95 Barcelona Senior Cruise Reviews

I will preface my comments by saying that I usually cruise on Celebrity having taken several transatlantic cruises on their ships. I have heard positive comments about Holland America so opted to try them this time. My number one, ... Read More
I will preface my comments by saying that I usually cruise on Celebrity having taken several transatlantic cruises on their ships. I have heard positive comments about Holland America so opted to try them this time. My number one, chief complaint was with the response I received from H-A home office to a request I made as to how rapidly I could disembark in order to catch a train leaving from Barcelona Sants rail station. I was simply told there wasn't any way to be sure of a time. What I learned at the end of the cruise was that one could leave the ship by taking their own luggage and be off the ship immediately after port clearance. It shows a lack of interest or concern on the part of home office staff. I guess they can't be bothered to know the ship routine. On the positive side the ship's staff is definitely superior, courteous, friendly and efficient. The veranda stateroom was clean, the bed comfortable, but lacking in desk space and a decent chair to sit by it. The computer lectures were well done, but a little too basic, but that is understandable. I did learn something and it was worth the time. The best entertainment by far was the two ladies from the Ukraine, the pianist and violinist; Adagio. Considering the fact that their venue was limited in space and sight lines, they were full for every performance. Embarkation and disembarkation was smooth and efficient. On the negative side there was a vibration felt in many places of the ship including the stateroom on occasion, the dining room, the Crow's Nest, the library and many other places. This was noted by almost every guest where the subject was mentioned. Apparently it is not part of the propulsion system as it was present even when docked in port. Obviously this ship needs some repairs. The buffet food was by and large pretty tasty, but the serving system is a mess. People line up at each station, while people walk behind them trying to see the options or read the small print on the cards or just trying to get from station to station. Next to the walking people are tables. Not a very nice place to sit while dining. In the main dining room the food was adequate in taste and portions, but there is a very limited menu and minimal options. The internet service was extremely slow and complicated which in turn makes it expensive. If you make the mistake of not logging out, and that is not obvious if you use your own computer all your time is gone, poof!!! The educational lectures were anything but educational. Nostalgia gets old after a few minutes. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
The destinations were great, the crew were not overly friendly or accomodating, the excursion that we went on was good. The other passengers on the ship were not very courteous especially in lines. The dress code is casual, but some ... Read More
The destinations were great, the crew were not overly friendly or accomodating, the excursion that we went on was good. The other passengers on the ship were not very courteous especially in lines. The dress code is casual, but some passengers attended dinners really sloppily (t-shirts, etc). The food in the buffet was really mediocre, not much variety with low quality (served prawns which were tasteless and over-cooked, not much variety of hot breakfasts (porridge, cream of wheat etc), The dinners weren't very good quality food except the soups were excellent. The entertainment was ho-hum. The guitar player only did karaoke guitar, he couldn't sing so he just mumbled, and his playing was very simple. The guitar duo was really excellent. The couple in the main lounge/atrium were ok, but the girl was terrible, once again only doing karaoke style. The pianist was quite good however. There was really no "piano bar" which is where i usually spend my time.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
Not withstanding the issues described below, we had a very good cruise on the Regal Princess leaving Barcelona on 1 July in the midst of the taxi strike and arriving in Venice on 12 July. This is our sixth cruise and third with Princess. ... Read More
Not withstanding the issues described below, we had a very good cruise on the Regal Princess leaving Barcelona on 1 July in the midst of the taxi strike and arriving in Venice on 12 July. This is our sixth cruise and third with Princess. Overall, we would say that everything about the trip was excellent except for the Princess Rome excursion and the docking in Venice. Food quality needs some improvement, but was generally better than our previous cruise experiences. Weather: The weather in the Med is brutally hot in July. Even the fit 20 & 30 year olds were panting in Rome, Istanbul, Kusadasi, and Athens. I wish we had scheduled this trip for September or October. Mobility Challenged: I do not recommend this trip for the mobility challenged. Excursions in a wheelchair are out of the question. Lots and lots of walking with much of it on cobblestones or slick marble streets. Itinerary: We did a similar cruise on RCI in 2011 and had no issues with that itinerary, but the Regal’s itinerary is stretched too tight with the ship frequently arriving late into port or not being ready for disembarkation until well after “advertised” times. This repeatedly reduced time ashore and put us behind mobs from other cruise ships in port, e.g., Rome, Istanbul, Kusadasi, Athens, and Venice. Embarkation in Barcelona: The port facility in Barcelona is absolutely the best we have encountered. It is well laid out, efficiently operated, and boarding was customer friendly. However, Princess did little to facilitate passengers getting to the ship when taxi drivers went on strike in Barcelona. In fact, it was a dismal sight seeing sweating families, many of them seniors and children, dragging their suitcases in the heat, well over a mile from the end of the Barcelona metro. Disembarkation in Venice: Definitely the Pits – Worst we have experienced. We docked in mid-afternoon in Venice at one of the furthest berths in the port, already filled with six cruise ships. The ONLY transfer information provided by Princess was that passengers who signed up for the Princess water taxi ride ($20pp) would be met outside the terminal and that the tram (people mover) that connects to other public transportation. What they did not say is that the tram is “outside” the port terminal and is ¾ mile from the ship. No shuttle bus was provided. The Ship: We really liked the ship. There was plenty of space for the 3,500 passengers and we never felt crowded. The appointments are well executed with a luxurious feel. The atrium does cause some quirkiness in stairways and access to the mid-ship facilities as has been noted in other reviews. We only experienced elevator delays when everyone was trying to board or exit the ship at the same time. We also really like that there are laundromats on each deck and used it twice. Hint: don’t wait until the sea days to do laundry. Wait Staff: Although the newness of the wait staff showed a few times, they were always friendly and attentive. Only on the last night in Venice did we notice a drop off in wait staff performance, possibly because many were on “shore leave” or performing baggage duties. Food Quality: Generally we found the food to be good and nicely presented. However, the Regal Princess badly needs a professional “saucier” to sample their soups and sauces and to recommend changes. EVERYTHING was bland. The exception to this observation was an outstanding meal in the Crown Grill. Chef’s Table: We have done the Chef’s Table on a previous Princess cruise and the first thing we did upon boarding in Barcelona was to book a Chef’s Table sitting. The Regal’s Chef’s Table is in a beautiful alcove in the Allegro dining room. After a brief tour of the galley; meeting the Chef, the Maitre de, and key kitchen staff, we sampled canapes and were then guided into the dining area. Hospitality and food presentation were truly outstanding, but we were let down with the blandness of the cuisine. At $115 per person, the dining experience was a big let down and the food was not as good as the Crown Grill at a quarter of the price. Excursions: We do not like ship excursions as they are expensive and we feel like cattle being herded around and Princess did nothing to improve our assessment. Because we had an incentive excursion credit, we booked the Princess train from Civitavecchia to Rome. Big mistake. The AC in the two Princess rail cars was broken, so we were taken by bus to the port terminal building and literally dumped off, waiting for repair of the AC. The two Princess excursion guides disappeared. So now you have 90 passengers stranded in the terminal building for almost a hour with no information and with most having tour guides waiting for them in Rome. In all, we lost 1½ hours of OUR time in Rome without a word of apology from Princess. Recommendations: (1) If you want to do a sampling of the Mediterranean, do this itinerary in the spring or fall, not in the summer. (2) Do not book ship excursions. Go to Cruise Critic and find folks to share a private tour. (3) Don’t do the Chef’s Table unless you read that the food has improved. (4) There is a baggage service in terminal gate end of Building 103 that will take your baggage to your Venice hotel for a small fee.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
