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32 Caribbean - Western Gourmet Food Cruise Reviews

Cons - Buffet area was way too crowded for breakfast and lunch and it was hard to walk without bumping into people nearly everyday. Dining in Silhouette was also very crowded and dinner took a full 2 hours and staff seemed like it was ... Read More
Cons - Buffet area was way too crowded for breakfast and lunch and it was hard to walk without bumping into people nearly everyday. Dining in Silhouette was also very crowded and dinner took a full 2 hours and staff seemed like it was struggling to keep up. Outside pool also extremely crowded. Also, 4 and 5 year old kids at the bars 11pm at night. And lastly, the cost for internet was really high, they were asking $28.00 just to buy 5 minutes of internet time to print out my plane tickets. Oh, and no towel animals. What the heck. Pros - Embarkation and debarkation were incredibly fast. Staff was very friendly. Service was Spectacular / Excellent overall and the staff worked really hard and deserve a lot of credit. Ship was also absolutely stunning - the furniture, the decor, the art gallery, everything was just so beautifully done. I had the standard balcony cabin on the 7th floor and it was also Amazing. Also noticed new changes this year - beach towels in cabin, new pillows, bath robes, and the mattress was so comfortable it was like sleeping on a cloud! We were also lucky in that we had nice weather, smooth seas, and the ocean breeze / Caribbean air at night was just perfect. In addition, the ship was incredibly clean - you saw a lot of staff cleaning / up-keeping the ship which was good. Our cabin was cleaned twice a day and our room attendant did an amazing job. The public bathrooms were also the cleanest I've ever seen in my entire life and I've been on a lot of cruises. Also, the hand towels in the public restrooms is a great idea. In addition, the entertainment was really excellent. Comedian Billy Garan and Jimmy Carol were a 10 out of 10. And the show "Topper" was great with the dancers in the artistic costumes and beautiful set design. The music throughout the ship was also good and there was LOTS of it - lots of musical shows in the theater, bands / singers at the pool and bars often and singers / band in the grand foyer every night and for the 4th of July party and the Great Gatsby party. There were also a lot more activities on the ship from when I went last year. Also,our cruise director Martin, was the BEST EVER - funny, entertaining, great party host, and he explained things very well. He was an A++ In addition, his dancing elevator scheme was very funny in how he caught passengers off guard in the elevator during the Great Gatsby party, and made them dance to get to their floor. The Food was u n b e l i e v a b l e. The quality and variety of food at the buffet was Astounding. Ribeye steak cooked to order one night. . as well as calamari, oxtail, chicken pot pie, and all kinds of fancy fish, pork, chicken and beef dishes. Many times the meat was so tender you could cut it with a spoon. Buffet desserts were also epic especially the german chocolate cake, the vanilla cannolis, and the butter cakes. And in the main dining room Silhouette, Superb new york sirloin steak, rack of lamb, shrimp scampi, creme brulee, strawberry cheesecake, and baked alaska. The mixed drinks were also made to perfection and the specialty coffee / espresso at Cafe Al Bacio was really good. Ports - ALL FABULOUS - Costa Maya was my favorite - took the short tram / taxi ride to Mahahaul beach which is the most beautiful beach I've ever been too - crystal clear warm water and no waves and palm trees that come right up to the water. Plus a great boardwalk with shops and cute cafes. However, did not like seeing all the homeless dogs not being cared for by locals and I had to buy them food / clean water for them. Wish I could have took them home with me. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
I don’t want to make this a long winded review but I’m so unhappy with this cruise that I feel I have to share my experience with everyone. I’ll try to make it short. Food: The buffet was extremely disappointing, especially ... Read More
I don’t want to make this a long winded review but I’m so unhappy with this cruise that I feel I have to share my experience with everyone. I’ll try to make it short. Food: The buffet was extremely disappointing, especially breakfast. The buffet was very predictable. Every day for breakfast they would have the same basic breakfast items. No variety, no additions. Only the same basic breakfast items you would get for breakfast at your standard hotel. No steak with your eggs. The only meats they offered, every day, was sausage and bacon, period. No specialty pancakes, if they had them at all. Just basic breakfast food. Anyone that’s been on other cruise lines knows they usually mix it up in the buffet to give the passenger variety, but not on Norwegian. The food was extremely predictable and simple. They tried to insert some variety into the dinner buffet but it was just the same food with a different name. Main Dining Room: We ate at Savor on our first night. The receptionist didn’t even look up at us when assigning our table. The service was extremely slow. Our entire dinner took 2 hour and 37 minutes (yes, we started timing it because it was so slow). We needed refills on our drinks and our waiter had to do the refills after we asked 3 times, then he apologized because his assistant just “disappeared.” It took exactly 18 minutes to serve our kids deserts from the time they picked up our dinner plates, they had jello for desert. We tried the Tropicana room next and the service was a little improved. Specialty Dining: We tried Moderno, the Brazilian Churrascaria. The room was very nice. The waiters were also pleasant but the food, the meat, was mostly very bland, very little flavor. We decided to try Teppanyaki next, the hibachi restaurant. Teppanyaki was fantastic. The food was worth every penny and the chefs were great. We ate at Teppanyaki twice during this cruise. Buffet Issues: The staff at the buffet appeared unengaged and unmotivated. There was no sense of urgency with anything with this staff. After passengers would finish their meals, the tables would not be cleaned off for a while. Several times we had to sit at a dirty table, with the previous passengers dishes, because there were no available tables to sit at. We would be halfway through our meal before anyone came to clean the table off. Also, throughout the entire cruise, food would go empty at the buffet and there was no one there to restock the food items. This occurred with the pizza and the specialty food every day. I started taking videos and pictures of empty buffet areas with passengers waiting for food in order to send to Norwegian. I also complained to one of the crew managers in the buffet and he stated he was in charge of the seating areas in the buffet and the chef is in charge of the food, and this is a common problem with the chef’s staff that also frustrates him. Also, the buffet food is routinely cold. Kids Splash Academy: Every night the kids Splash Academy would hit capacity and no additional kids would allowed in. Here’s my issue with this. Number 1, this was a Florida spring break cruise with a lot of kids. Number 2, Norwegian knew it was a spring break cruise and knew exactly how many kids would be on the cruise. Number 3, using historical data, Norwegian knows the percentage of passengers with kids that typically use the Splash Academy. And Number 4, Norwegian booked several adult only shows on the cruise. Taking all this information into account, Norwegian failed to adequately plan for a high number of kids on their cruise during times when they were showing adult only shows. This was a clear failure on Norwegian’s part to take their passengers’ needs into considering. Norwegian should have had a backup plan for overcapacity in the Splash Academy, especially on adult only show nights. This was a clear failure on Norwegian’s part to anticipate. Definitely not a family friendly cruise line. Norovirus: And to top it all off, my son was running a fever towards the end of the cruise. I called the front desk and ask for someone to take my son’s temperature or provide a thermometer so we could take his temperature. We were told it would be $150 to have my son’s temperature taken. I thought this was completely ridiculous. Once we returned home we found out my son had the Norovirus and Adrenal Virus. I can’t believe Norwegian would want to charge $150 just to take someone’s temperature. I can guarantee you that certain other cruise lines do not charge you for something this routine and simple as taking temperature. I can honestly go on and on but I won’t. Put simply, this cruise line is not worth the time or money. This is my first Norwegian cruise, but my 12th cruise overall and I can tell you, this cruise line is at the bottom of my list. Prior to my cruise I read a lot of great Norwegian reviews and I just can’t figure it out. Maybe they were first time cruisers or maybe these are folks that just don’t get out much and didn’t have anything to compare it to. Don’t get me wrong, the ship is beautiful, where I believe Norwegian fell short is with its people, its staff. The human factor made this a horrible cruise for us. Cruise are your own risk with Norwegian. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
I'll start this review as I have started all of my previous ones, with a bit of an introduction: My wife and I do 2-3 cruises a year, nearly all of them with Celebrity. We are 30 & 26 years old respectively, and have sailed the ... Read More
I'll start this review as I have started all of my previous ones, with a bit of an introduction: My wife and I do 2-3 cruises a year, nearly all of them with Celebrity. We are 30 & 26 years old respectively, and have sailed the Caribbean a half-dozen times. I will be writing this with the target audience of "First Timers" and will hope to shed some light on what we enjoy, and don't enjoy about cruising with Celebrity, and on the beautiful Equinox. Why this cruise? My wife is a school teacher, so we take a 7 day cruise every year on her Spring Break. We don't have bitter winters here in Central Alabama, but the end of March is the perfect time to hop down into the beautiful weather that the Caribbean offers year-round. We started off cruising Carnival years ago, but ultimately made the jump to Celebrity as we wanted something more sophisticated and relaxing. We don't like to be charged for every single item on a cruise, so we love that Celebrity allows us to go for the "all inclusive" package. We book through a wonderful Travel Agent who only does cruises. We went on board with a drink package, prepaid tips (paid by TA), and $450 on board credit. With Celebrity, the OBC can be used to book excursions, specialty restaurants, on board shopping, or virtually anything else you buy on board. Frankly, its one of the main reasons we sail with Celebrity. All in all, we got a beautiful Concierge Class Balcony and all the perks for well under $3000 for the entire trip. We brought about $500 US in cash for port spending and tipping on board.We have found that, with all of the inclusions, its really hard to beat Celebrity on price. Add in the service and the wonderful food, and its a no-brainer for us. We also have been fortunate enough to have my parents join us for each of the last three spring break cruises. Its wonderful to be on any cruise ship, but even better when you can spend the time with family. My parents being older, do not want a "party cruise". Celebrity offers a wonderful atmosphere that allows everyone to have a great time but not at the expense of others. The Equinox: After having sailed on her twice, it comes as zero surprise that the Equinox wins "Best Overall" on CruiseCritic every year. Its a beautiful ship with a very user friendly layout. At 121k GT, it sits right in the happy medium of cruise ships in terms of size. There is plenty to do, plenty of room, and yet still small enough to be able to get comfortable with the entire ship over the course of 7 short days. Our two favorite areas of the ship are the sundeck and the main atrium. Both are absolutely stunning whether it is day or night. Decks 3-6 are where all the magic happens. Bars surround the atrium on all sides but they are presented in a way that is very classy and doesn't ever feel crowded. The four main bars that we frequent are all very different in design and styles, and they are spread out in a way that no place ever feels particularly crowded. The martini bar and the Gastropub are opposite each other from the atrium. One serves decadent martinis in dozens of flavors and all is served in a beautiful lounge and a solid ice bar top. The Gastropub has the feel of a rustic craft beer bar that has an awesome selection of beers from around the world. This bar has ESPN running on TVs so it was crowded while the NCAA basketball tournament was going. The World Class bar is a really cool bar near the art gallery and shops. This bar has two "mixologist" that are expert beverage makers. I go here to experiment and try new drinks that I may not have tried