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34 Hamburg to Europe - British Isles & Western Cruise Reviews

We took a 3 night mini cruise which sailed from Hamburg, stooping in Le Havre, France and ending in Southampton. I have cruised with MSC previously so pretty much knew what to expect, whilst I would sail with MSC again, the things I ... Read More
We took a 3 night mini cruise which sailed from Hamburg, stooping in Le Havre, France and ending in Southampton. I have cruised with MSC previously so pretty much knew what to expect, whilst I would sail with MSC again, the things I don’t like about MSC were far more apparent this time. Embarkation with pretty easy, they have changed the process slightly; in the main terminal building they know just issue your cruise card and programmes, once you board they now use a hand held device to scan your cruise card and take your photograph. Passports are also checked on the way onto the ship. Dining I’m not a fan of the traditional cruise dining experience i.e. shared tables and two set dining times hence why I prefer other cruise lines such as Norwegian so you can turn up when you want although MSC do match the demographics up pretty well. What was most notable was the appalling dining service and quality of the food. The waiting staff were very busy, probably because everyone hits the dining room at the same time. The timing of service and food was very random with some courses taking what seemed forever and on other occasions they were rushing to take your order. Drinks took forever and they didn’t offer any more drinks or top up the glasses so we ended up helping ourselves to the bottle to pour the drinks. The food proportions were small, and the main meals came without vegetables, the couple we shared the table with ordered vegetables separately on the second night but were provided with a plate full of roast potatoes. If you asked for anything different such as a different salad dressing the waiter often made an excuse that there would be a longer waiting time because they had to go to another deck to get it. It felt like they were trying to say it’s too much trouble and will take ages. On the second night the waiter serving the bread came round and offered bread just before the desert was served. One evening we ate in the speciality sushi restaurant and again, the service took a very long time and the quality wasn’t great. The buffet was probably the best thing about the cruise, the pizza is amazing and its there only area you can get a coffee or drink quite quickly. There was always a good selection of food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Bar Service If you were a drinker then I think you would struggle to get drunk on this cruise. In the Galaxy night club the bar wasn’t overly busy and there were 4 or 5 staff on but it too almost 30 minutes to get a drink. In the casino despite the staff calling for drinks service at the roulette table, nobody came so we left the table to go and get a drink and the bar staff were really slow. One evening I decided to grab a drink from the bar whilst we were getting ready and the barman was stood chatting to a colleagues with the bottle in his hand for 10 minutes, in the end another member of staff grabbed the bottle off him to pour our drinks. Disembarkation This was easy, the paperwork stated that disembarkation would start at 9.15am, however we left the ship at 8am, there was no rush to leave the ship and there was nothing stating you had to leave the cabin early which would be good if you had a later flight or didn’t need to leave early. Overall I would do another short cruise with MSC if the price was right and there wasn’t another cruise line offering the same cruise for a similar price. For a longer cruise break or if your looking for something with more tentative service I would probably choose a different cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
To start at the beginning embarkation took over 3 hours, 2 sat in the waiting area and an over an hour queuing, the luggage got to the room before us! Muster drill was chaotic, people stood chatting and not everybody attended so it had ... Read More
To start at the beginning embarkation took over 3 hours, 2 sat in the waiting area and an over an hour queuing, the luggage got to the room before us! Muster drill was chaotic, people stood chatting and not everybody attended so it had to be repeated for them. Main dining room menus were very mixed and not appetising, presentation was very lacking (fruit platter was 4 chunks of fruit with no slicing or arrangement) and the food was at best okay and some foods unpleasant. Staff were distant and didn’t interact with you. There wasn’t any tea or coffee after dinner but strangely you were given bottled water for free. Lack of vegetables and oddly - Italian dishes. Inca / Maya buffet - Pizza was very good as were the breads and pasta and generally the small dessert dishes. Yorkshire tea available too. However the food was at best luke warm, the salads were limited and overall there were few choices so that you ended up thinking what shall I eat rather than what shall I not eat as I can’t eat it all. The staff were slow to clear away and most were not very friendly or interested in you. There were not enough serving implements so there was cross contamination between foods. With regard to sanitisation this seems to be low key, no encouragement to disinfect hands near eating areas and rarely noticed public areas being checked. Entertainment team worked hard and interacted well with guests. But there was a lack of organised activities and on the sea day unless you wanted to go to a dance lesson there wasn’t much going on. voyager club offered very little as it was only a three night cruise. The pool areas were nice and plenty of loungers. Not many sports facilities. Lots of extra charges for things such as TV films, using sauna, bowling alley. Overall the ship lacks atmosphere, the hotel staff are generally not friendly and many don’t even acknowledge you. The continual embarkation and disembarkation process leaves it lacking a community feel. The food is a huge disappointment especially when Italy has such a wonderful range of cuisines. I don’t know whether this is indicative of all MSC voyages or whether we were unlucky. But it felt more like a budget cruise than a luxury one. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
I always wanted to cross the Atlantic on a real ocean vessel, which is the QM2. The ship met all of my expectations and then some. We were lucky enough to have the National Symphony onboard who entertained the guests with a wonderful ... Read More
I always wanted to cross the Atlantic on a real ocean vessel, which is the QM2. The ship met all of my expectations and then some. We were lucky enough to have the National Symphony onboard who entertained the guests with a wonderful program that included passengers in the chorale. The paintings of Cunard's ships past and present are all over the walls. History adorns the QM2 (in addition) on the walls. The sailing was completely sold out with folks from many different nations. MY wife and I boarded in Hamburg while most of the passengers boarded in Southhampton, England. The food on the ship is very, very good. We dined in the Britannia dining room with a staff that moves and operates like a fine Swiss clock. The waiters and staff in the dining room are so professional. If you are like me and could care less about ports of call, then take a trans-Atlantic crossing and treat yourself to this majestic, wonderful vessel. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
This was our families 8th cruise and I don't typically leave reviews but I had seen such poor reviews for this particular ship I felt that I should leave my feedback. We chose the Magnifica mostly because of the itinerary (embark ... Read More
This was our families 8th cruise and I don't typically leave reviews but I had seen such poor reviews for this particular ship I felt that I should leave my feedback. We chose the Magnifica mostly because of the itinerary (embark Southampton, Le Havre, Brugges, Amsterdam, Hamburg) and the long amount of time it stays in port. We are Americans so we flew from NY into London a few days early so we could do all of the typical touristy things before our cruise. On cruise day we had booked in advance a national express bus ride (much cheaper than the train) and arrived at the cruise terminal around 4:00. Embarkation was the smoothest I had ever encountered, we were on the ship in less than 30 minutes. Everything moved very smoothly. Once on board our cabin was ready (hooray!) and our bags were delivered rather quickly after that. We decided to hit the buffet for dinner that evening and was very pleasantly surprised with all of the selection. Was is crowded and somewhat chaotic? Yes, but I've never been to a cruise ship buffet that wasn't. I felt that food was replenished quickly and the dining room staff even helped us to find a table. The remainder of the evenings on board we ate dinner in the more formal dining room. I felt that our server was a little frosty at first but by the end of the trip he really grew on us and he even began to smile and kid around a bit. I did feel that some of the bartenders and other wait staff were a little bit less than enthusiastic about doing their jobs but the majority were very pleasant. Im certainly not going to let a few bad apples ruin my vacation. My ten year old son really enjoyed the kids club, the ladies there did a great job of engaging him and made it fun for the kids. Our stateroom was a nice nice and the pull out couch was very comfortable for our son. The room steward did a good job of keeping up with the room and the balcony. Overall for the money and really good cruise. We didn't see many of the shows but we did enjoy the pools, hot tubs and game room. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
The common themes across many MSC reviews couldn't be more accurate. We sailed the Magnifica in September 2018 on the North Sea visiting England, Scotland, Germany, France and Amsterdam. The common themes that are absolutely true ... Read More
The common themes across many MSC reviews couldn't be more accurate. We sailed the Magnifica in September 2018 on the North Sea visiting England, Scotland, Germany, France and Amsterdam. The common themes that are absolutely true - the European crowd (vast majority of passengers) is generally rude, loud and obnoxious. The food, especially on the buffet, varies between bland and tasteless and atrocious - plus, it never changes. It's generally the same food every day. There are times during the day when the only food available is Pizza and it's average at best. There is NOTHING other then coffee and drinks available for purchase at the bars located throughout the ship - no pastries or snacks - nothing. We've sailed NCL,Royal and Carnival and there are ALWAYS premium snacks available for purchase.Options at the main restaurants were extremely limited, and the food was "cruise ship average" at BEST. The nightly "entertainment" was horrific, and put on by a talent-less group of performers. We walked out on multiple shows, as it was hard to watch. The cabin and cabin service were fine - no issues there. We read the bad reviews and decided to book the cruise anyway because we were focused on the itinerary, not the ship. Glad we did because the itinerary made it worth it for us. As far as the ship itself and MSC - stay away unless, like us, you're focused on the itinerary and destinations. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
