17 Barcelona Expedition Cruise Reviews

The MSC Divina is a beautiful, new cruise ship. Our balcony cabin was very well appointed and appeared spacious, the best of our 8 cruises. The wait, room & reception staffs were courteous and knowledgeable. All the entertainment/shows ... Read More
The MSC Divina is a beautiful, new cruise ship. Our balcony cabin was very well appointed and appeared spacious, the best of our 8 cruises. The wait, room & reception staffs were courteous and knowledgeable. All the entertainment/shows on the ship were top shelf, many with a classical slant. The excursions were well done, without exception, and included Casablanca, Morocco; Tenerife, Canary Islands (our favorite); Funchal, Portugal; Malaga, Spain; Rome and Genoa, Italy. There were reasons this cruise was less inexpensive than Royal Caribbean International and Norwegian cruise lines. 1. The food at lunch and dinner in the dining room was, at best, mediocre. 2. The cafeteria breakfast was crowded; had a shortages of plates, silverware or napkins; and juices offered only one morning. 3. Drinks of any sort, aside from coffee and tea at breakfast, were at additional cost, that incudes water. 4. We like coffee after our evening meal. It isn't served and was ordered from a bar/cafe arriving, inevitably, lukewarm. 4. The ship boards at every port. Over 800 boarded at Barcelona, about the same number at Genoa and hundreds at Rome. After every port departure the newbies toured the ship and swamped the common areas. 5. Reception told us there were about 200 passengers with English as their 1st language. If not with a group this can be a lonely journey. If you are from North America we would suggest Royal Caribbean or Norwegian. Well worth the added cost. Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
Let me start by saying we are loyal Crystal cruisers but Princess' itinerary attracted us, so we thought we'd give it a try. To compare Princess to Crystal would in no way be fair, so I'll try to be objective as possible. ... Read More
Let me start by saying we are loyal Crystal cruisers but Princess' itinerary attracted us, so we thought we'd give it a try. To compare Princess to Crystal would in no way be fair, so I'll try to be objective as possible. EMBARKATION: As easy as it gets. We got there early and once we checked in,we sat in a waiting area. Ruby Princess is a gigantic ship and with 3,080 passengers, we sailed full. Most of the nationalities were U.K., Spanish, Australian, Canadian and American along with a small contingent from the Phillipines. There were only 16 children on board and we hardly saw them. At 1:00 pm, we were allowed to board. CABIN: Our cabin was extremely small. One side of queen bed was pushed against the wall and we had a narrow L-shape to walk around. Cabin was divided by a long closet with shelf and hangers. Another narrow closet housed a cranky safe. Shower was very tiny. We shared one sink and a wide countertop. TV transmitted enough channels to satisfaction. Our steward, JORDAN, was really, really good. Although our requests were small, he made sure they were met and always wanted to do more. Great job, Jordan!!! FOOD: Food was good, not gourmet. We ate breakfast and lunch on top deck at Horizon court and we never felt cramped or crowded. On the days when excursions forced us to eat early, other couples at tables willingly let us share their table. We had anytime dining and I found that the desserts in the dining room were much better than Horizon Court. Horizon court offered many puddings, mousses (blech!), and always a fresh selection of fruits. Fabulous Fabbio is the maitre d' of the DaVinci dining room. He is very concerned about the quality of the service. If you have any complaints regarding DaVince, see Fabbio & he will resolve it right away. Trident Grill always served up hotdogs, hamburgers and fries. Pizza bar was pretty good. Soft serve ice cream was cold and tasteless. FORMAL NIGHTS: Ladies unless you already have formal eveningwear,don't go crazy for formal night. A nice pair of black slacks and pretty top will do the job and lighten your load. That's what most women wore, myself included. Most men wore a jacket and tie. I saw three tuxedos. SABITINI'S: Definately worth the cover charge. Husband & I had lobster 3 ways which was delicious and they also gave us a small portion of spaghetti with clams. Everything was good, the waiters were very attentive and the food was out of this world. ENTERTAINMENT: We both agree that Ruby has the best entertainment.I'd rather gamble than see shows so the first night he dragged me kicking and screaming. I was so impressed by the talent, I went almost every night. The dancers kicked and flipped and did things I didn't know were possible. Also the singers were very good. One night they had a second rate magician who was so lousy, I walked out. Don't miss the crew's talent show night. It was the best!!! Also, a salute to Broadway and Once Upon a Dream were beautiful. Each show is approx. 45 mins., so just as I was beginning to get antsy, it ended. Also DUO CLAUDIO perform mid-court around 8:00. They are acrobats that are so daring, you got to see them to believe it. Social director is Sam Hawkins from England. She bubbled over with cheeriness and enthusiasm. She did her job well.BEST THINGS: The Serenity Pool way up top prohibits children. It is a wonderful escape. I used it several times. Movies under the Stars is a delight. They give out blankets and we snuggled under the stars to watch the giant screen. Waiters come around with popcorn, pizza and ice cream. Another stroke of genius. If you go for a massage, ask for TASHA. She was absolutely amazing and did in one session what my chiropracter couldn't do in four. She's a petite woman with magic hands. I wanted to take her home with me. The Lotus Spa was beautiful. Unfortunately I didn't find that out until the trip was almost over. WORST THINGS: Didn't like the constant hawking of specialty drinks and photographers trying to get us to buy. One night our waiter asked us three times if we wanted the specialty drink! It became annoying. Also, next time I will do more research on cabins before I book. Now we realize that it would have been worth the extra $$$ to upgrade, but being first time Princess cruisers, we didn't know. Overall, I'd say Princess does a pretty good job of juggling 3,000 passengers and keeping things running smoothly. We didn't have any ugly situations or run-ins with rude passengers. The staff we encountered were courteous and friendly. They responded to our every request. In conclusion, we would definately sail Princess again if the itinerary were good. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
Liberty was an interesting ship. Everything felt clean, new, modern but somehow cheap as well. I didn't get a palpable sense of luxury here. Food options were disappointing. The Windjammer and Jade buffets were abysmally bad. Some of ... Read More
Liberty was an interesting ship. Everything felt clean, new, modern but somehow cheap as well. I didn't get a palpable sense of luxury here. Food options were disappointing. The Windjammer and Jade buffets were abysmally bad. Some of the worst food I've tasted, competing with hospitals and retirement homes. Chops, on the other hand, was excellent, on par with any Chicago steakhouse. The main dining room was hit or miss. A surf and turf (steak from Chops, lobster from Portofino) was one of the best I've ever had. A NY Strip from the dining room, was almost inedibly tough, full of connective tissue, and a low quality cut. Some entrees were quite bland. Other days were decent. Johnny Rockets was OK, the burgers are overcooked to the point of dryness, but everything else is great. See note below about billing though. We did not eat at the pub. The Ben and Jerries was good, but the cupcake shop was getting no love from anyone, it was empty the whole time. Drinks were strong at bars across the ship, which was nice. Room service took 75-90 minutes (they said 45-60) each time, but the food was decent. Prices seem wildly scattered. Stores on the ship, especially the duty free, had rather competitive pricing. But then some massages were USD 300 and up, and we sometimes had billing discrepancies. For example at Johnny Rockets, we were billed much more than the cover charge and cost of our shakes. Some places will charge you for drinks despite having a package. The jeweler neglected to give a discount that they told me they had included, to the tune of 150 Euro. I had to return my item and repurchase with the discount. Crew and Staff were all competent and very nice. Our stateroom attendent went out of her way to help us, and our waiter for dinner did the same. However, we for some reason had a 9:00 pm seating, while others were 8:30, 7:00, 6:30, or 6:00. And that was scheduled, not "my dining" times. Random, and very late. Entertainment: The shows were uninteresting sounding so we skipped them. Other than that, there wasn't much going on -- hot tubs and pools were great, but hot tubs were lukewarm and bubbles didn't work all the time. Pools should be heated if you're going to be on an open air deck with 50+ knot winds. Freshwater was very nice, but heavily chlorinated. Deck entertainment was quite good, some great bands (also good bands at the bars and elsewhere on the ship). Flowrider didn't seem to get much use, neither did the rock wall. Either they should be free, or should be replaced. Overall, the boat was nice, but more so for the crew and the experience we made out of it. It felt like a boat that was trying too hard to appear luxurious and modern, but didn't really live up to the hype. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
Just returned from a weeks cruise on the msc fantasia, where to start after reading so many poor reviews I thought I should try and help others who are going to cruise with msc or is just about to book. Firstly the ship is absolutely ... Read More
