Sail Date: December 2014
I just read 2 conflicting reviews on this cruise and I appreciate a review is only someones opinion so here is another one! In January 2015 we cruised with NCL Getaway (Southampton to New York) and going from their newest ship to the ... Read More
I just read 2 conflicting reviews on this cruise and I appreciate a review is only someones opinion so here is another one! In January 2015 we cruised with NCL Getaway (Southampton to New York) and going from their newest ship to the oldest in their fleet, I will not lie we were a little apprehensive but we went with an open mind and took into account the ships age the cost of cruise. Embarkation, was straight forward Service, we only encountered friendly and polite service Cabin, is of age but had everything and more of what you require and of good size, clean, comfortable and well kept, (please update the hairdryer) Public sitting areas did have some signs of age but were clean comfortable and well kept. The other public areas stairways/corridors were very clean, well kept and looked new in places. Dining in Windows we did not require to wait any evening the meals were good with a wide range each evening, some evenings the service could be a little slow but lets be honest who is in a hurry, you are on vacation and I will add the servers were nothing but polite and helpful. Entertainment left a little to be desired (be honest more than a little) the last two evening shows were their best. (we were spoiled as on the inaugural Getaway sailing the entertainment was outstanding) Shore excursions I will make this short, miss out Casablanca and the rest were fine. Spa, This ship has had a number of refits over the years, I can understand they have not managed a pool within the spa area, but this day and age they should have managed a unisex spa area,as they have on their other ships. Value-for-Money, again I will keep short 'excellent'   Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
We booked this cruise primarily to escape the usual Christmas hype and also to experience the brand new Costa Diadema ship. We spent two nights in Barcelona prior to joining the ship on 22nd December 2014 and must admit to feeling some ... Read More
We booked this cruise primarily to escape the usual Christmas hype and also to experience the brand new Costa Diadema ship. We spent two nights in Barcelona prior to joining the ship on 22nd December 2014 and must admit to feeling some trepidation as we had never before cruised on a ship with so many passengers, however, we went with an open mind and were determined to enjoy the holiday. The embarkation process: We arrived at Barcelona cruise port early as we were in company with two other passengers we had met on route from Belfast. There were few passengers around at that time so the actual check-in process was quick and efficient. We were given a numbered card to be used for the boarding process later so we decided to sit back and relax with a coffee/ beer. Boarding commenced around 2pm and was done in numerical order according to the cards issued during check-in and, considering the number of passengers involved, it was also a fairly quick process. Once onboard, the sheer volume of passengers passing through the lobby area made it a bit chaotic , however, we quickly made our way to the lifts and found our cabin where we made contact with our Steward and were able to put valuables in the safe and unpack our hand luggage. We were impressed that our suitcases arrived very soon afterwards and we were soon unpacked and ready to explore the ship and have lunch. The ship: As a brand new ship, naturally everything was very new and fresh and it soon became clear just how big it was. We did a tour of the ship to get our bearings and also to ‘sus out’ the places where we might spend our evenings. The overall décor is undoubtedly ‘bling’ in style; however, we expected this and sometimes just marvelled at how much the interior designers had managed to cram in. All the public areas were large with plenty of seating so there was never any real problem; however, the Diana Lido pool area always seemed to be crowded although we only ever passed through it on our way to other parts of the ship. The pool seemed to be used mainly by children and I imagine that it might be unbearably busy in the summer when the retractable roof is back. There were plenty of elevators around; however, my vertigo prevented me from trying the scary glass lifts which seemed to go up forever from the main lobby area. The signage around the ship was generally good, however, for the first few days it was difficult to find the public toilets as they were not signposted and hard to miss unless you knew where to look. For instance we found no toilets near the lobby area on Deck 3 and the nearest ones were on Deck 4 hidden beside the entrance into the Emerald Theatre. Also, the automatic door opening mechanism in the toilets was a bit alarming at first as you were at risk of being seen by passing fellow passengers. We felt that the Concierge Desk seemed very small for the size of the ship