We liked the destinations as well as the fact that the ship was not super big. The early booking perks were also a plus - free drink package and $50 credit per shore excursion in each port. We had been on the ship before and were very ... Read More
We liked the destinations as well as the fact that the ship was not super big. The early booking perks were also a plus - free drink package and $50 credit per shore excursion in each port. We had been on the ship before and were very satisfied with our prior experience. We choose our cruises mainly for the ports of call and these did not disappoint. We normally do not travel in the summer due to the crowds, but our choice of itinerary necessitated a summer trip. We had no issues until we reached Scotland where there were thousands of tourists - no super crowd issues until our last stop. Our land excursions were booked through the cruise line and they were quite satisfactory. Our room was always immaculate and we had a wonderful room steward. Since the cruise was two weeks, we, by choice, requested the same servers in the restaurant - Dorejean and Lyndell - and were give excellent service. They quickly learned our drink preferences - wines, iced tea, decaf coffee. We looked forward to seeing them each evening. All in all, a great trip for two senior citizens! Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
I have been on numerous other cruises but the MSC Preziosa was the worst ever. Even though it was supposed to be a new ship, the décor was out-of-date, dark, and tacky looking. The cabin was dirty and there was some trash under the bed ... Read More
I have been on numerous other cruises but the MSC Preziosa was the worst ever. Even though it was supposed to be a new ship, the décor was out-of-date, dark, and tacky looking. The cabin was dirty and there was some trash under the bed from previous guests. We had to request the cabin be properly cleaned. The ship seemed overcrowded. There was no where you could go without having to weave through a crowd of people. You always had to wait for a seat or a place at the bar or a chance to play a slot machine. The hot tub was always at capacity, you couldn't get to use any of the machines in their small gym, the bowling alley was broken, and the pools were always closed due to the weather. The only time you could get some peace and quiet was in your cabin. The food was terrible. We were given fish that was cold and raw inside. The pork was rancid and the vegetables were always overcooked and so salty that you could not eat them. I was given silverware nicely wrapped in a napkin and when I unfolded it, the silverware had not been washed. It had chunks of food dried all over it. The "fine dining" that you paid extra for was a joke. It was located right next to an arcade so you had the noise of the games and unruly kids running in and out of the dining room. The food during the specialty meal was a set menu that you could not change, even though a few of our group had dietary restrictions. The chef refused to make any adjustments so they basically had bread and some cheese for dinner. The buffet was even worse. There were not enough seats and we had to eat two meals standing up. They only opened a few food stations, not all of them, so the area around the buffet was crowded and food kept running out. The ship kept changing our itinerary. We were supposed to go to France but they cancelled that completely. They also cancelled Belgium but went back to it two days later. We were constantly late getting into ports and the process for disembarking was horrendous. The first day they only had one person checking each person off the ship. It created long lines of very angry people that were pushing and shoving. Some tried to cut in line and that almost ended up with violence breaking out. There were no staff members in attendance to deal with the problems or let us know why we were lined up in hot crowded hallways for over an hour trying to get off the ship. Some of the days they allowed people to disembark from two areas but it was still chaos. Because the ship was always late into port, and some of the ports didn't expect us due to the change of itinerary, the transportation was always messed up and the excursions were always delayed. One of the excursions was a two hour bus ride and was supposed to give us five hours in town, then a two hour drive back. Because they were so disorganized we only got two hours in town. Definitely not worth it. Another time people got off the ship but had to wait for a shuttle to take them off the port property. There were not enough busses so it was a two hour wait outside in cold rain with no shelter. Most people gave up because they were chilled and soaked to the bone. They had to return to the ship. We were supposed to get two days in Amsterdam but instead, we got in at 10am and the ship was now leaving early, the following morning at 9am. We were so sick of the crowded, dirty ship with bad food and no time in ports that we jumped ship. As soon as we got into Amsterdam we left the cruise. We stayed in a hotel and enjoyed two full days of touring the city. We then returned to Hamburg by train. It was much faster and nicer than traveling on the ship. I will never take a cruise on an MSC ship again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
met up with my brother who lives in Hamburg I came from Canada for a two week break nice ship enjoyed a great cabin on the 16 deck ,great housekeeping ,superior culinary staff, great chefs buffet food and or French service available ... Read More
met up with my brother who lives in Hamburg I came from Canada for a two week break nice ship enjoyed a great cabin on the 16 deck ,great housekeeping ,superior culinary staff, great chefs buffet food and or French service available food was extremely good ,fresh at all times from simple 24/7 curry wurst to fancy filet tenderloin ,great restaurant selection wonderful mostly Filipino staff who spoke German and English extremely friendly and helpful enjoyed some excursions weather wasn't great but lots to do on board.we used the Metropolitan cruise starting and ending in Hamburg ,wonderful entertainment will use this Cruise line again soon.Lots of stores to spend your money ,great auction opportunities to purchase art and other items Didn't enjoy the babys which many young couple brought along (its free after all)Noisy at times in the dining room.However I'm considering bringing my grandchildren along lots do do for them ,but they must be little older 8 plus Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
I’m publishing this review four months after it ended, because of lack of time to write it. Still I think I have relevant experiences that could be useful for future cruisers. I boarded this ship in mid August in Hamburg, with my ... Read More
I’m publishing this review four months after it ended, because of lack of time to write it. Still I think I have relevant experiences that could be useful for future cruisers. I boarded this ship in mid August in Hamburg, with my girlfriend and our 8 years old daughter. It took us to Iceland and Scotland. Embarkation/Disembarkation I cannot really say much about embarkation. Before the cruise when I received my tickets through mail message, my personal embarkation time was clearly stated. It was set at 16:15 and the ship was due to sail at 19:00. Upon arrival to the cruise terminal they got our tagged suitcases and gave us a number that would be called by the check-in desks. Because there were so few passengers at the cruise terminal at that time, we proceeded immediately to the check-in. At this moment they do not ask for a credit card to assign to the shipboard account. You have to do it on board yourself. The procedure is easy but I had to queue for a while, something I would rather not do on a vacation. Disembarkation is well organized, as in every other cruise company I know. You are given colored tags to put on your luggage and are disembarked according to the time assigned to that color. There is also the possibility of getting off the ship as soon as clearance is given by port authorities. It is called the Self Assist program that you have to sign up for a few days before the cruise ends. With this program you have to carry your luggage with you. Tip: I was mistaken about Hamburg, thinking it was a port city without much to see. It is in fact very interesting to visit. Consider a stay before or after the cruise. Cabin We were on cabin 9097 and it was well situated since the elevators were quite near. It was a standard size balcony stateroom but ok for the three of us. Plenty of space under the beds to put our empty suitcases, drawer space was adequate and there were enough hangers inside the wardrobe. There were several glass shelves on the stateroom and bathroom that I am sure had not been dust cleaned when we arrived. We had to do it ourselves with a paper tissue. I always look under the beds before stowing the suitcases and, as in other staterooms of other cruise ships that I have been to, the carpet on that precise spot had not been vacuum cleaned for a very long time. The sliding glass windows that lead to the balcony were full of salt. So was the railing of the balcony. They only cleaned them a few days later, doing the same to all the other balconies of the ship, taking advantage of the day that we were anchored off Isafjordur in Iceland. This is not the kind of cruise where one should expect to find funny folded towels on the bed. Tipping directly the staff is discouraged by MSC since they already charge 10 euro per day per guest for this purpose, but I saw a neighbor tipping our steward two or three days into the cruise. Tip: On cruises to high latitudes such as this one and I assume Norway or Alaska, you will not be able to sit on the balcony due to the cold air temperature. Consider saving some money and take a sea view stateroom with no balcony. Restaurants/Bars We were assigned to L’Arabesque restaurant for dinner. There are two sittings, the first is at 17:45 and the second at 20:30. Upon making my reservation I asked for second sitting and they respected my request. It seems they try to put people around the tables according to the languages people speak. This could have been bad for me, since when I’m travelling I prefer to speak with different people from other countries than mine, have different conversation topics from those I have at home and practice any other foreign language I speak. Mingling with different people is interesting and is part of the fun of travelling. However we were assigned to a small table just for the three of us. Our waiter, Oka from Indonesia, was urbane and efficient. The timing between one course and the other was never long. The menu consists of an entrée, main course and dessert, each of them with several options. Sometimes we were lucky with our selections and other times not so lucky. Presentation is good and the size of portions is… adequate. Remember that you are on vacation, consequently there is not much physical or mental fatigue and therefore you should adapt the intake of food. Big portions