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24 Barcelona to Caribbean - Western Cruise Reviews

What an enjoyable cruise. Each port visit was well planned. Even the port that was added to replace Tunis (which was a dangerous port at the time) was very enjoyable. The crew was great and from multiple countries, like other cruises, but ... Read More
What an enjoyable cruise. Each port visit was well planned. Even the port that was added to replace Tunis (which was a dangerous port at the time) was very enjoyable. The crew was great and from multiple countries, like other cruises, but unlike other cruise lines the spoke English we could understand. The food was very good, and lots of variety. The tours were very good, and most tour guides were very good,with a few that needed a little more English training. The one big problem was that (unlike their river cruises) they did not separate out those people with mobility problems. Yes they stated in the brochure that some tours were more difficult than others, but they did not make separate tours for those people. To the point that they let a wheelchair bound person on a tour of Herculaneum which was down a steep hill and the way around was uneven, rocky wagon paths. Most of Europe is not handicap friendly. The Viking river cruises had smaller tour groups for mobility challenged that got them as close as possible to places that were not walking friendly. We had our own personal problems. I had a tooth problem which handled extremely well. The restaurant missed giving my wife a special cake for her birthday. When they figured it out, the waiter stopped at the cabin with an apology and a large cake. The next day the head chief found us and apologized. That evening we found a huge bouquet in our stateroom. But the best part of the cruise is that almost all costs are upfront, so it looks a little more money, but turns out to be close to the same amount that we eventually paid for cheaper cruises, and was a much better cruise than the "cheaper" cruises. Airfare, taxes, transfers, port fees, drinks, internet and most important shore excursions (think I am forgetting something) are all in the upfront cost. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
If you like to party, gamble, drink, eat and have onboard entertainment, this is the ship for you. If you expect a rich cultural experience in the countries you visit, you may be disappointed. The ship offers very little information on ... Read More
If you like to party, gamble, drink, eat and have onboard entertainment, this is the ship for you. If you expect a rich cultural experience in the countries you visit, you may be disappointed. The ship offers very little information on ports, and is not very helpful if you wish to do your own excursions. It's all about the dollar. Norwegian has taken soaking passengers for every single imaginable extra to a new level. The service everywhere was superb, including the wait staff and steward. The food was good in the "included" restaurants. We chose not to spend an extra $30 each per meal on specialty restaurants. The public areas although crowded were clean. We never saw a dirty restroom. There are no quiet areas. There is also no daylight comfortable seating anywhere except in bars. There is a library that seats about 20 people (this on a ship that had 4200) with artificial light. Don't even think about sitting in your room -- there is no comfortable place. This criticism is somewhat unfair, because Norwegian never pretended to be anything other than what it is -- a giant party all the time. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
This was our 10th cruise and probably 6 or 7 with RCCL. Demographics - White collar 49 year old couple and 17 &19 year old daughters. Tough to review because cruising has changed so much over the years and I think it is time for us ... Read More
This was our 10th cruise and probably 6 or 7 with RCCL. Demographics - White collar 49 year old couple and 17 &19 year old daughters. Tough to review because cruising has changed so much over the years and I think it is time for us to move towards a more inclusive cruise experience. The upsell is significantly greater than it used to be and the general dining room food has really gone down. We ate 5 times in the specialty just to have a better experience. Ship was beautiful and the upkeep is really very good. Some crew was a little indifferent but overall the staff was excellent. A case that the average cruise worker really makes it a great experience. Some really special people that are probably trained well but first and foremost care from the heart. RCCL cancelled the water show several times due to a hydraulic problem with the stage/pool. Also cancelled Mama Mia once. Headliner was pretty bad. RCCL did cram in extra showings during the day for the water show but couldn't get in even though I had booked online far in advance (which I recommend). Couldn't help feeling that cramming it in wasn't for the benefit of the passengers but more so to avoid the people asking for refunds. Spa was terrible. Screwed up all the appointment times and then couldn't provide an executable solution. Worst part is they can charge you right away but then the refund is a process. Found a couple different billing discrepancies on my account so make sure to check it. It resulted in $150 of reversals for me. Internet is criminally expensive. Excursions with the ship were pretty good. Drach caves much better than I expected (seen one, seen them all didn't quite apply). French lavender fields to Luberon and Rousillion (sp?) was really pretty scenery (lavender is now moving out of season though). 13 or less group size in Naples to Positano, Sorrento, & Pompeii was enjoyable but expensive. Great tour guide. I really wanted to share our experience with a private tour company in Florence and Rome, Joe Banana. Had a private van for the 4 of us and a fraction of the cost. I was hesitant because of the unknown and concern "will be be back in time?" We returned with plenty of time to spare and probably saw 3 times what we would have. Catherine in Florence and Giovanni in Rome both personalized the tour to what we wanted to do. With that said, they brought us to some unique and outstanding locations we would have never found. Catherine is a US expat so it was really nice with a unique perspective. Giovanni had a tough task as we had been in Rome a year before. We saw more with him in one day that we saw in four days on our own during the last visit. Also, my daughter is a college art history major and he knows his stuff, teaching her a thing or two and bringing us to little known works by famous artists in secondary churchs. Please don't hesitate to contact Joe Banana and set up your own tours. It was the best decision we made. Barcelona itself is a great city. Try and extend out 3 or 4 days if you can. A lot to see and we felt very comfortable in this cosmopolitan city. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
This was our 8th cruise, in 3 years, I have aimed to try a variety of Cruise Lines including P&O,Thomson, RCL, Celebrity, Princess, Costa and now NCL. My partner and I went with out mothers, having booked two balcony cabins (our ... Read More
This was our 8th cruise, in 3 years, I have aimed to try a variety of Cruise Lines including P&O,Thomson, RCL, Celebrity, Princess, Costa and now NCL. My partner and I went with out mothers, having booked two balcony cabins (our first), and it came with the ultimate drinks packages and $100 on board spend. Embarkation was the easiest I have ever experienced we arrived at the Barcelona cruise port at about 11.30am and were on board by 12.15pm, virtually no queues, went straight to our cabins which were ready although the mothers cabin must have still being prepared but the steward let them in without any issues at all. Ship was a true giant of the seas, felt very proud when in ports to be on her. Maybe the flow of the ship was not fantastic but okay. Just so much to do on her, would like to do a repositioning cruise on her so that we fully explore all the activities The cabins were good (both on deck 13) , possibly a little cramped but for the first time we had the balcony, Wow, funny enough that gave us some extra space. Our balcony near the front of the ship was a good size with 2 chairs, small table and 2 sun loungers behind. The mothers cabin balcony, mid ship was about half the size but they were really happy with theirs as well as we are not really the sun loungers type of people.. The bathrooms in my opinion were fine, no complaints at all, the added bonus is that one person could use the shower while the other could use the loo, if needed. Also as mentioned previous there was a curtain divider so you could have some privacy if required. The storage space in out forward cabin was fine although we could have done with some more drawer space. However our mothers cabin had a joining door to the next cabin so they were missing a small wardrobe (not the main one) and 4 drawers which meant they had virtually none, but they managed and it didn't spoil their holiday one bit.. The beds were great and really comfortable if you like them on the firmish side (which we do). Both our cabin stewards were excellent and could not do enough for us. In fact all the crew on the ship were top notch, to such an extent that when I spoke to the mums cabin steward about a few things, he travelled halfway up the ship to our cabin to advise the situation. Fantastic service!! We had most of our meals in the buffet restaurant (Garden Cafe). The meals were all excellent, if I was being picky I do not think the variety at each meal was as good as NCL (the buffet champions IMHO). But was still great. There did not seem to be as many drinks servers on this cruise as others we have been on which was slightly annoying as this was the first cruise that we had the included drinks package, however it meant we are not interrupted so much.. On the plus side you could just go to the dining room bar and get drinks there. In fact a special mention to the Bar Lady there, she was the best on the ship. Friendly but up for a laugh, always anticipated (correctly) what I wanted and the best service I have ever received on a cruise ship. We also had a meal in the Circus night which was excellent although only one choice, although alternatives were offered if requested. We also eat once at the Pub style restaurant which was a little disappointing as in pub style restaurants you would expect generous portions but not the case here... On the penultimate night we eat in the Taste restaurant which was also disappointing because it was fantastic! Why did we leave it to almost the end of the cruise :(. I had a mixed grill and it was excellent! :) We never eat in the main dining room, so cannot comment, also we were going to eat in the now complimentary Shanghais Chinese restaurant, but my partner is a bit fussy, especially with seafood so we gave it a miss. One of the reasons is because there was just so much to do on this ship. A mention of the NCL freestyle concept, it was fantastic, I do not like to dress up, i.e. Tux or Suit and although there were people that did, the vast majority didn't and I just felt so comfortable with this... On to the shows, in a word brilliant, Burn the Floor were incredible I have to say it was one of the best shows I have seen at see!! Wish I'd seen them earlier in the cruise so that I could have seen them again. Howl at the Moon though were on a another level, in case you do not know they are dueling pianists with drums at the back, they sing/play requests from the crowd and also do jokes which was absolutely fantastic, my partner and I saw them 3 times.. And they also got my mum on the small stage to sing her happy 83rd birthday.. We also saw a Beetle tribute band which Carolines (my partner)s mum thought were very authentic and very good. I think possibly the worst show was Legends, they had Sting, Rod Stuart and Gloria Estifan. (sure there was one more but cannot remember), however they were also very good, but the best at what they do, I am not sure... We also went to see an Il Divo band which were good but not really my cup of tea, however the three ladies in my group loved them :). There was just so much you could see or do, entertainment was fantastic, something for everyone. One of the other things I liked was we had a quite diverse range of passengers, young, old, families, Singles, lots of different Nationalities, it was great and NCL catered for all of them , with Spanish act.. Ports, all the ports were great, we went to Naples (or is it Napoli, can never remember), port for Rome, port for Pisa and Florence, Cannes and Palma Mallorca. I was a little disappointed that a map and brief guide was not left in the cabin each night. Also in Palma that although they did lay on shuttles to the centre there was a cost of $12 per person which I thought was pretty steep, although to be fair there was plenty of taxis about which if there were 4 of you would have worked out much cheaper. We did our own thing at each port and booked a guided trip with Cruise Excursions for Pisa and Florence which was far cheaper then the NCL equivalent. I also went on the waterslides which were great especially because you were 15 floors up. We do not really do sun bathing so I cannot comment on this aspect but everybody seemed to be having a good time. We went to All White Party on the H20 deck which was well attended and was really good fun with plenty of participation by the entertainment team. The Gym was another excellent area, I did not go as much as I would have liked, but it was quite big with plenty of running and cycling machines, and weight equipment. I cannot comment on activities because I never