and the number of passengers who would be likely to use it. It was only after standing in the queue for quite a time that we realised there was a ticket machine for issuing ‘next in line’ tickets, similar to those in large supermarket counters. This machine was strangely located in a corner away from the queue so most people did not even know it was there until they had reached the front of the line – it would have been better sited near the start of the queue where passengers could see it from the outset. This would dispel any possible arguments about who was next in line. The Concierge staff were very helpful and efficient and spoke many languages. Restaurants: We had been allocated open dining in the ‘Corona Blu’ restaurant for dinner each evening and the experience on our first night was not too encouraging. We expected to have to wait to get a table and this was not a problem , however, once seated the service was very slow and the family seated adjacent to us complained to the waiter who explained that there was a problem in the kitchen. Personally we were not unduly worried as we were not in any real rush to go anywhere; however, we could appreciate that it might be a problem for families with young children. To be fair, the service did improve on subsequent nights and we never had too long a wait. We did not particularly like the ‘Corona Blu’ restaurant itself and found the layout and décor very uninviting and dull when compared with the other restaurants onboard and it did not have a great ambience. ‘Corona Blu’ has very dark décor, furniture and carpets and on a few occasions we were seated in the side arms of the room which made us feel very cut off from the rest of the passengers – it felt like being relegated to an overflow part of the room and did not enhance our dining experience. On subsequent nights we specifically asked to be seated in the main body of the restaurant and this did not make us feel so isolated and it improved our experience. Given the large number of passengers onboard we felt that the standard of food was fairly good in the restaurant, if perhaps a bit ‘hit and miss’ at times, but we never had anything we could not eat and never went hungry. It was interesting that one of the Maître D’s told us he felt that the optimum number of passengers would be around 4,000 in order to be able to give the best level of service. To us, the ‘Corona Blu’ restaurant was simply a place to go and eat and then leave – it was not a place to linger too long afterwards. We had lunch a few times in the Diana Lido buffet and the food was excellent, especially the pasta dishes, even though it was just a bit chaotic at times due to the sheer number of people around. We always managed to get a seat and have a chat with our fellow passengers. Although we usually prefer a buffet style lunch, we also had lunch a few times in the ‘Fiorentino’ restaurant as it was easier to get a seat, and less frantic, if you went early enough. On one occasion only the ‘Adularia’ restaurant opened for a self-service buffet lunch which we really enjoyed and it was a pity this had not been an option every day. The light décor and layout of both the ‘Adularia’ and ‘Fiorentino’ restaurants was so much better and more welcoming than ‘Corona Blu’ and they both felt more like proper adult restaurants. We also heard from fellow passengers who had been assigned to the ‘Adularia’ restaurant each evening that there was a great atmosphere there with ad-hoc entertainment provided by the waiters and a much better rapport with passengers. Speciality restaurants: We went to the ‘Club Diadema’ restaurant on one occasion and thoroughly enjoyed both the food and the relaxed atmosphere. On a second night we went to the ‘Teppanyaki’ Asian restaurant with two fellow passengers who had now become friends and we all had a really fabulous evening of food and entertainment provided by the chefs. We finished the night off with a few glasses of champagne in the Bar Bollicine. Both speciality restaurants were well worth the additional cost and we would certainly recommend them to anyone. Bars: We had purchased the ‘all inclusive drinks’ package at the time of booking and this proved to be a very good deal. We both drank mostly wine or beer and the system worked very efficiently in all parts of the ship. We quickly found that our favourite watering holes were the bar in the main lobby area on Deck 3 and the Piano Bar on Deck 5. The bar and waiting staff in both locations were excellent and we soon became friends and looked forward to seeing them each evening. It is perhaps unfair to single out individual staff; however, we particularly enjoyed the craic with Barry and Jaydnash (Piano Bar) and all the staff in the Lobby Bar. Two waitresses named Xian and Joy in the Piano Bar also made us feel very welcome. The evening entertainment in both the Piano Bar and the Lobby Bar area was first class and was a real draw for passengers of all ages. From what we could see, the entertainment throughout the rest of the ship was equally good with something to suit all ages and tastes. On Christmas