are unhealthy and unnecessary. However it is possible to order more than one selection of each course, something I only did once for two desserts I was keen to try. I got somewhat embarrassed while doing it but our waiter Oka did not even blink an eye, so I assumed this is common procedure. The wine menu is conspicuous but expensive. Leftover wine was saved for a later meal but it is also possible to order just a glass of wine. There are five specialty restaurants on board. We tried three of them. It is necessary to make reservations in advance at reception on deck 5. The Galaxy restaurant is located on deck 16 and it has nice views. The meal consists of what they call an “experience”. In other words, several courses are served and all of them are small portions for you to taste. Service is attentive. It is just a pity that the entrance to the games arcade is very close to the restaurant entrance, so during our meal we had to endure loud talking from youth standing nearby. We had a bad experience at the restaurant Eataly. We waited at the door to be seated, but no one came to greet us for more than a minute so we decided to choose a table on our own. The room was almost empty with just other three tables occupied. The waiter that came a few minutes later to give us the menus seemed a little puzzled to find us there and asked if we had a reservation that obviously we had. We waited for more twenty minutes before someone decided to come and take our orders. During the waiting time we noticed that the only server at the restaurant was constantly running back and forth inside the room although it was almost empty. Running is the evidence of poor management inside a restaurant. There was also a maitre d’, in suit and tie walking around the room and speaking to the cooker and the server but paying no attention to the clients. It is customary in countries around the Mediterranean, to put a saucer with olive oil on the table, for people to wet their bread and taste the oil. We had the saucers but olive oil was missing, so I called the maitre d’ when he was passing by and pretended that we did not know what the saucers on the table were for. He promptly informed us what was the use of them and run to grab a bottle of fine olive oil to serve us. He quickly realized that we had been ignored. In the meantime I complained because of the long wait just to be served and the continuous running in an almost empty room. He was extremely apologetic and said they were having some issues with the management of the room without going into details. My girlfriend and our daughter had pasta and I choose tenderloin. Surprisingly the food was very good. All in all, staff was more evasive than helpful, décor of the room is mundane. The Ristorante Italia is close to Eataly restaurant and I think they share the same kitchen. Like on the Galaxi restaurant we had an “experience” again. Food was very good, service was better than on Eataly but the restaurant is nothing to rave about. Finally there are the Inca and Maya buffets on deck 14 and it is difficult to perceive where one ends and the other begins. This area is too big to be easily manageable. During breakfast there are crowds of passengers with trays in hands bumping into each other while trying to find an empty place to sit. At peak times there no free tables or they have not yet been cleared of trays with remains from previous passengers. In my opinion there are enough servers to clear the tables but they need better guidance and there is no one to do it. I have been in big restaurants in some resorts where there is a supervisor that collaborates with the servers while giving instructions. Around this restaurants I only saw two maitre d’, or whatever their name is, but they just walk around the place in their suits and ties, pretending to be attentive to details but longing for their shift to end. This kind of people are already too old to long for a promotion, so they are just there waiting for their retirement to happen. MSC should be more attentive to staff in such demanding venues of the ship. Again at peak times I noticed tables were not cleared at all for over 20 minutes. When this happens, passengers have no other option than to clear the tables themselves by putting trays full of leftovers on a close by table that is unoccupied and already full of dirty trays. Around this restaurant, be prepared to help the servers if you want an empty table. In what concerns food, I had no problem finding whatever suits my palate for breakfast, but if you came for lunch, expect a wide assortment of unmemorable food. Pasta around this buffet is not worth trying. What a shame in such a cruise company. However I could find soup, and unpeeled fruit which is something both me and my family consider essential on our daily diet. Few people know that fruits lose all their nutrients minutes after being peeled or pressed and very often people find themselves eating or drinking nothing more than flavored fiber or water. Just by looking at other passengers sitting in front of their trays, I found myself mesmerized by the huge and injudicious assortment of items they manage to consume. One ends up with the feeling that half of humanity dies of diseases caused by overeating while the other half dies with severe deficiencies due to lack of food. So goes the world. There are lots of bars around this ship but after dinner I never managed to find a place to sit. I assumed lots of passengers bought drinking packages and lingered around bars. Therefore I cannot rate these venues but there are plenty to choose from and they are pleasantly decorated. My favorites were those around the reception area where very often at night was a talented lady playing piano, sometimes accompanied by two singers with harmonious voices. Tip: Avoid peak times at breakfast or lunch on the Maya/Inca buffet on the first day after embarkation. It is a mad house with crowds still not knowing where things are exactly located, bumping with another crowd already with their trays in hands and trying to find a place to sit while the staff pushes carts full of dirty trays with leftovers. On days at sea you should also avoid this buffet for lunch, again because of the above mentioned problems. Go to the Golden Lobster restaurant where you can have lunch à la carte or choose from a smaller buffet they set on the room. Shore excursions As in every cruise, they are way too expensive considering what you get and this is something every seasoned cruiser knows. Depending on the guide escorting the cruise it can be pleasant or not, but this is a question of luck. My advice would be to do your homework and prepare yourself prior to the cruise selecting what you want to see and reserve your excursions independently. I admit I did not do so because of lack of time. However when one receives the travelling documents by email, there is also a password to access MSC webpage where you can reserve the excursions. This is very convenient if you want to avoid the crowds on the shore excursions office once on board (another mad house during the first days into the cruise). However the webpage in my country had a bug. While selecting the excursions one has also to choose the language for that excursion, since the same excursion has different guides and departing times according to the language. At that point, the dropdown menu in the website did not show the languages and therefore I could not proceed with the reservation. I had to call my travel agent by phone and tell them which excursions I wanted. They managed to reserve everything I had selected, but I had to pay full immediately and before leaving home. After embarkation when we arrived to our cabin for the first time, the tickets for the excursions were already there. However, I noticed that they had reserved all the excursions in Spanish, a language that we do not speak and have some difficulty understanding should guides speak quickly. The consequence was that the next day I had to stay in line in front of the shore excursions office to have them changed to English. They informed me that all passengers from Portugal, which is my country of residence, receive their excursions in Spanish and this is standard procedure with MSC Cruises. I should add that this is a ridiculous procedure since the first foreign language one is obliged to learn in Portugal is English and not Spanish. I can well understand there are no excursions in Portuguese since we are so few, but assuming that we all understand Spanish is utter nonsense. It is as if a passenger from Poland would always receive his excursion in German language for the sole reason this is the closest neighboring country with much more passengers. Changing all the excursions was not easy. I waited in line for 20 minutes before arriving in front of one desk and after presenting this issue, they took all the tickets and asked me to wait a moment on a side sitting area in the shore excursion office, since they had to see if there were still vacancies in the English spoken excursions we had selected. The moment I was asked to wait turned out to be another 60 minute wait. I was so furious that after that time I got up and went to speak directly to the member of the staff, cutting through the line of people and told him this wait was totally unacceptable. He realized he had forgotten all about my issue and went inside the office and after another ten minute wait came back finally with the excursion tickets in English. Tip: If you still want to take the excursions proposed by the cruise line, do it at home through their website and mind the language you want while choosing them. Once on board be aware that the same shore excursion has different departure times according to the language. I was mislead since I received in my cabin the daily program in Portuguese where the departure times of excursions were for those in Spanish, not in English. Always confirm the correct departure time of your tour posted on the shore excursion office and not on the daily program you receive in your cabin. Miscellaneous All the other relevant aspects have been addresses by other reviews and I will only mention a few more: - All the announcements and entertainment are conducted simultaneously in several languages. First they speak in English then German, then French, then Italian and then Spanish. This becomes ridiculous specially for the entertainer who has to pronounce phrase after phrase in the above mentioned sequence of languages. It is also very disturbing for the passengers attending them. - There are lots of shops around decks 6 and 7, but after dinner the shopkeepers set a market around the social areas of the ship thus decreasing their ampleness, slowing down the traffic of people and transforming the pleasantly decorated venues into an Arabian bazaar. Why don’t they stay inside their shops? Shops are expensive and the photo shop is a complete rip-off. - There are lots of pre-paid packages for drinks, internet connectivity, laundry, entertainment games and so on. I took the water package which was worthwhile without being a huge saving. Fortunately I did not take the drinking package since it would have been difficult to find unoccupied couches/chairs/sitting areas around the many bars before or after dinner time. Already on board I took the entertainment package for € 80,00 which allowed me and my family to see the 4D