otherwise. This requires the premium drink package, but you can literally tell them you like whisky, citrus, and sweet drinks and they will come up with something you've never tried before. Its a wonderful place to hang out before dinner or after shows, especially if your wife enjoys shopping as much as mine does! This last bar is my personal favorite: The Sunset Bar. Its an outdoor bar that is open from morning til late at night. It is at the top of the boat and at the aft, so the breeze and views are breathtaking. The Equinox, like all Solstice class ships, are covered in real grass on the aft 1/3 of the top deck. Its something extremely unique about Celebrity and its really neat to be in the middle of the ocean and have grass between your toes. All in all, its a wonderfully balanced ship. Its large enough for there to be plenty of options in how you spend your days, but small enough to still feel intimate. Captain Kate Mccue: Oh Captain, My Captain! I'll admit I was a skeptic at first. Not that I thought she was a bad Captain, but I didn't believe a Captain could have a significant impact on a cruise vacation. Most Captains that I have sailed with are only worried about doing their jobs, getting us to and from our destinations safely, and they allow the entertainers and the service staff to provide us a good time. And while that is completely fine, Captain Kate is amazing! Her personality infects the entire ship and everyone stops what they are doing when she speaks over the PA. She is an awesome Captain, and every single bit as good as she is advertised. I cannot say enough how impressed I am with her, other than it would be a mistake for Celebrity to ever let her go! Stateroom: Concierge Cabin (C2) Room 1249. The stateroom is the same as any veranda on the ship outside of Suites, but this cabin does offer a unique feature that only a few cabins on the entire ship offer... a larger balcony. The Equinox has a few "bump outs" or "humps" in her design that cause a few of the cabins on each floor "bulge" out a few feet. At the angles of these "bumps" you get a slanted balcony. From the nearest corner, it is no smaller than any other balcony on the ship, but at its widest, its nearly twice as long. Our deck chairs came with ottomans and the chairs reclined enough that we effectively had loungers on our balconies. We didn't get quite the breeze off the balcony due to where we were, but the extra balcony space will be missed on the cruises that we dont have it. Room layout is spacious enough for a cruise cabin, our bed was near the balcony compared to others that are near the bathroom. Speaking of the bathroom, its about average in size if you are used to balcony rooms. The shower has simple but elegant sliding glass door that doesn't waste any space. In concierge class we had access to slightly better bathroom toiletries and cosmetics. My wife didn't seem particularly impressed with the shampoo, but there could have been other factors that led to that. Dining: In this section is where we found the best and worst that our particular vacation had to offer. We went into this cruise knowing we would be doing a night or two in specialty dining, specifically Murano. I'll dive into the specialty restaurants in a bit, but lets get the not-so-pleasant out of the way. Please understand that we have never had an issue in the Main Dining Room. Celebrity does dining very well, and I'd even argue that it is one of their strengths. This time, we just weren't impressed. My wife, myself, and my parents got sat at a very nice four top. The MDR is crowded as it is on all ships, so that didn't bother us. We had a very nice and attentive head waiter, and the food both nights that we dined there was excellent. The bar/drink service however, was severely lacking. My father and I managed to get our wine quickly enough usually, but my wife and mother waited 15-30 minutes for their bar drinks every time they ordered. It became such an issue that our poor head waiter would go off running to get the drinks himself. This isn't a major issue, I am aware of that, but I expect more from Celebrity. After two identical services with the identical problems we called our Concierge (perk of concierge class) and told her about the issue and she asked if she could inform the Maitre'D. Literally 5 minutes later the Maitre'D had ran up to our rooms to apologize, hear our feedback, and promised to improve the service going forward. People, this is what makes Celebrity different. There are 3000 people eating dinner in his beautiful dining room, and he stopped mid-service to run up to our room to personally apologize and ask how to fix it. The next day we got back from a day at port and my parents and I each had a bottle of nice champagne from the Maitre'D, it was a wonderful gesture and we were impressed. Now as it turned out, we had a reservation at the famous Murano that evening. When we left Murano we were so blown away that we called our Concierge and asked her to book us in specialty dining for the remainder of the cruise. These restaurants are not free, nor cheap, but our concierge got us 20-40% off the listed price each night we dined in a specialty restaurant. So, in the end we never got to go back in the MDR, but I am convinced that the issues would have been fixed. Murano If you do one thing on a Celebrity Cruise, eat dinner at Murano. The first night of the cruise they offer it at a discount if you book ahead of time. My father and I are "foodies" and love fine dining. We both agreed that the Murano dinner service and quality of food is an experience that would be incredible even if it weren't on a cruise ship. Every single aspect, from the bread to the Grand Marnier Souffle is perfect. Lobster Murano is a top 5 dish that I have ever experiences and is cooked table side with everything from bacon, to lobster cooked in a cognac mustard creme sauce. We were so impressed that we booked it for every remaining night of the cruise that we could. One night they were fully booked, so we tried Tuscan Grille. It was very good, but with it being a for-fee Italian steakhouse, we left miserably full compared to the lighter and more elegant Murano. Entertainment & Activities This will be rather short as we did not attend any of the main productions in the theater. Celebrity keeps the same shows for 3-5 years before cycling them out, with us sailing on the Equinox as frequently as we do, there weren't any that we hadn't already seen. We did however attend the comedy shows and watch a lot of live music. The comedian was great and the house band was excellent as well. Celebrity offers other activities like bingo, concerts, seminars, and workshops that many find to be fantastic. Admittedly we mainly go find somewhere quiet near a bar, as we are both young and always seem to be around crowds on land, we enjoy a more laid back experience on the boat. Service With the exception of the MDR, which I consider a fluke rather than a flaw, service is impeccable on Celebrity. Tipping is a hot topic on any cruise forum, but I can definitively say that when I hand a bartender or my room steward a $10/$20 bill on the first day, they take care of my wife and I the rest of the voyage. I personally try to find a specific bartender in my most regular bars and tip heavy on days 1/2. I tip $1 a drink the remainder of the time and I am having another drink brought to me before the first one is finished. Celebrity has a wonderful staff and an underappreciated staff/guest ratio. I think the reason they named it "Celebrity Cruises" is because of how they want each and every guest to feel. It really is what makes them so special. Cafe Al Bacio: I couldn't figure out the best place to include this place in any of my previous sections, so I ultimately decided that it needed its own. Bacio is arguably the most loved place on the ship. They are a full service coffee & dessert bar that is open all day. In the morning people are getting their day started with anything from a cappuccino to a cup of decaf, and late at night every table is full with people winding down in the low light setting of an old city jazz bar. The live music from the atrium fills the bar and its just a super unique place to relax and enjoy yourselves. It sounds so simple and quaint, but I am amazed that every cruise ship in the world doesn't mimic this place into their own. Ports & Excursions: We loved every port we stopped at. We are very familiar with the Western Caribbean so only Key West was a first time port for us. Everyone has different interests at respective ports, so I will just tell you what we do every time and you look for more information if you wish. Key West: We wandered on our own, Key West isnt a large town and most of the cool stuff is near the ship. There are tours galore and a really neat aquarium nearby. Grab you a piece of Key Lime Pie and a Conch Fritter and enjoy your first stop of the cruise! Grand Cayman: 7 Mile Beach at Calico Jacks. You go to this beach for the water as it is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. CJ's is great, but very crowded. Costa Maya: New favorite port in the Western Caribbean. The port itself is a maze, but very very beautiful. We find our way out and go to Maya Chan Beach Resort every chance we get. Check it out, its the epitome of a relaxing beach day. Cozumel: I have an answer to the famous Sancho's vs Nochi debate... Sancho's is the best! All inclusive, wonderful service, and a beautiful (safe) beach. We go every time we are in Cozumel and have no plans of changing! In Conclusion: My wife and I fell in love with cruising on our honeymoon and have been blessed to go one more than most our age. Celebrity is a perfect fit for what we want to do and how we want to spend our time on the boat. Its generally an older crowd, but we cruise like "older people". We have 2 more cruises currently booked with Celebrity, and 81 days cannot get here soon enough! Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
No matter what nationality you are, when you travel with Costa Cruise you will become Italian and live in an atmosphere full of love and human warmth. Italians are different from everyone, they are unique in the way they live their ... Read More
No matter what nationality you are, when you travel with Costa Cruise you will become Italian and live in an atmosphere full of love and human warmth. Italians are different from everyone, they are unique in the way they live their lives with others. The secret is in human contact, in the way they make you feel comfortable and important at same time , they know that everyone has a weakness for good food, pizza, pasta. wine, sweets and the beautiful Italian and Neapolitan melodic songs, I have had experiences with other Cruise Companies as: Carnival, Princess and Royal Caribbean but with Costa I reserve indelible memories, I do not exaggerate but the cleanliness that I have always found on Costa Cruise ships I have not found them from any others Cruises Ship For this and more if you decide to take a cruise I recommend Costa Cruise My next cruise will be with Costa Cruise again Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
We have sailed on 100+ cruises with 4 other cruises on Costa. We sailed on Costa Deliziosa on 12/19/18. This was a 7 nt cruise to Nassau, Gtand Turk, Amber Cove & Key West. Deliziosa is a beautiful ship, extremely clean and well ... Read More
We have sailed on 100+ cruises with 4 other cruises on Costa. We sailed on Costa Deliziosa on 12/19/18. This was a 7 nt cruise to Nassau, Gtand Turk, Amber Cove & Key West. Deliziosa is a beautiful ship, extremely clean and well organized. The staff provided excellent service. The food was generally very good. As on any ship, some nights were better than others. Very good pasta and pizza. Christmas Eve special dinner served in Albatross was excellent. Staff seemed happy to be of service. I had some special requests which were always accommodated. Music in most bars nightly. The Animation Team provided fun games, competitions and lots of laughs. They kept the cruise interesting for all ages. What impressed me most was the staff’s willingness to help and to go the extra step to make everyone happy. Something lacking in lots of other ships. I would recommend Deliziosa as a great cruise with an Italian flair. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
Our first Caribbean cruise went very well. The Vision of the Seas isn't a new ship but it is very well maintained. The food was superb, the service excellent, lots of entertaining. We faced a very stormy weather for one entire day and ... Read More
Our first Caribbean cruise went very well. The Vision of the Seas isn't a new ship but it is very well maintained. The food was superb, the service excellent, lots of entertaining. We faced a very stormy weather for one entire day and the ship swayed a lot. My wife got motion sick and crew member gave us a miraculous pill that helped us to heal faster. Two issues they can easily get fixed: 1. The cigarrete smell at the casino should be controled by installing glass slidind doors both edges. 2. Mold smell in the steam sauna. Otherwise, a great ship, a great crew and a wonderful itinerary. Ports of call at Cozumel, Costa Maya and Roatan are excellent choices. This was a family-oriented cruise. Embarkation and disembarkation were smooth and fast. The Captain is accessible, absolutely knowlegeable and participates in a lot of cruise activities and dinners. Restaurants are excellent. Great food and an unique gourmet experience. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
