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63 Canary Islands Holiday Cruise Reviews

We booked the Cruise fairly late, through a local trusted travel agent. Our flights, via Easy Jet were independent of the Cruise and were fine for what they were - no complaints.Upon arrival at Malaga, having collected our luggage we were ... Read More
We booked the Cruise fairly late, through a local trusted travel agent. Our flights, via Easy Jet were independent of the Cruise and were fine for what they were - no complaints.Upon arrival at Malaga, having collected our luggage we were met by two RCCL reps who directed us to the area to collect our inclusive transfer. As per usual, we did not see our luggage again until it was delivered to our State Room.We were lucky, in that the coach left the airport within 5 minutes of our boarding; however, one passenger was moaning that they had been waiting for ages. I guess that is the luck of the draw.The coach journey from the airport to the Cruise Port was approx. 20 minutes and was comfortable and uneventful.Upon arrival at the port two long lines had formed, one for those with luggage (independent travelers), the other, for those without luggage, such as us.Although appearing long, the lines moved very quickly, and within a few minutes we were within the terminal and were directed to an even shorter line, which moved even quicker to the check in staff.Be careful....the Spanish don't know the meaning of the word line, and if you give an inch, they will take a mile and push in where they can, this was experienced throughout the trip. We cant however, blame RCCL for this!As we had completed our Cruise questionnaire online and have printed the 'Sea Pass', if we were at the check in desk for longer than three minutes it was a long time. We were there just long enough for RCCL to take an imprint of my pre registered credit card, to be issued with our charge/key cards and to complete a health questionnaire.We then followed the signs and headed onto the ship via a welcome aboard photo. Being a Coke Drinker, as usual I signed up for the Soda package, which provided I had at least three soft drinks a day (which I did), worked out to be very good value.Being the 'foodie' that I am, upon embarkation we headed straight to the Windjammer Cafe on Deck 11. As expected, it was busy, but again, lines moved quickly and we quickly found a table to sit at.I cant stress enough, that now having done a number of Cruises, I must say that the food served in the Windjammer was fantastic, probably, the freshest, hottest, well presented and variety that I have come across.Having fed my rotund stomach, we headed to our Room, 8226, which was port side virtually at the front with a balcony.The room was exactly as expected, being well proportioned, very clean, ample closet space, nice balcony ......in fact, no different than any other Cruise Line in size (although layout slightly different) and more than adequate. My only complaint, although again, not RCCLs fault, as we booked so late the position of this cabin was the only one available, therefore we had a long walk to get anywhere.Over the years, we have seen all Cruise lines cut back a little each year. On this Cruise we noted that no toiletries were provided except for soak and shampoo. Long gone are the days of robes and luxury toiletries being provided it would seem. The one disappointing item (which my Mrs. Wont be impressed with, with me mentioning) was that we did not receive a little chocolate on our pillow at night. When I casually enquired about this I was told that RCCL ceased this practice three years earlier.......which I'm not sure is actually the case.We had a walk around the ship. Full compliments to RCCL for what really is a beautiful vessel in excellent decorative order. The weather had a lot to be desired and therefore we were unable to make use of the Swimming Pools or Sun Decks, but they certainly matched every other ship we have been on.Although not for us, the external rock climbing wall was impressive as was the Ice Skating ring, which despite my wife's best intentions, she never actually got round to using.On a Cruise ship I normally spend half my time waiting for lifts. Strangely, on this ship the lifts were fast and we noticeably didn't have to wait long.Having Cruised with RCCL some 17 years previously, we failed to mention this when we booked. Whilst in the UK, through our travel agents RCCL acknowledged our previous cruise and therefore we were entered into the Crown and Anchor society. When on board, we identified that this had not been carried across to our room key (indication) and that no other benefits were provided. Upon visit the guest relations lady, who was more than helpful, she noted our previous cruise, applied labels to our room keys and issued us with the discount booklet and ensured we were invited to the welcome back party.The discount book was well worth having as it included discounts on the Internet packages, free drinks and discounts to onboard purchases.Having packed my laptop so that we could communicate with our Children via Skype and so that I could log into my office and check emails etc.....we purchased a 500 minute Internet Package, which, in the end was excessive which cost us $145.00 with discount from the discount book. I was disappointed that the data socket in our room did not work and we did not have Wi-Fi in our cabin. This left us using a few Wi-Fi Hotspots around the ship. RCCL - if anything, please enable the Data sockets in the cabins or provide Wi-Fi throughout!Internet Access throughout our trip, whilst not as fast as land based was more than adequate.Dinner time - we opted for first sitting at 6.45 and requested a table of 8. We got exactly what we asked for and were seated with 6 other people from the UK, all of whom were very pleasant. The choice of food would suit anyone's palette. Our Waiter was very attentive and polite, always offering his recommendation of the day having gone into great detail about each course. Equally, the assistant waiter was very efficient. On the first evening I requested a regular coke. From that moment on, every evening upon sitting down a regular coke would appear, and when that was finished, it was replaced as was my wife's water. Likewise, another member of our table had a taste for ketchup with everything, low and behold, a bottle of ketchup was by her seat each evening. The meal was three courses (most other Cruises have been 4 courses) and no petite pours afterwards (first cruise never to be offered these), but plenty of tea and coffee. Although not on the menu, I asked for Cheese and Biscuits in place of (or on occasion as well as) dessert which was forthcoming with a good selection of cheese.The Head Waiter came to our table each evening and spoke to each of us in turn ensuring that we were delivering what was expected....and it was.On three of the evenings the waiters did a song and dance routine, which was appreciated by all and were great photo opportunities.My wife and I took the opportunity of having breakfast in each of the locations offered on different days, this being the Windjammer, one of three restaurants which offered a buffet and another of the three restaurants which offered À la carte. The choice and quality of food in each was fantastic. The advantage of the A la carte menu was that I could have Kippers, a personal favorite of mine. In the end, the Windjammer was a personal favorite for variety with everything you would expect for a Full English Breakfast, to Continental Breakfast and everything in between. All served freshly, hot and tasty. As expected, an Omelet Station was also provided and there were no long lines for toast (of which there were several options available).Whilst lunch was available in one of the Dining Rooms we chose to lunch each day, except the final day in the Windjammer. For those that wanted them, they had hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza as well as full lunches with a different carvery each day with a variety of potatoes, vegetables and salads.On our last day on board we sampled Jonny Rockets which had a small surcharge for as much