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90 Europe - British Isles & Western Cruises for the Disabled Cruise Reviews

This was our first cruise. The previous year we have booked a 3 week cruise in eastern Med, but my wife was taken seriously ill for months so we had to cancel. We were both very apprehensive, I was desperate to switch off and ... Read More
This was our first cruise. The previous year we have booked a 3 week cruise in eastern Med, but my wife was taken seriously ill for months so we had to cancel. We were both very apprehensive, I was desperate to switch off and relax/unwind. My wife with all her aches and pains just wanted to know she would be comfortable, especially as we had to take a wheelchair (collapsible) and use it at times. Drove to Southampton, lovely lady took our keys and parked our car, porter carried our bag, I wheeled my wife, we were on the boat in around 15 minutes. I was stunned - speechless. Zero hassle. Very very friendly staff at shore (P&O please take note they were great !). Sat in the chair on the balcony, just honestly could not believe we were actually there. Trekked/Wheeled around the boat, no issues at all getting around, just the corridors where the rooms are were difficult to squeeze down with a wheelchair and meeting a trolley laden with towels (regular occurrence) but there's always a way around that. Food in the evening very good. We swapped to the early sitting (once we found we could do that). Wine started at £15 a bottle and tasted good. Service in restaurant generally very good. Orangery (buffet restaurant) very large, very busy, not so many staff - so did not go there much as we preferred a more quiet time. Crows Nest bar deck 13 at front of ship was lovely, I'd sit in the leather chair, enjoy a beer, watch the sea. Bliss ! Oh, and the breakfast in the Medina restaurant really was excellent each morning. We were in the other main restaurant for the evening meal (cannot remember name). Room was fine, a little bit cramped, but OK. Wife would prefer the mini-suite but if we booked that it would have been a whole heap more. Bed very comfy. Chap who maintained rooms (Sachin) very helpful. Bathroom surprisingly good (I was not really expecting much there). Boat sailed at night, which was lovely as it helped you sleep, the gentle slight rock as the boat sailed. Wife thought bought looked a bit tired - but it is going in for a refit in Nov 2014. I could see what she meant, but to me it was not an issue, I was just enjoying myself. Did our own thing at Zebrrugge, got the complimentary coach (wheelchair friendly) to the train station, then 6 euros each for a return to Brugges which was just 20 mins away. Then as we had the wheelchair we got a taxi from the station into the marketplace which was around 7.50 euros (I gave a tenner). What a truly lovely place, never thought it would be this good. I you have never been before, pop it on your list of things to do - you would not be disappointed ! Trip back to the boat was just as easy as the trip there. The one coach which was wheelchair friendly offered to be there at the station at an agreed time ! Sailed back to Southampton. Found out we had to be out of our cabins by about 8am (ish), people getting us off from the shore team were stupendous again, and were with us right up to the car as my wife was being wheeled around. We didn't actually go to any of the events in the evenings, so I cannot say anything to that. Driving home, past the ship, was fairly sad. Would have like to stay a lot longer. By the time we got home, I was determined to book next cruise. Found the perfect one, Canaries in January, but the balcony cabins and suites all gone. Gutted. There is only one other company which goes from Southampton in the good old English winter, and it doesn't look like they have any room either (only allow 6 people with wheelchairs - even though collapsible - and wife can walk a bit). So, there you go. I'm hooked, wife thinks they are fine. I want to book at least 2 a year now - so got to get a few extra jobs ! Especially if we have to book the mini suite type thing !! Anything negative ? Well there always going to be a few niggles in life. Both in the main restaurant for dinner, and the other for breakfast, if you ask for something out of the ordinary - or at the wrong time (glass of orange say at end of Breakfast) the waiters seemed to think that I'd asked them to walk on water as they had such a look of shock on their faces. Happened a couple of times for things. Waiters up in the Orangery were not exactly a happy bunch, but I get the feeling there were not enough staff there (funnily the main restaurants seemed to be over-staffed !). For new first time people like us, we were totally lost, with the amount of things you had to find out about.Our cabin had been prepared for another couple who had gotten upgraded to the mini-suite, so the format of our cabin was wrong, and the welcome pack and evening bookings were all addressed to them - no mention of us. Sachin fixed the room though, and I found the other people cruising on the boat so friendly and helpful we soon learnt the ropes ! Oh, and on day 2 we seemed to park up in the middle of no-where for a whole day with a bunch of tankers and container ships ? Odd ? How am I going to wait until April when more ships become available for the Canaries ??? Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
We wanted to take my elderly mother on a river cruise as this was something she really wanted to do, so we booked with Viking for a jaunt down the Rhine. At the time of booking we specifically requested assistance at airports and received ... Read More
We wanted to take my elderly mother on a river cruise as this was something she really wanted to do, so we booked with Viking for a jaunt down the Rhine. At the time of booking we specifically requested assistance at airports and received confirmation that we would have suitable help (my mother needs a wheelchair where is a lot of walking involved). It wasn’t until the very end of the booking process that we discovered there was no lift in the ship. Luckily, my mother is able to cope with walking short distances. We were also very specific about my dietary requirements which are not hard to manage and require only a modicum of forethought to ensure my comfort and wellbeing. On arriving at Heathrow, we received no assistance and had to make our own way through with the wheelchair and hand baggage as best we could, which was very frustrating and made the journey more challenging. The same happened when we reached Basel - no assistance at all. We had to make our way through the airport with all of our luggage and my mother in her wheelchair! We were greeted with great enthusiasm by various Viking representatives, however it was only then that we were told we would have to be on a coach for another hour and a half as the water level was too high for the ship to actually reach Basel. They will have known this in advance and it would have been nice to have been told that there was a problem – email is quick and efficient and seems to work when they require payment! The ship was clean and the greeting was efficient and friendly. We were shown our rooms and settled in. We booked cabins on the lower deck, not realising the issues that we would face. We had assumed (based on the blurb) that we wouldn’t be in the cabins much and so didn’t really need a large window or balcony – how wrong we were. The ship travels mainly at night, and the engine noise was deafening, meaning that on many of the nights we had very little sleep and what we did have was disturbed and uncomfortable. This really put a downer on the trip as we had to manage ourselves and ensure my mother was OK. She struggled with all the steps, but seemed fine with negotiating the ship itself. The majority of the staff were very helpful and took tremendously good care of my mother. Especially when she got lost! Unfortunately, some of the plumbing was faulty and by the second day on board we had issues with the shower not draining and the bathroom floor being covered with water. The problem was “fixed”, but happened again the following day – this time there was so much water (some of it coming up from the drain) that it poured into the main room, soaking an area of carpet. Luckily for us there was a spare cabin across the corridor and we were able to move to a dry room. This matter was handled reasonably well, but was not very pleasant and gave cause for concern as we heard that other cabins had had similar problems, although not as severe as ours. In addition, after we moved to the other cabin, we found that our bed was not being made and the room wasn’t being cleaned. We raised this on several occasions over two-three days before the issue was properly dealt with. The food was generally good, the service was reasonable and the chef was a delightful man who kept coming out with freshly prepared goodies for everyone to try. However, no account was taken of my specific food allergy, and I had to keep mentioning it and asking about the ingredients in each dish. Some evenings I had very few options indeed. While on board we met some lovely people, one of whom is vegetarian. She had even more problems than I, as the majority of the meals were meat based, so she had to eat either pasta or salad at most of the evening meals. For the price we paid, this is simply unacceptable, yet no matter what we said, nothing was done to address these issues. My allergies were generally accommodated by simply omitting elements of meals, but I did have to regularly send meals back to be changed, which was annoying and unnecessary. Seating at all meals was haphazard as it was completely open, so sometimes we struggled to find three seats together, or even to be seated at the same table. Breakfast was very early and quite short. If the included excursion had an early departure (which many of them did) it was a bit of a bunfight to get to breakfast and get away in time. Again, the staff did their best to be helpful and friendly and they worked hard to get things done and keep people happy, so it was difficult to have to keep asking for things and not get them. One morning we asked for some tea, but it never arrived, and the staff all vanished into the mist. No idea what happened there. When we had to stay on the ship, on the days the ship was moving and during the evenings, apart from eating there was very little to do. We do not drink and although there was a (very capable) pianist in the bar area, it rapidly became monotonous spending time gazing out of the window with no other activity available. On one evening there was a bizarre dance competition, but other than that, not much. Most of the included excursions were quite short and involved a bit of a coach ride and it rapidly became clear that the included excursions were scheduled early to make room for the “optional” trips, which were clearly geared to getting more money out of the passengers. Most excursions were well organised and efficient, but there was such a lot of sitting around on coaches – granted these were comfortable and air-conditioned - that we eventually felt we were on the wrong trip. Although most of these excursions involved some walking, once back on the ship, we often felt very confined. We also had problems with my mother requiring a wheelchair. Unless my husband, who heroically pushed my mother around on every excursion, specifically asked for guidance (ie, “I can’t get the wheelchair up those steps, is there an alternative route?”) allowance was very seldom made for our specific issues. Of particular note was the Strasbourg excursion, where we kept being left behind. There was a photo opportunity which involved climbing up three flights of stairs, which of course we could not do. We found a wheelchair-friendly lift and managed to explain to the (very helpful) attendant (with the assistance of another passenger who spoke very good French) that we