stayed long enough find out. Disembarkation was a breeze, just remember to get your coloured tags from near customer services (from 4pm on the Friday) and out put your cases out by 11pm. All carry of your own cases, whichever is best for you. A nice touch is that you did not have to vacate your cabin at a ridiculous early time, so you could go for breakfast and come back for your hand luggage. Downsides, you can only use your On Board Credit for purchases on the ship and not use it to pay for the service charges (although those purchases do include the shops and duty free). If i had known this I would have paid for the tips pre cruise before the service charges went up. I wish they could have made clearer what was included in the Ultimate Beverage Packages, as I did not know fully until half way through the cruise what you could have, i.e. Any drink up to $11.00, excluding coffees (which I did know about) and fresh squeezed juices. Also I wish they had a full cocktail menu as all the menus only had about 10 cocktails on and they were the same ones). Pre Cruise I expected Headliners which was supposed to be a comedy club to be purely for comedy, but it showed a variety of shows.. (small gripe) My only big negative about the whole cruise was an incident in the Garden Cafe where we did not have much time, we got a table, and I put my insulin pen (I'm a diabetic) and Caroline put her sunglasses on a table so I could get the drinks while the ladies were getting their meals. Some elderly couple came along and removed them and (to their credit gave them to a steward). When I came back obviously I couldn't find the table I had reserved. In the end this couple asked if I had lost something and told me they gave them to this steward. I was fuming I wanted to hit them but didn't.. Obviously, I felt a bit sorry (not at the time) because what could she do.. It really put a dampening on my holiday and the worst part was on ship of 4000 people we h=bumped into them twice more.. Not Happy!! Although please note this is not a complaint against NCL. For our travel to and from the airport I used pre booked taxi's, via viva transfers) they were far cheaper then the transfers with NCL (if you have 4 people). And I think they were cheaper then the taxi's outside the airport, based on the 39 Euro standard charge that I think someone advised on here previously. They were very good, sent reminders close to the pickup times, our flight was late on arrival and they were still there, on the return they were about 5 minutes late, but did apologise.. Very happy with the service provided. Anyway my party had a fantastic cruise, and I would highly recommend NCL to anyone, I cannot understand the negative comments, I think it all depends on personal tastes and you should bear in mind how much you paid for the cruise. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
Overall we had a great week and so glad we booked a balcony on the Port side. If you have any doubts do it as there are loads of kids on board and this gives you a chance for some peace and quiet. We like kids but they are allowed to run ... Read More
Overall we had a great week and so glad we booked a balcony on the Port side. If you have any doubts do it as there are loads of kids on board and this gives you a chance for some peace and quiet. We like kids but they are allowed to run riot in the Windjammer cafe and pool area. We were also very disappointed with the adult pool section on board, it was too small and felt crammed in like sardines. Dress code nights were disappointing as this was not adhered to in the dining rooms, they let people in with shorts and T shirts! Also they pander to large parties and in the main the 3 of us were put on tables near the clearing stations. Service was either overbearing so that you could not enjoy your food without being interrupted and asked questions or simply non existent if sat between two large parties. Breakfast is best served in your cabin (always on time) or Promenade Cafe if you want to get away from the food scramble in Windjammer. However be prepared for average food everywhere, Windjammer is like being at School Dinners. Main dining room food never really comes up to expectations from description on menu but overall OK. The ports of call were fantastic especially waking up in the bay of Villefranche. However do your homework before leaving...and don't believe everything that RC tell you. In Marseille they advised there could be a problem with taxis due to number of cruise ships in...so we bought tickets for the scenic boat shuttle. There were loads of taxis and the boat shuttles were late leaving from the dock area and Marseille which meant we lost a lot of time just waiting in line. In Villefranche be prepared for a long line for train tickets - at least 30 to 45 mins in height of summer. Pompeii - chap on the coach was brilliant and gave us some great info even though we had only booked transportation. Be prepared for long wait for entry tickets cutting out 30 mins of our 2.30 visiting time. The biggest plus is the entertainment crew...could not fault them and the shows were amazing especially Sat Night Fever. Musicians were exceptional including the LiBerty of Seas Orchestra, Fresh Beat and Dave Curtis in the Piano Bar he was mesmerising! Well done guys. Not much in the way of entertainment during the day for adults unless you are a bingo, art auction or spa fan all of which cost extra money. Perhaps RC should think about the adults who are paying the money to be on board and giving them some thought instead of more activities for kids who are already well catered for. Overall great holiday mainly down to ports of call and entertainment crew.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
We were interested in a Mediterranean cruise over Thanksgiving holidays, and after doing some research, the MSC Divina became an obvious choice for the following reasons: 1) brand new ship, made it's maiden voyage in July 2012 2) ... Read More
We were interested in a Mediterranean cruise over Thanksgiving holidays, and after doing some research, the MSC Divina became an obvious choice for the following reasons: 1) brand new ship, made it's maiden voyage in July 2012 2) kids cruise free when booked with two adults 3) my mother was cruising with us, and they had a reasonable price for a single room occupant 4) great port-of-calls: Barcelona (our embarkation port), Canary Islands, Casablanca, Madeira Islands, Malaga, Rome, Genoa. We flew into Barcelona the day of embarkation, and in retrospect, we should have arrived at least a day or two earlier. There was a general strike in Barcelona, and we were fortunate to be able to arrive a day after the strike. The port was close to the airport, but since we were traveling with 5 adults and 2 kids (my wife and I, my mother, my mother-in-law and father-in-law, and my two boys ages 9 and 7), we were able to get a 1/2 day tour with Barcelona Day Tours, who picked us up from the airport, took us to all the highlights in the city (Sagrada Familia, Parc Guell, Las Ramblas, several Gaudi houses), and they also dropped us off at the port. The embarkation at Barcelona was OK, no major hassles, but we were VERY tired by mid-afternoon, because of jet-lag and time differences. It would have been nice to get on-board faster, especially with young children, but we waited for about 2 hours overall (we arrive by noon), and about 1 hour in line. Overall, the MSC Divina is an impressive ship, with all the bells and whistles of a newly minted boat. The cruisers were about 40% German, 40% Spanish and Italian, 10% other Europeans (mostly French) + Turks, and about 10% or less English speaking, mostly British nationals, and probably less than 1% Americans / Canadians. All announcements were translated into 5 languages, but we did not feel overwhelmed, it was fun to be amongst other cultures. Most people were very courteous, and the staff was all English speaking. We occupied 3 rooms in the front of the ship, one balcony and two inside rooms. The room was adequately sized, but the balcony wall was metallic white rather than glass, and this is the case for balcony rooms in the front and back of the ship. There was an unusual cracking sound when the ship was traveling at a higher speed, especially noticeable during the night, and we asked for an engineer to see if they can alleviate the sound, but he said it was structural, coming from the wooden frame, and cannot be fixed. I initially thought it was from the balcony doors. The bathroom was European style with liquid shower soap and shampoo, adequately stocked. I hope to comment on the following topics to help out future cruisers who might be considering the MSC line. FOOD/DRINKS: The main dining food was good, but more European, so there was an good mix of pasta / beef / veal / fish / turkey etc, but very limited in steak / seafood (no lobster/crab/shrimp nights), and the veggie selections were always good. The desserts were GREAT! The drink package is very unusual, in that water was not free. North American travelers get a free bottled water per room per day, but that is usually not enough with 3 meals to consider. So we opted for different drink packages, some with just extra water, and some with juices / soft drinks. We didn't drink as much wine or other alcohol as most of the Europeans, so we did not consider the Allegrissimo packages. Water and juices were free during breakfast in the all-you-can-eat restaurant in the 14th floor (the Calumet, I think), but strange enough, they block the same machines that off for lunch and dinner, so you end up having to buy all drinks or use coupons. It's just different from American cruise lines. Service was EXCELLENT throughout, very friendly wait staff in all sections. There were several "gala" and "formal" nights, and we did dress up for those, but noticed that they were not very well followed, maybe only about 50% of the cruisers observed the dress code. ENTERTAINMENT: We went to most of the shows during the evening, and they were all very enjoyable; talented actors / singers. The Michael Jackson tribute was the best! We also enjoyed the pool, the coordinated activities during the morning, bingo, and I rode the Formula 1 racer which was quite fun. KIDS CLUB: My boys enjoyed the Club Mini and they had great activities every day. Lots of crafts, games, Wii tournaments, and occasional group lunches and dinners. Kids have a choice of staying practically all day when the ship is docked on port. We took our kids on the excursions, but apparently you can keep the on the ship if you'd like. We had a very choppy night after the first port (Casablanca), and were told it was normal to have high winds in the Atlantic during the winter season. The boat was rocking so much that all we could do was stay in bed. Several adults in my family took pills for motion sickness which were being given by the concierge desk, and that helped a little. Strange enough, both my boys were not that affected, and they still insisted on going up to the Mini-Club, and on my way there, it appeared many other passengers were not as affected as we were. But we basically stayed in bed the ENTIRE day at sea, and didn't even get to the restaurants for any of the meals. After that one day, everything was calmer, and the rest of the trip was smooth sailing, especially after entering back into the Mediterranean. Lots of picture taking opportunities! We bought a few of the portraits, since it was not easy to get our whole family in a setting. The price was 50 Euros for about 5 pictures. I'll comment on the ports below separately. There is no option on Casablanca, which was our first port, and we took a city tour through MSC, and it was very nice, got to see an olive market, the historic portion of the city, a Catholic church (Notre Dame), and the very impressive Hassan II Mosque. Overall, we were pleased with our cruise experience with MSC, and would not hesitate to book with them again. It's different from American lines, but still a very enjoyable experience overall. Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
Ship - Plenty of room for everyone. Very clean and lots to do. The swimming pools were cold so we enjoyed the hot tubs. Food - Food is Windjammer was mediocre. Food in dining room was really good. Fish and shrimp dinners were good. ... Read More
Ship - Plenty of room for everyone. Very clean and lots to do. The swimming pools were cold so we enjoyed the hot tubs. Food - Food is Windjammer was mediocre. Food in dining room was really good. Fish and shrimp dinners were good. We didn't spend the extra money on the specialty dining, we were happy eating in dining room. Our waiter and assistant waiter were very good. Ports - We loved all the ports. We did shore excursions on our own and especially liked Rome and the Amalfi Coast. We used Miles and Miles which is an excellent tour agency. Cabin - We had an outside cabin with window which seemed small at first but we got used to it. It was clean and our cabin steward was really good. Embark and Disembark - Everything went smoothly...no problems. Shows - The ice show and cirque de soleil shows were very good. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
Having been on several cruises now I have to say that the Epic is not my favourite. I think the younger generations might find it hyped and fun with crowds and noise but we couldn't find a quiet place outside of our stateroom and ... Read More
