57 Galveston Holiday Cruise Reviews

The Liberty OTS was the perfect ship because of proximity since we live inTexas. Boarding on New Years added to the excitement and anticipation. We had our Granddaughter with us and purchased a table in the RBar for convenience and a great ... Read More
The Liberty OTS was the perfect ship because of proximity since we live inTexas. Boarding on New Years added to the excitement and anticipation. We had our Granddaughter with us and purchased a table in the RBar for convenience and a great experience. The New Year party did not disappoint! Balloons, drinks, music and people all made this a special night. Even though the weather could have been better, starting the new year in the Caribbean with 73’ vs Dallas with 17’ was just what the Dr ordered. This was our 4 cruise on Liberty and again, we were not disappointed. The ships staff couldn’t have been more friendly, passionate and accommodating. Because of the ships consistency to go beyond our expectations, we have another 3 cruises booked on the Liberty....if you’re considering a ship for your first cruise, we would highly recommend Liberty of the Seas and if you can afford it, stay in a Grand Suite. Not only do you get a larger room you get the use of the Suite Lounge, priority boarding and disembarkation, seating for the shows, a Concierge and just a better overall experience. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
The ships seemed to be a little short handed in crew or very over booked. There was a lot of mess ups on the schedule of when things were going on. Like elegant night was a big mess up, I heard lots of compliants on it. The shows were ... Read More
The ships seemed to be a little short handed in crew or very over booked. There was a lot of mess ups on the schedule of when things were going on. Like elegant night was a big mess up, I heard lots of compliants on it. The shows were messed up on schedule. A lot of peoples clothes were wet. My husband spend 12 bucks to dry his laundry the first night. A lot of complaint people didn't get luggage till 9 that night. There was not as good chooses on the food menu as usual. One night of cheesecake and one night of cream boulea. Our room was hot all the time so not much sleep. Not a lot to do but shop and play bean bag toss and go to the spa events on ship days. The best part by far was the New Years Eve Party. It was great. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
We've been on many Carnival cruises. This was the first on the Carnival Magic. We began our trip at the Hilton Galveston, which offered free parking for the duration of the cruise. The Hilton provides a shuttle to the port, but it ... Read More
We've been on many Carnival cruises. This was the first on the Carnival Magic. We began our trip at the Hilton Galveston, which offered free parking for the duration of the cruise. The Hilton provides a shuttle to the port, but it fills up early, and it is difficult to get a cab when there are ships in port. Get on the list early or make reservations to park at EZ Cruise. We arrived at the port a bit early and were on the ship sipping a pina colada around noon. The Carnival Magic is large, and has the general Carnival feel. It was decorated for Christmas and Hanukkah, which added an extra festive atmosphere. We very much enjoyed the Serenity Deck, the workout room, and the daily tea time- try the dreamy biscuits with clotted cream. We attended the ceremonial lighting of the menorah each evening before dinner, but there was a cultural miscommunication- the kitchen provided breakfast pancakes rather than traditional potato latkes which we all found more amusing than annoying. Service in the dining room was superb. The wait staff took care to accommodate every request. As always, the photographers on board are talented and provide some of the best portraiture around. The most notable thing about this cruise was the smoke. I'm not sure if it is the ship design or Carnival's smoking in the casino rule, but it was difficult to find a place on the Promenade Deck from the casino back to the dining room that did not have a smokey essence. The casino itself was unbearably smokey. On previous cruises, we spend time and money each day in the casino. On this cruise, once was enough. A little non-smoking emblem on a slot machine is no match for the row of chain smokers a few feet away. My eyes burned and my clothing reeked after 20 minutes at a slot machine. We spent the money normally spend in the casino in the ports- Carnival's loss. 18% of adults smoke. It seems rather unwise to drive the other 82% percent away from an income stream. I'm not allergic to smoke or an anti-smoking cruise-aider (pun intended) but until there is decent ventilation, the smoking in the casino rule will keep us from spending time and money there. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We were on the Navigator 12/07-12/14, 2014. Since being home I have read CC for the week we were on the ship. Sometimes I wonder if we are even on the same ship with some of the others. I have read complaints about no hot water, ours was ... Read More
We were on the Navigator 12/07-12/14, 2014. Since being home I have read CC for the week we were on the ship. Sometimes I wonder if we are even on the same ship with some of the others. I have read complaints about no hot water, ours was very good. Some said flooring on balconies was bad ours and all the friends travelling with us were good. We thought the entertainment was good. Food is usually the only issue because it is not the type of food that we normally eat at home, however I like trying new dishes and if we don't like something they are always so happy to bring us something else from the menu. Even something not from the menu. One night my husband didn't like any of the deserts and jokingly he said he would like a banana split. In about 5 minutes there it was before him. The whole table was surprised. The last comment I have is about embarkation and debarkation. We had no problems with either. On the 7th we walked straight through the terminal, security and waited about 3 minutes to get to the counter to check-in. After check-in we walked straight to getting picture taken for sea pass purposes then onto the ship. On the 14th we got off at our appointed time of 9:00 and had no lines in the terminal until we got to customs and we were 3 couples back. The lines were short and moving very quickly. There were others writing that is was horrible and long lines, therefore I sometimes wonder if we were even on the same ship. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We were very excited to join the royal loyal following of RCI only to be met with disappointment after disappointment on this, our first (and possibly last) cruise with RCI. This was not only the Christmas cruise but it was our honeymoon ... Read More
We were very excited to join the royal loyal following of RCI only to be met with disappointment after disappointment on this, our first (and possibly last) cruise with RCI. This was not only the Christmas cruise but it was our honeymoon as well. A few highlights: 1) Our a/c was not working properly and our room never fully cooled. They tried to fix it - once - but it did little to alleviate the problem. Actually, the whole ship was overheated - we were sweating at dinner, walking in the halls and for SURE in the un-airconditioned elevators. 2) Service was sub-par. Our server was exceptionally awful and rude and eventually just 'left the ship' when we docked in Jamaica (his home country). Room service attendant sighed at me and argued with me (claiming they had NO salads with chicken on them, which was untrue and she later realized), etc. 3) Food was disgusting. Greasy, bland, cold....even the 'grilled' chicken left a grease film on our plates. They also close all dining options at 9 unless they're paid restaurants, and the room service menu is very limited. 4) Limited hours - of everything. Instead of a carefree vacation we felt strapped to timetables the whole time. 5) The TV booking system didn't work correctly which caused us to miss our excursion. 6) Little decoration for Christmas on this, the Christmas Cruise. The best part? Disembarking was quick with the self-serve option. All you have to do is schlepp your own stuff and have a US Passport and you're homefree! Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
In general is was a very nice cruise. The ships staff were wonderful. They were engaging and very friendly. The ship is very clean and looks great after the refurbishment earlier in 2014. For the most part the passengers were friendly and ... Read More
In general is was a very nice cruise. The ships staff were wonderful. They were engaging and very friendly. The ship is very clean and looks great after the refurbishment earlier in 2014. For the most part the passengers were friendly and enjoying the holiday season. In the main dining room the service was very good. With a waiter and assistant waiter we were well attended to. There was never a delay in courses or the water glass being topped off. The food in the main dining room was ok. The soups were nice and varied. The deserts were good and not too large. The main meals did seem bland to us. Also in our opinion they could not properly cook a baked potato. The specialty restaurants that we tried were very good. We did Chops for dinner one night and Giovani's table for lunch. Both were very good and in our opinion worth the cover charge. We had a balcony cabin and our cabin steward was fantastic. The itinerary was Cozumel, Grand Cayman and Jamaica. All of our excursions, which were booked through RCL, were great. In Cozumel we took the Tulum tour and marveled at the Mayan ruins. In Grand Cayman we took the submarine tour and dove to 100 feet. In Jamaica we did the zip line and bobsled run, this was the most fun of the three. We did have technical issues in the cabin with some of the ships infrastructure but they were eventually resolved by the end of the cruise. All in al it was a very nice cruise that had relaxation and exhilaration. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Navigator of the Seas, December 21 – 28, 2014 Route: Seven day cruise: Galveston-Cozumel-George Town-Falmouth-Galveston. 1. General Comments: A pleasant Christmas cruise. We are regular cruisers and were last on this ship in August. ... Read More
Navigator of the Seas, December 21 – 28, 2014 Route: Seven day cruise: Galveston-Cozumel-George Town-Falmouth-Galveston. 1. General Comments: A pleasant Christmas cruise. We are regular cruisers and were last on this ship in August. Purpose of this cruise was to just RELAX. We booked a junior suite on the ninth deck. Details below. We also used “My Time Dining,” and it worked despite a hiccup (below). The entire top level of the three level dining room was for this type of dining. We had the same wait staff for the entire week. Ordering “gifts” on the RCL website for the cruise were hit-and-miss. First, orders cannot be made totally on-line. You look at the website and either phone an 800 number, or print off an order form and fax it to RCL. Our order for a bottle of champagne to be served in the dining room on a specific day worked perfectly. Our order for a two-foot tall Christmas tree from the flower section of the website went no-where. In my first phone call, the clerk could not bring up the item on her computer screen. She finally gave up and told me to try later. In my second call a few days later, a different clerk was able to bring up the tree on his screen, but then he put me on hold. On his return, he told me the tree was “sold out.” Our cruise agent was equally unsuccessful to make an order. Our assumption is that the little tree was not available in Galveston, and RCL just did not want to admit that it could not supply it. 2. Embarking: We left our Galveston hotel at 10:30. Despite detour traffic throughout downtown due to a walk/race in progress, dropping my wife and bags at the terminal, parking the car, taking a shuttle, getting through security, and checking in, we were on board around 12:15 and in our cabin by 1pm. Suitcases appeared at our door before 2pm. 3. The Navigator of the Seas: The junior suite is the way to go. Plenty of space, and plenty of storage space, including a walk-in closet. Suitcases fit well under the bed. A tub shower in the bathroom. The cabin has a small safe and a small refrigerator (never used it). There is a TV that receives movies, CNN (International only), ESPN, shipboard activities, and other channels. You get a daily planner in your cabin the night prior. You need to read it carefully as there are very few announcements on the PA system. While you get a daily planner, there is no newspaper. You have to get your news from the TV. It takes a while to get a handle on what is where on the ship. Maps and interactive “help” panels are at each elevator lobby. There is a large children/teens area and programs for them. 4. Meals: Food in the Windjammer buffet - which almost everyone uses for breakfast and lunch - is good. There are plenty of choices at both meals, and you can eat as much or as little as you want. It is a bit hurried, though, and not a place for a slow meal. The dining room’s food was good but not imaginative. The Christmas turkey dinner was fine, but certainly nothing special. We only used the dining room for dinner, although it is available with open seating at breakfast and lunch. Food portions are of respectable size, and if you don’t try to eat all the courses everyday, you should not do bad weight-wise. Wine steward duties were handled by our assistant waiter. This meant having to tell him what we wanted by the item number on the wine menu. Arranging My Time Dining on-line was a pain. For the longest time, the dining page on the RCL website did not work. The website posted an apology; even our cruise agent was only told that there were “computer problems.” Only on December 10 was our agent able to get My Time Dining time for us – 6:30 – as our requested time of 7PM was not available (!). We were advised to try to change the time after boarding. We did, and the staff person handling the times very quickly and efficiently adjusted our reservations to the closer time of 7:15. That this could not be handled on-line remains a puzzle. We had made reservations on-line for the Izumi specialty restaurant. A very pleasant meal with good tempura and sushi. There are other food outlets around the ship as well as a goodly number of bars including a pub, and a wine shop. You cannot go hungry or thirsty. 