This was a different type of cruise experience - our first time on NCL. Overall, it was a good cruise experience and we’ll cruise with NCL again. As seasoned Carnival Cruisers (Platinum members), our experience in a “nut shell” is ... Read More
This was a different type of cruise experience - our first time on NCL. Overall, it was a good cruise experience and we’ll cruise with NCL again. As seasoned Carnival Cruisers (Platinum members), our experience in a “nut shell” is as follows: The NCL SPIRIT is an older, smaller ship. Overall the ship is clean and well maintained. Our cabin and balcony were - condensed in size compared to other cruise ships we’ve been aboard. Dining is your choice, push-shove buffet, sit-down dining room or up-charge specialty restaurant. NCL pushes their up-charge specialty restaurants ($15 to $30 extra). Don’t want to spend the extra $$$s? Then go to one of the two complementary sit-down dining rooms - Gardens or Windows; but be prepared to spend some time. On average, it was 2 to 2-1/2 hours in either of the regular dining rooms for an evening meal and for lunch in the Windows an average time of 1-1/2 hours. The food is decent - normal cruise menu, but efficient service does not exist in these two locations. This must be NCL’s way of encouraging consumers to pay the up-charge for better service in a specialty restaurant. The NCL Sponsored Tours/Excursions were priced comparatively to other excursions. We booked NCL excursions at each port. Granted, you could possibly get a lower price on your own in port, but we prefer the security and service of using a ship sponsored tour provider. All four tours were enjoyable and worthwhile. In Casablanca it was the “CASABLANCA HIGHLIGHTS & HASSAN II MOSQUE” tour. In Arrecife, Canary Island we did the “FIRE MOUNTAINS & CAMEL RIDE”. Moving on in Santa Cruz, Tenerife it was the “NORTHERN ISLAND VIEWS & LOCAL FLAVORS”. For Malaga Spain our choice was the “GIBRALTAR ON YOUR OWN” upon arriving in Gibraltar we choose a local tour of the ROCK for 20 Euros each, but well worth the money and time saved. Shipboard Entertainment – Average shows - nothing special. Alcohol beverage service aboard ship is a tad bit more expensive; we waited until we arrived in port to enjoy our choice of alcohol beverage. Overall a relaxing and interesting cruise; and YES we plan on cruising on NCL again. We have set our sights on the Greek Isles and may sail on the Jade later this year.   Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
We arrived at the ship late, because of a missed flight to Barcelona (caused by a two and a half hour delay by American Airlines), so I can't comment on embarkation. Disembarkation was the smoothest ever. Cruise ports in the US should ... Read More
We arrived at the ship late, because of a missed flight to Barcelona (caused by a two and a half hour delay by American Airlines), so I can't comment on embarkation. Disembarkation was the smoothest ever. Cruise ports in the US should study the way it's done in Barcelona. The food was good, and since we dine early, we did not experience long lines. The wait staff was very courteous. We never plan our entertainment in advance, so booking ahead, which is a must on Epic, doesn't work for us. We really wanted to see the Blue Man Group, though, so we made reservations. While parts of the show were funny, much of it was just plain stupid, and it was so loud that we left 30 min. before the end. Ports of call were good, but the excursions were expensive. Do your research and book on your own, but don't use Viatours Hop-on Hop-off bus. You will still have to get to the cities on your own because they don't start out from the port (except in Naples). Now for the cabin: First, our cabin steward was excellent. No complaints there. However, the person who designed this cabin should be forced to live in it for 7 days with another person. There is no way to move from one end of this cabin to the other without disturbing your partner. Sink, coffee station, and tiny counter top for applying make up or checking email, are all lined up across from the end of the bed. There is 18 inches clearance from bed to counter. If one person is on the balcony and he wants to get to the "bathroom", he either has to crawl over the bed, or the other one has to get up and move out of the way. I couldn't even get by my husbands feet, which extended beyond the end of the bed. There's no point sitting on the sofa, the only thing you can see from it is the closet door, 24 inches away. The TV is right in front of the bed, and cannot be turned. There is no table in front of the sofa, so there's no point sitting there with your coffee cup. The only comfortable sitting option is the balcony. THERE IS NO BATHROOM! Toilet is on one side of the door, shower on the other. For "privacy" there is a smoked glass surrounding for each. Nothing can be done about the noisy toilets on ships, I realize they have to be that way, but the toilet doesn't have to be right next to the head of the bed. I got blasted awake every night, when my husband used the toilet. The tiny sink is right at the foot of the bed. If you are clausterphobic or have privacy issues, you do not want this cabin. We had more floor space and privacy in our 1989 Winnebago, back in the pre-slide era. This is our sixth cruise with NCL, and we will cruise with them again, but not on the Epic. Balcony cabins on Norwegian Star, Norwegian Pearl, and even the tiny Pride of America are far roomier and people friendly. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
Beautiful ship and decor, embarkation and disembarking excellent. Everything geared to make a buck (to recover cost of ship no doubt) Room(balcony) was nice with well thought out storage. Liked the separate shower and lav area. Food ... Read More
Beautiful ship and decor, embarkation and disembarking excellent. Everything geared to make a buck (to recover cost of ship no doubt) Room(balcony) was nice with well thought out storage. Liked the separate shower and lav area. Food choices were plentiful but with the exception of the Moderno specialty restaurant don't expect any outstanding meals. Your timing better be good to get a seat in the trough area (garden caffe) as the hordes rush in non stop for breakfast consuming enough calories for the entire day in one sitting. Don't expect any lobster or fillet steaks unless you go to the specialty steak house where they use their own supply of premium meat.The freestyle make up of the cruise has its benefits but you lose the attachment you build up when you get the same waiter in more traditional style cruising. The shore excursions in Italy were great but way over priced, do your homework and you can see all you want on your schedule at a reasonable cost(to spend almost $600 for two for a day trip is very high) Found the trip not to be very relaxing and didn't really look forward to dining at night. The enetertainment was excellent though, best part of the ships offerings. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
My husband and I booked this cruise for our anniversary celebration. It was my second trip to Europe and his first. We arrived in Barcelona a day early and had a good time. Embarkation: We arrived at the port around 1 p.m. and it was ... Read More