Having been on several cruises now I have to say that the Epic is not my favourite. I think the younger generations might find it hyped and fun with crowds and noise but we couldn't find a quiet place outside of our stateroom and balcony. No promenade deck was a big disappointment, just a one-way return jogging strip, top deck was open air but the space seemed smaller than on other ships, could be that there are just too many people filling it up. The music was blaring so loud up there that we couldn't eat or drink outside and carry on any kind of conversation. On two different occasions in the library bar I was next in line for service and both times overlooked for the next, younger, person in line, I've never experienced this anywhere in my life. They need to train their barmen to be polite to the older travelers (I'm 65 years old, not exactly at the doddling stage yet). I don't think they even register that you're there unless you are under 40. We were disappointed that the mini bar is not replenished each day, even when we left an order form on our desk before heading out at 7:30 am. for our tours. Returning from a long hot day leads to disappointment when the much anticipated cold drink isn't there. I called room service and told them of my plight so they delivered the drinks to us. Trying to get one of the charges dismissed by phone resulted in being told I had to report in person to Guest Services where I was met with by a most uncharming lady who told me I shouldn't be calling room service for drinks. She did remove the $15.00 charge (this was for one bottle of Pellegrino and two cans of tonic water, not cheap!). The room service people were fabulous. As we were going on tours most days we had to be on the dock by 7:45 a.m. and so had room service for our breakfast (nothing hot on the menu which was disappointing but the fruit and yogurt was fine.) The people who delivered the trays and the people who took our orders were lovely. We always received a call asking if it arrived and was it all fine. Very nice! The welcome back to the ship each day was wonderful. They greeted us with beautiful smiles, even some of the officers were there, and nice cold drinks of lemonade and water, cool face cloths, and happy chat, we loved that. The food on the ship was excellent. We loved the Manhattan Room, our waitress ( Yera, or Hera, very wonderful on every count), the food was great and the entertainment was always just perfect. Also the Garden Cafe buffet up top was amazing, and the food at O Sheehans was superb for the touch of traditional pub style dining. We didn't use the 'pay for' restaurants as we were very happy with the included restaurants. The cabin was the smallest I've ever experienced on a ship. The curved ends of the bed left my husband's legs hanging over the sides, not good. The frosted glass shower and separate frosted glass toilet enclosure were a little unnerving. If room service was delivering breakfast they walked right past you, the privacy issue is lacking for sure. We booked our Italian shore tours with Share a Shore Excursion in Italy. I highly reccommend this company to anyone wishing great tours, reasonable prices, excellent vans for 8 people (two of them were Mercedes), and all three of our drivers were absolutely fabulous. The tours not only included the described sights but they also added so much more. For instance, on our Pisa/Lucca tour our driver David helped 3 of us find a bike rental so we could ride along the top of the medieval wall surrounding the city, awesome! He also took us to a winery for wine sampling, a tour, and lunch. We arranged it with Oana the lovely company contact person who emails with you to set up your tour just the way you'd like it before you leave home. In Rome we had skip the line tickets for the coliseum and the Vatican. We also had an extraordinary guide named Max to take us through the Vatican. Our driver Manny then took us to Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, and so many other Roman sights, far more than I dared hope that we could actually see in a day. And who wouldn't love our driver Carlos who took us to Pompeii, Sorento, and Positano, the home of the now disgraced captain of the cruise ship Concordia. Positano, by the way, is one of the most picturesque little villages I have ever seen, as is the gorgeous Amalfi drive to get there. Carlos was a lot of fun, very witty, great stories, with lots of stops for photos. We were met at the ship each morning, it was easy to find them, and we spent wonderful days on each tour.We loved the flexibility of this company and we made some lovely friendships amongst the 8 passengers. 5 stars for Share a Shore Excursions in Italy!! We didn't take a tour out of Cannes but we did hop on their little sightseeing train at the dock where the tender dropped us off. It's an hour long tour winding throughout the city, Cannes is very pretty, and quite prominently part of the film events from around the world. We booked a ship excursion from Marseilles and saw Les Baux des Provence. This was a good choice, it's not only a very picturesque medieval village but also very interesting. We enjoyed the 4 hour tour very much. Barcelona is well worth spending at least 2 days for, 3 is even better. The hop on hop off buses are the way to go, there is so much to see, fabulous really. Sorry for the long diatribe, once my memory goes back it's almost like being there all over again. Thanks for allowing me to re-live this almost perfect trip, it really was wonderful. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
A flight cancellation by American Airlines changed our original plans putting us on a red eye flight to JFK from Los Angeles with a nine hour layover followed by a second red eye trip to Barcelona. We decided to make lemonade with the bowl ... Read More
A flight cancellation by American Airlines changed our original plans putting us on a red eye flight to JFK from Los Angeles with a nine hour layover followed by a second red eye trip to Barcelona. We decided to make lemonade with the bowl of lemons we were handed and I located "Family in New York", a tour company that offered layover tours into New York City. I am so glad that we did. Scott, the owner, was our guide. He was there waiting when we landed and whisked us off for coffee and bagels before we could blink. For the next six hours we weaved our way throughout the city as Scott shared a bit of the history of the area and we visited the "must see" sights. I would love to return for a longer visit. He had us back at the airport in plenty of time and we had a thoroughly enjoyable time. We arrived in Barcelona at 8:00 am local time and took a taxi from the airport to our hotel, the Barcelona Universal. Luckily for us the hotel had one room available so we were able to check in early and take a nap before heading out to enjoy the city. That evening found us participating in a wine and tapas walking tour led by Daniel from the "Spanish Trails" tour company. Even the light rain couldn't keep us from having wonderful time. I highly recommend this tour if luck finds you in Barcelona. The next morning we purchased tickets for the blue Hop On Hop Off bus. This turned out to be a perfect option for us. We were able to tour the city stopping at places of interest to us, walk and explore, and then get back on to head for a new area. It is worth noting that the narration was available in 8 languages heard through headphones included with the ticket. The next morning found us walking to the port to begin our cruise. We hailed a cab for the final leg of the trip once we realized that a long bridge stood between us and our ship, the Spirit. Embarkation was a breeze taking no more than a few minutes. We were excited to see the reservation desk for the specialty restaurants in the terminal and we along with some new Cruise Critic friends quickly reserved our spots at the Chef's Table and the Jazz Brunch for our 2 sea days. After boarding we headed for Windows for lunch and shortly afterwards to our room on deck 9 (9680). The room was small but adequate for our needs on this trip. I did miss not having a refrigerator in the room however. The balcony, our first, was a delightful addition. We enjoyed opening the curtains and the door as much as sitting outside. The fresh air and the view were wonderful. Arnold, our room steward, did a fantastic job of taking care of us and a great job of decorating the room for my husband's birthday. He never failed to greet us and ask about our plans or our day. The trip, as the brochure says, is definitely port intensive. Do not expect this to be a relaxing 12 day trip. You will be on the go 10 of the days whether you take excursions or explore the ports on your own. Most evenings we fell into bed shortly after dinner. This was the first cruise ever( this was #10) that we never made it to a show or an evening activity. A couple of nights we even ate dinner in the buffet because we were too tired to change clothes after a day off the ship. We did enjoy Windows, the Garden, sushi, Le Bistro, the Blue Lagoon, the Chef's Table dinner, and the Jazz Brunch while on board. We had no complaints about the food anywhere and I can't say enough about the Chef's Table dinner. The 3 1/2 hours we spent enjoying the nine course dinner and the wine pairings went by in a flash. The dinner was only offered 2x on this cruise and we felt fortunate to be among the 12 at our seating. We also enjoyed the Jazz Brunch and felt it was a great bargain at $15 pp. although it seemed a bit disorganized. NCL should consider the Captain, Lars B., one of their greatest assets. In another life he could have been a stand-up comic. We actually waited for his announcements, "Well, good news tonight. All the chickens made it home to roost." It is obvious the crew feel privileged to be under his supervision. The Spirit is the happiest ship we have cruised on. Everyone seem to love their jobs and enjoy conversing with their guests from the top on down. I am sorry they won't be returning to U.S. ports because we would be using our Cruise Rewards to book a trip from anywhere closer to home. We alternated private excursions with self-guided tours (Rick Steves Guide to the Mediterranean Ports was invaluable). We chose "RomeinLimo" for Rome and Florence, sharing the van with 4 of our roll call members and "Ephesus Shuttle" in Izmir with just 1 of the couples. Both companies did a wonderful job at a more than reasonable price and we would highly recommend them. These stops would be difficult to manage without an excursion of some kind because of the distance from the port. On the other days we toured the town on our own; walking, riding buses and metros, and taking water shuttles. These were actually my favorite days because we got a better feel of the town, met many wonderful people and ate fantastic local food. In Naples for example, an older gentleman rode the bus with us just to make sure we made it to the Archaeology Museum without a problem. He spoke no English and we no Italian but it is amazing what you can express through gesture and minimal words. In Istanbul we shared lunch at a local restaurant with a couple from London visiting the area for a few weeks before heading to their summer home in France. The ports are amazing! We were unable to stop in Athens but Crete was substituted and we had a fun day there shopping and eating the local food. I wasn't brave enough to experience the pedicure with the fishes nibbling at your feet but saw many women and men taking advantage of the 10 euros trial offer. We did find some oregano flavored Lays potato chips at a food stand that were delicious, wished they sold that flavor in California! Take time to read a little bit about the history of the areas you will be visiting. I wish I had brushed up a little more before this trip. It is awe inspiring to be standing in and near areas thousands of years old. Do wear a money belt and be careful of your belongings. Fortunately we had no problems with pickpockets in any of the cities we visited. I brought along several travel skirts with hidden pockets and my husband and I both had jackets with inside security pockets. I did not take a purse off the ship and had no need for one as the pockets provided plenty of secure space to carry a camera and phone. Our trip ended in Venice with the fastest disembarkation procedures we have ever experienced. We wisely had made reservations to stay an extra night and I wished we could have stayed longer. Our hotel, the Arlecchino, was located just a people mover ride from the port and very near the bus and train stations in Plaza Roma. The Grand Canal was just a short walk away. We really enjoyed the location away from the crowds at St. Mark's and appreciated the included breakfast. The bus ride to the airport took about 25 minutes at a very reasonable cost of 6 euros each. All in all our trip was wonderful. We have memories to last a life time, thousands of pictures, and many new friends. The Spirit was a lovely smaller ship, immaculately cared for, with good food and a delightful staff. What more could we ask for? If you are considering this itinerary do not hesitate to book it. You will never regret your decision. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
We arrived at birmingham airport to be told there was a problem with the plane and we would be delayed by 24 hours. We were left at the airport for most of the day with no updates until eventually being transferred to the airport hotel ... Read More