5. Dressing for meals: For this seven day trip it was two formal, and all the rest casual. Formal attire for men appears to be defined by age: seniors are in tuxes or suits; next generation is in jackets and maybe a tie; youngest generation is in pants, shirt, and tennies. Maybe it’s time for RCL to drop the “formal” category. 6. Fellow Passengers: As this was a Christmas cruise, the ship was full (over 3,500 passengers). There were many large multi-generation family groups, both from the US and Latin America. There were a few announcements reminding parents they were responsible for their children’s behavior, indicating there were some issues. 7. Shore Excursions: A word of advice: make your shore excursion reservations on-line! Otherwise you will either have to use the not-so-user-friendly on board TV system to make your reservations or stand in line at the excursion counter. The on-line billing goes direct on your credit card and not on your shipboard account. If you know the ports of call and want to travel by yourself, then, of course, you don’t need the ship’s tour office. RCL’s tour prices are not cheap; you are paying for the convenience of having the ship organize the tour rather than you doing it after you get ashore. Also, if you obtain your tour through RCL, you have support when there is a problem, eg, the ship will wait for you if the tour is delayed. As the captain announced, “Be on time. If you are not, you will be able to take that rare photo of the departing ship.” As we have been to these ports before, we only poked around the pier areas and otherwise enjoyed the quiet ship. We were six ships in Cozumel, and we were another six ships anchored at George Town. George Town was especially crowded with cruise passengers. We were the only ship in Falmouth. 8. Shipboard entertainment: The ship has a daily schedule full of activities for all tastes including the surf rider, the rock climbing wall and the ice skating rink. We did not see any of the shows. The casino was of good size and the payoffs did not seem to be much worse than Las Vegas. There will be plenty of opportunities for you to have your picture taken by the ship’s photographers--pricey, but a good souvenir. There are various venues for night owls. Sing-alongs with Phil Anderson in the Schooner Bar are always popular with C&W fans. The former separate library and card room are now merged into one, resulting in many card and domino games being played and very few books on the shelves. Want to read on this ship? Bring your own material. 9. Tipping: Not a problem if you sign up for the recommended amounts (for cabin steward, waiter, asst waiter, and head waiter). The amounts are charged to your shipboard account, and the tips are taken care of electronically with the staff. If you use My Time Dining, you will be billed the full tip amount when you book your cruise. You only need to tip separately (cash) the person who brings you room service. Your bar bill automatically adds 15 percent. 10. Settling of Accounts: During your cruise, anything you purchase on board is punched into a computer; you sign one copy of the ticket and you receive a copy. You can track your account on the ship’s TV channel. On Sunday morning you receive a paper final statement of your account. 11. Disembarking: On Saturday you will receive luggage tags with numbers. You also receive a sheet of paper telling when that number will be called for disembarking and where you have to be waiting in order to hear the announcement when your number can leave the ship. Your bags have to be out by 11PM, breakfast is early, and you have to be out of your cabin by around 8:30 and in your designated waiting area. Again, you will only hear the announcements in the waiting areas. This cruise turned out to have the fastest disembarkation we have ever gone through in Galveston. We left our departure waiting lounge at 8:40 (20 minutes early) and were out of the customs and immigration hall with our bags at 9:20. We drove out of the parking lot at 9:35. Texas Taxes: After going through immigration and customs, we did stop at the Texas TABC table to declare our one bottle of booze. We paid $3.75 ($3 administrative fee and 75 cents tax), received a tax sticker for the bottle and were on our way. 12. If anyone has questions, send me an e-mail at LTC519@satx.rr.com. Fred Groth San Antonio, TX   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
This year for Christmas my kids decided instead of gifts they would rather go on a cruise. So I booked one on the Triumph. We all had a great time, I am a single mom and it was a total blast, my son's ages are 11, 12, and 13 and there ... Read More
This year for Christmas my kids decided instead of gifts they would rather go on a cruise. So I booked one on the Triumph. We all had a great time, I am a single mom and it was a total blast, my son's ages are 11, 12, and 13 and there was plenty to keep them busy. The day we left it was cool but it was still a great time. They have the 3 pools, 5 hot tubs, and the water slide. One thing about the pools, they change the water daily with water from the ocean/sea, so they were pretty cold. There is a basketball court, mini golf, ping pong, plus the kids clubs where they can play games. They do have an arcade and that is a bit to be desired and they do have to use their Sail and Sea card to play in the arcade, plus the games are $1.10 and up. The food was fantastic, my middle son tried many new foods on this trip like alligator. The sea day brunch is a must do, they have things like funniest french toast where they dip the french toast in different cereal like frosted flakes, or fruit loops, and they also have mac and cheese mixed with bacon. The MDR was always good too, plus the dining staff gets to know you, our drinks were always on the table waiting for us when we got there. The lido buffet is a good option too if you don't want to go to MDR and I can't forget Guy's Burger Joint, they have amazing burgers. There was Blue Iguana's Cafe, the burritos were excellent there as well. There is also 24 hour pizza and soft serve ice cream and FROYO. We had a balcony room and it while it was small it was sufficient, the room was cleaned once in the morning and then again in the evening. They will also bring you clean beach towels, which they do provide. If you choose to take them off the ship with you though make sure you bring them back because they are $22 a towel. For our excursions the first one we did an excursion that was not through Carnival, but it was an all-inclusive beach/resort excursion in Progreso and it was a great day. The water was super cold, but still a nice day. Although we had to take a shuttle away from the terminal off the pier meet up with our tour guide, and when our excursion was over the bus took us back to that point and we had to take the shuttle back to the pier again. Just a small annoyance, nothing major though. Progreso seemed like a very poor town to me, but next time if we go to Progreso I think we will do the Mayan ruins. The next day we did an excursion through the cruise line we did the family friendly all- inclusive Pasion Isla, it was amazing. It was another beach, food, and drink package. They had water trampolines for the kids to play on, they had hammocks in the water, they had hammocks that weren't in the water, they had volleyball, soccer in the sand, kayaks, water bikes (had to rent theses). It was an gorgeous day. We took a boat out to it, on the way back people were singing and dancing in the aisle. There was another option where you can take a twister roller coaster boat out to it too. Oh there is a ton of shopping right off the port in Puerta Maya. Our trip was amazing, it was our first cruise we had a blast. Oh and we did not have passports we used our birth certificates and it only took maybe 15 minutes to clear customs. Though we did self-assist to disembark (it means we took our own luggage off). Only down side that I can really think of are the pictures they take, the pictures are awesome but trying to find your pictures is a nightmare. I really wish they had a different way to find your pictures. We also purchased Faster to the Fun, well worth my money. Our room was ready when we boarded at 11:30, our luggage arrived about 12:30. If we had choose relaxed disembarkation we would have been Zone 2. It was awesome. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
INTRO: Navigator of the Seas (NOTS) Thanksgiving Cruise to Falmouth, Grand Cayman (NOT!) and Cozumel. I want to share our reflections of our (DW and I 45, DS 16 and DD 14) first RCCL cruise in 8 years. We drifted away from RCCL due ... Read More
INTRO: Navigator of the Seas (NOTS) Thanksgiving Cruise to Falmouth, Grand Cayman (NOT!) and Cozumel. I want to share our reflections of our (DW and I 45, DS 16 and DD 14) first RCCL cruise in 8 years. We drifted away from RCCL due geography and timing and are very pleased to report that the line was as great as we remembered and has not cut very few corners during this time (at least compared to Carnival, NCL and Celebrity). Weather did not cooperate for us on this cruise: Departure day, our first sea day and Grand Cayman were windy, cold and wet (we could not call on Grand Cayman). Two of the other days were either just cold or just wet. We had perfect weather only for Jamicia. This cruise could have been a washout if not for the exceptional entertainment and restaurant staff. This was also RCCL’s first cruise out of Galveston in 6 months and NOTS turned over a third of the crew after an extended summer in Europe. There were more than a few kinks to be worked out during the first few days and the shore side staff was downright discombobulated at both embarkation and debarkation. We drove to Galveston and slept on the island the night before. DW and I enjoyed an underpublicized, adults only. resort 10 minutes from Falmouth and we did the Nachi Cocom thing with our teens in Cozumel. All of us enjoyed great bar service through some form of pre-paid package and our Dining Experience was our best in over 10 years. I’ll do a day by day, but I wanted to post a few more highs and lows for folks who just want the cliff notes: SUMMARY: LOWS: Terminal 2 in Galveston is no where near as nice as Terminal one which is occupied by Carnival. Dining Room, hallways to staterooms and cabins are definitely ready for refurb. Illusive Casino Staff. RCCL pier in Cozumel had trouble handling FOTS and NOTS together (can’t imagine if OOTS or AOTS was there) Poor AC throughout the ship. HIGHS: MDR experience on par with “the good old days” Falmouth better than MoBay Ship never felt crowded – kids were kept out of adult only hot-tubs. GREAT Thanksgiving Experience (including Football in Studio B and Tasty Turkey) HAPPY and enthusiastic crew Confirmed proof that real people (DS) win “Free Cruise Bingo” Day 0 (McAllen Tx to Galvestion) – My work had me out of town till late Friday night – DW picked me up at the airport at 12:30 AM and we did not get home till 1:30 AM. Was up by 8am to start packing and send the dogs to the Kennel. Incredibly, we were on the road by 10:30 and, near as I can tell, we did not forget anything (though we over packed as usual). We made it to the Galveston Hampton by 5pm. We have a pretty good overnight bag system and we were able to leave 8 of 10 bags in the car. I stay in a lot of Hamptons, and the one in Galveston is one of the nicest. Weather was terrible, so we ended up going to see the new Hunger Games movie at DD’s request and picked up a couple of things we wanted for the cruise at the Walmart just across the street. Day 1 (Embarkation) – Love using the Galveston web cams to see the ship come in – was expecting NOTS to be late with the weather, but she backed in right on schedule with the CCL Magic (our last cruise) close behind. Hampton and the other Hilton properties have a park and shuttle package for $45 – but as much as we pack, we prefer just dropping the bags at the pier (and its much faster at debark). We had a great experience with Galveston Park and Cruise last time on Magic but we thought the “Park and Cruise” right across from Terminal 2 would be a better bet for this trip. This turns out not to be the case as you can only cross Harborside drive at 25th street - so Galveston Park and Cruise is your best bet for either terminal. TIP: Avoid traffic on Harborside Drive around the Terminal – approach via Kepner/22nd street from Broadway and pull right in to the terminal. I have spent a lot of time on this thread: http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1951525 discussing expected hiccups at embarkation due to crew turnover and the fact that this was RCI and Navigator’s first cruise of the season from Galveston. We were expecting a lot worse and the issues we encountered were largely comical - except for two things: 1) DW and I had a beverage package and it was not on our card - we had to visit 4 places once on board before the issue was finally resolved (and it would have taken longer if I did not have a printed confirmation in hand). 