movies as many times as we wanted, to try the F1 race car simulator, also as many times as we wanted both located on deck 16 and to play bowling on deck 7. It turned out to be profitable for us. By the way I did not know that on F1 cars you have to brake with left foot since the steering shaft is placed right between the accelerator pedal and braking pedal. Unlike me and while driving, my girlfriend managed to stay inside the racing track, since as a teenager she drove go-karts and said she is still used to braking with the left foot. - Internet Connectivity is expensive and slow. There were three packages and the most affordable one only allowed access to the facebook and twiter. My advice for all those willing to enjoy their vacation in a more engaging way would be to forget about the internet, emails and mobile phones. If you need absolutely to see your email account, go to the cyber café on deck 5 and pay only for the time you are connected. - Probably it is not so important for other cruisers but I enjoy very much reading, something I do not always have the time to do while at home. Since we had 4 full days at sea I hoped that the library or the outside areas of the ship would be a perfect spot to do it. In fact, it was impossible to hang around the open areas of the ship because of the cold air temperature and wind. The library on board is called “Diamond Bar & Library” that is to say it is noisy, difficult to find a place to sit and when you do find, there is always a someone asking if you want anything to drink. Fortunately I had brought my reading from home. They had books in different shelves sorted by language. A few in English, German, French, Italian and… a huge amount of books in Portuguese. Now, go and find out why, since people speaking this language do not make the bulk of passengers. Tip: If you want peace and quiet to read, go to the cyber café, taking into account the excessive price of internet connectivity, no one hangs out there for long. - If you are not travelling on a tight budget, you can book the cruise on this ship as an MSC Yacht Club passenger, which entitles you to various benefits such as a butler service (utterly ridiculous, as we are well into the 21st century and we are not royals), private restaurant and bar, better cabins in terms of décor and location and priority boarding at all ports of call. By the way boarding this huge ship when several excursions end at the same time is not easy. Long queues were formed on the pear to access the ship because of airport-like security procedures. Passengers and their belongings have to be scanned at the entrance every time they go out, fortunately we had no rainy days through-out the cruise. However, passengers bearing their Yacht Club card were entitled to cut lines just at the beginning of the gangways and in front of hundreds other passengers enduring cold and windy weather. This situation reminded me of the social structure of European middle ages. We, peasants, had to wait sometimes more than twenty minutes while the nobles would embark without having to endure such discomforts. Should my budget allow the Yacht Club membership I would have never booked a cruise on MSC. Due to my humble demeanor I would fill uncomfortable cutting lines in front of less fortunate passengers. There are specialized cruise lines on this market niche such as Radisson, Silverseas or Seaborn where every passenger pays a lot but there is no queuing nor passenger discrimination. - The gym, on deck 14, is a nice place to exercise your muscles. It is very well equipped and has great views to the sea for all those using stationary bikes or treadmills. While at home, my routine includes the gym three times a week, since workout is considered a health enhancer. As a consequence and while on board I decided to change my routines and tried to read more on those long days at sea. - MSC cruises does have some sort of partnership with UNICEF. They invoice one euro per passenger to be handed over to this organization. Obviously you can revoke this charge. I only realized they had charged us on the last day of the cruise while checking my shipboard account. Since at that time the reception staff was overwhelmed with work, I did not have the opportunity to ask them to increase our donation. It is for a good cause therefore it does not hurt giving more. At the end of any stay there is always a question that is paramount: Should I go on a MSC cruise again? The answer is not easy. I choose a cruise based on three criteria, which are in descending order of importance the itinerary, the date of sailing and the price. Our cruise took us to Iceland and Scotland and there are not many cruise lines doing this very interesting route. So, we had no other option than taking this particular ship and company. However if I was to choose a more popular route like a Mediterranean or a Caribbean sail, where there is a wider choice of cruise lines operating, I would not go back on an MSC ship. There are other options, probably somewhat more expensive but with much better organization. They have however some enticing conditions. Most of the sails have special fares for children travelling with two paying adults. My daughter was only charged port charges. The consequences of this policy are huge savings for parents and sometimes the discomfort for the remaining passengers to put up with inappropriate behavior of groups of children wondering around the ship without due parental supervision. Besides that, If your mother tongue is English or if you are fluent in English you do not need to choose MSC. The fact that all announcements, excursions, speeches, daily programs are made in several languages, implies lots of challenges that management does not always overcome. I ended up with the feeling that this is a cruise line geared for people who refuse to learn or speak any foreign language, or the internationally accepted foreign language which is English. Apart from the staff, I rarely heard any passenger speaking English. Most of the passengers spoke German, Italian and French. There were also others whose language I could not distinguish. I heard saying that there were several dozens of different nationalities of passengers on that particular cruise. In my opinion what this ship needs is better organization and more active supervision. Always choose a smaller ships if like me you do not like queing. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
Like the coolness and beauty of Norway during the hot Texas August weather back home. Staff was very friendly most everywhere. Had slow service in the Grand dining room a couple of times, but usually good everywhere else. Enjoyed the ... Read More
Like the coolness and beauty of Norway during the hot Texas August weather back home. Staff was very friendly most everywhere. Had slow service in the Grand dining room a couple of times, but usually good everywhere else. Enjoyed the shows arriving early to get good seats. Ship was sometimes crowded but after being on the Epic where you have to reserve any shows, it was more comfortable and easy going. Every time I checked the four hot tubs they were only warm, not hot and being in the cool weather like Norway in August, you need hot water. The Cabin Stewards were very friendly and did a great job keeping the cabins clean and stocked. Gus did a great job on his animal towels as we left at the end of the cruise we had five creatures on the tables! Our worse experience was the Immigration process in the dining area on deck 6 at Southampton England, took over an hour to get through leaving very little time for breakfast and to catch an 8 a.m, excursion. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
We normally prefer Celebrity and Oceania, MSC was an attempt - in summary: Quite ok. -- We live in Hamburg, where the ship starts, so no exploration of the city. Starting in Hamburg was one of the reasons why we choose MSC, the other was ... Read More
We normally prefer Celebrity and Oceania, MSC was an attempt - in summary: Quite ok. -- We live in Hamburg, where the ship starts, so no exploration of the city. Starting in Hamburg was one of the reasons why we choose MSC, the other was the tour to Iceland. --- We booked an "Aurea-Suite" and as a "Black Member" there is no embarkation/disembrkation Problem (Priority). Otherwize you have to wait (You get a number when you arrive). We recommand to come late, because everybody wants to be the first onboard. Disembarkation seems to work better for all (you get a time). -- Although it is quite a big ship with about 4000 passengers, there are many public places to sit, drink and talk. Very clean. -- Cabin big enough and quite comfortable, we missed bodylotion. Open dining only for guests of the "aurea-sites", the same menu for all; very small portions (order two main courses if you are hungry). We recommand a visit in the Galaxy-Restaurant and Italy (this one for very hungry people), but: extra pay. Normal wine by the glass is really good.-- We are not interested in activities, the shows are quite good in general.-- Service in the restaurant was very good (depends on the waiter), in the buffet some are not interested but some are motivated. -- We booked tours on our own. -- We think to go again with MSC, it is not so expensive, good value. Prices on board are cheap if you don´t have a package. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
A very interesting intinerary, not many days in the sea, a very good offer... Our embarkation was from Hamburg, and we arrived a day before in order to explore the city. This day they nade a great City festival, with carnival, a lot of ... Read More
A very interesting intinerary, not many days in the sea, a very good offer... Our embarkation was from Hamburg, and we arrived a day before in order to explore the city. This day they nade a great City festival, with carnival, a lot of fun, songs, music, etc/ Altona Cruise Center is near a famous Fischmarkt of Hamburg, the place that worth visit also. the cruise route is very interesting. We have not ordered shore excursions from NCL. but found all of them via Internet with much better prices. We were afraid about getting in time to the disembarkation hour, but all the guides knew exactly, how to rule a tour in for not be late. The emteairment was at a very high level. There were better or less better things, but it was always professional and interesting. Dining was also good, I should add more fresh vegetables for a breakfast, but this is an only thing I can mention... The one bad thing that happened - a large, a huge line in order to get back to the ship via tenders at Edinbourgh. They said that Imternet connection was bad and slow on board, but I didn]t use it all - we just had no time at all! This cruise will remain in our memory forever. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
We cruise every few years based on itineraries, not loyalty programs. We chose this cruise because we had never been to any of the ports before. The itinerary met our expectations, with the only shortcoming being Edinburgh. There was a ... Read More