We arrived at birmingham airport to be told there was a problem with the plane and we would be delayed by 24 hours. We were left at the airport for most of the day with no updates until eventually being transferred to the airport hotel for the night, where we were given a revised itinerary. The following morning we were taken back to the airport to face a further delay because they hadn't put enough fuel in the plane to get us to our destination. We were taken to Curacao where we were again put into a hotel to await the arrival of the ship which had sailed from Barbados the previous day. 53 hours late we finally joined the cruise. The ship was a huge disappointment. The smell of wet carpets and sewage was very strong in most of the public areas. Our cabin was a little on the compact side,but comfortable and clean enough. We only tried the restaurant once - never again. The food was cold,almost inedible and took so long to arrive we gave up. The rest of the shortened trip we ate in the Lido - the food was OK but I had gone on a cruise - I expected to be served my meals not to have to serve myself. The days spent at sea were a nightmare. The ships maintenance crew found it necessary to carry out painting jobs during this time so all we could smell was paint fumes - still it did mask the wet carpet & sewage smells inside the ship. The old practice of sunbed hogging was in evidence, despite claims from the staff that it was not tolerated - oh yes it was big style! The entertainment was mediocre and tired. I and other passengers voiced our concerns to the staff who were plainly not interested. We were all presented with a cruise review questionnaire to complete but the manner of the staff gave the impression that any negative comments received would be discarded before reaching port. Considering the cost of this cruise and the special time of year it was held I was sadly disappointed. We didn't want to be in hotels,we expected to be having the cruise of our dreams but we didn't. None of the staff onboard ship could care less and I have received the same level of customer service from the after cruise team at Thomson.I will take a cruise again but NEVER with Thomson. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
We were looking for a luxury cruise in Europe and chose Regent as we didn't want a huge ship and didn't want to have to really dress up each night for diner...and Marnier did not disappoint! Our cruise left out of Barcelona ... Read More
We were looking for a luxury cruise in Europe and chose Regent as we didn't want a huge ship and didn't want to have to really dress up each night for diner...and Marnier did not disappoint! Our cruise left out of Barcelona and we arrived there 3 days early making our own flight arrangements using frequent flyer miles. Barcelona is a great city. I highly recommend spending a few days here if your cruise starts or ends in Barcelona. Embarkation was extremely easy. We took a cab right to the boat at 11:30 AM where they took or luggage and within 15 minutes we were checked in and in out suite. Fortunately, we were offered an upgrade from a deluxe suite to a mariner suite a week before we left. It was a lot more money, but a great deal off the original price for this suite. The Mariner Suite is fabulous with more space than we needed. The best thing about the suite was having 1 1/2 bathrooms. The service by both the stewardess and butler was excellent. My only complaint was our butler did not get us into one of the specialty restaurants for an additional time beyond the reservations we made months earlier. Other people's butler got them in for additional nights and we were disappointed ours did not. The food is generally very good. Excellent in the specialty restaurants, hit and miss in Compass Rose, and very good in La Veranda. The biggest problem is the time it takes to eat. Figure 2 hours in the specialty restaurants and Compass Rose. After a long day in port we did not like 2 hour diners so we ate the most diners at La Veranda which was much quicker and very good. Many reviews on here have been critical of La Veranda so we were pleasantly surprised how good it was. Maybe those folks were talking about breakfast or lunch! Although we are not wine snobs, we did not find the variety of wines very good unless you wanted to pay extra. I found the reds pretty good, but my wife likes oaky chardonnays and all they had every night were light fruity whites. They asked us for a mid cruise review and the one complaint we put in the review was the wine and within a day the head sommelier contacted us and found us wine we liked. I was impressed that they took care of this so quickly. The entertainment is pretty good, but we only went to one show. After a full day in port and diner we were generally too tired to see the shows. The Casino is small and not very crowded. The best thing about this cruise was it never seemed crowded any where on the boat...it was fabulous. This cruise was port intensive and we are not big tour fans so we decided in some ports to go around ourselves which also allowed us to sleep later a few days. Below are some comments on the ports we visited: Marseilles: An absolute pit! Do not go to this city. If your boat stops in this port take an excursion to the french countryside. Monte Carlo: Great place. Didn't take a shore excursion here as we could walk everywhere from the port. Livorno: Since we were heading to Florence after our cruise we went on the excursion to Lucca. Lovely town and the tour guises were very good. If you have been to Florence already I recommend going to Lucca Rome: We had seen most of the sites in Rome already so we took the excursion for the express train to Rome and spent the day on our own. The train arrives in Rome by the Vatican and you catch it back at the same station at the end of the day. Amalfi/Positno: Due to rough seas we had to dock in Naples and we took an excursion to Pompeii and Sorrento. A great excursion with a wonderful guide. Pompeii is fantastic and Sorrento is a lovely coastal town. Highly recommend this excursion. Taormina: Again due to rough seas we docked in Messina. Took the excursion for spending the day on our own in Taormina and enjoyed it very much. great little resort town. Corfu, Greece: Just took the free shuttle into town and spend the day exploring Corfu on our own. Enjoyed it as well. Beautiful coastal town with some nice sites like the Old Fort. Dubrovnik, Again took the free shuttle and explored on own own. Really cool walled city and nice people. Venice: We had been here before so we just walked around the day. The boat docked close enough so it only took us about 1/2 hour to walk to St. Marks square. Debarkation was easy. We departed the ship at 8:30AM, picked up a rental car and headed to Florence. We really enjoyed our first Regent Cruise and have already booked another to the Baltics. If you are looking for luxury, but not snobby experience and dont want to wear a coat and tie or, for the women, fancy dresses every night this is the right cruise line for you. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
The cruise started in Barcelona and we flew in a day early to have a chance to see some of the city. From the Barcelona airport, we took the Aerobus (5.30 Euros) per person to our hotel near the Placa de Catalunya. The hotel was in an ... Read More
The cruise started in Barcelona and we flew in a day early to have a chance to see some of the city. From the Barcelona airport, we took the Aerobus (5.30 Euros) per person to our hotel near the Placa de Catalunya. The hotel was in an excellent location and we walked around the Gothic quarter and down Las Ramblas to the Columbus statue. Barcelona has good public transit and is an easy city for walking. On the day of the cruise, we took a cab to the pier (about 13 Euros including all the surcharges tacked on to cab fares in Barcelona). Embarkation was a breeze - no lines and we were ready to board the ship minutes after we arrived at the pier. One of the many nice things about Holland America ships is that rooms are ready when you board so you don't have to drag your carry on bags to lunch with you. We had open seating dining and ate all our dinners in the main dining room. We never had a problem getting a table for 2 and the food was always well prepared. We ate a few breakfasts and lunches in the main dining room as well and as opposed to our experience on some other Holland America ships, service on the Ryndam was always prompt. Overall, service provided in the dining room and by our room stewards was excellent. The Lido buffet offered a good selection of food, however, it seemed that some of the food was not held at a high enough temperature, and resulted in cool rather than hot entrees and sides. In terms of entertainment, the ship had a contingent of 5 singers and 2 dancers who put on good shows for a ship of this size. In addition, one night there was a British comedian who was very good. On another night there was a pianist, who was not very memorable. The show that was the biggest disaster was Duo Des Iles, who did a fair job with their quick change routine and acrobatic dance, but tried to do a comedy skit that probably was the worst excuse for entertainment that I have seen in my many years of cruising. The cruise director and his staff did a nice job in providing activities on board. The captain even participated in one of the cooking demonstrations and seemed very comfortable cooking. Captain Rowden was probably the most visible captain that I have seen on any cruise ship. He also did a great job of keeping the passengers informed about the ports we would be visiting and of a change in our itinerary. He and his staff kept an eye on weather forecasts and noticed that we could have problems trying to get into Marseille. So, a few days before our scheduled stop there, he mentioned that he was changing the itinerary and we would stop in Villefranche rather than Marseille. This was an excellent decision on his part as other ships were not able to dock at Marseille and we had no problems in Villefranche, which is a picturesque port from which either Monaco or Nice can be visited easily. The ports for this cruise were Messina (we took a tour to Mount Etna), Argostoli, Brindisi, Kotor (a beautiful old city with an excellent hike to the fortress above the city), Civitavecchia (we took the bus to Tarquinia to visit the Etruscan necropolis), Livorno (we took a train to Pisa), and Villefranche (we took the train to Monaco). Kotor and Villefranche were tender ports, but the tendering operation went smoothly and we experienced no delays in getting ashore. The Ryndam does not have the glitz of the newer ships and some of the furniture in a few of the lounges needs replacement, but I enjoy a ship of this size. Finding a place to sit was never a problem. The Ryndam even has happy hours in many of its lounges with the first drink at regular prices and the second for $1. Since we packed light, we used express disembarkation and were off the ship shortly after it arrived back in Barcelona. Even with a delayed arrival because of bad weather, we were off the ship before 9 a.m. The biggest bottleneck was getting a cab after the cruise because the Ryndam passengers shared a taxi queue with passengers from a large NCL ship. Overall this was a very enjoyable cruise and Holland America provided a cruise experience that met our expectations. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
I have to say, my husband and I have cruised quite a bit, but no cruise has been like this one. One word...AWESOME!This was our second mediterranean cruise leaving from Barcelona. The first time we took the metro and the bus to the cruise ... Read More
I have to say, my husband and I have cruised quite a bit, but no cruise has been like this one. One word...AWESOME!This was our second mediterranean cruise leaving from Barcelona. The first time we took the metro and the bus to the cruise ship. This time we took a cab and it was expensive. Embarkation was uneventful. We arrived at the terminal at 12pm. We stood in the line with other latitude members. We picked up a few things from the little shops within the terminal. I bought some ginger tablets because I forgot my Dramamine at home. We also bought more bottled water. The first thing I noticed once we arrived on the ship was no champagne. Budget cuts I guess. Our next priority was to buy our wine package. A bartender told us to buy our wine package at 9pm because no taxes would be applied. That was a great tip.Lunch was great. We had burgers. I loved the fact that the servers served us at the buffet. I think some people needed to be taught how to do it. I was disappointed when it ended after our second day on the ship.Our rooms were ready pretty early. I think we had access at 2pm. We had a balcony on the 10th level. A coffee maker was included but we never used it. The bathroom was spacious. The storage was great. The bed was really soft. The lighting was dim at night. The television needs to be updated. The furniture was nice. The full size mirror made me happy. The balcony view was spectacular. We made it a point to eat at the specialty restaurant as often as possible. We always took advantage of the two-for-one cover charge. We tried the Grand Pacific Dining Room for dinner and breakfast one day. I think the buffet was better than the dining room. Actually, the food at the buffet was REALLY good. Like I said earlier, my husband and I have cruised many times but we have never had quality food at the buffet before. Every night had a different theme. The Greek theme was the best. There was lamb everywhere!We made sure to make it to the Jazz Brunch at Le Bistro. That was really nice. I wish that would have been offered at least three times on the cruise. The Blue Lagoon Cafe is a great restaurant. I always had the vegetarian lasagna and the brownie a la mode. Unfortunately, their menu changes between lunch and dinner.The game shows and trivia on the cruise ship were funny. The bingo team was funny also. The show Elements was enjoyable. I would have liked to have seen that twice. The chocolate buffet made adults turn into the children from Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. I have to say, the champagne in the chocolate rimmed glasses was delicious. Good Gracious!I am not going to