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Sail Date: December 2014
Just got off Cunards Queen Elizabeth with 5 Family members I have traveled with 5 different Cruise companies This was my first cruise with Cunard that I thought would be a bit highbrow for my taste . How wrong was I. The service was very ... Read More
Just got off Cunards Queen Elizabeth with 5 Family members I have traveled with 5 different Cruise companies This was my first cruise with Cunard that I thought would be a bit highbrow for my taste . How wrong was I. The service was very slow the quickest I got a drink order to our table was 20 mins the slowest just under hour and I am not making this up the food in the Brittania restaurant was good but no way near as good as other ships I have been on The entertainment was alright but no where near enough different varieties of music you will like it if you like listening to one man piano players they had several bars with piano players no Jazz or nightclub venues. I found most of the serving staff to be OK but no were near the standards of say Celebrity. Our trip was to go to Amsterdam and dock for 2 days we were told on first day at sea that we could not dock at Amsterdam because of high winds, no alternative port could be found so we sailed up & down The English Channel Because of some EU ruling we were told that vat would be added to all ship shops purchases and there would be no duty free sales I sailed with P& O last January to Amsterdam where there was no vat added and you could buy duty free on board? But worst of all this short cruise to the Amsterdam Christmas markets to do some last minute Christmas Shopping and buy our duty free drinks for Christmas did not happen Maybe I will try Cunard again when I reach 80 years of age but of the five cruise companies I have used Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, NCL, P&O and Cunard. Cunard would not get in my top 5 cruises and this nothing to do with our cruise not reaching its destination. Just on Poor service not enough to do generally not a well run ship. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
As you may have guessed this is not going to be a positive review... Cruise Q423 to Amsterdam for the Christmas Markets 2014 was meant to be a nice little pre-Christmas break to relax and unwind ready for the festive season. Obviously, ... Read More
As you may have guessed this is not going to be a positive review... Cruise Q423 to Amsterdam for the Christmas Markets 2014 was meant to be a nice little pre-Christmas break to relax and unwind ready for the festive season. Obviously, Cunard had other plans as they had enlisted - what can only be described as - a "B List" Captain and Team of Senior Staff. We had previously cruise on this ship 4 times before and found it to be absolutely wonderful. Hence, we were excited to spend a few days on the ship before Christmas. However, right from the start this cruise felt a little flat with staff very unmotivated and an absence of senior staff. Embarkation was good and the ship departed Southampton on time. In the early stages of the cruise there was no indication from the Captain that there would be any problems with the cruise. I had also checked the weather prior to leaving and knew that there would be some strong gusts in Amsterdam, but the Captain had indicated none of this. Later in the cruise the Captain mentioned strong winds in the Amsterdam area; again I was not overly concerned as only the previous year the ship failed to dock in Amsterdam because of high winds, but did dock at Rotterdam; the wind were not as bad as last year. The Captain then said that there was a 10% we may dock at Amsterdam and that we would sail all the way to the entrance and see what conditions were like. Eventually we were told we would not dock and alternatives would be considered. We then spend a considerably long time just sailing round with no updates. Finally we were told we would not dock anywhere because conditions were so poor. By now the mood of the ship had somewhat changed and this was very noticeable to both passengers and staff. To make matters worse the Captain then announced we would be arriving back in port a day early due to ‘essential works’. I think this pushed passengers over the edge as we then had lots of moaning and complaining. The atmosphere on the ship for the last two nights was pretty ugly. I am not really complaining that we did not go to Amsterdam as I appreciate that is a difficult port to get in and out of. However, its pretty poor to suggest that the entire west coast of Europe was inaccessible due to strong winds; especially when 12 month earlier the Queen Elizabeth had encountered far worse conditions and docked at Rotterdam. Not to mention the ship departed Southampton in Hurricane Force 12 winds Christmas 2013…if that was safe then Cunard have no excuse for not calling at any alternative port. I also understand that other cruise liners also docked at Amsterdam that night. I was also surprise that the ship had a strong diesel smell in the casino and pub; this was pretty disturbing as it appeared there was a problem with the ship. Why was this? Was it safe? Where Cunard cutting corners to save money? Cunard’s poor management and handling of the cruise meant many passengers just disembarked when the holiday was cut short by the Captain. It was not at all enjoyable having a meal in The Verandah Restaurant watching people lining up to get off on one side of the