2) Pre-Ordered Bon-voyage flowers never came and have not been credited as of this writing. TIPs: If something goes wrong with your check-in, ASK for priority embarkation. The Embarkation line at the front of the ship was MUCH shorter than the one at the stern. Unlike Carnival, RCI will not let you sneak in to the cabin areas to drop your bags, so carry on only what you will be comfortable schlepping until 1pm. We always arrive early and tip our porter well - and we ALWAYS have our bags before the boat drill and this time was no exception. There was a parade immediately after the boat drill on the promenade - we headed there by way of the aft stairs in the MDR (to get to deck 5) and we scored a table at “Two Poets” which provided an unobstructed view and great service (all cruise). We had late seating dinner and great tablemates - our waiter was the best we have had in many, many years. The post dinner welcome aboard show was very promising. DW and I did the Casino for an hour or so before bed and came out ahead – I played on “their money” the rest of the week. (DW was not so lucky). DAYS 2&3 (at sea with not so great weather). These days kind of just blended together and we followed the same morning routine both days, on time room service, hot-tub in the solarium until lunch. Lunch in the MDR was great on day 2 and we did the Windjammer with the kids on day 3 as a lead in to the Ice show. Our ice show had wonderful guest performers from Russia where the woman magically changed costumes in front of us – no fewer than 10 times. Main review show on formal night was OK - the top lead singers were weak. Show on night 3 was the man of 10,000 voices which was more entertaining. Plenty of live entertainment. DW and I also did the Rasul mud bath (85 bucks for an hour per couple in the spa) – it was fun even though there were a lot of things wrong with the facility. DAY 4 (Falmouth). Our first time at this port – DW and I had planned this as “Our Day” and the kids stayed on the ship. We did an all inclusive at a place that used to be called Pebbles and it was fantastic – surpassing all expectations – way better than Couples or Sunset beach which we have done from Mo’Bay. This was our only excellent weather day. The RCI port facility is very well thought out and we were able to get a cab quickly on the way out and pick up our Christmas tree topper at a souvenir stand on the way back to the boat. There is no formal show in the Theater on Jamaica night- but there are two ice shows that night, a late night comedy and a rocking 70s party. DAY 5 Thanksgiving (Grand Cayman washed out). We had a family jetski excursion to Stingray City and Rum Point booked through Island marketing planned for this special day. Wife and kids were growing apprehensive about this as the weather was predicted to be cold and wet and we knew the waves would be rough. We were relieved to have a cancelation decision made for us when the ship turned around in the harbor and the Captain announced we would not be making the port of call. We were impressed that the crew put out a new Compass with new activities (this was their holiday too). I was particularly impressed that the dining room, which was supposed to be closed in port, was opened for Lunch. Imagine preparing Thanksgiving Dinner for 3500 when they decide to drop in early for lunch. Throwing a Cowboys football party in Studio B for a ship full of Texas was pure genius and was greatly appreciated by those who attended. Finally, with all due respect to my wife, mom, grandmothers, mother-in law, sister-in-law, and all others who have prepared Turkey for me over the past 45 years – I enjoyed the best Thanksgiving dinner of my life. Everything was great –especially the Turkey which was moist and delicious. The custom menu was a nice touch and a wonderful keepsake. This was our third Thanksgiving cruise and it was the first time we were not disappointed. The 2nd review show (which is normally on day 6) was better than the first. DAY 6 (Cozumel) – We did Nachi CoCom through Island marketing which was perfect for a family beach day with teens. While getting off the ship was easy enough, coming in a half hour behind FOTS, the pier and terminal were SWAMPED. When we saw the line for Taxis, we walked out of the terminal and walked a block towards town where we caught a Cab for 4 (which was $20 each way with tip). TIP: walk out the exit for rental cars, even if you don’t have one and walk towards the town there are plenty of cabs waiting to shortcut the line. We skipped the show but made it to the Battle of the Sexes and “The Quest after dinner. TIP- If your are planning to take your pants off during the Quest game show wear funny boxers. We also visited the Dungeon, which was a well managed club with a DJ who played music that sounded like… music. There were enough people in there so that it felt like a party without feeling like a crowd. DAY 7 (Sea) – This day started out cooler but sunnier so we resumed our morning hot tub routine. DS and I did the rock wall which was a nice mini-adventure while DW and DD shopped. TIP – there is no need to was a portion of your day looking through the walls of photos. On the last night, simple swipe your card at one of the Kiosks and the system will pick up every picture of everyone in your party and you can order and pick-up on debark morning! TIP - The four photo package is a great deal as it includes a nice folio, the DVD and some extra stock photos and is priced below the cost of four 8x10s. When we met up on the promenade, I was talked in to Bingo. I don’t like Bingo, is was $32 bucks for a pack of cards (and I had to buy three packs) the Bingo caller was very lame and it was clear that we were indoors for the best sea weather of the entire cruise. But the kids were having a good time with it, and that made DW and me happy. Then, on the last game of the cruise, DS made an “X” and yelled BINGO for a free 7 day cruise for 2. After receiving our certificate - we were so busy celebrating - all of a sudden it was time for the best show of the cruise (the acrobats/gymnasts/ballet dancers) and a great dinner (DS asked for the expensive steak in return for turning over the cruise certificate to DW and me). Then, we had to pack, which would have been a terrible drag if we did not know that we would be CRUISING AGAIN SOON! DAY 8 (Debark) – for the first time in 21 cruises, we slept in on debark day and showed up at the MDR just before they closed the doors. We enjoyed a nice leisurely breakfast as I was not at all anxious to be dropped of at Hobby for a flight to work on Monday, without DW and family as they proceeded back to McAllen. So we took our time and waited until there was no line at all to get off the ship. When we did wander off, there was a crazy shortage of porters, so we just went ahead and grabbed our own stuff. Only difficult part was where I parked. There are cops at 30th street to keep you from crossing the highway there – why they couldn’t act as crossing guards to save me a 10 block walk in traffic via 25th street is a mystery to me. But staying off Harborside drive, taking a back road to 22nd (like I did on day one) got me back to the curb easily enough. The drive to Hobby was not bad at all and DW and the kids made their way home safely and were home before I reached my hotel in PA. FINAL THOUGHTS: The RCCL experience is head and shoulders above the current Carnival product – we are so pleased to have the opportunity to cruise them again for free within the next 12 months. There is at least a 50% chance that we will use the certificate to cruise the Navigator again after her refurb (either at spring break or in June). We are also considering great options from NJ and Baltimore and are really excited at the prospect of our first Oasis class cruise!   Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
We finally did our our first cruise to the Caribbean, Jamaica, Grand Caymans, and Cozumel. We left from San Antonio the 23rd to spend the night in or near Galveston. We thought we had a hotel in Houstonbut it didn't turn out so we ... Read More
We finally did our our first cruise to the Caribbean, Jamaica, Grand Caymans, and Cozumel. We left from San Antonio the 23rd to spend the night in or near Galveston. We thought we had a hotel in Houstonbut it didn't turn out so we continued into Galveston. After going over the bridge we found a Howard Johnson just off of 45. The Hotel was nice and we found out that we could park our vehicle there for the week for FREE. they gave us a placard to put on the dase and security watched our vehicle. There was transportation arranged for us by the company that charged for parking. It cost us 5 dollars per person round trip. This saved us a ton of money. I have to say that the boarding of the ship went smothly and without incident. We did run into some imagration problems cincerning the crew andthat delayed our sailing by about an hour. The first few days of sailing was rough. The weather was raining at first but we did sail during winter so that was to be expected however it was still enjoyable. Our first port was Jamaica, beautiful weather. Not knowing what to do and doing a lot of research I found a tour guide named Admiral SA. I found him on Cruise Critic and was highly recommended. We are not much water people and wanted a tour of the island. The Admiral did not disappoint. He took us all around the island and showed us plenty of sites and gave us a historical overview. We went to one of the best Jerk Chicken and Pork on the island and it was delicious. He did take us shopping however it was ok. Shopping at the port was better with the prices cheaper. I highly recommend the Admiral and he will customize an excursion for you. The one port that we were looking forward to was Grand Cayman but due to rough waters we had to bypass it. Needlessto say we were highly disappointed. However the crew was fantastic, and had everything ready for us. They did an amazing job. At Cozumel, we did the shopping thing. I did buy a watch at a great price. After that we had made reservations at Mr Sanchos. We had a blast, all the food and drinks for $45 a person. It was everything that everyone said. It was a beautiful day and the water was nice and clear. They had parrots and eguanas for the kids and lots of things to do. It was a relaxing day after spending all that time on the water. All in all the cruise was awesome and the crew made everything great. Out waiter for dining was Michael Jackson from Jamaica and his assistant was Kelly. They were both great. Our bar tender was Velacko (n8t sure if I spelt it right), and he was great. I would highly recommend the cruise. The shows were awesome and kept us well entertained. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
We planned for a family reunion on a cruise ship so no one would have to host Thanksgiving at their house; no cooking, no cleaning, no entertaining, and plenty of distractions. Fifteen of us in 7 cabins. We love each other...in small ... Read More