My husband and I booked this cruise for our anniversary celebration. It was my second trip to Europe and his first. We arrived in Barcelona a day early and had a good time. Embarkation: We arrived at the port around 1 p.m. and it was very crowded so would avoid at 1pm.. (by 2 p.m., there were no crowds). It took approximately an hour from arrival at port to getting to Windjammer. Food: Windjammer: food was good enough (Honey stung chicken really is excellent), but not as much variety as we have had on other ships. Main Dining Room: The food ranged from ok to really good. Our waiters were excellent and made the whole dining experience very enjoyable. We did not go to Portofinos or Chops. During the day, the various eating places opened and closed at different times which was aggravating. Several of the sea days, we would return to the ship around 5 and find nothing opened except the Prominade Cafe. This is a very, very small eating place for a ship with 4,000 passengers! Windjammer closes between breakfast and lunch and again between lunch and dinner. I have never seen that on a ship! Cabin: We had a great aft cabin (1400) and our cabin steward (Jack) was one of the best we have ever had. I was again amazed to find that there were no toiletries in the cabin other than a shampoo dispenser in the shower. What the heck? 2 star hotels provide toiletries! No robe either. Entertainment: This is not a big one for us. We did see Saturday Night Fever which was very good. I was surprised that I never once saw a band playing at the pool. I can't imagine they did not have music by the pool sometimes, but it could not have been that often. I also enjoyed listening to the person playing classical guitar, but not much else. Staff: The staff were generally very pleasant and greeted you. Disembarking: Kept our bags with us and were off the ship in a matter of minutes (around 7:30 a.m.) Overall impression: We will probably not sail on RC ships again. I think they are more suited to young couples with children, and 20 -30 year olds. Also, on this itinerary, the vast majority of pax were foreign speaking which resulted in less comraderie with other passenger - we felt a little isolated. Having to check out towels with your seapass card was bothersome, as well. Just think we are more suited to other cruiselines. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
We had previously cruised Europe on Celebrity and there was no comparison. I decided to try Carnival for the ports and the fact it was a new ship. The ship was fine- large with plenty of lounges- but it lacked the ambiance of other cruises ... Read More
We had previously cruised Europe on Celebrity and there was no comparison. I decided to try Carnival for the ports and the fact it was a new ship. The ship was fine- large with plenty of lounges- but it lacked the ambiance of other cruises I have been on, the service at some places, and the food was poor. Embarkation was very easy at 11 AM and we were on the ship within 10 minutes after arriving at the port. We immediately headed to the buffet for lunch which was not yet crowded. At 1:30 PM our cabin was ready and our luggage arrived shortly thereafter. We had a balcony room (I guess a mini-suite but not called that) which was fine although it did seem smaller than on other cruises. Our room was always clean but this is the first cruise that the room steward did not come and introduce himself. We never saw him except an occasional wave in the hall. Our main complaints were the rudeness of some of the staff plus the lack of knowledge of the ports. The shore excursion desk was not at all helpful. We were given the wrong information on several times. I do not think they cared about answering questions about the port unless you took their excursions. With the exception of Naples where we took the ferry ourselves to Capri, all of our excursions were booked through the ship. On our first night, we received word after 8 PM that our tour the next day in Monaco was canceled due to not enough people signed up. By then the desk was closed and all tours were filled. If there were on 6 signed up for a tour for 40, they should have contacted us early in the day to say there was a possibility the tour would be canceled and what was our second choice. Then when I did speak to someone the next morning, he led me to believe there would be tours you could take at the port. Other than the 30 minute train ride around Monaco, there were none. Luckily, I guess they had a lot of complaints so they added a bus and made an afternoon tour to the French. They misled us about the shuttle services to town in other ports also. The time was not properly utilized on excursions- we were given 45 minutes in places that had nothing and yet less time in places with a lot of shops and cafes. The staff in the perfume shop were very unfriendly and rude. I saw that a sample of perfume I wanted to try was empty and asked if they had another tester. I was rudely told "not until the next cruise." The staff in the casino was also rude. We asked one attendant how to cash out a few dollars we had won and she acted like she was doing us a favor by showing us and was fresh. The same with the man in the cashier cage. The hours for currency exchange was also limited if you had an excursion booked or dining plans. However, our dining staff in the main dining room were great. Our waiter, Caesar, was wonderful as well as Made and Suraj. We thoroughly enjoyed their attentiveness and service. The comedians were great! I was not impressed at all with any other show. TV in the room just featured showing the cruise director and news. We were not on the cruise to watch tv but when we were getting dressed or relaxing, it would have been nice to have a choice. The food was nothing special - with the exception of a few entrees or desserts in the main dining room. The breakfast buffet was very poor- everything was not presented in a convenient location (pancakes, waffles, and french toast were only by the pool) and the selection was poor. There were no nice fruits like strawberries, pineapples, sliced oranges - only cantaloupe and water melon everyday. It never changed. Most items were cold. The deli was very good as well as the grill by the pool- the pizza didn't compare to that on Princess. Room service was very limited for breakfast if you had an early excursion. I just felt Carnival lacks something major. I doubt if I would cruise it again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
As seasoned cruisers who have travelled the world extensively and who rated the Carnival Liberty as our favourite cruise a few summers ago out of Civitavecchia (Rome), it was a shock to experience our Cruise from Hell aboard ... Read More
As seasoned cruisers who have travelled the world extensively and who rated the Carnival Liberty as our favourite cruise a few summers ago out of Civitavecchia (Rome), it was a shock to experience our Cruise from Hell aboard Carnival's new Magic from Barcelona. We knew it was a big ship with about 4600 passengers and 1400 crew members but we expected smooth sailing with lots of amenities. The ship has the potential to be great and the crew in general were polite and friendly but we were put off by all the extra costs for things that used to be included on a cruise. For example, we both like the spa and used the (free) dry sauna daily BUT were shocked to learn that the steam sauna was located on a different floor and at a cost of $175 per person for the duration of the cruise. Locating the saunas on different levels doesn't make any sense and only means inconvenience. The food was quite good both in the dining room and in the Lido buffet area although we did notice the absence of fresh berries and smoked salmon. The dining room assigned us a table for eight even though we had requested a table for two many months in advance. We ended up walking out of the Southern Lights dining room the first evening and managed to secure a table for two at the Northern Lights. We were happy with our servers who were personable and very bright. We ordered some wraps, salad and dessert through room service only once: the food was satsifactory but the dressing arrived with no salad. We enjoy watching movies on our t.v. to relax but the choice was pitiful: they played the same James Bond movie (a few years old) every 3 hours and then replayed the same movie a few days later (!) There was a movie preview channel that only showed previews in the hope that we would fork over our dollars to watch what used to be free. We did enjoy, however CNN, the BBC and Sky News, as well as a French channel to follow current events. Luckily we brought some good books with us to read. As wonderful as the ports were, we were dismayed to find no city history/background information; instead just a list of stores to spend your money plus a blank page to keep 'notes.' We appreciated the complimentary ice cream and frozen yogurt station, as well as the tandoor and pizza stations. The pizzas are well done but you need to order and wait for a specialty pizza like goat cheese. The complimentary coffee was okay but my first - and last -pay for latte on the lobby deck following a smooth embarkation was terrible. Our cabin was kept clean but when we asked for another stool to sit on our attendant promptly refused. And now for the worst part that ruined our cruise: directly across from us were two teenagers whose parents decided to have a separate holiday six decks up. Unfortunately they and all their friends had decided to party all night and they used their cabin as Party Central all night (they went to bed at 6 a.m. and got up at 4 p.m.). After a couple of sleepness