70 Barcelona Holiday Cruise Reviews

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
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
Sail Date December 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
Sail Date March 2014
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 December 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 May 2013
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
Sail Date December 2012
Embarkation, after a taxi from Barcelona Airport (half the price of NCL bus!), took merely minutes and we were on board before cabins were available - so we took advantage of lunch in Blue Lagoon, a 24/7 cafe. The cabin was beautifully ... Read More
Embarkation, after a taxi from Barcelona Airport (half the price of NCL bus!), took merely minutes and we were on board before cabins were available - so we took advantage of lunch in Blue Lagoon, a 24/7 cafe. The cabin was beautifully clean and well presented. Cabin steward was courteous, friendly and efficient. It was a delight to get reports from the bridge over the PA, and the Finnish captain was friendly and kept us regularly informed (whereas with MSC we never heard from the captain, and feel he may not have sailed with us!) DINING was a delight, and better than we experienced on Jewel or Jade. Using mainly the free dining rooms (Alizar and Grand Pacific) for dinner each evening, service was excellent, menu selection was good, and food was produced quickly, beautifully cooked and well presented! The Brazilian diner was an extra cost restaurant - but was worth the $20 surcharge for the different dining experience! As on other NCL ships, the Garden Cafe buffet was exceptionally good, with great variety, and only modest quantities being on display (to prevent drying out), but topped up continually! Always courteous friendly service ... And an exceptional attention at all times and in all dining rooms to passengers being made to use hand sanitizer! Sincere congratulations to the head chef for his superb food! DRINKS on this ship the bar service was less high pressured than on Gem or Jewel, waiters were around when required and service was great. Sadly, prices were rather high (especially wines at dinner), and whilst adding 15% is tolerable for waiter service, I deeply resented going to the bar to get a dring, and still getting a 15% surcharge for self service! ENTERTAINMENT ... The best of any ship I have been on! Frequently full houses for both shows each evening, and variety, polish and presentation were excellent! Shows ran for at least 45 min. And the star show 'Elements' was a breathtaking tribute to Cirque du Soleil, mixed with magic and live music! Better than brilliant!!! ...and almost 75 mins! ... And the technicians who 'operated' the theatre deserve great credit for their skill and professionalism, changing lavish 'sets' each day ... And never a slip in their presentations! (again, on MSC a lavish theatre seemed to have one amateur operator, and one show was only 12 mins!) On the down side, the shore excursions seemed expensive, but in most ports, busses operated free or for token charges into the towns, and the hop-on hop-off City Tour busses were great for getting round the towns (Funchal, Teneriffe, Lanzarotte and Malaga). Yes, as reported in another review, bags were x-rayed, but NCL seem very security conscious - and I thank them for that! Altogether, FREESTYLE cruising (formality optional and not essential) works well for me! The lack of tipping (daily cabin surcharge) means the staff are friendly and efficient ... Great food, great entertainment, it all made it a great holiday for me! Thanks NCL! Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
The Magic should, theoretically, provide more fun things to do than a smaller ship because there should be tons more space. Well, no. A lot of that free space is taken up by many more cabins and two more "premium" restaurants ... Read More
The Magic should, theoretically, provide more fun things to do than a smaller ship because there should be tons more space. Well, no. A lot of that free space is taken up by many more cabins and two more "premium" restaurants for a total of three. Since it's a new ship, it's obvious they're still getting the kinks out of their systems - figuring out how long they need to get everyone off and on the ship to shuttles for excursions, for example, is something they haven't quite gotten down. They stage departures for shore excursions from the main theater on this ship, and that is somewhat smooth, but if there's a port that requires a general shuttle into town, you'll want to go quite early to the theater if you don't want to wait for a long time. The boat, which is nearly brand new, also "broke" and had to have a thruster repaired which meant this sailing missed Grand Turk to go to Freeport for repairs. They gave all passengers $25 credit as a "we're sorry" which, in my opinion, is completely inadequate since a cruise to Grand Turk costs quite a lot (and there are none coming out of Galveston), and considering that they managed to arrange and film a commercial from a helicopter in Freeport, there were a lot of people suspicious that Carnival had been planning to hit Freeport all along. On the other hand, apparently the ship has to go BACK to Freeport instead of its next itinerary to Costa Maya, so if that's true, then Carnival was telling the truth - but it still is Carnival's fault that we did not go to Grand Turk, and it would have been a great gesture to do more than they did. Here are some of the good aspects: The best beds I've ever slept on in a cruise ship. Sleeping is very difficult for me, and I slept very well. An amazing staff. Our stewardess, Jolanta, was wonderful as were her assistants. Our waiters, A.K., Dario, and Sergh were so hard working and very friendly as was the beverage steward, Marijana. I was very impressed with the staff in the Lido, the coffee shop, the piano bar, room service staff, and the chef, Daniel Anulraj. The food was generally quite good. They seemed to have changed how they do things as they don't have both a starter and a salad at dinner, but, obviously, if you're still hungry after a three-course dinner, there's always more food to eat. If you enjoy the premium restaurants, the Magic's steakhouse was superb as was the Chef's Table event which is $75 per person, but provides seven courses, wine, and a tour of the spotless and impressive galley. The entertainment staff were a fun bunch, and gosh did they have to put up with a lot of grouching from unreasonable passengers demanding live television in the middle of the ocean. Major kudos to Carnival for their unflagging good cheer. Usually, I don't think of Carnival as a great line for "enrichment" but they had a number of useful photography classes led by Radu, and a photography competition that generated a lot of participation. Last, cove balconies are fantastic. If you have trouble with the claustrophobia of being cooped up indoors on a ship for days on end, you need to try a cove balcony room. Seriously awesome. Here are a couple suggestions for potential passengers: The "smoke-free" casino did not work out to be smoke-free (at all) as there are a few smoking areas, and the smoke permeates the entire area. If that's not going to work for you, perhaps start a petition to have a completely smoke free night like they do on Princess. Second, a lot of people caught a moderate cold on this sailing - They have Purell before you eat and before you use the computer, but you're touching the slot machines just as much as a computer keyboard and there's no Purell. Go around the corner to the "Fun Hub" (a computer/internet area - there are several on board) and use Purell before and after losing your money to the slots. :-) If deck five is too crowded and noisy, there's a row of couches on four across from the teen disco where you can read or have a quiet conversation. There's no sea-view, but there are also no beverage servers, so it's an area where you can feel like you can sit as long as you want without needing to buy a drink. Probably on most vessels it's