wanted to go up to see the view. No Viking personnel were on hand to assist us in any way. Another lady who walked with a stick was also having difficulty and she came with us in the lift. Once at the top, we stayed long enough to take some photos and gaze at the view, then came down again only to find that the party had moved on. At this point, my mother asked to use the nearby restroom, so we helped her into there and waited. The program director, whose prior demeanour had been rather jolly, came thundering in and told us with enormous impatience that we needed to keep up with the group. On explaining that my mother needed the loo, he became even grumpier and told us we would have to rely on the radios (used by the guides for the ongoing commentary) to find where everybody was, My husband pointed out that the range of the radios was quite short, which nearly resulted in an argument about the quality of the radios, until my husband pointed out he could still see the guide crossing a bridge and the audio commentary was already breaking up quite badly. The program director showed a distinct lack of consideration and from that point on we were acutely aware that his air of jollity was entirely artificial. He did not help us at all. However, in spite of his churlish conduct, we managed to catch up with the group. The guide seemed blissfully unaware that we had been missing. What would have happened if we hadn’t been able to catch up, I wonder? We paid for only one excursion and it was a nightmare. We were taken to the venue on a “choo-choo” train which was really a tractor. This was not pleasant over cobble stones!! The restaurant was noisy and although the promise was “a meal and a show”, it was clear that the show was just the resident band doing their thing. The meal was a fixed menu (not made clear before we signed up) and consisted mainly of things we could not or did not want to eat. The food was slopped down in front of us and when I pointed out I could not eat the food it was simply taken a way and an alternative provided. I was not asked what I wanted – none of us were. It was awful. The restaurant menu was available but not provided and it became clear later that we could have obtained a better meal from the same restaurant with a short walk into town – and for half the price! We felt utterly ripped off and misled and we were not alone. It was supposed to be a fun night out, but it was anything but fun! Ironically the following night’s meal was also a German food night, which was immeasurably better. If this had been the paid excursion, it would have been good value. Also, if we had known that the on-board German food night would be the following evening, we wouldn’t have wasted our money on the excursion. The TV commercials that persuaded us to sign up, depict the ships sailing along during the day with glorious views, but we had only one day like that, the rest of the time we travelled either early or late in the day, or at night and were docked during the day, so (as mentioned) sleeping was a problem. On departure, we again received no help at the airport at either end, although it was clear other (more mobile) passengers whom we had seen on the same ship, were being ferried from one area to another. Bearing in mind that the airport at Amsterdam is enormous, we walked for a long time with everything in tow and were tired and fed up by the time we reached the terminal. Not a great way to end a holiday. Unfortunately, we had previously booked a Christmas trip with Viking for just my husband and me at the end of this year. However on the strength of our holiday experience, we have cancelled. It will be of interest to others that Viking do not refund the deposit, even though we cancelled more than seven months out! Clearly they are only interested in making as much money as possible and are not interested in customer satisfaction. We will never travel with Viking again and, should we book another river cruise (which at this juncture is unlikely) we will go out of our way to ensure we receive the level of service we believed we had paid for with this company. Overall it was a disappointing and frustrating experience. We raised some of these issues when cancelling our Christmas trip, but Viking clearly do not care, so this review will be posted in as many places as possible as a warning to the unwary. If you have dietary issues, or need any help with your journey to or from the ship, do not travel with Viking as they will not keep their end of the bargain. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
My husband is severely disabled and uses a mobility scooter to get around. I discussed this with the TA prior to making our booking to ensure that his scooter would get through the cabin door without the need for a disabled cabin. We were ... Read More
My husband is severely disabled and uses a mobility scooter to get around. I discussed this with the TA prior to making our booking to ensure that his scooter would get through the cabin door without the need for a disabled cabin. We were assured there would be plenty of room having provided them with the dimensions.This is the first time we have cruised on a large ship - normally cruise with approx 1800-2000 passengers, whereas, Crown Princess had 3159 passengers onboard for this cruise. On all previous cruises we have embarked at the Mayflower Terminal but this one embarked at a different terminal and we had a long wait with the car until we were called along to remove our luggage. Porters were available but I was asked to remove our luggage (being disabled didn't matter!) We struggled along to the terminal with our hand luggage and suit/dresses and waited again in a long queue to be checked in with passports/boarding passes etc before moving along to the security process. Once again we were met with long queue's but being disabled we were asked to move into a different queue. However, some other people followed us who were not disabled (clearly saying they are not prepared to wait in the other queue) and this was not properly marshalled. Upon placing our personal items on the conveyor belt I was asked to remove my shoes whilst my husband was asked to remove his coat. Security staff had no empathy with our circumstances and I became distressed from witnessing my husband's difficulties with their requests.At this point the passengers behind me were complaining about the process and queue's and we were rushed through uncourteously leaving me in tears in the terminal. I asked repeatedly to speak to a manager and several staff approached me but made excuses of time constraints/carrier's problem and said get onboard and have a drink!!! We eventually got onboard two and half hours later which is disgusting amount of time compared to our other cruise experiences. I immediately went to the reception to complain of our experience and it apeared to fall on deaf ears through a language barrier. We proceeded to our cabin only to find that the scooter had approximately quarter of inch gap either side and we struggled to get the scooter in/out on each occasion. We were on Lido deck with a balcony and the room didnot leave any space once the scooter was inside causing additional mobility problems for my husband throughout the duration. Although we have cruised before many times we have always been on English ships and with so many things to think about, we had overlooked the adaptor required to recharge the scooter, phones etc. I telephoned reception to ask where the socket points were situated and was told behind the bed!!! How on earth they expect a disabled passenger to pull out the bed to access an electrical point is beyond me but when a crew member came to assist us, he could not locate one other than the one by the dressing table, which we had been advised not to use as it would blow our equipment up. Seems to me like this ship is NOT wheelchair.scooter friendly both in terms of cabin access unless you request a disabled cabin or in the buffet area's as it becomes too crowded and crew members tell you to get up earlier!!! I do not appreciate being told what time to get up or eat on holiday and this experience was by no means relaxing. We purchased an adaptor from the shop onboard but they sold us the wrong one! Eventually, reception staff provided one but not before they got me to sign a receipt for 20$ incase I didn't return it. I removed the 15% gratuities from my bill early on, although you cannot remove them from the bar tabs but I tipped those that I felt deserved it. Food in the buffet (Horizon Court) and regular dining room was repetitive and I wasn't prepared to pay additional cover fees to dine elsewhere onboard. This was booked as a special Anniversary cruise to celebrate our Silver Wedding Anniversary and we had inquired if we could renew our vows onboard - we were told that because it wasn't 7 days or more this was not possible, the captain would be too busy. However, I found out that there was going to be a wedding onboard and the captain would be doing the ceremony. Double standards in my opinion. Nothing against the bride and groom, but Princess cruises should explain properly to their customers to avoid disappointment. I can only presume there is more revenue in a wedding than renewal of vows? We didn't go ashore as we felt the experience wouldn't be a good one and disembarkation was as frustrating as getting onboard - never have I been so relieved to get home as we were from this holiday. Entertainment: Magician/comedian Philip Hitchcock - average, nothing to write home about Comedian - Mickey Zane - excellent performance(s) 2 different shows - good content. Summary I don't feel this was value for money and I don't think the level of customer service was that impressive considering it is an American ship. . Not surprising - we won't be cruising with them again.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
We were first time cruisers and due to a medical my mobility is a little slow (use a walkng aid) and rules out any flying This cruise was advised by travel agency. We live very close to Southampton and our son drove us to check in. ... Read More
We were first time cruisers and due to a medical my mobility is a little slow (use a walkng aid) and rules out any flying This cruise was advised by travel agency. We live very close to Southampton and our son drove us to check in. Within minutes our bags were taken from us and due to mobility was amazed, taken straight to checkin desk and within 15 minutes we were standing in our cabin C431 a twin with shower and balcony. We decided to leave the unpacking till after we had a walk around the ship. What a lady, Ventura had just come back from having her refit. Atrium was bright and airy. Onboard shops were easy to find, walk around and noone jumped on you as soon as you entered the shop ( one of my pet hates. We found most of the places for Dining, the Orangery was already very busy. We had booked with the knowledge we would be given a dining time and table on reaching our cabin. We were on MDR 2nd sitting in Saffron. And so we set sail. We missed the sail away party as we were unpacking. Our cabin was spacious and we had everything we needed. Our cabin steward Winston, was fantastic once we had told him we were first time cruisers. Our nights on board were 2 Black tie. 2 smart casual and 3 casual. We loved the thought of getting dressed for dinner. The meals were very good, waiters very experienced and helpful. We had no issues with the food and rarely ate lunch as we either on an excursion or had a light snack in the Orangery. Eating in the orangery was a little ruff as the few times we ate there reminded us of school caffateria. We ate in the White room one evening, and both the food and the staff were lovely. We had pre-booked 3 excursions as the last one was full, but we were told via the excursion team, we had seats for the Flam railway. Our ports of call in the Norwegian Fjords were Stavanger. Flam, Olden and Bergen. What wonderful sights, to stand on the pier without a coat on to looking up to snow capped Mountains. Excursion were very good. One or two "Eek" moments on the coach going up the mountain on very narrow roads, I swear at one point some of the coach was hanging over a 70mtre drop. On the whole we really enjoyed our excursions. The entertainment was fair as I had been expecting full scenery, lighting and Broadway show so I was a little disappointed with the shows, however we saw the Chapman Brothers twice, only one we liked. There were children on the cruise and most were very polite and courteous, mind u is till cannot understand young, fit children who take the lift to go up or down one floor!!! Overall we were very impressed with the service. Staff very very friendly and helpful. We enjoyed it so much we have recently returned from a 14 night Baltic cruise on the Aurora, but that's another tale. Well done all the staff on Ventura for its them that make or break a cruise Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