Just returned from a weeks cruise on the msc fantasia, where to start after reading so many poor reviews I thought I should try and help others who are going to cruise with msc or is just about to book. Firstly the ship is absolutely brilliant , spotless beautiful and well kept .The staff in general are really nice but you do come across the odd moody one mostly the Romanians for some reason, after numerous conversations with waiters I found out that they do not have any days off and work for a 9 month period ( shame on you MSC no wonder they walk around like zombies, you try working an 11 hour shift every day for 9months). FOOD Overall no great shakes the main two dinning rooms are the worst they have no idea of fine dinning and the waiter runs around trying to get everything done. The food is hitty missy some is good some is dreadful , it is never consistent. I was with Royal Caribbean and they are hands down the best I have had.Next if you are on the first sitting which is 7.00 pm then they usher you out at about 9.00pm for the next sitting which starts about 9.00pm, the first sitting should be earlier to allow the staff more time.. The buffet at dinner time is reasonable and you can usually find something to eat look out for the ethnic area you often get the best food their. It is really busy and the Italians pile theie plates high ( worse than the brits LOL ) . In the evening there is no ethnic area food so the choice isnt as good but still okay. For some reason the food is at its best just over warm neve red hot. Breakfast is reasonable plenty of choice but sadly no fresh cooking like on Royal Carribean their omlettes were to die for.Do's and Dont's First day on board go to the meeting you will get the offer of three excursions which are good value three for £90.00 . Its hard to beat this price even doing it yourself and they were good we did the Aix En Provence, Genoa and Tunisia shopping and history. DRINK For some reason the Brits and Irish can book an all inclusive drinks package before you go ,there is two called the Algrisimo one is £150.00 pp and the other is £250.00pp No kidding we had the £250.00 pp which allows you to use your mini fridge we emptied it daily LOL , also you can drink all the top Brandy's and whiskies plus the cocktails and you can have tea and coffee from the bars free as well. The Piazza ice creams and cakes are free with that one too. At the end of the holiday we had spent over a thousand euros so the £500.00 we paid was well worth it. You get the water free and bottles of wine in the main two restaurants and by the glass everywhere else.Yes beware the bottled water will cost you a small fortune. Overall the ship is great the food is poor the staff are great ,the passengers okay apart from the Rusians ,the Germans dont know how to queue. I would go again for the price Id paid. Oh and the balcony cabin I was upgraded to was fab. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
Overall impressions of this cruise:1. It was a great itinerary. Only 2 sea days, but the port locations were fabulous. About half of the stops we had never been to before. We can't complain about any of the stops.2. The Ruby ... Read More
Overall impressions of this cruise:1. It was a great itinerary. Only 2 sea days, but the port locations were fabulous. About half of the stops we had never been to before. We can't complain about any of the stops.2. The Ruby Princess is a great ship. We've sailed on several Princess ships, and while we enjoy some of the smaller ships in the line, we never felt really crowded on this cruise. We're used to taking books with us to the Theater 30 minutes before a show to get good seats, this cruise we could walk in a few minutes before showtime (usually early shows) and get good seats.3. Our cabin was P247 (Cat. EE, unobstructed oceanview) located near the art gallery. It's a good location and was not noisy at all.4. Really enjoyed the Cruise Director Ron Goodman. He was very personable and was very visible around the ship. He's also not bashful about telling passengers where his office is and if you have a complaint, to stop in anytime (don't let it fester until the end of the cruise).5. Our cabin steward Noel was excellent. He was very attentive to our cabin, and got our laundry back to us very quickly whenever we sent some out to be cleaned.6. Art Director Chris has a personality that is always on the go. He tries to make everyone feel welcome.7. Elite Perks -- first cruise since we got Elite status and we really enjoyed these perks. It's amazing what people will do to get free laundry service!8. Dining Rooms -- we did anytime dining. We didn't do any specialty dining this cruise. Thought it was easy getting in at 6pm for dinner each night and we had very good wait staff. Service at dinner was good. Breakfast and lunch service was hit or miss. One morning for breakfast they never did bring around the pastry tray that we saw going thru other sections of the dining room. And it was sometimes difficult to get coffee at lunch to have with dessert.Below are daily details of our cruise.We flew in to Barcelona a day early and arrived about 8:30 am. We claimed our luggage and went to the Hotel Continental Barcelona, which is located on La Rambla. The hotel is reasonably priced and in a very good location. We dropped our luggage off and left to catch the Barcelona Bus Turistic, which offers a Hop On/Hop Off bus service around the city. We ended up doing all 3 routes on Saturday. This is a good way to see a large area of Barcelona.On Sunday (June 6) we took a taxi over to the port. Check-in was extremely easy. We dropped our bags off, went thru the Platinum/Elite check-in line, and were on board within 20 minutes of our arrival. When we got on board, we called room service for some wine glasses so we could enjoy some of the wine we bought in Barcelona and carried on board. We had lunch at the Horizon Court and explored the Ruby for a while. When we got back to the cabin, our luggage had shown up so we got unpacked. Muster drill was at 1715 hrs, so we went to our location in the casino. When we got back to our cabin, we were surprised to find a platter of chocolate dipped strawberries from the Art Director (Chris) to welcome us back on board. We do enjoy the nice touches from Princess!That night we went to the Princess Theater for the welcome aboard show. Best part of the show was comedian Tom Drake, who we enjoyed at other shows that upcoming week.Monday we arrived in Monte Carlo. We were fortunate to be able to dock and not have to use the tender service that was originally scheduled. We ended up this cruise using the Princess tours. In Monte Carlo we did the Old Monaco, Royal Palace & St. Nicholas Cathedral half-day tour. The tour was very enjoyable, and we saw them setting up for the Grand Prix race that was the next weekend. The tour was not too physical, which was good considering what was coming up the next few days. On board ship that night, we saw comedian Tom Drake's full show in Explorers Lounge. Definitely worth seeing.Tuesday we arrived in Livorno for tours in and around Florence. We booked the Florence, The Chianti Region & Wine Tasting tour. Since we had been to Florence a few years ago, we thought this would be a good chance to catch a few areas we had not seen in Florence during the morning. The morning in Florence was mostly free time, so we did some souvenir shopping and toured the Basilica of Santa Croce where Michelangelo and Galileo are buried (we missed this somehow 5 years ago). By lunchtime we had taken the bus up to Tuscany, where we had a nice lunch featuring some good Chianti wine. After lunch we went to a wine tasting. We were able to sample about 10 wines, and purchased some bottles to take back to the ship (Over the 15 cruises we've been on, we have bought wine in several ports and have never had any trouble taking it back on board to our cabins). That night, the first production show Stardust was in the Princess Theater. We hadn't seen this one before so we went and did enjoy it. The singers and dancers always do a good show on the Princess ships.Wednesday was another full day after we arrived in Civitavecchia. This is the port for going in to Rome. We did the Forum, Trevi Fountain & Time On Your Own tour. The morning part of the tour is a walking tour thru Rome that started at the Trevi Fountain (where we did throw coins in so that we would get to return to Rome again) and went around to the Coliseum and Forum areas. Very physical tour just as Princess described. The afternoon we were dropped off near the Vatican for a few hours of free time. We ended up doing the Vatican Museum tour and got to see the Sistine Chapel this trip. Allow a few hours to visit this Museum. On board ship that night, we went to see Ventriloquist Damon Scott in the Princess Theater. Our opinion, find any other show or activity to go to. His show was very lame and judging from the comments we heard most everybody else that was there agreed with us.Thursday meant we arrived in Naples for another day of tours. We did the Pompeii & Amalfi Coastal Drive. This was a great tour. We enjoyed the drive up the Amalfi Coast that morning, there is a lot of scenic coastline to see. One word about this tour -- many of the towns have traffic control because some of the roads can't handle buses passing each other on some spots along the curving road. You'll see some vehicles a few inches from the bus as you're on the road. We had a nice lunch in Amalfi, then drove back to Pompeii. The ruins they've uncovered there are amazing. One of the people on the tour said he was there over 20 years ago, and that it was nowhere near as impressive as it is now. Touring Pompeii is over a lot of cobblestone streets and going up/down thru the city. Some areas are pretty congested where people are trying to see the wall decorations that are still visible after 2,000 years. On board ship entertainment that night was vocalist Michelle Montouri in the Princess Theater. Her show was definitely better than the ventriloquist, but was not very well attended. Theater was over half