We cruise every few years based on itineraries, not loyalty programs. We chose this cruise because we had never been to any of the ports before. The itinerary met our expectations, with the only shortcoming being Edinburgh. There was a very long tender ride into the port, New Haven. New Haven offered nothing, except for the very long return tender line., So, after our half day castle excursion, we wandered around New Haven. No shops, but we did wander into the local pub and had a great fish and chips lunch. For personal reasons, we choose to take ship excursions in almost every port rather than book something perhaps cheaper on our own, as we've done on other cruises. And except for Edinburgh, they were great! All of the tour guides were exceptional. The Edinburgh guide was just tired, fed up with the crowds, and hampered with a poor sound system on the bus. Also, on every other excursion, we had the guide all day. With Edinburgh she just took us to the castle, pointed out attractions and told us when to meet her at the bus. As for the ship, the Cafe was always a crazy scene. Not enough seating due to groups using the place as a lounge. Plus no one wanted to eat outside due to the weather. And now there's a charge for room service - but there's no table in the cabin anyway! We didn't go to any shows, nor the gym, nor the spa. We kept hoping for port lectures, or something enriching, but nothing. Not even port maps - so bring your own! Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
As my mother-in-law has always wanted to see the Norwegian fjords, we began looking for cruises that would allow her that opportunity. After initially being booked on a Windstar cruise with a similar itinerary, we decided to cancel that ... Read More
As my mother-in-law has always wanted to see the Norwegian fjords, we began looking for cruises that would allow her that opportunity. After initially being booked on a Windstar cruise with a similar itinerary, we decided to cancel that reservation and cruise with Norwegian both to save money and to have more dining and entertainment option for our 13 year old daughter who also traveled with my mother-in-law, my husband and I. Full disclosure, this was my first cruise ever and I was concerned that I would not like cruising. We arrived in Hamburg the day before the flight and stayed at the Lindner Hotel Am Michel. I highly recommend this hotel. Not only was it in a good area near St. Michael's (which has a day and night viewing deck...don't miss it!), the rooms were modern, spacious and well kept. We had a two room suite with a balcony overlooking the city rooftops. The staff was excellent as well. After arriving at the Altona Cruise Terminal on the day the cruise departed, we quickly dropped off our bags and then waited in an excessively long line. Having never cruised before, I wondered if this was normal. But, other experienced cruisers, like my mother-in-law and husband, as well as people we met in line, assured me that this was out of the ordinary. I don't know what the hold up was, perhaps it has to do with the fact that the higher Latitudes Rewards members can skip the line, but I found the embarkation process to be very slow. I was however pleasantly surprised when we finally got aboard the Jade. The ship was in great condition and I found my 10th deck balcony stateroom to be bigger than I had expected with plenty of room to store all of our stuff for a two week cooler weather vacation. My husband and I shared one stateroom while my daughter and mother-in-law shared the adjoining stateroom. There was an interior door between the two rooms as well. Their room felt slightly more cramped to me as the beds were separated with a small table between them leaving less room around the edges. I found the bathroom and shower to be of adequate size. I read reviews of the Jade on Cruise Critic before I left saying that the stateroom bathrooms were especially small. My husband and I are both large people and had no problem in either the toilet or the shower which are separated by a sink area and can be individually closed off by sliding doors. I also thought that the balcony, equipped with a small table and two comfortable chairs, was an adequate size. The USB ports under the light fixtures next to the bed were very useful and I found the bed to be comfortable as was the small coach near the balcony door. There was a clothes line in the shower. We did use a few cruise critic hacks in the stateroom that enhanced it for us including using an over the door mesh organizer, which we secured to the wall with magnetic hooks. This gave us so much extra storage space. We also used magnetic hooks to secure a longer cloths line that we brought and to post things, like the Daily Freestyle, right on the wall. I should mention that our steward was outstanding! Our room was always clean and she entertained us daily with her creative towel animals. I found the Jade, which was recently retrofitted, to be in great shape. I didn't notice any wear and tear in the public spaces and everything was cleaned thoroughly every day. The crew was terrific, very friendly and always willing to assist. For a cooler weather itinerary like this one that brought us to Norway, Scotland and Iceland after departing Hamburg, there should be more thought given to increasing the amount of covered outdoor areas. For example, there was never enough seating in the Garden Cafe at breakfast and, while they also opened up La Cucina, some people were literally left out in the cold. Perhaps a retractable covering could be added to cover some outdoor spaces in the future. Some of the newer furniture in the public spaces could have been more comfortable too, specifically the couches in the booths at the Spinnaker Lounge and the bar stools at Bliss. I thought that the entertainment was, for the most part, very good. We only missed two shows in the Stardust over the course of the 14 night cruise, a comic impersonator while we were docked in Reykjavik and a Neil Diamond tribute by Jumari, neither of which interested us. Of the shows that we did see, the ones that featured the ship's production singers and dancers, Showdown, Blazing Boots and Elements were terrific. The two shows by the Beatles impersonation band were good too as was the duo who did a Cirque type show. Less successful were the illusionists and the juggler. We did like that there were two times for the show each night and that there was also entertainment in the Spinnaker. We loved Broadway Night and An Evening with Lyle there. The game shows and the trivia were standard fare but definitely fun if of very short duration. (Why are all the activities only 45 minutes long?) I was also pleasantly surprised by the dining options on board the ship and loved the freestyle dining concept. Most breakfasts were eaten in the Garden Cafe (or out in the cold as I mentioned above). The selection was extensive with plenty of options. We also ate breakfast a few mornings in the Grand Pacific which, while the food was good, I found slow. The majority of our lunches were eaten in port although we did go to O'Sheehan's on occasion. I was not overly impressed with the menu or the service there. Our favorite spot for dinner was Alizar although we also enjoyed the Grand Pacific the few nights my husband felt like putting pants on. The menus were good and the food was tasty and prepared properly if a little under seasoned. My daughter, who is a picky eater, was always able to find something that she liked. I appreciate that they have the standard entrees, like steak and fries and pesto fettuccine, available every night in case you can't find anything else on the menu. My only complaint about dinner is that it did tend to drag on a bit which meant gobbling dessert to make the 7:30pm show some nights or changing our plans and attending the 9:30pm show. I ate at four of the specialty restaurants and would highly recommend Moderno, Cagney's and Teppenyaki. For the extra money, I would not recommend La Cucina as I did not think that the food there was anything special. My husband and mother-in-law also ate at Le Bistro and enjoyed it. I liked some of the extra ship activities like the beer festival with German cuisine and an Ommpah band and the Viking ceremony when we crossed the arctic circle. I never really saw any of the lounge performers or visited the specialty bars. As I'm sure you can tell, I loved my first cruise. The preconceived notions that I had about the size of the stateroom, the cleanliness of the boat, boredom on sea days and rude fellow travelers were for the most part dispelled by my experience on the Jade. While there were obnoxious guests to be sure, I steered clear of them and found my other concerns not to be valid. One area that I do think there is a great deal of room for improvement though is the NCL shore excursions. First, I was disappointed that there were no lectures about the upcoming ports. I wish that NCL would add these to their itineraries as I'm sure that I'm not alone in wanting to learn more about the locations we are visiting. All of their current educational programs are sales related. Learn about emeralds so you can buy them in the ship's shop! No thanks! Perhaps they could even offer educational videos or movies about the upcoming ports. Second, the tender ticket situation on board the Jade is ridiculous. Having done my homework in advance by reading Cruise Critic reviews of recent sailings, I knew that I needed to be in line early for the first tender port, Shetland. I arrived an hour and a half before the tickets were being distributed and was near the front of the line and able to get tender one. By the second tender port, Edinburgh, everyone knew the secret and the line starting forming over two hours early. It's especially critical to get an early number tender ticket in Edinburgh as it's an hour round trip to the port from the ship meaning that if you didn't have an early tender ticket you could be waiting for hours to get off the ship. This was a super stressful situation for everyone as a number of travelers (including me!) booked activities in Edinburgh for the morning without realizing the tendering problems. I put the blame squarely on NCL for that. Once you book a cruise, you should be advised as to which ports of call require tenders and given a reasonable time that you can expect to be off the ship, not docked, but in port so you can plan accordingly. Also, they need to fix the tender ticket process itself. I have no idea how but they can start by not allowing an individual to get 37 tender tickets at once! Third, over the course of the cruise we took five NCL excursions. Most of them, while very pricey, were fine. These included Land of the Trolls in Alesund, Norway in a Nutshell in Bergen, Shetland Ponies and Scalloway Castle in Shetland and Jewels of the North in Akureyri. However, one of our tours Best of the Highlands: Castles, Loch Ness and Inverness, was terrible. Not only were there rude travelers who kept us waiting not once but twice (and once for a half hour!), there was a mix up at the hotel where we were to have lunch in Inverness. We waited 45 minutes for an awful lunch missing out on looking around Inverness entirely. Additionally, Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle were quite literally overrun with tourists and the gift shop at Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness sells nothing Nessie related as the town of Loch Ness has a trademark on Nessie. My advice is to take the WOW Scotland tour which is similar but less expensive, offers a boxed lunch on the bus so you have time to see Inverness, goes to the town of Loch