I had an amazing Vacation this time of the year was perfect the weather was just right and not humid or too hot. The service was outstanding. The Only reason I am not giving 5's for everything is my shore excursion in Cozumel was not ... Read More
I had an amazing Vacation this time of the year was perfect the weather was just right and not humid or too hot. The service was outstanding. The Only reason I am not giving 5's for everything is my shore excursion in Cozumel was not the best. I was kinda disappointed as I didn't realize how long it was going to take to get to the destination and we ended up only having three hours instead of 6 hours at the location plus it was so packed as their were 6 ships in Cozumel when we were their. My cabin 2346 was wonderful. Very close to the water and when on the balcony we were able to watch the Pilot boat captain jump on and off the ship to Pilot the ship into the harbors and Mississippi river (Takes 7 hours to get through the river to the Gulf of Mexico). Also were able to see 10 dolphins and 1 whale from our room. Weather was around 85'F every day. Sunny and water was great. Jamaica was my favorite place to visit. Would defiantly recommend doing a snorkeling tour when here we saw so many tropical colored fish in the bay. Next time I go to Cayman Islands I am going to do Stingray bay and snorkeling tour as the water was crystal clear the further out you got. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
Celebrating retirement with a group of 18. Embarkation was quick and easy. Our first time having a cabin category higher than ocean view. The balcony was filthy. Paid for the junior suite. Never used the balcony. Dining room food on ... Read More
Celebrating retirement with a group of 18. Embarkation was quick and easy. Our first time having a cabin category higher than ocean view. The balcony was filthy. Paid for the junior suite. Never used the balcony. Dining room food on par with a cafeteria. The buffet was actually better. Our two dining room wait-persons we wonderful. It was a shame they had to server the subpar food. Examples would we be Ahi tuna that was cooked until it was bone dry. Pasta carbonara that had very little flavor and the sauce almost being paste-like. Headliners we very good. Standard ship's singers and dancers were like attending a mediocre high school talent show. Schooner Bar piano player was very good. Could listen to him all night. There were movies shown on giant screen on the main deck. The problem was there were two zones of the screen not working correctly. Very distracting. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
We were motivated to book this cruise on the Regal Princess after receiving an email touting it as a “Culinary Cruise” (www.princess.com/ships-and-experience/special-events/caribbean-culinary-cruise/). The cruise would feature ... Read More
We were motivated to book this cruise on the Regal Princess after receiving an email touting it as a “Culinary Cruise” (www.princess.com/ships-and-experience/special-events/caribbean-culinary-cruise/). The cruise would feature celebrity chefs Brad Kilgore, Scott Linquist and Norman Love. Special events were offered (live cooking demonstrations, custom shore excursions, exclusive onboard events) and special recipes featured throughout the ship’s restaurants and bars. In addition, this itinerary would provide an opportunity to SCUBA dive in two of our favorite ports: Cozumel and Grand Cayman. This was our our third cruise on the Regal Princess. PORTS OF CALL Port Everglades, FL; Princess Cays, Bahamas; Falmouth, Jamaica; Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands; Cozumel, Mexico; Port Everglades, FL ABOUT THE REVIEW Other reviews give extensive information on the ship, cabins, food etc. Our reviews are not like that; they are primarily a journal of what we did in the various ports, including web links to tourist information sites and maps. In general, we prefer DIY port tours, private tours with other Cruise Critic roll call members, or shared public tours. However, we will take a Princess tour when the logistics or cost make that a better option. Tour operator contact information is included in each port review. This cruise was primarily a dining experience rather than an itinerary experience, so this review goes into detail about the eating opportunities that we enjoyed on board. Because food would be a focus, we were a little concerned by some negative reviews we read recently about the food (in particular, the pizza) on Princess. However, we selected “Anytime Dining” and, with all the various alternative dining options, we never ended up going to the MDR at all and only made it to the Horizon Court buffet at lunch on the last sea day! Instead we thoroughly enjoyed Alfredo’s Pizzeria on three occasions and spent lots of time in specialty restaurants and events. We went to the Crown Grill, Sabatini’s Trattoria, the Chef’s Table Lumiere and the Wine Maker’s Dinner. We also attended the Princess Grapevine Wine Tasting, the Super Tuscan Wine Tasting and the special Onboard Food Tour. We took a special shore excursion in Falmouth with Brad Kilgore and attended (or watched on our stateroom TV) three of the complimentary events with the celebrity chefs. The Princess is in the process of equipping some ships with their new Medallion technology and the Regal was a test bed. The trial has not been going well since only a fraction of the ship’s cabins were Medallion enabled. Because of this, upon inquiry prior to the cruise, we were able to get a small refund from Princess in the form of On Board Credit. However, a current ship-wide benefit of the technology is an amazing improvement in wi-fi and internet speeds. Access was as fast as we get at home which is an astonishing leap from past cruises. Additionally, Platinum and Elite Captain’s Circle members had unlimited free connect time. ABOUT US John and I (Carolyn) are retired Mississippi State University professors in our late sixties, who currently reside in central North Carolina. Both of us are natives of New Orleans and, as such, are interested in good food (and wine!) and good times. Our preferred souvenir is a small regional or national flag. On this itinerary, I would not need to acquire any flags. We enjoy both cruises and land tours; often our trips combine the two. We have cruised to or toured all seven continents, primarily in the Americas and Europe. On our trips, we prefer nature and wildlife tours that involve snorkeling, SCUBA diving or hiking. In particular, we will hike for miles to see waterfalls, volcanoes, caves or other interesting geologic features. We also enjoy lighthouses, forts, castles and anything else we can legally climb up on for a good view. We are Elite members of Princess' Captain's Circle loyalty program, with over 50 cruises on Princess; that includes four on Princess' largest ships (Royal and Regal Princesses) and seven on the smallest (Tahitian/Ocean and Pacific Princesses). We have also sailed with Celebrity, Holland America, Royal Caribbean, Costa, Viking River and Commodore. REVIEW OF THE CRUISE Saturday, 02/10/18 RDU to FLL We flew non-stop to FLL on Delta using SkyMiles and stayed at the SpringHill Suites Fort Lauderdale Airport & Cruise Port (www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/flldb-springhill-suites-fort-lauderdale-airport-and-cruise-port/) using Marriott Rewards points. There are a lot of hotels nearby and a few restaurants within walking distance. This is a nice place to stay, with a free breakfast buffet, free shuttle to/from the airport and a $10 pp shuttle service to Port Everglades. Be sure to call the hotel when you land to get on their airport shuttle waiting list; it took 45 minutes to get on the shuttle since we could not fit on the first one. Also don’t expect very early check-in. We arrived at 12:30 p.m. but could not get into a room until 2:30 p.m. Note that they can really only guarantee a 4:00 p.m. check-in so we did get in somewhat early. For dinner, we chose a local chain, Mr. M’s Sandwich Shops (www.mrmssubs.com), which is less than a half-mile from the hotel. We called ahead and everything was ready by the time it took to walk there (about 15 minutes). We took our food back to the room to enjoy with a simple red wine we had brought along. The sandwich ingredients were nice and fresh but the bread was just ordinary and the potato salad was a little bland. Still, it was a nice change from fast food joints and typical chain restaurants. Sunday, 02/11/18 Ft. Lauderdale, Florida: All Aboard 3:30pm We had reserved a spot on the 10:45 a.m. shuttle to the port. Unbeknownst to us, the hotel uses a really poor shuttle service for the port transfer (www.yelp.com/biz/fort-lauderdale-shuttles-fort-lauderdale-2). Despite people's reservations (and complaints), the shuttle agents kept filling the shuttles with people sailing on RCI’s “Allure of the Seas” and ignoring those sailing on Princess or Carnival. Many people gave up and called taxis or Ubers. The Carnival passengers were able to fit on the last “Allure” shuttle but there was no shuttle for the Princess passengers until 45 minutes after our scheduled pick-up time. The result was that our 10:45 p.m. shuttle arrived at the ship at noon. In the big scheme of things, this was no big deal except we wanted to get on board early in order to be on the list for the special dinners and culinary cruise events. It’s not like this company did not know there would be this many people expecting a ride to the port at certain times; they were just unprepared for the situation. They also kept telling us that we would be leaving in a few minutes. Frustrating way to start a cruise! By the time we arrived at the cruise terminal, the crowds had dissipated and we could walk right through security, to a check-in station and onto the ship. In less than 15 minutes, we were dropping our hand luggage off in our balcony cabin, which was starboard aft on the Aloha deck. John called the “Dine Line” to make reservations for dinner tonight at Sabatini's and to get on the list for the Chef’s Table Lumiere and the Wine Maker’s Dinner. After that, I called Room Service to exchange some items in our complimentary mini-bar setup. There was a flier in our cabin that listed the special events that would be held in conjunction with the culinary cruise but there were very few details (e.g., time, price, description) provided. It said to contact the Passenger Services Desk (PSD) to get more information so we headed down there. When we arrived, we found out that the PSD staff had just been informed that this was supposed to be a culinary cruise and they would be meeting later that afternoon to figure out exactly what that was going to mean. Way to plan Princess! Fortunately, we were helped by a wonderful Customer Service Agent, Anastasia Onykii, who promised to contact us with full details as soon as they were available. Later, when she tried to contact us with more information, the phones were not working so she could not leave a message. Instead, she had a hand-written note delivered to our cabin and informed the other PSD staff that we would be calling so they would be able to help us in case she was not there. That’s excellent service! It eventually transpired that there would be four complimentary culinary cruise events: an interview with Chefs Kilgore and Linquist, a cooking demo with Kilgore and Linquist, a chocolate demo with Love, and a mixology lesson with the ship’s bartenders. There were also three fee events: special entrees by Kilgore and Linquist in the Crown Grill (February 15 only, $5 pp if you wanted the special in addition to one of the regular entrees), a Norman Love Wine and Chocolate Pairing ($39 pp) and an Onboard Food Tour ($20 pp). We had learned from the PSD that we had to call the Dine Line to get on the list for the later two fee events, so John called and asked for the Onboard Food Tour and also made a reservation for the Crown Grill on the 15th. After our initial talk with Anastasia about the culinary events, it was time to reward ourselves with lunch at Alfredo’s. Not all Princess ships have this marvelous sit-down pizzeria and that is a shame. It is a gem of a restaurant! We could always get a nice table and prime service at Alfredo’s. The appetizers and the two pasta dishes are wonderful but we would go simply for the great thin-crust pizzas. There are various interesting combinations on the menu but this voyage they would not make pizzas to order. No Alfredo’s is one of the hardest letdowns after a cruise. After lunch, it was back to the cabin where we met our Filipino Cabin Steward, Florante. We asked him to put a top sheet on the bed when he made up our stateroom that evening and to make sure we had an adequate supply of bar soap (we don’t care for the body wash gel supplied in the shower). Surprisingly, I had to ask Florante twice during the cruise to leave more soap and also to