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49 Caribbean - All Gay & Lesbian Cruise Reviews

Great time with family. Better than staying at home. If you have special abilities members of your family this is the place to go (with the exception of Shore Excursions helpfulness). The ship is great and assessable. Staff is ... Read More
Great time with family. Better than staying at home. If you have special abilities members of your family this is the place to go (with the exception of Shore Excursions helpfulness). The ship is great and assessable. Staff is wonderful and willing to help when needed. Always felt very comfortable at letting them just go about their day without us having to worry about them. From the entertainment staff to the the room Stewart, to the staff cleaning all were helpful (except shore excursion). You will be very pleased with the experience onboard. The medallion was such a great asset. You were able to locate and not worry about your party. Thanks again for making this a memorable event. And yes, we did book another cruise. Our special needs group also booked a cruise and they are planning on going alone, and I am sure they will be very pleased with the trip. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
You'd think it would be difficult to be pissed off after spending a week somewhere as gorgeous as the Caribbean. But congratulations, Regal Princess - you've succeeded. I'll start with a little background: This was the ... Read More
You'd think it would be difficult to be pissed off after spending a week somewhere as gorgeous as the Caribbean. But congratulations, Regal Princess - you've succeeded. I'll start with a little background: This was the FOURTH cruise I've taken with Princess just this year alone - and my second on the Regal. I'm not the type to complain about every little issue on a cruise - I'm generally pretty easy to please. I did Panama Canal last month on the Island Princess and it was amazing. Zero complaints. I wrote a great review after that cruise because they deserved it. I just got home from a seven day Western Caribbean cruise on the Regal Princess. The ports of call and shore excursions were excellent, as always, but many things about the ship itself were pretty terrible. I don't even know where to begin, so I'll take it from the top... I boarded the ship the first day and headed up to the Riviera Deck to my stateroom - R311. I immediately noticed a funky smell in the hallway - almost like the cleaning products used to deodorize a toilet in a bus or airplane bathroom. It was pretty gross. I noticed that the carpets were wet, too, so I assumed that they had just wet vacuumed the hallways or something. I went into my stateroom and began unpacking. The carpet in front of my bathroom was also wet - bad enough that my socks got soaked after stepping on it. And the bathroom itself smelled like urine, which really bothered me, because I had the same problem last Spring in my stateroom on the Aloha deck. Later in the afternoon I went to explore the ship and stopped by the front desk to tell them about the smell in the bathroom. They said they'd have the steward take care of it, and he did - when I went back to my room an hour or so later, the bathroom had been bleached and scrubbed and the smell was almost totally gone (note: if you want your steward to take great care of you, give him/her a $20 tip at the beginning of the cruise as soon as you meet them and they'll do almost anything for you). I was tired that evening and decided to just order room service. This also turned into an exercise in frustration. I called several times and nobody answered. I was put on hold each time. After spending about 10-15 minutes waiting, I'd had enough and called the front desk to complain. They said they'd have the room service people call me back, and eventually, they did. I tried not to get too worked up about the situation because it was the first night of the cruise, and the room service staff are often pretty backed up at this time. I ordered the lobster and steak and paid $19 for it (it wasn't worth it, and not only that, they got my order wrong). Later in the evening I tried calling the dining reservations line to make a reservation for the following evening at Sabitini's, and same situation - nobody answered. I gave up after several attempts. That night I went to bed in a not great mood but was hopeful that the rest of the cruise would be much better. I was startled awake at 5:30am by a SCREECHING alarm that went off in my stateroom. I called the front desk and they said they were aware of the problem - someone else had also called from their room on Riviera to report the same thing - and that they were working on fixing it. The alarm continued screeching for another 15 to 20 minutes. At this point, I'm wide awake, and I go to use the bathroom. I open the bathroom door and the bathroom stinks like urine again. Now I'm definitely not happy. There's no way I'm getting back to sleep. The alarm is still going off. I go down nine flights of stairs to the front desk to complain about the alarm and the smell of the bathroom. They send a housekeeping manager up to my room to check out the bathroom, and he sends the plumber up. Eventually the alarm turns off. The plumber fiddles around with the bathroom drains for 15 minutes or so, and then says he's sorry but there's not much he can do - the entire Riviera deck was flooded yesterday by a burst pipe, which is causing the sewer smell in both the hallway and possibly the smell in my stateroom bathroom, too. Basically, I'm out of luck. I appreciated the honesty, because this was the first time someone had the decency to actually explain to me what the TRUE situation was. A simple letter of apology or acknowledgement from Princess would've gone a long way here. "Hey, sorry the hallway is flooded and smells like a sewer and we did nothing to warn you", or "hey, sorry to wake you up from a sound sleep at 5:30am with an ear-splitting alarm that went off in dozens of rooms for 20+ minutes with zero explanation and no way to quickly turn off". Needless to say, this never happened. In any event, I called guest services and told them that I wanted a new room on a different deck. They said the ship was filled to capacity but that they'd see what they could do and get back to me. I heard nothing back for several hours. It wasn't until I got my travel agent involved AND threatened to contest the entire cost of the cruise with my credit card company that guest services finally had someone up the chain reach back out to me. I received a call a little later from Dean - the guest services director - and he was fantastic. I really need to give credit where credit is due here. I explained to him that pretty much every single thing about the cruise up until that point had been a complete nightmare, and that nobody on staff either seemed to care and/or had the ability to help me fix the problems I was having. I pretty much gave him a list of complaints and he immediately began addressing and trying to fix each one. It made all the difference in the world to me that he took my complaints seriously and actually worked to correct them. He even made me a complimentary reservation at Sabitini's that evening. Without my experience with Dean and his help resolving everything here, I doubt i'd ever be taking a Princess cruise again. From this point on, some things improved and some didn't. I went to Sabitini's that evening and this was literally the highlight of the cruise. They were so welcoming and friendly - the level of service and quality were amazing. I wish the entire cruise was like this. It meant so much to me that they actually treated me like a guest, because for most of the cruise up until this point (and after it), I felt like just a number. The ports of call and shore excursions were all excellent. Thank God for that because this helped the cruise not seem like a complete disaster. I did have some fun, at least. But overall, the negative experiences I had that first day or two of the cruise overshadowed the entire vacation, especially because many of them were never completely resolved. The hallway and bathroom continued to smell, it was difficult to get a human being on the phone when calling room service, the dining reservation line, or even the front desk, and the ship seemed very understaffed for the amount of guests on board. With so many shortcomings during this cruise, I've been trying to put my finger on how things could've gone so noticeably downhill since my last Regal cruise this past March. My theory is that it all boils down to the Medallion system. It's obvious that Princess is eliminating staff and replacing them with a terribly inadequate and cumbersome system of online Medallion applications. What a huge mistake. Human beings should not be replaced by automation in an industry where the overall level of quality/satisfaction is so heavily determined by the level of care/attention you receive from actual humans. If I go to McDonald's, I don't care if the human interaction is replaced by a self-service kiosk. When I'm on a cruise, it's a completely different story. Not to mention the fact that the apps often don't work or drastically limit the number of things you can do/order compared to when you interact with an actual human staff member - which often necessitates an additional human interaction, anyway. The few staff still employed seemed totally overwhelmed with the number of guests on board. They couldn't keep up, guests were getting frustrated, there were lines for almost everything, and the decreased morale was pretty apparent. it's a lose-lose situation for everyone involved. I really hope someone high up at Princess reads this review. Some of the issues on this cruise might've been bad luck, but others were entirely preventable. A lot of it boils down to customer service. I've given Princess many thousands of dollars in business in the past year alone. Just because I'm on the younger side, and traveling solo, doesn't mean I should receive a lower level of service than an older couple or a family with kids - and that was the impression I got again and again on this cruise (as well as other Princess cruises I've taken). I guarantee you I'm contributing just as much to your bottom line as these people, if not more. Perhaps you should realize who your truly loyal customers are, and start treating them that way. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
I came to Princess after some posh cruises on a competitor. The first was an Alaska Inside Passage that was all good EXCEPT the quality of food and the staff who were so surley...from the cabin steward to the dining staff. However, a ... Read More