nights we complained to Guest Relations and Security but little was actually done besides a couple of visits and warnings by security. The problem continued until the very last night and this ruined what was supposed to be a relaxing and memorable cruise. Carnival supposedly has policies but doesn't enforce its own rules with consequences and that is the core problem. We saw this several times,such as passengers placing towels on deck chairs first thing in the morning, then walking away and leaving their chairs empty for hours at a time. My partner and I walked by early one morning at sea and were amazed to see every single deck chair - we're talking hundreds! - covered with a blue towel and/or a magazine but nobody occupying them. We watched with dismay one evening as four young unattended boys fought in the hot tub in the aft of the ship and pushed each other under the water. Nobody intervened, whether it be passenger or crew member. The huge outdoor entertainment screen overlooking the pool would blast noise (only on some occasions would it actually be something akin to music) and this translated into headaches and cacophony. We were constantly put off by all the rude passengers who walked right in front of you without saying 'Excuse me.' It was quite upsetting after a few days of this. The crew members were all polite and well mannered, it must be said. The entertainment in the main lounge was substandard with the exception of one British singer who impersonated several female singers. Overall, a big disappointment. We skipped the comedians as we prefer intelligent humour without all the swearing. Being both non-smokers, we were upset to have to inhale second hand smoke further down our corridor each time we had to navigate to a different part of the ship. It would be nice to sail on a truly smoke free ship one day! Disembarking took longer than normal and there was a terribly long lineup for taxis (well over an hour) as there were other cruise ships that had docked that day. Lastly, the cruise review questionnaire that was supposed to be emailed to us two days after disembarking has not yet arrived almost 3 weeks later. Nor have any of the postcards we handed over to Guest Relations at the end of our cruise after purchasing $22 worth of European stamps. We're keeping our fingers crossed but right now we're not impressed. Think we'll vote with our feet and our pocketbooks - sorry, Carnival, but we're not happy customers. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
My wife and I were on the July 15 sailing from Barcelona. The pick up from the airport was normal with no issues. After that it was up and down. As stated in other reviews the serving size in the buffet was small, however the staff freely ... Read More
My wife and I were on the July 15 sailing from Barcelona. The pick up from the airport was normal with no issues. After that it was up and down. As stated in other reviews the serving size in the buffet was small, however the staff freely added more when requested. In fact there was one young lady at breakfast that just put extra on after the first couple of days of seeing me. I was extremely disappointed with table service in the buffet. I have never been on a cruise where the staff had to be told to pick up used plates. It appears that management was more concerned with selling bottled water than keeping tables clean and available. Service in the main dining room was spotty as best. We had open seating and only had one waiter that performed as expected. We had to ask for refills on ice tea and water. I had a steak on surf & turf night that they got right, but they never got the steak right on the three nights my wife ordered. What they did to fish can't even be described. Other ship have venues where food is available 24/7 with out having to call room service. I was surprised that there was no available food service during all the daylight hours. Service in the dining areas can be easily improved with better training and raising expectations. Hopefully they really read the on-board reviews from the passengers. Our cabin steward was excellent, we gave him a little extra at the end of the trip. The transfer to the Venice airport was relatively smooth I felt ripped off by the price when I saw how close it was. No tips to the driver at those prices. The ship it self was nicely laid out and my wife really liked the decor. Will I sail Holland again? Not sure. I will absolutely pay closer attention to passenger reviews. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
We recently completed a 12 day cruise to/from Barcelona. We were disappointed in: a. The number of children on board ... from various cruise reviews I expected a older group of passengers and a more ... Read More
We recently completed a 12 day cruise to/from Barcelona. We were disappointed in: a. The number of children on board ... from various cruise reviews I expected a older group of passengers and a more peaceful atmosphere. The ship was so large that we seemed to be waiting in line for everything. Getting a table and eating in the Ocean Cafe (the buffet) required a good deal of patience b. There were 3 ports which required tenders... which were so disorganized that it was torture to go ashore. c. Several ports (Venice, Rome, Florence) were far from the cities and no shuttles were provided. You had to pay additional for the excursions or shuttles, both of which involved a good deal of lining up and waiting. d. Although the advertised stop was Nice, we were tendered into Villefranche and had to arrange transportation to either Nice or Monaco. Same problem for Rome, Florence, etc. e. The ship advertised the latest time to return to the ship which I think discouraged people from making their own transportation arrangements .. the threat that if you missed the sailing, you would have to catch up with the ship at your own expenses. So people took the ship's shore excursions... and these excursion regularly got back to the ship after the posted deadline! f. We paid extra for Concierge class. Two of our group did not. We are of the opinion that the difference was not worth the extra cost. g. We had 3 days at sea. Two of them were in a row at the end of the cruise. It would have been preferable to space them out to allow passengers some rest in between ports..not on the way home. h. On the plus side, the cabins were roomy and comfortable. The food was good. We didn't try the specialty restaurants. i. The drink packages were ridiculously high. A bottle of liquor for the room is double other cruise lines. On the other hand, individual drinks were reasonably priced. j. Gratuities were charged on our account and added to individual drink orders, etc. However, it was clear that more was expected. Either leave the tipping to the discretion of the passengers or instruct staff that additional gratuities should not be accepted. k. It was a good thing that the cruise was only 12 days because we felt constantly bombarded with methods to extract more money from the passenger.. casino, spa, specialty drinks, shopping "sales", shore excursion pitches, bingo, etc.etc. l. Dinner seatings were 6:15 or 8:45 and neither were convenient. m. The entertainment in the evening was mediocre. The enrichment lectures were good but poorly advertised. n. Room service was great and a break from the "mob" scene o. There was a bridge room..but no one to organize, advertise or supervise. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Upon flying into Barcelona, we were met by Carnival representatives and efficiently transferred to the ship. The boarding process was extremely well done. So far, so good. Our balcony cabin was a decent size. Very comparable to our ... Read More