difficult to get good seats for the shows unless you go very early and sit for an hour or more. Well, even though this ship is bigger, it doesn't seem like the theater is bigger nor are other venues, so even something like the "future cruise talk" can be jammed to capacity. Popular areas like the Ocean Plaza can be crowded with people playing cards instead of taking part in whatever activity is supposed to be taking place. So plan ahead and go early to the events you'd like to hit. In all seriousness, it's apparent that a lot of mistakes were made when this ship was built based on facts such as the damaged, dinged, and cracked sconces in all the elevators from poorly driven hoverounds (they were removed in Freeport, by the way) - apparently no one predicted that. Well, they also didn't predict how overcrowded the buffet or other popular areas were going to be at peak periods. So when they get around to overhauling the ship, I hope they find a way to reduce congestion. I love Carnival and will certainly sail with them again, but I wish I could hijack this wonderful crew and sail with them on a different vessel. Still this was a relaxing cruise, and, despite the Grand Turk mix up, the vast majority of guests seemed to be having a great time. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
We just arrived home from a seven night Western Mediterranean (literally hours ago)and I just could not wait to submit this review before somebody books another cruise with RCI (or at least on Liberty of the Seas). Let me first say ... Read More
We just arrived home from a seven night Western Mediterranean (literally hours ago)and I just could not wait to submit this review before somebody books another cruise with RCI (or at least on Liberty of the Seas). Let me first say that we are not "high maintenance" people and by no means are members of high society. We have sailed on three previous cruises with RCI, all of which were good with the most recent in April 2010. We sailed on Princess earlier this year(please forgive me if I sound like a sale's rep from Princess but I assure you I have no affiliation with any cruise line, I'm just an ordinary working class guy). Where to begin... If part of your decision to take a cruise is based on all the hype about the food, this is NOT the cruise I would take. The food was poor to average with one good meal enjoyed the entire week. You won't starve but when you pay good money with expectations of fantastic food (as experienced by us on previous cruises) you expect the cruise line to deliver. I mean come on, fried minute steak, watered down apple/orange juice (oh and than they try to sell you real orange juice at breakfast as you enter the dining room). The dishes were often greasy (yes dirty). Back to the food...same thing day in day out, I would compare it to your typical pig trough buffet you would find in the continental US or here in Canada. The deserts looked nice but were nothing more than cheap cakes, and custard type dishes etc. Yes there was the odd decent thing thrown in to keep the customers remotely happy. If you think for a minute that I am one of those people that can never be pleased well maybe you will believe that crew. I approached a couple on this topic, one being one of the Windjammer managers (presumably as he was overseeing things and was in a slick uniform). He acknowledged the shortcomings and said there was a menu change and that RCI is working on it. (how about you work on it before we spend several thousand dollars on a vacation). Another crew member(a former Princess employee) acknowledged the same. This brings me to Princess. Perhaps we were just lucky on the one and only Princess cruise we took but the food was many many times better than on RCI. There were different themes in the buffet each night with a quality and selection far better than RCI. Entertainment: Ice show, excellent. Up In the Air, excellent. Magic show on last night, we were embarassed for the guy. PLEASE TRY ANOTHER LINE!If I could add just one last thing. It was very apparent that the moral was lacking in this crew. It was very apparent that they did not want to be there and that they were worn out. I can't say I blame them as their jobs are very difficult if not slave labour and I'm sure RCI pays them very little as they depend of the passengers to give them what equates to a reasonable salary. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Since booking a Mini Suite on the Epic a few months ago I have been reading with interest the reviews on this site. How I wondered if we had thrown our money away; the awful cabins with strange bathrooms and no room at the end of the ... Read More
Since booking a Mini Suite on the Epic a few months ago I have been reading with interest the reviews on this site. How I wondered if we had thrown our money away; the awful cabins with strange bathrooms and no room at the end of the bed. The bland food in the Garden Caf. The expensive drinks and the overbearing sales techniques that have blithed the poor reviewers. Even the lack of central multi-storied atrium seemed to have concerned worried travellers. I read all the reviews with increasing woe and so with trepidation we set off the Barcelona on Sunday 2nd October 2011. Perhaps I should explain a little about myself. I am a bloke knocking on 50 and have travelled extensively both with my job and for holidays. You could say that I have certain standards that I dont wish to compromise and my friends would say that I am interesting to be with especially if I dont consider the price and promise to meet the actual offering. Yes I find I will often send food back (albeit I will not agree to a replacement, as the human being is not good at accepting criticism without revenge: I value my health). Embarkation was a breeze. Disembarkation was a breeze (we wheeled our own bags without any issues). We both thought the stateroom was just lovely and the curved lines a great success. Yes the toilet compartment was a little cramped and the acoustics were not great, but this was not so bad and I have stayed in many a hotel with the same issues. We have travelled on the Legend and Navigator before and the sinks on both of these vessels were pretty small, so I have to ponder exactly how large are the guests that have complained? Surely they can get their hands into the sink to wash them; their faces cannot be that big and are they using loofers as toothbrushes? Strangely NCL have provided a wonderful shower that I used twice a day. Sink not an issue. The length of the bed has been mentioned! I am 6 2 and hey presto I fitted a treat. Actually the bed was extremely comfortable. I liked the little reading lights on a stalk and especially liked the interactive TV where I could check my billing. However there could be a better choice of channels as it does appear that NCL would rather you spend a few dollars renting a movie! This point leads me nicely into the often criticised up-selling that can be found on-board. Yep they want to take photographs and make cash; yep they want to sell you expensive drinks and yep they want you to go to the surcharge restaurants. They certainly want you to go on the NCL organised excursions. But they are not in your face and we never got anything other than a polite OK when we said no thank you. Furthermore, the same up-selling is evident on the other mass market cruise lines. The food. What are people complaining about! The Garden Caf and the Great Outdoors. What a great selection. In fact it is such a great selection that I noted that many guests had filled their plates with a rare smorgasbord of dishes that would not normally be seen on the same plate. Such was the choice that these poor guests were so confused and bewildered that they were mixing such items as curry with fish and chips with a smattering of blue cheese salad dressing. I am sure these people are not the ones complaining of bland food! I broke all the man rules and actually ate salad at lunchtimes! Peculiarly I enjoyed it and suffered no ill effects! We decided that we would splash out on some the speciality restaurants. We