Eve there was even snow falling down into the lobby area which was a lovely touch and the children loved it – along with many adults. Kudos to Costa! Our only criticism would be the lack of an ‘adults only’ bar as the constant presence of young children running around a crowded bar, or being wheeled around in prams, was a bit off putting and perhaps not the best environment for them late at night. The crew: We have only the highest praise and respect for the crew throughout the ship for their efficiency and friendliness, despite the huge number of passengers they have to deal with on a daily basis. They all worked very hard and we often felt sorry for them and wondered how they coped, particularly with embarkation day which seemed to be every day! Other facilities: It would have been nice to have access to a guest laundry/ironing room in order to freshen up creased clothes; however, we appreciate that this may not be possible given the passenger numbers on the ship. On a longer voyage this would be even more desirable. Unfortunately our upgrade to the Samsara Deck did not automatically entitle us to access to the Samsara Spa, however, on the first day we decided to pay for the voyage spa package as we knew it would provide us with a means of escaping the crowds and somewhere to relax. It was money well spent (€105.00 per person for 07-days) and we looked forward to going there every afternoon and enjoying one of the many therapy rooms or just reading quietly in the large, and usually empty, relaxation area with a pot of herbal tea ~ heaven! The Spa staff were also friendly and courteous, especially Tereza and the Spa Manager, Pavel. On the penultimate day of our cruise (28th December) we were unfortunately bombarded with constant tannoy messages over a number of hours which were obviously lifeboat drill instructions for new passengers who had just embarked in Marseille. Not only were these messages’ intrusive but they were repeated in at least three or four languages every time and we struggled to understand why they were being constantly transmitted into the cabins of passengers who had joined days earlier and who had already undergone the necessary lifeboat drill. These new passengers were presumably being put through the lifeboat drill at their allocated locations (as we had done when we embarked in Barcelona) so what was the point of all other passengers having to hear it all again, and again, and again? We fully appreciate the need for safety drills; however, this was perhaps a bit OTT. It really spoiled our last day onboard. The interactive portals provided on some decks were very useful for making speciality restaurant reservations; port transfers …etc. and avoided unnecessary queuing at the concierge desk. Ports of call: Unfortunately we visited most of the ports during the Christmas period and in most cases the shops were usually closed, however, we did get off in them all (except in Marseille) if only to stretch our legs and get a coffee. Palma de Mallorca was our first stop and we spent a pleasant couple of hours just meandering around the impressive Cathedral and the seafront. Naples was the port we had most looked forward to visiting; however, it proved to be a real disappointment. We felt it was very down at heel, neglected and dirty and everywhere was ruined by graffiti. Prices in the cafes were exorbitant compared to the rest of the ports we visited. Not somewhere we would wish to visit again. La Spezia was a fairly small town and we had a quick walkabout and a coffee before heading back to the ship for an early lunch. It has a nice walkway along the seafront leading into the town itself. Savona was a much larger town and had more of interest and a nice atmosphere. We had previously visited Marseille on another cruise and not been too impressed with the place so we decided not to visit on this occasion and to relax on the ship while it was a little quieter. Overall opinion: We actually did enjoy the cruise, due mainly to the friendliness of the crew. We quickly found those venues where we felt most comfortable and which suited our choice of entertainment. There was certainly something every night to suit all tastes and ages. Having cruised previously on ships with much smaller passenger numbers it took a while to get used to the sheer volume of people onboard - especially the large number of small children, however, we soon adjusted and learned to ‘go with the flow’. We would recommend the ship to others, provided they were prepared to wait in queues at meal times, and we could certainly give them some tips on where and when to go in order to avoid them. Overall very good Costa Diadema.   Read Less
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Sail Date: March 2014
This was our first cruise with NCL, but it will not be our last. To sum it up in a few words it was excellent. We showed up for embarkation at 11:45 and the line up was less than 15 minutes. We had our photo taken and then found out that ... Read More