I came to Princess after some posh cruises on a competitor. The first was an Alaska Inside Passage that was all good EXCEPT the quality of food and the staff who were so surley...from the cabin steward to the dining staff. However, a promotion lured us back and I am so glad we gave Princess another chance. In 2018 we did a Southeast Asia cruise on the Sapphire Princess and were very satisfied. The Regal is a 3500 passenger ship - a little large for our taste. We were happy to see they have "greened" up; replacing one-time use things with cloth napkins, flatware, glassware. Both the staff and the food were phenomenal. The line seemed very gay friendly (is that a term?) - inclusive I guess is better. The Medallion experience was OK. When they get all the bugs out it will be great. If you like to snorkel I recommend bringing your own equipment - there are lots of opportunities in this itinerary. We didn't really care about the ports of call. We always book a local guide for private excursions to immerse in the culture (as much as is possible in a half day) and for the personal connection. I avoid all excursions that include shopping. Jamaica was great fun. Climbing the famous Dunn River Falls is not as strenuous as reported, we saw some pretty outa shape folks doing it. For the "secret, hidden" Blue hole or White river area - skip the big bus and go to Island Gully Falls. We really loved it and had personal attention. Do not try to drive there yourself - get a driver or taxi, the mountain roads are daunting. Grand Cayman was unimpressive because we didn't go offshore since we snorkel on Princess Cay and in Cozumel. The Grand Cayman port staff said we needed a taxi to go to Caymen Spirits rum distillery- a tour we booked in advance. They said our map wasn't to scale and it was too far and too much traffic. But it was a little over ONE MILE and we easily walked back to port in 20 minutes. Enroute we stopped at a grocer and got the sunscreen and spices we wanted for 1/3 the harborside shop prices. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
Beautiful beaches great islands. We got upgraded to a penthouse (handicapped) but didn't bother us since it was bigger than the other suites. Almost the size of an owners suite and updated furniture ! The pre cruise and post cruise ... Read More
Beautiful beaches great islands. We got upgraded to a penthouse (handicapped) but didn't bother us since it was bigger than the other suites. Almost the size of an owners suite and updated furniture ! The pre cruise and post cruise arrival and departure was through seabourn and without any issues. La samana in st martin and Fairmont Barbados both great properties! The downgrade for this trip is the restaurant service in the buffet restaurant was horrible you would get a drink and never see your waiter again for any sort of refill! This was a recurrent theme on the ship even after we commented to the managers in the buffet. The saving grace were the two Alex waiters. They were the best on the ship and we always looked for them and they saved the dining experience for us even the Keller restaurant Grill was just OK. Our stewardess Sonja was gracious and responded to our requests. The guests on the ship were friendly and cocktailed! The shows talent was excellent. The ports were all amazing. I hope that the service doesn't keep slipping on Seabourn since there are great cruises on Silversea and Regent for the same price point and better service! Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
We went with a large group (100+) organized by a very reputable agency. The agency owner & key organizer traveled with us & did their best to address issues, but... The room was consistently over 75 Fahrenheit - even after two ... Read More
We went with a large group (100+) organized by a very reputable agency. The agency owner & key organizer traveled with us & did their best to address issues, but... The room was consistently over 75 Fahrenheit - even after two visits from engineering staff. Front desk said it wasn't possible to send a fan... In a truly bizarre twist, the cold water was over 100 Fahrenheit - I've never before had a hot cold shower. Before booking, specified that we would need multiple electrical outlets at bedside (both use CPAP + other med device) - no problem. When we arrived, there was a 1-outlet extension cord & no outlets near bed. It took 2 calls & 3 increasingly heated visits to customer service before finally getting a 3-outlet strip to use with the cord. Partner uses a 48-lb collapsible power chair, but can do short standing transfers. There are no accessible excursions on this voyage... none. Had a great time on the islands hiring our own (considerably cheaper) private excursion or renting a car. Cabin hallways are consistently clogged with housekeeping carts. The cruise director is regularly on the overhead screeching about the latest sale & the entire ship is designed around squeezing out every dollar possible. The 'Sports Deck' has no sports... it's the kid's area. Highlights Some of the staff were truly exceptional. Some of the dining room dishes were excellent and creative. Most of the theater presentations were excellent. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
I first experienced "Your World, Your Way" service on the Riviera in 2017. A 21 day Med cruise, It was fantastic! This was largely due to the fact that Peter Roberts was the Cruise Director and his partner Jason Parsons was the ... Read More
I first experienced "Your World, Your Way" service on the Riviera in 2017. A 21 day Med cruise, It was fantastic! This was largely due to the fact that Peter Roberts was the Cruise Director and his partner Jason Parsons was the Assistant Cruise Director, they were amazing. The food and service on Riviera was also amazing and due to this experience the folks that I met on the Riviera decided to book Insignia 14 day Caribbean. Thank goodness we were with 6 other friends, or we could not have bared the thought of 2 weeks on this ship. Where to start...let's start with the biggest problem, the cruise director! We disliked him so much, we can't even remember his name, we believe it was Ray. We heard the guy on the loud speaker announcements daily and didn't get to see him until day 5. We tried to be friendly with him and one person in our party went over to him to see if he was going to sing at karaoke or not - the Cruise Director was staring at this phone all through the event. He looked up at the person in our group and very sarcastically said - "I hire singers, I don't sing", then went straight back to his phone. All of us were dumbfounded! Believe it or not, it got worse, he then went over to the bartenders and started pointing and laughing at our group - we had no idea why, perhaps he thought his sarcastic remark to a gentleman in our group was funny???? Disgusting!!! Remember, when traveling as a group of 8 on Oceania we spent over 50K for the two week cruise - this type of behaviour should not be tolerated. School children are better behaved! The food quality, in my personal opinion, has dropped since we cruise on Riviera in 2017. On Riviera, the quality and selection were extremely good - especially in the specialty restaurants. On Insignia however they were marginal. My entree in Toscana was horrible - how on earth can you mess up a plate of pasta? The pasta in the buffet was 100% better. I went to culinary school for 2 years, and believe and am qualified enough to remark on the food quality. * The buffet was mediocre and repetitious. * The main dining room was the best place to eat, but again, the quality was not up to par * Bar Services at all venues were quite good This ship underwent a dry dock very recently and it appears they just concentrated on the cabins and updated the furniture and carpet in the public areas. On the pool deck the boards were loose and warped. I watched more than one person take a stumble on it. There were very elderly people on this, you would thing that Oceania would spend the money to fix the teak deck. The ship also looks tired on the outside - lots of rust and Overall - Your World, Your Way - I think not. This will be our last Oceania Cruise. The cost associated for this trip was NOT fulfilled in any way. We have paid much less on Princess, Celebrity and Holland American and no longer see the benefits of this marketed "UPSCALE" line. This line needs to re-think their approach, it's not working any longer. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Everything was incredible!! They make you feel like family and you never want to leave the ship! The food was world class and the service on the ship was otherworldly, the drinks on board were incredible and allowed you to venture into a ... Read More
Everything was incredible!! They make you feel like family and you never want to leave the ship! The food was world class and the service on the ship was otherworldly, the drinks on board were incredible and allowed you to venture into a whole other culture and a whole other world of excitement! It is a wonderful mix of people and every passenger on board was so fun and excited and so sweet to everyone else. The stage shows that they put on our like a broadway musical and the performers can sing with the best of them! They have a full range of things for you to do whether it’s hanging by the 5 pools and jacuzzi’s they have, learning about the many secrets of pirate treasure, world class shopping with incredible deals, or anything else you can think of, there is never ever a dull moment. Everything was so smooth especially with their new medallion you use for everything!! It is the best thing out there!! 100% recommend!!! Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
they clean your room everyday, Varieties of food, Dining experience is really awesome. service is great, Ice cream bar was great, international cafe, Karaoke bar, fitness room, Art auction, love the idea of formal night and going to a fine ... Read More
they clean your room everyday, Varieties of food, Dining experience is really awesome. service is great, Ice cream bar was great, international cafe, Karaoke bar, fitness room, Art auction, love the idea of formal night and going to a fine dining after having pictures from the photographers and you will your pictures that same day...you can watch live shows everyday with their funny Cruise director & his staff, lots of entertainment and things to do, love all this fun games with the staff especially with the cruise director Matt, foods is great, enough restaurants to choose, great service, smooth sailing and they are organized, i will plan a next cruise this year again and i will convince some of my relatives and friends to join me and my wife for the next cruise before end of 2019, and hoping they will come out a promotion to back up my plan Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We have been traveling with Princess for 15 years and they are consistently good. We are not up for a late night party crowd and not looking to have kids running around... so the critical comments about it being an older crowd are ... Read More