General Overview As first time cruisers we did not really know what to expect. My husband is a part-time wheelchair user, able to walk short distances, so we were a little concerned about embarkation and how he would get around the ... Read More
General Overview As first time cruisers we did not really know what to expect. My husband is a part-time wheelchair user, able to walk short distances, so we were a little concerned about embarkation and how he would get around the ship. On arrival at the Terminal we were immediately greeted with aides, whose job it was to make our transition aboard as easy and stress free as possible. They were wonderful, putting us at ease and taking all the worry out of boarding in such circumstances. I hope this will reassure anyone considering cruising who might also be either partially or totally dependent on a wheelchair. We also noticed that some passengers had motorised disability scooters. Of course, whichever type you use, it must be able to fit into your cabin, as you are not permitted to leave any such vehicles in the corridors, for obvious health and safety reasons. We had a deluxe balcony cabin which was very roomy and the folded up wheelchair did not encroach on our space in the least. We were not too lucky with the weather, but that is something beyond anyone's control and the experiences we had and the wonderful ambience of the ship more than made up for that. On our first night out the sea was a little rough and I have to admit to being seasick, but the administration of travel sickness tablets remedied that within 24 hours. Next time (and I hope there will be a next time) I will take them prior to boarding as a precautionary measure. Dining Our allocated dining room was the Oriental, first sitting at 6.30 pm. Can I offer a word of advice when booking your cruise to select a large table, seating at least 6 or 8? In this way, you will be seated with a group of people who will become your friends. We were very fortunate to be seated with 2 other couples who were total strangers to us, but with whom we developed a strong friendship. The dining experience on Oriana was superlative -- the choice of food, the excellent service from all of the restaurant staff and the little "extras" such as the singing of "Happy Birthday" by the waiters only added to our enjoyment. The food is of such high quality that I also suggest taking some clothing along which has a bit of "give" in the waist! (There are, however, excellent gym facilities on board should you prefer that option!) We particularly enjoyed the Room Service facility and utilised it on several occasions, most especially for breakfast, where we were able to enjoy it at our leisure in our cabin. The Peninsular Restaurant offers open seating for breakfast, which we visited a couple of times. The choice and quality of fare in all of the food outlets can only be described as exceptional. Entertainment The range of entertainment on board was limitless. The Theatre Royal offered such diverse acts as ventriloquists, vocalists and pianists, as well as the in-house theatre group which entertained us with a variety of performance genres -- our favourites being tributes to Abba and Queen. We were also occasional visitors to the Casino where we were taught the principles of Black Jack and Roulette in a very interesting workshop one afternoon. The stakes in the casino are usually quite low, but we did manage to come out with some winnings nevertheless, despite being total novices! There are numerous other entertainments on board, ranging from Bridge to Quizzes, there is something for everyone, whether you decide to use the facilities or not. Our cabin We had a deluxe balcony cabin on B deck. As previously mentioned, apart from one day, the weather was not really warm enough to utilise it to its full extent, but our cabin was roomy and comfortable. The compact bathroom was kept fully stocked with beautifully laundered white cotton towels, and came with a complimentary supply of toiletries. The beds were amazingly comfortable; the bedding of soft Egyptian cotton. The cabin steward did a magnificent job of keeping it clean and tidy, and turned the beds down each night, leaving a delightful little chocolate on the pillows. It was these little extra touches that made the holiday so unforgettable. There is a TV and fridge in the cabin for your convenience and shipboard messages are relayed through the speaker system, as well as on the TV channel devoted to the bridge, on which essential details such as weather conditions and current placement on the globe can be tracked. Services It would appear that "Service" is the watch word for every single member of staff on the Oriana, as indeed I am sure it also applies to all the other ships in the P & O fleet. Whatever you are doing, the staff are always meticulously polite and eager to meet your every need. I have never been called "Madam" so many times (but in the most fitting circumstances!) Many of the staff obviously work behind the scenes, but their efforts are nevertheless apparent --the invisible cleaners, the staff who work in the kitchens, laundry and engine rooms all played their part. We could not find any negative points to comment on as far as all the previously mentioned areas are concerned, but if I must pinpoint one irritation it must be the difficulty encountered on many occasions when traversing the raised areas of the corridors of the ship. These are the metal ridges or lips along which the watertight doors close. We found them to be high enough to bring the wheelchair to a halt when the front wheels hit them, forcing us to have to "lift" the front wheels over the obstructions. The fact that we had to do this so many times resulted in some damage to the said wheels, which fortunately will be repaired under the insurance, but this is something to be aware of. If these areas could be made more wheelchair friendly, then this single point of contention would be resolved. Ports of call Our ports of call were La Coruna, Casablanca, Gibraltar, Cadiz and Lisbon. At all of the ports we were able to go ashore as the staff were so helpful getting the wheelchair down the gangway and helping my husband to disembark and embark on his return to the ship. We had a particularly entertaining day in Casablanca where we took a Petit Taxi, driver by Mushtak, on a whistle stop tour of the city (and some!) visiting off the beaten track sights, including an authentic Berber Pharmacy (Mustak's words) - sure the pharmacist must have been one of Mustak's relatives! Great day all round. We found various levels of accessability in the other ports we visited, mainly due to the "friendliness" of the pavements and kerbs towards the wheelchair. We found Lisbon to be particularly bad for wheelchair users. We enjoyed our cruise very much and will certainly look to repeating this experience, probably with P and O again, as their staff were absolutely brilliant. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
Norovirus is common on cruise ships. Of more than 40 cruises taken, this was our first experience. We both contracted the virus on our second day out of Southampton, England. My wife received a shot and Imodium; I received only Imodium. ... Read More
Norovirus is common on cruise ships. Of more than 40 cruises taken, this was our first experience. We both contracted the virus on our second day out of Southampton, England. My wife received a shot and Imodium; I received only Imodium. My wife was deathly sick for twenty four hours, which she said was the worst pain she has ever encountered including child birth. I was luckier. I suffered only diarrhea, but continued with pains and upset stomach for the entire cruise. She was unable to leave her cabin until the eleventh day of the cruise, when she managed to make the 12-hour bus tour of Paris, since we had never been there and, at age 89, would probably never have another opportunity. All other land excursions were cancelled, except I managed three land excursions, including Normandy, which was the principle reason for taking this cruise. I am a World War II veteran, who served in the South Pacific, but who had lost a friend in the Normandy landing and have one friend still slightly living, who engaged in the landing and whom I had promised I would one day visit. My wife was to celebrate her 89th birthday on October 28th, which she had to do confined to her cabin. The only food she ate for nine days were steamed baked potatoes, chicken broth and white rice. All amenities were removed from our cabin, including water and water glasses, pillows, books,etc. and were never returned. She attempted the buffet once, but was unable to face any food. Have you ever heard of someone returning from a cruise six pounds lighter? Celebrity did immediately take action to retard the spread of the disease. Many passengers and crew were inflicted. Everyone was inconvenienced. No One was allowed to serve themselves from the buffet; even coffee had to be served by a gloved employee. Sanitizing devices were everywhere, with employees directing their use. Celebrity cannot be faulted for its action in trying to contain the disease. But, here ends the praise for Celebrity. Upon disembarkation, we were given a letter saying that there would be credits provided to be applied toward a future cruise. These would be provided to us through our travel agent within thirty days of departure. At the bottom of the letter was written: "Time of Isolation: 24 + 24 hours", which suggested to us that compensation would be applied accordingly. After 45 days of waiting, we called our travel agent who had heard nothing from Celebrity. While on hold on the phone, the TA called Celebrity, who told them there would be no compensation for that cruise, that the ship had been completely sanitized and there had been no illnesses. Obviously they were talking about another ship or another cruise date! Exasperated with Celebrity's lack of commitment, I wrote letters on December 11, 2012 and on December 18, 2012, which was six weeks after departing Celebrity Constellation. These were addressed and mailed to Celebrity's Corporate Guest Relations. Neither letter was acknowledged or answered. On December 24th I was able to talk to a human being at Corporate Relations, who said she could find no record of the letters. She did say that we were to be compensated for two twenty four hour confinement periods. I told her that that would be completely unacceptable and that we should be compensated with nothing less than a full replacement cruise, as we basically lost not only the major part of the cruise but also round trip airfare from Florida to England. I said I would fax to her copies of my two letters, which I begged her to read, as they contained complete justification for adequate compensation. The Fax was sent on December 24, 2012. I received no reply! But, on January 7, 2013, we received a form letter attaching two FUTURE CRUISE CERTIFICATES for $100 each toward a future cruise. I immediately wrote back to the letter's author saying that $100 each for all of the pain and suffering, loss of any long awaited European adventure and lack of food was an insult to our intelligence. Accordingly, the certificates were returned therewith. We have heard nothing further. Obviously, we shall never sail with Celebrity again! Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