empty for the early show.Friday arrived which meant we finally got a day at sea! Time to rest after several busy port days. On board we did our usual -- played trivia, went to the art auction, and had some pictures made since this was the first formal night. That night the Captain's Welcome Aboard party was in the Atrium, and Princess has combined that with the Champagne waterfall (which used to be a separate event but which I guess has been combined to save costs). It's amazing how many people attend to get the free champagne they serve. One nice perk we enjoyed during our first cruise as Elite was ordering the chocolate dipped strawberries as the complementary Canapes before dinner. After dinner we saw the second production show of the cruise Broadway Ballroom which was also a very good show.Saturday meant we arrived in Mykonos. Contrary to what our itinerary said, we were able to dock and did not have to use tenders to get ashore. This day we decided to use the shuttle service into town (it was 7 euros/person roundtrip). I would definitely advice using this service instead of taking a tour. It is very easy walking through town and finding your way around. The white buildings with the blue or red trim are what you expect to see on this cruise. While in town, we saw the pelican which is the mascot of Mykonos. The pelican is very used to people -- you can get very close to make some great pictures. This is one of those ports where you get to set your own pace and enjoy the people and local cuisine while resting up for some more busy port days ahead. Sunday was Istanbul, Turkey. We did the St.Sophia, Topkapi, Blue Mosque & St Irene Church tour, which was a good all day tour. Being Sunday, the Great Bazaar was closed. It's too bad Princess couldn't have rearranged port calls so that we could have visited the Great Bazaar. In town, we also got to visit a Turkish rug factory. The demonstration and skill of the people is amazing and their creations are amazing. Be cautious outside the demo, the street vendors are selling LOW priced so-called Turkish rugs and items, and these vendors can be aggressive. One followed a lady to our bus and knocked on the windows trying to get her to come out and bargain. While many of the locations we toured were impressive, the area around the Blue Mosque is worth seeing. One site we had not expected to see were the boys in ornate gowns with their families near the Blue Mosque. Our guide told us these boys were celebrating going to be circumcised the next day and looked forward to the day they got to dress up and go around town. We also got to go in the Blue Mosque, which we were surprised to find allows pictures inside. It is a very beautiful building. Expect to see large crowds there. Monday we were in Kusadasi, Turkey. This is near the ancient city of Ephesus. However, we had seen so many ruins at earlier stops we decided to take it easy and just tour Kusadasi on our own. This town is definitely the place to shop for fake goods. As our cruise director said on the Wake Show, this is one of the best ports for buying good fakes. In town, they also advertise that. One shop had a sign with large lettering across the window "GENUINE FAKE WATCHES". You name the brand and they had it. Also had a lot of cheap RayBan sunglasses for sale. In town, there is also an information location where you can get information on using the city bus to get around town. The Ladies Beach (it's now open to men and women) was maybe a 10 minute ride from the center of town. Back on board ship, the entertainment that night was comedian Al Katz. We saw part of his show in the Princess Theater (we had to leave early so we could go play Country Music Trivia which my wife won easily) and thought he was very funny. Luckily he was going to be in Explorers the next night so we didn't feel too guilty about leaving early.Tuesday we arrived in Piraeus, Greece which was the port for Athens. This was definitely one of the highlights of the cruise for us. We had looked forward to seeing the Acropolis for years. We did the Acropolis, National Museum and Plaka tour. The tour starts with a bus ride to the Acropolis, where you have to climb the stairs to get to the Acropolis. Restoration work appears to be a very on-going activity. But the restored ruins are amazing and are the highlight of any cruise. We also got to visit the Olympic Stadium which was used the last time Greece hosted the Olympics. The National Museum has a large number of relics on display, including many beautiful statues and gold jewelry. The day ended in the Plaka, which is the opportunity to do some shopping for souvenirs on your own. That night we went to Explorers and caught Al Katz's comedy show. Glad we got to see his whole show.Wednesday and we're having our second sea day of the cruise. Sea days are meant to relax -- unfortunately with this itinerary you don't get very many of them. Besides playing trivia we got caught up on laundry. We sent off what dirty clothes we had to be laundered on board (yes, we do like the free laundry service we now get after becoming Elite) so we could pack clean clothes for the trip home. Also went to the Princess Grapevine wine tasting (another Elite perk). That night was the second formal night. We went to the Past Passengers reception that night. The statistics were interesting -- out of 2,960 passengers we had 1,100 Gold, 300 Platinum, and 87 Elite. That meant over half of the ship was first time passengers on Princess. The show that night was the Once Upon a Dream production show. Probably the best production show on the cruise. We also saw the Marriage Game Show -- it's funny watching some of the answers you get from the contestants.Thursday we arrived at our last stop, Venice. It's enjoyable standing along the rail listening to the music on the PA system as you cruise along and see the canals for the first time. We were the fifth ship to dock that day -- Venice was certainly hopping with tourists. After we got in town we found out that qualifying races for the America's Cup were scheduled thru the weekend in the canals. In town we did the Ca' Rezzonico, Doge's Palace & St. Mark's Basilica tour. St. Mark's Basilica and the Doge's Palace were definitely worth seeing, but much of the best sites in Venice can be found just wandering around thru the town on foot. This tour had a tour guide that was not our favorite -- she had an annoying habit of telling the group a description of a room or item, then asking a tour member if they understood what she said and asking them to repeat it back to her. Then she'd complain that she might have to repeat her speech. Once or twice was OK, but this went on for several hours.Friday we got off the ship and went to our hotel near the cruise terminal. Disembarkation was very smooth. Only took us a few minutes to find our bags and get the our bags dropped off for transfer to our hotel. We stayed at the Hotel Olimpia. This is a very nice hotel. Rooms are comfortable and the morning breakfast that is included was very good. When we got to the hotel we dropped our my backpack off and got water bus tickets for the entire day to ride any of the canal routes. We toured around the city that morning before going back to St. Mark's Basilica, where we had lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe. Then we found out the water buses and taxis were shutting down due to the America's Cup quarterfinals from lunch until dinner. Talk about disrupting traffic on the water! We found a good viewing spot on the canal and watched the ships sailing up and down the canal. After a few hours we walked back about 1.5 miles to the hotel. The walk was enjoyable and we got to see some areas away from some of the big tourist areas.Saturday we got up and caught the airport shuttle bus about 300 yards from our hotel. Hotel was definitely in a good location and the shuttle bus is a cheap way to get to the airport. At the airport, expect to stand in line. Took us about 45 minutes to check in and drop our bags off. Then had to go thru security before we got to go to the gate. When we boarded, I got stopped for another security screening of my backpack and camera bag (full hand search which took several minutes). Finally got on board for our return home from a great vacation. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
We have just arrived home from the Celebrity Solstice after 12 days in the Med from the 4th November 2011. Embarkation: Due to the fact that they had about 100 cases of Noravirus on the previous cruise Celebrity decided to have a deep ... Read More