found that the Italian on the first night was good and enjoyed excellent service. I can understand the comments regarding the food at the Cirque but I have this to say. These guys are trying to hit a happy medium! They have to. There is one starter, one main course and one desert to be served (pretty much at the same time) to a wide audience that ranges in age and culture. I attend Industry and Conference dinners in London at prestige hotels and experience similar. If you are complaining about the food at the Cirque venue then you have missed the real point. This being what is happening 15 in front of you not on the plate that is only 12 inches in front. We also paid extra for Cagneys, Moderno and Teppanyaki and found the surcharge to be reasonable and the service excellent. It is staggering the quality they come up with in the middle of the sea! Taste was reasonable, although the quality of the food was below that which you pay a little extra for. The biggest surprise was the quality of the food in OSheehans as this is included in your ticket. This is American Diner food and was excellent and you can order as much as you like! Entertainment was really very good. The big productions on other cruise ships are goodish and if you like the big theatre feel then you may prefer these. The Epic goes for a more intimate feel. We have seen Cirque de Soleil at the Royal Albert Hall for the past 3 years. Its a big production, or rather the set is a big production but with similar performances as you will witness on the Epic. We choose to sit up-stairs and the way the Spiegel Tent has been set up, everyone has a great view. For me this was better than the big London performances and believe me far cheaper! Blue Man Group was a revelation. Loved them and went standby to see them twice. The Beatle tribute band that was moved from H20 to Fat Cats due to weather were fantastic. Again the venue helps as you really get to see the performers up close. I dont really like the Beatles music, but loved the show as the personalities of band really shone through. This was also true of the Slam Allen Band who we hold entirely responsible for some late nights. I am an avid non smoker who occasionally can smell if the car driver in front is smoking. We didnt spend any real time in the Casino as I cannot gamble. This is not a religious thing I simply loose my money quickly! However if I had have wanted to drop a little cash I would not have done so as this area is quite smoky when busy! Oh well live and let live! We have a good dance at the White Hot Party although we did not spend a lot of time at H2O (too many other bars to enjoy). It defies belief that there are 3 flumes, and we particularly liked the one that you had to use the rings. It was good to shoot around the bowl many times! As you may have gathered there are more activities than time and we didnt get round to going the following: Bliss nightclub; bowling, Spa; Comedy Club and Duelling Pianos, Legends in Concert, Ice Bar; Chinese Restaurant; the Noodle Bar; the Sushi Bar. There are probably a few others that are tucked away. So can we recommend this ship? You may be surprised to learn that no we cannot; well that is if you like going to the same restaurant every night and delight in getting to know the waiter and other table mates! If you like the big Broadway shows! If you like a standard square cabin with little technology! If you like dressing in tuxedos and ball-gowns! If you like a chocolate midnight buffet! If you like a formalised Cruise Director! These are not bad things but if you do then this ship is not for you and it would serve you better to book a traditional cruise. I believe that NCL and their Freestyle Cruise is aimed at a very different demographic. We fall into this demographic and loved it. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Getting there After a direct flight from JFK we stayed at Petit Palace hotel prior to the cruise. It was centrally located steps off Las Ramblas and quiet. The room we had was called an apartment it was on 2 levels, slept 8 and had a ... Read More
Getting there After a direct flight from JFK we stayed at Petit Palace hotel prior to the cruise. It was centrally located steps off Las Ramblas and quiet. The room we had was called an apartment it was on 2 levels, slept 8 and had a small efficiency kitchen that allowed us to do some light cooking. This was great since the Bouqueria market was just across the street. We also stopped in Carrefours supermarket on Las Ramblas to pick up soda and juice to carry onto the ship. Embarkation was very easy, even though our printed docs were in the checked baggage - somehow since they were called e-docs hubby figured he didnt need the paper :). We checked in separately from the kids and it took each of us about 20 minutes, vs about 5 minutes for those who had their documents. We were on the ship by noon and the rooms were ready at 12:30. Cabins We had a mini-suite and 2 interior rooms on deck 9. The balcony was completely covered and easily fit all 6 of us. The sofa was near the window, which I prefer, as I like to sit and look out the balcony when it is windy. The stateroom had lots of storage and there were no issues with the bathrooms. The balcony room had a larger shower and more counter space, the interior rooms felt very spacious and no one felt crowded. Our rooms were near the aft elevators, but we never heard any elevator or hallway noise. One negative is that the TV options were horrible - MSNBC, CNBC, Nick in 4 languages and one channel that played the sitcoms. Food and Drink We ate at The Manhattan Room, Taste and the Garden Caf. (We have been on NCL before and did not think the extra cost restaurants provided value.) Most of the food was very good to excellent. There were a couple of entrees that were not up to par (lobster tail and a beef dish). Service was excellent when the restaurants werent busy, but spotty during prime time which usually occurred after 8:30 pm when the early shows were done. We ordered room service for port-day breakfast and they were so efficient they arrived early, accompanied by a phone call to let us know they were on their way. We bought a wine package. It is available on embarkation day outside the garden caf and gives a 20% discount if you buy 6 to 8 bottles. Unlike previous cruises, they gave us a chit for that nights wine and delivered the rest to the cabin. We had ordered an NCL setup (brandy) a week before the cruise and were pleasantly surprised when the bottle of wine and vodka that we purchased in Barcelona and were prepared to leave in the naughty room was delivered to the cabin. Entertainment Steve Sorrentino was good but the venue Headliners was horrible and many of the seats had obstructed views. Legends was good. The Blue Man Group was mixed. Some skits were fun others seemed long and drawn out. Cirque Dreams was awesome, especially since there were 11 foot waves and the ship was moving around a lot during the performance. The view from the back seats was obstructed by the low ceiling. There was also music all around the ship at most times of the day. The casino is huge, running half the length of deck 6. You could smell some smoke, but not bad, as you walked through. We are not gamblers but purchased slot play coupons for each room. We had so much fun we wished we had purchased one per person. Pools, etc The deck chairs around the pool seemed to get crowded but there were always chairs available. The pools are a joke, as they are so small, but the water slides make up for it. I am not a sun lover and was concerned about finding a place to relax in the shade. It was not a problem. There is a covered area on deck 15 behind the video arcade that had oversized upholstered chairs that was great. It rained one day and we were totally dry in this area. Shore excursions Getting off and on the ship was a breeze at all the ports. For the Italy ports we used a private car and driver from Limo In Rome for the 6 of us. We saw everything on our list and more. It was definitely the way to go. We took the HOHO bus right outside the port gates in Palma. Three of our party also took a behind the scenes tour that is given on sea days. They show you laundry, kitchens, etc and provide you with lots of statistics. It was heaven for the techies in our group. Guest services These people were friendly and efficient. If there was a long line, there was usually a guest services person working the line to answer quick questions. One of our bags somehow didn't make it fomr the cab onto the ship. The Guest services people were very helpful in trying to find it, phoning the cab company and the port agent, although the bag was not found. Overall I was a bit concerned with the size of the ship and its interior focus. It seldom felt crowded and you could always find a quiet corner. I did miss the ability to walk around the outside of the ship but you could walk either side of deck 7 and it was fairly easy to walk the interior length of the ship on the public decks. The crew was outstanding everyone was friendly and offered to assist in anything we needed. There are not as many of the grand public spaces and atriums as other NCL ships, but it is tastefully done and there are a couple of multi deck chandeliers. We would definetly consider another cruise on this ship. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Please read this review, knowing that we all want different things and what I like may not be what everyone else likes, and visa versa. Having cruised with Royal Caribbean last year as a taster, we had high expectations for the NCL ... Read More
Please read this review, knowing that we all want different things and what I like may not be what everyone else likes, and visa versa. Having cruised with Royal Caribbean last year as a taster, we had high expectations for the NCL Epic, 7 day cruise from Barcelona, to Pisa/Rome/Naples/Palma. There is no doubt about it, this ship is huge and lovely to look at. The embarkation and dis-embarkation procedures as usual were flawless. We arrived at 12.30pm, and were in our room unpacking by 2.30pm. We would always get a balcony now as it gives you the best view. We heard the internal cabins were tight and stuffy. However, our room was fine, more storage than most, but the bathroom area design has been over thought, There is a cheap and nasty curtain that separates the toilet area/shower area and the so called sink, which has no use as it's the size of a sauce pan. this really cheapened the room, and if you are a new couple, or friends, get prepared to have no privacy. Balcony was great, bed comfortable, however some of the worst sleeps I've had due to the constant clicking noise coming from curtain area - totally unexplainable. We asked about the drinks package, and most staff were quiet resentful in answering, however we go there in the end, on your 1st meal you order 6-8 bottles to get 20% off, then they put all the tax and whatever on top, and give you splits of paper for each bottle. This ship has face recognition on it for the over priced photo system, why can't they put the wine on my card and track this. After this we proceeded to the Mandarin Spa which was amazing, would recommend this, but wait a few days as all the over priced treatments are reduced by 20% later in the cruise. Staff very helpful though. We decided to check out the Friends of Dorothy (FOD) party for the LGBT gathering, which was at dinner time every night at 7.30pm. No entertainment was organised, you just turned up at 7.30pm. This should be later with some entertainment as live piano. Although we did appreciate the effort. The ship as I said is massive, some amazing cocktail bars, out door bars, and Ice bar which was fun. The entertainment is amazing, we saw the Blue Man Group which was the highlight, and the Cirque Dreams dinner which was one of the better meals. On that note, I should get the all important subject of food out of the way. Be surprised with the food on this ship.The free areas like the Garden Cafe, Taste and Manhattans offer the usual fair. Garden Cafe has a vast amount to choose from, but all very tasteless to us, and rather bland. Deserts all taste more or less the same, but we never went hungry. Taste and Manhattans, what can I say, a true disappointment, both menus don't change much and decor in taste is more a kin to a tex mex place. One night in Manhattans we were walked all around the room to find our 1 table, and the service is not great. It's worth mentioning here, you get what you pay for, and having read the reviews about this being a nickel and dime cruise, the paying speciality restaurants were very good. Wasabi was the best I've ever had, Teppanyaki was good, however the server kept dropping the food, and cirque dreams was pleasant. Obviously the best staff have been reserved for these areas. The evening entertainment is very good, the white party was one of the best nights, and the fabba party was excellent, as well as the bliss lounge which was friendly - although I have no idea why they have a DJ, as all the music seems to be on the same play list, same music most of the time, so quiet what the DJ is remixing on the "decks" pardon the pun - Id don't know. The cruise director at most of these venues was rather irritating and had a certain attitude which I did not like, but I'm sure others may like it. The drinks are the usual price, with tax etc added on top. The music in other areas like the live guitar lady was amazing in the Whiskey Bar, but please can we have an update from Twice as Nice as they were so dated, and that blond haired man on the piano (Danny Fabilow) is what we called him, attitude was not nice. Please read the excursion reviews carefully, the NCL offers the most expensive I have ever seen. Do your own thing, get the shuttle bus at most of the ports, then the train, and head to Florence/Pisa/Rome by train. By the way, we saw the pope, he always comes out on Wednesday about 11am, get off at the St. Pietro station and walk 10 minutes to the Vatican, take your seat and he will appear. Don't do what everyone else does and get off at Rome Termini. Do it the other way round. Trains are cheap and get a timetable off the Internet before you travel as train times are all over the place. We got back early (4pm) most days, however those who left it later had great trouble getting through the queues for the shuttle bus - don't miss your ship on the way back in other words. All in all, we had a great time on the ship, dinners were not formal as RCI, but some liked this some didn't, we liked the informal dining times, and the booking system from your TV was very helpful. I'm not damning the EPIC, as I said we all want different things, it's just end of the day, it's a pricey trip and I don't think you should have to pay over the odds for good food in addition to what you have paid. If they get the free food areas right, then they are onto a winner. Finally, people make this trip and you have to make the effort to meet them, and we did. We met some amazing lovely people and had some great nights. NCL did try and put on some great nights. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
On our recent cruise on the MSC splendida, we were disappointed with the poor service provided particularly for English speaking passengers. The only time we saw our cabin steward was when he walked in without knocking. We ran out of loo ... Read More
On our recent cruise on the MSC splendida, we were disappointed with the poor service provided particularly for English speaking passengers. The only time we saw our cabin steward was when he walked in without knocking. We ran out of loo paper three times, as did other guests we spoke to. The internet service, particularly when at sea was a complete rip off. At 12 euro for 60 mins it was expensive but when you spend the first 30 mins just trying to get into the website it is appalling. My cabin key card stopped working twice requiring a visit to the reception desk in a bathrobe. Hardly an apology or explanation given. Staff on excursion desk seriously short on information when ever I had something to ask. No maps of the cities we were calling to were provided as had happened on other cruises. Very few serving staff in lounges as compared with other cruise lines, so we often had to go to the bar ourselves. Having said all that it is a beautiful ship. Boarding was effortless and all trips ashore were well organised. The dining room staff were the exception. they couln't have done more to make our evenings enjoyable. However overall the the experience was not as enjoyable as hoped. The splendida is a 5 star ship with 2-3 star service. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Firstly I need to admit one thing. We only paid 199 each for a balcony cabin having come upon a real bargain five night cruise on the Internet, sailing from Barcelona, so I shouldn't really grumble about the less positive aspects of ... Read More
