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14 Canary Islands Fitness Cruise Reviews

We are fairly recent cruisers and wanted a winter sun break and booked this cruise in January on line. The weather was superb and we were told by the crew the best they have had for several years. We flew from East Midlands to Tenerife and ... Read More
We are fairly recent cruisers and wanted a winter sun break and booked this cruise in January on line. The weather was superb and we were told by the crew the best they have had for several years. We flew from East Midlands to Tenerife and arrangements at departure, on arrival, coaching to Santa Cruz and boarding Marella Dream went like clockwork. The ship is old but is modern in appearance with good quality furnishings and the staff very friendly and helpful, nothing was too much trouble from our room steward to the bar and restaurant staff. Corridors and lift space are a little narrow and not as spacious as more modern ships. The variety of lounges and drinking and dining options were first class as was the food and drinks. We like to be on our own for dinner and for six nights we were served by Jennifer and April who looked after us very well. The Marella Dream Show team and their shows in the Broadway Show Lounge were excellent. Some very good singers and dancers however the comedian Alan Wilkins material was older than us and we are in our 70's. The resident band were again very good with such a wide range of music on offer. Our only disappointment was the lack of space for sunbathing when we had such good weather. We were birthed in walking distance of six of the places we visited which is brilliant. There were lots of excursions and trips arranged which people we spoke to enjoyed. Leaving the cruise was also faultless, colour coded luggage and well organised. Our only disappointment was East Midlands Border Control on the return. It took about 30 minutes to process us which is not acceptable. A superb restful and enjoyable cruise. Thank you TUI. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
Holiday Review of Thompson (TUI) Marella Discovery 2 Canary islands for one week from 20th October 2017 taken to celebrate our 32nd wedding anniversary We do not normally write reviews and would not have done so now had our complaint ... Read More
Holiday Review of Thompson (TUI) Marella Discovery 2 Canary islands for one week from 20th October 2017 taken to celebrate our 32nd wedding anniversary We do not normally write reviews and would not have done so now had our complaint been dealt with reasonably by TUI the final straw came yesterday when their Senior customer services advisor directors team ANGELA told us that the complaint was closed and the £60 compensation was all we were going to get, to summarise as the issues were not TUI,s problems. See what you think was £60 compensation ok for the following holiday experience? By the way we cancelled the next cruise today and will NEVER cruise with TUI ships again. We arrived on the boat at approx 2 PM and the room was not ready, when the check out time is 8AM. We got back to the room and found it made up wirth two single beds when we had requested on booking the holiday a double bed, we went to reception and they said it would be dealt with by the cabin crew later. We returned to the room after an evening meal and the bed was still two singles we went again to reception to try to resolve the situation, the beds were finally made in to a double at approx 10 PM, when we had been travelling all day were exhausted and wanted nothing more than to sleep. On the following night we were woken in the early hours of the morning by a loud intermittent banging under our starboard side level two out side cabin, the noise continued and at 2.45 AM we complained over the phone to reception, one of the receptionists came down and spoke to us and agreed that the level of the noise was unacceptable and that she would try to find out what was causing it and what could be done about it. We were given various excuses ranging from work going on to something loose in the hold and finally bad weather, at 3.30AM we had had enough and contacted reception again, this time were met in our room and escorted to an interior cabin, with two single beds which we were happy to have, just to get some sleep given that we were now totally exhausted. The issue was not resolved to our satisfaction given that we were told we could continue to use the interior cabin to sleep! When we had paid for a window to wake in the morning being able to see day light and enjoy the view. At 6PM the following day the noise started again this time we went directly to reception and were met by a member of the reception team who was to say the least condescending. We eventually got moved up a deck to the third level port side which was again an outside cabin with a window. The receptionist said “the noise was due to the weather and do not complain to me if you are again disturbed by splashes in your new cabin” we could not believe her attitude! We were made to feel that we should not complain about not being able to sleep while on holiday. Having cruised on both Princess and Royal Caribbean cruises whose level of service was exceptional we thought that the level of service on the Discovery II would be the same as the TUI Spirit ship which we have also been on, this was defiantly not the case. We had booked two trips one being a bike ride with Kyle who was a lovely chap in-fact the ride was basically him and the two of us, he gave us a good day out, the second trip the Navarda walk was however cancelled and the notification of this was via a note under the door this may have been acceptable if nothing else had been a problem but in the circumstances we expected to be given the bad news personally, again very poor customer service. The cancelling notification said we would receive a refund, however we have not at the time of writing received anything. The food on board was disappointing with little variety for example the salads had grated carrot and iceberg lettuce etc however no olives or radishes or cellery or beetroot, at breakfast no black pudding, all of which was available on the TUI Spirit cruise which we went on in April 2017. I had asked for olives and was told they were only available at the bar with a gin and tonic? On complaining by filling in a customer survey, the food improved and a variety of different salad items appeared including olives and fennel. This improvement seems to have been initiated by other people also complaining which resulted in a lot of management people being personally present in the buffet restaurant over the last two days. The shows we found for the week we were on the ship were good however we spoke to a passenger who had been on the ship for two weeks and were told the shows were the same for the second week. Foolishly before we went on the Discovery II we booked to go again on the same ship to the Baltics in August 2018. We know that there is a name change due for the ship we now know feel that we know why. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