My mother and I just returned from an fabulous cruise on the Eurodam to Scotland and Norway. Overall, the Eurodam was perfect on almost all accounts and since I agonized over various ships prior to booking, I was extremely pleased with my ... Read More
My mother and I just returned from an fabulous cruise on the Eurodam to Scotland and Norway. Overall, the Eurodam was perfect on almost all accounts and since I agonized over various ships prior to booking, I was extremely pleased with my choice. My apologies for being lengthy. My deciding points for booking included the itinerary (had to include Scotland), size of ship (stability, activities, services) Cruise Critic reviews and indoor pool - since we would be in northern Europe and weather would be cool. THE BEST PART - THE CREW AND STAFF WERE OUTSTANDING IN EVERY WAY! I was worried about mom getting around and feeling comfortable which was unfounded. Every time up or down the gangway was made easy by the staff who were always right there. At the two tendering ports they had her on and off the tender with not a moments hesitation - even the one time it was choppy there was never a problem. Every single staff member was pleasant (o.k. not the internet woman - but whatever, one curt crew out of 900 does not matter a whit!). In the Lido, they were great finding a place for mom's rollator and bringing her beverages while I went out to get food. One time I was in the Neptune lounge for a few minutes and mom was in the cabin down the hallway - she was a bit disoriented and our cabin steward came to let me know she was looking for me. I would welcome the opportunity to travel on the Eurodam again. Though it does not have the same stunning interior beauty as the current Queen Elizabeth ship we sailed on last year, it was a wonderful way to cruise and I am ready to go back. FYI - as we stepped on the elevator for disembarkation - we shared it with the Captain as he was also disembarking until September - and was excited about welcoming a new baby to his family in the coming weeks. He was so nice and what a pleasant surprise for our final elevator ride. THE WORST PART - Amsterdam transfer and embarkation. My mom is in her 80's and was very active until a few medical issues over the last two years. She can walk short distances with her "rollator" (length of the ship at most). We had wonderful wheelchair assistance from the airport to the HAL meet and greet. From there it was a fairly long walk to the gathering place to wait for our transfer. Additionally, once we arrived at the gathering spot - there were at least 6 -8 "travel staff" there however, only 1 of the staff could actually check us in and she was busy writing out a charge slip for a last minute transfer - made a mistake, had to re-do it and then had to write one for the other person in the same cabin. It was tedious and long wait while the other 6 "staff" stood around and talked to each other. I can be patient, but it was silly and inefficient. When they were ready to transfer - there was no assistance to the bus and the lead staff took off at a swift pace and was around the corner and gone before we practically got going. It was frustrating and a lengthy walk. At the bus, no reserved seats for handicapped - a kind couple in the front offered us their seats. At the port there was a lot of confusion - whether to take our own luggage, or leave it, where to go , where to wait - there was no staff and no signage for Holland America in sight. Brilliance of the Seas was also in port - and they seemed a fair bit better organized. We were there by about 8:30 am and check-in began at 11:30 am. At least I knew this would be the case since I booked an overnight flight. It was a small check-in area for so many people and since we were in a deluxe verandah suite we were in the first group. Once we had our wheelchair assistance from Youdee (one of the Lido crew) and headed to the ship our vacation finally began and Holland America excelled from this point on. CABIN - Outstanding is the only way to describe it. Huge with a dressing area and large bathroom. Really looks just like the photos on the HAL website. We were right next to the Penthouse suite and could see their deck and hot tub from our verandah. Ari and JoJo our cabin stewards were excellent! Loved the free laundry and pressing - what a great perk (but we still brought way too much stuff!) Great binoculars are supplied in the suites - perfect for this cruise. Silly fun - the towel animals really are nice - a little smile each night before bed. Clock!! I loved the clock in the cabin and that it was automatically changed each time we had a time change. A small thing that was awesome! THE NEPTUNE LOUNGE - I am questioning how I can ever cruise again without it. Cathy and Nickolai were our fabulous concierges. Always pleasant, friendly, helpful and wonderful. If you need anything, they can help you get it - no matter how small. We never had to go to the front desk for anything. The Neptune Lounge was a wonderful, quiet place away from the crowds. We had our breakfast in the Neptune every day - it was an extended continental breakfast - the fresh fruit was outstanding and the oatmeal shots were equally as delicious. I do not drink coffee, but the fancy coffee machine was pretty cool! Great selection of teas. I heard breakfast in the Pinnacle was great, though I am not in need of anything more than the lounge offered and my mom often slept late so it was perfect. Quite different from the Lido breakfast - I went up to take pictures off the stern one morning and was amazed at all the people, how loud it was and a bit chaotic. We would also have lunch in the Neptune as there were wonderful mini egg-salad, tuna, roast beef, bites daily. It was also a wonderful place to chat with others and find out about fellow cruisers. By the evening of the suite farewell cocktail party in the Silk Den we were really regretting not doing the B2B cruise to the Baltic. REMBRANDT DINING ROOM - The food on whole was outstanding! I had a sirloin from the "offered every night" portion of the menu on the first night and it was perfectly cooked, tender and tasty! So much so that my table partners ordered it other nights. We had a table for 6 in the second seating - 8:00 pm. Our table-mates were wonderful. Very nice, well traveled and great conversationalists. It was fun each night to chat and share stories. Mom was not able to be as outgoing and involved in all the conversations as before she became ill, however they were very nice to her. Ebenhezer and Chairul were our wait staff - always pleasant and gave good direction on meal selection. A shout out to our new dining staff friend Made Mona - he would always stop by and say hi to mom and make sure she was o.k. Loved the second seating for time wise, but frustrated that so many evening activities seem planned around the early seating and/or the on your own dining. There were many activities that started and 9:00 pm or 9:30 and we were lucky to get out of the dining room by 9:45 each night. I would probably go with on your own dining the next time because of this though I really enjoy having the same table nightly. We did eat in Canaletto one night and found it very filling. The entrees were o.k. (I think the dining room does it better), but the antipasto is excellent and the ambiance was a nice change of pace. PORTS - We were here early in the season - so not too crowded - though there were often 2 or more ships in each port (we were usually there first and seemed to have the better docking space). Newcastle on Tyne - did not get off the ship - rested up instead. S. Queensferry for Edinburgh - tender port - nice little village quite a drive to Edinburgh. Lots to do around Edinburgh - easy to do many things on your own. Invergordon for Inverness - Loved Inverness. It's about 1 hour drive from port to Loch Ness - lots of driving around this area to see things - beautiful greenery. Alesound Norway - dock right in town. Looks just like the pictures you see of the town. Very easy to do things in port and get around. Norwegians all seem to speak wonderful English. Geiranger Norway - very short tender ride to port - calm waters. Amazing Fjord. Great tourist center with many sightseeing options. There is a local hop-on bus to go up the mountain. Lots of outdoorsy stuff to do here. Busy port Beautiful waterfalls - 7 sisters. Flam - dock right in town. Nice sightseeing center. Very easy to get around. Bergen - secure and working port - there were free shuttle buses into town provided by the city. Did not get off the ship for various reasons but could watch everything from our verandah and there were shuttle busses coming and going constantly. Kristiansand - small city - cute port. Took the tram/train to the shopping district. Great area. Fun shops, neat buildings. Oslo - Dock right in town - next to a medieval fort - very cool! hop-on/hop-off bus comes right to the dock. O.K. tour but with 4 other ships in town and short stay - it was hectic. Copenhagen - beautiful city!!! FYI - the fjord to Geiranger is the most beautiful of them all...by the time you get to Oslo - the fjords are a bit of a letdown. Also, the architecture in Norway and Denmark is just beautiful Be sure to take time to look at the carvings on the buildings. SHORE EXCURSIONS - We only did 2 excursions with the ship - Edinburgh panorama and Copenhagen. Edinburgh was well worth it since it was a long drive from port to Edinburgh. The guide was wonderful and we had more stops then I anticipated. Since we were there on Diamond Jubilee Day - it was nice to be at Holyrood House Palace and pick up souvenirs in the shop there. Copenhagen was similarly good. We would have done more excursions, however they were quite pricey - especially since we were going to Norway. I commend Ian the Travel Director who gave wonderful overviews of the ports and was available daily for individual questions. He was very personable and a wealth of knowledge and not pushing the ship shore excursions. Since my mom has difficulty getting around and had to see some specific things that did not seem to be on the shore ex. in Inverness, he recommended taking one of the taxis in port - though a bit pricey (turned out to be 200 GBP for 5 1/2 hours - it was less than half of what a private car with the cruise line would have cost. Our driver Les was just wonderful. Also, in Flam, Ian gave us the low-down on the Flamsbana train - it is very close to the ship and $70/person direct from the train vs. almost double that to do the ship excursion (we missed out on jam and waffles, but that was o.k. with us). THERAPY POOL/SUITE - Not sure I would do this again. I did enjoy it, but in the end, not sure it is really worth the extra $199 for two people for the duration of the cruise. Also - interestingly, on our tour of the spa, in the heated lounger section, the staff made a note to tell us that of the 5 loungers, 1 was kept cool for people with high blood pressure, etc. About halfway through the cruise, after a fellow cruiser laughed when I mentioned the "cool one" she got the staff to admit (though it took a while) that it was actually broken. One of the steam rooms was also broken. Those are things that should be fixed and they should be forthcoming about. ACTIVITIES - they always seemed to have a nice variety of things to do, unfortunately we did not have the opportunity to participate as I would have liked. We spent a lot of time relaxing. I love the separate screening room and the culinary arts center. Others we chatted with loved