Firstly I need to admit one thing. We only paid 199 each for a balcony cabin having come upon a real bargain five night cruise on the Internet, sailing from Barcelona, so I shouldn't really grumble about the less positive aspects of the cruise. We joined the cruise in Barcelona, stopping at Tunis, Valletta, Messina and Rome before heading back to the start port of Genoa. The ship is great - well designed and it has that touch of Italian class you would expect. Likewise the rooms are well laid out. The ship and rooms are kept immaculately clean, almost to the point of obsession, but overall we have nothing negative to say about the ship. Despite what others have said, we found the staff to be friendly and helpful when you needed it and our cabin attendant and table staff in the restaurant always had a smile for us. Excursions - we only went on one to Rome, and this was what you expected. I did think that they were rather expensive, especially as most of the ports were made for independent exploration. Eating - I can't criticise the quality of the food, although as has been previously stated it could have been warmer.One negative is that in the buffet restaurant I could not figure out what the Head waiters did as the approach to finding a table was to walk around until you found one and the distance from some of the food areas was rather long. However tea and coffee was available all day if you wanted it, although it would be good if you could make it it in your room. Also thanks to the family from Wales who we were seated with. Made dinner time a real pleasant experience. Entertainment - The shows put on in the Theater were very good if a little short, so that they could get a game of Bingo in between first and second sitting, and yes it was funny to here each number called in several languages. The entertainment in the bars was highly professional and we particulalrly enjoyed the Jazz Quartet in the Manhattan Lounge, although the performers did seem to be going through the motions and didn't really engage with their audiance I agree with the other reviewer that it was difficult to get used to a smokey environment in some of the bars, and its become easy to forget what it used to be like in the UK before the ban. Drinks - This is the biggest negative. As we are charged 7 Euro each per day for tips, I did think it a bit much to also have a 15% service charge for each drink bought. It makes it rather expensive, although we didn't let it prevent us from enjoying ourselves. I do think a complimentary bottle of water would also be good to be provided with. Disembarkation - this is my one real area of complaint. In general it operated as you would expect. However, asking guests to vacate their rooms by 7.00am is extracting the michael somewhat. Especially as we then didn't actually leave the ship until after 10.00am. That extra hour in bed would have made such a big difference to the journey home. Overall we had a good time and it was interesting to experience a different style of cruising. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
First of all here was no lifejacket or safety muster and when we asked the crew shrugged their shoulders. I thought it was mandatory on board ship. Cabin.. we booked an aft facing balcony stateroom, no problem lots of storage and coat ... Read More
First of all here was no lifejacket or safety muster and when we asked the crew shrugged their shoulders. I thought it was mandatory on board ship. Cabin.. we booked an aft facing balcony stateroom, no problem lots of storage and coat hangers. Although when on the balcony it was noisy, and the ship rocked and rolled even though the sea was calm. Never experienced this on other cruises. Resturants..We felt the resturants were disappointing, Garden Terrace food cold and greasy. Taste and Manhattan ok but very repetitive.One meal in the Manhattan was so bad my husband had to return it and because we could not get any satisfaction from the waitress we called the Maitre ,d who after much deliberation finally allowed us a complimentary bottle of wine but for some reason we couldn,t have it until the next night! Trips.. The trip to Pisa was spoilt by spending 2 and half hours around an Outlet mail, 1 hour around a leather factory and only 1 and half hours around Pisa itself. Enjoyed the Rome and Sorrento trips. The ship is huge which lends itself to being a little souless and deck 15 is a nightmare.. whole deck taken up by the casino which was smoky and the smoke drifted up to the next deck and bar. Other passengers we spoke to seemed as disenchanted as us with the ship and its worth noting the Surcharge of $12 per day each is voluntary but it took 3 visits to the Guest Service to get this removed from our bill and Oh boy there were long faces. The saving grace of this ship is the cabin attendants, waiters and waitresses and bar staff whom we tipped generously. Finally would we sail with NCL again....NO NO Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
We have recently returned from our second RCI cruise and this was at least as good as the first. For us we both put on the pounds and the choice and variety of food was good. We used both Chops Grill and Portofino which were both ... Read More
We have recently returned from our second RCI cruise and this was at least as good as the first. For us we both put on the pounds and the choice and variety of food was good. We used both Chops Grill and Portofino which were both excellent value and the murder Mystery night is to be recommended. Anyone criticising the food must be used to 5 star plus dining every day of their lives. The Cabin steward Franklyn was exceptional and when RCI managed to break a wheel of one of our cases the attitude of all involved was concerned and when it could not be repaired they replaced the case with a new one. Full marks for customer service. The shows were top quality although we did not attend the end of cruise final show. Apart from the usual Brit thing about tipping on tips and more (please can the industry pay a decent wage and allow clients to tip for good service?), and the fact that all advertised pricing does not include tax, we have nothing but praise for the cleanliness of the ship and the friendliness of the staff. Great value for money cruise. We intend using RCI again for our next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
first let me just say this is a personal opinion of the epic cruise. we booked through virgin cruises which was a mistake poor interaction from them led to us getting our cruise/flight tickets 2 days before departure,after a long drive ... Read More