restaurant and Southampton dock on the other side. It was meant to be a pleasant night at sea sailing back from Amsterdam. The port cancellation was only one of several issues with this cruise. The majority of the staff and crew were either absent or not engaged in keeping passengers happy - well below the standards I have experienced with Cunard in the past. The Entertainments Director was a complete Misogynist asking young female colleagues how much they weighed on the TV feed. All in all, the cruise was rubbish. After the cruise, I did think of writing and complaining, but decided not to. However, Cunard contacted me a few weeks ago to see if I'd like to cruise with them again....they had a chance to win our custom back, but instead managed to make matters worse by saying "we are not giving any compensation" when I never complained or asked for this and was simply never going to cruise with them again. Only the arrogance of Cunard could make a customer service call escalate to the point of "rubbing salt into the wounds". Thankfully, we've found Celebrity so we won't bothering Cunard again...and we'd advise anyone not to bother with Cunard either! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2012
I have sailed on the Eclipse so I was a little apprehensive about the Constellaion .however I was pleasantly surprised. The crew were welcoming and helpful. The ship clean and well laid out. Our outside cabin met our needs and we had no ... Read More
I have sailed on the Eclipse so I was a little apprehensive about the Constellaion .however I was pleasantly surprised. The crew were welcoming and helpful. The ship clean and well laid out. Our outside cabin met our needs and we had no complaints. The ship had previously experienced noro virus outbreaks so no self service and no ice on the martini bar. The crew were well prepared with gel etc so we experienced no problems. We has a premium non-alcoholic package and this was an excellent choice. I thoroughly recommend this package. I have previously used the premium alcoholic package but I think the non-alcoholic package met our needs better. We did have some Martinis and had fun with the flight of martinis once or twice. We also tried Ocean Liners and this was a highlight of our cruise. We also went for the champagne afternoon tea and this was the first one on a cruise I have enjoyed. Even Cunard had been a disappointment. We spent a lot of time relaxing in the Cafe Baccio, enjoying the coffee. Staff again were excellent. We paid for access to the perfumed garden but I am not sure if I would do that again. The entertainment was hit or miss. I enjoyed the acts placed around the ship but did not enjoy Perry. However, Michaels club was packed out when he played, so we were not missed. Some acts in the theatre were good, others ok. All a matter of taste. Celebrity delivered the break we needed and we will definitely cruise with hem again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2012
This review will be quite detailed and is only my opinion but, as I'm a bit of a compulsive note taker, I have recorded information on the ship and ports which may be useful to others so here goes........... Background This was our ... Read More
This review will be quite detailed and is only my opinion but, as I'm a bit of a compulsive note taker, I have recorded information on the ship and ports which may be useful to others so here goes........... Background This was our first Fred Olsen cruise but our 30th ocean cruise...... can you tell we like cruising? My husband and I are in our mid 60s and I have some mobility problems. My husband and I are from the Midlands in the UK and we chose this cruise because it was very reasonably priced and fitted in with our holiday dates. Travel arrangements We travelled down by car from our home on the day before the cruise and stayed at the Premier Inn Central in Basingstoke which is roughly 30 miles from the dock in Southampton. I booked this hotel well in advance and got a room at a very reasonable rate (£36). The hotel is conveniently situated about 1mile from the town centre and within a leisure park with cinema and chain restaurants. Car Parking We pre-booked car parking with 'Cruise Parking' which is situated a 20 minute mini bus drive from the port area. The cost once again, was reasonable, especially compared to the port 'on site' car parks. The whole process was very straight forward. We drove into the site, handed over our keys and transferred our cases onto the mini bus trailer. From drop off to arriving at the port terminal took no more than 30 minutes. On arrival back in port we saw a representative from the company standing right outside the customs clearance area and he directed us to a waiting coach. Once again, it was approximately 30 minutes from getting out of customs to getting into our car. We will certainly use this company when cruising from Southampton. Boarding Unlike many other cruise lines, it is not worth arriving early at the terminus as the ship did not start boarding until just after 2.00p.m. We had been given 2.30p.m. as our embarkation time and we actually got on board at 2.45p.m. - Check-in was fairly quick -- about 20 minutes from arriving at the terminal (cases were whisked away) to completing the security checks and sitting down in the lounge. - There is a magazine stand just outside the departure lounge with many free travel and concept magazines. - There is plenty of seating inside the departure lounge