This was our first cruise with NCL, but it will not be our last. To sum it up in a few words it was excellent. We showed up for embarkation at 11:45 and the line up was less than 15 minutes. We had our photo taken and then found out that we were surprisingly upgraded to VIP status which was a great way to start the cruise. Yahira the concierge escorted us to the VIP lounge and explained the perks. Then we were taken to Cagney's for lunch and to wait until our cabin was ready, which was prior to 1PM. At Cagney's we met Edrex, a waiter we ran into several times on the trip. He was very pleasant and friendly, we could hear him singing big band tunes when he left the dining room and entered the kitchen. We had a complimentary fruit basket and a bottle of wine in our room from Armando the director of hotel services. Subsequently we received either hors d'oeurves or chocolate covered strawberries each evening. We had 32 CRuise Critic members show up for the M&G on the first sea day and Armando and most of the senior officers were present. They served coffee, juice and had sandwiches and sweets. We ate most meals at Raffles, the buffet and the food was good, but not great. The most difficult part was finding a seat. We had one supper in the garden and the food and service was excellent. We had one supper at Trattoria, a specialty restaurant, and it was excellent. We had passed bt the Blue Lagoon several times, but only tried it for the first time about day 5. We ate there several times after that, as the pub style food was a nice treat after a busy day, without having to fight to find a table in Raffles. Henry's Pub prepared popcorn every afternoon and it became a routine for us to pick up a couple of bags to have when we watched an in room movie. The casino was nice and we visited it a few times. We attended several art lectures, which was a new experience for me. We even ended up winning some free art. The shore excursions were great, the Mosque in Morroco was fascinating. In Tenerife I went to see Mt. Tiede and in the afternoon we walked around Santa Cruz. In Lanzarote we visited Timanfaya national park and this was a amazing as was los Hervideros, where the waves crashing on the rocks was breathtaking. In Malaga we went to Mijas a town set in the side of a mountain. This was my wife's favourite excursion. She did some shopping while I toured the village with the group. The white buildings and narrow streets reminded her of Santorini. They also had Donkey taxis, but we just walked. The views were spectacular. Anne was our housekeeping lady and our room was always well taken care of. My wife loved the towel animals and Anne always greeted us by name and asked about our day. We only went to a couple of shows as we were involved in other activities, but the ones we attended were very good. Though the ship is old it is well maintained and the view of the atrium while descending is stunning. I would like to finish by stating that although we were upgraded to VIP, which was almost embarrassing at times, it was the friendliness of Anne, Edrex and all of the other staff, who were not aware of this status, that made this our best cruise ever. Way to go NCL.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2013
Embarkation in Barcelona was swift and smooth, and to avoid crowds we went straight to the windows restaurant for lunch. Food was fine, then to cabin where cases had arrived and then to explore the ship. NCL have a big problem here and ... Read More
Embarkation in Barcelona was swift and smooth, and to avoid crowds we went straight to the windows restaurant for lunch. Food was fine, then to cabin where cases had arrived and then to explore the ship. NCL have a big problem here and that is the temperature of the food ..although it is ok, in the Garden restaurant and the Windows restaurant, it always arrives nearly cold, and every mealtime we had to ask for the food to be re-heated. This is a big problem and really needs to be sorted out. The best food is in the Raffles buffet ,beautiful joints of beef there etc and piping hot.and what is offered in the buffet at lunch time is the same as the menu in the restaurants for the nighttime...so you can see what will be offered and plan your evening meal. After one lukewarm breakfast in Windows we only breakfasted afterwards in the buffet, which was good, hot and a wide choice to suit all tastes. Our highlight of the day was the jam ,fresh cream and scones served in the buffet from about 3 til 4.30...which we never missed.For some reason i really look forward to afternoon teas on board and it would have been nice to have a separate venue for this making it an event, serving light sandwiches and cakes etc. The Blue lagoon is a concept that really works well. ..offering food, tea and coffee 24/7. there is a nice chatty atmosphere here, and although a limited menu, the food here is always nice and hot. Drinks are terrible over-priced on this ship ..we paid over 100 dollars for four bottles of cheap wine, which would cost 12 pounds for the four in any supermarket. I don`t really understand this pricing, and an inclusive drinks package will cost each cabin about 100 dollars per day. halving the price of