjoyed the cruise. Our highlight was a visit to a Embara Village with "My Friend Mario Tours" highly recommended. Now the Ugly, our rtn flt from Acapulco, we were informed on the ship that once again we had to stop to refuel this time in Miami, we took off on time then once airbourne we were then informed that due to the crew that was taking us from Miami to LB not having had enough rest, we would have a 2hr wait on the plane in Miami, however the 2hrs turned into 3hrs 50 mins as they did not to start to refuel the aircraft until 30mins after the new staff had got onboard, we had been told that with the 2 hr delay the air-crew would look after us however this consisted of 1 cup of tea or Coffee or a glass of water during the 3hr 50min wait, not what you would call being looked after, to complete the rtn flt misery when we were 20 mins from landing, we were told that due to LB being Fog bound we had to divert to Manchester and were then then taken by coach to LB. Not the best rtn flt from what had been a good holiday, all in all it took us 19hrs 30mins to rtn back to LB. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
My husband and I had done only 1 cruise before embarking on Arcadia in February 2008 to cruise the Caribbean, The Panama Canal and up to Acapulco. Our first cruise was on QE2 and so we thought it would be interesting to compare P&O ... Read More
My husband and I had done only 1 cruise before embarking on Arcadia in February 2008 to cruise the Caribbean, The Panama Canal and up to Acapulco. Our first cruise was on QE2 and so we thought it would be interesting to compare P&O with the Cunard experience. Our flight from Manchester to Barbados was good and we had upgraded on the First Choice Flight. We had been fortunate as people who had travelled with Thomas Cook also from Manchester were disgusted with their flight seats and the space, or lack of it, in economy. Transfer from the aircraft to the cruise terminal in Bridgetown was excellent and we were soon in our cabin. We thought the cabin was about the same size as the one we had on QE2. However, this time we had a balcony which was a definite advantage over the 2 portholes on QE2. The cabin was well appointed although there was no shampoo provided. I thought this was penny pinching to the extreme. You get shampoo in a basic motorway lodge in the UK. Also there were no dressing gowns which we had had on QE2. Our room steward was from Goa and he knew a hotel we had stayed at there some years ago. He was very polite and efficient. We had booked for second sitting at dinner but when on board discovered that this did not start until 20.45. As we did not want to eat that late we changed to first sitting at 18.30. The only alternative to this for dinner (unless you wanted to pay extra) was to go to the Belvedere Buffet Food Court which was about as exciting as a works canteen in decor and facilities. We soon found that dining at 18.30 was a little early as we missed a lot of the sailaway parties so we decided that if we cruised again with P&O we would choose Freedom Dining. The food was OK but a definite notch down from what we had on QE2. The waiter service in the dining room was good except for delivery of the vegetables on to you plate. They were plonked anywhere on the plate (often over the food that was already on there) rather than being nicely placed in a suitable space on the plate (as we had on QE2). Likewise, on QE2, the petits fours came on a large tray and you were invited to choose. On Arcadia, a few biscuits were literally dumped on a small plate - some not even the right way up and the plate just left on the table. I know the waiters are hard pressed to get diners out of the restaurant to get the tables relaid for the second sitting but it is these small things which leave the wrong impression in peoples' minds. The Belvedere Food Court was self - service. We had breakfast there most days but only dined there on 2 nights. It is the most confusing place to find your way around as they have different types of food on each side of the serving area. Getting a coffee or tea was often a scramble as people converged on the 2 machines dispensing the water and coffee. This was not a good place to be if you visited it at a busy time. About a week into the cruise, our wine waitress announced that they would shortly run out of bottles of the New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and this proved to be true. Then about 3/4 days before the end of the cruise you could not get a proper tonic anywhere on the ship. They had slimline which does not taste right with gin or vodka but no proper tonic!! We think that there should be some tightening up on the re-ordering of items to be taken on board at each port. The weather for the entire cruise was fantastic - virtually wall to wall sunshine every day. The itinerary was varied and interesting and involved new places for us to visit. The Panama Canal transit was the highlight. We did quite a few organized trips when in port. In Aruba we did a snorkeling trip which took us to a shipwrecked vessel. This was very dangerous and most people were out of the water and back on board the snorkel vessel within a few minutes. P&O should review whether to keep this trip on their books. We did an evening