together with toilet and snack facilities. - There was a stand advertising 'silver service afternoon tea' at £6.50pp. The same food is available without charge in the Palms Buffet. - Passengers are given a boarding number and groups of 20 are called to go through. This prevented a mad rush to get on board. - Once on board we were directed, not shown, to our cabin. Balmoral - the ship. My husband and I actually sailed on this ship in 2005 when it belonged to NCL and was Norwegian Crown. When it was sold to Fred Olsen the ship was stretched to add extra cabins and some new facilities. It was good to see that some of the original features still remained and we recognised the dining room, rear pool and buffet area. Balmoral is 43,500 tonnes with 1,300 passengers and 500 crew so a relatively small ship in comparison with many of today's liners. I felt it was geared towards the more mature passenger and had a definite British ambiance although there were a few guests from other countries on board and, as it was half term for many UK schools, there were over 50 children who appeared to be well catered for by the designated crew members. Muster Drill This took place immediately prior to sail away and the muster stations were all indoors. We took our life jackets, listened to the safety talk and then were asked to put on our life jackets. Dining options Palms Buffet - Food is not available 24 hours in the buffet. - The set times for breakfast 07.00 -- 09.30 Lunch 12.00 -- 14.30 Afternoon tea 15.30 -- 16.30 Dinner 18.30 -- 21.00 - IMHO the food was generally good with a fair variety of hot and cold dishes. - I did like the fact that the tables were set with a flower decoration, table mats, fabric serviettes, side plates and the correct amount of cutlery. Dining rooms - Evening Dining is traditional set times and tables -- early sitting is 6.15p.m. and late sitting is 8.30p.m. - Breakfast and Lunch servings are open seating in all 3 main dining rooms. Breakfast 08.00 -- 10.00 and Lunch 12.00 -- 14.00 - There are 3 dining rooms -- the largest, Ballindalloch Restaurant, is on deck 6 and the 2 smaller ones, Avon and Spey, are on deck 10. - There are several tables for 2 available. - I found the service to be efficient without being intrusive. - The menus were varied and always included a 'British traditional favourite'. - Food quality varied but I never had a bad meal. There are no speciality restaurants. Entertainment - There is no casino but there were a couple of Roulette and Black Jack tables available in the evening in one corner of the Lido Bar on deck 8. - The 'Morning Light Pub' was the main bar with comfortable seats and musical entertainment in the evenings. - There is a large Library with comfortable chairs, a good selection of books available to borrow, British news paper each lunch time and quizzes, crosswords and Sudoku challenges each day.- There is an internet room with computers but we didn't use it so I can't provide any information. - There were a few shops selling jewellery, clothes, cosmetics, alcohol, cigarettes and general items etc. - The Marquee lounge and the Observatory lounge on deck 11 provided quiet areas with good views. - The Neptune Lounge on deck 7 was the main show lounge and had sofas, swivel chairs and small tables. There was a fairly large dance floor which rose up to form a stage for the shows. My DH and I are keen ballroom dancers and we were in heaven.....there was ballroom and sequence dancing every evening and there were dance hosts (4 gentlemen and 1 lady) for people who needed a dance partner. - There were 3 production shows which I thought were among the best I have ever seen on a ship, a comedian who had most of the audience laughing (me included), a singing magician who, in my opinion, was poor and a terrific 'crew talent' show......definitely the best I have seen afloat. - There were 2 formal evenings where probably 70% of the passengers wore formal/semi-formal clothes plus a 'tropical' night and a 'rock and roll' night where approximately 30% of passenger dressed up. - There was a Captain's welcome and a Captain's farewell reception with free drinks and canapes. - There were quizzes, lectures, recitals, card competitions, craft classes, cookery demonstrations, dance lessons etc on sea days. Launderettes Wow!.......I know it is a bit strange to get excited about launderettes but, with creased clothes, modern airline baggage weight restrictions and longer cruises, I find the launderette particularly useful and the 2 on Balmoral are the best I have come across on cruise ships. - There are 2 launderettes -- 1 on deck 3 and 1 on deck 9. - They are both quite spacious rooms and fitted out in a similar pattern. - Each room has 8 front loading washing machines and 8 driers. - Deck 9 has 2 irons and deck 3 has 3 irons. - A wash costs £2 (tokens available from the reception desk) and that includes detergent which is automatically dispensed onto the clothes at the push of a button as the wash cycle starts. - Driers and irons are free. Remember to empty the water condenser at the top left corner of the drier to make drying more efficient. - If the washer door has been closed on an empty machine, there is a yellow tag to pull down on the left corner of the washing machine. - Opening hours are from 08.00 to 23.00 Cabin 5218A inside superior (deck 5 mid-ship) We were pleasantly surprised with the size, layout and comfort of the cabin. We knew when we booked this grade of cabin that the beds would