We have been traveling with Princess for 15 years and they are consistently good. We are not up for a late night party crowd and not looking to have kids running around... so the critical comments about it being an older crowd are actually a plus for me. Over the years the bar service has been changing, especially so after the drink packages were introduced. Instead of an annoying army of folks always asking if you want a cocktail, now you usually have to get your own... and the attentiveness of the bar staff is not as good as it was historically. The entertainment is good enough but nothing special. The food is great with a HUGE selection of choices at the buffet. Cabins have been fine and comfortable. Balconies seem to be getting smaller on the new ships. In particular on the Regal I LOVE the area near the retreat pool with the sun screens on the edges which don't block but diffuse the full force of the sun. I really wish they did this on more of their ships. Being a gay couple I will also note that this has never been an issue on any our our cruises. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
There were some islands on this cruise we've not been to before, which is the reason we took it. That & the wonderful food on board Riviera. We do need to stress that entertainment is rather bland on this ship. The food IS the ... Read More
There were some islands on this cruise we've not been to before, which is the reason we took it. That & the wonderful food on board Riviera. We do need to stress that entertainment is rather bland on this ship. The food IS the entertainment. We're both in the food industry & this is a reason we've done 2 cruises on the Riviera. We'd have gone back in 2020 for another 14 days, but the only cruise is a 14 day "midweek" type cruise. We hate getting back midweek. We like that 2 day relaxing affair that a Fri-Sat cruise ending affords. Unpacking etc. winding down from the enjoyment & getting ready to be back to work(Uhhgg!) We've noticed with lots of cruises, that the quality starts to slide each year. Not so on Oceania. Our cabin was 8100, which is a great cabin. You hop off the elevator & you're right outside your door. NO noise issues at all. The only thing was, that a prior guest had "bent" the shower door a bit, so it didn't close properly. This allowed water to get out, which wet the floor allowing for the floor tiles to get wet & "pop" up. We notified our attendant about this...It looked like it had been going on awhile as you could see new grout in the floor. This time they fixed the problem & no more issues after about day 3. The room itself was very nice. Fairly large for a Veranda type cabin. With a decent sized Veranda, that you could actually relax on. If there is one thing about Oceania that we've noticed, it's that they really don't offer much to the LGBT community. There was one & only one get together & it was set right at dinner time. Needless to say we didn't attend. Last year we share a table with a Texas couple In Polo Grill, who upon "figuring" us out, just totally "clammed" up for the rest of the meal. Not a good experience for us or them. This Year we had to again share a table(this time in Jacques)The couple saw us & immediately came up with the excuse that the table was too close to the entrance(not at all!) So we had a 4 person table to ourselves & thoroughly enjoyed it. It's obvious to the reader that we try to not share tables to avoid making us or other tablemates uncomfortable. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
We were looking for a relaxing and fun way to start the new year. We were not disappointed! The crew was very friendly and took special care to make sure we were comfortable. The food was excellent with a lot of variety and choices of both ... Read More
We were looking for a relaxing and fun way to start the new year. We were not disappointed! The crew was very friendly and took special care to make sure we were comfortable. The food was excellent with a lot of variety and choices of both informal dining as well as more formal restaurants. Both lunch and dinner included wine, which was consistently of high quality and delicious. A pleasant surprise was the quality of the onboard entertainment — professional-level shows that presented selections from ABBA, the 60s, and the Beatles. We had a junior suite, which was very comfortable. The ship had many seating areas for taking sun and enjoying quiet conversation. There was also a well-stocked library. Finally, the gym was quite large with plenty of equipment, free weights and workout space. The one concern was that the embarkation dock was changed from J to F at the last moment, and we were not informed. Therefore, we had to scramble to get to the other dock and were worried about missing the ship. The high point was certainly the New Year's Eve party and dance! This cruise was truly an experience to remember! Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
Wonderful ship and crew... all the amenities without the amusement park. The ships staff and services was a bit overwhelmed the second week which was Christmas but they still tried very hard to accommodate 500 more people than the normal ... Read More
Wonderful ship and crew... all the amenities without the amusement park. The ships staff and services was a bit overwhelmed the second week which was Christmas but they still tried very hard to accommodate 500 more people than the normal sailing. Entertainment was great and I highly recommend Kori Simon in the Piano bar and Barbi McCulloch and the ships entertainers in the show ENCORE! The Secret Silk show was ambitious as well. Dining was varied and always wonderful and the ships International Cafe and coffees were a great addition. If visiting Roatan I highly recommend going off the regular choices and seek out Daniel Johnson’s Monkey and Sloth Hangout. It was an amazing tour and the highlight of my trip. Check them out on TripAdvisor and reserve your spot ahead of time. Alexander, the ships cruise director was a pro and his staff kept everything running like clockwork. The casino was a bit hit and miss but that’s why they call it gambling. Overall another great Princess cruise. Can’t go wrong with the Royal or Regal Princess Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
We have been using NCL for almost a decade, even had our wedding on Breakaway in 2015, but Escape is same class ship tuned down on interior design. Ship is simple design with no personally, practical floating hotel. We stayed in balcony ... Read More
We have been using NCL for almost a decade, even had our wedding on Breakaway in 2015, but Escape is same class ship tuned down on interior design. Ship is simple design with no personally, practical floating hotel. We stayed in balcony room with a baby and toddler and it was OK, steward was OK, always busy and barely have time to anyone to talk. Management of the ship was an amazing crew, and anyone under was complete mess. Waiters in restaurants don't know what they doing and would screw up any simple order. Food in restaurants was OK, but buffet food is awful, minimum choices, a lot of cheap meat, no seafood or even NCL signature Norwegian lox. Specialties restaurant's food was amazing, and pricey and will make your wallet cry! In 14 days cruise we had only 2 free show After Midnight, Brat Pack, second one did not made any sense. Choir of Man show, is paid show with prefix dinner setting, was OK. We had one stop cancel due to 2 heliocopter lifts from the ship first two days with no explanation, and remaining stops were simple beach destinations. We end up spending more time on the ship due to cancelled stop, and there is nothing to do there. Kids sevice is ok for 3+ and for baby you have to pay $20 for 1 hour 50 min selected slot time. Overall experience of this cruise, is that NCL is cutting their cost by taking quality out of scope in any possible way they can. NCL becoming low class, no frills cruise line. Based off our last 14 day cruise, we are not coming back with NCL to cruise and will be looking for more classy company to cruise with. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
The Bad : Ship shakes under sail and unbelievably worse in port, especially annoying when you are dining. Common areas good condition but we had hit and miss cabins this fall and winter, some ok and some awful condition. Ship staff said ... Read More
The Bad : Ship shakes under sail and unbelievably worse in port, especially annoying when you are dining. Common areas good condition but we had hit and miss cabins this fall and winter, some ok and some awful condition. Ship staff said they can’t update the rooms without a dry dock and the company keeps putting that off. Personally had and witnessed some negative interactions with the Guest Services Staff. As typical of the brand no built in activies for active adults and children. Just off a Christmas cruise on another ship of the brand, many families cruising and the young people were bored out of their minds. Royal Caribbean, Carnival or Norwegian would have been a better choice for a family vacation. The Good: The company has invested in Internet upgrades for this ship. Room and Dining staff generally excellent as is usual throughout the brand. Food quality and selection was on par with the brand and far superior to Royal Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
I read several reviews on this site before deciding to book. I normally stick with Royal Caribbean and Celebrity and have 30 cruises under my belt. I've done Princess, Holland America, NCL, RCCL, and Celebrity. During and after my ... Read More