Ness and visits the quieter side of the Loch. One positive aspect of booking NCL excursions is that you don't have to worry about tender tickets in tender ports if your NCL shore excursion leaves in the morning. We'd likely skip NCL tours in the future except at tender ports. We booked our own tours in Orkney, Edinburgh and Reykjavik which were less expensive, and for the most part, better, than the ship's tours. We would have booked more independent excursions but my mother-in-law was concerned about making it back to the ship on time. I don't think this is a valid concern as the private tour companies know how important it is to their business to get you to your ship before it departs. A word of advice on booking your own tours, for the small ports like Orkney, do it well in advance as they sell out quite quickly...months in advance of the cruise. Finally, for the Edinburgh (New Haven) port, because of the long tendering time, don't rush back to the port to get on the tender. We waited an hour in the tender line in port. It would have made more sense to show up just in time for the last tender or, if you show up early, have a beer at the port while the line lessens. As I mentioned, we did travel with our thirteen year old daughter. She loved the food, entertainment and shore excursions but was not impressed with the Entourage program. I think that there are a few reasons for this. First, the program is for kids aged 13-18, which is a wide age difference. As there weren't all that many kids on this cruise to begin with, there were only about 20 who attended Entourage events at the beginning of the trip. The older kids were not interested in hanging out with the younger kids as much as they were with each other and my daughter stopped going after the first few days. My guess is that if we were on a different cruise, for instance, one of the Caribbean, that there would be more kids in the overall Entourage program and the age groups would splinter off instead of all the 13-18 year olds hanging out together. Do go to the crew question and answer panels that are offered. I enjoyed both that I attended, one with the Captain and Senior Officers and one about running a floating hotel. Also, go to the cruise critic meet and greet. the people were nice, the gift swap was so fun and it was great to hear the presentation from the senior staff. The senior staff invited us to a second gathering during the cruise and asked us to share our opinions with them about how the cruise was going to that point. Do also track a senior crew member down if your have a suggestion. From what I can gather, if you have a valid suggestion, they will not only write it down but also send a treat to your room. Do sign up for the Latitudes Rewards Program as well and attend the future cruise presentations. My husband and I found those enlightening and we are already planning our next NCL cruise! Do, when you book, if you are reserving a room with a view, make sure you find out which side of the ship the shore will be on for the majority of the trip and book accordingly. Do take advantage of the half price laundry bag when it is offered. It was $19.95 and we were able to stuff an incredible amount of laundry in it by lining it with a pillow case and rolling our clothes. Don't bother buying the onboard wifi. It is so slow. My mother-in-law got it as a free offer but was still so frustrated! Do get the UBP if you plan to drink and can get it as an offer. It was so nice not worrying about what we were drinking. Do try a cruise if you are a skeptic like me. You just might love it!! If you've read this far, you no doubt have gathered that I loved this cruise and the concept of cruising in general. I would definitely recommend this itinerary and the NCL Jade! Next, I'll just give a breakdown of what we did at the ports and what I'd recommend: Alesund: NCL Excursion: Land of the Trolls highlighted the Trolls' Path and the Stifffossen Waterfall. Our excellent guide told us about the history of the trolls, shared facts about Norway and even bought us strawberries! The motor coach was comfortable. We had a great buffet lunch featuring salmon in several ways. Traveling through the Norwegian countryside is amazing. It's breathtakingly beautiful, so green and pristine. I'd definitely recommend a tour similar to this although staying in Alesund seems like a good option too. Bergen: NCL Excursion: Norway in a Nutshell included a ride on the Flam Railway and a buffet lunch again featuring salmon several ways. The comfortable motor coach maneuvered the hairpin bends of Stalheim Canyon and we saw the lovely Tvinde Waterfall. Our guide was better in Alesund although we did learn more about Norway and the trolls. As I mentioned above, Norway is beautiful. I'd recommend s tour similar to this as well but Bergen looked like a wonderful place to spend the day and I'm sorry we missed it. Lerwick, Shetland Islands: Toured on our own in the driving rain in the morning. We visited the Broch of Clickimin, town hall to see the stained glass windows (it was under renovation so we only saw the ones on the first floor) and the Shetland Museum. I highly recommend lunch at Hay's Dock at the museum. It was delicious. In the afternoon we did the NCL Shetland Ponies and Scalloway Castle Tour. The motor coach was comfortable and the tour guide was good. We liked Scalloway Castle but were a little disappointed by the Shetland ponies. the bus stopped on the side of the road and we were met by a guide that told us about the ponies. There were a few ponies as well. Perhaps the rain made this not as much fun as it would have been on a sunny day. Reykjavick, Iceland: We hired a private tour guide and did the Golden Circle tour during the first day which included: Geysir geothermal area near Laugarvatn Lake; Gullfoss waterfall; the UNESCO site Þingvellir National Park; Kerid Crater (do not miss this! It's stunning!) ; Friðheimar greenhouse cultivation center, Skalholt and Icelandic horses. We covered so much more ground on a private tour than we ever could have on a tour bus. At night we went to two shows at the Harpa: Pearls of Icelandic Song and the Viking Sagas. Both were outstanding. The Viking Sagas is definitely off-color but hysterically funny. On day two we took a private puffin tour (Expensive and despite the write ups online you don't get particularly close to the puffins.), visited the Saga museum (it was excellent), stopped at the free Einar Jonnson Sculpture Garden and visited the Hallgrímskirkja church. We then shopped our way down the hill. be forewarned about Iceland. Everything is shockingly expensive! Akureyri, Iceland: NCL Jewels of the North included a scenic drive along the coastline of Eyjarfjordur, Iceland's longest and perhaps most spectacular fjord. It offered an excellent view of Akureyri and the opportunity to spot a whale in the harbor. We traveled through Fnjoskardalur, a pristine valley before stopping at Godafoss, an Icelandic word meaning "Waterfall of the Gods." We saw volcanically formed craters at Skutustadirre and then traveled to see the lava formations found at Dimmuborgir. We also stopped at Namaskard, a barren field of gurgling sulfur cauldrons and boiling mud pits. The motor coach was comfortable and the guide was knowledgeable although somewhat annoying. Lunch was only ok but we were stopped next to a beautiful park so many took advantage of that and ate quickly to enjoy the beautiful weather and scenery. We also got a quick tour of lovely Akureyri when we returned. I'd definitely recommend a tour like ours but, again, we missed seeing the port town. Kirkwall, Orkney Islands: This is a magical place! My favorite port. We did a semi-private (15 people on a comfortable mini bus) tour with Orkney Aspects. We saw the Standing Stones of Stenness, the Ring of Brodgar, Skara Bray, the Skaill house, Scapa Flow and Maeshowe with a lovely high tea at the Birsay Bay Tea Room. At the end of the day, Orkney Aspects took us to Kirkwall where we could shop and visit St Magnus Cathedral. They dropped us back to the port at exactly the promised time where we were greeted by a pipe band. I highly recommend this company and our guide Anne as well as the location in general. It's stunning and I hope to go back. Invergorden, Scotland: We took a NCL tour: Best of the Highlands: Castles, Loch Ness and Inverness. The motor coach was comfortable and the guide was great. We traveled alongside the Cromarty Firth where you could see seals and stopped first at 14th century Cawdor Castle with its lovely gardens. We stopped briefly at Culloden, the site of the last battle of the Jacobite Uprising, which was not supposed to be on the itinerary. Then we went to Inverness where we saw nothing but the inside of a hotel banquet room! By far the worst experience of the trip! After lunch we went to Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle, which was overrun with tourists. The Scottish highlands are beautiful. I would not recommend the NCL tour. Check out WOW Scotland or another tour company instead. Edinburgh, Scotland: We spent the day on our own beginning with a Harry Potter tour. This is the place to do it! Our tour guide was awesome and spent three hours showing us all the important JK Rowling/Harry Potter sites in the city. We then visited Edinburgh Castle and shopped the Royal Mile. The city was so busy with several cruise ships in port as well as lots of tourists in the run up to the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. If you like short bread, do not miss Pinnies and Poppyseeds!! I was also underwhelmed by the crown jewels. maybe it was just the excessive wait. Don't miss the War Memorial... stunning! Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
We chose this cruise mainly for its itinerary, since it was the only one of its type being offered by an cruise line including hamburg; food was the best we ever had on any cruise; menu different each day; choice of 3 complimentary ... Read More
We chose this cruise mainly for its itinerary, since it was the only one of its type being offered by an cruise line including hamburg; food was the best we ever had on any cruise; menu different each day; choice of 3 complimentary restaurants; very courteous staff and always helpful; a few minor glitches and we were immediatlely compensated, including money and a free specialty dinner; let me repeat , these were minor problems and never expected anything back; entertainment was even better than expected;having cruised on numerous cruise lines, including many river cruises, yes, Viking , I would still go with the ncl jade;great itinerary and tours also; we always get an inside room which was adequate for us, since we only sleep there; would definitel go on ncl again, but I wish they had more perks for prior ncl cruisers, like us; I guess I am to use to my rccl and celebrity perks over the past years; Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
Norwegian Jade July 2017 Review This was our third cruise on the Norwegian Jade, but the first since the estimated $40 million refurbishment; needless to say I was looking forward to see how much of the original Pride of Hawaii was ... Read More