give very many complaints during my review because if a reader is genuinely interested in reading this post, the last thing they should endure is bickering.Our first day on the ship was at sea. I signed up for four cycling classes. It was a lot of fun and it was my first time. I'm glad I signed up because we did a lot drinking, eating and sleeping the first day on the ship. Ports of Call:Casablanca was great. My husband and I did the Casablanca Highlights excursion. Our tour guide could have skipped the market, but it was an experience so plenty of pictures were taken. The Hassan II Mosque was really beautiful. Our tour also visited a hotel near the beach and some royal residences. Our last stop was shopping. I tried to buy ever single thing I could get my hands on. I had a personal shopper helping me and he was as patient as Job. The heat was on in Casablanca so after we returned to the cruise ship, I took a shower and put on a bathing suit. I think this was one of the hottest days at port. Agadir is a diamond in the rough. My husband and I did the Fantasia Horse Show and Camel ride. The first destination for our tour was the kazbar. We took some great pictures from that location. The next stop on our tour was a visitor center where we watched a snake charmer, belly dancer, horsemen shoot guns, African dancers perform, drank tea, and rode camels. My husband and I thought it was all pretty interesting. Our last stop on the tour was a ride downtown for some shopping. I refused to use my debit card at the ATM and the shop did not take credit cards. Cash was all we could use. I spent every thing I had and whatever my husband tried to hide from me :-). Unfortunately, some cruisers were late getting back to the ship and we left them at the pier waving at the bridge. It was really sad. I felt bad for them. Great times in Morocco!Next stop..Las Palmas. My husband and I took the Native Gran Canaria tour. We took a bus downtown; went on a walking tour; visited a museum; entered the building where Christopher Columbus stayed before sailing across the Atlantic Ocean the first time; visited a botanic garden; and drove to the top of a crater. I can't even describe the drive and the view of the crater. I wouldn't do it any justice. We have never seen anything like that in our lives before. Next stop...Funchal, Madeira. My husband and I took the Best of Madeira excursion. We took a short bus tour in the beginning; rode a cable car to the top of a mountain; visited a church; and then rode a toboggan. That toboggan ride was so much fun!! It was crazy and fun and funny at the same time. Next, we took the bus to a location where we were suppose to get fabulous views of the island. Mother Nature had other plans, so all we saw was fog. After looking at the fog for five minutes, I decided that shopping would take my mind off of the view we were missing. Tablecloth was next on my list. Our tour also stopped by a wine museum/store. We made sure to pick up some souvenirs. The next day at sea we rested. Cycling class was at 5pm so we slept late. We stuck with our previous at sea routine (sleep, eat, drink).Next stop...Malaga. We skipped out on doing an excursion because I had a great tour book. That trek to the top of the hill was what we needed after eating tapas like crazy while we where there. We visited Picasso's childhood home and a couple of his museums. The only shopping we did in Malaga was for wine. Malaga is a beautiful city. We spent the entire day exploring all that we could see. The market was really nice. This is a city to take all pictures related to architecture. The last day on the cruise ship was at sea. We stuck to our regular routine minus cycling.Disembarkation was pretty fast, but really early. I was not mentally prepared for that ordeal. Other than the fact that it was really early, it was really easy. The weather was awful when we left the cruise ship but by the afternoon it was warm and sunny. Too bad NCL only had one more cruise like this (April 8th). Morocco is off of their itinerary for the next 2 years. I'm glad we had he opportunity to enjoy what this cruise had to offer. 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Sail Date March 2011
On October 13th, six of us embarked on what was supposed to be a 12 night Mediterrean cruise with stops in France, Italy, and Croatia. After just one night, our cruise was abruptly cancelled due to mechanical problems. While shocked that ... Read More
On October 13th, six of us embarked on what was supposed to be a 12 night Mediterrean cruise with stops in France, Italy, and Croatia. After just one night, our cruise was abruptly cancelled due to mechanical problems. While shocked that our cruise was to be terminated, we were understanding and had only one simple goal - to preserve whatever we could of our trip. After all, we had just traveled half way around the world to Europe at considerable expense. We expected that Celebrity would make some effort to help passengers in this regard. What transpired was nothing short of a nightmare for so many passengers. Here's a short list of the issues that we had: - Poor communications - bad info, contradictory info, inadequate info - Complete absence of staff with decision making authority - the poor folks who were assigned to manage the customers were way over their heads and there was no sign that anyone of authority was even present on board (the captain made the announcement over the intercom, but to my knowledge was never, ever seen) - Passengers were initially told that they had less than 24 hours to disembark the ship! That was later extended by another 20 hours, but still left many passengers with insufficient time (see circumstances below) to make new plans - The cruise line offered "free phone and internet" to all passengers but the phone systems and internet capacity were so limited that making alternative plans from the ship was all but impossible - servers kept crashing and even when operational were horribly slow - no effort was made by the company to put together any kind of on-shore triage area which could have helped complement the ship's limited capacity - Far too little attention was paid to elderly passengers - many of whom we found in tears or worse - we observed staff telling these passengers bluntly that if they did not voluntarily leave the ship by 5 pm on the second day "you and your luggage will be removed from the ship". Rather than help upset customers, the staff seemed most intent upon imparting the company line that this is all we are obligated to do, so just deal with it - Many passengers had maxed out their credit lines to take the cruise and were told that refunds would be delayed a minimum of 7-10 days (FYI - we are now at day 14 and no refund has been issued) - this greatly complicated a bad situation for many passengers as they had no credit available to make changes in air reservations, etc. - The "option" provided by the company was to put passengers and their luggage onto a ten hour bus ride back to Barcelona from Nice, FR. No effort was made by the staff to help the passengers who took this option make modifications to their travel itineraries despite the fact that this would put them into Barcelona 10 days prior to their return flights and with no hotel to accommodate them after the 10 hour bus trip - When we begged for help in arranging at least one bus to take passengers into Florence, we were stone-walled - we even offered to pay for the transportation, we just needed Celebrity, with all of its resources, to help acquire the bus. Again, this accommodation was outside the company line and we were told that no help whatsoever would be forthcoming While passengers need to understand that sometimes mechanical problems occur that cause a ship to be disabled, Celebrity should have stepped up to provide more assistance to its passengers. We were shocked at how miserably the company performed under the circumstances and how badly individual passengers were treated. The message was clear - "Too bad. You're out of luck and while we could be more helpful, we have absolutely no direction to do so from the corporate headquarters, so just shut up and take it." Well, we'll take it all right. We'll take our cash and spend it elsewhere in the future. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
Me my husband and two teenagers aged 17/16yrs boarded the thomson dream in palma on 3rd august 2010,the nightmare begins.We arrived at the ship to be told we would not be sailing that night as the cold water tank needed replaced so ... Read More
Me my husband and two teenagers aged 17/16yrs boarded the thomson dream in palma on 3rd august 2010,the nightmare begins.We arrived at the ship to be told we would not be sailing that night as the cold water tank needed replaced so therefore we would be spending the next day in palma until the next night when we would sail at 9pm. We were told as a good will gesture we would be given £50 each onboard credit, an insult as im sure no one got this cruise for £50 per day plus we were missing out on our day in tunisia. We were about the last passengers to board and the ship was a nightmare. We paid extra for deck 7 and adjoining rooms, we got deck 7 but three rooms apart. We had to go straight for dinner and as our bags were not onboard yet this was abit uncomfortable in the clothes we travelled in all day so we could only use the self service restaurant which was abit like school dinners, everyone queuing. up with their plastic plates. The next day was no better, after breakfast we went to customer services to put credit on our ship cards and had to queue behind alot of people complaining about smell, damp cabins etc. Looked around ship to get our bearings map of ship laughable everyone completely confused had to trail around deck 9 cabins to find way to restaurant complete maze. Buckets everywere collecting water, smell horrendous. Not enough lifts for amount of people. Constantly saw workmens legs dangling from wholes in the ceilings doing repairs. All public areas in bad need of upgrading, shabby walls, carpet,furniture. Our cabins not to bad compared to what other people were saying. We had no hot water and had to take cold showers then the water was off completely we could only use the loo. POOL: areas were atrocious 2 pools were extremely small as for jacuzzis these were the size of baths and freezing situated right outside restaurant not pleasant when u having ur lunch to watch people scream trying to get in. Kids used these as kiddy pools and the noise and splashing made it an obsticle course to even get into the restaurant watched people slipping and falling all the time.The onboard activities during the day were atrocious. Our 17yr old couldnt even get the staff to organise football they couldnt be bothered organising the youth, the activities at the pool was rotten with bar staff trying to mix cocktails etc just making fools of themselves by dropping bottles,glasses etc.was glad to put in earphones to block this out. RESTAURANTS: waiter service on deck 4 nice but be prepared to queue, ala carte deck 11 joke £20 each extra for same service as deck 4. self service on deck 9 like school dinners lond queues and walkthrough for outside deck. menu hit and miss had spanish theme night with roast beef and yorkshire pudding?? DRINK: biggest joke yet, thank goodness we didnt pay for drink package. Prices like at home, when ordered mineral at least you got can, shorts not branded and most undrinkable, beer only good on first day or days when new passengers arrived then you were served flat and tasteless sloush passed as beer, my husband and other people were comstantly sending the pints of beer back even when my husband ordered bottled beer it tasted exactly the same as the flat rotten stuff, when he asked for the bottles not to be opened until in front of him the staff refused.I drank rose wine but from the 2nd day they served a clarit mixture and told me it was rose, undrinkable, when new passengers joined our ship at barcelona the good rose was served for a day haha. ENTERTAINMENT: brilliant at night in the theatre and bar. Staff worked there socks of. My 16yr old daughter found it very upsetting the night the staff performed very sad. PORTS: extremely poor, have been on numerous cruises and always loved the port stops but not with this ship, we were like the poor relatives every port seemed to be the cheapest they could get us into, even to say the france port was more like a naval port end barcelona a laugh, we were so far our it cost 20euro to even get out of the port area. Finally this whole setup is deplorable, we feel that thompson have taken over this ship fom costa when theyve finished with it and boy does it show. Passing this of as new addition to the thompson fleet before fully refurbishing it. Taking passengers on board charging good prices when obviously its not ready, using the cheapest ports well someone has to pay for the repairs and imminent overhaul asnd as you can see its the gullible passengers. Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
This is our third sailing with RC. First was on the Navigator of the Seas a ok cruise. Second was on the Maiden Voyage 4 day to Labadee Extravaganza on Oasis of the Seas. Great ship lots of bumps on the road here. Substandard cruise ... Read More