the trivia and one of our Neptune Lounge friends actually won $10,000 on the slot machines!!!! EVENING SHOWS - very enjoyable. I am a sucker for a production show and really thought the Eurodam singers and dancers were quite talented. The only downside was the cheesey costumes they had to wear and all the wigs were silly. Seats always seemed plentiful and overall, very enjoyable. The guest artists were very entertaining as well - though Cruise Director JC always said they were incredible and outstanding and amazing I did not think they were as good as what we had on the Queen Elizabeth last year. The Crew Show started out a bit slow - the show coincided with Philippine Independence Day which made it special. To be fair the crew is not given much time to plan and rehearse these things - since they all have other duties on the ship. The talent portion of the crew show turned up a diamond in the rough. There were 6 acts that had gone through qualifying on the crew decks. Each seemed better then the next (props to concierge Nickolai for a fun and energetic dance number) which seemed to build to a great display of bottle juggling, etc. by one of the bartenders. the crowd loved it and I felt bad for the next shy crew member to walk out on the stage. He apologized for not playing an instrument and then the wrong background music began - finally he started - reading the words from a tiny slip of paper - I cringed - and then this beautiful voice flowed. He sang You Raise Me Up - and I must say it was amazing. A huge standing ovation awaited him and the title of Eurodam's Got Talent winner - though he had already left to go back to work before receiving his award. It was truly a special ending to the evening. Note for anyone leaving out of Copenhagen airport - we had requested wheelchair assistance when we booked the flights, however, the ticket agent said it was only a short distance to the gate - my mom was right in front of the ticket counter sitting on her "rollator" as the agent said this. She encouraged us to just walk there. BEWARE - it is an extremely long walk - especially since the elevator was at one end of the building and security at the other end (she failed to mention that). After security it was the shopping areas and then I could not find wheelchair assistance. Mom is a real trooper and luckily we had plenty of time to stop often and rest. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
We booked to travel on The Independence Of The Seas, as we have travelled on this ship before and thoroughly enjoyed the cruise. Once boarding, my wife's disability scooter became faulty, and it became necessary to use one of the ... Read More
We booked to travel on The Independence Of The Seas, as we have travelled on this ship before and thoroughly enjoyed the cruise. Once boarding, my wife's disability scooter became faulty, and it became necessary to use one of the on-board wheelchairs, which were extremely cumbersome. We contacted customer relations whilst on board, but were advised that no scooters were available for rental in our port of call (Le Havre). As a result I had to wheel my wife around the ship, which was extremely taxing, as I have diabetes. The level of service received was reasonable. I have to say I wasn't particularly impressed, and the standard of food, especially in The Windjammer restaurant, was mediocre in the extreme. The children's club was a particular disappointment. My grandson is disabled and so I would have chosen to stay with him. This simply wasn't presented as an option. It was simply a choice of leaving him there, or him not being accepted. Inexcusable in my opinion. I would say that as a disabled passenger, my experience was more negative than positive for this trip, especially bearing in mind the experience with my grandson. On the whole, I would not recommend this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
Cunard advertise their holidays as 5* but having travelled on the Queen Mary 2 as a disabled passenger I struggle to give them 1*.After the travel agent told Cunard my husband was disabled and in a wheel chair and that we would have to ... Read More
Cunard advertise their holidays as 5* but having travelled on the Queen Mary 2 as a disabled passenger I struggle to give them 1*.After the travel agent told Cunard my husband was disabled and in a wheel chair and that we would have to have oxygen equipment installed in our room - they said this wasn't a problem and they send us the relevant paperwork to complete. We booked our holiday and we paid for a balcony room on the 11th deck. We were asked if we would take a free upgrade to the 12th deck - we accepted thinking as it was an upgrade it should be better. We were sent the disability form to complete and we notified them again that oxygen would need to be installed in the room. We booked in the Hilton Hotel, Southampton as this was advertised in the Cunard Brochure we booked our cruise from. I requested a disabled room and paid with my credit card a month before we were due to sail - and I arranged for oxygen to be delivered to the hotel. When we arrived at the hotel they didn't have any disabled rooms left, this resulted in my husband being unable to shower the next morning. Service at the hotel that night was appalling there was a two hour wait for a table for an evening meal and we waited 90 minutes for a sandwich and a drink. Being on medication you need to eat food and this caused us further problems. The next morning was no better 1hr wait for a table for breakfast again a problem if you need to take medication. The bus taking us from the Hilton to Southampton Docks had seen better days. As my husband is disabled we were allowed to board the bus before all the able bodied people. As we carry portable oxygen with us I was asked to leave my hand luggage with the wheelchair and was assured it would be with the wheelchair when we got off at Southampton. As my husband and I were waiting to get off the bus I could see my hand luggage being taken away. I got off the bus and caught up with it (it contained all my husband medication and I hadn't put a label on it as I expected it to be with me at all times). I now had my husband sitting in a wheelchair with my hand luggage and portable oxygen and the bus driver is trying to move off with me and my husband in the way. I asked the luggage porters who are milling around for help but no one will help me.I manage to move my husband and everything out of the way with no help from the porters. I managed to move us to the area that you can request help and a porter was found and took us to the 12th deck. On the way to our deck the porter told us that we couldn't access all the banks of lifts as the 12th deck had restricted lift access - this meant we had further to walk when ever we left our room or made our way back.Oxygen equipment which I had arranged was delivered and installed in our room. Just after we left port a motor started up somewhere below us and the whole room started vibrating - I had my bag on the bed and it was up and down. With severe medical problems we should not have been put in a room with severe vibration and due to the oxygen equipment being installed we couldn't ask to be moved - it did cause my husband problems through out the trip. The crew were not very disabled friendly - when we have cruised on other ships if they see someone arriving with a wheelchair they offer you assistance in finding a table not on Cunard there is not offer of any help. The quality of the food very disappointing as its suppose to be 5*. Trips not very well organised for disabled -â€" one trip we booked the guide said follow me and he was going down steps - I asked him how can I follow with the wheelchair and he replied *find your own way down to the 1st deck and we will meet you by the bus* being fit i was ok for me but somebody elderly may not have found their way on their own to the bus. When we did get to the bus the sits allocated for disabled people had been taken up by the able bodied people so once again you were disadvantaged due to mobility problems. Getting off the ship at the end of the holiday is not very friendly - on the morning of disembarkment no help is offered from your room, you must find your own way down to 3rd deck and then help is available. The guy in charge of this has no idea how to organise anything, to cut a long story short after 1hour of waiting I asked how much longer we would be as my husband needed to go back on his oxygen supply - He put the clipboard in my face and said if I could do a better job than him to do it. Then he turned to one of the porters and shouted so everyone heard *we had better get rid of Mr Williams now*. We boarded the bus back to the Hilton and the driver said he couldn't take my husbands wheelchair because people had too much luggage but he did relent in the end. On the way back to the hotel we had a mini crash - and driver didn't even ask if we the passengers were OK. For disabled people I would not recommend the Hilton Southampton or sailing on Queen Mary 2. Even through the shore excursions are labelled as low, medium and high you need to also take in to consideration the gang ramps you need to use to get off the ship at any of visiting ports not very disabled friendly on this cruise. Also, if this had been our first cruise we would never cruise again but I do know that other cruise liners treat disabled people with dignity and respect. Considering we also paid 22$ a day in tips on top of the cost of the holiday for service we didn't receive. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Hello. We have just come back from a short cruise on the Marco Polo. This is our second cruise on the Marco Polo. The Long term parking and check-in at Tilbury is really quick and easy.The staff very helpful with all aspects of the ... Read More
Hello. We have just come back from a short cruise on the Marco Polo. This is our second cruise on the Marco Polo. The Long term parking and check-in at Tilbury is really quick and easy.The staff very helpful with all aspects of the boarding process.The ship is small,but has every thing you require.The food is very good and the drinks are of a reasonable price.The cabins are teat and tidy and kept clean as is the whole ship.The entertainment is limited but is ok.The shore excursions will very well done, no problems.The access for wheal chair user's is not as good as the more modern ships, but you can still get around. The disembarking was one of the quickest we have seen,well organised.We would recommend the Marco Polo to the seasoned cruise traveller. Graham & Julie Gilbert Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
Well My Darling Wife has always wanted a cruise so for her 40th Birthday I surprised her with a cruise to Norway on Grand Princess. The main reasons why I booked this cruise was 1, it was Southampton to Southampton - We live in ... Read More