I read several reviews on this site before deciding to book. I normally stick with Royal Caribbean and Celebrity and have 30 cruises under my belt. I've done Princess, Holland America, NCL, RCCL, and Celebrity. During and after my cruise, I was wondering if I had been on the same ship as the people who were so critical of the NCL Getaway. Granted it's not a top of the line cruiseship, but it definitely delivered great food, lots of fun things to do, a very diverse clientele, great pools and water parks, and pretty good food. So here are the things that I really liked and didn't like about my cruise as compared to what I'm used to on RCCL and Celebrity. Liked: - Self-serve soft ice cream that ALWAYS worked - The NCL mobile app is awesome on board! - The use of lights instead of cards for do not disturb, make up my room, and I'm in my room - Margaritaville - Lots of diverse bars - Quality and selection of food - The spa is definitely worth the extra money--amazingly relaxing and great place to watch - Coffee (which another reviewer said sucked) - Very few wheelchairs and motorized carts (because it's a younger group of people) - Lots of restaurants have alfresco dining on the deck (excellent idea!) - Lots of separate places for adults, children, and teens (even an adults only pool) - Breakfast pizza - 3D movies in the auditorium with free popcorn - Not having to "check out" pool towels against your room card - Harvest Caye in Belize is amazing--so huge and new! - Having the pool to myself while in port - Made to order dessert crepes in the buffet area Disliked: - Poor selection on TV (but why watch TV when you're on a cruise) - Toiletries in the room (bring your own soap and shampoo, which I always do anyway) - Having to get or buy tickets for some of the entertainment shows - Women cleaning the men's restrooms (awkward) - WiFi sucks (but it does on most ships anyway) - Fish and chips in Cagneys (I don't recommend it) I never saw stained towels like some of the reviews mentioned. My cabin was spotless and the cabin attendant was extremely responsive. Onboarding and deboarding were completely painless, smooth, and very, very quick. All in all, it was a great cruise. I booked a week before it sailed as a last-minute getaway from work and traveled alone since my partner couldn't make it. I was offered the opportunity to upgrade from an inside cabin to a balcony for a small fee, which I took and glad I did. Traveling alone worked fine. I don't like the regular restaurants that much anyway, so the buffet worked well for almost every meal. BTW, if you're into snorkeling, definitely go to the Chankanaab Beach Park in Cozumel either on your own (with a taxi) or through a shore excursion. You won't regret it. Harvest Caye in Belize was spectacular. Very modern, clean, beautifully landscaped, great beach, and amazing pool with a swim-up bar. Definitely beats Coco Cay and Labadee from RCCL. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
Wanted my first cruise to be on a very large ship, the room were great excellent customer service, ports were good, the food on the buffet everyday was excellent however the food in the restaurant was prepared well but had no seasoning ... Read More
Wanted my first cruise to be on a very large ship, the room were great excellent customer service, ports were good, the food on the buffet everyday was excellent however the food in the restaurant was prepared well but had no seasoning very bland...and needed better deserts like red velvet cake, carrot cake, some American deserts. overall Excellent I would choose MSC again ! I feel activities were very good it was so much to do and see at each port, it was just amazing everyone was nice and polite, the experience for myself and my friends, I will stay in the state room on the top floor next time, would of like to met the captain and seen the ships from the steering room, we all felt very safe ! I just think it was so fascinating that a ship of it's size able to float and move as fast as it does....note would like to see better internet service and wifi with no additional charge.....over all simply amazing can't wait until the next one will booking soon for October ! Captain Nice work you and the crew ! Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
We chose the Escape because of the itinerary, the price, the reviews of the ship and the food. We had the ultimate beverage package which was fantastic! All drinks under $15 were free, anything over you just had to pay the difference for. ... Read More
We chose the Escape because of the itinerary, the price, the reviews of the ship and the food. We had the ultimate beverage package which was fantastic! All drinks under $15 were free, anything over you just had to pay the difference for. For those with the package, keep in mind that any drinks ordered while still in the Miami port will incur taxes on it that are not covered. The staff was super friendly and went the extra mile to make sure you enjoyed your stay. You can tell that Norwegian treats them all like family. Food was good and the ship is very nice and modern. Like others have mentioned previously, there should be more pools/hot tubs for the number of people on board. The water slides were awesome! The onboard entertianment could also be improved but there were a few good shows and activities. Overall we had a fantastic week and would definitely sail with Norwegian again! Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
The ship is impressive. Beautiful with gorgeous details such as granite in buffets, bathtubs in some rooms and gorgeous spacious balconies. This high tech higher touch cruiseliner is worth trying out. I plan to make it my go to cruise for ... Read More
The ship is impressive. Beautiful with gorgeous details such as granite in buffets, bathtubs in some rooms and gorgeous spacious balconies. This high tech higher touch cruiseliner is worth trying out. I plan to make it my go to cruise for the future. Get the app as it’s is helpful to plan and book shows. I recommend booking all your shows around your dinner as reservations are priority over last minute attendees. Great original shows. Very “cirque de soleil” in style. Singers, dancers, acrobatics Lots to do for keen. Many pools. Great to have kids areas. Best food. I will call this the pizza cruise as the pizza was amazing. Casino is small but very friendly staff. Didn’t make it the gym...too far from buffet (lol) but I went once nd it is nicely equipped. Medical visit to see dr is $95 in morning and $125 after lunch. Suggestions: bring hair conditioner and skin lotions. Also many extras available to buy yoga classes $11, Zip line $5, 5d cinema $10, shops, gelato, cappuccino, drinks if not on a package, etc. Overall rating: luxury and wonderful ***** Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
This was my first ever cruise and it was nothing short of amazing. This was by far my favorite trip I have been on. This cruise took us to Cozumel, Costa Maya, Honduras, and Belize. I have no complaints. The staff was beyond exceptional, ... Read More
This was my first ever cruise and it was nothing short of amazing. This was by far my favorite trip I have been on. This cruise took us to Cozumel, Costa Maya, Honduras, and Belize. I have no complaints. The staff was beyond exceptional, the entertainment on and off the boat was always a highlight of my day, and the quality of the ship overall was outstanding. There were three main dining areas on this boat, all were very tasty, but Aqua was a personal favorite. And of course the buffet on the 12th deck was not your average buffet, it was always delicious. I stayed in the smallest room offered with two other people. Although, the rooms are small, it was perfect for us as we were hardly in the room. Also, housekeeping is amazing!! You can always expect them to be on top of their game at all times and assist all of your needs instantly. Overall, I highly recommend sailing with Norwegian, as I definitely plan to again in the near future! Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
I had previously been on 7 cruises on 3 different lines. I had never sailed with MSC so a group of three decided to cruise the new line on their new ship, Seaside. MSC was an outstanding cruise line and the ship was amazing. What was ... Read More
I had previously been on 7 cruises on 3 different lines. I had never sailed with MSC so a group of three decided to cruise the new line on their new ship, Seaside. MSC was an outstanding cruise line and the ship was amazing. What was GREAT: We had the Aura package that included a balcony, two free massages, the beverage package, and a private sun deck and bar. The bar package was unlimited, not X number per day like other lines; The ship was beautiful and designed so that you never really realized there were 4800 people on the ship; Up-To-Date - everything was state of the art on the ship. What was not so good: 1. There were three in out state room. The Aura package came with on-board social media, but only 2 devices could be connected - even though we all three paid the same price. 2. The nightly shows were OUTSTANDING - almost Broadway quality BUT the performers lip-sinked and the Re-Verb was set so high you could not really hear the performance; 3. We had to ask for soap to be added in our state room and our room steward never made towel animals for use (I though this was standard when cruising). 4. Photos - we bought the Digital package which advertised that you owned the digital pictures - But you can not blow-them up for printing. You still have to pay MSC for the pictures if you want prints - RIP OFF!!!!!!!!!! and Lies!!!!!!! This was the best of the 4 lines I have sailed and I would definitely go again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
Love the P&O Caribbean cruises as you fly into the Caribbean rather than having to travel from USA so you get to visit extra islands. First time on Britannia, first impressions were fantastic and the cruise lived up to those first ... Read More
Love the P&O Caribbean cruises as you fly into the Caribbean rather than having to travel from USA so you get to visit extra islands. First time on Britannia, first impressions were fantastic and the cruise lived up to those first impressions. The embarkation was a breeze and we were first on the ship, there were lots of flight issues due to snow back home so we were some of the lucky ones to arrive on time, maybe if more flights had been in at the same time it would have taken longer. Main dining was very good, lovey food and occasionally service not always up to normal expectations. Are at Sindhu, Beach House and Glass House. All very good but the glass house was our favourite and would definitely eat there on next visit, thoroughly worth the few extra pounds per plate. Entertainment was good, House band and group were brilliant and saw lots of their performances. Main theatre was very impressive, the sets and performers were great but the story line on the main show was a bit weak. Would definitely travel to Caribbean on Britannia again but not in the aft balcony cabins. See cabin review. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
I went because it was recommended by friends. It was an RSVP chartered cruise. The crew was friendly and liked working the gay cruise. The cabin was comfortable, we had an oversized Verandah cabin. The bed was comfortable and ... Read More