be arranged in an 'L' shape so were quite happy with that. - I found the bed to be reasonably comfortable and the pillows were soft and fluffy which I like. - I found the duvet to be on the heavy side but my DH thought it was a perfect weight....everyone to their own! - I loved the fact that there was a kettle with coffee and tea sachets provided along with sugar, sweetener and milk cartons. It was lovely to have our early morning cuppa and I really don't know why the American cruise lines do not offer this facility on all their ships. - There was ample storage with plenty of drawers and hanging space in the wardrobes. - There was a bucket style chair and small glass table along with a large dressing table. - The safe was in the wardrobe and you input your own number. - The cabin had very good lighting which could be varied to make it darker or lighter. - There is a flat screen TV with BBC news, Sky news and sports channel, a film channel, bridge cam and interactive options -- pay films and access to your OB account. - There are plenty of plug sockets but they are US/European style. I brought an adapter and 4gang extension and this worked well. - I thought the bathroom was a reasonable size compared to our experiences with standard cabins on other cruise lines. - The best thing is the largish shower stall which had ½ glass wall/ ½ shower curtain so NO sticking curtain. The shower power was good and hot water was plentiful. - Toiletries were basic but reasonable quality -- liquid soap on the counter and liquid body wash in the shower. You could request things like shower caps, solid soap etc. - Towels and wash cloths were changed on request. Ports and ships tours. Our ports of call were -- La Rochelle, Getxo (for Bilbao), Aviles and La Coruna We had already visited all the ports except for Aviles. We decided to do 1 ship's tour and that was to Ile de Re just outside La Rochelle. We chose this one because a French friend holidays there regularly and we wanted to see the places he talked about. We also chose this one because it did not have 'compulsory walking' (Fred Olsen's description of their tours contains this information) and I have some mobility problems. - A set of port maps was left in each cabin during our 1st sea day. I thought this was a nice touch. - Ship's tours departed from the Neptune lounge. - All ports were industrial areas La Rochelle The dock is approximately 5 miles from the centre of La Rochelle and is a controlled area. - There was a free shuttle bus to the dock gates but there is nothing to see there and it is a very long walk from there into the town. - There is a small terminal building with a shop, toilets and tourist information desk. - FO ran a shuttle bus into the centre of La Rochelle for £10pp with unlimited transfers. These run from the car park outside the terminal building - The town is easily walkable with some pretty streets, an interesting small harbour area, outdoor cafes and many shops. Unfortunately, many things were closed or opened late as it was the end of the holiday season. - The Ile de Re tour was quite interesting. We saw the best of what was on offer including the Monastery ruins and some pretty fishing villages - La Flotte, Sainte-Marie-de-Re and Saint-Martin-de-Re were the most notable. There was 45 minutes free time in Saint-Martin-de-Re which was definitely not enough to explore the quaint streets and pretty harbour. Getxo and Bilbao Getxo is a thriving suburb of Bilbao and has its own charm. - Again it is an industrial port area so, although you could walk out of the port, it was a long way to the town centre. - There is a small terminal building with a shop, toilets and tourist information desk. - There were maps available in there. - FO ran unlimited return shuttle buses into the centre of Getxo for £5pp. The bus stopped 100 metres from the metro station where there are frequent trains into Bilbao. - There is a very nice beach just at the edge of the port. - There is a shopping complex just outside the port. - Getxo centre has cafes and shops. - There are some beautiful and imposing villas along the coast road. We had been to Bilbao twice before when I was more mobile and we had seen the main attractions already -- the Guggenheim Museum, the river front promenade and the Old Town -- so we decided not to do a ship's tour but to get the metro and then make our mind up what to do when we got into town. The metro was easy to use: - Ticket machines have an option to have information displayed in English. - It was €3.20pp return for the 20 minute journey. - We decided to get off at 'Abando' station which was nearest to the Old Town and was a short walk across the river. After coffees and a croissant at a pavement cafe (€3.50 which we thought was extremely good value) we caught the tram (€1.40pp single journey) along the river front to the Guggenheim Museum where we got off and sat in the sun in the park area for a while just enjoying the sunshine and people watching. - We caught the metro back from the San Marmes station We had a lovely few hours for a very reasonable price. Aviles Aviles was a revelation and turned out to be, by far, our favourite port. The old town area was very attractive with some most unusual cafes, little food shops and fabulous arcades. This is a relatively new destination and, I believe that Balmoral was the first cruise ship to use the port earlier in the year. There is a lot of building work going on to extend the dock area. - You cannot