Well My Darling Wife has always wanted a cruise so for her 40th Birthday I surprised her with a cruise to Norway on Grand Princess. The main reasons why I booked this cruise was 1, it was Southampton to Southampton - We live in Southampton, 5 minutes from the port. 2, It was during school holidays as we have a teenage Daughter. 3, It was in my price range. I had followed the refit online and was very glad that we were on the third cruise after it, so most of the gremlins would have been sorted. I saw no signs of work being carried out during my many walks around the ship. I am an early riser so at 6am I was getting my coffee from Horizon Court and I would go off om my daily walk around the top decks. Every Morning there was crew members cleaning and polishing the ship making her ready for the coming day all of whom would say "Good Morning". Apart from one member of staff at the customer services desk who was very pretty but completely unhelpful on more than one occasion, all the staff that I came into contact with were brilliant, Our Cabin Stewardess Julia from Mexico was so lovely and hard working she is a credit to Princess Cruses. This was our first cruise so we have nothing to compare it to, but, for work I stay in lots of Hotels of all standards throughout the UK so I used that as my guide stick. The first night we ate in Michelangelo's on anytime dining. The service was good but the menu was very complicated to understand with the Starters on the second page after the mains - very confusing. Food was OK nothing special. Later that evening we went to Horizon Court for a snack and most of the menu in Michelangelo's was available at the buffet !! We also tried Sabatini's at an extra $20 per head and Crown Grill at $25 per head. Both were very good but we went back to Sabatini's a second time. The Horizon Court was good if you timed it properly. Overall I enjoyed the food on Grand Princess and the was loads of it. Mmmm. The entertainment was good some better than others. We saw the Macdonald Brothers in the Vista Lounge and they were good and we saw a show in the Theatre which was spectacular keeping in mind we were on a ship in the North Sea. The problem in the Theatre was to get a seat we had to arrive 45 minutes before the show. In the Explorers Lounge was a band called Atomic who were good most of the time. We left early from the Country night when an annoying English crew member started to drag unwilling audience members up to line dance with the words "this is not a spectator sport". I always go to watch not take part so it was time to leave,Shame as I was looking forwards to country night. We did not bother with Movies under the stars as the choice of movies was not very good and the screen really should have been replaced during the refit. Our Mini Suite was Good with no real problems to report. The on-board TV was not good with complicated TV schedules and a poor choice in TV shows. I would have liked a Coffee making facility like most hotel rooms. Also be warned all the plug sockets are 3 pin American sockets that run 110 volts, so make sure any electrical items can be used before you pack. There were two Outlet Sales with loads of branded goods reduced in price. They were awful. it was like a bad Jumble sale in a dark church hall. Passengers were queuing to get in them as well. Why pay for a cruise and then spend an hour of it in a queue to buy rubbish? There were two disappointing sides to this Cruise for me. First was that at every opportunity I was being asked if I wanted to buy something. A bottle of water, a bottle of wine, photo,s, DVD's, Massages, beer, it was constant. The second thing that disappointed me was, some, but not all of the other passengers. I have never seen Elevator rage before but on Grand Princess it was non stop. My wife has trouble walking so we have a wheelchair for longer walks. I lost count the amount of times that when a lift arrived large amounts of able bodied people were barge into the elevator leaving no room for us so we would have to wait for the next elevator. When we could get into the elevator my wife was elbowed by passengers squeezing in. What was really annoying was most of the time the rude passengers were only going up one floor and the could have used the stairs. I know this is not A Princess Cruises problem but maybe they could put a sign by the Elevators asking passengers to allow disabled passengers priority use. We didn't do any of the excursions as the ship is lovely and empty during the day so no queuing. Also that was the best time to use the excellent Gym. Overall we loved the Cruise and I have started to look for our next one. The positives far outshone the negatives for me. I would use Grand Princess again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
We embarked at Southampton and the chaos started. Our cabins weren't ready and everyone was directed to the orangery The self service orangery was chaos as everyone searched for the cutlery. We waited for the queue to die down a ... Read More
We embarked at Southampton and the chaos started. Our cabins weren't ready and everyone was directed to the orangery The self service orangery was chaos as everyone searched for the cutlery. We waited for the queue to die down a little at the indoor Bar-b-Que only to see them pack it away. This was a bit of a surprise for me as virtually all the food disappeared with the exception of sandwiches (which I can't eat) The place was far too chaotic to ask someone so I went for my self sufficiency supplies. We sailed around 5pm and went down to discover our cabin. Having booked the most basic inside cabin it was a good standard, well designed, sensible, everything worked, the shower was fairly good, the waterworks were quiet and we could not hear the cabin next door. there was enough room to unpack and loose our cases. there was only one uk mains socket and no US sockets. there was a fridge , hair drier and quiet kettle. The main restaurant was OK and I was given the menu the night before by the head waiter. I selected foods that should be easier to make gluten free. The next night they would appear with 1/2 of the food removed. Each night I got a gluten free roll, they had Gluten free crackers for the cheese., however the cheese was bland and they were stingy. The general standard of the food was disappointing. We went on QM" last year and almost every plate deserved a photograph. This was not the case on P&O. The Orangery was very hard work, noisy , it didn't flow. The food lacked taste, roast potatoes were cooked but weren't crisp. bacon was cooked but not in a pan. The curries were super mild, much of the fruit was tinned. The puddings were the same each day and the cutlery kept running out. Fruit juce was poorly diluted from concentrate and was taken away at 12 noon. Waiters would pounce on you as soon as your plate hit the table to sell you drinks. as a gluten free person all I could eat out of the puddings was fruit and green jelly.... for 18 days! breakfast bacon eggs, mushrooms. Tinned fruit and nuts. cheese (no gluten free crackers up here, or bread no one had time to assist) QM2 has pre labeled diabetic and gluten free food , bread + fresh orange juice all day/night. To compare this with QM2 the self service are was far more efficient, much better food. more choice Fruit tea, caffeine free teas , specialty teas were removed outside meal times. There was no fresh milk. I went to the formal breakfast in the Medina restaurant and it was quite good. the English breakfast and the omelets with salmon was nice. My other half had to ask three times for fruit juice rather than tea/coffee The afternoon tea was the same. as everyone tucked into their second scone or tea cake I was sat there like a lemon waiting for a choice of 3 gluten free cakes and a biscuit to come my way. The chocolate tea event was amazing and I did have a choice of gluten free or diabetic chocolate temptations. I could only try one gluten free sample or my sugar levels would have gone through the ceiling. some people had 4 choc cakes and a puddle of chocolate plus fruit kebabs dipped in chocolate. It was a great show. The Sidewalk cafe served sandwiches, pizza, chips and baked potatoes. the baked spuds and chips were very nice. The Bordeaux cafe was very nice but the menu is a little limited once you take the bread and pastries out of the menu. This was the only eatery open at night and the waiters took you to the seats. It was better on QM2, thee was an insomniacs club that gathered in the self service area at night and just chatted. There was more of a buzz. The Ship its self was well designed with one exception. there was only one set of doors from the sun deck & pool to the orangery restaurant. on our north Atlantic cruise it caused huge problems with gales racing through the eatery. One hilarious moment was watching people reverse through the sliding doors with all clothing flapping like they were doing a parachute jump and their salad blowing down the walkway. We his force 9 winds with 5m seas and the ship was very stable. possibly more stable than the larger QM2. The cruise itself was good with an interesting itinerary. the entertainment was mixed. We had excellent classical musicians and some theater and very weak magician who has apparently been doing the same act for 10 years. This cruise was going somewhere I wanted to go. We got a last minute deal. however if I had paid full price I would have been angry. It was not fine dining. QM2 was a whole lot better Tony Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
My husband and I did the 10-Day Norwegian Fjord Cruise on the Hurtigruten MS FRAM, and had a wonderful time! The ship, with a passenger capacity of 315 had just 166 passengers, so there were never any crowds or lines to do anything. I use ... Read More
My husband and I did the 10-Day Norwegian Fjord Cruise on the Hurtigruten MS FRAM, and had a wonderful time! The ship, with a passenger capacity of 315 had just 166 passengers, so there were never any crowds or lines to do anything. I use a wheelchair for mobility. The FRAM handicap cabins are very well suited for someone in a wheelchair, with grab bars over the beds (two single beds), plenty of room in the bathroom with plenty of grab bars, a shower seat, and an automatic door in and out of the cabin. The rest of the ship, with the exception of the uppermost outside deck, is accessible, and there is a toilet on deck four -- the main deck where the main dining room, coffee shop, customer service desk, and meeting rooms are located. Other reviews of Hurtigruten cruises complained about the food. We found the food to be of exceptional quality. Yes, it is Norwegian -- meaning there are lots of fish dishes, fish served in a variety of ways, for every meal. And potatoes, usually plain boiled, but also prepared in other creative ways. There are lots of vegetables, salads, fruits, cheeses, and lovely whole-grain breads and rolls,soups, and desserts. Most of the meals were buffet style -- think "smorgasbord" and maybe you'll appreciate more the way they're served. Norwegians seem to really like the buffet style, and we heard no complaints about the food at all. During the course of 10 days we had lamb, beef, reindeer, fowl, fish, shrimp (and prawns), and all sorts of side accompanying dishes and never felt "bored", or unhappy with our selections. Most sit-down served meals were dinners, including a lovely Captain's Dinner with filet mignon as the centerpiece. If you need to be entertained 24/7, then this cruise is not for you. There are no formal "shows", or movies, or activities. In the evening there was a pianist, and some passengers did sing-alongs and a bit of dancing, but that was about it. There was one night when the crew entertained, as well. Otherwise, the entertainment is the spectacular scenery on every side of the ship, the fjords of western Norway. If you need "shopping guides" then this cruise is not for you. There are shore lectures -- which actually talk about the history and geography of the ports you'll visit, and describe some of the sites you might see, whether you take ship tours or go off on your own. But no "hard sells" for anything. If you need food 24/7, then this cruise is not for you. They have 3 meals a day, and there is plenty of food to be had at each meal (and we did take away some fruit and desserts to snack on later in our cabin), but otherwise there is no other food service. If you need alcohol 24/7, then this cruise is not for you. There is a full-service bar, which starts serving alcohol at 3 p.m. Otherwise there is free coffee and tea available all the time, and soft drinks and bottled water for sale. You CAN bring alcohol on board, but only for consumption in your cabin. There is no "hard sell" for drinks, either. The server circulates, but usually we had to call her to the table, rather than having her at our elbow, wanting to know if we wanted something. If you have children, then this cruise is not for you. There are no special children's programs, babysitters, or services for children. I did see a couple of high chairs...but there were no children on this cruise at all. One a couple of port days (I stayed on the ship for the entire cruise) there were some families allowed on board -- families of crew members who lived at those ports, but they left the ship when the ship moved to the next port. The passengers were mainly folks ages 45 and older, quiet, sedate, refined. Mostly British, some Norwegian, some French, a few of us Americans, and a smattering of other nationalities. The language on board is English, and since there was a large contingent of French, everything "formal" was also announced in French. Because there were so few of us, everyone seemed to find a few folks with whom they were compatible, and spent lots of time together, chatting, and sometimes going off on excursions together. All the crew were pleasant, eager to be helpful, friendly, and went out of their way to help with whatever anyone seemed to need. While on the cruise the volcano erupted, closing airports. Many of the people on the ship were "stranded", but the cruise line worked feverishly for those passengers who had booked air travel with them, to be sure they were somehow accommodated. We had booked our own air, and even we were asked if we needed assistance (we didn't). We LOVED our cruise, and hope to cruise again with Hurtigruten, soon! Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