bring more toilet paper and laundry bags. He also did not replace the beach towels that we used ashore in Grand Cayman. I hope this was not a sign that Princess is cutting back on housekeeping staff. In the past, our cabin stewards have made sure that the bathroom was well-stocked with bar soap and an extra roll of toilet paper, and that our laundry bags and beach towels were replaced as they were used up. On the plus side, Florante went looking for our two bags and brought them to the cabin quickly so that we could unpack. He also kept the ice bucket full. We went to the passenger safety drill at 3:00 p.m.; our muster station was the Wheelhouse Bar. There is a new recorded safety message (with a bit of humor!) and passengers no longer need to drag their life vests to the drill. This made the drill shorter than in the past. After the drill, we went to the upper decks for the sail away. We were sorry to see that there were only a few residents of the apartments on the north side of the channel cheering and waving us “Bon Voyage!”; at one time there were numerous flags and even air horn salutes as ships exited the port. Tonight we had dinner at Sabatini's ($25 pp), which has a new menu since our last Princess cruise in March. The new menu (www.princess.com/downloads/pdf/ships-and-experience/food-and-dining/sabatinis-trattoria/sabatinis-trattoria-main-menu.pdf) was created in collaboration with Chef Angelo Auriana and emphasizes Northern Italian dishes. The meal starts with an aperitivo of Tuscan-style bread with a roasted pepper and tomato sauce and slices of prosciutto. Next is an antipasto course; I had the marinated lamb skewers and John chose the chickpea fritters with seafood. The soup or salad course is no contest: the Grana Padano Fondue is fantastic and we both had that. That is followed by a choice of five interesting flavored pasta options (or plain pasta with tomato, seafood arrabbiata or carbonara sauce for the less adventurous). This was a hard choice but John settled on the Tortelloni (mint-flavored pasta stuffed with lamb in a cheese and pepper sauce) and I tried the Picagge (marjoram-flavored long pasta with seafood and artichoke pesto). Next up was the main course: Roman Seafood al Cartoccio (cooked in a paper bag) with potatoes and artichokes for John and Breaded Veal Wallet (stuffed with sun-dried tomatoes and provolone) with roasted potatoes and artichokes for me. All of the dishes we had eaten so far were excellent (especially the Tortelloni!) but the pièce de résistance was the “Rocher,” a Chocolate Journey created by Master Chocolatier Norman Love. The menu description doesn’t do this spectacular dessert justice. It starts with a small ball of hazelnut ice cream in a chocolate shell, surrounded by chocolate ganache and another chocolate shell. This delectable chocolate sphere is topped with a chocolate curl and sits in a fish bowl on top of more chocolate and candied hazelnuts. This is not a light dessert to follow so many courses but John and I could not resist finishing our servings. Usually the first night’s entertainment is a “Welcome Aboard Showtime.” However, tonight it was the production show, “Bravo.” We still have not seen this show but we did not feel like waiting around for the 10 p.m. performance. Monday, 02/12/18 Princess Cays, Bahamas: 9:00am – 4:30pm (Last Tender) This morning we anchored off Princess Cays, Princess' private beach on Eleuthera Island, Bahamas. We have been to Princess Cays many times and decided to repeat the 6.4-mile round-trip hike to Lighthouse Beach that we made on our last visit. For those who might want to undertake this DIY tour, a good map and description are included on pages 14 and 15 of “Tom’s Princess Cays Cruise Port Guide: Eleuthera Bahamas  - 2015 Revision” (www.tomsportguides.com/uploads/5/8/5/4/58547429/princesscays-01-20-2015.pdf). We caught the first tender ashore so we could avoid hiking during the hottest part of the day. The exit from the Princess Cays compound is via the gate behind the First Aid Station. It is necessary to show both a cruise card and a government-issued ID to leave and re-enter the compound. Just past the gate are a number of stalls where the local residents are selling various souvenirs. We continued east down the paved road to the main paved north-south road, which is marked by a colorful wishing well and a sign saying “Welcome to Princess Cays”. Here we turned right and walked south, passing a lagoon, until we reached a very rugged dirt/gravel road heading off to the left. By this point, we had walked for about 15 minutes. After another 15 minutes or so following that road, we reached another rough dirt/gravel road running north-south. Here we turned right; there is a “Lighthouse Beach” sign just after the turn. Last time we were here, we heard multitudes of orange and black Bahamian Land Crabs skittering around in the underbrush as we walked along; there seemed to be far fewer today. About 20 minutes from the beach sign are two ponds on either side of the road and information signs with photos of the birds that might be spotted there. Within another 10 minutes, we reached the Caribbean beach side of Lighthouse Point. Up until now, we had not seen anyone else; however, there was an entrepreneurial local setting up a grill, getting ready to offer food and drink to those who made it this far. We enjoyed the gorgeous beach views, then walked as far around the point as we could from the Caribbean side; there are a couple of photogenic sea caves there. We retraced our steps and took a trail up the dunes to the lighthouse, which is rather dilapidated, and walked on top of the bluffs out to the point. From this vantage point, we could see the three small (inaccessible) islands extending south from the point. We only saw two other couples relaxing on the beach here. After we finished exploring the top of the bluffs, we climbed down to the sea caves on the Atlantic side, then walked away from the bluffs for a distance north along the Atlantic beach. There was an interesting wreck of a colorful boat that was embedded bow-first in the sand. Finally, we returned to the road around the base of the bluffs and headed back the way we came. When we reached the Caribbean beach, the Princess ATV tour had just arrived. As we walked back to Princess Cays, we were passed by the returning ATV tour. Later we spotted a small squashed snake (probably a Bahamian Brown Racer), undoubtedly a victim of the ATVs. Once we were back on the main paved north-south road, we encountered a group of bikers from a Princess tour heading south. All told, we walked for about 3 hours; our Garmin registered 7.86 miles. We did not think sandals would be appropriate for this hike; we wore running shoes. It is important to take water (at least a liter per person) and to use good sun protection (hat, sunscreen). It is also a good idea to leave a note in your cabin indicating where you are going. We don’t find Princess’ beach barbecue especially interesting, so we tendered back to the ship and had beer and pizza at Alfredo’s. One of the complimentary culinary events, an interview with Chefs Kilgore and Linquist, was held during the late afternoon in Princess Live! We watched this later on the stateroom TV. This evening was Italian Night in the dining rooms but we had a reservation at the Crown Grill ($29 pp). Often when we dine here, we are seated near a window. Tonight, however, our table was adjacent to a low railing separating the restaurant from the Wheelhouse Bar, so it was quite noisy and hard to make conversation. Thankfully, it quieted down after the second fixed-seating dinner started. Alas, the Pan-Seared Pacific Scallops appetizer is no longer on the menu (www.princess.com/downloads/pdf/Onboard_Experience/Crown-Grill-Menu-Sample.pdf), so John made do with the spiny lobster cake and I had the black tiger prawn. We both followed that with the Black and Blue Onion Soup. We each had the same main course: the Sterling Silver Beef Chop, Blackened with Mushrooms and Onions, which seemed to be a thicker cut than in the past and all the better for it. A nice touch at this restaurant is the selection of specialty salts: Hawaiian Black, Smoked Applewood and Himalayan Mountain Pink. Those salts are a wonderful accompaniment to the steaks and we both asked for a small spoonful of each. After all that, we still had room for the Crown Dependence, mini portions all four desserts: Molten Dutch Chocolate Fudge Obsession, Lemon Meringue Pudding Tart Cake, Seven Layer S’mores Stack and Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Bar (another of Norman Love’s Chocolate Journeys). As usual, all the food at the Crown Grill was outstanding! Tonight’s entertainment included a comic (Carlos Oscar) in the Princess Theater and improv comedy by the Vancouver Theater Sports in the Vista Lounge. Although those both sounded like fun, we decide to digest and rest up from our hike. Tuesday, 02/13/18 At Sea (Mardi Gras) Our usual sea day pattern is this: wake up, shower and get dressed, find a nice spot to read while the steward makes up our cabin, eat lunch (Alfredo's), read and enjoy a drink on our balcony, go to a show, eat dinner, read in the cabin/balcony, go to sleep. Occasionally we will add a walk, lecture, movie or some other activity to our busy day. Today we slept in a bit before starting our strenuous regimen. Instead of Alfredo’s, we had a special treat today: the luncheon for the “Most Traveled” (top 40 in number of days) passengers. Each couple had a photo taken with Captain Fabrizio Maresca as a gift. This turned out to be the only time we would meet the Captain; as opposed to more gregarious captains we have had in the past, he did not seem to spend much time on the decks mingling with guests and made very few announcements. The lunch was held in Sabatini's, where we got to sit with the Chief Electro-Technical Officer. As usual the food was exceptional and the wine kept flowing. The opening salvo was a baked goat cheese souffle with truffle basil pesto. Before we saw the menu, John and I had both been thinking that we would choose the fish main course option. Those thoughts flew out the window (porthole?) when we saw that the meat option was veal osso buco. Anyone who has read my past cruise reviews knows that we are osso buco fanatics and eat it at every opportunity; this was an outstanding version. The finale was the heart-shaped Love Boat Temptation—white chocolate and peach Melba mousse with a raspberry rose center—plus a selection of the Chef’s petit fours and cappuccino. In the mid-afternoon, we headed to the Princess Theater for a cooking demonstration by guest Chefs Kilgore and Linquist. Kilgore prepared a dish with sea scallops and Linquist made duck breasts with green rice. A copy of the recipes was handed out. As usual, they claimed that anyone could make these dishes at home. That’s right—all you need is someone to cut up everything for you, ready to toss into the pan. Still, both of the dishes looked delicious and I wondered whether those would be the special ones they would prepare at the Crown Grill on the 15th. We would never find out because we were chosen for the Wine Maker’s Dinner that night and canceled our reservation at the Grill. The cooking demonstration conflicted with the Maitre d’ Wine Club ($25 pp). Even though this wine tasting includes canapés to pair with the wine and would end with a special Norman Love confection, we have not been overly impressed with this event in the past. We were glad we decided to choose the cooking demo instead. Even later in the afternoon, we had the special Onboard Food Tour ($20 pp). This was sort of a restaurant crawl where we could hobnob with Chefs Kilgore and Linquist. The tour started in the Crown Grill, where we tried small portions of all four of the appetizers served there. The next stop was at the Ocean Terrace Seafood Bar, where we were served ahi tuna poke, salmon sashimi, yellowtail nigiri sushi, two sushi rolls pieces and egg salad. Then we went downstairs to Sabatini’s, where we sampled five of the dishes: the marinated lamb skewer, the lamb-filled Tortelloni, the beet Risotto, the soft polenta with mushrooms and the chicken scallopine. The final stop was at Vines Wine Bar, where we tasted three wines paired with Norman Love chocolates. Some of the participants did not want all their chocolates (!?!?), so we got some extras to take back to the cabin. This was a very fun and moderately-filling event—definitely worth the price! Tonight was the first of two formal nights on this cruise; as Elite Captain’s Circle members, we received complimentary hors oeuvres delivered to our cabin. Now that chocolate-covered strawberries are no longer included, the choices are pretty pathetic. After eating these, we decided to stop requesting the hors oeuvres in the future. After our big lunch, the food tour, the hors oeuvres and our bonus chocolates, we decided that dinner was superfluous. We also passed on the Captain's Champagne Waterfall and went to the Princess Theater early to get good seats for the first show. The production show, “Born to Dance” is a medley of numbers by famous choreographers such as Agnes de Mille, Jerome Robbins and Bob Fosse. This was a new show for us and, for a change, all four