walk directly from the ship so there was a free shuttle bus to terminus at the edge of the old town. - The terminus is just a tent with a few chairs and tourist information. - It is quite a long walk from the drop off to the town as you have to cross the river and the railway line by bridge first. - There is a very helpful Tourist Information centre at the beginning of the street which takes you to the Town Hall square. - The streets which radiate from the square are all quaint and there are some beautiful buildings, speciality food shops and gardens. - The newer town is to the right of the old town and has a nice food market and a shopping Mall. - We had beautiful weather and enjoyed sitting out in a cafe and people watching. La Coruna Unfortunately, the weather changed as we got to La Coruna and it became cold and overcast with torrential rain showers. It was also November 1st which is a national holiday in Spain the vast majority of shops and many restaurants were closed. These 2 factors combined to make it a disappointing port for many passengers. Fortunately we had visited La Coruna before and remember it in better weather and as a bustling shopping centre. - The ship docks in walking distance of the town centre. - There is a small terminal building with a shop, toilets and tourist information desk. - 2 minutes from the terminal building is a huge shopping mall with cinema, restaurants and upper market shops. - There are lovely walks around the promontory and a beautiful beach at the other side of the peninsula which can be reached by walking about ½mile through the town centre. - The Old Town has a large Town Hall square with many cafes and restaurants. It's approximately 10 minutes walk from the ship. And finally We were so impressed with the Fred Olsen product as a value for money option that we have booked 2 more cruises with them. Balmoral was not the glitziest or most modern ship we have been on but she was one of the friendliest and had many things that we really enjoyed. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2011
I was in two minds whether or not to write a review about this cruise, however, I have seen quite a bit of negative comment that I believe to be unfair so i want to add my point of view. Let me say from the outset we embarked on December ... Read More
I was in two minds whether or not to write a review about this cruise, however, I have seen quite a bit of negative comment that I believe to be unfair so i want to add my point of view. Let me say from the outset we embarked on December 8th when the whole of the UK was being battered by very high winds and CMV and the crew of the Marc Polo have no control over that. They did flip the itinerary though visiting Antwerp as the first port and Amsterdam as the second so they did all they could to negate the effects of the weather. Embarkation was a breeze and the safety drill had the novelty of the passengers actually going from their muster station and lining up by their assigned lifeboat. We were then inspected by the Deputy Captain which was all a bit different than usual. The staff who were mainly Eastern European were friendly and helpful and were happy to chat with the passengers at quiet time. On the whole the food was very nice, well prepared and nicely served. An exception would be the breakfast in The Restaurant, it was still on a help yourself basis, and, unfortunately on the day we ate in there was only lukewarm. Marco Polo was probably the cleanest cruise ship we have ever been on and cleaning seemed to go on constantly. Entertainment was fair the three shows we saw in the show lounge whilst lacking the glitz of say the P&O show team were enjoyable and entertaining. There has been a suggestion that the whole ship smelled of diesel fuel, if it did then I certainly did not notice it. As for the two ports of call they were what they were two fairly major European Cities in winter, Amsterdam as ever was charming and quaint and Antwerp interesting. I just can't see what prompted such strong criticism of the ship and the cruise. We have cruised quite a bit and feel that what you pay for a cruise must be measured against a passengers expectations. This trip was a bargain and we had the added bonus of a free upgrade to one of the best two cabins on the ship. Overall we found the trip a pleasant winter break and whilst I would be wary of undertaking an Atlantic Voyage on Marco Polo we would certainly consider a Baltic, Fjords or around Britain trip on her. We would certainly Mini/Party Cruise on her. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
We cruised from Southampton on the Celebrity Eclipse on the 14th October 2011. Very similar to the Equinox. Staff excellent from the Captain to the Cabin staff, ship usual Celebrity quality, well organised Embarkation and Arrival home, ... Read More