as you could eat. The restaurant is an American themed restaurant serving burgers, hotdogs, shakes, floats etc.....with the waiters performing a show and dancing every half an hour. Withy prior knowledge of what was on offer, due to our own dietary constraints we could not eat any of the meat products, however, everyone else was commenting on how great it all tasted.RCCL - Please note. We were very disappointed to note that unlike any other Cruise we have ever been on, the Windjammer Cafe closed each evening with no Midnight Buffet (acknowledged as being a thing of the past). Whilst a Cafe on the Promenade deck (deck 5) is open 24 hours, the only items available were slices of pizza, cakes and biscuits. I have come accustomed to visiting the 24 hour buffet, if only to look and not eat (well, I normally have something!) before bed, after all, with the first dining sitting being at 6.45 pm I can get hungry!Unusually for us, we only ordered room service once; this was for early morning coffee and tea to our room. It arrived earlier than expected, but in fairness, they telephoned us ahead to say it was on route. The Room service menu was comprehensive, although RCCL charged for room service between midnight and 05.00 - only approx $4, but still something we are not used to.The Cruise Director and his staff were excellent. There were three parades along the main 'Royal Promenade' during the Cruise which can be compared to a Disney Main Street Parade. Whilst we only attended the last one, we were told they were very enjoyable.The ship provided entertainment each evening with two shows included. Unfortunately, whilst they were to a high standard they were not to our personal liking. The shows did not have a story line as such with a few of us, despite the noise, dropping off to sleep. It is clear that when a Cruise has many non English guests, such as this Cruise had, the feasibility of having comics is unlikely and a decent proportion of the guests would not be able to understand the humor or the language. It was very interesting and important to note that during the behind the scenes tour we were told that a show lasts on a ship for up to 5 years, therefore, depending on when you travel, if you were to travel on this vessel again in the near future you would more than likely see the same entertainment, excepting guest entertainers of course.The Ice show was particularly good, repeated twice a day on each of the two sea days. However, the Ice Skaters did fall over a few times during each show! Until the end of the show it was difficult to guess what the theme of the show was...it turned out to be fashion.As expected, the onboard Orchestra was excellent as was the Pianist in the Schooner Bar and other music provided at various bars around the ship.The Bingo was well attended and presented well, unfortunately, we didn't win anything but the cash prizes were decent amounts.Being old and tired we didn't venture into the Disco.Like so many other ships, this cruise included an art auction, which is something my wife and I particularly enjoy. As usual, despite my wife holding my arm down so I couldn't bid, I won and we ended up purchasing two items of art at fantastic value. The auctioneer was excellent in his delivery and knowledge of the works of art and his team was very professional. It has to be acknowledged that the Spanish generally don't purchase art at sea and the contingent of the guests was not the type that would ordinarily purchase art. I therefore doubt that despite his best efforts if the auctioneer met his target! The free champagne was flowing at each auction.RCCL Please note - we were very disappointed with the goods sold within your on board shops. RCCL missed lots of opportunity to sell branded goods such as photo albums and RCCL branded chocolate etc... which would have made ideal gifts; unfortunately we had to purchase gifts on land. Our Cruise included two ports of call, Tenerife and Madeira, whilst a Varity of Ship Excursions were available none of them appealed to us, so we got off the ship and made our own arrangements.Disembarkation was simple and unhurried, unlike previous cruises we did not feel that we were being pushed off the ship.Value for money - In my opinion excellent value for money. Whilst know one ever pays brochure price I can tell you that the price we paid in total, which included the flights (and one suitcase each), plus transfer to and from the ship was exceptional. There was talk around the ship that some passengers paid £150.00! Each (for an inside cabin)...if true, £150.00 for a 5 night inclusive cruise is unbelievable. Whilst I am not crying for RCCL, even with the quantity of scales involved (over 3000 passengers and 1,200 crew) it is difficult to see how RCCL made any money, maybe this is why the little things that I have picked up on that we expected and weren't in place, were indeed, not included. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
We had been on Calypso last year and knew that Spirit would be as good. The plus for these ships is that every passenger is friendly and ready to talk and at each meal you meet someone different to talk to. The cabin staff are very ... Read More
We had been on Calypso last year and knew that Spirit would be as good. The plus for these ships is that every passenger is friendly and ready to talk and at each meal you meet someone different to talk to. The cabin staff are very friendly (perhaps with a view to a monetary gain at the end of the cruise!!) The shows are terrific and the crews talent contest not to be missed. We were lucky to have Elvis as a waiter and entertainer on that night. He was a star! The one place that should be missed out on this cruise is Agadir - not worth going to do. Everyone we talked to who had been was of the same opinion. Some places could do with a shuttle transfer from docks. A shuttle was available at Lanzarote but Madiera could hae really done with one. Thoroughly recommend Thompson Cruises. I have been on nine Pricess Cruises - which I have enjoyed, but my next one will be on Thompsons. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
We booked this cruise as we felt it would be a lovely way to celebrate Christmas. We travel with two severely disabled young adults who are our children and have cruised many times, albeit, not with P & O. I have to state at the ... Read More
We booked this cruise as we felt it would be a lovely way to celebrate Christmas. We travel with two severely disabled young adults who are our children and have cruised many times, albeit, not with P & O. I have to state at the beginning of this review, that it is without a doubt, the worse cruise our family has taken. Firstly, I will highlight the good points. The cabins were good and kept totally clean throughout the cruise by our steward, who spoke little English, but was good at his job. Some of the reception staff were helpful and friendly, but some were not. We were allocated a table in the Peninsular restaurant, and, although we would normally use alternative dining due to my sons dietary needs and disabilities, we had to use the Peninsular as food in the conservatory was so awful! During our cruise, there were a number of Norovirus cases, and apparently, due to this, precautions were obviously taken with regards to stopping self service in the conservatory and Alfresco's. We do feel that if the use of hand gel had been insisted upon earlier in the cruise, this may not have happened. It always amazes us that some people absolutely refuse to use the gel that is there to safeguard them! We feel that if there was one member of staff allocated to making sure this was used, it would save problems in the long run. The food in the conservatory was dire. The choice was extremely limited and the themed dinner buffets made it useless to us as all food in there was spicy. The themes were Indian, Thai, Mexican, Caribbean, Country and Western, with no alternatives. We have never been on a ship where the is so little choice. Also, portion control was practised, which again, we have never had on any ship we have been on. This is the first cruise where 3 of our party has not put on