Upon flying into Barcelona, we were met by Carnival representatives and efficiently transferred to the ship. The boarding process was extremely well done. So far, so good. Our balcony cabin was a decent size. Very comparable to our last cabin on Holland America except there was a shower and no tub. The balcony was a little smaller but perfectly adequate. The bed was very comfortable. Our cabin steward provided first rate service. Magic is a very large (4500+ passengers)brand new ship. It was quite attractive but did not have the "wow" factor of the new Royal Caribbean ships or the elegance of the Holland America ships. Nohing bad, but nothing special. We had open dining and ate in the dining room five nights and in the specialty restaurants twice. Two of the meals I had in the dining room were good, two were tasteless and one was awful. The specialty restaurant served one of the best steaks (a porterhouse) I've ever had, although $30 per person is steep. We ate the other night at La Cocina di Captaino. We were surprised to find the menu to be limited and the food nothing special. The dining room and restaurant service was excellent. My wife has mobility issues so we only took tours described as Easy. Easy Rome was a problem. The bus dropped us quite a distance from St. Peter's. Much too far to walk in the summer heat. Many on the tour just gave up walking to the Vatican and went to grab some pizza a place to sit in the shade. Our tour in Messina was a ride to Mt. Etna and a visit to a jewelry factory. The sightseeing at Mt. Etna was very interesting but my wife was very upset when we found that the factory was in a villa and it was necessary to climb an eleven step marble staircase, without a banister. We wound up sitting outside for an hour. I believe that Carnival did not adequately describe these two excursions. We had a major problem with Guest Relations that I won't get into other than to say that they had the worst attitude I've encountered on any cruise. Overall, I was disappointed in this cruise. The ship was okay but nothing special. The food was not up to the competition. The attitude at Guest Relations was totally unacceptable. I don't expect to cruise on Carnival again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Overall disappointed.... especially with the standard of the formal dining.       Whilst the service was excellent the food quality was only satisfactory and the standard of the presentation left much to be desired.       ... Read More
Overall disappointed.... especially with the standard of the formal dining.       Whilst the service was excellent the food quality was only satisfactory and the standard of the presentation left much to be desired.       Dumping the mest or fish on top of the vegetables was an unattractive feature and in the main the taste was bland.   Whilst the Captain make an annoucement of the ship's passage,the failure of the bridge to point out places of interest as we passed them at sea was another shortcoming. Simple announcemnts such as ..."the volcanic island of Stromboli is visible off the starboard side..." would have added interest.       The warnings about the dreaded Novo virus didn't inspire confidence in the overall hygiene....       The entertainment was good but I wish the singers would try singing instead of shouting so much, and why do they pipe music everywhere? especially at breakfast when quite frankly nobody was listening and if they wanted to, they could not hear the tunes over the background chatter! Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
In planning a cruise for someone with a movement disorder, I purposely sought a travel agent who had experience with travelers with disabilities, or so I thought. I also had many contacts with RCI online to assure information about taking ... Read More
In planning a cruise for someone with a movement disorder, I purposely sought a travel agent who had experience with travelers with disabilities, or so I thought. I also had many contacts with RCI online to assure information about taking the scooter and using it on excursions. Let me first say that I had never spoken with anyone who traveled to Europe with a medical scooter, just a wheel chair. This was not an option as my husband has Parkinsons Disease and is too large for me to push, and he can not move himself manually. A power wheel chair would have probably been a better choice, as it is more stable. Using the scooter on the ship was a wonderful experience. We got around easily and except for the humanity that would never move over for us to pass, we got around just fine, including in the dining room, the cafe and the movie theatre. Our handicapped accessible cabin was large enough to keep the scooter inside and have a party. I have never seen a larger cabin for an inside stateroom at this level. It had an automatic door and a very large bathroom with accessible shower. Our room stewardess was very accommodating. We dined about equally in the dining room and the Windjammer Cafe..due to the fact that my husband never wanted to change into long pants for dinner, but that was our personal preference. The food in the Windjammer exceeded out expectations and the food in the dining room was below our expectations. All ship services were great and although we did not participate in much, we enjoyed people watching and sitting on the deck. I fell in Florence and when I got back to the ship the medical services were not available and the room stewardess was off, so I went to the Windjammer Cafe and asked for ice. the gentleman there made me two great ice packs out of garbage bags...he went well above and beyond and my injuries healed quite fast. As far as the excursions are concerned, this is were we had a breakdown. I strongly suggest that a notation be made that excludes medical scooters on excursions . While they are fine for even surfaces, they do not ride well on cobblestone and uneven pavement and are actually flimsy, compared to a wheel chair. We were not able to go to some places, due to the lack of available excursions to that particular area. Some of the tour guides were quite insensitive to our needs and had to be reminded not to leave us on the bus and walk away when our equipment is under the bus and has to be taken out! At one point in Athens when I asked the tour guide where I could get onto the sidewalk where she had gone, she replied " Walk in the street and meet us there." This is not acceptable. Our hotel in Barcelona was terrible for us. That was the travel agent's fault as she did not research if there were handrails and a ramp, not to mention a tub too high for even me to step into. The Hotel Dante was lovely, but very overpriced and not at all suitable for a disabled person. We had a wonderful transfer company..Barcelona Day Tours, and they also took us on a 4 hour tour of Barcelona in a van. They picked us up in a van each time so I would not have to disassemble the scooter. All in all we had a good time. I now know that traveling with disabilities means you must read between the lines and try and get in contact with others in your circumstances that have taken the trip you want. I reiterate, a medical scooter is NOT appropriate for land excursions, especially on uneven cobblestone or sand. ( One of the ship agents tried to get us to go to the beach as there would be no walking!) Be realistic and don't bite off more than you can chew! Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
Our vacation was wonderful, despite some shortcomings on the Brilliance of the Seas. General and Critical Information are listed below. General Info: We started with 5 days in Barcelona to better adjust to the 9 hour time ... Read More
Our vacation was wonderful, despite some shortcomings on the Brilliance of the Seas. General and Critical Information are listed below. General Info: We started with 5 days in Barcelona to better adjust to the 9 hour time change and 18 hour travel from Arizona. Barcelona surpassed our expectations and we enjoyed the setting, the food, the culture, the beaches (wow, the beaches!), and the people. Except for the pick pockets which abound. Read and follow Cruise Critic comments about basic steps for security. I lost a cell phone after being jostled in a dark, crowded cathedral. But I still love Barcelona. Taxis were plentiful from the airport to the hotel (about 30 Euros for two) and from the hotel to the pier (25 Euros). Fares are per the meter plus 5 Euros per bag in the trunk. Our expectations were high for the Brilliance of the Seas, which set us up for some disappointments. We had originally booked a Superior Verandah stateroom, but prices dropped and we were able to upgrade to a Grand Suite for less than our original booking. How exciting: Grand Suite! We've cruised every 6 months for the past 6 years, but never did a Grand Suite. This should be great: 12 days on the Med, being pampered, total relaxation, etc. Boarding was easy and we were on board within 15 minutes of arrival at the terminal. We knew the layout of the ship having sailed on her sister, the Radiance of the Seas, so we had a bite at the Windjammer until the suite was ready. Brilliance is great mid-sized ship, with most of the features found on the bigger ships (no Flo-rider). There is a great deal of natural light and the views of the sea surrounding the ship are ever-present. Art pieces are placed throughout the public areas and are worthy of a tour (guest relations may have an audio tour available). The ship was clean, but there are signs that a refurbishment is needed. Guest Relations was excellent and professional. I was in line as a staff member assisted a woman who had to leave the ship at the next port due to a family emergency. The staff person was very caring, thorough, and made certain the passenger knew the process of clearing customs and getting to the airport. I was quite impressed and commented on that to the staff member. The food was generally good, but uninspired. Chops was great, as always, and definitely worth the