I went because it was recommended by friends. It was an RSVP chartered cruise. The crew was friendly and liked working the gay cruise. The cabin was comfortable, we had an oversized Verandah cabin. The bed was comfortable and afforded a good night's sleep. The balcony was an oasis of calm where I could read and unwind. The bathroom was small, but well appointed and did what it needed to do. Our cabin was kept clean by the crew. The main theatre was very cool - the led covered walls were stellar. The lighting designer took the time to talk with me about the theatre tech (thank you!). I'm a set designer for a few local theatre companies and was curious about the theatre. Food: The food was good to great. The buffet always had good choices (vegetarian here) morning to night. The main dining room had good quality food but service was never less than 2 hours. The signature restaurants were worth the modest up-charge. Alcoholic drinks weren't as expensive as I thought, but there wasn't a drink package (I hear they are available on the non-gay cruises). Excursion: Half-Moon Cay was a relaxing place. We had a bungalow with butler service and it was worth every penny. Our butler was so helpful and engaging. One criticism is that the spa staff are all programmed to hard-sell the services. I had pre-booked a massage, which was good. However, from the spa tour through my appointment, everyone was trying to get me to spend more. My "treatment plan" would have cost >$1000. I didn't go back and avoided the spa entirely after my appointment - it wasn't a relaxing area. I will consider HAL for my future cruises. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
The Viking cruise was choses last minute as a winter get away (we live in FL) We had a very relaxing time on the Viking Sea. The ship was First Class with exceptional service. Ship is designed for relaxing, offering several spots ... Read More
The Viking cruise was choses last minute as a winter get away (we live in FL) We had a very relaxing time on the Viking Sea. The ship was First Class with exceptional service. Ship is designed for relaxing, offering several spots to read and enjoy the fabulous views. Staterooms were well equipped offering a very large Bathroom with an amazing shower. The Port excursions were all incl. and we took advantage of several tours which we would normally not do due to the high price of each. Ship offers several dinning venues and the staff was very accommodating. We were able to eat at the specialty restaurants several evenings. If you are looking for a Party ship this is not for you. We have completed over 18 cruises and this was one of the first that I truly relaxed on. If you are looking for a beautiful ship with excellent service this is for you! Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
Our friend who is a regular cruiser has been saying for years we must go on a cruise, but it wasn’t something that particularly appealed to us. Anyway after watching lots of cruising TV show we warmed to the idea and booked MSC Divina ... Read More
Our friend who is a regular cruiser has been saying for years we must go on a cruise, but it wasn’t something that particularly appealed to us. Anyway after watching lots of cruising TV show we warmed to the idea and booked MSC Divina for our honeymoon, and are so glad we did! We absolutely loved it, even though it started off with bad weather - we love the sun, and normally if the first couple of days of a holiday have bad weather it sets the tone for the rest of the time away, but I spite of that we still loved it. Whilst we don’t have any other cruises to compare it to, what it has done is made us want to book again, so we must have enjoyed it. I don’t like to think of us as hard to please or very demanding, and on the whole we enjoyed everything about it. We had an issue with priority boarding in that we awerent give it, even thought it came as part of our package - got it sorted out but wasted maybe 45 minutes waiting around in the terminal. The staff there were either very good or very bad, but I don’t think that is something MSC can control. As first timers I think maybe they could explain things a bit better, such as getting in and off the ship. We felt a little lost at times, but are perfectly capable of figuring things out - I question whether maybe some passengers would just get on with it and figure things out like we did, so perhaps a little work is need there, Regarding food, this seems to be one of the main areas where there is criticism and I understand this, it wasn’t the best. For us, it was fine. Food isn’t really a huge issue fo is, as long as we can get something to eat. I would say it was probably average, selection wasn’t always great wherever you had dinner and not always as hot as it could be, but equally was too hot at other times. Definitely an area for improvement, but by no means a deal breaker for me. All said, it was a fabulous experience and I wouldn’t hesitate to go on Divina again! Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
NORWEGIAN GETAWAY Western Caribbean: HONDURAS (Roatan); BELIZE (NCL’s Private Island: Harvest Caye); MEXICO (Costa Maya and Cozumel) January 14 – 21, 2018 Mid-Ship Balcony Cabin Passengers Me (Mark): male, 60 (but I feel ... Read More
NORWEGIAN GETAWAY Western Caribbean: HONDURAS (Roatan); BELIZE (NCL’s Private Island: Harvest Caye); MEXICO (Costa Maya and Cozumel) January 14 – 21, 2018 Mid-Ship Balcony Cabin Passengers Me (Mark): male, 60 (but I feel like I’m 42!). Wearing shorts and an obvious compression stocking [right leg, due to a scar from a motor vehicle incident last year], but completely ambulatory. My Long-Term Partner (Bill): male, a little older than me. Background Info: We’d done three Carnival cruises every couple of years, 16 - 20 years ago. We booked this NCL cruise through a casino players’ reward system. Caesars paid for the basic cruise costs; we paid for our flights, excursions and incidentals. We live in Michigan, USA. We flew from Detroit to Fort Lauderdale and bought NCL’s transfers to/from Miami. I don’t think I can write a day-by-day trip report. Instead, I’ll try to break this review down into sensible sub-topics. Please forgive me if that makes it seem disjointed or if this gets long! TRANSFERS / EMBARKATION Upon landing at FLL, we found it easy to follow the signs through the long walk to baggage claim, where – as promised – an easily-identifiable NCL rep was waiting for us. We didn’t have to claim or tote our luggage. But we did have to wait around a frustrating amount of time for a bus to take us to Miami. Oh, well. We’d saved a bunch of money by flying to FLL instead of MIA (partly because Mr. Bill procrastinated on booking the flights) and NCL’s transfers were very reasonably priced. We were eager to get to the ship, but, all in all, it worked out just fine. The ride was – what? – about 35 minutes. Comfortable bus, very friendly driver. Boring expressway scenery. Upon arrival at the Port of Miami, things went completely smoothly. The line to have our documents checked was short, it only took a minute to fill out the health history questionnaire, the line to present a credit card and get our room keys was short (and they also had “Casino Player” cards printed out and waiting for us), the line to actually board the ship was short. And ALL the port and NCL staff were very, very friendly. A great welcome! TIP: US passengers didn’t NEED a passport to board this cruise. But having one makes things faster and easier. I presented my state-issued ID and my tattered 60-year-old faded birth certificate. I had a couple minutes of anxiety as they examined that. Before next time, I’ll order a new copy of my BC from the State of Ohio. And I’ll get a passport. (A passport WOULD be necessary if you needed to leave the cruise and re-enter the US before the trip is over. And I think it’s going to be necessary in general starting next year.) Once onboard, we resisted gawking and exploring and went directly to our cabin to drop off our carry-ons. One of our four bags was already there. The rest appeared throughout the afternoon. Our copy of the “Freestyle Daily” (Day One) was in the room, as was the floral arrangement that I had ordered. It was beautiful, and – I think – not a bad deal: orchids and other tropical flowers for $50. (It stayed fresh all week.) CABIN I don’t think there’s much I can tell you about our cabin that you haven’t seen in NCL’s diagrams or photos, except that it was exactly as described and pictured. Plenty of room, plenty of electrical outlets, plenty of storage space for people who brought a sensible amount of stuff (not me!). Everything worked well. The bathroom was outfitted with standard hotel toiletries as well as in-shower soap and shampoo dispensers. The shower controls were a little hard to figure out at first. (It always took several seconds for the cold water to kick in.) Bonus: there was a clothesline running across the top of the shower. TIP: Bring along a few hanging plastic clips that you can use for wet bathing clothes. Available at Target and dollar stores, I think. Almost as soon as we entered, Samuel, our room steward, stopped in to ask if we wanted the twin beds converted to a double. We did. Next time we went into the room – and for the rest of the week -- we had a very comfortable queen-size bed. It never mattered how long we slept or how late we switched the electronic sign from “Do Not Disturb” to “Make Up This Room.” Very shortly after we changed it, the room became immaculate. The balcony was very private -- except when we were docked directly across from another ship (Costa Maya and Cozumel). I could hear other people speaking on their balconies, but nobody would’ve been able to see me unless they were our immediate neighbors and made a big effort to lean around the barrier. Except when in port in Mexico, I could’ve been completely and comfortably naked on our balcony. I loved having a balcony room. I’m slow to wake up in the morning, so rolling out of bed, making coffee, and vegging on the balcony for awhile was the perfect way to start my day. Can’t do that in Michigan. Other than that, though, neither of us took advantage of the balcony much. Bill says he’ll never be able to go back to an inside cabin. I think I could. We didn’t spend that much time in the room. In the room there was a coffee-maker with single-serve coffee pods, an ice bucket, a safe, a hair dryer, a mini-bar ($$$), and a few wooden hangers on the rod of the ample closet. TIP: You’re supposed to put your room key in a slot just inside the door to activate the electricity in your room (lights, etc.). But any card with a magnetic strip will work. I kept an old hotel key card in that slot so that we could always turn on the lights and I would never leave the room without my NCL passenger card. Laundry: For whatever reason, Bill wanted to get our Day One clothes cleaned. (?!) So he put them out and the next morning, there they were: perfectly cleaned and pressed. Amazing service. Premium price. THE SHIP The Getaway is huge and gorgeous and clean! Even though I had studied NCL’s website and had read cruise reviews in advance, I was still amazed when I actually got on the ship! So much to discover, so many bars and restaurants and other venues! At the end of the cruise, I still hadn’t explored all of the ship. (For example, if there was a Gift Shop [which there WAS, apparently], I never saw it!) The ship was really nicely decorated and appointed. Getaway was fun and inviting and visually appealing. The Atrium is a little bit glitzy, but in a tasteful kind of way. Nothing like