first let me just say this is a personal opinion of the epic cruise. we booked through virgin cruises which was a mistake poor interaction from them led to us getting our cruise/flight tickets 2 days before departure,after a long drive we stayed at the turret hotel in horley for the night and left the car there for the week, if anyone wants a place to stay before flying out of gatwick this is it, £75 for b and b and car parking for the week flights were with easyjet and they were great,transfer by virgin [well we will not say no more]. boarding the epic was painless and quick with boarding at 2pm we went straight to our cabin a inside backing on to the singles rooms on deck 11, no problems were found the room was spotlessly clean and smelt fresh, having eventually finding the plug sockets and looking around,our cases had arrived 30 mins after boarding excellent work by the stewards. the room was quirky with the shower curtain but caused us no problems at all food on the ship was good to great we ate in the garden cafe every morning only thing wrong here was the repetitive things for breakfast but you can't help that. we ate most evenings in taste we we found to be better than Manhattan but there wasn't anything wrong with the Manhattan restaurant we did have a splendid meal with some very good friends in the Italian restaurant on the last night entertainment!!!!! blue man group very good and entertaining. fat cats was very good and on the whole the entertainment was of a high standard. yes there is smoke from the casino but wasn't off putting the casino is large and took up alot of room. pictures. if you wanted your photo taking there was many places to have it done but was never pressurised into having it taken, a polite no and they understood.the staff and stewards were all fantastic and could not fault in anyway a special mention to our steward sorry didn't catch his name but room 11093 we were in. the pools on this ship are stupidly small for the amount of passengers on board. but on the whole the ship ticked all the right boxes. we had a little group of eight of us from the greet and meet forum doing the tours and must say we had a great time.a special mention to :your tours in Italy; ,first class service and at less than 50% of the cruise ship prices well done Aldo and colleagues so that's a personal opinion of the epic some may agree some may not.would we go on the epic again?don't think so only because there's so many other ship to try but loved the freestyle aspect Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Our 3rd cruise with HAL. We booked HH cabin with guaranteed option and were please to be upgraded to cabin 384 in C class. After the first night we were less than happy. This and nearby cabins are below the galley and prone to noise, all ... Read More
Our 3rd cruise with HAL. We booked HH cabin with guaranteed option and were please to be upgraded to cabin 384 in C class. After the first night we were less than happy. This and nearby cabins are below the galley and prone to noise, all night. 384 is below the dishwasher so you hear a big noise as the water comes on to fill then another when the taps go off followed by the dishwasher noise. After many complaints the galley were asked not to use the machine between 11pm and 6am but we then heard the noise of trolleys being pushed around. Probably only a problem for us as light sleepers but worth bearing in mind. We got moved on the 4th day when another cabin became available and were also financially compensated. It was suggested that we should book a specific cabin to avoid this problem in the future but this takes away the potential bonus of going guaranteed. The dining service in the Rotterdam anytime dining was often slow, particularly at the back, taking over 2-hours and causing us to miss the show. When we asked for fast service one night we were seated near the front and finished in 1 hour. The shows were pretty average and the flown in entertainment not as good as we have had before. At two ports of call we were told we could not walk off and must pay $10 for a shuttle bus but in Casablanca it turned out you could easily walk through the port and into the town. Overall the whole cruise did not live up to expectations and we would now rate RCI higher. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
We sailed out of Barcelona on 22nd Oct, and after reading some of the previous reviews we were rather apprehensive....but we shouldn't have been ! Yes, the ship it 10 years old - you know that before you go, if you want modern sail ... Read More
We sailed out of Barcelona on 22nd Oct, and after reading some of the previous reviews we were rather apprehensive....but we shouldn't have been ! Yes, the ship it 10 years old - you know that before you go, if you want modern sail on a newer ship ! She was well kept and spotlessly clean and was constantly being cleaned, we even saw the staff steam cleaning the walls. She has a nice 'older' feel about her, which we haven't experienced before but thoroughly enjoyed. Ok, the shows were not as 'glitzy' as on the Independence of the Seas or celebrity Eclipse, but this is expected on a smaller, older ship. There were very few kids on board, and those were on board were very well behaved. This cruise stands out for us for the number of people we spoke to and spent many an enjoyable evening chatting / dancing with ...although I am not sure at our age we should be up until 2/3am every night !! :-) We are RCI Diamond members and do wish there was consistency across the fleet as to how Diamond members should be treated at the nightly Diamond Event. We were disappointed that only wine was available at the event, rather than a wider selection of drinks, as with other RCI / Celebrity ships. First time we had used 'My Time' dining, and we found the service to be exemplary and it worked really well for us. What a brilliant and fun Captain ! Amusing and informative announcements, not too often, with just enough information. He actually understands that he is Capt of a cruises ship and the passengers really matter - he should give lessons to the Capt of the Independence ! Overall we loved the cruise, missed a few things which the bigger ships have, for example the Promenade, but the friendliness of the staff and the fun time we had, more than made up for it. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
One more wonderful cruise vacation came to its end, so nice to know that there will be more.... This was our seventh cruise with Celebrity and the second Mediterranean one. When in port, we always do our own thing because of the two ... Read More
One more wonderful cruise vacation came to its end, so nice to know that there will be more.... This was our seventh cruise with Celebrity and the second Mediterranean one. When in port, we always do our own thing because of the two obvious reasons: Cost and itinerary, we pay less, usually half the ship land tour cost and we see and learn more, much more. One have to spend a lot of time looking at the options and for the pitfalls ... Thanks heavens for the internet and cruisecritic.com. Those who do not have the time or the inclination to organize such tours, those who do not mind sharing a tour bus with a crowd of 45 fellow passengers, those who do not want to spend time looking through the long list of land tours, Celebrity offers two packages of 6 shore excursions each, one for half day tours at each port and the other is for a full day tours, cost was $371.50 and $732.50 respectively. For those who do want to do their own thing, we describe what we added a day by day description and added some website addresses that can help. Here and there we expressed our opinion about the Solstice. On this cruise we used one of our Celebrity Open Passages, a voucher we purchased on our last cruise. The Open passage is a $100 voucher you buy aboard a Celebrity cruise ship to be used when making the next reservation. The $100 voucher is used as a down payment for the next cruise and entitles you and two more couples for an on board credit of $100 to $300 per Cabin depending on the length of the cruise. This time we and our friends got $200 On board credit per cabin. The concept was applied first only for the US and Canada but became available for other countries last January. Guess this is why my travel agent did not know what to do with the vouchers and we had to ask Celebrity customer relations to sort things out for us. Read more about the Open Passage: http://creative.rccl.com/Sales/Celebrity/General_Info/Flyers/11022582_CEL_Passages.pdf One thing before we begin: The Crew members on the Solstice are fantastic in every respect. May I tell you a story: We met few hotel directors onboard Celebrity cruise ships, the hotel director are in charge of most of the Celebrity employs aboard the ship. The hotel managers