We planned for a family reunion on a cruise ship so no one would have to host Thanksgiving at their house; no cooking, no cleaning, no entertaining, and plenty of distractions. Fifteen of us in 7 cabins. We love each other...in small doses. ;-) I chose Carnival over RCC because of the price per cabin advantage I received. I chose the Magic for the waterworks, rope course, and size. I chose the Magic over the Breeze for the itinerary. I chose an Ocean Suite for the balcony and the whirlpool tub in the bathroom. We flew into Houston the night prior to the cruise and stayed overnight in Galveston. We barely beat the massive ice/snow storm as flights after ours were getting cancelled. We arranged transportation through the hotel shuttle. A short stop by the local Walmart allowed us to get last-minute items we didn't want to pack--sodas, straw hat, Lysol wipes/spray, pool toys, etc. The weather channel in the hotel showed a huge storm in the gulf between us and our first port, Mahogany Bay. The rain and wind prevented us from walking along the shoreline across from the hotel. Check-in could not have gone smoother. The hotel shuttle took our family to the port at 1100. My family went through the "express" lane; my mother had arrived at the port 15 minutes before us and I was sure that I would be able to get onboard and wait for her. We had no lines and went straight through security and right up to the Sign and Sail desk; as I got my S&S cards, I got a text that my mom was already onboard! Gold Star for Check In. We went straight up to our deck, but the corridors were not open yet--they were still cleaning the cabins. We went down to the atrium to gather/plan lunch. It couldn't have been more than 15 minutes before our cabins were ready. We dropped off our luggage and made a beeline to the Cuchina del Capitano--lunch is free, dinner is $12/person. We wanted to get there on the first or second day (before the rest of the ship realized that lunches were free). Lunch was good. Remember that storm I saw on the weather channel? We found it. There is a reason why they have hand rails in the corridors. It felt like airplane turbulence that would not stop. Our family were OK, but it got to my sister and my nephew. Sleeping through it was no problem...it probably helped. The 2nd day wasn't any better. My son leaned over the balcony rail (we were on the 7th deck mid-ship)) and pulled his head back soaking wet from the ocean spray as the ship bumped through the 8-ft swells. Cruising through storms=no bueno. We arrived in Mahogany Bay, Isla Roatan (Honduras) at around 7:00 am. We purchased the Ultimate beach Package (8-11 am). I watched from the balcony as the rain came in waves and the lightning flashed in the sky. I took my tickets to the excursion desk, but they had already cancelled all water activities and refunded patrons. We bought plastic ponchos and walked through the shops. Harley T-Shirt ftw! We tried the Steakhouse and paid the $35/person surcharge. I cannot begin to describe who good that meal was. My normal haunts are places like The Olive Garden, Applebees, Golden Coral, etc. I went in expecting those, I sorely underestimated the cuisine. Definitely on the to-do list next time. Our MDR waiters (Sinat, Fritz, and Biliana) in the Southern Lights dining room were a riot. We came to have fun, they did not disappoint. Again, I expected Golden Coral and got more than we thought we would. By the time we go to Belize, we finally saw the sun poke through partly cloudy skies. We went on an ATV tour (got muddy), cave tubing (cleaned up), and zip lining (dried off). Butts Up excursions took good care of us even though our tender was running late (we did not book through Carnival and therefore had to take the later tenders). We not not have time to do any shopping at the port, but I didn't mind. Our last port of call was Cozumel, Mexico. This time, we did book through Carnival to go on the Mayan ruins of Tulum. We took a high-speed ferry to mainland Mexico in very rough seas. I knew it would be an adventure as they started handing out motion sickness bags before everyone was seated. For several people, the bags were well utilized. We went to Playa del Carmen to catch a bus to Tulum. I don't know if it was the bright sunshine, the roller coaster ferry ride, or the European flair of the buildings, but folks, if your itinerary includes Cozumel, you have to go to the mainland! As we drove through town, I saw at least a dozen activities I would like to try on our next visit. Tulum was OK. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. Cruising back to Galveston was smooth, comparatively speaking. We enjoyed the rope course, miniature golf, waterworks, and spa activities. The illusion show was muy bueno. We went to the family comedy show [thumbs up]. The slot machines were extremely tight, but the blackjack tables allowed me to break even. Debarkation was nearly as quick as embarkation. My son had a 11:20 flight from Bush Intercontinental Airport to be the best man at a wedding. We have VIP privileges (because of the cabin class rather than anything I have done). We left our cabin at 7:30. We were off the ship by 7:50 and waiting for the shuttle by 8:05. Ironically, we waited longer for the shuttle than the time it took to get from our cabin to the shuttle stop. Overview: I am not sure we will cruise out of Galveston again. The cost and inconvenience of getting there can be reduced if going to a different port. I am probably not going to cruise across the Gulf of Mexico in the winter again. I would like to try it again in the summer (maybe from Miami?). Carnival gets a thumbs up for cleanliness, friendly crew, and cost/experience ratio. I did not take into account how the size of the ship (and negotiating the flights of stairs) would affect my arthritic knees. I spent more time in the whirlpool tub than on the balcony, but I blame the weather equally. The swimming pools were small (both of them). The jacuzzis were always crowded. We always found empty chairs on the Serenity deck. The only time we couldn't find an open chair on the Lido deck was during one of the contests. Again, the weather played a factor for most of the cruise. While in Cozumel, we docked next to the Carnival Sunshine. That will probably be our next ship. ;-)) Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
Just returned this past weekend from a great week aboard the Crown Princess. We have previously done this itinerary from Galveston but I could not remember too much about it so we decided to give it a go since it was a change of pace from ... Read More
Just returned this past weekend from a great week aboard the Crown Princess. We have previously done this itinerary from Galveston but I could not remember too much about it so we decided to give it a go since it was a change of pace from the eastern cruises we typically do in the winter. We arrived in Galveston the day before and used Super Shuttle for our transportation from Hobby airport. I spent a lot of time looking at different options and this seemed the most reasonable. We were a group of 4 adults and chose to book a private SUV at $35 per person. When we arrived there was a slight snafu, I received a voicemail from the company and they told me that it looked as though our flight was now arriving at 10pm instead of 10am. Not sure where they got that from so I called them back and it ended up being their mistake. Now the problem was that because they thought we were delayed they did not have a driver available to take us. I was not very happy and a bit testy from traveling since 3am and after a bit of a back and forth they had the super shuttle van take us by ourselves to Galveston for the same price. The van was perfectly fine and the driver was very nice. We stayed at the Hotel Galvez which we all thought was very nice. I really love historical hotels and the location was right on the beach with great views from the rooms. I only wish it had been warm enough to actually hang out on the beach, it was pretty chilly. There were restaurants within walking distance and a town car that would take you into town and pick you back up for no cost. It was really easy to call them and get picked up when we were ready to go back to the hotel. My husband was excited to stay at the Galvez since it is said to be haunted, he even called months in advance to request the "haunted room". To his disappoint nothing out of the ordinary happened during our stay. The rooms are clean and slightly updated but very small which we expected since the hotel is so old. Our rooms were fine for 2 adults but if we were looking to get 3 or 4 in a room it would be very tight. Check in is at 4pm but we arrived by 12pm and only had to wait about 30 minutes for our room to be ready and the others in our party could check in right away which was really nice. If you stay at the Galvez they do have a complimentary shuttle to the pier but you need to make sure you sign up right away as it does fill up quickly. We ended up getting in the 12pm slot and it worked out great. When we arrived at the pier there was really no wait at all. Dropped our bags off and were on board within about 20 minutes. I thought the check in was very organized, we have preferred check in but the rest of our group without boarded very shortly after us and were very complimentary of the whole process. Once on board we dropped our things off at the room and headed up to the buffet for lunch. The weather in Galveston was sunny but cool so since we would not be hitting the pool we ended up getting back off the ship and walked around the historical strand which is right across from the pier. We made it back on board just in time the muster drill and then we were off! Dining I have to say that we thought the food was very good on this cruise but we were not overly thrilled with the selections on the new menus. Maybe it was because some of our old favorites were missing but I had a harder time choosing something in the MDR at night because not a lot seemed to appeal to me. I did enjoy all of my food, except for what they were calling a filet in the MDR, it tasted almost gamey to me both times I tried it. I always love the fettuccine and we had that as a third main dish to share every night. Loved the ice creams and sorbet selection each night and usually added a scoop to whatever dessert I had. We went to Sabatini's on our first night and Crown grill on our last night and both were excellent and definitely our favorite meals for the week. These are so worth the extra cost! We love to start and end our trips in the specialty restaurants. Afternoon tea was really nice (this was the first time I have gone), a good selection of sandwiches, cookies and pastry. I thought there was supposed to be live music but the occasions we were there is was just music over the speaker system. All in all a very nice experience in the afternoon when there was not a lot going on. We tried to make it to pub lunch but both times the line was HUGE and we didn't feel like waiting an hour plus so we have yet to give that a try. Enjoyed lunches in the MDR and the buffet and found both to have really nice selections during this time. Wish they had more available late night, the cafe caribe was open until midnight but it just seemed to have old left over looking options from dinner that night and nothing great for a little late night snack. Pizza always works though, very yummy. Entertainment We love to do Movies Under the Stars and enjoyed the movies even though most we have already seen. They played Bourne Legacy, Pitch Perfect, Robot and Frank and Premium Rush. My only issue was that the first and last night they replayed the same movie which usually does not happen. The comedians on board were a lot of fun and we enjoyed seeing Lincoln and Argo in the Princess Theater. We didn't attend any of the other shows as they don't usually interest us. We also enjoyed the entertainment in the Piazza throughout the day and evening when we were waiting around for this and that. Ports Belize- We did a princess excursion, the river cruise, Altun Ha ruins and lunch. I really enjoyed this tour but the rest of the group I was with did not. Their biggest complaint was that the river cruise portion was way too long for the type of boat they put you in. I can agree with that, the boat was small and had everyone facing inwards so you always had to turn or stand up to see anything they were pointing out. We did see a lot of wildlife which was great but it did drag on a bit. The lunch was nothing special, you pull up to a building on the side of the river (they called it a resort, I'm not sure why). There was a food line inside for chicken, rice and salad and a soda. It was ok, and by that time we were starving. It's not a lot of food but enough to hold you over until the tour is over. I thought the ruins were wonderful but it was so hot and no shade to be had so definitely wear a hat or bring your sunscreen! We got to climb up some of the structures and get some great pictures but you need to be very careful as the steps can be steep and very uneven. Roatan- This was my first time at this port and we knew it would basically be a beach day. I was expecting something like Princess Cays but I was pleasantly surprised. Mahogany bay was a very nice beach and the water was wonderful! We had a lot of fun and really loved the chair lift that you could take to get to the beach, its $2 cheaper to get the tickets on board the ship. Next time I would love to head out to one of the other beaches and see more of the island. A very pretty port. Cozumel- We had planned to head to one of the beach clubs for the day but the weather was cloudy and it rained off and on most of the day. We took it as a nice break from the sun and decided to walk around town and do a little shopping. We also stopped at Pancho's backyard for lunch which was decent but nothing to write home about. Sea Days- We had three on this cruise since one of our ports got canceled shortly after we booked. I don't love sea days, I find them to be a little boring but I tried to get to some new things and keep busy. We loved the Thermal Suite and used it every afternoon, I don't think it's worth the price they charge but we still tend to purchase the weeks pass. I did feel like there were a lot more people than usual just walking in without having the pass which was annoying since we actually paid for it. People were also just really sloppy leaving towels all over the floor and on the loungers after they left. Our final sea day was cold and rainy, a bust weather wise. This was my only issue with leaving from Galveston, it's not very warm this time of year so your first and last days can be iffy weather wise. We still found a lot to do but it was a little disappointing. Just some other things... This was the first time for us that there was a kiosk near the purser's desk where you could print out your statement without having to wait in line, that was really nice. I did actually find a mistake, a bottle of wine was charged to us in error. The staff at the desk were very helpful and cleared up the charge right away. I thought all of the staff was wonderful and always very helpful. One of the members of our party got a horrible sunburn (her own fault for not wearing any sunscreen) and the buffet staff could see how uncomfortable she was and told her to put plain yogurt on her burns, they even brought her a bunch to put in her cabin fridge. Good to know for the future. We were in cabin R737 and loved our room steward Romel. This is always our favorite location when we do not get a balcony room; we are steps from the aft pool which is really nice. All in all this was a great cruise; I really enjoyed the itinerary and look forward to sailing on the Crown again in the future. Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