We cruised from Southampton on the Celebrity Eclipse on the 14th October 2011. Very similar to the Equinox. Staff excellent from the Captain to the Cabin staff, ship usual Celebrity quality, well organised Embarkation and Arrival home, Food in all areas was of the normal high quality.Weather very good for October, everyone happy? Yes BUT someone in Celebrity Head Office probably an Accountant (only looking at the bottom line), obviously had no idea about how the passengers would react to outrageous drink prices throughout the ship and being charged for visits to The Bridge, The Kitchen, The Engine Room and other on board activities. $4.50 for 1 litre of water. Wine in the Moonlight Sonata dining room at a 400% mark up on UK prices.We felt sorry for the Somelier who were very helpful and trying to please. We all expect to pay corkage in a restaurant or bar but where we find unreasonable prices we can obviously go elsewhere, this of course is not possible on board. Two years ago on the Equinox drink prices were not cheap but were much more reasonable. It was very noticeable that on the Eclipse in the theatre, restaurants and cafes many of the staff who normally sold drinks were walking around trying to sell drinks unsuccessfully. By the last four days the price of Trips to the Galley, the Bridge and the Engine Room were greatly reduced. This may sound like a whinge, but hopefully Celebrity will take this as a friendly report and all future cruisers will be aware of the situation. On the entertainment front, just a gentle hint. The majority of passengers on our cruise were 'mature' but a couple of the entertainers seemed to be unaware of this and their content was often extremely offensive and crude and was making fun of the very age group they were entertaining. On the last night approximately 15% of the audience walked out before the end of the show. The last night was particularly bad when the ventriloquist attempted comedy of a crude nature, much to the embarrassment of the some of the ladies in the audience. He should have stuck to what he is good at. Comments like 'wouldn't you like a bit of Yorkshire in you' are unacceptable unless you are in a working mans club not directed at an 80 year old lady. Dru we love you but please 'GET a GRIP' In spite of this we will sail with you again, if you will have us? !! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
We decided to travel to Southampton by coach from Liverpool, glad we did as the traffic congestion on arrival in Southampton was horrendous and I think we may have panicked if we had been on our own in the car. Check in was easy although ... Read More
We decided to travel to Southampton by coach from Liverpool, glad we did as the traffic congestion on arrival in Southampton was horrendous and I think we may have panicked if we had been on our own in the car. Check in was easy although there was a delay of about 20 minutes at security which was not a problem to us. The ship was absolutely sensational, clean, bright and modern, our stateroom and attendant were excellent. We ate in the Moonlight Sonata on the late sitting (we'll go select dining next time)and because the quality of the food was so good decided not to pay the excessive supplement to eat in one of the speciality restaurants, even though people we spoke who had visited them gave a glowing report (but not worth the supplement) We thought the entertainment was first class as did most of the people we spoke to, the comedian from Wales was particularly good as was the ships dancers and musicians. A special mention for Dru the cruise director, he is so enthusiastic and obviously enjoys his job (buy a new joke book Dru). The bad bit!...The drinks are so very expensive, I have never seen so many tables in a restaurant without a bottle of wine at dinner, the sommeliers were almost redundant. All in all though, this was a great holiday on a fantastic ship with first class staff providing excellent service,and met some lovely people, well done Celebrity, see you soon... Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
I am going to make two reviews for this cruise. One as an 'adult' couple travelling and the other one based on travelling with our children and grandchildren. Review 2 has already been published! Two years ago we took a 5 ... Read More
I am going to make two reviews for this cruise. One as an 'adult' couple travelling and the other one based on travelling with our children and grandchildren. Review 2 has already been published! Two years ago we took a 5 night Mediterranean cruise with RCI out of Malaga on the Navigator of the Seas. This time we did a 4 night short cruise to Portugal on Adventure of the Seas. I have to say how sorry I am to see the drop in standards and quality in such a short period. Embarkation was simple and well organised as last time and we were on board and having lunch in the Windjammer by 12.30. Ground staff at Mlaga port were very helpful. Disembarkation was equally good with my request for a later time being given with no problems at all. Cabins were ready by the time we had finished lunch so we went down to start unpacking. The suitcase hadn't arrived by quite late and despite asking several people and I eventually had to go and find it. I did this because everyone else in the party had theirs and I thought mine may have been left behind. Happily it hadn't. The cabin was fine and very clean and was well looked after during the cruise by our attendant. On arrival the balcony was all wet and the chairs and little table had not been dried so you couldn't sit out there whilst waiting for the cases. I didn't take shampoo, body lotions etc as last time these were supplied in the cabin - sadly no longer! The cabin steward was very nice and found some for me the next day. There would have been no problem to take my own had I known about it before. Also shame we only got 'towel animals' one night - I really liked that touch on the last cruise. The ship generally is in good condition and kept very clean. Lifts were always very busy so walked the stairs most of the time. As we were with the family we didn't