Carnival’s frequently-cheesy décor. Out of seven days sailing, there were about 20 minutes when I could feel the ship moving slightly. NO big deal. [On smaller ships in the past, I had been jerked from side to side for a few minutes -- and I had also enjoyed being in bed and having the ships rock me to sleep every night.] Unlike all my prior cruises, I had zero “sea legs” after this one. I thought NCL did a great job of balancing peoples’ ability to smoke and other peoples’ ability to stay away from smoke. There was a smoking “shelter” on the pool deck; the Sunset Bar allowed smoking; there was a cigar bar; there were probably other smoking-permitted venues. I never saw any conflict over it. Getaway’s pools are VERY small, but there are tons of chaise lounges around them. Throughout our cruise, I never saw many people in the pools and also never saw that it would be hard to get a lounger. (But that’s probably because it was overcast and relatively cool for most of our trip.) The pool-area hot tubs always seemed to be full, though. The elevators were quick. On the stairs’ landing of each floor was a listing of which important destinations were on which floors. And staff were always available and happy to help direct you. (I wish, though, that NCL would have put little pocket-sized maps of the ship in each room. I saw another passenger with one, but I didn’t find out where he got it.) I cannot say enough good things about the amenities, condition, and service of this ship. FOOD I’m sorry that I won’t be the best reviewer for this aspect of the cruise. I don’t eat much. I LIKE food, and I LOVE a good dinner, but I generally don’t eat during the day. Still… Room Service The menu was extensive – and all free. Between the two of us, we used RS three times – always to get some kind of breakfast. It took about 20 minutes for it to arrive. Even though the advertised delivery charge was $7.95, they only billed us $4.38 each time. (Huh? Cool.) The fruit and mini-croissants were fresh and tasty. Buffet The buffet food array was amazing! WHAT a nice variety! Such fresh-looking options, all on a clean and frequently-refreshed football-field-long counter. The line for food never seemed long. And so much indoor, deck-side, and outside seating! Bill said it was one of the best buffets he’s ever eaten at. (This from someone who’s done a million up-scale Vegas buffets.) Taste and Savor These are two of the three “public” restaurants on the ship. There’s not much to distinguish one from the other, IMHO, but both were wonderful. We walked up to each, no reservations, and were seated immediately at a table for two. Service was fast, menu options were plentiful, and the food was delicious. Tropicana I loved the “dinner club” feel of this third complimentary restaurant! Unfortunately, there was no band or dancing during our meal there. I wish NCL would have made it more clear when the place was going to be like having dinner with Ricky Ricardo. But still my favorite of the open rooms. We had the Dining Package, which allowed us to eat at three of Getaway’s premium restaurants without additional charge. We ended up eating at four add-on dining places, and NCL, I think, charged us for the least expensive as our extra. Teppanyaki You’ve seen or done this before, right? Eight or ten or so people sit around a large hot frying surface; the chef chops and cooks and serves off that grill. I’d done this a couple of times. I’d always thought of it as mostly entertainment with the food as kind of an afterthought. Well, our chef was VERY entertaining! So much fun! But… BONUS! The food was REALLY good! I thoroughly enjoyed the salad. The rice side was great. I ordered seafood as a main course, and my squid, scallops, and shrimp were delicious! Bill was very pleased with his beef. BONUS #2: The chef asked straight-off if anyone had a food allergy. One of the other peeps did. Not a deal for him. He cooked around the rest of the food effortlessly, never interrupting his patter, never making that person feel “special,” nor contaminating that meal. So gracious. BONUS #3: We were seated with a cute young family of four. They could not have been better dining companions. We chatted and joked with the parents and the young-teen daughter and eventually drew her little brother out of his shyness. Such a great experience! La Cucina We walked in without a reservation and were offered the choice of indoor or outdoor seating. We chose to sit on the veranda. [What does NCL call it? Oh, yeah: “The Waterfront” – a row of restaurants’ and bars’ outdoor dining and drinking areas on the deck.] Hey, this is fun – we’re on a cruise and we can’t eat outdoors very often in Michigan. But once seated, we felt it was a little cool and breezy out there, and they very graciously moved us into a nice table indoors. I’m glad we switched. I love ambiance, and this Italian restaurant is very attractively done. The service was outstanding, the food was wonderful. I had seafood pasta, and whatever Bill had, he loved. Even though our beverage package didn’t cover the bottle of wine we ordered, it was well worth it. Dessert and espresso were the perfect finishing touches. Highly recommended! Ocean Blue We live in a restaurant town, and I’ve been lucky enough to eat at several of the nicer ones. I’ve also eaten at a few Las Vegas “gourmet” rooms. Ocean Blue compares favorably to those experiences. Service: perfect. Ambiance: beautiful. Food: amazing. My lobster was delicious. [Are you picking up a food preference here?] Bill’s fish was to die for. It’s not totally “fine dining” as you can find on land, but it’s pretty darned close. Cirque Dreams And Steam [See Shows / Entertainment] CASINO Wow. Smallish (by on-land casino standards, anyhow) and oddly-configured (kind of an L-shape), but one of the nicest casinos I’ve ever been in! It was exciting but without the typical obnoxious slot machine noises at every turn. Decently appointed without being in-your-face. (No wall art or posters that I can remember. What?! Why the blank walls?) Airy, open to the Atrium, room to move, comfortable. And clean: brand-new-looking machines, brand-new-looking table felt, no half-full ashtrays sitting around. The staff, from dealers to pit bosses to cocktail servers to porters, were all welcoming, smiling, and helpful. Slots: There was a good array of even the newest machines, of all denominations. Video Poker: Lots of machines (including at a nice VP sit-down bar). Double Double paid 7/5. Blackjack: The tables were spacious (6 player spots). BJ pays only 6/5. Double after Split is allowed. Dealer hits Soft 17. Multiple decks; continuous shuffle. The available side bet is “Lucky Ladies.” (For whatever reason, that pay-out schedule [for getting 20 on your initial hand] is not printed on the felt, but the dealers always paid off according to the usual schedule.) The lowest table minimum was $6, and it was usually not hard to find a seat at one of those tables. Tournament Blackjack: At times throughout the week, you could enter the Tournament for $20. For that, you’d sit with about five other players, with fake money, and try to come out the winner after – what? – eight or so hands. But if you won at your table, you’d also need to be a week-long high-scorer to go onto the finals. Whatevs. It was so much fun. If a player was first dealt an ace and then landed a 10-count card, we’d all yell and clap for him. That kind of sums up the whole spirit of the cruise. The guy drew a blackjack, and us – his competitors -- were happy for him. You can charge casino chips to your room account while at a table. There is a pit and a large slot area that is non-smoking. SHOWS / ENTERTAINMENT Burn The Floor Oh, man! If you enjoy Latin and/or ballroom dance, SEE THIS SHOW! The routines were incredibly intricate and the performers were incredibly precise. SO tight! SO much energy! I booked this ahead of time. I thought it was going to be a dinner show in the Tropicana. Instead, it was held in a standard-type theater. Whatevs. It was free and wonderful. Million Dollar Quartet I’m glad we went to see this, but I wasn’t blown away. I don’t know how accurately this show tells the story of that one night when Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley were in a Sun Studios room at the same time. The music was fun (even the unfamiliar songs) and the vocals were good. For me, the piano playing by the JLL character made the show worth watching. But… eh. Cirque Dreams And Steam GO. Just GO! Arrive. Sit down. And then relax. Surender your linear nature and your need to be in control. Don’t think. (Except when the waiter asks for your drink order). Just let the whole thing wash over you. It’ll be okay. Trust me, trust them. The experience is so totally fluid and effortless. Somebody brings you salad. Performers in elaborate costumes come out onto the stage and into the audience for photo ops. There’s a quick overhead announcement that the show will include lighting effects. Somebody brings you filet mignon (medium) and three shrimp and a side – even though you never ordered. Your drink is refilled. Your plate is cleared. A dessert appears. People finish eating. More dishes are cleared. Performers walk around. The room goes completely dark. A spotlight appears, and the action is on. The show makes ZERO sense. It just IS, and it’s amazing. NO language is spoken, and it’s impossible to characterize what genre of music plays. It’s a cabaret, a circus, a succession of acts that just flow into each other non-stop. Extraneous and wonderful nonsense happens during. I could tell you about how one of the acts made me question my own sexual orientation or about how another act made me cover my eyes. But I don’t want to give “spoilers” here. TIP: Seats aren’t reserved. Arrive maybe 30 minutes or so early to get a seat close to the stage. (Actually, there are no bad seats. And “center” is probably as good as “close.”) TIP: When performers come out in costume pre-show, snag the opportunity to photograph them and/or get a selfie. Get up, move if you need to, ask for a pose. They’re accommodating. You can’t take pics during the show, and there’s no post-show meet-and-greet. ACTIVITIES / FEATURES (This will be limited to my own experiences. There are LOTS more features that I can’t personally report on.) Upper Outside Decks Pools The number and size of pools on The Getaway are surprisingly small! I’m not a pool person, so I didn’t care, but I was amazed at how very little water this ship offered compared to the much smaller Carnival ships I’d been on. There were ample pool-side jacuzzis, but… if I WERE a “pool person,” I would have been majorly disappointed Water Slides On the other hand, there are five amazing tubular water slides on the ship. Three of them are enclosed, spiral, and long. Two of them (blue and green) are “sudden drop” slides in which you start off standing on a trap door that instantly disappears