fee. But make certain you reserve on-line before the voyage for the best times. Our itinerary was Barcelona, Villefranche, Livorno, Civitavecchia, Salerno, Venice overnight, Ravenna, Dubrovnik, Barcelona. The first 4 days of the voyage were full days of sightseeing, and we were grateful for a sea day. We had planned on doing our own travel by train between the ports and Florence/Rome. However, a train strike was announced, so we elected to take the Florence and Rome "On Your Own" excursions, which took us from shipside to a drop-off point in each city. We had about 6 hours before we met again at the same point to return to the ship. These worked well. In Rome, we were let off near St Peters' Square. We walked to the Metro nearby and traveled to the Coliseum Metro Station. We then explored the Coliseum, the Forum, Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, and crossed the Tiber back to the Vatican. Even with a leisurely lunch on a small piazza and gelato breaks, it was a great and casual walk. We took a ferry from the main square in Salerno to Amalfi, Positano, Sorrento and back that was spectacular, with enough time for lunch on a beachfront restaurant and shopping. Disembarkation was very smooth and went as scheduled. Luggage was waiting and formalities were limited, Skip the Royal Caribbean airport shuttle. Taxis are waiting and will get you to the airport for less cost. Plus you don't have to wait for the coach to fill up and for the baggage to be unloaded at the airport. And, you've never lived until you've experienced a taxi ride in crushing Barcelona traffic driven by someone who really knows how to get through it! Critical Info: Suite 1052 was on the 10th deck, adjacent to the Concierge Club, port side, ahead of the "hump". It was spacious, with a sitting area separated from the sleeping area, full bathroom with a nice tub and two sinks. Plus a free-standing bar with glassware and even a welcome fruit basket. Very nice. Within minutes we found some issues - the TV/Stereo sound system was connected only to the rear speakers of the ceiling array (over the bed), the woofer was inoperative and the volume could only be set by manual adjustment on the TV instead of the remote. Despite several requests of the staff, the issues were never resolved. Our steward did a great job of housekeeping, but the furnishings drastically needed some deep cleaning. After one sneezing episode on the sofa, I wondered how dusty it was. Bad mistake. I struck the upholstery with my hand and the dust erupted from the sofa into the sunlight. Same with the chair upholstery. The carpet also needs cleaning: white stockings did not stay white long when walking in the suite. Daily cleaning: fine. Deep cleaning: badly needed. The Concierge Lounge was next door, so we checked that out. Oops! We were scolded by the bartender that we had used a staff entrance (it was unmarked, right next to our suite and left open), and that we were to use the main door. Sorry! The Lounge was packed with no seats available. We were served our drinks and told "standing room only", which was obvious. After getting elbowed out of the way by others heading for the hors d'oeuvres, we decided to step out of the lounge due to the crowding. As we stepped out of the front door of the lounge we were scolded again by the bartender "No drinks taken out of the lounge!", a comment that stopped all the conversations in the room and drew everyone's stares. Other guests were also reprimanded as they tried to escape the crush. How welcoming. We slugged down our drinks and left. The Concierge Lounge was available 24 hours a day, and we used it for espresso in the morning and the online services. But we found that the character of the lounge was dominated by a number of very strong personalities among our fellow travelers. We had the Political Commentators who had an opinion on any politics, anywhere, and insisted on sharing their viewpoints with all. We had the Super Triple Diamond Royal Elite types who scored each other on which cruise line was better and why. The most obnoxious were the Social Climbers who seemed to compete with the degree of exclusivity of their clothing, their travels and degree of self-indulgence, and they really had nothing interesting to talk about. We discovered several days later that an "overflow" Concierge Lounge had been informally set up on the 13th deck. Eric was the bartender there and he knew how to host a bar and a party. It was a much more eclectic group who had taken refuge there, and we made fast friends with numerous people in our "alternative" group. Our Concierge was on her first assignment, and seemed easily intimidated by the strong personalities. Several times as I was speaking to her others would elbow ahead of me to place their demands, to whom she would attend (ignoring me). Her function was more of a hostess than a Concierge, and unable to provide much assistance. In one port, the Captain had announced we would be tendering instead of docking as planned - she was totally unaware of it and had no tender tickets to provide her passengers. A Room Service menu was provided to the Suites daily to allow ordering directly from the dining room. However, about 25% of each daily menu was not available despite being listed. This required a huddle over the menu and the phone to determine what was not available, what alternatives were available, and revisions on the fly. The Concierge nor the Dining Room staff could ever explain why the discrepancies between what was supposed to be available and what actually was. The person taking a Room Service order had no caller ID to know our name, so we often had to see who we were and our SeaPass number, which was odd. Since we could not bring alcohol on board, we had assumed that we would be able to buy a bottle or two of gin or bourbon on board that we could use in our Suite (full bar with glassware, right?). We found that was impossible. Room Service only would provide bottles of wine (but not port) to the stateroom. They would only provide single service drinks to the room. The Duty Free shop only sells alcohol to be delivered to your stateroom on the last night of the voyage. No joy on knocking back a few in your Grand Suite with a full bar that cannot be stocked. According to fellow passengers, this was unique to the Brilliance, as Jewel will allow it. Smoking on the balconies is allowed, which became annoying as the smoke could drift in at any time. Celebrity does not allow smoking on the balconies at all. Stateroom 1052 was just below a portion of the Windjammer. Noises of moving furniture, stairways, running children were common until wee hours. The last sail-away had a party that ran until after 1am, and the band noise kept us awake. After being scolded by the bartender in the Concierge Lounge twice and not being allowed to have liquor in my stateroom, I felt I was in a freshman college dormitory instead of a cruise ship. Summary: Overall, this was a great trip. I would recommend the itinerary to any and all. Our experience with Royal Caribbean may have been marred by unrealistic expectations of Grand Suite service. However, we have been far more satisfied by Celebrity in the past and will not likely return to RCI. . Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Cruise Critic Comment: Great Ports/Worst Cruise Line NCL = Never-Again Cruise Line Ultimately cruising is about the ports of call. This cruise was saved by the great ports and cities we visited Barcelona, Rome, Athens, Izmir/Ephesus, ... Read More
Cruise Critic Comment: Great Ports/Worst Cruise Line NCL = Never-Again Cruise Line Ultimately cruising is about the ports of call. This cruise was saved by the great ports and cities we visited Barcelona, Rome, Athens, Izmir/Ephesus, Istanbul and Malta. We enjoyed Istanbul and understood the necessary change from Alexandria, Egypt. NCL is the worst overall cruise experience of our 13 cruises on 7 different cruise lines which include Celebrity, our favorite, Holland America, Princess, Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Sitmar. NCL is diminishing the cruise experience with their chiseling and corner cutting that negatively impacts both the passengers and crew. NCL is stretching the concept of economies of scale to the detriment of the cruise passenger. FOOD - The food at the buffet and the main dining room was mediocre at best. NCL food is easily the worst food of 13 cruises. However, the food and service at the upscale and extra fee Cagney's is better but still not up to the quality of everyday food service at Holland America or Celebrity. They call it freestyle cruising it really means fee-style cruising as the surcharge at Cagney's and at least one other upscale restaurant is $25 per person. BEVERAGES - Beware ordering a glass of wine in the Spinnaker Lounge. You may get an ounce or two if you're lucky. The