get to see the shows but the ice show, which we all went to, was excellent (missed that on Navigator). Played in the casino one evening and broke even which was good. Spent some time in the lobby bar and danced a bit to Azucar Band which we enjoyed. Many of the areas on the ship are split into smoking on one side and no smoking on the other. This is something that some other reviewers may not be aware of. Whilst dancing on the no smoking area of the dance floor, two people with cigarettes in hand, came and started dancing. They were very quickly told by members of the band to move to the other section which was for smokers. I had no problems with cigarette smoke during the cruise (and I'm a very sensitive reformed non smoker!!) and it wasn't even too bad in the casino. The Spanish people on the cruise were very nice and certainly not rude or pushy. In fact the only time I was pushed a bit was in the Windjammer by a British lady. There was certainly no pushing or shoving in the lifts or anywhere else that I saw. Bearing in mind it was a Spanish bank holiday weekend and Halloween, the majority of people on the ship were probably Spanish. I loved the fact that dress codes were adhered to and on Formal night there was some very beautifully dressed people walking around and lots of people in amazing Halloween costumes (and I'm not just talking children here!!) For me the biggest disappointment was the food in the Main Dining Room. 2 years ago we came home raving about the food, how hot it always was, the quality, the choice, and the great service. Sadly the same could not be said on this cruise. The food was generally tepid, bland and choices were more limited. Some evenings we struggled to find something to order and ended up with the good old Sirloin steak standby. There was a beef dish each evening, which members of our table ordered on different evenings, which was basically the same dish with a different name. Very little fish options but must say the desserts were great. Did however miss the Baked Alaska on formal night dinner. Our waiter was actually a bit sad. He seemed to have problems with whatever we wanted to order if it had even the slightest deviation from the menu item. I actually decided in the end that maybe he just didn't understand English very well. Constantly reminding him of my daughter's seafood allergy seemed to confuse him. She also doesn't eat nuts -â€" which we told him -â€" and when the cheese cake arrived covered in nuts we asked him 'Are those nuts on top?' His reply was yes and then he just walked away!! No, 'Is there a problem, would you like something else or one without nuts!' On the plus side, Oscar his assistant, did everything possible to help us within his limited capacity. We had a 7 bottle wine package booked but it always took quite a while to get the previous night's unfinished bottle - once the waiter finally understood there should be some left or to get a new bottle to the table. Also there was only a buffet option in the Main Dining Room at lunch time which is a shame as I really believe you need a proper alternative to the Windjammer buffet which was always crazy busy. In the Windjammer the food was fairly standard buffet. Plenty of choice and nice desserts, but the floor staff were not very helpful and unless you wanted to buy drinks, didn't seemed very interested in anything you needed. On the disembarkation morning they had obviously run low on orange juice and actually served it watered down! Personally it would be better to have said 'sorry we've run out'. Last impressions, like first impressions are remembered. In general I would say that there were not too many happy and smiling crew members on this cruise. Although the staff at Guest Relations were always helpful and smiling, as was our cabin steward. Weather was lovely. General facilities and activities were plentiful with things to suite all ages and tastes. Appreciated the Crown and Anchor discount voucher book. We were docked overnight in Lisbon. The area where the ship docked was awful with no direction signs to the town centre. There was a RCI shuttle service into the centre which cost $6 each way, so if you were a family and wanted to go there both days...... There was a nicer docking area right near the main square (saw some other big ships there) and if RCI couldn't get docked there then the shuttle should either have been complimentary or at least 50% cheaper. It was also a long way away. We took a bus to the main square but decided to walk back and it took us 90 minutes! (just as well we like walking!). Our 3rd time back in Lisbon and have to say it's a very nice place visit. Gibraltar was better. Well signed for directions to town and just a 15 minute walk away. If this review sounds a bit negative it's because I believe if you're not honest the review serves no purpose. All in all, we had a really nice break away and I would not discount travelling on Adventure of the Seas again. Just that next time I would go with lower expectations. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
After an unscheduled overnight stay in Southampton due to technical problems with a lifeboat and its certification (why is there never an inspector on 24 hour call outs,surely the cruise company fraternity can give someone a good wage to ... Read More