this package would make sense and make for happier cruisers i think. On the 9 day cruise we had only 1 happy hour offered which is just meanness. ..otherwise tip-top prices plus 15% tax. A happy hour should be available every day in my opinion. A free liquor sampling was offered on deck 5 offering thimble sized tests of drinks. I went up 3 times to get samples for myself and my elderly parents, who had managed to get a seat in the nearby coffee bar.and on the 3rd time was told very rudely by the Romanian server I could not take samples for other people. i explained that my parents were elderly, and did not want to queue up, but was refused service. This was unacceptable, and to be honest I was furious. We had paid over 3,500 pounds for this cruise, and i am sure to expect a few thimbles full of liquor without any extra charge or hassle was not asking for too much. The shows in the theatre really were very very amateurish, the exception being the acrobats who were excellent. Upstairs in the galaxy the band of Philippinos were also very good, and the trio also fine ..but the `cover stories duo` often in the `champagne bar ` were very poor. this girl cannot sing!!! The ports of call were also fine, the highlights being Madeira and Malaga, though i think on a 9 day cruise at least another port could have been added. Our cabin was fine , and our steward excellent. The general atmosphere on the ship was nice with a lot of friendly well -traveled people, but complaints were many and all the same. ..the cold food ..the weak shows .the price of the drinks , and the high price they had paid for the experience. Would i go on this ship again? yes I would but only if I found a very good offer. Would i do another cruise with NCL again?...ii think first, i would look at other cruise-lines for a similar itinerary.   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
We are just returning from an excellent cruise to Canary Islands on Norwegian Spirit. Everything was wonderful from Embarkation to disambarkation, all employees on the ship try to please you in anyway they can, the tours we took from the ... Read More
We are just returning from an excellent cruise to Canary Islands on Norwegian Spirit. Everything was wonderful from Embarkation to disambarkation, all employees on the ship try to please you in anyway they can, the tours we took from the ship was excellent for Lanzarote (best of Lanzarote) in the way that we visited a lot of things and it was very nice and the meal on the tour was excellent too, but we took a tour a Casablanca (exclusive Casablanca and Rabat) and it was not worthed to pay extra money to be in a small group in the way that we did not visit everything we were supposed to (the guide was upset with some of the questions he was asked...) )the tour was supposed to last approx. 9 hours...we left at 8h15 and we returned at 15h45 (according to the original schedule we were supposed to be back at around 17h15) and the tour on the big bus with more people took the time to visit everything and more...but I told the facts to the shore excursion personnel and they took care of my complaint right away in the sense they give me some money back...I really appreciate the fact they listen to me and take care of the situation... One other thing we appreciate is that we told at the reception personnel that a suitcase was broken by one of the porters (from the bus to the room) and they took the time to repair that suitcase...it was greatly apprciate... All the meals we took on board was excellent (at RAFFLES for breakfast and lunch except for the days we were on excursions and at WINDOWS for dinner) and the waiters and their help gave a really good service....we usually eat at around 5h30 PM and we had a table right away (no waiti) and by the Windows... Al the shows were excellent and we went to all daily shows (3 shows with dancers and singers, 2 shows of magic, 1 show with 2 excellent acrobatic, 1 Broadway show and more)... They have very good music onboard (ship band, 1 other band with 2 singers and they were excellent, 1 trio, duo, 1 pianist, 1 guitarist)....so they have music for everybody and evry taste with those 6 groups... The embarkation and disembarkation was very smooth and fast....(for the disimbarkation, it took only 30 minutes from the time we left our room on the ship to the finish of checkin at the airport....I never experience a disembarkation, transport to the airport by taxi and chek-in for the plane so fast...we left the ship at around 7h00 in the morning))... Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
My husband and I just returned from our first European trip (from United States). We spent two days in Barcelona before boarding the NCL Spirit. We had a surprising quick check-in process and experiences nothing but superb service and ... Read More