I was looking for a holiday to celebrate my 60th Birthday and I was not disappointed. The Ship is wonderfully maintained by very hardworking crew. The cabin crew kept our cabin 918 clean and well maintained and were on call at any ... Read More
I was looking for a holiday to celebrate my 60th Birthday and I was not disappointed. The Ship is wonderfully maintained by very hardworking crew. The cabin crew kept our cabin 918 clean and well maintained and were on call at any time. It had a bow window and another window lovely and light, settee, coffee table, walk in wardrobe and on suite bath/shower with Elemis shower, shampoo and body lotions. Fresh fruit daily, Bed straightened and linen changed regularly, Evening include the bed turned down and chocolates on the pillows. Tea & Coffee facility in room all supplied with milk and sugar/sweetners. On Deck 9 only drawback was the noise on the first night -party night and early morning when you could hear the tables and chairs/lounges being pulled across the deck. Price to pay for being close to the Pool & Buffet deck. There is 2 seated restaurants, great food and entertainment from the singing waiters, 2 Buffet restaurants on deck 10, full english breakfast, continental,breakfast including ham and cheese, Cereals and fruits, also a Egg station for freshly made omelettes/or egg dishes and another for fresh pancakes and waffles. Full selection for Lunch & Dinner which changed daily included curries, pasta dishes, rice , fries and veg and an extra selection which could be wok cooked dishes or carved meat. You never need to go hungry, something even for my picky husband-plain dishes. Also you have the Bistro extra payment of approx £19.95 very special. you can is the seated restaurants pay extra for T Bone steak(£12.95) lovely. The Entertainment is brilliant with two main shows nightly - fantastic singers and dancers everyone puts in 100%. Africa show needs to be seen and their own group Mussik unlimited are full of life and wonderful voices. You can see them individually playing, guitars, pianos or singing at the many different venues onboard. Deck 9 has the quietest bar which has a piano easily accessible from our cabin. The SANA SPA needs to be visited as it a peaceful oasis with hairdressing and body(massages)- hot stones was fantastic. You can book a jacuzzi for a really indulgent treat. It was a treat after being out and about on the excursions, very relaxing. You can also book a photo shoot from the staff who take the photos as you join the cruise and in restaurants and excursions. Great for those on honeymoons or celebrating something special. The excursions have very informed guides and are fascinating to see the various islands, We enjoyed Madeira Cable car and botanical gardens, Fire mountain and Catamaran trips. Ports had plenty of ways to see the islands from Tuxzi's, taxis and buses- just visit the destination desk near reception. If you are celebrating you can book some special things at the celebrations desk. The Newspaper also has announcements and information on the ports. Timings for all the shows, arrivals in port and departures, times for food and bar opening times Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
I travelled with my 17 year old son on the Majesty at Easter 2015. We take a cruise holiday every year as a family and usually use American liners as they cater for teenagers. We have previously cruised on Thompson Spirit so we knew ... Read More
I travelled with my 17 year old son on the Majesty at Easter 2015. We take a cruise holiday every year as a family and usually use American liners as they cater for teenagers. We have previously cruised on Thompson Spirit so we knew what to expect and that smaller cruise ships cannot compete directly with slides ,climbing walls, large pools etc.so we set realistic expectations. The first night was relaxed listening to music in the bar and the next day I used the gym which was small but well equipped. The food was excellent with a huge choice and different places to eat which including any time dinning which wasn`t too formal. There was a crepe station, afternoon tea, curry night and chocolate fountains, the baked Alaska walk etc. We also dined in the Bistro £20.00 supplement each and worth every penny not only for the food but the experience. We sat with different people by choice every evening and everyone without exception was friendly .The staff were not pushy but genuinely helpful and friendly,they went over and above to make our holiday relaxing and enjoyable. There was a real sense of a united team working together to deliver exceptional customer service. The entertainment was excellent and as good as any I have seen on any cruise liner. The shows ,karaoke and the comedy nights .(The comedian Peter Piper was exceptional). Prior to the holiday the most confusing issue was trying to book a drinks package with staff being very vague about what it contained and how much? The drinks package (DP)was £198.00 Adult.£98.00 Children.(Prices as of 3/4/15) Cruise (DP) is not available from the hours of 02.00am- to 10.00am.As the DP includes cappuccino this mean's waiting or paying extra. House Wines: Rose, White and Red were of good quality.(Sparkling extra). Some cocktail have supplements which included all frozen ones. Martini`s were included Spirits include Smirnoff, Gordon's, Bacardi, Johnnie Walker Red, Bardinet Napoleon Brandy. Beers: Draught, Boddingtons, John Smiths. Cider is extra. Soft drinks and Juices by the glass (Canned extra). I would recommend the Majesty for anyone who has realistic expectations regarding smaller ships and requires a relaxing holiday surrounded by amazingly friendly people. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
My husband and I just returned from our first European trip (from United States). We spent two days in Barcelona before boarding the NCL Spirit. We had a surprising quick check-in process and experiences nothing but superb service and ... Read More