we met were kind people, not at all the army commander's type I expected. So, I asked one of them how do the run such an operation with out being tough on the crew, and the reply was: The secret is in recruiting the right people, people who are geared to give others good service with a smile, Well, it works! Tue Oct 11th 2011- We left the Barcelona International airport terminal at noon, no need to take the cruise ship transportation as there is always a long line of yellow and black taxis waiting out side the terminal. The drivers speak only Spanish, but they understand "Cruise Ship" and "Celebrity". In twenty minutes and for 30-35Eu the taxi will take up to 4 passengers and will take you all the way to the port and up to the terminal doors. Look at: http://www.barcelona-tourist-guide.com/en/transport/barcelona-cruise-port.html In the terminal there were no lines and many reps were waiting for passengers, we got our Sea Cards and went right away to our Cabin. As this was our fourth time in Barcelona we decided to stay on the ship. On past cruises we took the bus from the terminal to La Rambla Ave. for a quick stroll. We had a nice Tuna Steak lunch at the Spa Coffee and had some rest before the unavoidable drill. Dinner, early seating, had table for four as we asked to be sited with our friends. Marlin and Ali were our attentive waiters. After dinner: A show. Bits and pieces of what one can expect on next evenings shows. The theater on the Solstice is nice but we prefer the theaters on the Celebrity Millennium class ships, as they have more legroom and little tables for each couple. Few words about our Cabin: We were lucky as the two of us got one of the four family cabins measured 600sq feet, with two bedrooms, large living room and large balcony (8108). Our friends got similar cabin but it was on the same level as the Helipad and got a smaller balcony (7107). For the best cabins on the Solstice look at: http://cruiseadvice.org/celebrity-cruises/celebrity-solstice/cabin-selection Wed. Oct 12th -â€" Sea day: 06:00am: As always I went to the Gym early. I go there almost every day during the cruise while my love takes a walk along the 1000ft long track on deck 14. 10:00am: A get together party for the Cruise Critic members. It was also time to meet the 12 guys who will go with us on the self organized day tour in Malta. And help a second group to find a four more people to share the cost of the tour. 17:00: The Elite Captains Club daily happy hour (Actually two hours), Cocktails, beers and soft drinks for free and a chance to meet people who love cruising and prefer to cruise with the specific company. Gabriela, the lady responsible for the Captain Club activities was always there making sure all is working fine. A word about the Elite Captains Club goodies: It is a good idea to join the club right after the first cruise. You get credits for every cruise you go on; number of credits is a function of cruise length and type of cabin. Once you have enough credits, I think nine credits is the magic number, Celebrity gives you a lot of goodies: The happy hour with free drinks in the Sky Lounge, Light breakfast with real coffee in Michael's Club, three hours free internet per cabin worth hundred dollars and 60 items of laundry, 4 items for ironing, couple dry cleaning items and more. Because of the free laundry we bring fewer items from home and save luggage weight, which means more room for presents for the grandchildren. A sea day is a good opportunity to look at the culinary options they got on board the Solstice: A ward of advice, if you find it hard to control the amount of food you put on your plate at the buffet style Sea Side Cafe, go for breakfast at the Grand Epernay. Here you are being served by waiters and what you ask for is what you get... You can also have lunch here on sea days. In the Solstice ships they have the buffet style food served on "Islands" and they do not have trays, people are wondering back and forth to their table as they can carry so many plates and drinks on one trip. And the restaurant looks busy and crowded. I do not like that. Thursday Oct. 13th: Rome. Took the 07:30 train from Civitavecchia to Rome. You first take the free shuttle bus to the port gate and than follow the signs to the train station. Train station is less than 10 minutes walk from the port's gate, just follow the signs. By the way, they opened a ticket booth right next to the port gate, save you some time. Buy 9Eu return BIRG ticket that allow you free all day ride on all public transport in Rome, Do not forget to validate your ticket before going on board the train. This ticket is good only for the Regionale train company. Our friends had tickets for the Vatican tour and got off the train near the Vatican while we went all the way to Termini station and took the underground line A to the Piazza Di Spagnia. There we took the 11:00 o'clock Free Tour to the Vatican City. Purchase tickets ahead of time on the internet for the main sights in Rome; Lines are unbelievably long, even when it is out of season. The free tour we took was just OK. We had couple of tours with them a year ago and the guides were very good. This time the guide seemed to be in a hurry. We arrived exhausted to the Vatican City. Here we met our friends and leisurely walked back going through Vittorio Emanuel Bridge, Campo de Fiorri, Piazza Navona, Trevi's fountain and back to the Piazza Spagnia. We took the 15:39 train back from Termini. It was a good idea to return to Termini and take the train from there as the train gets very crowded on next stations. It can be a very long 80 minutes ride standing up after all the walking one does in Rome. Find a train from Civitavecchia to Rome: http://www.trenitalia.com/cms/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=ad1ce14114bc9110VgnVCM10000080a3e90aRCRD Tickets for the Coliseum and the Vatican: http://www.italy-museum.com/ Tickets for the Borghese museum: http://www.galleriaborghese.it/info-en.htm The free walking tours: http://www.romefreetour.com/free%20tour.html Friday Oct. 14th: Naples. Last time we rented a car and drove along the Amalfi coast. This time we took the Hydrofoil to Capri. It was a 30 minutes, 17 EU each way very bumpy ride. Crew members were ready with plastic bags handing them to those passengers who felt sick. Hydrofoil terminal in Naples is few minutes walk from the ship. We decided to buy our return ticket when in Capri and not to restrict ourselves to specific company or time of return by buying a return ticket (the cost is the same) Weather was cloudy and cool, the Chair lift from Ana Capri to Monte Solare did not work that day due to weather condition, so we decided to go along with an advice we got from a local guy and took the bus from Marina Grande up the hill to Capri's city center and walked from there through the beautiful streets to the Arco Naturale, the natural rock arch and than took 500 stairs down to the trail that follows the shore and led us back into Capri. Beautiful and very quiet hike, no tourists on this trail. A note: The Blue grotto was closed too. But we did not plan on going there any how. We believe the 30 seconds visit inside the grotto does not worth it. Had a pizza in one of the Marina Grande restaurants and a very good hot chocolate. The Hydrofoil ride back was not too rough. No need for plastic bags.... Tomorrow, another day at sea. Hydrofoil to Capri time table: http://www.capri.net/en/ferry-schedule?path_id=11 Saturday Oct 17th: Sea day: Time to rest, read a good book from the ship library, relax on the balcony or next to the pool, or better yet, at one of the many romantic secluded places aboard the ship. We always wondered how is it possible that there are 3000 passengers aboard the ship and still one can find so many quite places like the Sky lounge, Michael's club, the higher decks, the library and the game room, the cinema etc. Problem was, Sea was rough. My wife stayed in bed feeling awful while I enjoyed every minute of the rollercoaster???? ride. Yes, it is a big ship, yes they got computer controlled stabilizers, but still, and the ship