below you. Cool, cool, cool! Unfortunately, it was SO uncharacteristically cool in the Caribbean all week that after I went down the very fun first slide, I felt just wet and cold and wanted to immediately go downstairs to my cabin and change into dry clothing. Waaaah! I didn’t do any of the rest of the slides. Ropes Course This is amazing! Two stories above the pool deck is an extensive network of wooden planks, rope bridges, tightropes, and other paths to navigate. You get in line, get outfitted into a harness, get tethered to the overhead cable, climb the steps, and you’re on your own. Seriously: on your own. There’s no explanation, and once you get up there, there’s no obvious path. You just do your best to go toward the exit, I guess. For me, it was great to scamper across the course from platform to platform until – early on – I had to do the tightrope thing. I got to the end of it and had a mini-anxiety-experience. I froze. [“What?!”] I needed to get off the course. NEEDED to. [Me: “Mark, this is not you!” Me: “Shut up. I need OFF of this thing!”] Unfortunately, there is NO built-in “escape” feature on this Course. I couldn’t go forward, and I couldn’t go back. I just hugged the pole I’d reached and tried to catch the attention of one of the NCL guides on the deck. I did, and I mimed a “Please – I need off!” to him. In the meantime, I’d apparently caught the attention of other adventurers. Mr. Man harnessed himself and climbed up to where I was and adjusted the stops on the course so that I could go backward – which meant going across the tightrope again. I steeled myself as best as I could, started across, and all the other passengers on the Ropes Course stopped where they were and yelled encouragement to me: “You got it!” “You’re doing great!” “You’re okay!” I was simultaneously embarrassed, numb, grateful, and petrified [if that makes any sense]. When I got back down to the entrance, the NCL staff were incredibly gracious to me. TIP: You have to wear a shirt that has sleeves to enter the Ropes Course. I’d gone up to the pool deck in a bathing suit and sleeveless t-shirt, thinking I would do the Course and then the waterslides. As I was in line for Ropes, a friendly NCL staffer notified me that I had to wear a shirt with sleeves. He was completely nice about it. He said I wouldn’t lose my place in line if I went down to my cabin to change and then came back up. Sure enough, as soon as I re-appeared, he happily ushered me back to my place in line. GLOW Party I had read ahead and was expecting a night-time “White Party” on the pool-deck floor. So I’d packed an all-white outfit, because I love to dance and I wanted to check it out. Turns out it was an “H2GLOW” party instead, in which it didn’t matter what you wore. Okay. It was held in the dark, there were disco lights and lasers all over us, and staff handed out glow sticks. Very Ibiza! It didn’t quite work for me. Even at my age, I love Electronic Dance Music. But the tunes they played totally sucked, and our Cruise Director, Andre, was the worst, most-stereotypical, most incredibly vapid emcee of all time: “Are you having a good time, Getaway?!” “Put your hands in the air!!!” “Put your hands in the air!!!” Over and over again. Over and over again. Over and over again. C’mon, Andre. Shut up and just play some music that we recognize. But… The music at least had a beat. I danced by myself, un-self-consciously. It was cool. There were couples on the dance floor, other singles, clusters of friends, families. And a group of young guys – presumably straight – who were dancing together “took me in,” danced with me, and invited me to join them downstairs at BLISS (the ship’s interior Dance Club) when the GLOW Party ended. Cool, cool, cool. Taking a break, I walked from the deck/dance floor to the bar. NCL had left a heavy, metal-and-glass, invisible-in-the-dark cocktail table in the path. I walked into its sharp edges, banged up both shins, and bled from both legs. Okie-dokey. I don’t freak out at the sight of blood, even my own. At the bar, I grabbed some napkins and swabbed my legs. And went back to dance. And noticed that since I’d been injured, someone had placed a large centerpiece on the cocktail table, making it visible. SPA TIP: Do NOT have more than two glasses of chardonnay before entering the Spa! Long back-story… I am one of the gayest men that I know. I don’t care if I’m photographed at a Pride event. I’m out to everyone. Totally gay. Yet… not a “flamer.” In many ways, I’m very much just an American guy. I like to dress nicely – mostly casually – but I’m no fashionista. Grew up on a farm. I was the star pitcher on my work group’s all-city championship softball team. Pragmatic, practical. I have exactly two settings for my nails: long or cut back to the quick. I don’t have the time or inclination to do anything else with them. If they get long, so be it. I’m not embarrassed. But as soon as one of them cracks or chips, they’re all totally gone. Whatevs. Going into the cruise, my nails were longish. I mentioned to Mr. Bill that I was tempted to book a manicure on the ship, but that I was afraid of what it might cost. He told me that he would pay for my Salon treatment. Cool! (Especially since I had a job dealing cards the next week, and it’s easier to work with casino chips when you have some nails.) I walked into the Spa on Tuesday and told the receptionist that I was there to get a manicure. She said, “Great! We can get you in on Thursday.” [Huh?] Uh, okay. So I had a day and a half to remind myself: “Mark, they’re going to try to up-sell you. Just get your nails trimmed and polished. Don’t buy anything!” And then… I arrived as scheduled on Thursday. Marilyn greeted me, took me back to a normal-looking nails station, put hot stones on my hands (“Fire And Ice” treatment). She oiled me and did my cuticles. She filed me. She put an amazing clear polish on me. [How can one coat spread so evenly, dry so quickly, and BE so shiny?] Then, “I see bags under your eyes. I can help with that.” Me: “Okay.” Her: “And…” Me: “Okay.” Her: “And…” Me: “Okay.” I ended up buying $250 worth of products. And then a physician (a REAL physician, apparently) came in: “You’re stressed. Let me recommend an acupuncture treatment.” [Me, to myself: “What the hell?!” But… Whatevs. Never done it, and it was on my bucket list.] So Mr. Second Doctor greeted me and we went down an elevator and walked a couple of halls to a room. [I started to feel as though I was in “Get Out.”] I got mostly naked and laid down on the table and he stuck needles all over my back. It didn’t hurt AT ALL. And – as far as I could tell – it didn’t help AT ALL. I laid there for about – what? – fifteen minutes with the needles in me, and then he plucked them out. “Ugh, thank you.” It was $200 to cross that experience off my Bucket List. Absolutely NOT recommended. If I’d presented with a specific pain, maybe I would have felt differently about the treatment. Maybe there would have been results. But in this case… I just felt it was a total waste of money. Kid’s Programs I occasionally saw groups of kids – along with two or so staffers – parading around the decks. They all looked like they were having a great time. For parents: it looked to me like the kids’ camps were WAY cool. Others: if you want to avoid kids on your vacation… I don’t think you’d get yanked on this cruise by the presence of children. PORTS OF CALL I had a plan going into the cruise. Roatan (Honduras): zip-line over the jungle. Harvest Caye (NCL’s private island): whatevs; not much interest. Might not even get off the ship. Costa Maya: take a cab beyond the initial array of t-shirt shops and interact with actual locals in Mexico. [Si, hablo espanol!] Cozumel: be a total tourista. I’d been there before. Hard Rock was my only goal. It didn’t quite work out that way, but it worked out fine. Roatan, Honduras This was the only shore excursion I purchased through NCL. I still don’t know if that was the best choice or not. Through Norwegian, it was $99. If I would have purchased it on-line directly from South Shore, it would have been $50 for exactly the same experience (ship-side pick-up and all). But buying it from NCL meant that if anything went wrong and I got back late to the ship, Getaway would be waiting for me. I bought that insurance (though I needn’t have). I got up relatively early that day – plenty of time to wake up with coffee on the balcony before the 12:30 meet for the expedition. Headed out of the ship with time to spare; looked at the souvenir shops all lined up in a row at the port. Very cool stuff – from little souvenir magnets to hand-made goods -- but I wasn’t in “buying” mode. Easily found my group assembling for pick-up at the dock: a lovely extended family, two young couples, and me. About 12 of us. We all chatted. The van arrived; we piled in. There was a hostess/narrator who was great. As we travelled, she told us about the history of the Honduras, pointed out the banana, breadfruit and pecan trees we passed on the increasingly muddy and nasty roads we were traveling on, and kept us engaged. Wonderful ride! Then we got dropped off. TIP: Unlike the only other zip-line I’d ever done [Fremont Street, Las Vegas], they did not make us surrender our glasses, phones, etc. I just put my stuff in my cargo shorts’ pockets. Take your phone/camera! WHAT FOLLOWED WAS THE MOST ENJOYABLE TWO HOURS OF MY LIFE! First, you arrive and you wait for a minute, sitting around picnic tables on a beautiful patio. Then a guide appears in front of where you’re waiting and gives safety instructions. And then a crew appears and fits you with a harness. And then you all walk together a little way to the first line, and… There are about 8 zip lines in this course. I didn’t know how it would work. The way it worked: the super-friendly, super-fun guides were with us the whole time. When we were about to go on another line, one or two of them went ahead of the group so that then they were there to “catch” us. I don’t know what it was. I honestly don’t know. Maybe because I’m outgoing and friendly. Maybe because under my shorts I was obviously wearing a colorful compression stocking. Maybe because I sometimes slipped into Spanish while speaking with them. Maybe because I started singing “Despacito” and they all joined in and we had fun singing together… Whatevs. They completely adopted me. So it’s me and all these young black/latino guides, and they’re treating me like I’m their favorite papi ever. When the first or second of them was ready to go to the next platform: “Mark! C’mon! Sit on my lap, like you’re going to kiss me! Okay, now lean back and let me hold your ankles. There you go! Now lean ALL the way back. Have fun!” Even if I hadn’t been taken under the wings of the guides, this would be one of the best experiences I have EVER had in my life. When we got back to the staging area to wait for the bus, there was