any weight at all. On one occasion, I asked for some Cheddar cheese to accompany crackers in the conservatory. I was given a piece of cheese which was approximately the size of half a cheese triangle. I asked if I could have more and was told that was a portion. We accept that the staff had to serve the food due to the virus on board, but many dozens of people felt that P & O saved an awful lot of money on food during the cruise. We also appreciate that some people are greedy and take food they do not eat. This was not the case, the portions were minute. Alfresco was where we ate our breakfast most days. The staff were good, but again, portion control was practised. My son eats only soft food and so a cheese omelette was the perfect choice. The omelettes were thinner than most crepes and although he has a small appetite, we needed to go back for another omelette for him each day. We were served to one piece of bacon and half a tomato. Scramble eggs were being served by the half spoonful. The Peninsular was good and they tried very hard to cater for my children. I cannot fault them at all. As this was a Christmas cruise, we expected the atmosphere to be festive and the entertainment to match the season. This was absolutely not the case! After the first 3 days, I found myself apologising to my family for taking them away from Christmas. Even the staff were unable to disagree that it seemed Christmas was cancelled. On Christmas Eve, it seemed we may have Christmas after all. Santa arrived on deck accompanied by Christmas music. The choir sang and were really good. Later, the crew sang Carols, and the show, 'Jingle all the way' was very festive. Apart from church services, that's where it ended! Christmas day was a huge anti-climax with very little to do. The only difference to the normal days entertainment was that words were added, ie frosty shuffleboard, Rudolph carpet bowls etc. It was pathetic! Christmas dinner in the Peninsular was good and quite festive. I can truthfully say that I have never heard so many people saying that they couldn't wait to get back to Southampton. I am not just talking about the usual moaners that all ships have, but families and people who had travelled with P & O many times. We spoke to many, many people who felt this way and the staff were apologising for the lack of Christmas. I had people who were horrible to my children, which has never happened on any other cruise. I have never been so glad to leave a ship and return home and will never travel with P & O again. I will also not recommend them to family or friends. We feel we lost our Christmas Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
My first Christmas on holiday and now I know why some people choose to spend them holidaying..... I deliberately chose a fairly small ship as I was travelling solo. I wanted friendliness and was not disappointed. Such a ... Read More
My first Christmas on holiday and now I know why some people choose to spend them holidaying..... I deliberately chose a fairly small ship as I was travelling solo. I wanted friendliness and was not disappointed. Such a variety of food - being a fish lover I tasted the best fish dishes ever: including grilled hake, flaked salmon, tuna, cod, poached salmon. What really helped to make it was the entertainment - 5* Christmas Day I watched a pantomime with a real traditional flavour and all 7 evening performances including a comedian and Dean Martin impersonator. All were great!! On entering the main restaurant Christmas morning I was greeted with - Madam, would you like bucks fizz or champagne with your breakfast? Lovely Will definitely be sailing on the ship again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
We set sail on a snowy day in Southampton, after waiting 30 minutes we boarded to find our cases already outside our stateroom..result! This was our 3rd trip on the Queen Victoria and so after unpacking we went to the Lido for a spot of ... Read More
We set sail on a snowy day in Southampton, after waiting 30 minutes we boarded to find our cases already outside our stateroom..result! This was our 3rd trip on the Queen Victoria and so after unpacking we went to the Lido for a spot of lunch and then later watched as a brass band played as we sailed away with Mr & Mrs Christmas on the quay waving us off. Our first port of call was La Coruna where unfortunately it was raining. That night there was a strong gale which made walking in heels a bit of a challenge but Queen Victoria handled the seas well. Next it was Lisbon, one of our favorite places and again it didn't disappoint, a wonderful town with lots to see and do with some of the friendliest people you could wish to meet. Gibraltar next, 24th December and warm enough to sit in a swimsuit on the balcony! Christmas day on board was a delight, good food, entertainment and a little gift from Cunard, very nice. On the 26th December we were in Lanzarote, while here we went on a trip to Fire Mountain, a trip not to be missed and the landscape is awesome! Our next stop was Gran Canaria followed by La Palma, where it was 74 degrees, and then on to Madeira. We stopped overnight at Madeira and were moored out in the bay when the fireworks went off at midnight New Years eve. It was a fantastic display and from our balcony we had a spectacular view. As always the service on Cunard couldn't be faulted, the only disappointment were the shows which were a repeat, except for the comedians, of the entertainment we saw in August and July the year before! Come on Cunard, if you want us to keep returning then update the shows. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
Myself (31) and my partner (37) have just returned from an 11 day Canaries and Morocco cruise aboard NCL Jade and felt that I just had to write a review to dispel some of the negative comments which are posted on these sites. I had read so ... Read More
Myself (31) and my partner (37) have just returned from an 11 day Canaries and Morocco cruise aboard NCL Jade and felt that I just had to write a review to dispel some of the negative comments which are posted on these sites. I had read so many that we were beginning to dread our trip. We have cruised before with Celebrity, Royal Caribbean & P&O and until now Royal Caribbean were our favourites and P&O were despicable and we would never ever cruise with them again. I was worried about the freestyle aspect of NCL and thought that maybe it wouldn't be as special as a regular cruise and would be far more informal in terms of customer service provided however need not have worried. We booked the cruise with cruise.co.uk for an amazing price and booked our own flights and an overnight stop in Barcelona the night before. This was an excellent money saver and no hassle of flying early morning or missing the ship, with an added bonus of a whole day in Barcelona to sight see. We reached the cruise terminal by taxi at 12 midday and were on the ship by 12.45pm, we were greeted by efficient and friendly staff checking us in and printing our cruise cards and there were no queues longer than 2 or3 people at a time. Every person was asked to have their hands sanitized before boarding to try and contain any germs aboard and this continued to my satisfaction all cruise, staff members placed in strategic areas giving hands one quick spray is hardly a chore and is for everyone's own good except the odd dirty few who refused. We left our hand luggage in a holding area so were free to roam the ship comfortably and had lunch in the garden cafe buffet which was a bit busy and manic but nothing new for the first day until people settle. Plentiful choice of foods and everyone well catered for. Fruit and salad stations, hot meat Carvery's, pasta as you want it cooked with any sauce etc, breads, soups, cheeses, cold meats and daily specials anything you can think of really. Staff served the food for the 1st couple days just to be sure of no virus outbreaks on board but was back to normal on 3rd morning. Our cabin on deck 11 was ready by 3pm and was compact but as expected, the bathroom was larger than expected however and lovely sized fully enclosed shower and lots shelves. Wardrobe