smallest pour of a glass of wine in the history of mankind. Ordering four iced teas from room service for a thirsty two people inspired questioning and the third degree as if we were trying to over order rather than "of course sir, at your service, you must be thirsty". The margarita madness event is aptly named, you are mad because there is little or no tequila in your drink. CREW - The crew members are a melancholy lot clearly unhappy with a lot of negative energy. The happiest fellow we met was a waiter in the main dining room overjoyed that his NCL contract was almost over. We have enjoyed better service with a single cabin steward on other cruises than with the combination of steward, concierge and butler on this cruise. ENTERTAINMENT - I will give NCL points for entertainment; it was among the best entertainment I have experienced on any of our 13 cruises. CABIN - Our Penthouse Suite was spacious and well located on the fan tail. Our in-room coffee maker broke down 3 times during our cruise. The bathroom is very poorly designed with almost no place for storage. The furniture and cabinetry are not high quality. SHORE EXCURSIONS- Is there such a concept as "usury" when it comes to shore excursions? The NCL prices are outrageously high. As most cruise critics members do, we plan our own shore excursions. We are angered by "fear tactics" that expressly discourage your own excursions including warnings against using trains because "they are never on time and always subject to strikes". Using trains and Hop On - Hop Off busses were an excellent way to experience the ports of call. FACILITIES- The gym is dark and small and most of the time an attendant was not present and there was no water available. We have experienced bigger more modern gyms on small cruise ships serving 1,200 passengers or less rather than the 2,400 on the NCL Jade. OVERALL: In accounting terms, NCL, the Never-Again Cruise Line, is impairing and "spending" their long term goodwill for what is likely a short-time positive impact on quarterly financial statements because of cost cutting. I am considering shorting their stock and looking into whether they have considered a goodwill impairment charge on their financial statements. This short-term policy of chiseling and cheating the customer out of a quality cruise experience will come back to haunt them. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
This was our third transatlantic cruise, the first two having been with Celebrity on their Millennium and Century. Using that experience as a standard, this cruise did not quite measure up. It could be that RC is doing some product ... Read More
This was our third transatlantic cruise, the first two having been with Celebrity on their Millennium and Century. Using that experience as a standard, this cruise did not quite measure up. It could be that RC is doing some product differentiation, allowing its Royal Caribbean brand to slide, while promoting its Celebrity brand as their 'premium' cruise line. Or, it could be that the very large newer ships in the RC line are posing new service/management issues. Then again, maybe it's both. This cruise left from Barcelona. For us, this was deja vu because we've sailed from Barcelona on two previous occasions. Embarkation in Barcelona has always been a model of efficiency and superior service. This embarkation was no exception. Incidentally, if you have an opportunity to spend time in Barcelona, do so. It's a wonderful city; one of Europe's very best, in our experience. From Barcelona, the Adventure of the Seas visited several Mediterranean ports (Toulon, Ajaccio, Mallorca, Cartagena) and two Canary Island ports, before setting out across the Atlantic to San Juan... 14 days in all. The selection of ports was very good, but the timing of some of the visits left room for improvement. For example, we visited Toulon on a Monday. Does RC not know that the French normally work Saturdays and take Mondays off? Disappointingly, this interesting port city was closed! This experience was replayed in Cartagena. Our favorite port was Ajaccio in Corsica, and we plan to return there for a land holiday. Onboard, the Adventure of the Seas is a marvel -- lots of room, lots of glitz, and an excellent smooth performer in rough seas. The maintenance on this ship is superb. Our stateroom was on deck 6, roughly amid-ship, with a balcony. It was excellent; and the service from the stateroom attendant was flawless. Some guests were complaining that their rooms were being serviced annoyingly late in the day. Later, we were to learn that RC had a lot of 'new recruits' among the crew on this voyage, and they were running daytime training sessions for the rookies... who were expected to catch up after class, I guess. Anyway, the problem was affecting some staterooms, and quite a few of the bars. Until the evening hours, fully half the bars were not open, and quite a few of the bar-tenders had difficulty mixing some of the drinks that were listed in the bar menus. The dining room was mediocre in many respects. On the first day aboard, we arrived at our reserved table for 6 to learn that it had been assigned to 8 guests. Anyway, the problem was addressed for the second evening, and all affected parties seemed satisfied. But, how can this kind of rookie mistake happen? Let's move on to the food. The quality of the entrees was inconsistent -- some evenings it was superb; some evenings it was difficult to choose an acceptable entree from the day's menu. Inconsistency! But the deserts were consistently bad. Indeed, we noted that the desert offerings at the buffet were much better than those being offered in the dining room. Incidentally, our table service was excellent; probably the best we've ever experienced. But we did note that some of the guests at nearby tables were not so fortunate. We used the buffet for breakfasts and lunches. The quality and choice of food was very good cruise fare. The only negative was the service, in terms of speed of clearing tables, etc. We did not frequent any of the extra-charge restaurants. And, speaking of costs, the cost of alcoholic beverages has been creeping up at RC. The cheapest bottle of wine that I could find was $27 + an automatic 15% gratuity. This is for a bottle of wine that I could have purchased for the equivalent of $6 in Barcelona. The activities aboard were typical of any very large cruise ship. We can't imagine anyone being bored. Still, this area of service was not without its problems. The gymnasium is probably too small for 3100 passengers, with much of the more popular exercise machines (treadmills, for example) being impossibly over-demanded. Also, the quality of the entertainment aboard was a huge disappointment. Except for an excellent Ice Show and one entertainer (an Elton John impersonator) the entertainment was dreadful, dreadful, dreadful. Generally, we enjoyed the cruise very much, and I have chosen to focus on the areas needing improvement. Would I repeat this cruise? Probably not; but that may be attributable to the very bad disembarkation that we experienced on arrival in San Juan (home port for the Adventure of the Seas). The ship was scheduled to clear port at about 7:30 AM and we booked a San Juan tour, since our flight only left at 4:00 PM. However, the ship did not clear until after 9:00 AM, and then the problems began in earnest. Passengers were off-loaded into a large metal building where, in 80 F heat, and without water or bathroom facilities, we stood in-line for three hours to clear US customs. During this experience, NO Royal Caribbean crew were in evidence. I can't believe that this is normal procedure in the ship's American home port! Welcome to the USA. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
We flew over from West Palm Beach to Barcelona and just missed a hurricane enroute. Luckily we got the to board the ship on the first day of 2 days in the port. I really like it when a cruise starts with 2 days in a port to make up for ... Read More
We flew over from West Palm Beach to Barcelona and just missed a hurricane enroute. Luckily we got the to board the ship on the first day of 2 days in the port. I really like it when a cruise starts with 2 days in a port to make up for travel problems. The ship itself is very plain and very basic. Holland is not sparing any money on glitz, but they keep adding cabins to the same size series of ships. We got a very nice upgrade that placed us on the 12th floor in the rear of the ship. This was the first time and we loved it as got a bigger stateroom and was able to see action on both sides of the ship. The room was the best part of the cruise as the food was not up to the usual Holland American standards. I believe this is due to Carnavel's cost cutting which taking all the grandeur and enjoyment of cruising. We had some very tough and fatty filet minion's on formal nights which unacceptable. I also missed having tapioca, rice pudding, and banana bread. The entertainment was good, but not great. All of these ships are now having their production shows lip sinked so only the dancing is live performance. The service was good, but the ship was under staffed! We always had to get our own drinks when in the buffet and their was never enough staff around for refills. The Ports are all getting much to crowded in the summer for our taste, but thankfully we had been to each one previously. I will skip Rome, Venice, and Dubrovnik in the future as just not enough room to enjoy oneself. Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