We have just arrived home from the Celebrity Solstice after 12 days in the Med from the 4th November 2011. Embarkation: Due to the fact that they had about 100 cases of Noravirus on the previous cruise Celebrity decided to have a deep clean of the ship which meant that they could not let us on the until 3pm and we could not get into our stateroom until 5.30pm, in fact we were so late that muster drill was left until 10 o'clock the following morning (god knows what would have happened if they had a problem that night) The deep clean worked because we had no problems during the whole 12 days. Stateroom: I still think that the Solstice class ships have the best rooms and the Stateroom attendant and his assistant were fantastic. Main Restaurant: We were a party of four and had a two other people with us on the table we all got on very well and had a good time. The food was top quality and the service was also excellent Sanjay and his assistant very efficient and attentive but not overpowering. We heard some people complaining that the food was cold but we never had that problem in fact one of our party burned their mouth on the soup. Murano's: We had dinner in Murano's one night and found the quality of the food and service to be excellent but not sure it was worth the extra cost when the main dinning room food was so good but it is nice to have a change of venue for one night. Ocean View Restaurant: Due to the problems of Noravirus on the previous Cruise the staff had to serve you for the first 3 days but after that everything went back to normal, if I had a problem it was that the ship did not give us reasons for their actions or how long it would go on for I had to ask on two occasion how long the the loss of self service would continue. First day at sea was wet ALL day but we spent the day in the indoor pool and had a good time. Second day: We were in Livorno and decided not to go to Florence as we had been there a few times before and got the shuttle bus ($8each) into the town and had a look around not much there but we enjoyed the day. Third day: Civitavecchia, we had been to Rome a few times and again decided to get the shuttle bus (free)into the town we found a great open air Market and the town has a great beach promenade I would recommend a visit to this town. Fourth Day: Naples, We did Pompeii and had a good day, it helps if you have a good guide which we did. day five: Crete, We had a taxi to show us round some of the island again a good day and we liked the island. day six: Turkey, we did shopping and looked round the town checked out the carpet shop we love the Turkish people very friendly. Day seven: Day at sea weather was good. day eight: Athens, very cold windy and a bad guide on our tour of the city, best forgotten. Day nine: Day at sea weather average. Day ten: Malta, got a taxi round part of Malta, it was well worth a visit In fact we have decided to to visit the island some time in the near future. Day eleven: Day at sea day twelve: Disembarkation: As our flight was early we decided to carry off our own luggage, we got a 6.30am slot but left the ship at 7.20 with no problems at all, very smooth. We had a great cruise weather was very average but it was November. Complaints... The brunch was moved from the main Restaurant to the Ocean view cafe BIG mistake it lost it's whole class and hope it doesn't happen again. CD and her whole staff were first class Zac had a great sense of humour (CD had a great voice) I hope Celebrity never get rid of the Orchestra's on their ships they add something special to the entertainment. Entertainers were OK I will leave it at that. Overall I would recommend this ship. by the way Errol in the passport bar was great. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
Cruising was a lot more comfortable than taking trains, planes, and other methods of rushing across Europe, trying to get to different places. The Solstice was a beautiful ship and I was glad to go AquaClass, because it gave me access to ... Read More
Cruising was a lot more comfortable than taking trains, planes, and other methods of rushing across Europe, trying to get to different places. The Solstice was a beautiful ship and I was glad to go AquaClass, because it gave me access to Blu, a restaurant I'll solely miss, now I can no longer go there. The dining area was modern, but a lovely kind of modern, with walls carved in the shape of a rose and windows looking out at the sea. I could eat healthy, beautifully prepared food there. The other specialty restaurants didn't capture my heart the same way, although I did have a very lovely meal at Murano's. Everyone on the ship was courteous and attentive to my needs. Arthur, the attendant to our cabin, found out I preferred cheese to canapes and I got cheese every afternoon in my room. The shore excursions were excellent, especially Florence on Your Own, Rome on Your Own, the Kusadasi/Ephesus excursion, and the Malta walking tour. On the ship, I really enjoyed the lecture/presentations of both Miriam and Gordan. They gave us a lot of information relevant to the ports we were visiting in an interesting fashion that was easy to absorb. The shows were also excellent. There was a wonderful circus performance with acrobatics and contortionists, as well as an extremely talented magician. A lot more was going on that I didn't go to, but I was mostly interested in events that had to do with the ports we were visiting. Our cruise director, Lisa Richards, was very attentive to my questions and needs, pointing me in the right direction when I wanted to know more about the places we'd be passing by on our voyage. If I had one complaint, it was that things got crowded at times. It was hard finding a place to sit in the buffet and we missed one of the shows, because there were no seats. The buffet was, however, excellent, and I'll miss the pizza maker who made such wonderful pizza every day. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
We have just returned from our family's first trip to Europe. We decided to cruise to get a taste of Europe and for the convenience of having one room for the entire trip . The trip was fabulous! The Liberty of the Seas is a good ... Read More
We have just returned from our family's first trip to Europe. We decided to cruise to get a taste of Europe and for the convenience of having one room for the entire trip . The trip was fabulous! The Liberty of the Seas is a good ship for families, groups and couples, though there were very few children on this cruise due to the time of year, most children are in school. We spent an extra day in Barcelona on our own which was great fun, we toured the city on a double deck-er bus then strolled Las Rambles. We boarded ship just after noon and were pleased to find our room ready, allowing us to unpack and get a snack before heading for the mandatory Muster Drill. Our Junior Suite with balcony was a good size for our family, I was pleased to have a closet to put suitcases away and hang clothes. There were ample cupboards and drawers as well. We ate in the main dining room each evening and tried room service, the open buffet and the dining room for breakfasts. The food and menus were uninspired and average. By the end of the trip I didn't want to see another scrambled egg! Staff was helpful for the most part, with two exceptions, our cabin attendant--and the security detail. On two occasions we mistakenly went below to disembark, and were greeted quite curtly -- with a demand for ID, and excursion tickets before being given directions to the proper location for disembarking. Also, on re boarding, when a passenger set of an alarm, they were again treated a bit harshly, I thought, and as one who set off an alarm due to the trim on my outfit, I was a bit taken back. The ports of call and excursions were very good, we chose a variety of tours, some half day, some exclusive. Guides were very knowledgeable most of the lunches served were exceptional and buses were quite comfortable and clean. Our cabin attendant was quite poor - on the first night we requested coffee cups, and when none were provided, my husband made a cup in a glass then headed out to a restaurant to get a cup of coffee for me. Our daughter slept on the hide a bed, which was made up with one sheet and a dirty blanket the first night which prompted me to make a list for the next day. Three coffee cups were never provided, glasses were not replaced, the extra blanket we requested never materialized but three flat sheets did. Sadly, my daughter only got one towel animal while the little girl down the hall got one every night. The funniest/saddest moment with our cabin attendant was when we requested some more coffee creamer. He told us that the creamers were only for people in the bigger suites, not the Junior Suites.. I sort of laughed to myself, as we had had ample creamer until we got our one coffee cup, because additional cups were "on back order" according to our cabin attendant. By contrast, we had such fun with our waiters each night. Our service was impeccable. Our beverage porter even procured Limoncello for our table when he discovered there was none on the ship. On the last day of the cruise, we had an opportunity to try out many of the ships amenities, including a skating rink, flow rider, rock wall, and swimming pools. Aside from the music being painfully loud around the pool area, the amenities were great. We also took the towel folding class, (since our cabin attendant wasn't going to do it, we figured we would) the class was more of a demonstration, than a class. We watched staff fold various animals and were given a pamphlet from which to learn on our own. It was over in less than 20 minutes. We also tried a cup cake decorating class, which cost $`5, and lasted all of about 15 minutes. Our daughter is twelve and looked forward to visiting the game arcade and the "Living Room" for 12 to 17 year olds. Unfortunately, it was more for 17 year olds so we enjoyed ping pong and the arcade in the evenings. One thing that cruisers often talk about is the "all inclusive" aspect of cruises. However this cruise seemed to up charge for many things. Staff would encourage the guests to try these items, stating that there would be a "small" extra charge...an unpleasant financial surprise might await at the end if one is not careful. Would I cruise again, yes. Would I like to try other cruise lines, yes, I now have the "travel bug" and look forward to visiting Spain, France and Italy on our own so we can experience them in more depth. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
I received a promotional invite from Caesar's Palace for a "free" trip on either the Epic or the Jade. Since it was his big birthday, my H choose the Epic because his grandparents came from Italy. Free ended up costing me ... Read More