My husband and I just returned from our first European trip (from United States). We spent two days in Barcelona before boarding the NCL Spirit. We had a surprising quick check-in process and experiences nothing but superb service and friendliness of the crew and staff from beginning to end. Our room attendant, Charlie, was fantastic. A wonderful smiling face to see everyday. As other reviews have mentioned, the food was just OK. We had a great food and service at Cagney's, and were happy with that we ordered at Trattoria and as for the complimentary eateries, we found Windows to be the most pleasant. We didn't particularly love the shows as the talent felt like small town community theater, but could tell the performers were really trying to put on a good show. Our first port, Lanzarote, was OK. We just walked around, lacked stores/places to visit outside of excursions. Tenerife was also OK. Unfortunately, this stop was on New Years Day so most of the city was closed. We did take a highlights tour in Casablanca and were extremely disappointed. The whole tour felt like a cattle heard and after we were shuffled through the Mosque, we spent the next 4 hours of the tour wasting time with random stops--- one at a small hotel where we were given a soda, and told we could sit in the lounge for 40 minutes (while 6-8 other tour busses did the same thing). We were dropped at some small store with souvenirs... crammed like sardines with way too many tour busses stopping at the same store. One bathroom for use, no toilet paper. Casablanca was a sad city, very dirty, and the people were not friendly.... very negative experience. We LOVED Málaga. LOVED it. Cannot wait to go back just to visit that city again. Other than the iffy stops, we were overall very happy with our NCL experience. The boat may not have had many bells and whistles and the activities felt a little hit or miss, but the Crew and Staff were phenomenal. There was always SOMETHING to do. Every NCL employee we encountered was upbeat, helpful, and friendly. Will definitely look into future trips with NCL- especially their newer ships.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
We are both midlife women who enjoy the convenience of cruising - unpack and relax. We had a fabulous time aboard the Spirit when we cruised out of New Orleans in 2011. The small ship, great and friendly staff, combined with fun onboard ... Read More
We are both midlife women who enjoy the convenience of cruising - unpack and relax. We had a fabulous time aboard the Spirit when we cruised out of New Orleans in 2011. The small ship, great and friendly staff, combined with fun onboard activities made for an easy choice when we discovered the Canary Island itinerary. We left from Barcelona and were delighted to be greeted with the same warm welcome we remembered. We even bumped into some of the same staff, well ok, bartenders and the dance instructor. We were delighted with the service we received from bartender Dinu, in Maharini's, who provided exceptional service and good humor. We discovered that the evening activities aboard the Spirit were, shall we say more low key than we experienced on the previous cruise. We made the best of our time onboard and took advantage of the fun parties in the Galaxy, especially fun was the Halloween costume party and disco dance nights. We were also lucky enough to be selected in the lottery for dinner with the ships officers. Our host was HR Director, Robert Vrooman, who graciously hosted six of us and kept us entertained with jokes and stories and gave us a glimpse of life aboard the Spirit. He even mentioned a new ship with special accommodation and activities geared towards singles on the newest ship, Breakaway. Despite the news that we could not make port in the Canary Islands due to weather, and Kathryn's constant moaning over WiFi withdrawal, we look forward to cruising like Norwegians again...perhaps on the Breakaway.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
after arriving at barcelona airport we were met by our pre-arranged taxi. suntransfers,i would recommend this firm as reliable prompt and competitively priced.£39.00 from airport to ship. we arrived at the port about two o'clock ... Read More
after arriving at barcelona airport we were met by our pre-arranged taxi. suntransfers,i would recommend this firm as reliable prompt and competitively priced.£39.00 from airport to ship. we arrived at the port about two o'clock and were onboard within ten minutes.before boarding we passed through security check and arrived at a small shopping mall where i purchased two bottles of wine for the stateroom,fully intending to pay the required corkage of $30. i carried the bottles in my arms onto the ship and was not approached by anyone. i looked around to see if there was any desk set up to pay.nothing, so i thought,hey ho,lets go and took the escalator to my cabin. never was one to look a gift horse in the mouth. having been on the epic last year i expected the cabin to be more old fashioned and with less space.i was delighted,especially with the bathroom set up. it was spacious and well set out. the shower was large with a sliding door.the toilet also has a frosted sliding door and a sink between.i intensely disliked the bathroom setup on the epic and found the space in the cabin very tight. before exploring we had lunch in the blue lagoon.not an extensive menu,but well cooked and we were spared the scrum at the buffet. i found the spirit to be a lovely comfortable ship with friendly and helpful staff.they are fortunate in their captain who is witty and approachable. the food was acceptable, if not spectacular. we ate dinner mostly in windows,which is a beautiful dining room.on sea days,we ordered room service breakfast,which is continental,but avoids a busy buffet. the entertainment in the theatre was good most nights. the comedy juggler was fun and the illusionist very good. i particularly enjoyed the final show elements which was quite spectacular. the daily entertainment was the usual trivia quiz,napkin folding and line dancing lessons,i wish that there were more imaginative entertainment during sea days when the weather is not so good and reading a book loses its appeal after a couple of hours. we did not try any of the specialty restaurants as i donated most of my own and quite a portion of my dh's money to the casino.i persevered through the fug of smoke,(no one can accuse me of being a quitter)until i felt that i had contributed enough to help refit the ship.my dh has taken on a second job after we returned.all things considered we had a lovely holiday. i haven;t said anything about the ports. madeira, we strolled around until i purchased a fridge magnet with a corkscrew,for the two illicit bottles of wine.not a lot to see. tenerife,we just did our own thing and didnt get off in lanzarote.my favourite stop was malaga,dont bother with the paid shuttle as it is an easy stroll ,unless you have mobility problems. all in all it was a lovely holiday,i wouldn't do the canaries again as i dont find it very interesting,but i would certainly sail with the spirit again. one last thing,THE DRESS CODE.i have rolled my eyes and tutted at reviews bemoaning the laxity of formal attire at dinner. i'm all for less formal dress if thats what you want ,but i think there should be a line drawn. i found people in track bottoms and tatty sneakers distasteful. i think it's a matter of respect.casual by all means but appropriate. i thought that some people would not have been admitted to a restaurant or club in town dressed as they were on the spirit. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