This is our third sailing with RC. First was on the Navigator of the Seas a ok cruise. Second was on the Maiden Voyage 4 day to Labadee Extravaganza on Oasis of the Seas. Great ship lots of bumps on the road here. Substandard cruise director, just ok service though. Great service in Windjammer poor service in dining room. Great ship to be on though lots of freebies thrown in. Now on to review of Adventure of the Seas. Before the cruise stayed at Eurostar Grand Marina. The service here was great but the beds are rock hard. Also very expensive. Cant beat the location though everything including Los Rambles is within walking distance. If you cruise out of Barcelona make sure you take a day before and a day after to check out this great city. The people are great and very friendly and there is lots of stuff to see for free. Take a hop on hop off bus its a great buy. Embarkation. RC has this down we were on the ship within 1/2 hour great guidance by staff inside terminal lots of great direction. We cruised to Cannes, France, Florence and Pisa and Rome. Lots to do and see in these places. More on that in my port reviews. The ship itself was old but in pretty good shape standard Voyager class ship nicely decorated. The biggest opportunity here for RC in there extremely poor service and staff. Mercedes the cruise director was a very nice lady and very friendly she did everything bilingual since a lot of the crowd was Spanish not much wow with her though just ok. Some people don't like when a cruise director is bilingual but I think its good practice to respect the culture and people of Spain by speaking their language. In my experience the Spanish people are a very nice and family oriented folk. I fell in love with Barcelona because of that so I think its proper to speak both Catalan and Spanish (even though in my experience few people spoke Catalan, when they did they appreciated that I used the language).. Im also a drummer and percussionist with a big love for Latin music where there was plenty served up on this cruise. The band Musiclave was very good. Stateroom- We had a balcony stateroom and a good stateroom attendant Denis from St Vincent. He was the best thing on our cruise as far as service goes. The furniture on our balcony was awful you could find better chairs at a garage sale. It really was that bad. When I spend extra cash for the balcony I expect the furniture to be at least as nice as what I would put on my own balcony at home.The rest of the stateroom was nice and pretty spacious. The crew here was very disgruntled and I heard very vocal complaints about how poorly they are treated by RC. Not a happy bunch at all. Most said hi if you said hi first. But surely no wow and I think they were saying how because they feared their bosses and management. Surely not the way to get a crew to perform. I heard them gripe about how they had to pay for their uniforms and were only paid 25.00 per week. Not something I really want to hear on vacation. Dining-Only spent two days in the dining room food and service here was not very good. It wasn't bad there was just no wow. And I had our waiter actually tell me not to eat in the Windjammer because of poor service. I was floored by this comment the crew had already shared with me to much information (that I wasn't looking for I'm on vacation). But the Windjammer had pretty good service and the food was ok so that comment really put me off. The Royal Sirloin in the dining room was nothing more than the grilled steak from the windjammer with some nice salsa served on the side. The steak wasn't bad or anything like that. But it certainly was not on the level of being called Royal.The food here does not compare to what Ive gotten on Carnival though.Food was standard below average cruise fare,pretty good but nothing special. Deserts were the same thing equal whether you got it in the dining room or Windjammer. Matter of fact I got better service in the Windjammer on the Oasis of the Seas then I got in their dining room. RC is really lacking in dining room service (in my experience with them). The real advantage Royal Caribbean has over other cruise lines is they have shorter cruises to Europe. If the other cruise lines like Carnival picked up on this they would smoke Royal Caribbean. The shows- Royal Caribbean has the best ice shows at sea for sure. All that I have seen are very well done. But then again they have the only ice rinks at sea. The other productions were ok, nothing special though. I like the fact that they do have some very skilled variety show type acts involved. The talent they had on this ship was pretty good. Production shows put on by staff were ok. Just no wow.Carnivals shows put RC to shame as far asthe WOW factor. Meet the captain on board ship and he was really a great guy. Great personality and huge Canadian, Viking looking guy. Very jovial and friendly. As far as the perks of being a return cruiser Ive got to shake my head. The discount book I got was not worth the paper it was printed on. A couple decent deals but nothing of real significance. And boy they are really promoting the perks they are giving return cruisers. If anything they have taken more away than they have given back. And what happened with the turn down service and the little chocolate? May seem like a little thing but its all part of cruising. Plus I had to ask to have a couple towel animals whats up with that. Am I missing something here? Don't get me wrong I loved being in Europe and RC was ok but not enough to continue my business with them. This has been my third cruise with Royal and will perhaps have to be my last. I believe their staff is really the poorest I have seen in my limited experience. Some of this has to be due to upper management I believe. If you have a unhappy crew this many times can be tracked up the ladder. I will pay a little( or a lot) more now and go with Celebrity, Disney, and Princess. No big regrets about going on RC but I will take my cruise dollars some place else where I get better service from the crew. Remembering a guests name and hello and please and thank you goes a long way. Disembarkation was again a breeze RC has this down and is very well organized in getting people on and off the ship. Its the in between time that needs work. Stayed at the Renaissance Marriott in a Elite class room after the cruise. This hotel is superior if you are in Barcelona it would be good to check this place out. Far away from stuff but they do have a free shuttle that will take you into town and pick you up six hours later. Again it makes me a little sad to have to put my cruise dollars someplace else. But this is a investment of time and money. And with Royal Caribbean I am not getting a good return on investment so its time to move on. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
My wife and I made our first cruise to Europe and our first Azamara experience on the April 25th Barcelona to Venice sailing. We have previously sailed on a number of Royal Caribbean ships(have grown to hate the Windjammer) and the ... Read More
My wife and I made our first cruise to Europe and our first Azamara experience on the April 25th Barcelona to Venice sailing. We have previously sailed on a number of Royal Caribbean ships(have grown to hate the Windjammer) and the Celebrity Solstice. We can unreservedly say that our experience on the Journey was by far the best yet, and we already have booked for another European cruise next Spring. The small size of the Journey made for a very relaxed vacation without the crowds and stress of the larger ships such as the Freedom, Let me say that my wife and I do not cruise for the glitzy, resort-type activities, i.e. casino, shows, etc., but very much enjoy good food and service. For us sipping a nice cup of coffee at Cafe Cova and enjoying a first-class spa treatment is plenty of excitement. For our needs the Journey was a perfect fit. Our stateroom was plenty large for the two of us, and our cabin steward was first-rate. When we had a problem with our door lock it was promptly attended to. We felt sorry for the first worker who tried to get in by climbing over the balcony in the adjoining cabin. Unfortunately, our sliding glass door was locked. The food was uniformly excellent. We ate at Prime C twice where Marco provided outstanding service. I particularly enjoyed the Kobe beef sliders, while my wife raved about the mini-cinnamon donuts. Aqualina was also good. We were pleasantly surprised with the quality of the food and presentation in the main dining room, which far exceeded our main dining experience on either RC or Celebrity. The complementary wines were certainly a pleasant addition and it was nice not to have to whip out the Seapass card every time we wanted a refill. My wife is a massage therapist and quite picky about spa treatments. She signed up for the massage deal offered at the start of the cruise, and also had a hot oil hair treatment. I had the hot oil and a shave, which is one of my special treats. The service provided by the wonderful Tamron and Teegan greatly contributed to our cruise experience and we certainly hope they are still with the Journey next year. I am a competitive bodybuilder so the gym was important to me. The facility was adequate, though the weights could have been heavier. Likewise it could have used either a smith machine or some more leg equipment. However, I made do and for the bulk of the passengers I am sure it was just fine. Maurice the fitness instructor was quite nice and always greeted me with a smile. We enjoyed all the ports. We flew in to Barcelona a day early, thankfully missing the volcanic ash, and stayed at the Marina Grand Eurostars near the port which was first rate. We spend the day roaming Las Ramblas and, despite all the dire warnings, saw no sign of pickpockets. We did the ships excursion to Pompeii at Sorrento which had an excellent guide. We also did the ships tour of the old city of Taormina which we enjoyed. Taormina with its gorgeous setting overlooking the sea, was probably our favorite port. We also particularly enjoyed walking the walls of the old city in Dubrovnik. We stayed a couple of days post-cruise in Venice which I would highly recommend. Rather than a hotel we stayed at the Al Palazatto bed and breakfast which was quite cozy and centrally located. Once we figured out the water taxis getting around was breeze. All in all, the Journey was perfect for an adult vacation, and we can't wait to next April to board her in Rome next May. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
We always cruise based on the itinerary, so the idea of cruising to new locations had a large appeal to us. This was our tenth cruise with NCL, and thus our first at the Gold Level. We started out leaving Boston to Barcelona on Iberia. ... Read More
We always cruise based on the itinerary, so the idea of cruising to new locations had a large appeal to us. This was our tenth cruise with NCL, and thus our first at the Gold Level. We started out leaving Boston to Barcelona on Iberia. Good flight, no problems with Iberia on any leg. We had a bad experience in November with the flights on another carrier going to/from Barcelona. So, I am happy to recommend Iberia. Arrived two days early in Barcelona. We stayed at the Wilson Boutique Hotel on Diagonal. I had stayed there in November, and highly recommend it. It is away from the noise, and "pickpocket central" of Las Ramblas. They stored our bags, and when the room was ready, brought them up to our room. The area around the hotel is a commercial shopping area, yet is quiet, and has many cafes, and a inexpensive resturant called El Mussol a few blocks from the hotel. Ask at the hotel for directions. Well worth it, and inexpensive. Also, it is a five minute walk in one direction to the Metro, and a five minute walk in the other direction to the Hop On Hop Off tourist bus. Ask at the hotel for discount tickets. You pay part of the fare at the hotel, and the other on the bus. You save about 5 euros with this discount. We spent the time before the cruise taking the tourist bus one day, making several stops. A full day. The next day, we went to Park Guell, and the Predara, amoung other sights. It is around 32 euro cab fare from the airport. On the day the cruise started, we took a cab to the pier. Once again, the fare was around 32 euros. Being Gold Members, embarkation was breeze. Waiting in our room was a welcome basket. We had been on the Jade about 18 months earlier on a trip to Egypt, so we knew our way around. The first port was Casablanca. We had booked an overnight to Marrakech using a NCL tour. I can't recommend it enough. The guide we had was named Lazrak, and of all the guides we have had, he was easily the best. Knowledgeable, friendly, easily understood, and full of information and pride over his country. We made a stop along the way for a drink/comfort break. The hotel lunch was good. Then, off for sightseeing. Palaces, markets, and the famous square, where there are snake charmers, monkey trainers, henna tatoo artists, etc. What made this trip extra special was meeting a great group of women who get together every two years for a trip. The tour guide started calling me "Ali-baba", and my wife "Ali-mama". The group was referred to as my harem. We hope to travel with them again. At night, we were taken to a folk show, which featured horsemen,music, and a meal under tents.The hotel that NCL booked was very good. The next day, more sightseeing, and a stop at a herb store, which was educational. Some time for shopping before lunch, and the trip back to the ship. Highly recommend this tour. The next port was Las Palmas in the Canary Islands. We took an NCL tour called Las Palmas and Bandama.This was disappointing. The guide was not informative, and stops were rushed. This port you can do very well on your own, using either the HOHO bus, or hiring a taxi. Next up was Medeira. Didn't know what to expect, as there had been mudslides several weeks earlier. It was the unexpected surprise of the trip. We took a tour with Daniel Madeira taxi. Many thanks go to Mary, a fellow CC member, who arranged this tour. There were about 24 of us, and the cost was about 19 euros each. It ended up being almost five hours. Went to