I received a promotional invite from Caesar's Palace for a "free" trip on either the Epic or the Jade. Since it was his big birthday, my H choose the Epic because his grandparents came from Italy. Free ended up costing me $500 USD with the upgrade taxes and fees. But that was better than the full price of $2600 USD. I really cant complain overall about my experience on the Epic. I ready nearly 100 of the reviews before we left, and was somewhat concerned about the negativity of these boards regarding the Epic. Yes the ship is BIG and it was full, but there were no crowds in any of the venues or restaurants. I did not experience any of the hogging of the pool chairs, but then the weather was not exactly warm enough to sit by the pool. Yes the pools were small but then I did not go to Europe to sit by the pool. Living in California, I can stay home to do that. About the only place that was crowded was the spa, and there were chair hogs there, but only in the afternoon. Go after dinner to avoid the crowds I learned. If you really liked the spa experience I would recommend buying the week long pass. The massages and other services rates were more than what I pay at Caesar's Palace, which frankly has probably the best spa I had ever been to and ten times bigger and better than the Epic. What really frosted me about the spa was on day that the 20% discount was offered, it turned out to be a joke. The ship then charged not only 18% VAT but then told you (after you have already made the reservation and showed up for the treatment) that there was a mandatory additional 18% service fee. So a 100 minute massage and treatment without the 20% discount would have cost $366 USD which is about $116 more than the same treatment (with the same product line of Elemis) and the same massage costs at Caesars Palace. Not cool in my mind. Especially when you were not warned at the time of booking about the 36% additional. Frankly, that is the only negative things about the cruise that I experienced. Food was ok, not exceptional, and yes the buffet was crowded and noisy. Ate dinner there one night, breakfast there one day and then never went back. Had breakfast most days at Taste, which while repetitive, was good. Ate dinner all but two nights at the Manhattan, which was ok except for the first night's paella, which was great. Ate at the Brazilian restaurant one night, and the food was excellent. My H big complaint was no decent movie theater, and tv movies were expensive and no choice. Also he was upset about the tv not having any US based sports (as in not ever the score of the World Series games) He also thought the shore excursions with NCl were expensive, and we got better service, smaller groups and a better time booking with people I had met on CC trips with Rome in Limo. I have cruise before with Carnival (three times) and Princess (three times). I would overall rate the Epic much better in all categories that Carnival (except for deserts cause NCL deserts were unremarkable) but not as high quality as Princess (where I never had a bad meal, or room, or poor service) except for one thing: the casino. The Epic Casino is beautiful, smoke and all, and the machines do pay off. The service was excellent in the Casino, from drink servers to the clean up crew, to the casino hosts, even more attentive than most of of the Harrah's properties. And having been sent on this cruise via Harrah's "dime" I can honestly say that I did feel like I was in a big Las Vegas style hotel the entire week. So if your idea of cruising is to eat yourself sick, this is not the ship for you. It is not quite and restful, nor is it designed for lounging by the pool. If you have "bathroom issues", you will find the rooms claustrophobic and no matter how much closet space there is, you wont like it. But if you are adventurous, like to gamble, and a fast paced daily tour schedule, this is the trip for you. Only be prepared for needing another vacation as you will come home exhausted from a week on the Epic, especially if you live on the west coast of the US like I do, Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Just recently returned from a 12-day Eastern Mediterranean trip, over all we had a great time. The Solstice staff were engaging and happy to make the stay on the ship as enjoyable as they can. We did not partake in the specialty ... Read More
Just recently returned from a 12-day Eastern Mediterranean trip, over all we had a great time. The Solstice staff were engaging and happy to make the stay on the ship as enjoyable as they can. We did not partake in the specialty restaurants but we heard that food there was great. We thoroughly enjoyed the food at the Grand - our dinner seating was at 6:15 pm, we were the fortunate ones as some people that were at the late seating were not happy at all. The staff at the restaurant was attentive and interested in how the food was - they were happy to get you a new entree if we were not satisfied with the dinner. The maitre de was great as we had to move tables third day in as we not satisfied with the location. There are plenty to do if you so chose, I loved the 'Glass Show' - gives you a better appreciation for glass making. The staff there was to demonstrate and educate - they had a lot of adversity to overcome - wind, rain, and since it was electric heating system they were frequently putting the glass they were making into the ovens in order to keep the glass at a steady temperature. The entertainment was first class; the live music was great especially Top Notch. The DJ; however, had a bit of a problem as he mixed up his British Invasion with his 80's. Our suite had a bit of a problem regulating its room temperature, found that the temperature dipped to cold in the middle of the night (the housekeeping staff was nice enough to bring me two blankets - really helped). Also, credo goes to the steward for coming to the room when I couldn't open the safe in the middle of the night and the purser, Nadine for her due diligence for getting us our onboard credit. We took advantage of express debarkation: it was a bit disorganized at first because everyone that wanted to leave early was all gathered in one area just outside the elevators where the theatre was located (front of the ship). The staff did not know what deck we were supposed to leave - until he had word from the captain. There was about a 15 minute wait and then we had to lug our luggage to the back end of the ship. That was the only glitch. Loads of taxis waiting at Barcelona, Spain. A nice gesture: whenever arriving from outing there was staff from Solsitce greeting you on the dock area and a place to sit if you wanted as well as beverages like hot chocolate, water, and juice were offered before going back onto the ship. Recommendations for this trip: I would like to have all informations regarding shore excursions including shuttles be on the website. Also, how far the dock yard is from the place of visit. All tour guides on excursions should have their patrons write their names and suite down, this helps identify who is missing. There were a couple times where there was a miscount and people that won't supposed to be on the excursion were counted thus accidentally leaving the people that were on that particular excursion out without a paddle so to speak. Overall, the cruise was great. I know it would have been nice to have had two days at sea at the end to rest up before heading home but one always have to keep in mind, learning to pace one self is a good thing. I didn't mind being exhausted as we had a 14 hour plane trip home - gave me plenty of time to catch up on my sleep. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
We sailed on the magic on sept 4 th from Barcelona, having done the carriibean the year before the first thing my husband and I noticed was---- the food wasn't up to our last cruise,so this time we ate in the dining room, we did find ... Read More
We sailed on the magic on sept 4 th from Barcelona, having done the carriibean the year before the first thing my husband and I noticed was---- the food wasn't up to our last cruise,so this time we ate in the dining room, we did find we got warmer food, as on our last cruise the food was cold every night Our balcony state room was fantastic-- We thought it was us expecting too much with the entertainment, we could not believe John the out standing cruise director ( so HE says) would have those kiddie shows, using the guests as entertainment, wow!! What a insult to our intelligence , and we were told by one of the " props" it was all a setup, Anyway we flew to Venice to do our grease cruise on the norwegian jade, we had been told by bored guests we met on the magic, we would love the entertainment on the jade, we thought yep right! Well we did love it, we could not keep up with the entertainment, and it was nearly as good as broadway. I just had to meet the entertainment officer, to congratulate her, I had the cruise staff in fits of laughter, on our experience with " big fat John,and his entertainment, especially his mornings with Calvin who we loved, and I might add every time Calvin said he was going to leave, because John was insulting him--- we wished he had-- I feel the big wigs-- like the bearded ones as John calls them-- never follow these critic views, if you do reply. Bearded ones We are Aussies, not Americans , so I agree with the London lady Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Holland America 21day Mediterranean Treasures. We were with a group of 147 adventurers on an inclusive - air, hotel, transfers, some meals group. We flew over the pole from Seattle to Barcelona - only way to go. The ports were mostly ... Read More