space and dressing tables, drawers etc all ample for a couple. Very clean and cosy with extremely comfortable beds. We ate in Alizar restuarant most nights (which was a "free" restaurant as well as Grand Pacific and the Garden Cafe Buffet) and it's the same as walking into a restaurant at home, wait 2 or 3 mins for a table size of your choice and enjoy. The menu was always varied and had an always available section with prawn cocktail, Caesar salad, 8oz sirloin steak, chicken breast or salmon for those not wanting the daily choice. The remarkable thing was it opened until 10.30pm so never any trouble having a proper meal if you fancied eating late. We mainly ate at 10pm as by the time you eat breakfast and lunch you are always so full !!! We ate in the garden cafe too one evening and this was also very good with so much choice available and always hot and fresh. The speciality restaurants were also very good and were worth splashing out at least once whilst you are on holiday. We were kindly treated to a complimentary meal in Cagney's steak house and the difference could really be seen. The food is brilliant in the free restaurants but was just that little bit more extra special in the extra charge ones. The 16oz T-bone steak and lobster were amazing! For the 1st hour of opening many of the restaurants were 2 for 1 so the price was not too bad at all We found the beer expensive on board with a pint costing $7.38 with all taxes added, be careful of the 8% spanish tax which was added when the ship was in Spanish waters! However cocktails were pretty much always on offer and mainly buy one get one free so two cocktails for $6.40 or happy hour Martinis for $4.95 which is fair. I bought the soda package which allows unlimited pepsi, 7Up, diet sodas etc for $69 for the entire cruise which was very good value. There was a wine package but I didn't pay much attention to the price and we were also given 2 complimentary bottles so we were very happy. We stopped in Casablanca, Agadir, Las Palmas Gran Canarias, Madeira and Malaga, We made our own way to the Hassian II Mosque in Casablanca as there wasn't much else to do but we made our way back to ship after a couple of hours as it wasn't the nicest port. All other ports however were lovely and would not hesitate to return. My partner is from Madeira so that was our favourite day and all our family and friends met us in the Marina and waved us off again that evening. We went on an NCL excursion in Agadir as I was a bit apprehensive about the port however it was actually better than expected and not as scary as made out to be. We went to a typical show area and watched horseman with guns and belly dancing and snake charmers etc which was worth the price for an enjoyable afternoon. The activities on board were very good and varied and we were never ever bored or short of places to go or things to do. The ship is beautiful, not crowded at all and not gaudy as some people make out. It is brightly coloured with a Hawaiian theme but is very tasteful and fun. The pools were always clean and warm and the ship was kept spotless at all times. There were not many children aboard and they were kept well entertained so no problems there for a quiet time. The Captain was always proudly walking up and down and interacted with the passengers and staff very often which was lovely to see. The staff we encountered were all amazing and could not do enough for you, I will be keeping on contact with many of them. It was a pleasure to see such a happy workforce, a stark comparison to the staff on P&O ships. Even the bar staff were always playing little magic tricks or jokes to entertain us. The Shows were all very very good especially Elements and 4Ever which were amazing and not to be missed. We watched every show and was very impressed with the standard of entertainment. The cruise director Karen and her crew were also very friendly and fun. This is a long review but is totally unbiased and honest and we would not hesitate at all to book with NCL again, the freestyle cruising was very nice without having to think what time is dinner? do i need to dress up tonight etc? We dressed up when we wanted to and it didn't matter if some people did or some didn't. It was lovely to eat at any time too. Do not let the reviews put you off, this was by far the best cruise we have been on with RCI Voyager a very close second . Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
I was a little nervous beforehand as I didnt know what to expect on our first cruise but need not have worried as everything was fantastic. We parked right next to the terminal at Southampton and the check in process was so quick and easy ... Read More
I was a little nervous beforehand as I didnt know what to expect on our first cruise but need not have worried as everything was fantastic. We parked right next to the terminal at Southampton and the check in process was so quick and easy it puts airports to shame. Within little over an hour we were on board and another hour later we checked into our cabin. The suitcases arrived soon after so we could unpack and start our holiday. We hadnt realised that by taking our cruise over Easter a number of the shops in the Ports of call would be closed but we just enjoyed a short walk around each port. We went with our 11 year old son so we ate informally in the Windjammer cafe. There was always a great choice at all meals although it sometimes got busy at breakfast and lunch. By dressing informally we did feel a little underdressed later in the evening when mixing with people who were dressed up for the formal nights in the main restaurant. The entertainments team were great, expecially James the Cruise Director and his sidekick Jason. Treatments in the Spa proved quite expensive and they did try and sell extra services/products whilst doing the treatment. There were 4300 on board including 1200 children but it never seemed really busy or crowded at any time. Although our son did not join in with the kids clubs there was plenty to do with a varied daily programme. Our stateroom attendant was first class and every evening he laid out an animal made from towels which our son was always keen to rush back after dinner to see what was waiting for us. We were very lucky that for the majority of the cruise we had really good weather and only had one bad day with rough seas. The most offputting thing was that evening they had put sickbags in various locations around the ship so were obviously expecting a problem!! Departure was as easy as arrival with a well planned timescale. We opted to take our own bags off to save leaving them out the night before. We thoroughly enjoyed our first cruise and would certainly do another. I think we were spoilt with RCCL as there was so much to do so any other liner will not seem as good. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
Our only other cruise was 20 years ago so thought it was about time we sailed again. Embarkation - Very well organised as you would need to be with 4000 people to board. From dropping off our bags to having access to the cabin was less ... Read More