Travel from Bradford to Southampton was by Eavesway coach, as usual great coach (09 registration) and for the first time we were able to rate the coach from a wheelchair point of view, the coach passed with flying colours. Eavesway drivers ... Read More
Travel from Bradford to Southampton was by Eavesway coach, as usual great coach (09 registration) and for the first time we were able to rate the coach from a wheelchair point of view, the coach passed with flying colours. Eavesway drivers were as ever very pleasant and helpful. Embarkation procedure was fine, long queues but that was down to a few coaches arriving at the terminal at the same time. I was disappointed to find that having boarded we were simply pointed towards a lift and left to get on with it ourselves, other cruise lines (e.g Celebrity) allocate a crew member to escort you to your stateroom, this was fine for seasoned cruisers like ourselves but could be daunting for passengers cruising for the first time. My wheelchair bound son was given priority boarding with his helper (his sister), we chose to board in the usual way, because we had also cruise virgins in our party. Is it me or is Aurora like a maze gone wrong? I find lots of dead ends on the ship, where you have to cross the deck to find your way around the ship. The Alexandria Restaurant for example can only be directly accessed by one set of lifts. Whilst on the subject of the Alexandria Restaurant, I have to say great venue, good food , attentive wait staff, but why oh why do P&O put wheelchair passengers in the restaurant when the Medina restaurant is so much more accessible in a wheelchair AND has access to a disabled toilet. The Alexandria doesn't! Entertainment: Star attraction on this cruise was Derren Brown, great entertainment, had lots of people speculating on just how the hell he does what he does. How on earth do you look - look is probably not the word to use there because he is blindfolded! - at someone in the audience and tell the lady her age, that she is pregnant and is a nurse or tell another lady that her cat is called Captain Catfish, well that last one is easily explained doesn't everyone call their cat Captain Catfish!!!! Headliners team were very good, great voices and dancing, they did tribute shows to Queen and Abba. From an entertainment point of view 5* from a production point of view 2*. Queen show especially was poorly lit. I would love someone to explain to me the sense is putting a theatre company in a poorly lit cabaret lounge, where the dance floor is the stage and putting a cabaret singer in the theatre? When I'm in a cabaret bar I expect to see an act on a small stage I don't expect to see the backs of singers and dancers on a dance floor. On more thing Headliners performed to a backing track, nothing wrong with that, but why have a TRIO who couldn't be seen because they were behind some sort of metal grill augmenting the backing track - I'm sure this trio could have been better employed on the ship in another venue. I chose not to see the soul singer in the theatre - nothing against the guy , just not my cup of tea. I have to say that entertainment on P&O does seem to be getting a little scarce I may be entirely wrong although as I said previously there did seem to be a redundant trio in the cabaret bar. Agnes was the resident pianist but her "spots" seemed to consist of 30 minute periods in different parts of the ship - I hope she didn't have to lug her piano around with her :) - when our paths did cross , Agnes was good entertainment. A point about clocks moving forward or backwards, the last night of the cruise the clocks had to be put back one hour - no mention of this was made by the cruise director i the cabaret bar, the cabin steward didn't leave a card telling us to put our clocks back - so the only confirmation we actually had was 2 lines of normal print in the text of the back page of Horizon the ships newspaper - now this wasn't really a problem for me and at worst we would have gotten up 1 hour early for disembarkation - but what would have happened if all these factors had taken place on a day when the clocks went FORWARD and I has a tour ashore - attention to detail please P&O Another thing the people who were travelling with us as first time cruisers didn't receive the Horizon newspaper for the first two days of the cruise and of course as first time cruisers were blissfully unaware of the significance of not have the information that the newspaper contained - this factor brought about the title of this review " Have you been to the Theatre" but more of that later under the review for the port of Zeebrugge. Tours Ashore Zeebrugge - We did Ipres and the Flanders Fields. It seems an anathema to say wonderful tour for this particular tour, it was more of a pilgrimage but it was very very good and very thought provoking. We have all seen war memorials in out cities, towns and villages, but these in no way prepare you for the lines and lines of immaculate simple gravestones on Tyne Cemetery . After the grave visits we were taken to the Menem Gate in Ipres, to see the names of 58,000 YES 58,000 soldiers who were listed as missing in action and who have no known grave - truly thought provoking. I have mentioned before the 2 cruise virgins - they decided to take the Brugges tour together with the Roune tour in Le Havre. Now starts a period of , if you are doing something for the first time, if it can go wrong it will go wrong - They looked at the Roune ticket the night before instead of the Brugge ticket and thought the tour left at 8am - they duly presented themselves on the quayside with the right tour ticket at what they thought was the right time - REMEMBER they hadn't had the Horizon newspaper telling them to go to the theatre and therefore didn't have sticker for a coach. A lady from the ships crew approached them on the quayside and asked where they were going - Brugge they said, well have you been to the theatre? Puzzled he replied "Yes" ( he'd seen the show the previous night hehehe). "Well where's your sticker then" at this point he confessed he hadn't a clue what the hell was going on. It turned out he was on the AFTERNOON trip to Brugge. Lessons to be learnt here passengers ALWAYS check your tour tickets VERY carefully and P&O if you are printing a ticket for a tour why not put ALL the information on the ticket all it needs is Please assemble in the theatre at least 10 minutes before your tour is due to commence. Le Havre We didn't do a formal tour, just used the Shuttle bus into the city centre. A point now about wheelchair passengers and tours ashore. Alarm bells started ringing about 6 weeks prior to the cruise when the promised Tours Ashore for disabled passengers didn't materialise. Calls to P&O were made and we were told we WOULD receive them - we didn't! A final call 4 days before the cruise started final got the information from P&O there were NO tours available for wheelchair passengers! Fortunately my son was able to arrange via the internet a taxi company to take him into Brugge - that cost 90 Euros for the trip. Had he had had more time to arrange the trip he might have been able to car share of find a better price. Moral - P&O please say earlier if you cant provide transportation at any port wheelchair bound passengers and give them a fighting chance to make other arrangements. My son was unable to find a taxi firm in Le Havre - yes I know that there are always taxis in the port but not all of them are capable of taking a wheelchair. Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
We have just returned from a short, 4 night cruise on Independence of the Seas to Cork and back. We have cruised before but this was our first time on RCI and we thought this short trip would be an ideal taster of the RCI experience. My ... Read More
We have just returned from a short, 4 night cruise on Independence of the Seas to Cork and back. We have cruised before but this was our first time on RCI and we thought this short trip would be an ideal taster of the RCI experience. My husband and I were accompanied by my mother who is disabled, though not a wheelchair user. Embarkation This was our first time leaving from Southampton. We drove down and it took about 4 hours from our home in Nottinghamshire including a short stop. There were very bad traffic jams leading into Southampton as there are road works on the approach roads. We cut through the town center rather than following the motorway route and avoided the worst. We had prebooked car parking and it was very straightforward. We arrived just after 11am and followed the signs. A porter came and took our cases from the car and we drove round to the departures entrance where we were able to stop to let my Mum and I out. As we had completed our SeaPasses online and registered our credit card check in was very quick. I had requested assisted boarding but when I mentioned this at the check in desk I was told that we should have asked when we first entered the building. This created some confusion while they decided what to do. We eventually got fed up with waiting and my mum decided she would walk and just take it steady. This was okay because we were early and the terminal was very quiet but it would not have been so good if it had been busy. After having our photos taken for security we entered the ship on deck 4 by 11.45am. First Impressions We have been on big ships, but Independence is massive, towering over the dock when you look up. This ship has clearly been designed to impress and it certainly succeeds. The dEcor when you enter the ship is beautiful, clean, fresh and bright without being garish, with specially commissioned art work adorning the walls. On our other cruises we have been given small cards with basic deck plans and we would have found this useful, but we soon get used to referring to the deck plans and models of the ship placed near all the lifts. Although this is a large ship we actually found it was very easy to navigate, once you realized that you can't make you way from one end of the ship to the other on decks 2 and 3, because of the ice rink, and that there are glass doors on some decks separating the port from starboard sides. This caught us out at first and we know others found it frustrating. There are 2 lift positions, midships and forward, with lifts on both the port and starboard sides. These go to all decks from 1 to 14. Some lifts are fully enclosed and others glass sided with views through the ship. Accessed on deck 5, running almost the length of the ship, is the Royal Promenade. On first