of the featured singers were very good. The cast deserved and got a standing ovation. Wednesday, 02/14/18 Falmouth, Jamaica: 8:00am – 4:30pm (St. Valentine’s Day) John and I have been to Jamaica several times before and visited Dunn's River Falls and the Coyaba Botanical Gardens. Previously we docked in Montego Bay or Ocho Rios; this was the first time we had called at Falmouth. Today we were taking one of the two special culinary shore excursions (the other was in Cozumel). Both of these tours sold out well in advance of sailing, so we were glad we had booked it (using OBC) when it first became available. We also noticed that the price increased for new bookings made closer to sailing. The Regal Princess docked at the purpose-built cruise ship terminal, which can accommodate two large ships; the other ship in port was the Allure of the Seas. The open-air terminal area is much like similar facilities at Mahogany Bay in Roatan, Costa Maya on mainland Mexico or Puerta Maya in Cozumel. It is a sanitized experience for visiting cruisers, with all the familiar shopping experiences (Diamonds International!), watering holes (Margaritaville!) and fast-food outlets (Dairy Queen!). Visitors walk through the shops and stalls to the tour departure area at the guarded entrance. There appeared to be a number of tours with local operators that could be booked at the dock. We don’t generally take ship’s tours and our “Jerk Cooking & Rum Tasting with Guest Chef Brad Kilgore” ($99.95 pp) underscored why. The first sign of trouble was that we waited on the bus 30 minutes past the tour’s scheduled start time for Kilgore and his entourage of family, Princess photographers and videographers to show up. Then we continued waiting another 15 minutes for a woman who had missed the ship in Port Everglades and had to check in with the ship before she could make it over to the bus. Finally we were off on a scenic drive from the port to the Good Hope Estate (chukka.com/destination-gallery/good-hope/#!). We decided that the roads here are even worse than in Dominica (our previous record holder); our tour guide Shashania said we were getting a “Jamaican massage.” She tried to teach us some of the Jamaican patois (yah mon, irie, tank yuh) and coax us to sing Bob Marley and Harry Belafonte numbers. When we arrived at the Estate’s Georgian-style Great House, we did not receive “a refreshing lemongrass beverage,” as promised in the tour description. The house is on a hill with fine views of the surrounding countryside and mountains. Our other guide, Crystal, handled the tour of the Great House, which was built in 1755. A few years after the wife of the original owner died (she is buried under the ground floor), the house was sold to John Tharp. Tharp bought several of the neighboring estates and developed a large sugar plantation with a sugar factory, waterwheel, boiling house, kiln, hospital, church, school—a real town; many of these buildings still remain. After the tour of the Great House, we drove downhill to the former Trading House, where we tasted three Appleton Estate rums: Signature Blend (17 aged rums), Reserve Blend (20 aged rums) and Rare Blend (12 year old rums). We enjoy sipping the Rare Blend at home and thought we might pick up a bottle here. However, it was much more expensive at the gift shop that it is in North Carolina. Chukka Caribbean Adventures has turned much of the plantation into an outdoor adventure park offering such activities as zip-lines and tubing on the Martha Brae River. While the photographers and videographers were busy with Chef Kilgore, we had time to watch some people zipping through the trees near the river. After that, we visited the small Aviary, which has an iguana and tropical birds (nice macaws). There is also a noted potter (David Pinto) at the site but we did not visit his workshop. Back on the bus, we continued down to the banks of the river, the site of the former sugar factory. Under Chukka’s management, this is now the Adventure Falls area, featuring water slides, pools and bars. Here we would have a demonstration of Jamaican jerk-style cooking by a local chef (with additional commentary from Brad Kilgore), followed by lunch. Apparently, the local chef had not been informed that Kilgore would be commenting, so there was considerable discussion about what was supposed to take place and arranging of microphones before the videographing could begin. Meanwhile, the tour participants got to hang around like a bunch of unpaid extras. Finally the show got on the road and the local chef cut up and seasoned a chicken. The gist of the demonstration was that authentic Jamaican jerk cooking requires commercially-prepared seasoning mixes and sauces (available in the gift shop!). Except for allspice and Scotch bonnet hot peppers, there was little mention of what else might be in the seasoning mixes and sauces. Lunch consisted of delicious jerk chicken accompanied by traditional dishes like rice and red peas (kidney beans), fried plantains, escovitch (fried tilapia topped with bell peppers, carrots and onions in a peppery vinegar-based dressing), stew peas (a bean-vegetable dish) and callaloo (steamed leafy greens). “Jerk” in Jamaica means “spicy” but this must have been a toned-down version for delicate tourist mouths. The “decadent Caribbean dessert” promised in the tour description turned out to be a tiny square of banana bread. Oh well, we didn’t want to eat a lot at lunch today anyway. After lunch, the tour participants got to hang around some more while Kilgore was being immortalized by the photographers and videographers. After complaining to Crystal about not getting to see more of the plantation grounds while that was going on, John and I were allowed to walk (under her supervision) across the bridge over the river to inspect the sugar factory’s old waterwheel. Crystal even told us a bit more of the history of the factory and the plantation before we had to return to the bus for the drive back to the ship. Overall, this was an OK tour that fell short of our expectations (and the tour description). But the food was quite good. In contrast to the tour, tonight’s dinner was a real highlight of the cruise: the Chef’s Table. On the Regal and Royal Princesses, this dinner is bumped up a notch to Chef’s Table Lumiere ($115 pp, $100 pp without wine). This meal is prepared by the Executive Chef and is held in the Allegro Dining Room in a space cordoned off by a shimmering curtain of light. I suspect we like this a lot because it was our seventh time! Tonight's group of 12 gathered at the Bellini Bar at 6:45 p.m. We walked to the entrance of the Concerto Dining Room, where we were greeted by the Maitre d', Ignazio D’Agostino, and helped into white jackets or lab coats. Then we were escorted into the Galley, where we scrubbed our hands thoroughly. It was near the end of first seating dinner, so the Galley was not so busy as it has been when the Chef’s Table was held earlier in the evening on other cruises. We were introduced to the Executive Chef, Florin Dragan; he and Ignazio pointed out all the food preparation areas and explained how everything was organized to work smoothly. After that, we were moved to a table in an out-of-the-way corner, which was decorated with a beautiful ice sculpture and carved vegetables. There we were served Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Champagne and five special appetizers prepared by the Executive Chef. After enjoying those, we were escorted to the special table in the Allegro Dining Room. The large round table has a lighted blown-glass centerpiece that looks somewhat like a large white agave; above the table is an elaborate chandelier. Before being seated, a group photo and a photo of each couple/group were taken with the Maitre d' and Executive Chef. While the dinner is in progress, two layers of lighted curtains enclose the table to create a private dining area. The first course was a risotto with tiger prawns and mushrooms served with an Italian Pinot Grigio, Danzante. Next was an orange and ginger sorbet palate-cleanser splashed with Grey Goose Vodka. The main course was a unique surf and turf of a lobster tail, phyllo-rolled crab leg, a pork medallion and a beef medallion, accompanied by a warm artichoke salad and roasted potatoes. The beef was cooked perfectly to order but the pork was rather dry. This course was served with Oberon, a rich Merlot from the Napa Valley. That was followed by a cheese course with pears. The over-the-top desert of a chocolate praline timbale with hazelnut mousse was served with Errazuriz White, a dessert wine from Chile. Those with any appetite left were presented with a tray of the Chef’s homemade gourmandises (chocolate-covered strawberries, chocolate truffles, marzipan, macarons and other cookies) accompanied by limoncello and coffee/tea. Needless to say, this six-course meal and accompanying wines were outstanding and served with appropriate pomp and ceremony. After the meal, we received copies of the 50th Anniversary Edition of Princess' cookbook (Courses, a Culinary Journey), the photos and a souvenir menu; each lady was presented with a long-stemmed red rose. Wow! Great meal! No mention was made of Mardi Gras yesterday but today was St. Valentines’ Day and appropriate decorations were scattered around the ship. Elaborate cakes at the entrance to each dining room continued the theme. There were Valentine’s Day get-togethers for singles and honeymooners and a Valentine’s Day Marriage Match Game Show. Thursday, 02/15/18 Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands: 7:00am – 3:30pm (Last Tender) We have called at Grand Cayman many times on cruises but have never visited Hell or the Turtle Farm. We have snorkeled at Stingray City twice and also dived there. We have snorkeled and dived a number of other sites as well. In fact, it was snorkeling at Cheeseburger Reef, above a coral canyon filled with tarpon, that made John want to become a certified diver so that he could be down there with the fish. Also in port today were Carnival's Dream, Glory and Sensation, plus the Celebrity Equinox and the MSC Opera. Today we had scheduled a 2-tank dive with Neptune's Divers (www.neptunesdivers.com). This was the fourth time we have dived with this boutique operation and we have been completely satisfied each time. Arriving by cruise ship limits the time available for dives but Neptune's Divers is flexible and able to accommodate our schedule. We met the co-owner, Casey, at Calico Jack's Beach Bar (US$5 pp taxi ride) at Sea Grape Beach for a short drive to the dive boat. Neptune's Divers never takes more than five divers on a trip and this time we had only two other divers, who were staying on the island. Casey or her assistant Richie carefully explained our dive plans with expected bottom times and routes explicitly outlined. They set up all gear and made sure we were comfortable both entering and exiting the water. We had the usual fruit and water during our surface interval. Richie led the first dive and Casey led the second. The first site was Big Dipper, with some great swim-throughs and canyons. The second site, Bolero, is a shallow reef dive with lobsters and lots of fish; John even saw a turtle. After the dives, Casey was kind enough to drive us back to George Town and save us the hassle and expense of another taxi ride. [Note: Our two-tank dive, including BCD and reg rental, cost US$140 pp.] Being soaking wet and covered with sand, we had no burning desire to shop in George Town. We tendered back to the ship for the usual routine–-clean up, snack, rest, get ready for dinner. We only had a light lunch at Alfredo's because we had another special dinner reservation tonight. Later in the afternoon, the Princess Grapevine wine tasting was held in the Symphony Dining Room. As Elite Captain's Circle members, John and I received complimentary invitations; otherwise, it is $9.50 pp. At one time this was a much more serious event, with a nice brochure containing a tasting flavors wheel and a table of suggested wine pairings, a tasting notes sheet with the names of the wines and even a souvenir cordial glass. Now the Maitre d’ and a couple of headwaiters still speak to the wines but that’s about as far as the education aspect goes. Today we had four California wines and one from South Africa: Hogue Cellars Gewurztraminer and Genesis Merlot, Sanctuary Wines Chardonnay, Rex Goliath Winery Moscato and Protea Wines Red Blend (Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot). Before dinner, we went to the Captain's Circle Cocktail Party; this was one of two parties just for Platinum (875) and Elite (491) members. I think this is the first time that the Captain did not attend the party. The most traveled passengers had 1,020 days; second place was 1,009 days and third place was 719 days. We again failed to win the drawing for any of the three bottles of sparkling wine. Tonight was the second of two formal nights and the traditional lobster was served in the main dining rooms. We had a better option, though, the Wine Maker’s Dinner. The menu for this dinner was the same as on two previous cruises but it was still excellent. The four-course dinner was held in the attractive Wine Cellar section of the Symphony dining room. We