Our only other cruise was 20 years ago so thought it was about time we sailed again. Embarkation - Very well organised as you would need to be with 4000 people to board. From dropping off our bags to having access to the cabin was less than 1/2 an hour, good start to the cruise. Cabin - Balcony on deck 7, very happy with it, plenty of storage space and everything we needed (except of course the no iron rule). Cabin Steward - Nikolai was very friendly and helpful and kept the cabin very tidy with towel animals every other night; a nice touch. He always stopped for a chat whenever we saw him and we were very happy with the service. Facilities - Impressed with the many and varied facilities aboard and enjoyed reading the daily 'Compass' newsletter to check on the day's activities. Shows - Really enjoyed the 'Armenian' comedian, (sorry forgot his name), his was the stand-out show, closely followed by the ice-show, impressive with spectacular costumes. The ships Singers and Dancers shows were not to our taste so only saw the 1st one. The other shows were ok but no more than that. Casino - Very nice facility, never too crowded. Evening Dining - We were allocated a table in the Romeo and Juliet dining room and thought the food was very good, well presented and with a good choice, hence we never felt the need to try one of the pay restaurants. We were lucky to have tablemates that we got on with and pleasant professional service which made the whole dining experience enjoyable. Breakfasts - We had room service on all but the last day and a relaxed breakfast suited us as opposed to the more hectic Windjammer. On the few occasions we did uses the Windjammer for lunch we always found a table without too much trouble but picked our times to avoid peak-time. The food was plentiful and we had no complaints. Excursions - We booked an RCCI excursion in every port and they were a mixed bag, particularly enjoyed Madeira and Tenerife but think that Ferrol should be dropped from the itinerary, boring was the best way to describe it. Disembarkation - Even easier that embarkation, simply walked off the boat with our luggage. Most of my comments have been positive but there are always a few areas which can be improved. The Negatives - (Some of these were known before we cruised) Cost of Alcohol - Extortionate Alcohol policy - whereby you can't even buy a bottle of local wine to enjoy on board - unnecessary Ice-Show - Queueing for tickets should be eliminated and reserved through the TV screen. The organisation to get access to the venue was a shambles, this whole process needs a revamp. Bingo - A total rip-off, prices too expensive and prizes inadequate leaving a large profit for RCCI. I read numerous reviews before selecting this cruise so had a very good idea what to expect. We were restricted in timeframes and choose this cruise as we thought there wouldn't be lots of children or teenagers on board. This proved to be the case and apart from the pool area we rarely saw them. The majority of passengers were in the 60+ bracket, as we are, but so many of them must offer warning signs to the NHS as the incidence of obesity was at alarming levels. At first I thought the pool area was a beached whale sanctuary and then thought it must be a maternity facility as so many of the men appeared to be in the third trimester. We look forward to cruising again and would have no issues in cruising on the Independence of the Seas but will try another line next time in order try a different experience. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Our first time on a cruise and all i can say is wow wow wow it is that good. FOOD.the food is probably the best thing about the cruise.from the Windjameer to evening meal to pizza at 3 o clock in the morning it is just first class.Eating ... Read More
Our first time on a cruise and all i can say is wow wow wow it is that good. FOOD.the food is probably the best thing about the cruise.from the Windjameer to evening meal to pizza at 3 o clock in the morning it is just first class.Eating in the main dining room is like eating in the Hilton hotel.The staff cater to all your needs and would be offended if you didn't have a good time or had a meal you didn't like and you didn't tell them so they could rectify it. DRINKS:Me and the wife got two beer and wine packages it worked out around 550 English pounds for them both and we thought that was excellent value for money.any cocktails we just bought extra at a reasonable amount. ENTERTAINMENT:the entertainment is excellent and with the ship being so big you don't feel like you are crammed in just to see a performance.the highlight of the cruise was kev orkian of Britains got talent what a funny funny guy he is and also the main man korey simon in the schooner bar.he is a hidden gem on the boat and we found ourselves in the schooner bar most nights being entertained off him and some nights i would sing Elvis with him and it made our holiday. PORTS OF CALL:Being the canaries the ports of call our nearly all the same but because you can get on and off the ship during the day we just popped off for a couple of hours but really the ships that good you want to be back on and enjoying the what the ship has to offer. we cant wait to go next year you really have to go on the cruise to appreciate how good it is.roll on next September 2 weeks round the med.Awesome holiday thank you rci Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Easy check in despite it being busy.Our room was ready when we embarked at 1.30pm. Ship Lovely and clean as was our room. We had a great cabin steward who went over and above his duties --- thank you to Christian! Lovely BIG comfy bed and ... Read More
Easy check in despite it being busy.Our room was ready when we embarked at 1.30pm. Ship Lovely and clean as was our room. We had a great cabin steward who went over and above his duties --- thank you to Christian! Lovely BIG comfy bed and the balcony was the biggest we have ever had.I liked the shower cubicle,no water splashing on the bathroom floor! Not too far from the elevators. Great food with a good choice in Windjammer although occasionally it could have done with being hotter. It did get a bit busy at times although we always manged to find a table - I guess most ships are like that though. Restaurant food was great as well the meat was so tender and yummy puds! We enjoyed all of the ports and the weather was kind to us. Shows --- fantastic as was the Strings ice show. We had to be in the theatre for 8.30pm for the 9.00pm show or we couldn't get a seat! Very popular! Found the outdoor pools a bit cold and the hot tubs the opposite we boiled like lobsters! Enjoyed the indoor pool and hot tubs though. Drinks - yes they are a tad pricey unfortunately. Newspapers can be bought for $3 at the coffee shop in the promenade. We went with trepidation because of the ships size --- but have been won over and have booked again for next year --- same ship. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
This was our second cruise to the Canaries on The Ventura. The first was also with P&O on the Azura to the Caribbean. We enjoyed the cruise, but we did prefer the Azura, and while this may have been partly because the destination was ... Read More
This was our second cruise to the Canaries on The Ventura. The first was also with P&O on the Azura to the Caribbean. We enjoyed the cruise, but we did prefer the Azura, and while this may have been partly because the destination was more exciting the first time, there were several other reasons. The ships are broadly similar, but for us the Azura was better. The Ventura had no darts or pool table and the table tennis tables are located under the sliding roof on the top deck, where the floor was slippery and it was very hot and humid there. As a vegetarian, I found the Italian restaurant on the Azura excellent with a variety of vegetarian options. Unfortunately, the alternatives to the main restaurant on The Ventura are extremely poor. We went to the non-buffet one, which did pizza, but were told they could only do Margherita and when it arrived, it compared unfavourably to a cheap supermarket pizza. Alternative options there were not much better. After that experience we stayed in the main restaurant throughout, which was ok, but not much fun if you are vegetarian as you only ever have one option. By the end of the cruise, I was getting pretty fed up with mushrooms! On one occasion, one of the "special" main courses turned out to be vegetarian, but our table staff were unable to tell us this when we asked at the time we ordered. Breakfast, buffet lunch and the poolside pizza were all very good. There was no organised bridge, but there was an organised whist drive. This made no sense as more people wanted to play bridge than whist. We were given some spiel about it being because some ships were trying to be modern and others trying to be traditional that made very little sense. Why not provide both, and why deliberately not provide something there is demand for? Eventually, we persuaded the entertainment officer to allow us to play bridge alongside the whist drive, which we organised ourselves, and eventually they also added it to