sight rising 4 decks this is really spectacular, and it is hard to believe you are actually on a ship. The Promenade is lined with shops, an English pub, pizza restaurant, cafe and a wine bar. The lighting in the promenade changes during the day to create different effects and 'sky bridges' are lowered to provide entertainment platforms. It was from one of these that the captain gave his speech and introduced senior officers on the formal night. Very clever and very impressive. Duty free was not available on our cruise as we did not enter international waters; in fact 17.5% vat was added to shop purchases. Cabins This was our first experience of an inside cabin and we have now decided our last. If we can't have at least an outside we would rather not go. We were on deck 10, the highest passenger deck, and also the deck with the most expensive suites. The cabin was very cramped. When we first arrived the beds were in a twin configuration and we asked for them to be changed to a queen. The steward asked if she could do this later when she turned the bed down for the night. Unfortunately the cabin is not really designed for this bed layout. There was insufficient room to move to the side of the bed without climbing over the bed end. We now know why the beds in outside cabins and balconies are actually rounded at the ends! If the cabin had been just a few inches longer or wider this problem would have been solved. The corridor on our deck was so wide I'm sure this would have been possible. I don't think someone who is physically challenged or on the large side would be able to manage. We had a look in an outside cabin and there was a little more room round the bed but not much. The narrow width of the cabin also caused problems when accessing the wardrobe. Apart from this the cabin fittings were well designed and the dEcor was very tasteful and relaxing. The shower, though small, was excellent. There was adequate storage and hanging space for our short cruise but we don't travel light and I think we would have struggled on a longer cruise. We also struggled to stow our case under the bed, I'm not sure where we would have put it had it been any deeper? We had a look in the Royal Suite, which was just along the corridor from our cabin. It was very, very big and beautifully decorated with a grand piano and massive balcony stretching the length of the hump. My mum was on deck 2 and had an inside cabin for the disabled. This was very big and very well adapted for someone in a wheelchair. The bathroom was designed as a wet room with a seat in the shower area and telephone for emergencies. Food We only used the Windjammer buffet restaurant twice and did not like it on either occasion. The tables are tightly packed in places which results in you being constantly knocked as pax try to walk through. There was a reasonable selection of food available which was well presented but the taste and quality was not as good as we were expecting. We have been on Ocean Village and both of us thought their buffet was better! One thing we noticed was that RCI tried to cater for British tastes - steak and kidney pie, British style bacon. We were on late 8.30 club dining; we requested a table for 8 and were allocated a table in the Romeo and Juliet dining room on deck 3. There were 2 further balcony levels on decks 4 and 5 to this very large dining room. The dEcor is once again beautiful with crystal chandeliers and art work on the walls. We had 2 lovely dinner companions but the 2 further seats remained allocated but unfilled, perhaps they didn't like the look of us! The first night's food got off to a bad start. We were very hungry but it was nearly an hour before our first course arrived. We were very disappointed with this meal. 3 of us had pork and it was too tough to eat. The other 2 had steak and it was very ordinary. When the head waiter introduced himself and asked if we had enjoyed the meal we told him of the problems and he said no one else had complained (not the right response!). We later found out this was not the case. He said he would make sure we enjoyed the remaining meals and he did. The service improved considerably as the cruise went on with the waiters remembering our likes and dislikes. The food was good, but fairly ordinary, not as good as we had on Carnival Destiny last year. I love prawn cocktail (its my age!) but it was very poor, just 3 small rather dry prawns on a few leaves. We were surprised that there was no fish course offered just 3 courses plus standard coffee. We ordered wine evening. A good selection was offered but not all of it was available. I think there were some on offer at about $25 but we normally paid $38 - $45 for a reasonable bottle. There was also a connoisseur selection available closer to $100. We also took breakfast in the Romeo and Juliet dining room as it was easier with my mum than using the buffet. The quality of the breakfast generally was very good with a wide selection available. The exception was the toast which was either soft or like cardboard. I like grapefruit juice but there was only orange or if you were quick enough asking, apple. There was also a small buffet set up if you wanted to help yourself. The service was variable with some items failing to arrive as ordered. We also used this dining room for lunch on our second day and it was relaxing. Once again a small buffet for salads was available with lovely smoked salmon and juicy prawns. We had a very nice lunch. For our other lunches we got either got sandwiches from the Promenade Cafe or pizza from Sorrento's, both on the Royal Promenade. Both were very good and fresh. We did not eat at either Chops or Portofino. Our diner companions tried to book when they first came on board at 2pm on the first day and were unable to get a table. It would probably be best to book online to be sure of a table. It was our table companions' wedding anniversary the last evening and the waiters sang them a special song. Cobh A street market had been arranged by the local council and this together with the ship docking on a Sunday resulted in a very large number of local people coming to Cobh. This combined with a full ship meant Cobh was packed. We visited the local heritage center by the dock, partly to escape the rain and the crush. The displays, mainly about emigration to the new world, were very interesting. We found out when we got back on the ship that we would have got in for half price if we had shown our SeaPass. We stayed overnight in port and on the next day we went on a ship's excursion, a scenic ride to Kinscale. We chose this excursion because it was advertised as suitable for disabled but I was disappointed that no consideration was given to my mum who had to struggle to the back of the coach as she could not keep up with others determined to sit at the front. This made a nice outing but we did not think the scenery was as nice as where we live so would not wish to go back. We did go in a local bar and had Irish Coffee and Murphys beer which went down well. We did not buy very much as we thought the prices were high compared with the UK. Entertainment The shows in the theatre were outstanding, particularly the 2 production shows. We went to the shows every evening, there were 2 performances and for late dining we went twice before dining and twice after. The Cruise Compass newspaper delivered to the cabin each evening advised the best time for each sitting. All the shows were accompanied by an extremely good live band. For the production shows it was necessary to get to the theatre about 10 - 15 minutes before the performance to ensure a reasonable seat. We generally sat in the balcony accessed from deck 4 as we found the view from the lower level not so good. This is a lovely comfortable theatre with a very large stage but the view from some seats is impeded by columns. There was also live music in various bars round the ship mainly in the evening. We also went to the ice show which was brilliant and well worth making the effort to see. Although there is no charge it is necessary to get tickets for the ice show prior to the performance from tables set up near Sorrento's. The time for this was announced in the theatre and also advertised in Cruise Compass, though the start times were different by 30 minutes. My husband got there about 10 minutes before the earlier advertised time and was first in q very long queue. They have 700 tickets available for each performance and they did 4 on our cruise. On the second evening a parade was held along the Royal Promenade at 11pm. This was rather like the sort of parade you expect at Disney. It was entertaining but too busy with over 3,000 people in the same place at the same time. Using the lifts afterwards was interesting! Dress codes There was 1 formal night and the others casual. On the formal night the majority of people dressed up and most men were in tuxedos. We were surprised, we like dressing up but heard before hand that this is patchy on RCI, well not on this cruise, and although men removed ties people did not change to go to the shows. In fact every evening there were women in full length evening or cocktail dresses and they did not seem out of place. We had photos taken on the formal night but they did not take as much care as on our previous cruises. This was not because of the long queues as they were fairly short. Nonetheless my mum still bought 4 photos which came with a nice album for $19.95 each. Photos were only taken once in the dining room. Sports facilities We only used the crazy golf; we had a game everyday and really enjoyed it. The roll of the ship combined with the wind made playing interesting! There is also a large games court and a very high climbing wall. There is no charge for these activities and only once did we find a short queue for the crazy golf. You just picked your sticks, balls and score cards up at the entrance. The flow rider is good to watch with relatively short queues but few managed to surf, most crashed straight into the back wall! We had a brief look in the fitness area and spa but did not use these facilities either. There really was not time on such a short cruise. Debarkation As usual cases were put outside the cabin by midnight, though you could carry off yourself if you wanted to. Times were allocated from 6.15am with everyone off by 9am. The time for our cabin was 6.15 - 6.45 and for my mum's cabin 8.30 - 9! We thought is unwise to desert her so we had breakfast in the dining room and then left the ship at about 8.30. We found our cases easily laid out according to the color of luggage tags delivered to the cabin the previous evening. Collecting the car from the car park was straightforward as the car park was right next to the ship. We were given permission to bring the car close to the terminal to avoid a long walk for mum. We got lost coming out of Southampton as we missed the turning, but apart from that the drive home went well taking under 4 hours including a short stop. Good Bits The production shows with live music. The décor, particularly the glass bridge on deck 5 near Customer Relations Nice seating areas, particularly Olive and Twist on deck 14 and the library on deck 7 Beautiful art - look out for being watched as you leave Romeo and Juliet! Evening dining service waiter Bad Bits Waiting for lifts - we walked when mum was not with us Very cramped inside cabin No toiletries provide in cabin, only shampoo and soap Long queues for dining room breakfast Too many people in one place, particularly Royal Promenade Windjammer buffet - cramped tables, cold plastic plates, soggy burgers Having to pay in Johnny Rockets to get decent burgers etc. Charge for good coffee and ice cream 15% service charge on bar Obligation to tip - constant reminders, we don't mind tipping but like to make our own choice. Some were even having their photo taken presenting their tip envelope, weird! Read Less
Sail Date August 2008

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