trip to Panama City which was billed as a walking tour. However we soon found out that the tour guides were to take us to 2 museums instead. This did not go down at all well with us and our fellow passengers. Spending time in a museum at 22.00 after a full day transiting the Panama Canal was not most people's idea of fun. The best trip was in Huatulco where we went on an Eco Bird Watch walk. We were not that interested in taking part in the daytime activities on board ship when at sea, preferring instead to find a sun bed and relax. However, the evening entertainment was pretty abysmal. As mentioned we were in first sitting for dinner and this meant that by 20.15 we were just about finished in the dining room and looking for some entertainment. We soon found that if you did not want to go to the show (or perhaps did want to go but could not get a seat) there was nothing else going on throughout the ship for at least an hour - say between 20.30 and 21.30. We visited various bars including the pub and when we got there the act was playing but as soon as the dining room announced that it was time for second sitting dinner, all the acts closed down and the place was like a ghost ship. This is not good enough. With about 2 days to go to the end of the cruise, it was announced that there had been an outbreak of the Norovirus disease and various cleanliness measures were brought in. Fortunately we were not affected but we thought that in general and prior to the outbreak of the disease, there was a more lax approach to disinfecting hands on entry to restaurants than there was on QE2. Unfortunately the night before disembarkation it was announced that our flight was delayed by 8 hours and as we had to be out of our cabin by 07.00 on the day of disembarkation, this made for a long hot and tiring day before we even got to the airport. It also meant that we were soon mingling with new passengers who had arrived at Acapulco early and who could not all gain access to their cabins!! We were very much on our own at the airport as there were no P&O staff in attendance. I thought this was surprising. It was as if once you had left the ship P&O were not bothered about you. In summary we enjoyed the cruise overall but there were some shortfalls and it was not to the standard we had on QE2. However, undaunted, we have booked to go on Ventura so will see if she is any different. Read Less
Sail Date February 2008
Overall - Found the cruise to be suited to people in the more advanced years, this was reflected in the musical choice around the different areas, even the pub had a trio playing slow lounge almost background style music. The ship itself ... Read More
Overall - Found the cruise to be suited to people in the more advanced years, this was reflected in the musical choice around the different areas, even the pub had a trio playing slow lounge almost background style music. The ship itself was best described as low key and although fairly well decorated no area could be described as exciting or having a 'wow' factor. For a Christmas cruise the decorations were poor. We will look long and hard before we book with P&O again. Food - 1. Meridian restaurant - Good choice of meals offered but vegetables left something to be desired. Most evenings we were offered new potatoes and one evening I was offered carrots and sprouts with my fish! Wine choice good but both wine waiters and meal waiters were not up to scratch. Too many mistakes made with our wine and wrong choice of food being served. 2. Rhodes restaurant - Spent one evening there, food was good but again the waiters, although they tried very hard, not quite up to scratch. 3. Orchid - Promoted as 'Fusion' food. Spent an evening there not bad but I was expecting something better. The couple next to us asked if they could remove coconut from one of the desserts, they were told it was not possible, which left me thinking they were pre-prepared, not what we were expecting. 4. Belvedere - Self service - Good choice and kept clean and tidy. the layout means you have to travel a long way to see the choice and the drinks area needs improving as it is a bottleneck. Entertainment -As explained earlier, in general the music was suited to 65+. The Arcadian Theatre is the best I've seen and the production company were very good with varied shows. The 'special' acts brought in, two comedians and two singers, were again suited to the older section and not very good, many people left these shows before the end or even halfway through. Photography - Good selection and quite professional, however, like most cruises the cost of the photos and especially the re-prints were far too high. Bring the price down and everybody buys one! Trips - Too expensive for what you get. Most people I spoke to got the same if not better from locals and at less then half price! Flights - Watch out if you're booked on Thompson, everyone we spoke to from 3 different airports all had delays, and some didn't have any food. P&O really need to look at this, Thompson are fine for a low cost European flight but are totally not suited for long haul, spoilt the holiday and I would think they will still be reading the complaints for a while yet! Read Less
Sail Date December 2005

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