the daily bulletin. It was a shame they did not advertise it in the first place, as it was no effort on their part to allow us to organise it ourselves. Unfortunately, there was no bridge equipment and initially we were told we couldn't even use the cards because they were needed for the whist drive! Probably it is just luck, but on The Azura we had a very diligent steward, and every time we left our room, when we returned it had been cleaned. This was probably beyond the call of duty, but in contrast on The Ventura, our cabin steward did the minimum possible, and if we had not left the room in the morning when she deemed it was time to clean it, we could return late in the afternoon to find it still had not been cleaned. The staff in the restaurants were all very pleasant, but I would have to say that overall we found the staff on the Azura much better. We wouldn't recommend wandering around Las Palmas on Gran Canaria. There seemed there of much interest. After walking for a couple of hours, we got to the old town, but there really wasn't anything much to see. Not a great destination. Maybe one of the tours would have been more interesting, though they didn't look that appealing. Lisbon and Cadiz were both very nice places to visit, and we also enjoyed Funchal. We just wandered around all of these doing our own thing. A trip around Mount Teide on Tenerife was good, though it was a shame there wasn't time to climb Mount Teide. We were impressed with the efficiency and speed of embarkation and Southampton. We were considerably less impressed with the disembarkation. First, queuing for ages because an escalator to get off the ship had broken. Then the label had come off one of our suitcases, although it had been securely fastened and rather than being placed in an area of unidentified suitcases, it was placed randomly with the suitcases of some other deck we weren't on, so it took over an hour to find. The headliner theatre company we had already seen on the Azura, but still enjoyed. Most of the tribute music groups were not that great. There was a comedian Fogwell Flax we saw twice, who was outstanding. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
me and my 3 sisters booked an 11 night cruise to canaries .we all over 50 so looking for a good break and plenty of entertainment . well we were disappointed .on entering the ship we made our way to the windjammer cafe for ... Read More
me and my 3 sisters booked an 11 night cruise to canaries .we all over 50 so looking for a good break and plenty of entertainment . well we were disappointed .on entering the ship we made our way to the windjammer cafe for something to eat it was packed we wondered around for 40 Min's looking for somewhere to sit .it was like a free for all people eating like they had not been fed it was a scramble to get to the food .. the entertainment was so bad on an evening . the ship had 4000 passengers and the theatre housed 1100 . so no luck their getting in. we turned away and managed to get a seat in the piano bar zzzz is all i can say. when we did manage to get a seat in the theatre it was 1 turn only for 1 hour every night . and we managed to pick Mr and Mrs quiz .come on royal caribbean i was watching turns like this in the 70.s then the next night a hypnotist boring ...watching 4 people on a stage pretending to be chickens.. again for 1 hour . we got lucky i night we managed to see 2 comedians wow wee...the price of the drink was very very expensive $8 dollars a pint. hardly anything on during the day no games nothing. except sunbathe but hardly any nice sunny days we did manage to get in the pyramid lounge a few night to watch a rock band . but the same group every night ....then to cap it all my holdall was broken into on the last night when we were told to put out our cases outside the cabin at 11 pm. when i got to luggage pick up i never noticed my bag was tampered with when i got home 4 bottles of new perfume i bought had been stolen my lock was hanging on by a thread take my advice take your luggage off the ship yourself . not an enjoyable holiday very disappointed with the royal caribbean experience .. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Embarkation and disembarkation at Southampton port were seamless. Ventura is a huge ship but all its facilities and where they are takes some fathoming out especially when some of the lifts don't go to where you want to go. Our aft ... Read More
Embarkation and disembarkation at Southampton port were seamless. Ventura is a huge ship but all its facilities and where they are takes some fathoming out especially when some of the lifts don't go to where you want to go. Our aft cabin was lovely, except for the broken drawer, and had a large balcony. Tea and coffee making facilities were a boon and very welcome early morning, whilst getting ready for dinner and late at night before retiring. Socorro, our cabin steward, kept everything ship shape except for the broken drawer which attempted to kick me several times. Oh and did I mention the frilled half moon balcony mat which tripped me up a couple of times. I moved it. Not all the service staff had read P & O's 'be friendly to the cruisers' booklet but on average they were fine even if some appeared preoccupied or fed up. Maybe they were thinking of the Caribbean, who wouldn't, the ship's next destination. The food was lovely and varied. However I never got a piece of decent toast or a fried egg to my liking. Must have gone to the Buffet at the wrong time, so my fault both were elusive. We didn't partake of all the entertainment but what we saw was really good. Booked three trips out and all were great. Although I prefer smaller cruise ships, with no broken drawers or frilled mats, I would travel on Ventura again if the itinery was right. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
INDEPENDENCE OF THE SEAS OCT 9TH- OCT 20TH 2011 This was our first cruise and also our first holiday for over 5 years, so a perfect holiday was well needed. RCI have ticked every box, I cannot complain or give a negative feedback on ... Read More
INDEPENDENCE OF THE SEAS OCT 9TH- OCT 20TH 2011 This was our first cruise and also our first holiday for over 5 years, so a perfect holiday was well needed. RCI have ticked every box, I cannot complain or give a negative feedback on anything. It was PERFECT! I booked this cruise over 18mths ago direct with RCI. I pre-registered online for 2011 before the dates of the cruises were released. In March 2010 RCI phoned and asked if we were still serious about a cruise as they had now got the dates for October 2011. I told them yes and was offered an unbelievable cruise package, which consisted of a suite for the 5 of us, onboard spend, free parking for 2 cars plus other benefits that you get when you book a suite. As the months passed and the cruise date finally arrived we all left for Southampton, directions are easy and the parking a doddle. (Word of advice make sure your luggage labels are attached before you leave and get to Southampton as the porters unload your car as soon as you get through the gates, and don't take suite/dress bags as you have to carry these on. We had put all our evening wear into the specialist bags but ended up having to carry them onboard ourselves as the coat hangers won't go through the scanning machine. This was not really a problem as we boarded at 12.45pm and we were allowed into the suite at 1pm. If we had of boarded earlier which you can, we would of had to of carried them around until 1pm which would of been a pain) Boarding was stress free and very easy, then it hits you just how huge this ship really is. You cannot comprehend the magnitude of the sheer size and how spectacular she looks; she really does give you the WOW factor. We went straight to our deck and waited until 1pm then an announcement was made that all passengers could go to their staterooms. Again we had the WOW factor; the suite was beautiful and very spacious for the 5 of us. We had ordered a fruit, cheese and wine basket to be delivered for the start of the cruise for an incredible £28. The sparkling wine cheese and fruit were delicious. I had also ordered