began with an unctuous white bean veloute with chorizo followed by Asiago stuffed gnocchi. These were served with a nice Sicilian white (Donnafugata Anthilia). The main course was a rich Tournedos Rossini paired with a California Petite Sirah (Spellbound). The decadent dessert was a “Napoleon of Three Mousses”: chocolate, coffee and Cointreau mousses separated by sheets of filo. Friday, 02/16/18 Island Of Cozumel, Mexico: 10:00am – 9:30pm This was a typical day for Cozumel (cozumel.travel/en/): we were docked at Puerta Maya with the Carnival Dream, RCI’s Allure and Liberty of the Seas were at the International Pier, and the Norwegian Getaway and MSC Opera were closer to the downtown area. We have called at Cozumel many times on cruises and stayed on the island several times as well. Except for taking a tour to Tulum and going cavern diving in the Bat Cave and Dos Ojos cenotes, we have always snorkeled or dived on our port calls here. Although we were tempted by the special “Mexican Taco Tour with Guest Chef Scott Linquist,” the diving here is just too good to pass up. After our long-time dive master retired, he recommended Scuba Life Cozumel (www.scubalifecozumel.com) to us. This was our third dive trip with them and they were again fabulous! Juan Pablo and Carlos now have a small shop in the new marina (a very easy 20-30 minute walk from Puerta Maya) where their boat is docked and still provide outstanding boutique service. Because of the ship’s late arrival time, we had originally booked a two-tank afternoon dive. However, it turned out that we were the only divers booked for today, so Juan Pablo contacted us to see whether we wanted to leave earlier; we settled on 11:30 a.m. We were able to get down to the dive shop at 11:10 a.m. and Louis, who would be our dive master today, was already waiting there. After taking care of the paperwork, we were on the boat and headed out of the marina by 11:30. At each dive site, Louis carefully explained our dive plan and went over the safety concepts as expected. Also as usual, Marcelo was an excellent boat driver and helped us gear up and especially helped us exit the water. He also provided delicious fresh fruit on our surface interval. Our first dive was at Santa Rosa Wall and the second spanned the Yucab and Tormentos dive sites. Cozumel is a great place to dive: on our two dives we saw four spotted eagle rays, a nurse shark, lobster, amazing pinnacles and swim throughs, and lots of colorful reef fish. [Note: Our two-tank dive, including BCD and reg rental, cost US$95 pp.] After all the delicious fruit on the dive boat, we only had a soft-serve ice cream cone back on the ship. We wanted to save plenty of room for tonight’s dinner at Sabatini's. For the antipasto, John had the smoked scamorza cheese with fried zucchini and yellow squash; I had the Piemontesi (roasted peppers, capers and marinated anchovies). Those were followed by the wonderful cheese soup and the Tortelloni for me; John had the soup and the buckwheat pappardelle with braised beef cheek. For his entree, John chose the Breaded Veal Wallet and I had the chicken scallopini with lemoncello and rosemary sauce. Although the chicken was very good, it was a thick piece of breast and I think thinner slices would have tasted better. It was really hard to pass up the Rocher but we decided to try the Specialita dello Chef, small versions of the four desserts: Rocher, Tiramisu, Panna Cotta and Zabaglione. Another fantastic meal! Saturday, 02/17/18 At Sea Alas, this was also the last day of the cruise; tomorrow we would be disembarking and flying back to North Carolina. Before we had to start packing, however, we still had a couple of special events. First was one of two events with Master Chocolatier Norman Love. This was a Chocolate Demo at 10 a.m. in the Princess Theater. Love showed how to make his Chocolate Hazelnut Bar with Citrus Cream (www.princess.com/images/ships-and-experience/food-and-dining/chocolate-journeys/photo-gallery/desserts/hazelnut-bar-lrg.jpg). Again, a copy of the recipe was handed out. Love was more realistic about what home cooks could accomplish and suggested alternatives for some of the more esoteric ingredients. The traditional Galley Tour followed the demonstration and Love would be available to sign copies of his cookbook. We skipped the tour. The second event with Love was the “Norman Love Wine & Chocolate Pairing” ($39 pp) at 1 p.m. in Sabatini’s. This sounded really good but it conflicted with the “Super Tuscan Wine Tasting” at 11:30 a.m. in the Allegro dining room. “Super Tuscan” is a marketing term coined in the 1970s by wine producers in Tuscany who did not want to make traditional Chianti but also did not want to be forced to call their wines “vino da tavola” (table wine) if they didn't make Chianti. These wines may be any grape variety or mixture of varieties; often varieties typical of Bordeaux (e.g., Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot) are used. As we entered the dining room, we were presented with a glass of Villa Sandi Prosecco (from Treviso, not Tuscany). Each of the Tuscan wines would be paired with a small sample of a complementary food. The Marchesi de Frescobaldi 2010 Pietra Regia dell'Ammiraglia, Morellino di Scansano Riserva DOCG (Morellino, a local nickname for Sangiovese) was paired with slices of duck breast with a tart berry sauce. The Tenuta Argentiera 2014 Argentiera Bolgheri Superiore DOC (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc) was served with chicken and polenta. The Marchesi Antinori 2014 Guado al Tasso Bolgheri Superiore DOC (Petit Verdot, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon) was paired with mushroom lasagna. Bistecca Toscana was served with Marchesi de Frescobaldi 2012 Castelgiocondo Lamaione Toscana IGT (Merlot). Finally, a lollipop lamb chop was paired with Marchesi de Frescobald 2010 25th Anniversary Ornellaia Bolgheri Superiore IGT (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot). The opportunity to taste these outstanding (and expensive) wines was worth the $40 pp cost of the tasting. We had read on Cruise Critic that the Regal Princess served raw oysters in the Horizon Court at lunch on the last sea day. We decided to check it out and found the large display of oysters, mussels and shrimp. Many of the oysters looked dried-out and the moister-looking ones that we tried did not have much taste. The same could be said for the mussels and shrimp, which did not seem to have been seasoned at all, only steamed. What a disappointment and waste of good seafood! There was also a “Celebration of Chocolate” going on at the same time in the Horizon Court. Most of the items were cakes and did not interest us. After the wine pairing and the sample from the seafood buffet, we decided to start cutting back by having a light dinner tonight at Alfredo’s. We each chose the “Mare e Monti” antipasto and the veal Agnolotti; we also shared a Pizza Capricciosa. This evening we made it to the Princess Theater for an all-new performance by the comic, Carlos Oscar. He was very funny and made us sorry we had missed his performance earlier in the cruise. Sunday, 02/18/18 Ft. Lauderdale, Florida: Arrive 7:00am Because delays we have had disembarking from previous cruises due to medical emergencies and other problems, we had requested the earliest independent (not self-assist) departure time of 7:20 a.m. When we arrived at the Vista Lounge (the waiting area for Platinum, Elite, Suite and Club Class guests) shortly before 8 a.m., we were amazed that the disembarkation was running 30 minutes ahead of schedule. After eating a couple of pastries in the lounge, we sadly left the ship. Most of the bags in our color group were already gone, so we had no problem locating our two items in the terminal. We headed over to Customs and Immigration, keeping an eye out for the Global Entry (www.cbp.gov/travel/trusted-traveler-programs/global-entry) line that lets us bypass the general screening line. The Global Entry line was not open yet, so we were sent to the line for passengers in wheelchairs. Just as we reached the head of that line, the Global Entry station opened. As we left the terminal, there were people selling tickets for shuttles to the airport; the fare to FLL was $11 pp. However, we knew that a taxi would cost less for two people and there was no problem getting one for the 15-minute ride to FLL ($17 with tip). Our non-stop flight to RDU was uneventful and we were back home by mid-afternoon. This cruise was a wonderful opportunity to SCUBA dive in two excellent locations and included a number of fun culinary experiences. After this cruise on one of Princess’ largest ships, our next cruise will be on one of the smallest, the Pacific Princess, in May. Large or small we always have a wonderful time aboard a Princess ship! Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
Much against our judgement we were swayed to try a competitor to Regent Seven Sea Cruises. For us sadly it wasn’t the best decision. What has become apparent is that most cruise lines do the least that they can get away with. Whilst ... Read More
Much against our judgement we were swayed to try a competitor to Regent Seven Sea Cruises. For us sadly it wasn’t the best decision. What has become apparent is that most cruise lines do the least that they can get away with. Whilst Regent do the most that they possibly can do for their clients. As soon as you book with Regent, they take total charge of your booking. Regent, take all the pain out of booking and travelling. Not only that but their guests receive a lovely leather iPad holder containing all the travelling documents and leather baggage tags as well as being fully briefed on the itinerary, excursions, dining arrangements, Culinary Arts Kitchen Classes, Distinctive Gourmet Tours – you name it. Checking - in is a joy. No lengthy queues! You are streamlined and before you know it you are on board being greeted with a glass of champagne with a superb lunch either at The Pool Grill or the excellent La Veranda. Probably in our opinion the best and consistent Buffet on the open seas. This is a Restaurant not a Café! The suites on board are carefully thought out and the attention to detail is amazing. Sheer luxurious quality and service. Dinning on Regent is an absolute pleasure. The choice is phenomenal with consistent value with its multitude of dining delights. Easy to book through the Concierge Desk with none of this supplement charging or wait listing attitude. Or if you are not in the mood, order Room Service. You can have a gourmet dinner served course-by-course, delivered to the suite to whatever you fancy. And be lazy and watch one of 200+ movies. A factor very much appreciated on Regent is the quality of the Food and Beverage. Excellent wines and spirits served throughout the ship. If it is not there the staff will get it for you. And of course to accompany the selection and type of cuisine. The entertainment and events on board are outstanding. Be it in the theatre, lounge bar or the Casino, guests are never disappointed. The standard of excursions presented by Regent is the highest we have experienced. Well put together and knowledgably presented tours and with none of this pack the buses approach. Always plenty of space on every excursion. On board activity is plentiful with an incomparable Spa and Fitness centre. There is always something going on that guests want to participate in. What really makes Regent head and shoulders above other Cruise Lines is their tremendous staff. From a cleaner to the Captain everyone has a marvellous attitude which inspire the guests on board. There is a spring in their step of sheer enthusiasm, charm and politeness. Secondly, their professionalism and service is second to none. Every staff enjoys their job and it is infectious. That is why we have booked three further cruises with Regent in the next fifteen months. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
Sailed Non 2017. We loved this ship from the minute we got on-board. It was showing it's age a bit but nothing terrible. I believe it is in dry dock at the moment for a small update. Which will be great because we are returning on the ... Read More
Sailed Non 2017. We loved this ship from the minute we got on-board. It was showing it's age a bit but nothing terrible. I believe it is in dry dock at the moment for a small update. Which will be great because we are returning on the same cruise in Feb. 2018, same cruise, same ship and same room. Felipe Couto is the cruise director and he is amazing. By far the best we have ever seen. Looking forward to seeing him next month. Back to the cruise. We were worried 4 days would pass too quickly but it didn't. We had a great time. Food, entertainment and the ship were just great. We did not take any excursion because of the short itinerary and mainly because we cruise for the ship. We stayed on-board and enjoyed ourselves. We have cruised on other cruise lines but we prefer the Fun Ships of Carnival. This will be our 5th cruise with Carnival and will definitely not be our last. F or those who have cruise with Felipe Couto, Woohoo! Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