Husband Jon and I love cruising, so we schedule one as many times a year as possible. We have 22 cruises under our belts - so far...Many more to come, we hope. This was our first experience with NCL. Let us give you the good, the bad, and ... Read More
Husband Jon and I love cruising, so we schedule one as many times a year as possible. We have 22 cruises under our belts - so far...Many more to come, we hope. This was our first experience with NCL. Let us give you the good, the bad, and the ugly from this cruise. Scheduled through NCL, our air travel was uneventful and a positive experience. From airport to ship was great - a short but very interesting tour of Barcelona, hitting the high spots, so we didn't have to revisit later on. Left off at the cruise port we signed in with relative ease. Introduction to our stateroom was as good as it gets! So far, so good. We had splurged on a mini-suite for the first time ever, and were extremely happy with the results. And when we first entered our room, there was one of our complimentary bottles of wine with our wineglasses and opener welcoming us. Pretty cool stuff! The room was large enough to accommodate both of us doing our "own thing" even when I got that nasty norovirus and had to remain in bed for a day. Jon was able to use the living area and block off the lights from his activities on the laptop, so I could sleep. Unfortunately, here comes some of the "bad." Our room steward left much to be desired. We saw him less than any steward on any other cruise. We asked for wine glasses, but he refused. Our room was not made up until 11:30AM on most days, but he asked us to vacate the room on disembark day at 7:00AM - an hour and a half earlier than required. Because of the norovirus the staff in the Garden Cafe - the buffet - had to serve all the food and drink. All of this wait staff were slow and some were even sullen. The drink servers were especially bad, making us feel that we were imposing on them! They were the ugly. The free restaurants - all 3 of them - specialized in slow service. What really annoyed us was bad information. On the first night we went to the Blue Lagoon, a small no-charge restaurant, and were told that we would have to pay for coffee. So, being coffee drinkers, we didn't return there, until we were informed correctly by other passengers that coffee was free there. The entire cruise line has been accused of nickel/diming customers, and we saw it first hand. The free "Freestyle Dining" was slow and cumbersome from waiting on the stairs for table assignment through dinner service. We noticed that if you asked to share a table, we always ate alone, but if we didn't want to be seated with others, sure enough, we had company. Does this sound like Freestyle to you? And can you believe that you had to pay to play shuffleboard? Just indicative. There were very few quiet places to sit, relax, decompress, talk to other cruisers without loud music playing from the bar. On the other hand, the entertainment was good and kept us entertained in the evenings. During sea days we were used to more enrichment and educational seminars on other cruise lines - very few were offered on NCL. Another point in NCL's behalf was the ease of getting on and off the ship in every port. There were two gangplanks in use almost each time, which really speeded up the process. The life jacket drill was also almost painless, a nice change from other cruises. The food was good enough, but we did lose weight on the cruise - probably from the exertion of those wonderful ports more than lack of volume. Disembarkation and our transfer to hotel in Barcelona were both great. Thanks to NCL for both. To summarize, lots of good but some bad news on this NCL cruise. Our biggest complaints involved NCL's philosophy of setting reasonable rates for the cruise, but extracting additional dollars at every opportunity. We don't think the problems were specific to the Jade. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
Right then, this is how it looks.RCI is a large powerful American company, who target their cruises at what was/is "middle america" although their clients come from all four corners of the globe.The Ship:- Brilliance of the Seas ... Read More
Right then, this is how it looks.RCI is a large powerful American company, who target their cruises at what was/is "middle america" although their clients come from all four corners of the globe.The Ship:- Brilliance of the Seas is a BIG buzger. Fitted and furnished as a 5* (at least) hotel, and the Centrums have to be seen to be believed. The kinky bit, is that in the main elevators, the floor has a panel which shows the day of the week. This is changed every night.The organization required to run this ship, provide food,entertainment day and night, excursions etc is awesome, and RCI have to be congratulated for their abilities here.On board Staff:- Generally very friendly and helpful.Cabin:-(sorry-stateroom) Initially, on entering the "stateroom" we thought it rather small.But the very clever design of the vanity unit and wardrobes allowed us ample storage space, and the same could be said for the bathroom. Very well thought out and comfortable. My bed was not comfortable but wife said hers was excellent. Hospitality traybring your own coffee!!! Mini bar-You must be a British banker. The balcony also gave increased space although smaller than we are used to. Fantastic hi-tech telly where you can check your account, see details of excursions and entertainment.Hi-tech phone system for EMC's.etc. Our cabin (deck 9) was convenient for lift and near all facilities at front of ship. Minor cleanliness issue,but very good on the whole. Entertainment:- The wide variety of things to do, both day and night, means that virtually every taste is catered for no need to be bored.Dining:-We were supposed to dine in the Minstrel, but after the first couple of meals we decided to opt for the Windjammer Buffet. The Minstrel reminded me of the British GovtMenu was high on promise, but waiters couldn't deliver. The breakfast was diabolical for british clients.Meals in the windjammer were generally excellent. There was a wide array of food to cater for clients from the far east, italy, germany, usa and britain. The choice and quality of the food was reflected in the popularity of this restaurant Occasionally, some dishes were not as hot as they should have been , but on the other hand, eggs for breakfast were cooked fresh to order. Pity the staff did not know what "White Coffee" was. We sometimes did a light lunch at the Seaview cafe, which was also excellent.Now for the downside. Despite company policy, and complaints made, nothing was done to address the problem of "seat blocking" in the solarium or around the pool area. These areas prove to be most popular but are not large enough to cope with demand, especially when seats are left for long periods unused but with belongings on them.At time of booking, info suggests that smokers are catered for. Once on board, information says that the ship is designed principally for non smoking, and smokers are made to feel unwelcome. Indoors, there are only two noisy bars which have smoking areas, and outdoors the smoking areas are like wind tunnels, and queues for tables form at meal times. We spent considerably more in order to get a balcony cabin, but here too we were not allowed to empty ash tray inside cabin trash bin. To add insult to injury, we had to keep balcony door closed whilst smoking lest smoke should enter the cabin. Human Rights????? We did three excursions. The canal, egypt and malta. The companies contracted to run these trips did RCI's image no favors. The itinerary for the canal and egypt trips was counter to what many clients wished and wasted time away from the main features. Their couriers were dreadful. The canal one gave a long and detailed history of Greece and a detailed visit to a museum where an elderly yank told her to "quit yapping" The girl on the blue grotto trip on malta kept repeating herself over and over to the point she had many of us bored out of our skulls. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009

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