for my husband a Romance Package, which consisted of Sparkling Wine, Breakfast in Bed (or on the balcony), a silver frame for a photo taken on a formal night and pre dinner nibbles this cost £63. I think both of these items were value for money. Our suit cases were delivered, in my opinion quite quickly, the first one arrived within 15 mins of us being in the suite, the last one to arrive, which was mine, arrived an hour and half later. This did not cause us a problem, but when we were walking down the corridor to go to Muster Station, at 4pm some passengers were complaining that they had not yet had their luggage. RCI do inform you that it can sometimes take up to 9pm until you get your luggage and to carry on a small bag with a change of clothes and medication. My son and I had taken out the soda package on line. The queue for the soda package when you boarded was very busy, with fraught parents and kids wanted drinks right away. My advice, do it on line it saves so much hassle and your soda cups will be waiting for you in your stateroom. That way you have more time to explore and find were things are. We also took out the wine package which you can do at the table on the first evening your waiter will sort this out for you. We chose the "My Time" Dining option; we found this really worked for us. We found the food to be wonderful and plenty of choice, my mother in law as food allergies but was catered for without any problems at all. The one thing that was worrying both my husband and I were the beds. I have M.E. and I need a comfortable bed. I don't like staying away from home as I can never get comfortable in any other bed. I have to say the beds were fabulous. There was no need to worry. The bedding was soft and there was a memory foam topper on the mattress. I never had any trouble sleeping. On our first morning we all went to breakfast, you have several choices, Windjammer, Al le carte on deck 4, buffet in the restaurant on deck 3 and then the promenade cafe which serves drinks and freshly baked pastries or room service. Over the cruise we tried all the options, and we found the self service on deck 3 the best option for us. The Windjammer is brilliant and as mountains of choice (more than the restaurant on deck 3) but if you are not a morning person and you don't like crowds stay away, it gets very crowded and can be difficult to find a table. There is less choice on deck 3, but you are shown to a table and juice, tea and coffee are served to you. The first day is a sea day and it can be quite cold and rough on deck in October so make sure you pack a fleece or something warm. The kids on board don't seem to feel the cold and were in and out of the pools for most of the day. I booked myself a manicure as a treat, also this is the first formal night as well. The manicure was very pleasant and the young lady, Natalie, soon put me at ease. I booked to have a massage further into the week which was not a pleasant experience; it was a Swedish massage which is a very deep manipulation of the muscle tissue. I was advised by one of the girls on the desk to have this treatment and it was totally the wrong treatment for me. It was extremely painful. However this did not put me off as I had 2 different treatments which were very relaxing and most enjoyable. Do not book on the internet before you leave, the Spa runs some deals on certain days at a fraction of the cost that's advertised on the webpage. Look out in your cruise Compass leaflet that your cabin attendant leaves for you every evening. Word of warning all the spa treatments have a 15% surcharge and you do get subjected to some hard sell after your treatment. Be polite but firm, and then you don't get pestered after that. Before we booked our cruise we had spoken to several people that had cruised before, and every one of them had advised us that if you don't feel like getting off the ship Don't! Enjoy the ship and its facilities. So with that in mind we had already decided that we would not get off at every port. The first port of call was Vigo which to my surprise was a very nice city. The shops etc are a 5 min walk from the ship, there is a lovely square as you walk through the town and we stopped at a cafe/bistro for a beer. Vigo was very easy to get to and very clean. We did a bit of window shopping then went back onboard. We did not book any trips from the ship for any port of call. Next port was Lisbon. We had already decided not to get off the ship here. Where the ship docks (just under the bridge) it's not a very nice place and there is a 35min transfer into the city from the ship. We enjoyed the sundeck and pools as it was 31c and the ship was very quiet. We later found out that several passengers had been victims of pick-pockets and had several items stolen. So if you do decide to get off the ship, do not take any valuables with you and be extremely careful. Gran Can aria was next on the agenda; we got off the ship here and spent an hour at the beach. There is a beach which you can see from the ship, but we walked for approx 10mins into town and found a much nicer beach. There are sun beds you can hire for a fee, or take a towel with you and lie on the beach. Worth seeing are the sand sculptures they are quite remarkable. Tenerife was next, and on the day we went the local market was on. It's quite a walk so if you are going it alone and not doing the organised trips get a taxi or bus, we regret not doing this. Madeira for me was the highlight of all the ports of call. It's a beautiful place to visit. Again we did not do the organised trips, we paid 6 dollars return for a coach to take you into the town then we got a yellow taxi. What a bargain this trip was. We paid 20euro each to go where the organised trips were going which were $89 each on ship. The taxi driver was very informative and spoke excellent English. The taxi trip lasted approx 3hrs. This was by far the best way to see Madeira. The sledge ride was an extra 15euro each, which when you got to the bottom they had your photo waiting for you which they had taken at the start. To purchase this it was 10euro which if did not want to you did not have to buy. Final destination before Southampton was La Coruna. Easy place to get to shopping centre next port to do your final present buying. This is a nice town with some beautiful old buildings. The organised trips are expensive, and if you don't mind sitting on a hot coach for a few hrs and you like to be shown around, then organised trips are your best option. We went on this cruise to relax and to enjoy the ship and what it had to offer. The ports of call to us were not important. The ship is just a fantastic place to be and to be honest I would of spent all my time onboard. The food is to die for, the crew treat you like royalty, they are always smiling and nothing is too much trouble. Every minute of the day the ship is being cleaned and maintained. Our suite attendant Edwin was so helpful and obliging nothing was too much trouble. Our waiters Leoncia and Alan made our dining experience so enjoyable; to the extent we actually cancelled our booking at Portofino's. We did not attend any shows as we enjoyed the entertainment that was being offered in the Pyramid Lounge and again the staff in there were very attentive. I think value for money you will not beat this cruise, get the soda packages, wine packages etc and you won't go wrong. The duty free shop is cheaper than the ports. Royal Caribbean International have got this format perfect, I don't see how they can perfect it any further. Enjoy your experience. We did, we are hooked and can't wait for the next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Our 3rd cruise with HAL. We booked HH cabin with guaranteed option and were please to be upgraded to cabin 384 in C class. After the first night we were less than happy. This and nearby cabins are below the galley and prone to noise, all ... Read More