My husband and I just returned from our first European trip (from United States). We spent two days in Barcelona before boarding the NCL Spirit. We had a surprising quick check-in process and experiences nothing but superb service and friendliness of the crew and staff from beginning to end. Our room attendant, Charlie, was fantastic. A wonderful smiling face to see everyday. As other reviews have mentioned, the food was just OK. We had a great food and service at Cagney's, and were happy with that we ordered at Trattoria and as for the complimentary eateries, we found Windows to be the most pleasant. We didn't particularly love the shows as the talent felt like small town community theater, but could tell the performers were really trying to put on a good show. Our first port, Lanzarote, was OK. We just walked around, lacked stores/places to visit outside of excursions. Tenerife was also OK. Unfortunately, this stop was on New Years Day so most of the city was closed. We did take a highlights tour in Casablanca and were extremely disappointed. The whole tour felt like a cattle heard and after we were shuffled through the Mosque, we spent the next 4 hours of the tour wasting time with random stops--- one at a small hotel where we were given a soda, and told we could sit in the lounge for 40 minutes (while 6-8 other tour busses did the same thing). We were dropped at some small store with souvenirs... crammed like sardines with way too many tour busses stopping at the same store. One bathroom for use, no toilet paper. Casablanca was a sad city, very dirty, and the people were not friendly.... very negative experience. We LOVED Málaga. LOVED it. Cannot wait to go back just to visit that city again. Other than the iffy stops, we were overall very happy with our NCL experience. The boat may not have had many bells and whistles and the activities felt a little hit or miss, but the Crew and Staff were phenomenal. There was always SOMETHING to do. Every NCL employee we encountered was upbeat, helpful, and friendly. Will definitely look into future trips with NCL- especially their newer ships.   Read Less
Sail Date: May 2013
We have just returned from our first cruise with RCL which we booked because of the wonderful itinerary.From the moment of boarding we could see that there were very big differences compared to the cruises we'd enjoyed with ... Read More
We have just returned from our first cruise with RCL which we booked because of the wonderful itinerary.From the moment of boarding we could see that there were very big differences compared to the cruises we'd enjoyed with Celebrity:No welcome - No staff member or anyone to welcome us - compared to a drink & smile by Celebrity.We asked one of the entertainment staff to orientate us to where we should go, but they were not very helpful.On entering our stateroom (balcony stateroom) we were not supplied with toiletries other than liquid shampoo in a dispenser & bars of soap. Towels were small & poor quality. Beds were comfortable with lovely sheets & well planned for storage wardrobes.We found the staff excellent, giving us a really good service in all areas of the ship & stateroom of course.We had no hot water several times but inspite of visits from maintence we continued having this problem.The My Time Dining worked very well & throughout the cruise we had excellent service & fairly good vegetarian options. Portions were generous & variety was good.The areas that we noticed the big differences were those of entertainment - there were only two big productions. Both shows were good. Guest performances were by "has beens" or "wanna bees". & many other cruisers felt the same that the shows were poor/average.The last night there was just one performance of a brief & terrible show. We were so disappointed that we had rushed our last evening meal to witness a poor show. We had expected a lot more to end a wonderful holiday but the opposite was the case.The CENTRUM - what a waste of space. There were 3 ariel spectaculars performed here.However, with very little seating available & guests trying to peer from the various balconies on different levels few people were able to see these performances. To add insult to injury during formal evenings the photographs were occupying parts of the area around the Centrum preventing guests right of way causing them to wait & gawk whilst the photographers were taking photos.Several of the Movies that were screened were really not recent - Mama Mia & Skyfall !!!!!On the few sea days, there were no interesting workshops or talks to attend.Overall IMHO I felt that the use of low quality toilet paper, no flowers in public bathrooms, no chocolates on the pillow, no wet towels & cold drinks to greet weary cruisers returning on port days etc etc showed the lack of attention to detail that we so enjoyed on our previous cruise. I am a little reluctant to book RCL in the future although have been told that Oasis Class or other cruise ships are amazing. As we usually chose our cruise because of itinerary, this could be a problem.I like several of the itineries but would not like to sail on Serenade of the Seas again. I would also like to be assured that the entertainment would be much better than it was. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