Norwegian Jade July 2017 Review This was our third cruise on the Norwegian Jade, but the first since the estimated $40 million refurbishment; needless to say I was looking forward to see how much of the original Pride of Hawaii was left. In the main Atrium the roof used to have very large plastic flowers, and have now been replaced with a curving lighting display which changes colours to create a bold lighting display, which takes some time to get used to. The surrounding orange roof tiles have been replaced by a plain white tile, which reflects the new colours from the lights. The red furniture and wooden floor have also gone, and have been replaced with light blue and gray seating with marble tiled flooring. The Java Coffee and cake bar has been replaced by the Atrium Cafe and Bar, still offering cookies and handmade chocolates at $1.50 per one. At centre stage is still the grand piano where musicians play; we had onboard a talented Guitarist called Jumari, who could play a wide range of music from Rock to the Blues. Jumari also had a night on the Stardust Theatre with a Neil Diamond tribute; He filled the theatre as he fills the Atrium. The bar staff in the Atrium are as ever attentive and soon learn your tipple of choice and your name. Surrounding the Atrium (deck 8) is now the O’Sheehans Neighbourhood Bar and Grill; replacing the Blue Lagoon, offering a good selection from the bar and a simple menu, and some extra seating for the musicians playing in the Atrium. Around the base of the Atrium you still have the Guest Services, Onboard Credit Desk, Restaurant Reservations, Shore Excursions Desk, and the CruiseNext Desk; all have had a subtle make over’s. Overall a nice relaxing area, offering some great entertainment and a area to meet and chat. The Main Pool area has had a major refurbishment. Gone are those plastic palm tree lights, and the large slide, it still contains two large pools and 4 Jacuzzi’s. The whole decking area has been renewed with decking replacing the green lino, and the pool tiling is now a vivid blue, compared to the pale green before. Topsiders Bar and Grill is still there offer the usual hotdogs and burgers, and cocktails. Above the pool area on deck 13 is the Pit Stop themed bar offering cool beer and iced cocktails, a great place to cool off. Overall the area looks a lot larger, and cleaner; it is a great improvement. Complimentary Dining or NCL’s branded ‘Freestyle Dining’ hasn’t changed that much, except for the addition of O’Sheehans. The Grand Pacific main restaurant has had its bright and load carpet changed and the large Hawaiian Statue disappeared. The menu hasn’t changed, and you still need a minimum of an hour to enjoy your meal. Jasmine and Alizar restaurants are the same as they were, with the possibility of having a lick of paint. The menu is the same as in the Grand Pacific, and still gets very busy. The Garden Cafe has had a major change, the tables and chairs are now brown or green, and the carpet has been toned down, gone have the large bright coloured floral flooring and replaced by two toned gray square lines. This has made the whole area look clean and very modern. Speciality Dining or dining that has an extra charge, offers unique individual experience. There are six restaurants offering a 5 star service, and a high quality of food; enough to satisfy all tastes. • Cagney’s is Norwegians signature steakhouse offering a large range of steaks, chicken and fish. • La Cucina is Jades Italian offing and I can vouch for the pasta dishes they send out. • Le Bistro is set in a typical French setting, with a French Polynesian decor; little tip for enjoying your meal, don’t eat for 5 hours before your reservation, as the portions are huge. • The Sushi bar offers exactly what it says; raw fish in rice, as you can tell I’m not a fan. • Teppanyaki is a sort of a diner show, where the chef cooks your choice of food in front of you. The food tastes amazing, but after you’ve been there a few times, you just want your food served. Teppanyaki is worth a visit for good food and a bit of fun. • Churrascara Modderno is a Brazilian meat feast from all cuts of steak, Lamb, Chicken, Pork, sausages and even Pineapple. Modderno is my personal favourite, and the meat just keeps coming for as long as you want. The Norwegians Jade has one main theatre over two decks called ‘StarDust Theatre’. I first went on the Jade in 2011 and the show have not changed that much, it holds a cheesy first night show, an illusionist, a Russian acrobatic display, and a juggler who was very good and funny. A Beatles tribute band played two shows and were good, shame John Lennon came from Glasgow not Liverpool. There was also a unique string quartet that played, danced and had a Python sense of humour. For once bingo tickets or lottery tickets weren’t push down our necks. We watched the shows from the private Haven balcony, I don’t think we had the best views, and saw the Magician hidden secretes, and anything that was going on in the wings. We stayed in room 14010 a two bed Haven Villa, we chose Haven because it was only a few hundred pounds more than booking two balcony cabins, to accommodate or family and is spread over two decks 14 and 15; both of which you need a key card to gain entrance. So what do you get, priority boarding, and tendering. A butler (which we don’t know what to do with), a room stewardess to keep the rooms clean, and a Concierge who can book excursions and Speciality dining bookings, and is the main first contact to deal with any complaints. Our room had two bedrooms, one a sofa bed, but both had an personal bathroom; the main bedroom had his and her basins, large shower, separate WC, and a bath with a picture window. In both room there are plenty of wardrobe space, and a flat screen TV and DVD player. The living area has a sofa bed, coffee table, dinner table with four chairs, and patio doors leading out to a large balcony with table and chairs. There are five air conditioning units spread around, offing personal comfort in all areas. We had a few problems with a large vibration below the room which was sorted out, and the water from the shower and taps being having no cold water, and hot enough to boil lobsters; which a engineer came and sorted it out within three minutes, after a very large rant. The room was more than large enough for us, and the complementary snacks at 3pm were a bonus. The Haven also has a smallish pool, large Jacuzzi and sun beds all under a retractable roof. Above the pool area on deck 15 is a large sun deck with sun lounges and four large, four poster sun beds. On the pool deck there is an area for having meals delivered from Cagney’s, and a waiter for getting you your favourite drink from the bar. There is also a table with a coffee and tea station with various cookies and confectionary to help yourself with. In my point of view the Haven was worth the extra money paid, but all options should be weighed before choosing. If you travel with a large family it is worth looking into, as it might save you a few pounds. Norwegian Jade has 15 bars and lounges, all offer different entertainment options, from Musicians, comedians, bingo, quizzes to party nights and Mr and Mrs Shows. We enjoyed the Musicians in the Atrium and spent a bit of time in the ‘Mixers Martini & Cocktail bar’ and ‘The Bliss Lounge’. There are other options from the ‘Spinnaker Bar’ to a ‘Cigar Lounge’ to explore. A lot of the bars and lounges have been refurbished to a tastefully finish, the waiters and waitress are constantly hovering around to keep your drinks topped up. The last topic is shopping, there is no Norwegian logo shops; so don’t expect to pick up any Jade souvenirs’. There are plenty of watches, and jewellery display cases, and quite a few designer clothing racks. You can also pick up your duty free goods like Cigarettes, Cigars, Booze and perfumes. I do have my doubts about the cost of the jewellery, and will be investigating a real example about a diamond ring, with various prices; so keep an eye on my blog for the results. There is a Spa and Fitness centre offering the usual treadmills, bicycles, weights and stretching mats. The thermal suite offers a Thalasso pool, various steam rooms and saunas. A strange thing was the Jacuzzi’s are situated in the Male and Female and are not a mixed Jacuzzi, as are the steam rooms! Our son who has a grade 0 haircut all over, went to the spa to find out how much it was to get his grade one cut before he goes back to work, he was told it would cost $95, for basically 5 minutes max of a hair dressers time, work that one out. Over all the Norwegian Jade offers a great cruise option, with some great value itineraries; her refurbishment has given Jade a fresh new look, I still think there are a few touch ups still going on, but overall she is looking good. Jade is only 38 meters wide (Beam) and 294 meters long, so can be classed as a small but very friendly ship, able to enter the smaller ports, and the need to tender is a lot less than say the Breakaway class. Jade has a passenger to crew ratio of 3 passengers to 1.3 crew, which is a good ratio, and means the crew will remember your name and favourite tipple. The crew offer excellent professionalism, with a friendliness that can’t be matched. Will I book another cruise on the Norwegian Jade, with no hesitation, we have met a wide range of new friends from all over the world who helped make the cruise a very memorable one. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
My husband has wanted to take this cruise for awhile and he was not disappointed. The itinerary was very good with not so many sea days. We've sailed on the Jade in the eastern Mediterranean and we're were happy to sail on ... Read More
My husband has wanted to take this cruise for awhile and he was not disappointed. The itinerary was very good with not so many sea days. We've sailed on the Jade in the eastern Mediterranean and we're were happy to sail on her again. She had been refurbished since that trip and some of the upgrades were nice. Embarkation was a bit unnerving due to the fact there was a triathlon under way that weekend and transportation to the port was an issue, as some of the roads leading there were closed. Fortunately they reopened in time for us to arrive in good time. As usual the staff was extremely friendly and attentive. We like to give a shout out to our room steward Keli and our server Romeo at the Moderno restaurant and Jennifer in the MD Alezar. Lovely people all around. Entertainment was good for the most part. All excursions we took were well presented and enjoyable especially the 2 days in Iceland. Such a beautiful country. Food was good in the MD and ok at the buffet. We loved the steakhouse and Moderno. In summery, we will be sailing on NCL again in the near future as we took advantage of their CruiseNext program. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
The staff was great, they were nice and welcoming. I felt like they talked to me not only, cause it was their job, but because they wanted to. And it was all from the entertainment crew to cleaning and waiters. The food in the buffet ... Read More
The staff was great, they were nice and welcoming. I felt like they talked to me not only, cause it was their job, but because they wanted to. And it was all from the entertainment crew to cleaning and waiters. The food in the buffet was not warm, so go to the restaurant for warm food. The drinks were really good, but way ekspensive. The music was really good. There was something for everybody. One thing I did not like was, they way that mostly everybody both staff and guests spoke german to me, without thinking, that maybe the cuise was not all german people. I went on one excursion, and it was a scottish guide, it was a bit tough to understand him, cause of his accent, but he was really nice and knew a lot. I would love to go on a cruise again and also with MSC. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