Returned two hours ago from an 11 day cruise to the Canaries. An outbreak of Noro-virus ensured that several thousand people were kept waiting at Southampton, either shoved into a departure lounge (no water or toilets) or freezing outside ... Read More
Returned two hours ago from an 11 day cruise to the Canaries. An outbreak of Noro-virus ensured that several thousand people were kept waiting at Southampton, either shoved into a departure lounge (no water or toilets) or freezing outside in queues, from 2.00pm until 7.30pm while the ship was supposedly 'sanitized'.No-one knew what was going on or how long it would last. Royal Caribbean did not seem to see the importance of keeping their guests in the information loop! Whilst understanding that this was being done for our benefit, the back spasms that I suffered from extended standing, lasted for 8 days of the 11 day cruise-not helped by an uncomfortable mattress! However, all the pre-cruise cleaning, and CONSTANT spraying of all surfaces every five minutes by a fleet of 'Sanitizers', and CONSTANT exhortation to 'wash-your- hands-in-hot-water-with-soap-for-twenty-seconds' did not stop a further outbreak of the Noro-virus. We were lucky to have pretty good weather, with the temperature rising to a pleasant 22 degrees when were were in Tenerife, and sea conditions that were not too challenging-so our main purpose of getting sea air and some warmer climes were achieved. However, the food in Windjammer's, Jade and the main dining rooms was at best, mediocre, and at worst, inedible. The coffee was dreadful, even when paid for, promised Art Classes fizzled to nothing, salads were served on hot plates, some of the entertainment was not good. And the QUEUES!!!! Every day there were sections closed off in the dining rooms, while people were made to wait outside--it was outrageous, and made everyone bad tempered.And the bed was so hard, despite the addition of a memory foam mattress,that I slept very badly for eleven nights--not what I have experienced in the past. A brand new sweat shirt was ruined by bleach marks caused by the sanitising spray on the ship's rail--(replaced by something similar from the ship's shop)--but what was that doing to our skin?? So what WAS good about this cruise--well the entertainments director, Joff was the best cruise director we've come across, and quite honestly was much funnier than some of the comedians; the Ice Show was very good and professional; some of the musical offerings were good. We were really looking forward to this cruise,and have been sadly let down. The highlight for us is that we met a really nice couple, so thank you for that, Independence of the Seas, if for very little else. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
This was are first cruise so we were very apprehensive. After reading many reviews regarding this ship size and stability (ie. cant feel any motion while sailing) we decided it was for us. After a nightmare two and a half hour queue to ... Read More
This was are first cruise so we were very apprehensive. After reading many reviews regarding this ship size and stability (ie. cant feel any motion while sailing) we decided it was for us. After a nightmare two and a half hour queue to board, although we were told this was due to a new system being put in place we boarded. On board we found the ship and facilities to be fantastic. Also the room was great with a fantastic attendant (room 8630) In fact all the staff were great. And then the ship started to sail omg !!!!! We didn't have bad weather but could feel every single wave ! The bay of biscay we had been warned was the worst bit and that didn't disappoint , obviously everyone is different and motion sickness affects people in different ways but we did think a boat of the size of the independence would have better stabilisers. The food in both the windjammer cafe and the main dining room (macbeth) was excellent along with the waiters. The bars were also good although extremely busy with the older generation occupying all seats. The entertainment was mostly geared for this age group as well, quizzes, bingo and piano music being the most popular. The shows were ok , nothing spectacular and the ice show which we were looking forward to was on the whole boring although the skaters were excellent. The shows on the main royal promenade were good although very crowded and unfortunately the motion of the boat seemed worse on this leval. We obviously knew we were on a winter cruise but had a few good weather days round the canaries, which we thought would be spent round the pool, but again seats were limited and the 30 minute rule for unoccupied sunbeds was not adhered to. Bars excellent though and excellent staff. On the whole we had a good cruise, apart from the motion sickness and unfortunately the amount of elderly people on board with mobility scooters!! Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
Norwegian Jade -- 9 Days Barcelona to the Canary Islands Coming from New York I'm one of those people that constantly dream of or seek the sun during the winter. As I stuck around town during the cold for the past few years ... Read More
Norwegian Jade -- 9 Days Barcelona to the Canary Islands Coming from New York I'm one of those people that constantly dream of or seek the sun during the winter. As I stuck around town during the cold for the past few years I've made a valiant attempt to shirk the chill the past few months by heading to what I hope to be warmer climes. Hence I'm back on the lovely Norwegian Jade, this time debarking out of Barcelona. My first time on this ship was in November of 2011 on the last cruise right before she went into dry dock. Making the choice to go back on here was definitely due to the fact that I enjoyed myself the first time around. So here's my take on what's currently happening, and hopefully it'll help those still debating which ship to go on in the near future. Embarkation: I arrived early, around 1pm and there was absolutely no line at all. I checked in, walked onto the ship and had lunch all in about 15 minutes time. Ship: I'm a fan of the Jewel class ships, but as they're the only ones I've ever taken on NCL I have nothing to compare them to, so I won't say much on this. I enjoy the general size of the ship. It is truly huge (something my cab driver mentioned as she dropped me off in front of it) but inside it feels warm and cozy. Nothing ever feels too far away even if you really did walk 1/3 of a mile and 4 flights to get to it. I like that, I think that a ship should have an inviting quality to it. It should encourage you to join it as much as admire it, which I feel the Jade and her sister ships