a souvenir shop (consisting entirely of tank-tops and t-shirts) and a small outdoor bar. There was a guy (employee) in front of the bar with a monkey on a leash. The monkey got loose while I was there and it scampered around a bit, but then got caught. Ugh, okay. I don’t think it showed that I peed my pants a little bit about that. I went up to the bar and said I wanted something to drink. Mr. Nice Guy: “You want to try our local beer?” Me, not a beer drinker, and not really caring that they would grossly over-charge me: “Sure.” Him: “$3, please.” [Oh, man. I love this place even more! They’re not gauging me!] (And the beer was tasty!) TIP: There are three opportunities to give gratuities. (1) Your guides. Tip all of them with one donation to any of them at the end of the zip-lines. Be generous. They share. Or prepare yourself with tens, fives, or singles for each of them. (2) The “tree people.” There are additional staff you’ll see on the platforms. There’s a tip jar for them in the Gift Shop. (3) The bus host(ess) and driver. Tip one of them directly when exiting to the ship. Harvest Caye, Belize The island was gorgeous. SUPER-clean. Very accommodating: large side-walks; lots of beach loungers. Tons of walk-way bars and braid-shops and souvenir places and snack shacks. Jimmy Buffet’s place was really nicely done. The whole island was totally nicely planned, manicured, and visually appealing. I explored and ended up playing volleyball in the sand with a very nice family for a little while. But… I’m not a beach person. The island was gorgeous -- really, REALLY well-designed and maintained. But there’s zero native culture there. It’s shops and bars and beach. It had little appeal for me. Your results may vary. Costa Maya, Mexico This was where I’d hoped to take a cab ride behind all the t-shirt shops and actually interact with locals. Well, they don’t tell you about THIS in the cruise brochures, do they?!... When we arrived, it was raining heavily. And that kept up ALL day. Okie-dokey, then. I amused myself on the ship until we sailed off. No speaking Spanish with the locals, no getting cool authentic souvenirs from the natives. Ninguna Costa Maya pormigo! Lo siento, mis amigos! The casino wasn’t open while we were in port, but everything else was. I’d never stayed on-board while we were docked before, but the ship was hopping and offering tons of options. Cozumel, Mexico [Mr. Bill took the $550 Chitzanitza tour. He came back RAVING about how wonderful his experience was. NO regrets about buying this tour! He said NCL and the flight operator were great. And he said that the Mayan guide who led his small group was WONDERFUL – EXTREMELY knowledgeable and personable.] Even though Costa Maya had been a bust, I continued with my plan: be a total American tourist in Cozumel. The port/shopping center was lovely. REALLY nicely done. I pretty much ignored it and caught a cab ($8) inland, to the Hard Rock. Oh, man. Oh, man. I got a glass of wine and sat outdoors on Hard Rock’s street-side patio and listened to THE BEST band ever! These three guys kept playing songs I loved, the overhead tree kept raining down with pods, the waiter kept coming by. Perfect! I can be a little “high-strung” sometimes. There, I found myself uncharacteristically relaxed and blissed out. Finally, with time to spare, I got up and started walking down the street, just to check the place out. There was a latino guy leaning against the wall of a gas station, and he gave me the international “Come here” signal. Duh. I am SUCH the midwestern nice guy. I went over. “I will sell you some weed.” “No, thanks.” “Oh. Then some nose candy.” “No, thank you.” “I will get you a girl.” “No. I’m okay.” “Then what do you want?” “Uhhh, Viagra.” [Because I knew you can get it cheaply in Mexico without a prescription. It seemed like the thing to say at the time. And I wanted to be nice.] “JOSE!” Jose came over and asked me how many tablets I wanted. Errr... “I don’t know.” “How much money do you have?” I pulled out a twenty, and he looked at me as if I had just spit on his mother’s grave. But he went to his truck and then came back with two blue pills in the centerfold of a magazine. Okay. I’m supporting the local economy. Then – duh! – I noticed that I was 30 yards from a Walgreens. For $20 there, I probably could have bought a whole blister-pack full of blue pills. Oh, well! The cab ride back to the port was $8. I tipped $7. Money is weird when you’re on vacation. ATMOSPHERE / PASSENGERS / “FREESTYLE” I cannot say enough about how comfortable this cruise was! I brought dress pants. I never put them on. Jeans worked whenever I needed long pants (premium restaurants). I was worried that there might be pressure for a “Dress Up” night. Nope, nope, nope. NCL’s assurances about “Freestyle” cruising were totally honest and on-target! I was never, never uncomfortable wearing my comfortable clothing. I’d worried a bit about being gay and going on this cruise. Well, DUH! First off, Samuel immediately offered to make our twin beds into one bed. NOT a deal, a complete NOTHING to him. Secondly, every day, NCL hosted an LGBTQ get-together in one of the lounges. (It was never very well-attended, probably because you could run into gay folks all over the ship. Very much appreciated, though!) Three, on the Sunset Bar, where I hung out, there were lots of gay men and women. And straight folks. And it just DID NOT matter. We were all simply friends. Period. BOTTOM LINE: “Free Style” is real. You can be yourself. You can dress how you want (except pants for dinner). “Free” means “free.” Show up for meals whenever you want. Be gay. Be black. Be Muslim. Be not a model. Be comfortable. Dance all by yourself. Sleep in, and then expect your room to be cleaned when you’re ready. Order room service or stumble out to the buffet. NCL wants you to have the vacation of your life, and your fellow passengers aren’t being critical. On one day, I wore “harem” pants down to the bar. Okay, I’m obviously not MC Hammer, but I never got a second look or any judgmental comments. SERVICE From our outstanding room steward to the bartender who slipped me a drink when it looked like my account was janky [it wasn’t] to the staff at the restaurants to everyone who caught me looking lost and gave me direction… I cannot say enough good things about NCL’s staff! I had done a little shopping ahead of the trip… I asked Berwyn (bartender) how to get to another bar on the ship. He gave me directions and saw the confused look on my face [I’m really spatially challenged], and he noticed that I was wearing an NCL-logo polo. “C’mon, Man – I’ll take you there!” And he did. But he didn’t plop me down at the bar. He pushed me BEHIND the bar. “Ramon! This is Mark! He’s working with you this shift!” Ramon: “But where’s his name-tag?” That became Berwyn’s and my running gag throughout the cruise. He’d drag me to other bars, introduce me, and – inevitably – the other bartender would question my lack of a name-tag. So much fun! MORE TIPS… Okie-dokey, then. Tips that didn’t fit in elsewhere… …Consider flying to Fort Lauderdale. It can be cheaper, and NCL’s transfers work. …Overpack? Underpack? I don’t know. I seriously over-packed. This was my first time with NCL, and I didn’t trust its “free style” assurance. Delta and NCL let me bring as much as I wanted, without charge. So I brought a load of clothing. I’m not sure I’m sorry I took at least one suitcase too many. It didn’t cost me anything, and I only had to lug everything twice (no big deal). But my second bag didn’t need to be sitting there on our sofa, unopened, the whole trip long. …Print up “business cards” before you go. Well, no, not “business” cards, but something with your name, e-mail address, and maybe your face. And maybe include your cell number. (Cards are easily and cheaply available on-line.) And keep a pen in your pocket. You’ll meet people. And… …There is NO cell-phone service on this cruise. And not just not being able to upload travel pics to FaceBook. Bill and I – two decks apart – could not check in with each other. For one whole week. You cannot just whip out phones to exchange numbers with a new bud. …People who paid to go to the Ice Bar told me it was a “Must NOT Do.” …If you have questions before your cruise, use NCL.com. The reps are knowledgeable and friendly. DISEMBARKATION We were in the last group off. That morning, Bill had breakfast and I slept in. Out in the hangar, we claimed our luggage and got in line for the bus to Fort Lauderdale. This was messy. Many people wanting to board the Getaway for its next cruise got in line with us. [“Nope! This is not where you want to be. There! Have fun!”] And – oops! – there had been some kind of miscommunication. NCL needed two buses, but there was only one at Miami. So half the passengers got on the first bus and took off; the other half waited about 20 minutes for another bus to be dispatched to us. No biggie. The host apologized and kept us informed, and it wasn’t unpleasant to stand there with our luggage and carry-ons and talk with the other people in line. Once we got to the airport at FLL, we checked our luggage with Delta and had 5 hours to spend. Ugh… Fort Lauderdale / Kennedy Airport has a place where you can leave bags. $8 each, and they need to be claimed by – I think – 5:30 pm. So we left our carry-ons there. And then we caught a cab to go to the nearest entertainment/restaurant/shopping center. Man, oh, man! Our driver didn’t recognize the name of the complex. I had to turn on MY phone’s GPS to get him to it. And despite what the Delta agent had told us, the fare wasn’t “like $8.” It was $30. So we arrived and had lunch at TGIFriday. Lovely! And then we walked to the next-door movie theater and bought tickets for whatever was coming up next (Phantom Thread). The movie was good and the theater was luxe, but during the film all of a sudden Bill looked at his phone and said, “We have to get OUT of here!” [Someday I’ll see the ending of that pic!] We went out to the curb and called a cab. (WHY does Bill NOT know how to use Uber?!) It finally arrived. We made it back to the airport in time. ($25) At FLL, we re-claimed our carry-on bags. Then, once we were in the TSA “Pre-Screened” line, I was “randomly” selected for a special security check. I frequently am. I’m used to it, but I still don’t get it. I’m the blandest-looking guy in the world. But fine. I WANT the skies to be safe. Make me turn my pockets inside-out. I’ll take off my shoes. Pat me down. Feel my armpits. Whatever. Delta was wonderful. We had a beautiful flight back to Michigan. Our friend showed up at Metro to pick us up, and we were suddenly at home. We’d been somewhat sorry that the temperature was only in the low seventies in the Caribbean. But now in Michigan it was in the 30’s. All’s good. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018

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