My Wife and I decided to try this new ship. Boarding was easy as we passed regular cruisers in the VIFP line and got on the ship in 10 minutes. The food was great on the ship. The buffet was good but always very busy. The Red Frog beer was ... Read More
My Wife and I decided to try this new ship. Boarding was easy as we passed regular cruisers in the VIFP line and got on the ship in 10 minutes. The food was great on the ship. The buffet was good but always very busy. The Red Frog beer was good and so was the snacks offered for $3.33 . The only negative comment about the cruise was how rough it was sailing out of Galveston. The day and night sailing back was no better with high winds and seas. Our room was 7235 FWD Portside. The waves crashed against the side of the ship making it very difficult to sleep with 90kmh winds and sea spray that reached our balcony. Montego bay is a poor place to visit. At the port there is little to see other than the port terminal with 4 stores in it and a bar. The shops next to the terminal are no longer in use and empty. You have no choice but to take a cab downtown to see more. The last day of the cruise we had to vacate our room at 830 am so it could be cleaned. The buffet was packed and the Southern Lights restaurant had a lineup. We were given tags #3 and had to leave the ship at 9 am. Our flight to Toronto was not until 520 pm. It was obvious someone goofed. We will never sail out of that port again or across the Gulf of Mexico due to the rough seas. Also the store on the ship had a small amount of liquor available. They were out of Tequila 2 days before end of cruise so we ended up buying it at the airport. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Embarkation: We arrived around 1pm and parked at Galveston Park N Cruise. It was advertised as being right "across the street" from the cruise terminal and so doesn't provide a shuttle. In reality, it was a 3-4 block walk. ... Read More
Embarkation: We arrived around 1pm and parked at Galveston Park N Cruise. It was advertised as being right "across the street" from the cruise terminal and so doesn't provide a shuttle. In reality, it was a 3-4 block walk. The traffic around the terminal was crazy and I didn't want to make DH navigate it, so we walked and hauled our stiff. Next time, I'd pick a parking location with a shuttle. Once we arrived at the terminal, luggage drop-off was a complete zoo. Disembarking passengers were tying up the porters and it took a good 20 minutes to find someone to take our luggage inside. At that point we went to the check-in line and it was crazy long. We decided to go get something to eat and come back, hoping it would improve or at least that we wouldn't pass out from hunger while waiting to board (DH is diabetic, so this is a serious concern). We returned around 2pm and found the line was even worse. It took us two hours to get through the line, check in, and board. We had just enough time to drop our carry-ons in our cabin before being rushed off to the muster drill. The drill was held up by all of the people behind us in the line who were still waiting to board. This wasn't their fault, but it was hot and miserable standing around for 30 minutes waiting for the drill to begin. Cabin: We decided to splurge on a balcony cabin. The cabin itself was a good size and had plenty of storage. We found the bed and pillows uncomfortable (too soft for our liking). Our room attendant was great, aside from an unfortunate incident on the last morning when I emerged from the bathroom partially clothed to find him changing the sheets. I am someone who can laugh such things off, but I think he about died from embarrassment. The wind was terrible on our sea days, which limited our use of the balcony. It was nice to have, but I could go back to an OV or inside and not miss it. Sea day activities: This was our first RCL cruise. We'd cruised Alaska with Princess and wanted to try another line for comparison. We thought RCL would offer more activities, which may be true but, at least on this cruise, they were focused on families. Tons of kids were aboard, so I get that two adults sailing alone weren't the main focus, but we didn't find there was much of interest for us to do on the sea days. We aren't big drinkers and don't gamble, and those were the main adult-focused activities. We enjoyed relaxing in the solarium and walking around the ship, which was decorated beautifully for Christmas. We went to the nondenominational service on Christmas day, the ice show (which was great) and watched a movie poolside, but beyond that we didn't find any activities we wanted to participate in. By contrast, when we sailed Princess we often had to make a tough decision about which activity to do because there were several of interest happening at the same time. Food: We ate nearly all of our meals in the MDR. We had first-seating dining and were given a table for two, which was a surprise. I wouldn't have minded sharing a table and enjoyed the people we met while sharing a table for breakfast and lunch. We found the Windjammer breakfast and lunch not to be very appetizing the one day we went there instead of the MDR. Lunch in the MDR on sea days was very good, especially the salad bar. Breakfast was hit-or-miss in the MDR, which seemed to suffer from inconsistency. Sometimes the eggs were spot-on the way we ordered them, sometimes not. One day the French toast was amazing, other days it was dry from not enough time in the batter. Our dinner serving team, Anisha and Michael, were beyond wonderful. We got to know Anisha quite well as she often came to chat with us between courses. Michael was attentive and playful, giving us toothpick puzzles to solve over dessert. Anisha also provided good suggestions on food choices and we enjoyed nearly everything we were served. We dined at Chops for the Wine Pairings Dinner on the last night of the cruise and didn't enjoy it. The food and wine were just OK and not worth the $75/person charge. Ports: We booked a private excursion in Ocho Rios to Dunn's River Falls and the Cayoga Gardens. It was a crazy, busy day in Ocho Rios (Boxing Day, a national holiday) and DRF was crazy, but we had fun. If you go, avoid all eye contact with the vendors in the craft market unless you really plan to buy something. We had a bad experience here of letting ourselves get swindled when a vendor sucked DH into looking at his items. In Grand Cayman, we were a bit leery of scheduling anything due to the tendering situation, so we just shopped and walked around town. In Cozumel, we took the Chankanaab excursion through the ship. There were 6 or 7 ships in port that day and the terminal area was a mad house. Once we got out of there and over to Chankanaab, we had a wonderful time. In retrospect, we would have had more time there if we'd taken a taxi on our own and would have spent less on the excursion. Debarkation: Getting off the ship was almost as unpleasant as getting on. We spent an hour in line after our number was called. I don't really understand why they called us given that there were so many people in line ahead of us. I guess they needed us off ASAP. Other notes: We are big college football fans and were very pleased that many of the bowl games were shown on the poolside screen and in-room TV. That constituted our evening entertainment since we aren't much on going to shows. Overall experience: We might cruise RCI again, but wouldn't do a Christmas cruise. We had hoped for more holiday activities that weren't focused on families with small children. The ship was unpleasantly crowded and given the upcharge on the cruise over a non-holiday week, we felt we didn't get our money's worth in terms of activities or the onboard experience. I'm sure many of those with children or large family groups might find it worth it, but in general I felt like we paid extra to subsidize activities we weren't invited to participate in. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
My extended family decided on a Christmas-time cruise this year, on Princess, out of Galveston to Cozumel, Roatan and Belize. My sister, a doctor who was on call the week prior, missed her morning-of-the-cruise flight due to a patient ... Read More
My extended family decided on a Christmas-time cruise this year, on Princess, out of Galveston to Cozumel, Roatan and Belize. My sister, a doctor who was on call the week prior, missed her morning-of-the-cruise flight due to a patient complication that kept her. And, as a result, she missed the cruise. Ugh, not a great way to start. Not surprisingly, there is no refund for missed cruises. What WAS surprising is that Princess customer service said that my sister's stateroom reverted to them. So, in spite of no refund and even though my father had paid for the room and was on board with the rest of the family, we could not use the empty stateroom. I was shocked. How could they not refund anything and yet not let her family use the room? I appealed to customer service several times. We had a family member with IBS with us, who had a migraine one day, and it would have been a godsend for him to have a quiet place to retreat to. But no, customer service (Stephanie) simply repeated the party line that the room had reverted to the Princess, and that they would keep it for an emergency. (Interesting -- do they not otherwise make provision for emergencies?) In fact, the room remained empty for the duration, except for one early day when staff were in there painting it. (I guess that modest refurbishment qualified as an emergency? We in the next door staterooms didn't love the paint smell... Seems possible it might have contributed to the migraine, in fact.) I waited in line several times to review this situation. Stephanie offered to set me up for a call with her boss, but was inaccessible in person and didn't return phone calls, and I didn't want to ruin the whole cruise by waiting in line beyond the first two days. In addition, one of our pieces of luggage was not delivered the first day. Kind of stressful - imagining a week without anything for one of our party. We went and found it eventually, but courtesy of another long wait in line at customer service. UGH. Between the crazy lines to board and then the lines to try to get use of my sister's room, and then the line to try to recover our luggage and then the lines to fix mistakes on excursion vouchers, the first two days were NOT good. We were lucky that we had great weather. I thought the food was good. We loved our two waiters. (Thanks again Rei and Carlos!) Our room steward did a great job, and was really friendly when we bumped into him from time to time. The Zumba classes were really fun. My son enjoyed some time in ShockWaves, the kids' room, and the staff there were friendly and nice. We particularly liked our Cozumel snorkeling experience -- really fun and friendly staff (Latino dancing on deck was a hoot);saw a baby shark, baby turtle, the expectable fish. Really mediocre lunches on the excursions, though. The Belize river trip excursion included an un-advertised hour and half in a bus, which I wouldn't have chosen had I known about. I thought the entertainment was generally pathetic, with the notable exception of fiddler David Klinkenberg. The pool area was so loud -- with bands, piped in music, TV, amplification of inane poolside games -- it was close to unbearable. I guess the presumption is that there should be no poolside conversation?! Of course I would have gone to the quiet pool, but I had my 9 yr-old with me, so couldn't. We got on-board a week after the Princess had had an outbreak of virus. My son got sick and was vomiting for one day after we got off the ship. In short, we had a mixed experience, but generally enjoyed the cruise EXCEPT that the decision to deny us my sister's room created a huge amount of frustration and ill-will. Needlessly, it strikes me. I don't believe anyone in my family will be on any future Princess cruise. And we are spreading the word of our disappointing and unfair-feeling experience to anyone who asks about our holiday... Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