We celebrated New Year on Royal before and did not like it at all. So before booking this cruise we thought twice, read allot of reviews and decided to give it another chance. Let me tell you, it was GREAT! I have 1 thing to complain ... Read More
We celebrated New Year on Royal before and did not like it at all. So before booking this cruise we thought twice, read allot of reviews and decided to give it another chance. Let me tell you, it was GREAT! I have 1 thing to complain about- embarkation in Barcelona. There was line of few hundred people and 1 royal rep checking people in. My husband went complaining and finally after over an hour in line more employees showed up and it went somewhat faster. We boarded in December 24th. Ship was very well decorated. Atrium is pretty small and cozy. Dance floor could have been larger to accommodate all the guests. We got to meet our captain...very impressive as she is the first female captain in the history of cruising. Our families are far away and we don't always get to get together for holidays. But on the ship we felt like we were surrounded by family. Christmas dinner was great, party was allot of fun. We were caroling with the crew members. 3 different bands were always playing at different ship areas, so we always had a choice of music. Pianists and guitarist were entertaining at bars. There was always some activities going on...but we preferred to relax in a Jacuzzi or on the deck by the pool. Unfortunately it was pretty cool some days and unlike Holland American, Royal has no blankets at poolside. It would have been really nice to cuddle up in a blanket and relax on the fresh air. Food, I have to say that this is the first ship where my husband did not complain about the food! I noticed smaller portions in the main dining room, which is good...for those of us who does not want to over eat. And for those of us who want more, they can always order another dish. Meets were always very tender, in fact I was wondering how they get that roast beef so tender. I can never do it at home. Menu had great variety of appetizers, main dishes and deserts. We even had very small lobster tails on 1 of the formal nights. Looked more like large shrimp than lobster. Buffets were also pretty nice. Good choice of hot dishes, salads and deserts. Food is actually gotten simpler and more homemade, but quality is very good. Breakfast however kills me every time. Everything is too greasy and fatty: bacon, sausages, eggs... french toast tasted like fried bread, waffles was always dried out on edges..oatmeal like glue....and pretty bad coffee. Same thing every day for 2 weeks really gotten to me. Our waters were very nice and service in the dining room was superb. We did not try any of the specialty restaurants this time...felt there was no need. Head water stopped by our table every evening and we always had nice conversation for few minutes. She always smiled and thanked us for liking the food and service. Our room attendant, Happy (that is his name), was delightful. We hardly ever saw him, but everything was very clean and tidy in our room. He also managed to give us few special things, which was very nice. Almost every night we had new towel pet waiting for us on our bed. We found out that he used to work on Holland American before, where they make towel pets every night. On New Year eve there were several parties. Atrium was packed with passengers from top to bottom and we felt we were on Time Square at midnight. Champagne was flowing and Ken, our cruise director lead the countdown. It was so exciting! At midnight hundreds of balloons drooped from the sealing and people popped them all creating the sound of fireworks. For those who wanted to party all night disco and bars were open. We had a blast. Shows were little boring. Production cast was very good, incredible singers and dancers and it would have been lovely to see something more professional done with that great talent Guest entertainers, however, were pretty bad and theater remained empty for most evenings, sure indicator that it's time to change the acts. I think it would be good to look in to some more interesting choices. I will not be mentioning port of calls this cruise cause we already visited most of them before and for us it was only to relax and not be alone for the holidays. All thought my husband still managed to find couple of excursions to take. And as always ship offered excursions are overpriced, start way too early, take hours away from sightseeing to go to the pearl, glass, rugs and cameo factories. The only advantage is that they are available at the last minute without advanced planning. We always prefer private tours. I know I am being super picky, but to sum it up it was great experience overall. I think the rest of the Royal fleet should learn from Serenade and bump up their rating accordingly. I want to thank everyone on Serenade for a wonderful experience. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
The Continental hotel on Las Ramblas was clean and very early European. The much advertised free buffet was very disappointing and we avoided it. 6/10 for the view and location. Embarkation on the Serenade was very smooth, however we ... Read More