went up and down with those huge waves. A note: According to the ship first officer, best cabins for stormy weather will be the cabins located mid ship lower decks. Thought you should know before going on your next cruise. Sunday, Oct 16th: Athens. There is always some one on strike here in Greece, This time, the museums' guards. That is why the Acropolis was closed to public. Last time we took the train from Piraeus to Athens. Was very easy and cheap ride. This time we arrived to Athens using the HoHo bus. It is a 22EU all day ride with commentary in 11 languages. Busses are located right next to the port terminal. We decided on going to the Acropolis new museum. Very good and informative visit, every thing here is both in Greek and English (5Eu pp). Then we went on the 90 minutes ride with the HoHo bus, plus a little self guided tour of the city, and than, as it started to rain we took the HoHo bus back to Piraeus and the ship. The Hop on Hop off bus: http://www.citysightseeing.gr/blue-and-red-route/ The Acropolis new Museum: http://www.theacropolismuseum.gr Strikes in Athens: http://livingingreece.gr/strikes/ Monday, Oct 17th: Mykonos. If you are interested in Archeology, than a boat trip to the near by Delos Island is something for you. Just keep in mind that the whole island of Delos is considered a museum, and it is closed on Mondays, The only way to visit the island on Monday is with an expensive ship tour as they open the Island especially for ship tours. We took the 10$ (Return) shuttle into town. This was our second time in Mykonos and we just followed the same walking tour rout we did last time, using our IPod. It was windy and rather cold, so we went back to the ship for a Jacuzzi and a Sauna. (We like the Sauna on the Millennium class ships better as they have a huge window facing the open sea) Self guided walking tours: http://www.ricksteves.com/news/travelnews/0602/podcast-faq.htm Tuesday, Oct 18th: Kusadasi Turkey. We did not go ashore, so, had the whole ship to our self.... a spoiling experience.... Friday, Oct 19th: Santorini. What a beautiful sunny day! Three options to go from the port to Fira: You can climb 600 stairs; you can ride a mule for 5Eu or do as we did: We took the 4Eu Cable car up to Fira, and from there we took the bus to Oia. There is a bus every 20 minutes, you get in, find a seat and a conductor gets on the bus somewhere on the way to collect the few cents this 25 minutes ride costs. Oia is the place all those postcards pictures are taken. There is no need for a guide, just walk around the town and enjoy the view. After returning to Fira and walking along the streets that were so crowded with tourists from the four cruise ships that were in the port, we found out that waiting in the line for the Cable car that goes down to the port will take about an hour and a half, so we went down the 600 stairs, it took us around 20 minutes including avoiding the mules and their manure on the way down. Santorini bus from Fira to Oia: http://www.ktel-santorini.gr/ Friday Oct 21st: Valletta, Malta The guides, Vince De-Bono and Louise were already there, waiting for us, when we left the boat. It was 07:00 am, still dark but there was a long day ahead, full with interesting sites: The old town of Mdina, an artisan village, a Neolithic temple, a boat ride to the Blue Grotto, Marssa Xlokk fishermen's Village, Valletta with the impressive St John Cathedral and so more. Vince is very knowledgeable guide and a very kind and eager to please person, very enthusiastic when the knights' period is discussed. Both groups had a wonderful day in Malta. The tour was organized using the thread on Cruise Critic web site. It was a 400Eu for 12p plus the cost of the boat ride (7 Eu, and the ticket for St John Cathedral ($4.60Eu) and the tip. In short, very well spent $70 per person. Thank you Vince! (Hope you liked the wine we brought you from our home country) Touring Malta with a guide: http://www.guideinmalta.com/ HoHo Bus in Malta: http://www.maltasightseeing.com/ Scenic Flights over Malta (But read the cancelation policy before making reservations): http://www.harbourairmalta.com/harbourair/content.aspx?id=45136 Walking tour of Valletta: http://www.geovative.com/GeoTours/tourView.asp?6174Vq=JEHH Saturday Oct. 22nd: Day at sea. Had time to make 500 pictures PowerPoint Show of the whole trip, even added music to the show and made copies for those couples who went on the Malta day trip with us. Had fun working on my laptop, seating in the balcony with the sea right there. Wish I had my office in such a location. Sunday, Oct 23rd: Arriving to Barcelona. Got off the ship around 08:00am. Again, no need for ship expensive transportation to the airport as there is always long line of taxis waiting for you right there at the port terminal. What next? While on board, we purchased four (4!) Celebrity Open Passages as we plan to go on Back to Back cruises either to South America and/or to New Zealand and Australia with as many as 5 more couples and we want them all to enjoy the $600 on board credit for the two long B to B cruises. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
We recently returned from a 12 night cruise in the eastern Mediterranean where we visited a total of 8 ports. two of which where at best "marginal". Kotor and Dubrovnik where the the two. Shore excursions had obviously never ... Read More
We recently returned from a 12 night cruise in the eastern Mediterranean where we visited a total of 8 ports. two of which where at best "marginal". Kotor and Dubrovnik where the the two. Shore excursions had obviously never been on either of the two tours or they would have undoubtedly canceled them both and re-vamped them. Kotor was a long bus ride up a mountain side with no room for anyone to pass in either direction. The hairpin turns and hundreds of feet drop offs made the trip exteremly dangerous. certainly we would not recoomend it. We would recommend that someone re-look at this excursion. Dubrovnik. A really nice old town taht we would have liked to have spent more time in. but shore Excursions struck again and took everyone for a long bus ride to a quaint restaurant that served us a stale piece of bread topped with a piece of cheese and another piece of the same bread with something they called Ham but it was more like tongue to us. Hardly anybody (out of two bus loads) ate any of it. Upon returning to Dubrovnik, many people left the bus and told the driver they would take a taxi back to the ship as the bus tour left us with very little time in the town. Another tour that needs re-assessing. Arriving in Rome on All Saints Day, a Memorial Day Holiday and an annual Marathon Run that began and ended at St Peter's Square was perhaps the biggest faux pas. We couldn't get close to the Square nor the basilica. Everything else including The Vatican was closed. Finally Marseilles. Another long ride in a bus. Someone in Shore excursions must have at one time worked for greyhound or Trailways as just about every ship tour involved a long bus ride to the highest point to take a few pictures while everyone wanted to be on the ground in the city buying souvenirs. No more ship excursions for us. the Private Tours (of which we took four) we far better. Far better. Those we highly recommend. All in all the cruise was disappointing. the schedule was heavy, very little time to rest. A day or two at sea would have been very welcome. we did have two days at sea for the very beginning, but they were really need somewhere in the middle, to give folks a chance to catch their breath. celebrity themselves were perfect as usual the dining was excellent and cabin service very good. one comment for them. you could have done without the Glass blowing on the aft section of the ship and put the grill there out of the wind and gained more room. putting the grill on the Port side in the direct wind was not all that great. we didn't see a lot of people using it. Sincerely Terry Hensey. Soltice Oct 23rd. Venice and the Med. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011

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