This was our 5th cruise. 3 with RCCL and 2 with Princess. We chose the Mariner due to the easy road trip to Galveston for the elderly in-laws. My father-in-law has Alzheimer's and this was the best way to get him this trip. Our first ... Read More
This was our 5th cruise. 3 with RCCL and 2 with Princess. We chose the Mariner due to the easy road trip to Galveston for the elderly in-laws. My father-in-law has Alzheimer's and this was the best way to get him this trip. Our first trip was on the Sovereign of the Seas in 1994 and the 3rd was the Rhapsody of the Seas in 2004. We have seen quite a few changes over the years, some good and some bad, with RCCL. THE GOOD: the ships are bigger and have more activities and venues. The Mariner is a beautiful ship and we loved the promenade with its shops, clubs, restaurants, etc. We spent a lot of time there just relaxing and listening to music, people watching. The Grand Suite was a first for us. It was perfect because we had our 23 year old daughter with us and we had privacy and tons of room and storage. The perks of Suite life was great too, especially the Concierge, Luca. He was awesome and made us feel like we were his only worry. He knew the family was not in suites but helped us many times with issues that concerned them as well as us. The specialty restaurants, Chops and Giovanni's Table were unbelievable. The service and the food were top notch, well worth the extra charges. The shows were really entertaining and very professionally done. I've attended some in the past on both cruise lines that were pretty cheesy. On the Mariner the big shows were a pleasant surprise as well as the ice show. THE BAD: while the food in the specialty restaurants was superb, the main dining room was just mediocre, except for the Thanksgiving meal which was worse. It reminded me of my 5th grade Thanksgiving meal before the holidays where they unloaded all the leftovers. Next time I'll leave the Turkey alone and get the ham. The windjammer had a wide selection but the quality was barely above your local all you can eat buffet, sometimes worse. I really felt less personal attention than on my prior RCCL cruises. The attention we received in Chops was more like what I remember from the past in food and service quality. I guess you now get what you pay for, literally. Overall A- Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
From the start of the cruise until the time we were called for disembarkation, this was a really nice cruise. We are Diamond Club Members of the Crown & Anchor Club with RCI. The embarcation process began as a little slow, but ... Read More
From the start of the cruise until the time we were called for disembarkation, this was a really nice cruise. We are Diamond Club Members of the Crown & Anchor Club with RCI. The embarcation process began as a little slow, but nothing unusual. The RCI embarcation personnel were all friendly and moved our boarding process along quickly. We received our priority boarding pass and SeaPass cards and we quickly boarded the Mariner. Once on board, were were greeted by the staff and we found that the rooms would not be available until 2:00p.m. So off we went to the Windjammer for lunch. The Windjammer staff was courteous and frindly. We quickly checked out the buffet and found that it was varied and that the food was good. We had one new cruiser in our group and he was amazed at the choices on the line. After lunch, we quickly booked excursions and then headed for our rooms to unload our carryons. We all received our luggage before 5:00p.m. This was great. We were on the first seating (5:30p.m.) for dining. This was a good time for our group as we like to eat and then spend the rest of the evenings going to shows, lounges, and visiting. Our waiter and assistant waiter were efficient and friendly. They did a good job of taking orders and delivering them. We enjoy dining for the engagement and interaction of not only fellow diners, but also with the wait staff. When we finally started to get situated in our room that night, we found that we did not have an ice bucket. When we finally got to our room late the first night we did not have an ice bucket. We got this worked out pretty quickly through the ship's staff. It appears that if you want an ice bucket in your room on the Mariner, you have to ask for one. This is apparently an experiment with a few ships in the RCI fleet. Or so we were told. After the first night, we were never without ice again. The Mariner had a dedicated "Diamond, Diamond plus, and Prestige Lounge" on the 14th deck. It had a continental breakfast, specialty coffees, and evening hor'doevers, mixed drinks, and wine (5:00 to 8:00p.m.). Eric Laffite, the Diamond Concierge, did an exceptional job as did the Diamond Lounge waiters. They helped make our trip more enjoyable. I spent a lot of down time just relaxing in the Diamond Lounge listening to a book. We used the Diamond Lounge to meet before dinner and to enjoy a drink each night. The theater shows were enjoyable. They were varied. This was one of the few cruises that all four of the "RCI Singers" were all very accomplished. The "RCI Dancers" all seemed to have a lot of energy and enjoyed their work. Sorry to say that I "missed" the Elvis show and the farewell show. Wink, wink. The ice show was very well performed and we all enjoyed it. The various lounge performers were professional and did a good job of entertaining and playing music you could dance to as well. The cruise staff who were running the various games on board were all pleasant and friendly. We were in the lounges and shops on the promenade deck frequently. Diane in the "Perfume store" was engaging and friendly. We enjoyed a late evening cutting up in the shop and got a big kick out of her helping us decide what we wanted to buy for the men. I think I got sprayed and spritzed with almost every sample in the place. A skunk would have been envious! My family was rained on during their Roatan excursion. They reverted to shopping. My loss. We went on the BE85 Private Island Beach Break at Belize. It left late and we got back later than we wanted to. My wife and daughter rode into Belize City to shop. They had sufficient time, but they did not have a lot of time. The island had a small sandy beach, but if you wanted to walk very far along the beachline, you needed water shoes due to the rocks. In Cozumel, my son and I went on the Cozumel Power Snorkel (CZB8). This was disappointing and not worth the money. We were supposed to be power snorkeling with a Seadoo scooter. This was to be a 2 hour excursion. We walked about 10 minutes from the cruise pier. Spent about 10-15 minutes gearing up and listening to the instructions. Then we spent about 35 minutes with the power scooters. They then took the power scooters back and told us we could snorkel around for another 45-60 minutes. They kept 16 of us in a tight small group that was running into and over each other. You could not look for anything with any comfort as they were merely running us around. Given surgery that I had earlier this year, I needed the power scooter to get around comfortably or I would have been scuba diving. My wife and her entourage went on the Passion Island Escape by Boat (CZ20). They had a great time. A nice boat ride, sand, sun food, and plenty of supplied beverages of both the mixed and standard fare. They were all doing well on their return and truly enjoyed the beach on the island. They definitely got their moneies worth on this excursion. Moving on to other thoughts, I wish that RCI would do something about their dining room evening menus. With this cruise, we have made over 10 RCI cruises. The dinner menu has been basically the same fare for these cruises. The menu is getting old. For the first time in a long time, I would have preferred the Windjammer's buffet to one of the formal dining room's selections. It was just tired fare. I'll be happy to expound for RCI if they are interested. The ham and cheese croissants in the Promenade cafe were nice. The pizza was some of the poorest that I have had the occasion to eat on any cruise line. It tasted like the cheese was old and there was very little sauce. I thought that the ship's staff were all friendly and responsive. Our room attendant, Brian, did a very good job as well. He was attentive, but did not get in our way. We always had clean towels and the room was always timely made up. The pursers were all helpful. I had a relaxing and enjoyable time until it was time to get off of the ship. We had members of our party who had early flights. Thus, we were provided number 1 tags. The projected disembarkation time was to be 8:30a.m. We waited in the Diamond Club waiting area. We were called to disembark at approximately 8:45a.m. As we headed for the gangway, we were well behind the walk-off crowd. Then for some unexplained reason, the ship's personnel quit letting anyone leave the ship. At this time we were less than 20 feet from the last check out for signing off of the ship via SeaPass card check out. We were held on the outside promenade deck (4) for an hour. Everyone was standing rail to bulkhead without water, chairs, restrooms, or any other comfort. The delay was blamed on customs. The covered gangway was cleared of all passengers and yet we still were required to wait on the promenade deck. As the delay was extended, a lot of the passengers began to moo as if we were cattle. Then chanting began, "Let us go. Let us go." This was soon followed by "We want off, we want off." I have never been on any ship where the disembarkation was stopped in mid-stream and passengers were held standing in line for over an hour before they were allowed to leave a ship. From the time we were called to disembark until the time we got curbside with our luggage was 2 hours and 20 minutes. A lot of people were trying to make flight changes, but due to the Thanksgiving traffic, they were not catching changed flights. I was extremely displeased with this disembarkation. It turned what would have been an otherwise great week into one with a happy start and a dismal ending. If RCI does not do something to make up for this fiasco, they will certainly loose future cruisers, if they already didn't do so. Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
My dad and I took the Carnival Triumph out of Galveston the Saturday after Thanksgiving. It's been a while since we've cruised Carnival but that is the only one sailing out of this port this weekend. Not only were we ... Read More
My dad and I took the Carnival Triumph out of Galveston the Saturday after Thanksgiving. It's been a while since we've cruised Carnival but that is the only one sailing out of this port this weekend. Not only were we impressed with the on board Carnival Produced shows, but the Magic show featuring Anders Hanson from Denmark was great! We liked it so much we saw both the early and late shows, and were impressed with each. We were blown away with the high production values, but the quality of the magic itself was impressive. The dancers and the music topped off the fast paced show, and the crowed interaction was precious. The second show Anders asked a child volunteer from the audience, as he did in the earlier, but the little girl was so moved, she could not believe her eyes when the floating table she was helping to present, she was shaking. Her eyes were wide as saucers. Anders not only wove storytelling from his home country, but also had the audience in stitches at times with his thick Danish accent. We didn't know what to expect when we sat down, but were thoroughly impressed and would recommend this show for all. Please note that the costumes were similar to what you would find in Vegas. There was also a third show at midnight called A Kiss Goodnight which is dubbed a burlesque style is a bit more revealing and suggestive and they label it an R rated version in a smaller intimate setting in a different theater. So if you have chance to catch Anders and the dancers on the Carnival Triumph, I say do it! You will enjoy it! Happy sailing. Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
The Good - Kids had a great time. - Teen program was an unexpected hit with my son. - Ship was decorated beautifully - Ice show was really well done - Ports of call were wonderful and the weather was really lovely - Service in the ... Read More