This was booked as a short break that fit in with a visit to Hamburg followed by a 3 night mini cruise back to the UK. My expectation levels were not high an, mainly due to that, I was not disappointed. For such a large ship it did feel ... Read More
This was booked as a short break that fit in with a visit to Hamburg followed by a 3 night mini cruise back to the UK. My expectation levels were not high an, mainly due to that, I was not disappointed. For such a large ship it did feel somewhat claustrophobic - not helped by ceiling heights that seemed somewhat lower than on most other cruise ships I have been on.the lack of dining choices and relaxation areas was another downer. I got the feeling that they had used a high proportion of space for accommodation to cram as many fare paying guests on as possible. Staff were pleasant but many seemed quite new to the job and not extensively trained. Food was adequate except for the only speciality restaurant offering a selection of Mexican foods and supposedly prime steaks.a total waste of time and money. These negatives aside one has to rate this alongside the amount paid which was not a lot. A classic case of you get what you pay for! Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
Better cruise than before, we were previously on Divina last year, MSC has pluses & minus's Plus Big clean ship, shows not bad, upgraded to Balcony very nice big room, MSC upgraded us both as we are Diamond+ on RCI, with ... Read More
Better cruise than before, we were previously on Divina last year, MSC has pluses & minus's Plus Big clean ship, shows not bad, upgraded to Balcony very nice big room, MSC upgraded us both as we are Diamond+ on RCI, with some nice touches added as a black card holder. Minus Food, buffet is manic, cant find a seat, food selection limited (compared to Princess or NCL. Main meals ok but small, limited vegetables', no additions I did ask for asparagus but no luck, the waiter are lost if you ask for more?? No coffee or water at dinner. Shows do not have live music or a band, All announcements in 6 languages which gets very tedious All mens toilets have no urinal only a single bowl this makes for long waits, MSC must be the only line offering no urinasl (Why). Outdoor movie screen is to small, to low, and not showing any films, that cleaver. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
This mini cruise was very cheap so I had my reservations about it. However it was good in every way. The balcony cabin was very comfortable. The food was excellent. The staff were all very good and attentive. The ship was spotlessly ... Read More
This mini cruise was very cheap so I had my reservations about it. However it was good in every way. The balcony cabin was very comfortable. The food was excellent. The staff were all very good and attentive. The ship was spotlessly clean i even watched the crew. scrub the nuts and bolts down on deck Couldn't fault it. A very good experience in every way. If I had a criticism it's that my husband took a suit with him even though it was a nuisance as we were holiday ing in Hamburg before hand, only to discover that the let men into the formal dining room in very scruffy dress.ie. Unironed short sleeved shirts and jeans. If people want to dress like this then they should be directed to the very good self service dining room. We could have saved ourselves the bother of lugging it around with us. One other small complaint is that the pillows were very flat and therefore not comfortable. Our steward changed them but the next ones were no better. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
The quality of Hapag Lloyd is exceptional since the booking process. Highly motivated staff from reservations to boarding and deboarding deserve a specific applause! Onboard staff are more than friendly and meticulously trained, they ... Read More
The quality of Hapag Lloyd is exceptional since the booking process. Highly motivated staff from reservations to boarding and deboarding deserve a specific applause! Onboard staff are more than friendly and meticulously trained, they are very professional, yet warm in attitude. I will not mention staff in particular, because starting with the Capitain - honorable mention to the quality person He is - each person on board of the staff is a valuable person. A waiter can only serve immaculate meals if the cook prepares them; The cook can only prepare them if the storeholder stocks properly; The storeholder can stock only if the logistics team arrange adequately. And so on! In short, a perfect team!! Each day my wife+son+myself were surprised with something new to have our cruise a full positive memory forever. Thank you Hapag Lloyd Europa 2 Staff, thank you Hapag Lloyd groundstaff too, for the quality offered - and delivered! Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
Always wanted to try Cunard and expectations were set high, so we booked a mini-cruise Kiel to Southampton in an ocean view room. The good.... Stateroom was nice size, good decor and well serviced. 1/2 bottle of fizz on departure ... Read More
Always wanted to try Cunard and expectations were set high, so we booked a mini-cruise Kiel to Southampton in an ocean view room. The good.... Stateroom was nice size, good decor and well serviced. 1/2 bottle of fizz on departure was a nice touch. Quality Penhaligon's cosmetics were also lovely. Plenty of storage for a longer cruise. The passenger areas in general were very tasteful and elegant, spotlessly clean and lots of space to spread out. Some of the artwork of the other Cunard liners was really lovely and took lots of pics with it as backdrop. Unlike some of the other cruiselines, i didn't feel that the photographers were intrusive / persistent and i didn't feel like we were being continuously nickel and dimed like you are on Celebrity. The drinks were reasonable and the bar service generally in the commodore club was very attentive and courteous. The staff in the lido buffet were attentive and courteous, though the lunch / dinner selection was very poor compared to the other cruises we have been on. Breakfast was quite good. The entertainment was of good standard in the main theatre with good singers, musicians and comedy performances. There was also a lot of pianist based entertainment and string quartet entertainment leading to a sophisticated background ambience in the public areas. The bad... In two words - Britannia Restaurant. I don't know if they are understaffed or under-trained but this was a dreadful dining experience compared to Celebrity or Princess. The waiters, though polite, were as polished as the Chuckle Brothers with no sense of occasion or service delivery. Bread was thrown onto the plate, meat was cooked entirely different to the ordered spec and timing was very slow. The executive Chef is clearly past his sell by date as his plate combinations were just plain odd. One starter i had was a 'green salad with goats cheese.' What arrived was a few pieces of iceberg lettuce with a sad looking tiny piece of french stick and some dried out smeared goats cheese. The 'gala dinner' was lobster (1/2 tail, not full tail as on all my other cruises) service with rice and a congealed seafood sauce. On another evening, my partner ordered prime rib medium-well, what arrived was raw meat, bloody and impossible to cut or eat. As usual, our waiter didn't reappear until we were all finished, so too late to exchange the meal. Deserts were uninspired, missing classic staples such as a top notch cheesecake or creme brulee which everyone likes. Petit fours rarely ever include choco rice crispy cakes!! They did on this ship.... Poor interactive / no interactive TV service or onboard wifi apps - this should be copied from your colleagues at Princess.... The ugly... White glove afternoon tea....complete and utter shambles and the manager of this should be offloaded. I was expecting a calm sophisticated environment with string quartet and elegant white glove service (think Cunard brochure). What was delivered was sitting at a table for 15 minutes with 1300 other folks without even being acknowledged by the few staff which weren't selling champagne. Getting sick of waiting for service, we attempted to get some of our own food from the self serve area, but this was as calm as the opening doors at an Asda Walmart black Friday event. We left early in disgust at what should have been a highlight being a memorable disaster. Again, this was in the Britannia Restaurant, so a common theme appearing here..... Note to Cunard: I'm in my early forties and have a lot of disposable income spending several thousand £'s each year on cruising. If you only want to appeal to older passengers that can afford to be in Grill Suites and have the better service levels, then you have achieved your goal and should convert to Grill only ships. The rest of your passengers will recognise they can get better value, feel more valued and get significantly better service and not darken your doors again. It is highly unlikely you will receive another booking from me, certainly not if there's an alternative cruise line on the same route. I had very high expectations of you, you didn't meet them. This saddens me as a Brit wanting to have great British service and support a great British brand (i know you are Carnival, but let's gloss over that....). Many of the faults i found are free to fix and cost neutral, so you have no excuse. The next time i pull into a harbour alongside one of the Queens, rather than envy, I'll be thankful to be on an alternative vessel. You would do well to take some guidance from Princess and stop delivering Titanic steerage class levels of food and service. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
Msc was a big disappointment. The fact that they do not have ice tea or lemonade for you to drink is ridiculous. They do not cater to American cruisers.Americans like to have coffee with dinner at a formal dinning room, it was not ... Read More
Msc was a big disappointment. The fact that they do not have ice tea or lemonade for you to drink is ridiculous. They do not cater to American cruisers.Americans like to have coffee with dinner at a formal dinning room, it was not available and they would not go get it. The portions and choices in the main dinning room were horrible. They did not have very many activities to kids and they were not allowed to join in with the adults in the games. The organization of the customs on the ship was HORRIBLE AND UNORGANIZED. We were 3 hours late getting off in Amsterdam because of msc! They did not have control over the passengers and were not organized at all. The children's club was a success for my daughter. Our room was clean and the steward was awesome. The entertainment was good, but the daily activity book lead you to believe it was not in English. No American channels on the tv! If you wanted anything from tv to water you had to buy it!!! Read Less
Sail Date June 2015

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