Holland America 21day Mediterranean Treasures. We were with a group of 147 adventurers on an inclusive - air, hotel, transfers, some meals group. We flew over the pole from Seattle to Barcelona - only way to go. The ports were mostly islands and all UNESCO or World Heritage Sites. It was intense with a different port every day except two. We took private excursions at each port. My overall impression of the Ryndam was good. It was big, but not too big. The dining experience in the Rotterdam was inconsistent. We tried ordering fish - halibut - didn't look like any we had eaten before - sent it back. The lobster was too mushy for me. The salmon was sometimes overpowered by the sauces. Our stateroom was an outside window on the main or 5th deck. One of my personal favorite places to be. I like the robes provided - the choice of bath or shower. It took me some getting used to the water regulator vs faucets for the shower. Our room steward were attentive and greeted us by name. LIDO Dining experience was very uneven. I like the "eggs Florentine" when the spinach is heated a little bit and the egg is set but not hard. It was hit and miss if it was served this way. We had "any time" dining in the Rotterdam and liked to be at a table for six or less because my husband has difficulty hearing with more. Host was always very friendly and attempted to meet our requests cheerfully. The Captain was able to secure dock space for us at every port which was awesome - even at the ones marked as Tender Required. We liked the port talks the captain shared. Good sense of humor and friendly when he was out and about on the ship. The main disappointment we had was our experience at Canaletto's dining. The food wasn't as special as I had remembered from our previous experience. The wait staff was almost "too friendly". We were disappointed in the variety of entertainment. There were not very many outside entertainers. There were five singers (3 males and two females) and only two female dancers. The performances were good, but nothing spectacular and was repeated. We usually never miss a show, but made an exception on this tripl First port was Tripani, Sicily, Italy- Small port. We took a bus tour to the salt beds. Easy to walk from port to the city - right there. Small but nice port. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
My wife and I were traveling with another couple. We stayed at the Confortel Barcelona Hotel the night before the 7 day cruise and also the night after the cruise ended. The room was clean but looked more like a dorm room than a hotel ... Read More
My wife and I were traveling with another couple. We stayed at the Confortel Barcelona Hotel the night before the 7 day cruise and also the night after the cruise ended. The room was clean but looked more like a dorm room than a hotel room - very austere. We took a taxi from the hotel to the dock on day of embarkation. The embarkation went smoothly accompanied by a glass of champagne upon entry into the lounge area on deck 7. Our luggage arrived earlier than some cruises we have been on. The staff and service was superb during the complete cruise. The food served was better than average and a wider selection than on other cruise lines. We especially liked the "freestyling" concept where you do not have to dress up for a formal night. The staff paid great attention to having cruisers use hand sanitizers upon re-entry to the ship and into food service areas - a big positive! The layout of the ship was very logical and easy to find your way around, which can't be said for some ships we have been on. We would highly recommend this cruise line if all the ships in their fleet (and staff) were like this ship. WE took advantage of NCL's shore excursion on 4 of the five ports. Our experiences were not bad but, in my opinion, a customized tour from reputable local guides at each of the ports would provide a more memorable and pleasant experience and for roughly the same price. Buses do not maneuver as easily as a van in some of the bigger cities and there is no waiting for stragglers to get on the bus. You can also take in more and spend more time at a particular location if desired, which is not an option on the cruise line's canned excursion. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
First and foremost I want to talk about the excursions. I would say don't book with the ship because it's overpriced and you'll sit on a bus with 100 other people and be on their schedule. Booking a private tour offers ... Read More
First and foremost I want to talk about the excursions. I would say don't book with the ship because it's overpriced and you'll sit on a bus with 100 other people and be on their schedule. Booking a private tour offers flexibility and convenience. I reviewed each port individually but I cannot say enough about Your Tour in Italy (www.yourtourinitaly.com). We booked all three days in Italy with Aldo (the owner) and were so very pleased with every aspect of his service. The cars were in great condition and very clean. Each driver was native to the area we visited that day which was key - they were able to provide personal accounts of each area we visited and recommend restaurants and shopping first hand. I read several reviews on this site looking for a tour company and Your Tour in Italy came up often. There were several companies with great reviews but Your Tour offered a tour in each Italian port. It was much more convenient to have 1 company to book with than 2 or 3. There were no hidden costs. We paid the driver at the end of the tour. We used travellers cheques so we wouldn't need cash but my conversion rate was different than theirs so I would recommend asking Aldo for the rate before you buy your cheques. Also we tipped our drivers/guides in cash (Euros). Please find the contact info below and see my specific port reviews for more details. Your Tour in Italy di Aldo Monti P.Iva n 02341610596 Via Ferrazza 986 04100 LT Rome Italy www.yourtourinitaly.com info@yourtourinitaly.com As far as the ship is concerned - it was very clean. We had a stateroom with a balcony and that was very nice. The bigger bathroom was worth it. The TV station selection is poor, there's about 5 options. The Internet was extremely slow and very expensive (you pay by the minute and it's about $1/minute). We never dressed up and enjoyed being casual the whole time. Restaurants: We tried the steak place our first night - Cagney's. It was $15 cover plus another $10 if you wanted seafood. The food was ok but not worth the additional cost. The king crab legs were not king crab legs and the lobster was a very small portion. We tried the Italian place our second night, it had a $10 cover. It was again - just ok. The food was not worth the cover. Our third night we tried the Mexican /Tapas place with a $10 cover and were again disappointed. We ate in the included restaurants from t hat point forward. The service in the restaurants was generally poor. We waited for a while for drinks and sometimes for anyone to even greet our table. You can get unlimited soda for a flat rate and if you drink a lot it's worth it. If you don't have that you will $2.50 for a can of soda. You can't bring any food or drinks on the ship so if you buy anything at a port they will hold it until you disembark in Barcelona (pretty standard for a cruise). There's a guy who gives "talks" about each port on a daily basis - he has good tips and knows a lot. It's worth your time for sure. Docking into Malta is beautiful, just make sure you're out there early enough. We asked the desk what time to be there and were given a time that was too late. We saw most of it but I would have liked to be on deck for the whole thing. They add a gratuity to your bill every day so DON'T TIP on every check. You'll be tipping twice. The conversion commission on the ship is horrible, change money before you go on your trip or in a port at a local bank. It will save you some money. You don't need Euros on the ship, everything is paid in USD. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
This was only our second cruise, first was a Disney 3-nighter which we loved; but usually we do timeshare weeks in the Caribbean. This cruise was a lifelong dream for my husband, and after seeing the movie "The Bucket List", he ... Read More
This was only our second cruise, first was a Disney 3-nighter which we loved; but usually we do timeshare weeks in the Caribbean. This cruise was a lifelong dream for my husband, and after seeing the movie "The Bucket List", he decided not to wait to do it any longer. The Voyager is a very large ship, generally very nice, beautiful public areas such as the Royal Promenade with clubs and shops; 3 story elegant formal dining room, richly decorated and well stocked 2-story library with a good selection of books and computers to use (for 61 cents/minute-send your kids to Club Optix where they can log on for 35 cents, which they don't advertise too well). The cabins are a bit worn and dated, in a peach and aqua color scheme; our cabin door was really beat up looking, the hall carpet needs a good cleaning. But, the ship overall is kept very clean, the food is excellent everywhere on board, the spa and fitness centers are terrific and beautiful. The main pool deck, level 11, was pretty crowded and noisy, but the deck above, and the small chaise lounge area on deck 13, were better for watching the view, reading and relaxing. (Watch out for the topless women on level 13, that's mentioned in the brochure but there are no signs there to warn those with kids). Recommendations-unless your kids are small, do not expect them to sleep on the sofabed-it's really a futon and is hard. The ice skating is fun, but you have to escort your kids there to sign waivers, and stay if they're under 12. Most of the entertainment, even for teens, is late at night, 10-midnight, and most of the shore excursions require meeting in the theatre at 7-7:30 AM, eating breakfast before-so we/they were too tired to do any partying. The shipboard entertainment was OK; the broadway style shows have very talented singers/dancers but are a bit cheesy; the Beatles show was very good, even our teenagers enjoyed it; the magic show-some people we talked to really liked/bought it, but we thought it was pretty amateurish. I think in general it depends on the level of entertainment you have seen in the past; "lower your standards" and you'll enjoy it more. One really annoying thing was everything is repeated over and over for the multiple languages of the passengers. What was great was the experiences we had at several of the ports-and by the way they do a very good job getting you on/off the ship at the beginning, end and all the excursions.Our ship was sold out, and the weather was really hot all week, and there was a gaggle of teenage girls (apparently a summer camp for girls from Spain) that somewhat took over the ship and kept one of our dinner mates up all night running up and down the halls; all of which probably detracted from the overall experience. The "my time" dining system does not work smoothly, I recommend you pick a dining time preboarding and stick with it, or you will get placed at bad tables, have to eat with others-our tablemates were all really nice, but after the exhausting excursions it's hard to keep up the small talk.All this is small stuff but good to know. Read on to our excursion experiences-we will have memories of a lifetime from these. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