The embarkation went smoothly but the debarkation took more than an hour and a half. The cabin was kept clean and dining in the dining hall was ok. Our waiters were great. We traveled with 2 teenagers and the entertainment and ... Read More
The embarkation went smoothly but the debarkation took more than an hour and a half. The cabin was kept clean and dining in the dining hall was ok. Our waiters were great. We traveled with 2 teenagers and the entertainment and activities was adequate. I played a lot at the casino which they had no problem charging my debit card for. I was set up to the only charge from my debit card and no sign and sail privileges because I did not have a credit card linked to my sign and sail card. They, however, did charge my sign and sail card. This created a lot of confusion with the casino saying they told me that they were charging my card. They lied. We asked to see the video feed and they would not let us see it. We had a terrible time. They ended up giving us $200 of it back while we were on the ship, only to charge us $200 once the cruise was over. Food selection and drink after hours suck. Be prepared to drink only water. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
I would never recommend anyone to go on this cruise line. NCL Escape was horrible, from the service to food. Lets start off with the dinning experience. It is freestyle dinning, which means you go when ever you want to eat. We waited every ... Read More
I would never recommend anyone to go on this cruise line. NCL Escape was horrible, from the service to food. Lets start off with the dinning experience. It is freestyle dinning, which means you go when ever you want to eat. We waited every night at the table for 2 hours to get our food. Then when it came to the food, it was just horrible. I think I could have ate better at Wendy's or a fast food restaurant. And instead of the dinning room we actually went to the buffet because it was better food then the dinning room and we didn't have wait for 2 hours to get it. I have never seen this on a cruise. If you ordered room serve there is a $7.25 service charge every time they bring it to you. Next the breakfast is only served in three restaurants and at the most they stay open to 930am. Of course there is the buffet again that you can go to till about 1030am for breakfast. If wanted the real experience of a cruise ship dinning you had to pay extra for the special dinning, which is not right. There are two pools for about 4,000 people that are packed all the time. The amenities around the pools were ok, which were the following: jacuzzi hot tubs, slides, rope course, mini golf, basketball courts and jogging track. Now when it came to the shows, you had to put reservations in for them. If I wanted to do that I would have gone to NY or even Las Vegas. I paid for the shows when I booked the cruise, why would I have to have reservations. And there was only one good show on the ship and that was Brat Pack. Service on the ship was just horrific. Like said above the dinning service took about 2 hours to get your food. The bar tenders would see you and walk right by and not ask if you wanted a drink. My wife and I order some pictures and the pictures were 3 different ones. Some how the guy at the picture place thought we wanted 3 of the same one, so we had to go back and re-print them. The manager would not even give the pictures to us for free or even a discount for the inconvenience. The cabin service was good, but hard for the stewardess. And what I mean by hard is that he never knew what time we were going to be at the room or back to the room. Overall, the cruise was just bad. We will never use NCL again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
We just returned this past week from a 5 day Western cruise with Carnival Triumph out of New Orleans (Monday-Saturday). We've cruised many times on Carnival and other cruise lines, we always come back to Carnival for the fun ... Read More
We just returned this past week from a 5 day Western cruise with Carnival Triumph out of New Orleans (Monday-Saturday). We've cruised many times on Carnival and other cruise lines, we always come back to Carnival for the fun atmosphere, good food and friendly staff. This was our 2nd trip on the Carnival Triumph. Our first was a few years ago with the grand suite, this time around we tried the ocean suite since it was just 2 of us. The room was an adequate size for 2 adults. Lots of space to and storage to put all of your belongings. Our cabin steward was Randy, very hospitable and good with taking care of our our room while we were away from the cabin, etc. The food for this trip was noticeable that the buffet's food wasn't as we remember with food quality - for example, on one day with fried chicken on the buffet, it doesn't look as though food is kept fresh/switched out periodically during the time it's sitting at the buffet. The fried chicken was so dried out and hard, we couldn't eat it. Also, this was a 5 day trip, so there was no lobster/steak night. My husband opted to purchase it on one of our dinner nights and was happy with the steak, but he said the lobster was overcooked/rubbery. Not worth the $20 extra that he paid for it. I ate a couple of times at the pay for seafood restaurant - lobster rolls $11 (they were good) once, and the fried seafood platter another time $10 - the oil I don't think is hot enough because their french fries on both orders were very greasy. They auto charge gratuity for whatever you order at this place, so be aware when you sign and it asks for tip. The chinese food and the deli sandwich shop are both good. The rueben at the deli shop was my husbands favorite. Also, we can't forget about Guy's hamburger place - everywhere you looked, there was a Guy's hamburger that someone was eating. They are really good, so I was glad it was onboard to quickly grab a good burger. The blue iguana cantina had good huevos rancheros ready each morning at 7am, so I visited them for breakfast often. They also have a good taco salad during lunch. Also, brunch on seadays from 8am-12:30 is the best breakfast with steak and eggs, pork chops, don't miss this breakfast in the Paris dining room. For entertainment, the comedian show was always packed, so get there early if you want to get a seat. We didn't get to go to the Rome Lounge for the show, but I remember there were 2 nights - Tuesday with music and dance styles from around the world at 7 & 9pm. on Wed, there was a vegas style magical show at 7 & 9pm. Overall, the ship is kept very clean, lots of activities (more than you can do on the 5 day cruise), friendly people on board, very diverse group of people with everyone having a good time and enjoying themselves. Embarkation and debarkation was very smooth - the quickest we've ever experience at the Port of New Orleans for debarkation. We were happy with the cruise and service from everyone and was able to relax and enjoyed this trip. We'll be back on board again in December! Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
I choose this cruise because I didnt want to get off the ship. I have been to these islands so many times & I wanted to see this ship. It is a GREAT ship, with a GREAT crew. I loved the MARTINI BAR & the overall look of the ship. ... Read More
I choose this cruise because I didnt want to get off the ship. I have been to these islands so many times & I wanted to see this ship. It is a GREAT ship, with a GREAT crew. I loved the MARTINI BAR & the overall look of the ship. The shows were A! & in great taste. Would I sail again on her?? YOU BET I WOULD., The cabin stewart was A-1 as was all the people whow served us . I cannot sat enough about the people who took care of or vacation needs, They went above & beyond what was called for them & always with a smile.. If I was asked to say what I thought of the ship & crew I would have to give them a A+ with a few more +s. I have been on over 55 cruises & have both good & bad but I will rate this cruise as A+++++++++++++++++. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
This was my families first cruise together and I wanted to make it special. I had cruised on NCL before but was in an inside suite. After having that interior experience, I opted for a balcony cabin. I also chose 6th floor and in center ... Read More
This was my families first cruise together and I wanted to make it special. I had cruised on NCL before but was in an inside suite. After having that interior experience, I opted for a balcony cabin. I also chose 6th floor and in center field to help lessen the motion(if possible). Everything was done very well from embarkation to the food, staff, and excursions. My son is 7 and he was in heaven. The food options are never ending from the lido buffet to all the side stuff. My wife wasn't a fan of the sushi. I loved the midnight pizza runs after a healthy dose of casino time. We ate at the Lincoln and the Washington as well. My only regret was I only booked a 5 day. Well, 2 regrets. We also didn't utilize the kid zone much so we never got out to dance or see the comedy shows. This was more by family proxy though, Logan wanted to hang with dad. The room was as expected, not shoulder to shoulder but smaller than a Super 8. This is why I chose the balcony, plus you can do and see things others can't. Again, private balcony with incredible views. Could go on and on but we had a very memorable time on your ship and would recommend you to anyone. RW Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
Experiences before. Dining was spectacular every day, Our waiter maid us feel like queen and king.The service was a five star. Ship was very clean, staff is very friendly, they treat you like like the name says Royal, a very unique ... Read More
Experiences before. Dining was spectacular every day, Our waiter maid us feel like queen and king.The service was a five star. Ship was very clean, staff is very friendly, they treat you like like the name says Royal, a very unique experience.Room service was excellent.Food was amazing. The attention to us was marvelous.I will recommend this cruise line to any body, I have travel in the passed with you and is always the same Excellent service. Every time i come back from my trips i always said that you cruise line is the best, I will recommend this cruise line to my family friends co-workers, I only have been in one other cruise line and the service was okay, not like your cruise line. I went with them because the trip was cheap for a seven day cruise. I will never change cruise line you are the best cruise line ever. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
you no every day you see people not doing there job but not here I was so impressed with them they cannot do enough for you. now this ship is a older ship so cabins did not have hair dyer in the room so make sure you bring one ladies and ... Read More
you no every day you see people not doing there job but not here I was so impressed with them they cannot do enough for you. now this ship is a older ship so cabins did not have hair dyer in the room so make sure you bring one ladies and did not have enough plug inns when we got to Cozumel we did not do a shore excursion you have a bunch of taxes we got a taxes and went to the beach they charged us 4 dollars per person we had 6 people 24 dollars there and the got another back another 24 dollars but worth it we stayed at beach all day saw dolphin show was great it did cost to get in beach I think it was around 29 dollars per person we enjoyed it one of our waiters was great they all were good but Homer was fabulous remembered all of our names beds were pretty comfortable we had 3 pillows each pretty comfortable to was a great trip. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
I should have taken a cue from the long lines we stood in to even get checked in and onto the ship. My 2 daughters and I had a mini balcony suite (with emphasis on mini). It was tiny. I cannot imagine what the interior staterooms ... Read More