see the high sea cliffs, Nun's Valley, a winery (where we picked some of the famous Madeira wine), and took the toboggan ride down to Funchal. Such a beautiful island, which makes us want to return. Again, thanks to Mary for all her hard work in organizing this tour for all the CC members. Next up was Malaga. We took the NCL tour to Granada and the Alhambra. Once again, very good. This trip was a full day,lasting 10 hours, with much walking. Lunch was provided, and was good. The Alhambra is a world UNESCO sight, and we were very happy to have seen it. When we arrived back to Barcelona, we caught a cab ride back to Hotel Wilson for one night. We quickly went to the train station, and went to Montserrat. Takes about an hour to get there, and then either a cable car or funicular up to the monastery. It was Palm Sunday, which I had forgotten about, so there was a large crowd. But, it was worth it to hear the Boy's Choir, and see everything there is to see there. The next morning, we returned home on Iberia, with no problems. We were surprised that we didn't have to go through security a second time in Madrid, going from the domestic flight from Barcelona to the international flight back to Boston. There was spot checks however. Now, on the ship, I can comment on food, entertainment, and service. Many kudos to our hard working room stewards, Victor and Rene. We had a couple of requests, which they met, and also checked back with us several times to be sure we were happy. We made sure the last night to show them our thanks, even though there is the NCL service charge. Also, the day we were leaving from home, I called our personal NCL cruise consultant to see if I could book the romance package. My wife at first wasn't sure if she would like the French restaurant on board, but then at the last minute changed her mind. Anyway, it was too late to book the romance package, but Gale, our consultant, did arrange to have a surprise anniversary cake for us at Cagney's. I didn't even know about it. Great service. Last, but least, Mr. Armondo Da Silva, who is the hotel manager on board is a real gem with NCL. He remembered us from an earlier cruise on the Jade, and our long talk with him at a meet and greet for Latitudes members. He arranged for a much appreciated basket being sent to our room. We also experienced a great server at Cagney's named Genesis. So, in short, the service was great. The entertainment was good. I do think, however, the production numbers have slipped a little since there is no more Jean Ann Ryan company groups, and it appears NCL has gone in house for production groups. The shows are fine, but there is small drop off from Jean Ann Ryan. The Gypsy Kings tribute band was fine, as was Uber Rossi, an acrobat. The comedy act was Paul Adams, whom we had seen on the Jade before. But, his act was fresh, and we find him very funny. On the food side, we ate, for the first time, the majority of the nights at the speciality restaurants. The main dining rooms we good, but we have noticed the menus getting a bit bland. You can get the favorites, but not every night is it special. We found the steaks at Cagneys to be superb. We ate there twice. We also at at Teppanyaki's. I am not a big Asian food eater, but found the show, and food there to be very good. We also tried Paniolo's the first night. I love Tex-Mex, and enjoyed it, as did the wife. Lastly, we also had dinner at Le Bistro the last night. Great food, great presentation, and lovely atmosphere. Two mornings we had a sit down breakfast at the Grand Pacific. Otherwise, it was the buffet. I had noticed a gradually cutback at the buffet on past cruises, but to me, it has stabilized, and while the choices were not as varied as when we first starting taking NCL, it is fine. I do wish the chocolate buffet was not so late at night. But, while the main restaurant menus have slipped, the speciality restaurants are great, and well worth the extra charge. So, this was great cruise, that has an itinerary I recommend. We met some great new friends, whom I hope to see again, not only my "harem" who offered us a chance to join them again, but Mary from CC, and a great guide in Lazrak. Lazrak made us want to return quickly to Morocco. Take this cruise and NCL for a great experience. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
We cruised from Barcelona on August 11th on Voyager. The best way to summarize our experience is in the words of the guest services representative on Day 4: Get over it, your luggage is gone. I think "get over it" and add what ... Read More
We cruised from Barcelona on August 11th on Voyager. The best way to summarize our experience is in the words of the guest services representative on Day 4: Get over it, your luggage is gone. I think "get over it" and add what ever you want after that should become the new slogan for Royal Caribbean. It may simply be that cruising with 3,000 guests requires just too much to go right to make it work. We booked through RC, took their flight (from SF through Atlanta to Barcelona on Delta for some reason) and signed up for the RC cruise insurance. But thinking this would in the family vacation of a lifetime ($25k spent for the 3 rooms) was only a false hope. 1) The delayed luggage for our group of 5 showed up in Rome on Day 3 and Naples on Day 4. The tee shirts and the little case of toiletries were not nearly enough. The free tux rentals were helpful. The promise of free daily laundry service worked one day but failed on the day we were scheduled to visit Rome and my son wore tux pants with his tee shirt but didn't have any socks or underwear, as that was still in the laundry that had been promised back to us by 6:30 am. We did seem a bit surprised as they would dial the general number of Air France at the guest services desk and hand us the phone to deal with the airline they choose to send us on. 2) The regular line at customer service of 20-30 people at all times made complaining a chore. 3) The elevators were a nice idea but they all had long waits and were generally packed and forced people to use the typical big city trick of going down a floor to catch a ride up standard. 4) Having to get out to the pool deck by 7:00am to get deck chairs for the day seemed an unusual requirement but watching the folks roaming around at 9:00am in search of a chair made it look brilliant. 5) The time spent staring at the wireless internet was frustrating (think very slow dial-up while you're incurring a charge of 50 cents a minute) but getting a refund was "not possible." The advertised wireless service was limited to the library on their computers and your computer in 5 wireless hot spots in cafes and lounges where the friendly staff came by numerous times to sell drinks but unhelpful on internet basics. The lady next to me at customer service near the end of the cruise summarized it best "you should be ashamed of advertising internet services" 6) The RC sponsored tours did get us back to the ship on time but the quality of the trips left a lot to be desired. Unfortunately waiting in the lounges for groups of 50 to get off the boat as we checked our watches as our limited time in port ticked away was annoying. The guides seemed to think this was their chance to provide us with whatever came to mind: "gypsies make their babies drink alcohol to keep them quiet", "not all gypsies come from Romania", "Chinese tourists are cheap", and "German tourists have taken over Mallorca". A little more history and a bit less social commentary would have been fine. 7) The one thing that does work is the sales system that makes everything you'd want extra (think Master of the House in Les Miserable's): Coffee is free, espresso & cappuccino for a fee; soft custard from a machine in the corner is free, Ben & Jerry's for a fee; ... the message was an expensive treat, the constant sales pitch to buy product painful. 8) This is not to say there weren't some good points: dinner in the Portofino ($20 a person supplemental); lunch at Johnny Rocket's ($4 a person supplemental) family trivia games; pictures of us in rental tuxes and dresses purchased in Eze (for a fee) on the formal night we had no luggage. 9) Finally hearing the Captain describe Project Genesis (the next generation of larger ships in search of a ports large enough)) to a spiritless small group of guests who attended the reception for returning guests seemed very chilling to me. As a person who has cruised nine times before, Genesis is a scary proposition. Goodbye Royal Caribbean! Bon Voyage! 9) One last point. Our flight home on Delta to Atlanta and onto San Francisco was delayed. We missed our connection, experienced a madhouse on Saturday night at the Atlanta airport and arrived home at 2:00am and am again waiting for our delayed luggage! Read Less
Sail Date August 2007
Brilliance of the Seas- 12 night Western Mediterranean September 20th - October 2nd 2006 This was our first ever cruise, taken to make up for our honeymoon last year where it rained all the time! So, a second honeymoon if you like. Pre ... Read More
Brilliance of the Seas- 12 night Western Mediterranean September 20th - October 2nd 2006 This was our first ever cruise, taken to make up for our honeymoon last year where it rained all the time! So, a second honeymoon if you like. Pre cruise: We spent two night pre-cruise at the Apsis Aranea Hotel. This hotel is about 30 mins walk from the main attractions although it is right next to the Sagrada Familia. It was much nicer than we expected, our room was very clean and much bigger than expected with an enormous bathroom. One small complaint was the buffet breakfast which was very little for the price paid. There is a metro round the corner. Staff were all helpful, friendly and spoke very good English. We spent most of our time exploring Las Ramblas, the Barri Gotic and also travelled to Port Aventura for one day (the Renfe trains are hard to figure out - train staff don't speak English). Embarkation: We checked out of our hotel at 10am and went straight to the port by taxi. There weren't many people boarding and we were put through very quickly, served cookies on our way in! Then we were on board, exploring and having lunch in the Windjammer in next to no time. Our cabin was ready at that time too, so we were able to dump our stuff. Ship/Cabin and Service: We had an oceanview cabin which was spacious (and closer to the water than I thought!) The bed was really comfortable, we had a good night's sleep every night. Our cabin was maintained by Oskar who was very funny, friendly and polite. He made animals out of our towels - monkey, tortoise and stingray! The ship is beautiful and we were never bored. Those who say she is showing her age are wrong. We were very impressed. Service was excellent on this cruise. I strongly recommend eating at Chops Grille (see below) simply for the service provided by Camila and the head waiter (whose name I forget). Other stand out crew members were our Waiter- Mauricio from Chile and Asst. Waitress - Sylvia. Mauricio was the nicest, nicest guy. He would make me laugh by reciting what I would have to eat, before I had even ordered! He got to know us very well. He is a great singer with a great sense of humor. Food/Dining: Food in the main dining room was hit and miss, some days good, some days poor. We only ate there for half the cruise, especially as we had the latest seating - 8.45pm and after a long day of excursions, we were often just too tired to eat! Most of our table came from Chicago, but only 1/2 came back after the first day, and I felt bad for Mauricio as he was so nice. Our tablemates who did stay were okay. Food in the Windjammer was varied. Every day you could get burgers, pizza, pasta and hot dogs, but in addition they would vary options such as italian night, asian night, mexican night etc. Whether or not the food was hot seemed to depend on when you came. If something ran out, it wasn't refilled quick enough causing queues and complaints. Chops Grille was the highlight of our trip. It was totally worth the $20.00 pp. The food is outstanding as is the service. I must say how lovely Camila is as a waitress. She is very pretty, very friendly and very attentive. The head waiter (Mauricio's best friend!) was equally as nice and both got a nice tip from us on the last day. We ate in Chops on 3 occasions and each visit was fantastic. I really miss that place now! We hated formal nights. We like to get dressed up but we didn't see any point doing so in this cruise, especially as the food and service was exactly the same. Most people seemed to take it VERY seriously and wore really fancy outfits. We dressed smart on these nights but still preferred to eat in the Windjammer or Chops instead (both places were VERY busy on formal nights - seemed many others hated formal nights too!) There were two 'dress up' days - masquerade (wear Venetian masks) and 70s night. Not many people dressed up for these, and again, we thought it was a bit stupid. Entertainment: We only saw 1 show in the Pacifica Theater during the 12 nights, and weren't impressed so we didn't return. We attended quite a few events in the Colony Club - line dancing, Masquerade night and these were good. Spa/Fitness: I signed up for Spinning classes and Yoga classes. There are two instructors in the gym - Howard and Sam. We were not impressed by Howard, especially when he kept pushing us to buy a course of algae tablets at ridiculous prices. One 'no' is not enough then he gives you a disapproving look. He took the yoga classes but I did not find him encouraging. Sam on the other hand was fantastic. He took the spinning class and was really enthusiastic, really energetic and I greatly enjoyed this class. I was unimpressed with the spa. I went to a make over seminar where I was chosen to