The Good - Kids had a great time. - Teen program was an unexpected hit with my son. - Ship was decorated beautifully - Ice show was really well done - Ports of call were wonderful and the weather was really lovely - Service in the restaurant was excellent. The food was also generally very good, but not spectacular in my opinion. - The staff on the ship was friendly and helpful, especially with the large numbers of kids on board. The Bad - The embarking process in Galveston was a disaster. The ship went through 'extra cleaning' and they wouldn't let folks board until several hours after the planned departure. The cruise line went to the trouble to charter buses to take all the passengers to the other side of Galveston island where we would wait at the convention center in relative comfort. However, the goofball who planned this obviously expensive work-around, couldn't calculate how many buses would be needed to do this. We waited in line at the port for more than 2 hours to simply get on a bus, to take us to the convention center where we would wait 2 more hours. No-one at the port could give any explanation for the long line -- it was only right as we got to the end of the line that we realized we were going to get on a bus instead of go inside the port terminal. Surely the cruise line could have sent an email even a few hours ahead of time telling people of the delay so we could have waited in comfort at home or the hotel instead of crazy-long line. - Food in the Windjammer was plentiful, but poorly prepared. I tried several items which were disappointing: watered down juice, tough and tasteless pancakes, overcooked hard-boiled eggs (the whites were brown and hard). After a while I learned to stick to sliced fruit and salads where the cooks couldn't ruin the food. The Mediocre - I got tired of the endless art sales. Easy enough to avoid, but still not of interest at all to me while on vacation. Just one person's opinion. - The ship photographers seem to be everywhere. I'd love to buy a few photos, but it's so hard to find them on the display walls that I usually gave up and went on to our next activity. - I am allergic to smoke and therefore could not enjoy several areas of the ship, including the casino. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
We had a roll call with Cruise Critic where several families decided to get together in Galveston the on December 17, 2011 for a lot of family fun at the Moody Gardens and an evening at Tortugas Mexican Restaurant. That was the start of a ... Read More
We had a roll call with Cruise Critic where several families decided to get together in Galveston the on December 17, 2011 for a lot of family fun at the Moody Gardens and an evening at Tortugas Mexican Restaurant. That was the start of a terrific vacation at sea. On Sunday we boarded the Magic where Carnival was welcoming us to their fun ship. Embarkation was quick with no problems - about 20 minutes from arrival at the terminal to the lido deck for a brunch. Stateroom check-in was ahead of schedule and about 1230 we had our room and ready to explore the spa deck. The cloud nine spa is just plain fantastic. We tried the hot steam room and quickly decided it was for the more seasoned folks but the cooler steam room, the thermal suites and the thalosoltherapy pool were great. Every evening after supper we would enjoy the spa for about an hour before winding down for the night. The ropes course and the miniature golf were fun. We did not try the tall waterslides as we were not that adventurous. I had fun with the ping pong table all though there was no tournament scheduled as there are on all the other Carnival ships we have been on before. The Chef's table was great. I don't know how to describe the seven course meal served in the galley and they would not allow us to take photos down there but if I were given the opportunity to go again my answer would be a resounding where do I sign up! Our room steward (Anatoli) was one of the greatest. He always remembered our names and had the towel animals and chocolates in place when we wished to turn in. The complimentary laundry service Carnival offers platinum guest is also mighty handy when you run short on time in one day. If there was a negative during the cruise it would have to be the tendering in Belize. The ship captain had us where we were supposed to be at the scheduled time but the tenders were running an hour and a half behind. We have priority tendering but because we booked our reservation through Carnival we had to stay with our group and almost missed our scheduled activity for the day. I checked with the Carnival manager Lazlo and he said Carnival is doing the best they can with what is offered. We were about an hour late leaving Belize while we had to wait for the last cave tubing tour to get back to the ship. We missed our port of call in Mahogany Bay due to high winds but we were able to dock at Coxen Hole. Those who booked their shore excursions through Carnival were refunded missed excursions. We were able to make our excursion with no problem. Cozumel was crowded on Christmas Eve as there were a lot of ships in port. The helmet dive and Atlantis Submarine were great excursions in Cozumel. We closed out Christmas Day with the Steakhouse. We could not have had a better ending to our cruise then to have chosen the steakhouse. The food was far superior then in the main dining room and the desserts were enormous. During the cruise we had a new program called "my time dinning". You go to the dinning room when you want to eat and they give you a beeper. You are then free to go about your normal activities until it sounds. The wait was usually about 15 to 30 minutes which gave us time to get pictures put into the kiosk for developing the following day so our scrapbooks would be kept up to date. This worked out very well for us each evening and we would use this opportunity again for dinning. The casino was new and exciting. The one drawback to the casino is that between the hours of 2 am and 4 am you are allowed to play the slot machines but there is no way for you to cash out your winnings as they close the cashiers cage two hours early. This caught me somewhat by surprise as I have never happened on this type of situation in a casino before. You can place your winnings on your sign and sail card and wait till the evening of the following day when the casino reopens to cash out. Overall we had a wonderful experience and we can't wait to go again. Thank you Carnival for providing a fun ship experience. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
This was our sixth cruise as a family, and were all excited and had high hopes for the Carnival Magic. For the most part, the ship met our expectations. First we start with EMBARKATION Very quick and handled well by the staff. We ... Read More
This was our sixth cruise as a family, and were all excited and had high hopes for the Carnival Magic. For the most part, the ship met our expectations. First we start with EMBARKATION Very quick and handled well by the staff. We went from curbside to the ship in just under 20 minutes at around 12:30, but our cabin wasn't ready until 1:30. It definitely is a head-scratcher why Carnival chose Galveston as the Magic's homeport because of its lack of proximity to Caribbean ports, but nevertheless, embarkation was a breeze. Overall rating: A- ACTIVITIES ON BOARD On the top decks of the ship, activities were at a plenty. The SkyCourse was a blast, but not quite as fun as I had expected. The whole SportsSqaure idea was great, but very childish and only 1 ping-pong table for 4,000 people? Really?? The outside workout areas were a great idea, and I did use them quite often. Basketball court was fun, and the movie screen was a great way to pass the hours with great sound quality in comparison to Princess' MUTS. The waterpark, I must say, was amazingly fun, and the kids loved the spray area. The Lanai was great, with a bbq during days at sea that consisted of burgers and hot dogs that were actually quite good. Inside the ship though, during the day, the amount of activities was disappointingly low. Not much to do inside during the day, not much to do outside at night. Overall rating: B- FOOD The food was without a doubt INCREDIBLE. Great food in the dining room, the Cucina de Capitano, RedFrog, and amazing food in the Steakhouse. Breakfast was mediocre, but we had room service mostly. I have no complaints in regards to the food. Overall rating: A SERVICE Service was also amazing.....Everyone said hi in the hallway, and our waiting staff was always friendly and at our service. Just great. Overall rating: A+ SPA All I'm going to say is......most relaxing experience of my life. Overall rating: A+ ROOM Our balcony room was nice, but we had traveled in suites on our previous 2 cruises, included a loft suite on Oasis, so it seemed small. It did it's job, and having a balcony to me is a necessity. Beds were very comfortable, and there was enough room for the three of us in the room. Key word is enough. Four people in one balcony room would result in one person keeping some of their clothes in the luggage. Overall rating: B Costa Maya Easy on and off, great Chacchoben ruins, and I HIGHLY recommend booking with Native choice and doing the Ruins and Kayaking with lunch and the BACALAR LAGOON. Belize Not easy on and off, and actually had to miss our zip lining because of it. Cave tubing and ATVING was a blast, but even though cave-tubing.com was more chaotic then booking with Carnival, it was MUCH cheaper and I would recommend it. Roatan Personal favorite port, and we horseback rode on the beach with a visit to West End. If you go to Roatan, you NEED to go to West End. Great restaurants, beach and amazing snorkeling as I found out. Cozumel You can never go wrong with Cozumel. We sailed here on the America's Cup tour, and it was a blast. I highly recommend this tour and is actually a great workout. Nick Nacks Bathrooms far and wide. Serenity next to waterpark? Um, really? Low ceilings-over 6'4 you're going to be ducking inside. Not easy to get around the ship. Must pass through casino on deck 5. Ship would completely shut down after 1:30-nothing to do at all afterwards. Overall thoughts on the ship: A great ship with a lack of activities to do inside during the day and outside at night, but great food and service make it a ship I wouldn't mind cruising with again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
My family of 4 (two adults, 15 and 12 year old) and my in-laws from Texas just came back from a holiday cruise on the Mariner of the Sea out of Galveston (sail date Dec 18th - 26th). Overall, the vacation was okay, but it was seriously ... Read More
My family of 4 (two adults, 15 and 12 year old) and my in-laws from Texas just came back from a holiday cruise on the Mariner of the Sea out of Galveston (sail date Dec 18th - 26th). Overall, the vacation was okay, but it was seriously marred by poor management of the ship and crew. The trouble started when we tried to board on Dec 18th. As mentioned in a previous post, the ship had a high rate of flu-like disease in the previous sailing. Unbeknown to us, this virus onboard meant that the ship needed to thoroughly cleaned before boarding could start with new passengers. Boarding was supposed to be between noon and 4 pm. Our group of 6 arrived at the terminal at 1:30 pm and stood in a line that didn't move for over 2 hours! During this time, we got ZERO information from RC personnel, and only had some hearsay from the luggage porters about the virus cleaning situation. As we moved forward in the line after waiting, we realized that everyone was being loaded onto buses and being taken to the Galveston Convention Center for check-in. Fortunately, my in-laws are RC Platinum members so we averted a very long line at the convention center and checked in quickly. We then were given a bad cold sack lunch (it was around 4:30 pm at the time), and a number for a return bus. Our bus number was 48 and they were currently only loading bus 14, so we paid $20 to take a cab back to the ship and were able to board without further delay. The poor communication didn't stop there though. There was no posted or circulated updates to the ship's schedule for the first day. This lack of communication meant that the mandatory lifeboat drill happened right as our dinner was being served during our dinner. There was no update posted or distributed about revised activities and the kids clubs were closed but no notices were posted (the staff cleaning inside simply shooed us away). Regarding the rest of the cruise, I would best characterize it as "mediocre". The food in the main dining room and buffets were mediocre - consistently under-seasoned and rather dull. The food from Chops was outstanding, if you want to pay the $30 cover charge (or $15 for the filet entree in the main dining room). Other reviewers seemed to like Portofino's but I found the food to be on par with a chain restaurant like Macaroni Grill or Carraba's. The waitstaff was inconsistent - some were excellent and