do. Stateroom: I stayed in 8592 which is one of the vertical facing rooms in line with the ship. It's a partially blocked ocean view, but unlike some other partially blocked there was a good view from it, so it did more then bring in daily sunlight which is my only requirement when it comes to a stateroom. It might be my imagination but it feels roomier than the horizontal facing rooms, but that could just be due to the slightly different layout. Staff and Crew: Fortunately or unfortunately for me I realize that I'm turning into one of those people that are going to seek to sail on certain ships when certain people are there. I used to think people like that were being a tad overly dramatic. After all, isn't a cruise what you make of it? Yes it is, but there are those whose personalities shine for one reason or another, so much so that the thought of knowing they'll be there on your next vacation makes it seem that much more special. On the Jade there are several people that I hope to run into again but I'll mention 2 here. Cruise Director Gary Glading and Concierge Carlos Zarate. Anyone that's met Gary knows that he's quite possibly found a way to alter the laws of physics and be in about 3 places at once. I can't say for sure, but it seems that way. Besides having his finger on the pulse on all the activities on the ship, his personable manner, love of animals (he runs a shelter for them in Italy), knowledge of history and the fact that he speaks more languages then I can probably name, helps you to realize that he's a really warm hearted and multi-talented man while still being an approachable and fun Cruise Director. Carlos draws you in from the moment that you meet him. He's welcoming, fascinating and helpful beyond compare. His reputation is well known. Before I came on this cruise another Cruise Critic member asked me to see if Carlos was on board for the January 31st sailing, and if he'd be there when that member will be sailing. The answers to both questions was yes, and those answers made the other member's day! Totally understandable. My goal is to get back on the Jade for a sailing in the summer and it's my hope that both Gary and Carlos will be there, because it just wouldn't be the same without them! I honestly feel bad for not mentioning more people above, because I truly met and had a chance to speak to so many friendly likable people such as Brian Walters the Hotel Director, Deepa the Maitre D' at Jasmine and Teppanyaki restaurant, Clark the room steward (I was so happy to see him again!) as well as Captain Kim Karlsson who is friendly, patient and funny. Food: Have you hugged your Head Chef today? You should if it's Hans-Peter. The only way I managed to stay ahead of gaining weight off of the delicious style of cooking he brings to the Jade is by dancing the night away for hours at a time and hitting the gym. I've read on the board that some people aren't fond of the food on the Jade. I don't know what they're used to eating, but I'm baffled. Everyone's tastes differ however so perhaps they didn't pick food off of menu that appealed to them. In which case try something else. The food is good. I ate at the following restaurants: Teppanyaki: My favorite fee restaurant on the Jewel class ships. Jerry the chef was a ton of fun, and that's great, but wouldn't matter if the food wasn't good. It was. Cooked just right. I was concerned that it might be overly salty but it wasn't. I had the Shrimp and Scallops. Grilled enough to keep the juices in it, but not undercooked. The mustard dipping sauce was a great choice with it. For desert I chose to have the Green Tea ice cream and cake. I have to admit it's strange looking, but it's delicious! Moderno Churrascaria: I'm not normally a meat eater but I have to say that the food here was very tasty. Just smelling the various items brought to the table made my mouth water. I thought that I'd miss the Mexican place that this restaurant replaced, but in fact Moderno is a lot better. The flavors in the meats were intense without being harsh and the side dishes like the crispy fried banana were delicious as well. If you're a fan of Brazilian steakhouses you'll love eating here. The salad menu is vast as well. Le Bistro (Jazz Lunch): If you've never tried Le Bistro I'd recommend going there for dinner, as there is food found on the menu that you don't find here for the lunch (like Escargot) however if you've been here before and want to enjoy the ambiance of this eatery during the day while listening to the live band the Jazz lunch is the way to go. It's a combo buffet and table service. You go up and choose the salad and dessert you'd like, however you pick your entree off of the menu. Add a Kir Royale and enjoy the french atmosphere. Grand Pacific MDR: My favorite no fee restaurant. I was tempted to call this place Tsars each and every time, due to this restaurant having that name on the Norwegian Jewel. It is however the Grand Pacific and Grand it is. Walking down the red carpet into this dining room makes you feel like you're arrived to the event of the season, you can't help but want to look a bit more dressier than normal. There is a set menu and a menu that changes daily along with the Chef's special. When it comes to food I'm usually a creature of habit, so I ate the Salmon a few times and also had the Grilled Tuna. Absolutely delicious. In fact as I write this I'm thinking about both and am becoming realllllllly hungry. Don't miss out on the Sherberts either. Not everyone can make a great sherbert, some are too icy, some are too sweet. These however have a good consistency and the flavors are piquant. My favorite is Coconut. Garden cafe: the Garden Cafe is usually packed. With good reason. The food is delicious. It's easy to go over board (haha) and pick up everything that smells like it would make your gullet smile, but do yourself a favor and pace yourself. Activities: On Board: I'm not a gambler, I don't play cards and I'm not big on pools (it was chilly) so what was there left for me to do you wonder? Everything else! I do enjoy dancing and nearly every night there was a themed dance taking place. The Hoedown following by 70's Night were two of my favorites, but by far one of the best is the White Hot Party. I also attended dance classes, listened to Gary's informative talks on the Ports of Call, went to the spa (more on that below), caught up on reading, watched movies, did arts and crafts and more. There was plenty that I didn't do, so keep your Freestyle daily with you and I dare you to be able to attend and do all of the things that you're interested in. Ports: Madeira: While waiting to disembark I met two nice women (sisters) from Ireland and we walked from the pier to the cable cars (about 1 mile) took them up sat down had an espresso, and then took the second set of cable cars down to the Botanical Gardens. Now