be the 'model'. The therapist (Andreas from Italy) made me ORANGE. Honestly, I looked terrible. Also, we had the couples massage which was not relaxing at all, it was agony! The therapist used her elbows to massage me and it felt like knives. It is very expensive for treatments and you are pushed yet again to purchase their products. Fellow Guests: The majority were American or Spanish. Very few were British. Most were in the 50s/60s age range and there were very few in our age range (20s). Many fellow guests really annoyed us to be perfectly honest, especially on RCI excursions when they complained about the extended walking (when it says this in the excursion guide), the heat, not being able to see something that wasn't in the tour description (e.g insisting on seeing the Sistine Chapel when it wasn't part of the excursion) Debarkation/Post Cruise: We felt we were rushed off the ship. We were advised to be out of our rooms by about 8am so we hated having to get up early. Then it was off to the Pacifica theater to wait for our 'colour' to be called. As soon as that happened, it was really quick getting our luggage and getting a taxi to the airport. We were very sad to be going! Villefranche: We loved Villefrance and Monaco. Such a beautiful area. We went on a RCI excursion to Monaco and the Grand Casino. We saw the Grand Prix circuit and the palace also. Everything is so rich looking, and it was so clean and so beautiful. We would definitely return to Monaco. Livorno (Florence/Pisa): We did not go into Florence or Pisa as relatives who had been before were unimpressed with both cities. We are also not interested in Art. Naples: We took the RCI excursion to Pompeii and really enjoyed this excursion. Our guide was very knowledgeable and told us a great deal about the site. Pompeii is very exposed but we had brought a small portable fan and water with us. Many people complained about the walking and all the stones!!! At Sea: It was great to be able to sleep in. There were lots of activities - fitness classes, dance classes, walk a mile, how to make towel animals, piano lessons, spa seminars, poolside barbecues etc. Venice Overnight: Entry by ship into Venice is beautiful, we absolutely LOVED Venice and can't wait to return sometime. We wish we hadn't booked RCI excursions. Although these were good, the shuttle into Venice is cheaper and takes you to the heart of it all. We saw Doges Palace which was a very interesting part of our excursion. We also saw St Mark's Basilica at night which again, was very impressive. We ended our stay in Venice with a Gondola ride which, although expensive, is worth it. Very romantic and an absolute must whilst in Venice. Dubrovnik: A beautiful city but there isn't much to see and do. we walked down the main street exploring the shops and restaurants. We explored the monastery and the palace. Corfu: We had booked the Dassia Beach visit but it was raining that day very heavily. We were offered a refund which we accepted. We took a shuttle bus into Corfu Town but this was disappointing. There wasn't much to see or do. It's a very dirty town. Civitavecchia (Rome): We went to St. Peter's Basillica which was lovely but not as impressive as St Mark's in Venice. We walked around looking at the paintings, sculptures and tombs. We visited the Coliseum (which was rushed), and the Forum which was very interesting. We also saw the Trevi Fountain which was fun. This day was very rushed, but this was obviously due in part to the 1.5 hours it takes to get to Rome each way. We would love to return to Rome and see everything again with more time. Summary: best points were: Chops, Spinning, Rock Climbing Wall, dining service, Colony Club, Venice, Villefrance and Rome. Worst points were: Spa, size of pools, Corfu, Dubrovnik, Theater entertainment, cost of excursions, final Sea Pass bill! Read Less
Sail Date September 2006
This was our 2nd sailing on NCL. We did Alaska in 2005 on the Norwegian Spirit and enjoyed the whole "Freestyle" concept. We made our arrangements through a local travel agency and thought we had a good price until I asked the ... Read More
This was our 2nd sailing on NCL. We did Alaska in 2005 on the Norwegian Spirit and enjoyed the whole "Freestyle" concept. We made our arrangements through a local travel agency and thought we had a good price until I asked the agent to check with NCL to see if our Latitudes status would get us a discount. She came back on the phone and said NCL would discount our cruise $500 because we'd sailed before. Never hurts to ask. I didn't like the fact that NCL didn't tell us our flight arrangements until 2-3 weeks before the sailing. I guess they want to try and negotiate the cheapest fares. At any rate, we flew out of Minneapolis/St. Paul on Northwest Airlines and then flew to Philadelphia to catch a connection to Barcelona on US Air. I've not flown US Air since they are a minor player in our neck of the woods (upper midwest). We found the flight attendants brusque and not particularly helpful. The plane seemed old and in need of a paint job. The headphones to watch the movie were $5 but when we got them, all we could hear was awful scratching and static. The crew apologized and said there were technical difficulties. We had to take the headphones off as they did not work the entire trip due to static and noise. The Philadelphia airport is undergoing major renovations and it is a mess. Avoid it if you can possibly do so. To get to our connection we had to leave the secured area and go through security again to get to the US Air terminal. Long and slow. I learned later that there was some sort of bus that would help us avoid this 15 minute walk but nobody mentioned that to us. When we finally arrived in Barcelona, we were met by the NCL agent and our bags were promptly taken. We were escorted to a waiting bus by NCL agents who spoke some English and were very polite. Because we got into Barcelona about 10am and we could not start embarking for a few hours, the bus took us on a tour of the city of Barcelona and actually made a few stops, showed us the Olympic stadium from 1992 and took us downtown to see a beautiful church being built. I don't recall this itinerary being included as anything more than an airport to pier transfer but it was really nice to see Barcelona. Upon getting to the ship, we entered the terminal and because we were in a suite, we had a special line to use with nobody waiting. There were probably 50+ people in other lines so this was a delight. The agent processed our passes, ID, and other administrative tasks very quickly. We were escorted to a special waiting area for suite passengers where we got refreshments and a nice young lady to carry our carry-on bags directly to our suite. I felt a pang of guilt that this young woman was carrying the bags of my wife and daughter. My 16 year old son and I both carried our own. She escorted us onto the ship and to our suite, an AB designated 2 bedroom suite on the 10th deck. It was beautiful! A full master bedroom with queen size bed, a huge bathroom with two sinks, separate shower (with 4 shower heads) and separate tub. The bathroom had its own windows allowing one to bathe or shower while looking out at the sea. Lots of nice soaps, lotions, and giant fluffy towels made the bathroom first rate. We had a 2nd bedroom for the kids which was small but manageable. One bed on the floor and another which folded down from the wall. They had their own small but functional bathroom. The suite also had a huge balcony with two rattan lounges, small living room with couch and two chairs and a dining table. Within minutes, Michael, an affable young man from the Philippines came to introduce himself as our butler for the trip. He was cordial and professional. He explained the features of the room (it included 4 flat screen TVs!) and how to get a hold of him 24/7. He gave us a cordless phone which we could carry anywhere on the ship to call our room or to call him or to access any ship services. He also told us that we had priority reservations for all restaurants and he helped us make the reservations for the whole week. Others on this site have reviewed the restaurants in detail. I'll just say that different folks have different likes and dislikes. I found the food delicious and the service nearly uniformly excellent. We ate in Cagney's (great steaks), Le Bistro (wonderful), the buffet (large variety of foods but kept running out of ice cream), Mama's Kitchen (good pasta), Tsar's dining room (good) and Chin Chins which was as good as any Chinese food we've had on land. I had no complaints about any food during the entire cruise though I somewhat resent paying thousands for a cruise and then being charged $2 for a soda pop. So, we drank lots of iced tea, milk and water. The ship itself is beautiful. It has great bars, wonderful places to sit and talk, and if you can't find something to enjoy yourself with, you are either hard to please or not looking hard enough. Our only complaint, and it was a huge one, was that our suite was directly under the gym. Throughout the day, exercising passengers above the room using the weight machines would make loud "clunk" sounds on our ceiling. I complained to our butler who indicated that this had been a problem with other passengers but there was very little he could do. Fortunately, this annoying banging was gone by about 11pm so it didn't affect our sleep. But, if book a room on the Jewel, be sure to avoid any room underneath the health spa. We took 3 excursions sponsored by NCL. They were to Pompeii, Pisa, and Rome/Vatican. All three were outstanding but expensive. Driving around Italy seems like a death wish so I was pleased to have somebody drag me around and explain stuff to me. NCL has a very efficient system for getting everyone onto their excursions in a timely way. It was hot and humid in Italy in July and all buses were delightfully air conditioned and the guides were affable and spoke English very well. Suffice to say that if you go to Italy and miss the Vatican or Pompeii you have gone a long way for nothing. They are extraordinary. Disembarkation was handled competently and efficiently until we transferred to the airport. Arriving at the airport we were thrust into a chaotic nightmare. Iberian airlines, the main airline in Spain, was on strike and the airport baggage handling systems were apparently "broken" so we entered a terminal with thousands of angry, hot and impatient passengers all trying to get somewhere. It was a madhouse like I've not experienced before and I'm a seasoned traveler. There was no US Air window and nobody knew where to go or what to do. We huddled with other Americans who were on the cruise in the middle--e of this madhouse for about 90 minutes until we sent out "scouts" to find a US Air representative who, in broken English, told us that if we could move to a different terminal, we might be able to fly out. This was no small task if you can imagine thousands of people with thousands of pieces of luggage all smashed together. At any rate, we eventually were checked in and sent to a gate downstairs in the Barcelona airport. This had to be the filthiest place in all of Europe. It looked like nobody had cleaned it in a week and garbage was all over the place. We were told to wait there for a bus to take us to the plane. After being herded into a line to wait a "few minutes" for the bus, about 90 minutes later we were taken to the plane to fly back to Philadelphia. It must have been the same plane because the sound system was still all static so we couldn't watch the in-flight movie. All in all, US Air did not impress one bit. Our luggage was lost for three days upon our arrival back in Minneapolis. To sum it up, the Jewel is a wonderful ship with great food and lovely rooms. Staff was great in all ways. Traveling to Barcelona was tiring and the airport in Barcelona, when we were there, was a chaotic nightmare. I will book my own transportation on future cruises but will gladly sail with NCL again. In fact, we booked our next cruise for next summer on the new Norwegian Pearl. Read Less
Sail Date July 2006
This was our 7th cruise and found it to be a wonderful time. Our room was spacious and very clean, room service was exceptional. Meals were always good, not gourmet but we didn't expect it to be. The ship is in very good ... Read More
This was our 7th cruise and found it to be a wonderful time. Our room was spacious and very clean, room service was exceptional. Meals were always good, not gourmet but we didn't expect it to be. The ship is in very good condition for it's age and always clean. The shore excursions that we took were great, we chose Rome and Florence on our own and it seems we made the right choice, because others felt rushed and didn't see all they wanted and not much time to shop. We chose the taste of Sorrento and Pompeii which was really good. I think when you add Capri into it, it's just too much. We didn't book anything for Villefrance because we were told it was a really nice port and it is. We did take the bus from there to Nice for only 1.30 euros, it's about 3 miles away, very easy to do. We did the ex Provence trip from Marseile and liked it, seeing that it is Sunday when you arrive, there is nothing open, but at Ex Provence they have a market with lots of stands. Lots of narrow little streets to explore, very nice way to start your cruise. Barcelona is the best, we just loved it, we were lucky to be able to spend a few days there before the cruise and can't wait to go back. As with any cruise it is always recommended to arrive a day ahead. There are often, flight delays,lost luggage, not worth taking a chance and missing the ship. Read Less
Sail Date September 2004

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