I should have taken a cue from the long lines we stood in to even get checked in and onto the ship. My 2 daughters and I had a mini balcony suite (with emphasis on mini). It was tiny. I cannot imagine what the interior staterooms were like. Whomever designed those rooms should be stripped of whatever title they hold. The bathroom is right in the room with only a smoked glass rounded-shaped slider to put into place to use the toilet and another one to use the shower. They are about the size of the facilities in an RV. There is absolutely no privacy since you can certainly see (and hear) the person inside through the glass and see when they stand, sit or whatever. Ours had a curtain, but other people told me they did not even have that. There is barely room to walk in the cabin....tiny, tiny, tiny. This is a huge ship and with the tiny rooms it holds a lot of people, but does not have enough elevators to accommodate them, so expect a long wait time. You cannot even take sealed bottled water on-board unless you have a "written" statement from your doctor. If you want water, you must purchase it on-board for the low price of $7.95 per bottle or $26.95 for HALF a case (that's 6 bottles, mind you). The very first night on-board we asked our cabin steward for coffee packets (there was a coffee maker which made one cup at a time in the room, but no coffee). He informed us that they were out of coffee packs but we could order room service coffee at no charge. When I called, they said room service coffee was $9.95 (after breakfast) and we could only get complimentary coffee in the morning. Next morning I was on hold for 35 minutes and was told it would be 30 to 45 minutes wait and $7.95. We told them it was supposed to be complimentary because we had no coffee in the room. We had to hold again until they could confirm that. Our cabin steward was great and did everything possible to make our stay enjoyable. He was always at our beck and call and was always friendly. The staff on the common areas were not nearly so friendly. I have been on cruises where EVERY staff person ALWAYS spoke. No so on this cruise; most of those "in charge" did not even appear to notice us guests. Another thing, it was my understanding that if you dined in the complementary dining rooms, you could order anything on the menu....not so anymore. The "better" entrees now have a hefty up-charge. And, there are more up-charge restaurants than complementary ones. We bought the 3 meal up-charge package and I must say the three up-charge restaurants we chose (Cagneys, LeBistro, & Moderno Chiaroscuro) were excellent. I am not a prude and go to NY and Atlanta to see Broadway shows. However, the show in their big theater, "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert," was so vulgar and offensive we could not sit through it and got up and left. Why a cruise line would book that kind of show for a cruise (other than gay men) is beyond me. However, the show "Burn the Floor" was exciting and well done by a talented cast. We thoroughly enjoyed it. This was my first cruise with Norwegian and it may very well be my last. If their other ships are like the Epic, I am not interested in sailing with this cruise line again. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
Embarkation on the Getaway was rather lengthy, until my roommate noted that I was a gold member/didn't realize that and there was a very short line for those folks. Keep your eyes peeled for your status as it will save you easily ... Read More
Embarkation on the Getaway was rather lengthy, until my roommate noted that I was a gold member/didn't realize that and there was a very short line for those folks. Keep your eyes peeled for your status as it will save you easily 45 min. Don't ask, disembarkation was dreadful! So many people and they made no good attempt to repair the lines to a fair and decent order. Entrance on the ship was rather confusing and disorganized but whatever. We made it to our room 9449 to check it out, seemingly well located. Room was satisfactory and the bathroom seemed a little larger than usual as was the shower. This is a large ship so be prepared for mucho walking. The entertainment/food floors are all located on 3 lower floors. I still was confused by the end of the cruise and still checking on the location of the rooms. I didn't think there was very good information by the elevators on what was on each floor. But elevators were readily available. The best part of the cruise was the FOOD!!! Wow, wow and wow is all I can say. Everything I ordered was great all the week. Having the drink package, I ordered the irish coffee on the dinner menu. Sometimes added a shot of Bailey's to it. I don't usually drink at home but I must admit I enjoyed experimenting with the different alcoholic beverages. There was never a problem getting a beverage with the package, twice I ordered a drink for someone else.2X. It was kind of fun to be able to do that. Due to a problem the first night, a practice for Burn the Floor going on at 1230 am to 130 am, we were given a free dinner at Moderno, a Brazilian style restaurant. I don't recommend Moderno. Was disappointed. The only meat that was good was the lamb. The lobster bisque was full of lobster which you could collect up at the bottom of the bowl. My compliments to all the chefs in the restaurant and the buffet. The last nt, I decided to go upstairs for the buffet. OMG it was incredible. They served prime rib cut fresh and yummy lamb chops. I actually spent time looking for the head man so I could tell him how impressed I was with the buffet dinner. I usually complain but need to step that up a notch when the food is such good quality! The cruise director Silas is probably the best I have ever seen and I've been on over 35 cruises on all the lines. He is very professional and very well spoken. The Reception Desk deserves merit. There are always many many employees working and it's always a short wait for service of any kind. There is even an employee talking to the folks in line and answering questions. I would suggest that they leave out the days program so you can pick up an extra one rather than wait in line. The books in the library are horrible, old and unpopular. Gosh what are they thinking??? Looked like there were updated travel books if you wanted to research. And the staff person who works the library opening doesn't appear to like his job and wishes he wasn't there. I suppose library is not a top job. I took an off the ship tour of Belize for $15 negotiated. 7 other people joined me. It was great. Very poor country. Sad to say. One of our group needed a pharmacy. So while they were out of Crestor, I did remember to ask how much Viagra was. Price was $2.50.each. Got home and asked pharmacy at Walgreens how much one Viagra was and it was $60. That's crazy. Keep that in mind. There is a small market area out of the main building and I bought a few things there. I also bought a beautiful lacy necklace that was made by one of those women communes to impower women. Mahajual,. had been been there before and wanted to return to the beach walk. Lots and lots of interesting stalls with good and negotiable prices. I got a short massage from a lady named Maria. If you can find her, you will be very happy. The last time I was there, I had a male who was quite horrible. Maria is about half way down. She's awesome. . I didn't think activities were very good on the ship. And the movies that were in the atrium were mostly for children. There wasn't a child in the room. They need to step up activities and their movie selection to a more adult level. I would go again on the Getaway. I really liked Silas the director and the awesome food. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
This is our fourth cruise with Norwegian and our second cruise on the Getaway. Overall the experience was good. The ship remains clean and the staff was helpful. On-boarding was smooth and off-boarding was good too. Our room was as ... Read More
This is our fourth cruise with Norwegian and our second cruise on the Getaway. Overall the experience was good. The ship remains clean and the staff was helpful. On-boarding was smooth and off-boarding was good too. Our room was as expected and well maintained by Rommel. The service by Dona at Margaritaville was excellent. The largest detractor is the cigarette smoke that permeates 678 Ocean Place. The casino is located on deck 7 and unfortunately, the smoke spoils the dining experience at Le Bistro on 6 and the shopping experience on 8. I'm a poker fanatic, but gave up my gambling habit that week to avoid the casino. Love that the H2O Spice area is off-limits to kids. I'm sure that we'll go back to that ship on a future cruise. We sailed with Princess in April. They offered a third party service in which our luggage was picked-up at the port and delivered to the airline for the trip home. It was nice not having to hassle with bags during our trip home. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
First time on a smaller ship the Empress of the Seas. When we first aboard it we doubted taking this trip in the first place. But we found it to be restful and you can get to one end of the ship to the other in a jiffy. The waiters ... Read More
First time on a smaller ship the Empress of the Seas. When we first aboard it we doubted taking this trip in the first place. But we found it to be restful and you can get to one end of the ship to the other in a jiffy. The waiters were wonderful. The food was very good also. In the Keys, we were parked next to the Allure and that is a site to see. It looked like the mama ship (Allure) just gave birth to a baby (Empress) The bedrooms and bathroom are small ( we had an outside cabin) We were on the 4th floor near the dining room so it was very convenient for us. Plenty of food as usual. Loved watching the movies on the pool deck. And I was surprised they had two movies I wanted to see ( Finding Dory and the new Star Trek) I was told the Empress was going to Cuba in the beginning of next year and so they spruced the ship. If you just want to relax enjoy the Empress of the Seas. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
We love this Ship!!! Even though it is Very Big, it was like coming home. We had not been on a RCCL cruise for several years, trying other lines and it was so great to be back. Several people had complained about the food, but we ... Read More
We love this Ship!!! Even though it is Very Big, it was like coming home. We had not been on a RCCL cruise for several years, trying other lines and it was so great to be back. Several people had complained about the food, but we thought it was very good, especially the steak house Chop Chop. You could cut the meat with a fork, but it is quite a bit more expensive. You know, the music around the ship and out in the open was not exceptional except for the guitar player the band that played with him (Mark) amazing. There is never enough classical music in my opinion and we like lots of music. The ice show was amazing and the Saturday night Fever production was great. The cupcake shop was very cute and had classes for decorating. There was not enough chocolate on the ship, though!! The chocolate crescent rolls i was used to were not offered, but it was only a week long cruise, so maybe i just couldn't find them!! This is a wonderful smooth sailing ship. The entertainment director encouraged everyone to become a family and talk to everyone, which was a great theme, in our opinion. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
We choose this cruise for the vessel! Our first mega cruiser and we were awestruck; never felt like there were 6000 of us cruisers on board. The ship is magical and the space is phenomenal. We had an inside balcony cabin overlooking ... Read More
We choose this cruise for the vessel! Our first mega cruiser and we were awestruck; never felt like there were 6000 of us cruisers on board. The ship is magical and the space is phenomenal. We had an inside balcony cabin overlooking Central Park and it was enjoyable except for the last night when revelers stayed up past 4 AM hooting and hollering. The service was impeccable and our room steward was particular and friendly. Since the ship was our destination, we purchased a 4 specialty restaurant pack and enjoyed every morsel served! It was our first as Diamond Club members and our perks were pleasant. The club itself is a nice place to have a quiet chat or read a book on off hours as well. The art work collection is fascinating. The entertainment is beyond words. It may be difficult to go on the smaller vessels now; my husband is reviewing future options on the Harmony. Disembarkation was easy and smooth. Another bucket list item checked off. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
I am a loyal Royal Caribbean cruiser. I have been on all sizes of the Royal fleet. This cruise made my tenth cruise. My daughter won a complimentary cruise on Empress of the Seas so we were excited to try the baby ship of the fleet. ... Read More
I am a loyal Royal Caribbean cruiser. I have been on all sizes of the Royal fleet. This cruise made my tenth cruise. My daughter won a complimentary cruise on Empress of the Seas so we were excited to try the baby ship of the fleet. Although smaller then the other ships, Royal Caribbean did a great job making this ship feel "Royal". There were many things available on this ship as on the larger but on a smaller scale. We went to Key West and Cozumel,Mexico for our ports of call. The food was great and the entertainment was great. I always enjoy the main dining room for the evening meal because I like being waited on. The brunch in the main dining room on sea days was very good. The cabins are smaller than on the larger ships which is to be expected. But with a little organization, we had enough room. We all laughed at the jokes made about the smaller bathrooms. They were smaller but comparable to a bathroom in some travel trailers. The service was as good as on the larger ships and the crew were very friendly and helpful and fun. Only one thing was more noticeable on the smaller ship at times and that was the movement front to back. The side movement was taken care of by the stabilizers. It was not constant. Only in certain parts of the Gulf. It was not a problem for me or my daughter but others might want to use a patch. This was a nice little ship and we had a great time. I would do it again. Happy Cruising!!! Read Less
Sail Date October 2016

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