I have been on several cruises in my life and this cruise line was THE WORST I HAVE EVER BEEN ON EVER! The embarkation was extremely chaotic and we had no idea what was going on because nobody spoke English. If you do speak english noone ... Read More
I have been on several cruises in my life and this cruise line was THE WORST I HAVE EVER BEEN ON EVER! The embarkation was extremely chaotic and we had no idea what was going on because nobody spoke English. If you do speak english noone wants to speak to you and will outrighly be rude to you, spit in your face, or ignore you. Our cabins were decent but our steward was not very friendly..even when we tipped him extra at the end of the trip. The food is horrible. Expect Europeans blowing smoke everywhere. My entire suitcase and clothing at the end of the trip reeked of smoke. They rarely cleaned the deck so I personally slipped 4 times and saw 20 people slip. There are inadequate warnings in place by the pool to indicate that the floor is slippery. If you are elderly, this is a walking death trap. Nobody ever lines up and expect people to push you out of the way or bite your hand off while trying to get food at the buffet. Serious....I know that everybody is hungry but people will literally push you out of the way to get a piece of salami. The workers seems completly worn out and I honestly feel bad for them because apparently the ship's tipping structure doesn't allow them to get much if at anything at all. Most are very nice and you can tell that they HATE their jobs. If you speak english expect almost all of your shore excusions to be cancelled. more than half of our excursions were cancelled because they didnt have enough english speakers. FRONT DESK (with a ship of over 3000 people), only have 3 people working at one time and when you get there, everybody refuses to help you. They are downright rude to you if you ask them anything. I think they have amnosity towards English speaking people because when I spoke to other Canadians and American on the cruise, they felt the same way. Here is what pushed me over the edge. Last day when we had to disembark, we didnt get our charge sheet till the morning. They overcharged us hundreds of dollars in those excusions that they cancelled. So we went to the very "helpful" ahem freaking CRAPPY front desk and they didnt want to help us. Then we went to the excusions desk and it was of course closed as it always is. we asked somebody where to get help because we had to get off the ship and she gave us a dirty look, ignored us, and said we had to wait at the excusions desk for the next 4 hours before it opens. Thanks for your help! We had to get off the ship in less than 1 hour. We finally had to flag down the cruise director "Stefania" to help is ater 2 hours of waiting. She wasn't rude and finally got someone to help us. The lady that came had the nerve to say, well good thing you came now because if you came for a refund in the next hour we can't give any of your money back. Isn't that stealing woman? If we didn't flag down the cruise director we wouldn't be able to get back our money that the ship intended to steal. Then she blamed it on us because we didnt check our charges the night before when they didnt even give us the charges till the morning of our disembarkation. When I got off the boat I was relieved to be away from the chaos. If you are paying for a relaxing trip in this tough economy, then pay for another cruise ship. DO NOT take this ship I warn you. Oh yah they didn't do any safety drills till the second last day of the cruise. It is not reassuring and if noone can help you with day to day matters and an emergency happens, expect chaos. DON'T TAKE THIS CRUISE! Positives: The ports visited were beautiful and the shore excusions that didn't get cancelled were wonderful. Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
My husband and I did the Mediterranean/Greek Isles cruise on the Brilliance of the Seas, leaving out of Barcelona on June 3.  He is 31, I am 25; we have done 3 previous cruises together, one of which was on RCCL.  We returned because we ... Read More
My husband and I did the Mediterranean/Greek Isles cruise on the Brilliance of the Seas, leaving out of Barcelona on June 3.  He is 31, I am 25; we have done 3 previous cruises together, one of which was on RCCL.  We returned because we liked the quality of service with RCCL and enjoyed their selection of onboard activities.  Plus, when Carnival cancelled their 2009 Mediterranean itinerary, this was the next best itinerary we could find for the price.  We admittedly chose this cruise more for the ports than the ship/cruise line. Embarkation and Rooms: We stayed in Barcelona for 2 nights before the cruise began.  We had the hotel concierge call us a cab, and we were at the pier in no time.  Porters were quick to take our bags, and the line inside took us maybe 20 minutes to get through.  I believe we arrived at the port around 1pm, and we were on board by 1:30pm.  Very smooth process.  The only thing I would note is that they took our passports away for the week.  Because Turkey is not part of the EU, Greek customs required RCCL to present all of our passports when we left Turkey and arrived in Athens.  Kind of threw us off (every traveler knows not to go without a passport!) but we had no problem getting them back after the Athens stop. We stayed in a balcony cabin on deck 7.  The room was your typical cruise ship accommodations.  The only complaint I had was that the shower had a curtain, not a sliding door (as we've seen on other ships).  This was super annoying, since the curtain would stick to you throughout your entire shower.  The location on deck 7 is nice because you can get to the Centrum activities easily, but there is not a lot of noise on this deck. Entertainment: Our cruise director was Kieran, he was great.  Very funny and friendly guy.  We also saw him out and about at many of the ports, which was nice.  Brilliance had your typical production shows...we did not attend all of them, but the ones we saw were pretty good.  There was a Beatles cover band one night that everyone LOVED, as well as a very good magician.  There were 2-3 stage performers that we thought were just so-so; they did musical and comedy routines that were definitely geared towards the older people in our audience.  Though we were admittedly in the minority as far as age range goes, we were hoping for some of the more fun and risquE comedians we've seen on other ships. The Pacifica Theater was a good spot for the shows, not a bad seat in the house.  We visited the Schooner Bar quite a bit for the live music, and the Colony Club was good for the karaoke-type events, though there were a lot of obstructed views there.  We enjoyed the sports bar—lots of TVs, plus the bartender there really knew how to make a strong drink!  The Champagne Bar is great—visit them after 6pm for free appetizers. The one thing about onboard activities that we didn't like—most of the entertainment was done by 11pm.  Really the only thing open late was the Starquest Disco, which was quickly taken over by the small group of teenagers on board.  Not much for the 20-something set after hours. Other Amenities: We took advantage of both the 24-hour mini golf, and the rock climbing wall—good fun!  The pools were always quite crowded, with all the seats claimed no later than 9am.  Get up early if you want a fighting chance.  We tended to stay in the Solarium pool area...quieter, less sun (good for those of us not working on a tan), and the bar isn't as busy as the main pool bar.  Also, it's adults only, so no screaming and yelling. Food: Overall we enjoyed our dining experience.  RCCL did an EXCELLENT job with the seating arrangements.  We were at an 8-person table at the later dining time (9pm).  Honestly, we were afraid we would be the only young couple at the table, but we were paired with 3 others nearly our age, as well as a wonderful middle-age couple from the UK.  We had fun with them all week.  Our waiters, Worawit and Miro, were great, some of the best we've had on a cruise.  Wit was especially helpful with his hints on the ports, we often got better information from him than from the Cruise Compass! The food itself was good, though there is a difference from our past cruises.  They seemed to rely on pasta dishes a lot more than usual, and of course there was no lobster or filet mignon.  All the food was good quality, we just felt that the selection was not as great. The Windjammer was typical buffet fare, nothing special to note.  Be aware that the food at the Latte-tudes Coffee Bar is FREE.  A lot of people assumed there was a charge there (because the coffee is not free), but we were happy to figure out that we were free to eat all the brownies and cookies we wanted. PORTS: Barcelona: We arrived here on June 1 and stayed at the Hotel Banys Orientals for 2 nights pre-cruise.  We booked this on our own, not through RCCL.  We had an excellent experience with Banys.  The price is amazing (99 euro/night), the staff is friendly, and the location can't be beat in the Barri Gotic.  I would much rather stay here than La Rambla, which I thought was overrated anyway.  I highly recommend using the tourist bus to help you get around to many of the sights.  It runs frequently and on time.  In 2.5 days we were able to see all of the major highlights that we wanted.  Must sees include: Sagrada Familia, Parc Guell, Picasso Museum, Barcelona Cathedral, beaches at Barceloneta, and the FC Barcelona Stadium.  