while I do not have a fear of heights, dangling from a small box hanging on a wire 300 feet in the air isn't my idea a recreational pursuit, however considering that it was the easiest way of getting to the gardens and back I spent about a hour dangling in the air. I quickly got over my unease and began to take in the beauty of everything below. The gardens are lovely, but I don't think I'd go to see them again. There's so much more to explore in Madeira and I plan on seeing more of the Island next time. If you like wicker go into the large indoor market in the city. Not only are the colors and sounds a feast for the eyes and ears but there is a small shop there that sells some of the prettiest wicker items. I'm a bag collector and so I had to pick one up. A small wicker bag around 8x12 inches was €12.50 Tenerife: For Tenerife I booked a ship's excursion that went to the Esperanza Forest over to the Pyramids of Guimar. After dancing in Spinnaker for about 3 or 4 hours the previous night I honestly was in no shape to be doing anything before Noon the next day. However I woke up in time for this tour and am glad I did. While I didn't find the "pyramids" especially interesting, (I'm a history buff, but I guess I was too tired to be inspired), I did really enjoy the drive through the forest. That area of the islands is a bit reminiscent of the Pacific Northwest in the U.S. It's a stunning panorama of green pine trees and red earth created by the fallen pine needles. It's definitely a spot I plan on getting back to in order to go hiking. Side note: It's cool in the mountains, bring a sweater. You'll have a chance to sip on some Sangria after the tour. If you have to use the restroom when you first stop at the Guimar visitors center go into the center first and turn left. If you don't go inside first walk past the center and walk into the dining area go to the back and make a right. Lanzarote: Oddly enough this was my favorite spot. Odd because quite frankly at first glance there's nothing in Lanzarote. It has a very barren open feeling. This landscape though is what makes it so appealing. I booked the ship's excursion and did the trek through Timanfaya National Forest. Well worth it! It's nearly a 4 mile hike, but with the undulation and gravel that has you slide back 1 foot for every two that you take up hill it feels more like 6 miles. When you get to the top of a hill you feel like you've landed on a distant planet, it's often said that it has a lunar landscape, but I lean more towards the words of our trek guide: "If you put a red filter on your camera you'll feel like you're in Mars!" The closest place that I'd liken it to is the Australian outback. Iron oxidation on some of the ground and lava formations give them a red glow that's similar to what's found in parts of Oz as well. Lanzarote is also warmer then the other places as it is only around 65 miles off of the coast of mainland Africa. I've every intention of going back there and spending a week or so doing hikes around the island. If you plan on going to Timanfaya take the tour excursion, don't wing it on your own. Side note: The bathroom break comes at the end. Of course if you really have to go you there's usually a big piece of lava to hide behind. Just don't expect to find any trees, and for the love of all that is good and holy don't do it in a cave, other people will be hiking there after you! Malaga: I took the ship's excursion to see Grenada and Alhambra Palace. If you love architecture, do not miss this place. Due to the distance from Malaga and the ship harbor (about 2 hours) I'd recommend taking the ship excursion here as well. The last thing you want to happen to is "miss the boat" and have to fly back to Barcelona instead of leisurely sail back for the next day and a half. I'm not sure how to describe Alhambra, but as a lover North African and Middle Eastern design it was simply divine. The labyrinthine gardens and rooms, the intricacies of the painstaking form of the walls and especially ceiling left me in awe. It's well worth seeing more then once. Just as fantastic is driving through the Andalusian region and the views of the Sierra Nevada. It's a place that I hope to go back to and spend some time driving through at a more leisurely pace in order to fully soak in the beauty of this country. Side note: We had a tour guide that was also an archaeologist who was very obviously passionate about the Andalusian region, and rightly so. However...if you're a bit tired from dancing the hours away from the night before (have you noticed the recurring theme?) you might find it better to sit towards the back, discreetly put in some ear phones and cat nap. If you wait for a break in the discourse it could be a long time coming. You'll have potty breaks along the way, we had 1 inbound and 2 outbound. Shows: I spent so much time running around...okay eating and dancing mainly. That I missed most of them. I did see La Maestranza a Spanish dance show, the X Factor style one where the singers face off and the audience helps pick the winner and the Crew Show. I really and truly wanted to see Elements again, but I fell asleep early that evening. Truly though if there's one show you don't want to miss it's Elements. Everyone that saw it this time as well as last was raved about it. Get there early if you actually want a seat because it's reputation precedes it and the theater will be packed. Interestingly the crew show was packed early as well on this sailing. It started at 8:30, I arrived at 8:15, there were only a few seats here and there to be found. So if you're interested in seeing it (and I would) plan to arrive in enough time to get a seat somewhere up front in the middle, so that you can soak in every bit of the end of the skit called Fountains :) Spa: The last day of this cruise I decided to buy a day pass for the spa. I could kick myself. I can't believe that I've been missing out on the fun by not going to any either on sea or land before now. I arrived as soon as it opened so it was thankfully very quiet. I guess everyone was pooped from the past week's escapades. Like a kid in a candy shop I hopped from one thing to another trying out this and that. Sauna...."ooohh yes I like." Steamroom..."ohhhh I like this even better". Cold dipping bath. "Brrr Skip. I don't do cold." Showers, check. Whirlpool Jacuzzi..."lovely! And what a stunning view!" I look to the left and what do I see but a communal area for men and women with headed tile chairs and pool with a large seat in it where you can better appreciate the Jacuzzi bubbles, and again the view from the Spa is a sight to behold. Next time I'll schedule in a couple of massages and body wraps. Go, relax, enjoy. Gym: Go while everyone else is eating. This way you'll have your pick of gym equipment. I'm fond of being there during the general dinner time for most people (5:00-6:30). You can watch the sun set, get fit, and have a chance to think about what you'll be eating for supper. Debarkation: I had priority debarkation and left at 9:00am. It took me about 10 minutes to leave the ship, pick up my luggage and catch a cab. The carousels are color coded and numbered so it's easy to find your luggage no matter which tag you choose if you don't decide to east walk-off. Additional information: Hotel stay before and after the cruise. Hotel Nuevo Triunfo in Barcelona about 15 minutes from the port. Address: / Cabanes, 34 08004 Barcelona, Spain --- A taxi from this hotel will cost you about 15 Euro which includes the fees that they pay to enter/exit the port. A clean hotel in a safe area at a great price (I booked via Booking.com. If you want luxury stay at the W, you'll pay 10 times more for it, but you'll have a wonderful view. If you want to stay someplace close to the airport and seaport that is safe, clean and cheap, this is the hotel for you. My only issue with it would be noise. It's nothing that a good pair of ear plugs or pure travel exhaustion won't take care of though. There's a small grocery store (Supermerkat) across the street where you can pick up a few bottles of water to take with you on the ship. Side note. The word for Honey in Spanish is "Miel". Just thought I'd throw that out there is case you, like me were looking for some to put in your plain yogurt and resorted to buzzing around the store while saying "sucre" trying to describe what you were looking for. Barcalona: Hop on "Bus touristic" or the City Sightseeing Red Hoho and whatever you do get off at Sagrada Familia. It's quite possibly one of the most beautiful places of worship I've ever seen. Gaudi stamp is all over it needless to say and the fact that 80 years later it still isn't finished makes you feel like a part of history as you step into it. Take the steps down instead of the elevator. Not only do you eliminate the wait, but there are a lot of interesting little spots to stop and take pictures along the way. Yes folks this is a review not a critique. If and when I have an issue I handle it right away. I don't witch and moan about it later on. Thankfully this was a very smooth trip. I had no problems or concerns, but if I had I've no doubt that they would have been handled effectively and quickly by one of the friendly staff or crew of the Norwegian Jade. Live Long and Prosper! Xenagurl Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
Various friends keen on cruising had suggested that we try it and so, after years of travelling abroad by plane and car, we chose Fred Olsen's Christmas and New Year trip on the Balmoral to Madeira and the Canaries to dip our toes in ... Read More
Various friends keen on cruising had suggested that we try it and so, after years of travelling abroad by plane and car, we chose Fred Olsen's Christmas and New Year trip on the Balmoral to Madeira and the Canaries to dip our toes in the water, as it were. In short, I have to say we both found it simply excellent. We stayed at the De Vere New Place hotel, 10 miles outside Southampton, the night before our embarkation and found their cruise package very good. It included dinner, bed and breakfast, 16 nights car parking and taxi transfers to and from the terminal before and after the cruise and we would certainly stay there again. At the terminal the check-in and embarkation process was trouble-free and we were delighted with our Superior Suite on deck 9. Our cabin stewardess, Ellen, was a delight, as were our two evening waiters. The food and entertainment was suitably varied and of high quality throughout our time onboard and what struck us most was just how friendly all staff were, from the Master down. It really was a happy ship. Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day were simply superb thanks to the staff's efforts. We, in our mid 50s, were probably some of the youngest passengers aboard, but the age mix was not a problem for us as we made some good friends along the way. We tended to do our own thing whan ashore, but found the mix of land and sae days fine. Disembarkation was just as impressive, particularly compared to passing through airports. We enjoyed this trip so much that, whilst we will still look forward to other forms of overseas holidays, we will definitely look to cruise again and more than likely with Fred Olsen. In short, Fred and his team on the Balmoral made this the best Christmas and New Year we have ever had, and we are already eyeing up a trip for the same time this year. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
This was our first experience with an American ship.We expected it to be large, but it didn't seem to be when we went to embark. We were forward, and the dining room was aft, so there was always quite a walk there and back,either ... Read More
This was our first experience with an American ship.We expected it to be large, but it didn't seem to be when we went to embark. We were forward, and the dining room was aft, so there was always quite a walk there and back,either along the corridor then up 2 decks, or going up then walking through the pool areas. We had no problems finding a table, and there was a varied choice in the Windjammer for breakfast and lunch.The downside was that there were no trays to carry the food to a table. We chose first sitting and were placed in Romeo and Juliet, on deck 3. On the whole we both said that P&O dinners were better.Independence served a set amount on the plate; if you wanted extra vegetables you have to ask for them.The dining room crew were really great, doing everything possible, and very friendly.There wasn't always much variety in the dishes offered.The evening shows weren't bad, though one "comedy" act was shades of Norman Wisdom/Tommy Cooper,but not really funny. Prices in the bars were very expensive, having 15% added as tips.Quite a lot of people talked about the way the options for tipping were continually advertised.Much was said about pre- paid tips, which took a set amount from each passenger.Vouchers were given to cabin steward and dining room waiters and head waiter at the last night. It was suggested that the amount those crew received was not the whole amount that had been quoted. Some staff said it was important that they were described as "excellent" in the questionnaires, otherwise they might not be taken on again for a future voyage.The whole subject of tipping was controversial. If it is expected, and deducted from the passengers' accounts, then it is not a discretionary amount given as a mark of appreciation for exemplary service; rather it could be construed as a subsidy to the crew's wages. There is a jogging/walking track on deck 12, though the distance of 3 laps making 1 kilometre and 5 laps making a mile doesn't equate.5 miles equals 8kms.Sometimes in the early