The Continental hotel on Las Ramblas was clean and very early European. The much advertised free buffet was very disappointing and we avoided it. 6/10 for the view and location. Embarkation on the Serenade was very smooth, however we were greeted, not by a welcoming party but a lady shooing us into a line of "my time diners" insisting we should immediately book our dinner for that night!! Not "welcome aboard, here is a glass of champagne, and have a lovely trip with us". Not welcome aboard, lunch is being served and your cabins will be ready at whatever time". After booking for what we understood was my time, my choice dining, we were met by another employee selling special offers!!!!We felt at a disadvantage and unsure where to go or what to do next. Our cabin was a highlight of the trip and we received the usual high standards we are accustomed to on a cruise. The dining room was very nice and the crew were attentive, the menu was disappointing as there were only 3 courses, not much choice and at our first meal we were offered steak at an extra cost!!. Another diner was demanding and the staff were very patient. Deciding immediately to stick with the buffet restaurant we headed there for lunch the next day. The experience was better as we could choose from a wider range of food, the staff here were exactly as expected, smiling, welcoming and always available to offer help. We continued to eat there every day for every meal. The food was just average and we were not impressed as on previous cruises on Cunard and Princess or Celebrity. The Park restaurant was small with limited range of food and hit and miss opening hours for the salad area. This is not a substitute for midnight buffets on the Cunard line. Mizumi the Japanese restaurant at extra cost was not worth the extra charges, although very busy. We really enjoyed the outdoor cinema, although we only watched it in passing due to the weather. The customer services: First encounter was to find out how I could receive my free glasses for the cocktails I had purchased, they said the bar were out of glasses and they would send them to our room. They did not come until I requested for a third time and we were on our last day. Second encounter was I called and asked for information, but when I was not clear with the answer I went to the desk and requested further information, expecting a patient reply I was surprised at the Gentleman's exasperated outburst that he had already spoken to me on the phone. Neither problems were huge but I dread to think how they would have handled a bigger issue. The ports were great and we made our own excursions for the first time on a cruise. WE seriously encourage people to research and try this alternative as it is much cheaper and not so daunting as you may think. Hop on hop off busses are truly fantastic for getting a feel of an area and you can get off at any place of interest or stay on and see the whole route all together. The little extra charges were very annoying, charge for delivering food to the room, charge for movies on TV, etc., The departure was very smooth. Overall the cruise was acceptable and a fair example of cruising. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
We have cruised on almost every major cruiseline and heard many derogatory remarks regarding NCL. Last year we cruised on the NCL Jade twice and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. We recently cruised on a B2B on the Spirit over ... Read More
We have cruised on almost every major cruiseline and heard many derogatory remarks regarding NCL. Last year we cruised on the NCL Jade twice and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. We recently cruised on a B2B on the Spirit over Christmas. This is a very special ship - obviously not built to NCL's requirements, which showed in the placement of the Blue Lagoon. However, she has a most attractive Asian decor, with some interesting and unusual artefacts dotted around. The balcony cabin was on the small side, but perfectly functional, clean and pleasant. The staff are truly exceptional - very friendly and service oriented. The food was very good and well presented and we enjoyed the specialty restaurants. The Casino was very hot and smokey - which prevented us spending as much time there as we usually do, which was a pity, as the staff there were very attentive. We really enjoyed this ship - its the perfect size - not too large, but large enough to have all the entertainment facilities we needed. No climbing wall etc., but there was a very nice pool area for small children. The music on board was excellent - varied enough to suit most tastes. The senior officers were very approachable and, except for the Captain, very visible. We can't comment on the ports, as we spent sixteen days on board without getting off once!! We cruise for the ships not the ports. I can thoroughly recommend this ship - perhaps older in style than the new glitzy ships, but very elegant and offering a very enjoyable experience. Read Less

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