If you want great tapas, try Cal Pep (best meal I've had in a long time), or Taller de Tapas. One recommendation: if you plan to spend extra time in Barcelona, I'd do it before the trip.  We were so exhausted by the end of the cruise, I don't think we could have done half of what we did in Barcelona by that point.  We actually ate with a couple who cancelled their post-cruise stay in Barcelona because they were just too tired to do it. Villefranche: We did not schedule an excursion for this port.  We got tickets for an early tender (hint: when they are giving out tender tickets, if you want a low number, get in line at least 30-45 minutes before they start handing them out).  We took the easy walk to the train station, and bought tickets to Nice (only a 10 minute train ride).  Nice was beautiful, definitely a beachy resort town.  We explored the shopping areas and the Promenade d'Anglais, and made a stop at Castle Hill.  There is a great food/craft market near the Castle Hill end of the promenade—we ate lunch at a great little restaurant in the middle of it.  Overall this was a really relaxing day, bring your bathing suit if you visit Nice.  You can also take the train to Monte Carlo (20 minutes) or Cannes, though I believe Cannes was further away. When we finished in Nice, we did get about 2 hours in Villefranche, which is a very quaint little fishing village.  It's good to give yourself some time to explore it and get lost in the winding streets. Florence: One of my favorite ports.  We booked the "Florence on your own" tour for this excursion.  Essentially this is just a bus taking you the 90 minutes from Livorno to Florence, and they bring you back at the end of the day.  We started off with a bang as our bus driver plowed into the car in front of us on the Italian highway...yikes!  We were delayed about an hour waiting for another bus, but we were given extra time at the end of the day to make up for it.  Well handled.  We were dropped off at the Basilica of Santa Croce and given about 6 hours on our own.  My husband and I visited all the major sights, and I highly recommend climbing to the top of the Duomo—amazing!  A long climb but worth it.  We didn't have time to go into the Galleria d'Accademia to see the David, or the Uffizi gallery...you will need to spend your day doing just those things if you really want to see them, in my opinion.  We did have a great lunch at Antico Fattore, the pasta and wine were amazing. A note about the "on your own" tours: they are pricy (usually at least $80 a person) but we felt they were very much worth it.  We always got more time in town than our friends who took trains in, because we didn't have to waste time finding the station, and at the end of the day, we didn't have to leave early in fear of missing a train.  A good deal if you want to maximize time and not worry about missing the boat. Rome: We did "Rome on your own" this day.  No bus crashes on the 90 minute drive in, thank goodness.  We were dropped off near St. Peter's; my husband and I immediately took a cab over to the Roman Forum to begin our whirlwind day.  We got a 3-site ticket at the Forum to see it, Palatine Hill, and the Colosseum.  DEFINITELY buy this ticket at the Forum, there was no line at all, whereas the line at the Colosseum was massive.  We visited all three sights, then walked towards the Trevi Fountain.  Stopped there, had some pizza, and threw in our coins (we will be back!).  Made a stop at the Piazza Navona before heading back towards the Vatican, crossing the Ponte Sant'Angelo (gorgeous).  We made a beeline for the Vatican Museum so that we could see the Sistine Chapel, which is absolutely a MUST see.  Breathtaking.  Afterwards we walked around St. Peter's Square, but we weren't left with enough time to go into St. Peter's.  This was truly a crazy, fast-paced day, but you can see both sides of Rome if you really hustle.  We had a lot of fun though we were quite exhausted at the end. Santorini: We didn't book an excursion here.  First off, Santorini is gorgeous.  Take your time here, and take in the scenery.  We took the cable car up to Fira and explored some of the shopping areas for a while.  We then took a city bus (quite reliable, and cheap) over to Perissa, and stopped at the black sand beaches (warning: black sand is hot!).  This was a nice relaxing way to start the day.  We thought about taking the bus to Oia as well—we would have had time, but barely, so we just decided to head back to Fira for some relaxation.  We had a long, leisurely lunch at a rooftop restaurant, sampling all the classic Greek fare: souvlaki, Greek salad, saganaki, Greek wine, baklava.  We ended the day by watching the sunset over the caldera.  What a beautiful place! Kusadasi: We booked the Ancient Glories tour for this port.  The tour began quite early, and took us to the ruins of Ephesus, Miletus, Magnesia, and Didyma.  Beware: Turkey is HOT!  Nearly 100 degrees this day.  Bring water and dress cool if you are taking any of the tours.  The tour guide was very informative, which was great because we got a lot more out of the ruins by hearing about their history.  A buffet was also served at a Turkish restaurant near Didyma, which was excellent—lots of local fare and fresh fish.  The tour ended back in Kusadasi at a rug shop.  It was interesting to see how the rugs were made, but it was a little annoying to have to sit through their sales pitch—ah well.  We explored the Grand Bazaar for a while before heading back to the ship at the end of the day.  Lots of deals to be had at the bazaar, especially if you're into clothes, bags, watches, etc. Mykonos: No excursions for us this day.  We kept hearing how great the beaches were in Mykonos, so we decided to find them on our own—everyone said they were so easy to walk to.  This was not so!  We, along with many other confused-looking passengers, ended up giving up our search for the beaches after an hour of walking, trying to figure out the Mykonos buses, etc.  Very frustrating.  RCCL should either run buses to the beaches (they are on the other side of the island from the ship), or they should provide a better map to tell you how to get there.  But, this did not ruin our day.  We walked around town, which was great because the winding streets are so beautiful.  Had lunch at a little cafe, and explored the windmills near town.  Mykonos is definitely a relaxation destination. Athens:  Our plans were initially foiled by the Greek Tour Guides Union strike—all tours were cancelled for the day.  RCCL let all of us know this the day before we arrived in Athens, which was a sea day.  This was very poorly handled by RCCL.  We were told the day before that all tours were cancelled, but RCCL would be running a shuttle into the city if you just wanted to be dropped off in Athens.  If you wanted a ticket for the shuttle, it was $25, non refundable, and they went on sale that afternoon at the excursion desk.  We were also told that seats were limited.  So, of course everyone rushes to the desk that afternoon and buys the tickets.  Well, that night at the show, the cruise director tells us "a little secret": the train station is not a long walk from the ship, and train tickets to Athens are only 1-2 Euro.  Imagine how upset we all were!  RCCL clearly needed to make their money back from the cancelled tours, so they sent everyone into a panic over the shuttle tickets, and never said a word about the train.  (I'm sure Kieran was given a talking to about informing us later on, poor guy.)  In general, we found that RCCL staff were very reluctant to give out any information about a port that was non-excursion related.  We understand that they need to make their money, but we know many passengers were frustrated, not just by the Athens incident, but also because simple questions they had about other ports (where a train was, etc.) were skirted by RCCL employees in an effort to boost excursion sales.  Tsk tsk. Anyway, on to Athens.  My husband and I took the shuttle into town, and were dropped off near Hadrian's Arch.  We walked up to the Acropolis first—this was probably the hottest day of our cruise, so yet again, pack water and dress lightly for this city.  The Acropolis and Agora were close by each other and definitely worth the hike.  We also walked over to the old Olympic stadium, through the Botanical Gardens, and over to Syntagma Square to view the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  Had a great Greek lunch in the Plaka district as well.  All the major sights in Athens are fairly close together, so we had no problem exploring on our own this day. Naples: We booked the Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius tour for today.  We had not heard great things about Naples itself (other than the pizza), so we were okay with forgoing a trek into the city.  The Pompeii tour was good, though a bit shorter than we had hoped.  It would have been nice if we had some time on our own in the ruins, rather than just being guided the whole time.  Mt. Vesuvius was amazing though.  We were driven most of the way up the mountain, then given time to climb on our own to the peak.  The volcanic crater is very cool, and the views of Naples and the Mediterranean were great once the clouds lifted.  This is definitely worth it, especially if you enjoy hiking!  If you do this tour, be aware that you'll get quite dirty climbing up the mountain, there is volcanic ash all over the place and my shoes/pants were never the same! Overall this was an excellent cruise for two people who had never been to Europe.  We knew that we wouldn't be able to spend tons of time in each place, so we spent a lot of time before the trip planning out exactly what we wanted to see.  It's important to do this, or else you will just be overwhelmed by all that you can do in one day.  This is definitely not a relaxation vacation—we were exhausted by the end, and slept our way through most of the sea days.  But if you want a cruise with amazing ports, this is it. Read Less
Sail Date June 2009

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