mornings it was very windy, but the fitness centre has plenty of treadmills to use without a fee, so it was still possible to get some exercise. P&O give more information in their daily programme of events. We didn't find any list of channels for the cabin TV.You had to scroll down to find out what there was. The lifeboat drill wasn't really much use. Some P&O ships had the drill outside with lifebelts and you were shown how to put them on. On the Independence, you went to the designated station, but didn't have to take the lifebelt with you.If you want to look round the galley, you have to pay. There were some events in the Royal Promenade running the length of deck 5,and they were colourful.New Year's Eve was fun.However, with such a large crowd an emergency could have been chaotic.All entrances to public rooms have hand sanitisers. In the lifts the voice is English, but in the toilets, the reminder to wash your hands is American.Under 21s aren't allowed alcohol, and there is a 1.0am curfew for young people. We hope to use P&O again,but aren't too sure about Royal Caribbean, but that is just our opinion. We had done this destination some years ago, so we just explored the ports of Vigo, Lisbon and La Corunna. Lisbon on New year's Day and being a Sunday, nearly everywhere was closed.surprisingly the previous evening's revellry left the streets in a mess, rather like it often is at home.If using a shuttle at the ports expect to pay 10 dollars round trip.La Coruna Spain This was the final port. It was built on an isthmus, and is sheltered. We had a walk round some of the streets. One or two shops were open on a Sunday, but most were cafes and restaurants. There was quite a large marina, and there was a very large square with some imposing buildings. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Previously we have been reluctant to book a cruise because we were told it was only frequented by elderly passengers who sit around habitually talking about their vast portfolio of cruising experiences. However, we wanted a change from our ... Read More
Previously we have been reluctant to book a cruise because we were told it was only frequented by elderly passengers who sit around habitually talking about their vast portfolio of cruising experiences. However, we wanted a change from our usual package holiday experience and decided to take the plunge. Compared to our recent holiday on a Greek Island we received absolute 5 star service from the moment we stepped aboard to the moment we left and when you consider the all inclusive extras the price comparison is very competitive. It is true to say that the majority of passengers are 65 plus; some of whom we met at our shared breakfast table. The conversation we found was very interesting and friendly. It was not at all staid and monotonous.In fact we found the whole dining experience first rate from the variety and quality of the menus to the service we received from our waiters Eddie and Gerco. We did hear some complaints from a minority of fellow passengers but in our opinion these were unfounded and unjust. We tended to skip lunch in favour of afternoon tea; in the Queens Room there were different pianists, a harpist and a string quartet which were all very entertaining during afternoon tea. There were plenty of on-board activities to keep us occupied during the sea days, so many in fact we were unable to attend any lectures , pub quizzes or planetarium shows. We did not make full use of the thermal spa and in retrospect we could have negotiated a better deal. The shows in the Royal Court Theatre were good especially the dancers and Allan Stewart a singer,comedian and impressionist. One afternoon we enjoyed a Classical Performance by James Sherlock. Being jazz fans we spent a lot of time in the Chart Room listening to the excellent Simon Galfe Trio. Sometimes, it was very crowded so it was difficult to get a seat at the beginning of the evening. The chart room bar staff looked after us very well especially Maya and Yuliya. The only disappointment was when a guitarist joined the trio and in our opinion drowned out the other instruments and effectively cleared the room by mid-night. We had an inside stateroom which was large enough for the two of us. The bed was really comfortable. The free shuttle buses to and from the ports were really convenient. Because you are only visiting for a few hours, at best you can only scratch the surface of each port of call. However, we considered Lanzarote to be our favourite port of call. There are less high-rise and commercial developments. The capital Arrecife is smaller and less congested than the other ports. There is a tree less lunar volcanic landscape which, whilst not to every body's taste, is very atmospheric and dramatic. We enjoyed every minute of our Iberian Adventure Cruise and can't wait for the next cruiuse. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
we sailed on the Independence on the 14th March and glad to say we had a fantastic time from start to end.The sheer size of the ship makes you think how something this big can stay afloat, there is so much to do on this cruise ship. It was ... Read More
we sailed on the Independence on the 14th March and glad to say we had a fantastic time from start to end.The sheer size of the ship makes you think how something this big can stay afloat, there is so much to do on this cruise ship. It was our first time cruising and we were a bit apprehensive being only 25 & 26 years of age of what the age groups were going to be like, we were surprised that there was a good variety of all ages on board and not just your silver surfers!The Food was my favourite as i do like to indulge when on holiday and boy could you indulge! there was so much choice in the windjammer from Asian, Indian, sushi, salads, carvery, desserts i must stop now i am getting hungry! we sat in the main dinning room King Lear on 3 of our 11 nights which was also delicious.The ship is spotlessly clean and the staff are forever cleaning and sanitizing everything! Being a personal trainer i spent a lot of time in the gym, it's a top of the range state of the art gym with state of the art cardio equipment as well as free weight dumbells going up to 80lb, they also have excellent fixed weight machines and have classes running from 7am throughout the day my only criticism is that there was little air conditioning and did get a little stuffy especially when doing cardio.I could go on for ever raving about how good the ship is but don't take my word for it, book a holiday on hear you will not be disappointed a special thanks must go out to Joff the cruise Director who was superb at his job and made us laugh so much also The Welsh Wizard Neil who was great fun and always happy. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011

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