attentive, other times orders took exceedingly long or you got your beverage after you finished your meals. Especially annoying were the bar waiters and deck beverage staff who ignored or delayed requests for sodas on the pre-paid cards. When asking for a soda with "light ice" I consistently got a glass only 2/3 full and once I even saw the bartender dilute the drink with soda water. Another disappointment was the lack of holiday decorations and holiday related activities on this cruise. A few years ago we sailed New Year's on a Disney Cruise and found the environment to be much more festive and celebratory. On the Mariner, I felt that it was mostly business as usual. There was very few holiday related activities - a few religious services, a holiday trivia game and 15 minutes of Christmas Caroling. Decorations were pretty much confines to the Promenade area only. They did have present from Santa, where kids under 18 were given a wrapped present containing a small backpack or blanket. Also, there was a nice touch on Christmas morning when they had eggnog available. But again illustrative of poor communication with their staff, when we arrived in the dining room and asked for eggnog, the waitstaff (mostly from India) had no idea what eggnog was. Then just a few minutes later someone comes in with a trayful of the stuff. The onboard entertainers were also very disappointing, most of them with a target audience of 65+. You would think that RC would realize that a holiday cruise would have a lot of families and kids on board and adjust accordingly. The disembarkation process almost as equally chaotic and poorly communicated as the boarding. We were made to gather all of our luggage before joining a ill defined line for Immigration and Customs clearance. Evidently, the line moved half as fast if you toted your own luggage rather than use their porter service. We were supposed to disembark at 9:15 am, but did not clear customs until 11:15 am. When I asked several of the security officers in the terminal if this was common, they all admitted that this was an RC phenomenon, and did not happen with other lines out of Galveston. Overall the experience very much soured us against Royal Caribbean and we will be looking for another alternative for spring break. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
I couldn't wait to get on the boat. It had been many years since my last cruise, and the fact that I was so close I could see the captain in the bridge from the shore made me all the more annoyed that I couldn't get on the boat ... Read More
I couldn't wait to get on the boat. It had been many years since my last cruise, and the fact that I was so close I could see the captain in the bridge from the shore made me all the more annoyed that I couldn't get on the boat for another three hours. My family and I had chosen to go on a cruise over Christmas with the recent passing of our father. We decided Christmas at home would be too much to handle, and we decided to get away for the holidays to distract us. We arrived in Galveston Texas on Sunday, December 18th to board the Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas en route to the Western Caribbean. That excitement was soon quelled when we were told there was a Norovirus outbreak on the ship during the cruise just before ours. We were told we had to wait an addition three hours before boarding. I wanted so desperately to get angry and annoyed, but RC was doing their job. They had to clean our boat so we wouldn't get sick. They shuttled us all to a convention center where we could register for the cruise, and provided us with sack lunches. Ham sandwich with chips and an apple, or vegetarian. There were some scattered sodas, but overall the appearance was awful and lacked professionalism. I'm sure it was the best they could gather in such short notice, but I feel like there is a plan arranged for scenarios like this. Either way it was a mess, and there were countless annoyed and angry customers. Once on the boat, the annoyance seemed to disappear. RC has a beautiful ship with the Mariner of the Seas. It's truly a spectacular ship, and fun to walk through. I was impressed with all the boat had to offer, and the ship itself was the highlight of the cruise from RC's side. The ports are in their own category. The first thing I noticed about the ship was the abundance of alcohol. I've heard cruises are like going to Vegas on the sea. If you don't gamble and you don't drink, it's probably not the best experience. I would have to agree. I don't drink or gamble, and constantly felt like an outsider. There was a "compass" set out for each day's activities, and I was pleased with the number of activities that could occupy my time since drinking wasn't an option. I quickly observed that the majority of activities were geared toward the teens in their own three floors of the boat specifically for them, or "name that 70's tune" and other older generation games. Being in my late 20's, I felt a little left out. Next there's the food. I must say that even though I had a great time with my family the food was a HUGE disappointment. There were three places to eat that were included in the purchase of the cruise: The Cafe Promenade, The Windjammer Cafe, and the main dining room. I was constantly disappointed by all three. The Cafe Promenade was open 24/7 and had a great assortment of sandwiches and desserts, but everything was quite average tasting. Expected for a mass-produced all-night cafe. The Windjammer was the buffet-style dining area where you can go and eat as you please. I had breakfast there once and never went back. The food was so terrible there I never ate there again. It was truly remarkable. People like to eat on a cruise and have comfort food, and so far I was 0-2 with my eating options. Lastly is the main dining room. The courses were average at best with a few winners, but overall I LOST two pounds for the duration of the cruise because I didn't want to eat. I was terribly upset at how bad the food was. The staff was very pleasant and kind--always there to greet you and assist, but there was a huge language barrier. I didn't meet a single waiter who spoke fluent English, and I had the hardest time finding someone who could help a family member order vegan and gluten free. They tried so hard, and were so great to give so much effort, but the language barrier was ultimately too much to handle and my family member couldn't eat a whole meal a lot of times. Our stateroom attendant didn't speak much of any English, and it seemed almost comical at times that we couldn't communicate with a majority of the staff on the boat. My brothers and I are sports fans and were so excited to learn there was a sports bar on board. Unfortunately, RC's idea of a sports bar is just another bar with three TVs that are turned to a sports channel. We were cruising over the NBA's opening weekend with several other NCAA college football bowl games and the ship didn't carry any of them. We didn't see any sports except for brief recaps on the ESPN Caribbean channel. My feelings on this are as follows: If your ship is full of 88% North Americans why on EARTH would you not carry American ESPN channels? That was also very disappointing. Overall, the ship was great. The delay in departure meant we had to speed up to account for lost time, so the ship was going quite fast the first few days. That meant a lot more wind, and it made it uncomfortable to stay on the outer deck. Like I said earlier, the ship was the highlight of this cruise. Not the food or staff or anything else. The ship itself was marvelous. If you like to drink and you don't mind a hefty bar tab, and you don't mind eating EXTREMELY average to below average food, this may be a great cruise for you. I, on the other hand, didn't enjoy paying $1,200 to eat terrible food and read my book while others got slobbering drunk. I can do that for free at home. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Embarkation: Got to ship around noon and embarkation was a breeze. Was on board in less than 30 minutes. Lines moved fast. The Ship was nicely decorated and looked great. Since we were on the Lido deck our room was ready so we could ... Read More
Embarkation: Got to ship around noon and embarkation was a breeze. Was on board in less than 30 minutes. Lines moved fast. The Ship was nicely decorated and looked great. Since we were on the Lido deck our room was ready so we could drop off carry ons and explore. If you have been on any Carnival ship you will have no problems finding your way around. Food: This is the only area that I found lacking. I have been on carnival before and found that there food service has gone down. They seem not to have enough waitstaff in the main dining room and some nights it took forever to get service. The Steakhouse was well worth the extra money. The food and service were exceptional. However the Italian restaurant I would definitely skip. Eat there free for lunch if you want but do not spend the extra dough to go at night. The food on Lido was overall good. Hamburgers, Hot Dogs, Pizza and Sandwiches. Some lines did get long during peak times but that is expected. Crowds: This was a holiday sailing and we were completely full with lots of kids. I never felt crowded though. I will say that we did not do any shows so I do not know about the crowds in the showroom. We never had a problem finding a chair. Never saw a lot of chair hogs. Not even a long line at the slides when we went. Kids Clubs: My son is 15 and before we left he said he would probably not go to the club. Well that definitely changed. Could not keep him out every night after dinner. He was usually in Club O2 until closing. He net a lot of new friends and even my shy son did karaoke. Staff: Always friendly and remembered our names and usual drink orders by day 2. I will say that they do seem to need more staff. One night they only had one server on Lido as we watched a movie and we always seemed to have to ask for waitstaff in the Casino. Our room steward was great. Always friendly and we had towel animals every night except the one night he rolled up the beach towels with my tennis shoes on the ends and had them sticking out from under the bed. Make me and my husband almost spit a drink out of nose when we saw it. Had to call everyone one to see. Behind the Fun Tour: This was the first ship tour I had ever done and since it was a new ship and my son wanted to do it we did. It was a great tour. A wealth of information. Great to see how everything works on the ship. The only problem with this tour came when they were suppose to send some stuff to our cabin. A group of us went so one person bought the tickets and even though we went through the steps of setting up which rooms and which person with the excursion desk and with the tour guide still took 3 phone calls and 2 trips to guest services to get this straightened out and was not resolved until last day of the trip when the tour happened on the 2nd day. Rooms: We had handicapped rooms 10202 and 10210 due to my spouse. Our room was 10202 which is a 4J. Loved the room. Enough space for our needs. And the view was great. However there is a lot of movement on this ship. More than I have felt on any ship. And forget sleeping when they turn on the thrusters. The other room 10210 was also a HC room but it was so small. I would not get this room if you are confined to wheelchair or use a power chair. Overall: Great cruise and we enjoyed ourselves immensely. We would do it again in a heartbeat. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
We enjoyed ourselves immensely. It was fun watching all the families celebrating together. We were blessed to be seated with dining companions in our age group and all of us with common interests. We don't understand why Carnival ... Read More
We enjoyed ourselves immensely. It was fun watching all the families celebrating together. We were blessed to be seated with dining companions in our age group and all of us with common interests. We don't understand why Carnival is afraid to enforce their dress policy, however. Why publish Cruise Elegant guidelines if you're going to allow a guy in a baseball cap and a guy in shorts to dine in the Northern Lights on Cruise Elegant nights? This is just disrespectful to the other guests. Also, we did not understand why unaccompanied children were allowed to sit at the bar in the Red Frog Pub, then hop from table to table. The ship provides plenty of kid's spaces, so why are they allowed in the bar without parents? The bartender informed us he did not want to offend them by asking them to leave. The food in the Prime Steakhouse was excellent, although the portions were overwhelming! Service was fantastic! Can't say the same for the food or the service in the Northern Lights, though. In fact, the last night of our cruise, the food was so bad that no one at our table even ate it! Overall, we'll stick to the smaller cruise lines from now on. Having said that, we still would not have missed this opportunity to sail on such a beautiful ship! Read Less
Sail Date December 2011

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