After an unscheduled overnight stay in Southampton due to technical problems with a lifeboat and its certification (why is there never an inspector on 24 hour call outs,surely the cruise company fraternity can give someone a good wage to facilitate such matters).So,this meant no stop off at the French port of Hendaye,disappointment for some but i was okay with it specially as F.Olsen had reimbursed us £50pp of OBC,which took care of my bar bill! Pleasant weather most of the time, though a bit rough for some as we sailed through the Bay of Biscay,lots of sick bags available on this day plus we heard the doc's surgery was busy handing out sea sickness jabs (always take your own pills).After a couple of days sailing we eventually got to Lisbon,a wonderful vibrant city.Took the Big red bus tour here (15 euro pp) rather than a ships tour of the city (£40pp) and the bus stop is right outside the terminal gate,they did not advertise that in the brochure and only at the very end of the port talk (wonder why). However we did take a ships tour in Vigo,our next port of call. Seeing it was Sunday and all but the cafes were closed though the main attraction today was the Aircraft carrier, Spain's Juan Carlos was in town and the Spanish public were queuing for literally miles to get on it as it was open to them today. Our trip was okay though as usual way too overpriced for a view of the harbour and city from a high vantage point and a trip to Bayona were we saw some ancient castle/fortress which now houses a 4* hotel (with 5* prices for drinks,2.80 euros for a small coke!) Next up was La Coruna,did our own thing again, a free shuttle bus through the port to the port entrance was laid on,then we took a leisurely walk around the quaint old town,then into the shopping district where we stopped off for a coffee and watched the world go by.Next day was the port of Getxo for Bilbao,took a ships tour here,again our first stop was to a high vantage point to get a panoramic view of the city,this view was quite spectacular.A couple of stops in the city to a sacred church and then into the old town centre,again quaint, and very picturesque finishing off with a look only at the carbuncle of a building that is the Guggenheim museum. After each trip the weather was very good for a spot of R&R on deck 11 with its warm Pool and even warmer jacuzzis and if you did not fancy a 4 course lunch there was soup and sandwiches. We dined in the Spey restaurant were the food was excellent,service slow at times,as the waiters had a "lot on". Breakfast taken mainly in the Palms self service,they do a wonderful ham omelette,cooked fresh to your liking here. Entertainment, could not fault the visiting "pro" acts though the Balmoral singers and dancers were ordinary,probably the worse we've seen on a cruise but hey. The other entertainment staff were good,thought Juliet had a great voice in the wonderful crew show. All in all a very good cruise would recommend to anyone. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
We booked a 3 night mini cruise, to celebrate a special birthday. 2 sisters ,one of whom is disabled and uses a mobility scooter, and myself.We had been looking forward to our cruise for some time. Embarkation was exceptional, never ... Read More
We booked a 3 night mini cruise, to celebrate a special birthday. 2 sisters ,one of whom is disabled and uses a mobility scooter, and myself.We had been looking forward to our cruise for some time. Embarkation was exceptional, never boarded so fast, cabin was lovely, we had been up-graded, so a wonderful start. Our cabin steward was lovely, very helpful. Things went down hill fast after this really. food was good in the buffet, but as a vegetarian i struggled in the main restaurant and ended up eating the same thing on 3 nights! We decided against a buffet breakfast and went to one of the main restaurants, with waiter service, or not?. we waited for over 20 mins for our order to be taken, 30 mins for our coffee, our (cold) food eventually arrived, after 50 mins, we complained, and ate in the buffet after. we were unable to dock at St Peters Port, i understand this is a common enough problem, but it seems that other cruise lines , dock else where? we had a sea day instead, with lots on offer, such as bingo, not to our taste.Such a shame on a 3 day trip. We checked our on ship accounts on the last day, my disabled sisters was wrong, we went to the customer service desk, and were told this would be put right, we checked again after our meal, it was still wrong, we returned to the desk ! this happened 4 times, and we also qued in the morning before leaving. It would appear that Princess ask most passengers to take off there own luggage, i had never come across this before, and the results were mayhem, we were unable to get in the lifts, and did not have the option of using the stairs with a disabled scooter. Luggage was strewn over the entire ship, everyone was grumpy, great end to a crap holiday, but worse was to happen. On attempting to leave the ship, chaos reigned, we qued, for ages, then at the exit we were stopped as my sisters account had been flagged, we felt like criminals, i have never been so embarrassed in my entire life, we were dragged to one side while a phone call was made, and we were then allowed to leave! Shambles! I have complained to Princess, i have been told 'they hope to learn from the errors made' Why has it taken me so long to write this? my sister has only just had the money taken, replaced in her account. I have crusied many times before and never had such an awful experience. Read Less

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