Our 3rd cruise with HAL. We booked HH cabin with guaranteed option and were please to be upgraded to cabin 384 in C class. After the first night we were less than happy. This and nearby cabins are below the galley and prone to noise, all night. 384 is below the dishwasher so you hear a big noise as the water comes on to fill then another when the taps go off followed by the dishwasher noise. After many complaints the galley were asked not to use the machine between 11pm and 6am but we then heard the noise of trolleys being pushed around. Probably only a problem for us as light sleepers but worth bearing in mind. We got moved on the 4th day when another cabin became available and were also financially compensated. It was suggested that we should book a specific cabin to avoid this problem in the future but this takes away the potential bonus of going guaranteed. The dining service in the Rotterdam anytime dining was often slow, particularly at the back, taking over 2-hours and causing us to miss the show. When we asked for fast service one night we were seated near the front and finished in 1 hour. The shows were pretty average and the flown in entertainment not as good as we have had before. At two ports of call we were told we could not walk off and must pay $10 for a shuttle bus but in Casablanca it turned out you could easily walk through the port and into the town. Overall the whole cruise did not live up to expectations and we would now rate RCI higher. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
I suppose that for every family of cruisers there must surely be a cruise that does not come up to par. Independence of the Seas, 20th October to the Canaries was ours. Only our eighth but this was one that we hope will not be repeated in ... Read More
I suppose that for every family of cruisers there must surely be a cruise that does not come up to par. Independence of the Seas, 20th October to the Canaries was ours. Only our eighth but this was one that we hope will not be repeated in the future. We had previously had two very happy times on Navigator, so were looking forward to a repeat performance on the bigger ship. I'll begin at the beginning. Arrival in our own car at Southampton was handled in as efficient manner as one can expect considering the volume of passengers. Check in, following that seemingly endless zig zag queuing system was quick and handled by a very friendly young lady. Once up the gangway we were accosted by what was to be eleven days of having a camera shoved in our faces by the over enthusiastic onboard photo staff. The Windjammer was, even at about 1pm, very busy but seating for five was effortlessly obtained, a feat never to be easily repeated thereafter. Cabins or staterooms as they are naively now called, were spotless, our luggage was already on site and our cabin attendant made himself known and said that if we needed anything at all, to let him know. He was true to his word, a very nice guy. We had picked first sitting for dinner, 6pm, hoping to do a bit of dancing and then go to the 10-30 theatre show. This plan was immediately shot to pieces as, some nights the theatre show was 8-45 and 10-30 and some nights 7pm and 8-45. We asked to change to second sitting and this was happily arranged without problem by the Head Waiter. This presented its own problems for us as the 7pm theatre show interfered with the ladies 'getting ready' time. Why there was a need to constantly change show times is unknown. We did most of the performances though, sometimes not being present quite at the start but what a disappointment they were. Only one dancing and singing show and we had enjoyed several on Navigator, mostly to set themes, you know what I mean. This time, with the exception of Bernie Flint, tears of laughter from us, and 'Kev' a very funny guy from Armenia (really?) and what a brilliant piano player he was. The rest of the performers were fourth rate. A Beatles 'tribute' band, a Scottish woman who screeched her way through her stage time, a guitar group who insisted that we all clapped our way through the act, to drown their appalling playing one assumes, and a juggler, fifty minutes of juggling, or so we were told, we left halfway. One night there was 'Mr & Mrs' and another 'The Quest'. Both were audience participation shows where guests were invited to 'make fools of themselves' basically. All for cheapness? We were told by a staff member that the entertainment was tailored to the type of client on each cruise and the Brits were people who liked to sit and booze. Fellow cruisers we spoke to had done the Carribean on Independence and they said the entertainment was remarkably different. Plenty of dancing and stunning stage shows, so perhaps there is some truth in what we were told. Certainly the few yanks on board this cruise were dissatisfied. A noticeable thing was the profusion of wheelchairs and motor buggies. There is some embarrasement in commenting on these as I know those who are wheelchair bound have as much right to a cruise as I. But there was rather a lot. Perhaps it was that they do not normally find themselves among such a large amount of other beings but they did barge their way through crowded areas at time. Toes were repeatedly run over especially in the lifts. In the theatre they were allowed to 'park' behind the back row of the auditorium apparently with disregard to their numbers. Should there have been an emergency, either they or the rest of us would have been in a panic situation. The Ice Show was something else. Only one show, performed several times to accommodate everybody. Spectacular, Stunning, Amazing, Extravagant we absolutely loved it. But no adherence to the rules. There was a specific request that nobody sat in the aisles, for safety reasons I suppose. So they sat in the aisles and no staff member intervened, yet there were empty seats. Who would believe that smoking is allowed in the Labyrinth disco? Of all places when you are gyrating about, breathing heavier than normal, smoking is in order. Except........that normally there is nobody dancing. The DJ plays what he thinks and not what the punters ask for. But the punters go in......and come out just as quickly because of that and the fug. The food on board was up to the standard we expect, as was the waitress service in the Macbeth Dining room. What an unfortunate name for a dining room, but all were Shakespeare themed. Nothing was too much trouble, if there was anything we disliked after trying, it was replaced with something else of our choice. The pre cruise literature informed us that there would be two formal nights on an eleven night cruise. There was in fact three. That caused some concern in the wardrobe department for sure. Same person organised that, who books the entertainment, I shouldn't wonder. Dress codes are not adhered to however. Scruffy turn out on informal nights, and only marginally tidy on formal nights. We spoke to several people who were upset that formal did not mean formal. As for no shorts and swim wear in the dining areas etc....forget it. Lots of youngsters dressing as they wished to. In Windjammers there was the expected excellent range of choices. Finding seating for five was near impossible. Why do couples always sit at tables for six I wonder? Our solution and well recommended to you dear reader, get up a bit early have breakfast and later lunch in the dining rooms. Much more civilised and refined. Waiter service. You get what you get. No piled high plates but you certainly don't starve. The talks/lectures were mainly aimed at selling us stuff. Jewellery, smellies, no 'bargains', all it seemed at shore prices and go to the spa if you dare. Tour selling and bingo mad. This puzzles me! Buy a Bingo ticket and get one free!! Is that a bargain or a gimmick? Strikes me you are working twice as hard for no extra advantage over the next guy. Overall; Fairly enjoyable. Food, good. All the staff, pleasant. Ship, clean. Organisation in general, iffy. Entertainment, not good. Sail with ship again, No! Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
I say constructive criticism as that is the way I wish people to take it. It is not a moan or whinge as I have heard so many do so in the past - it would appear that some just like to moan for the sake of it and expect everything for ... Read More
I say constructive criticism as that is the way I wish people to take it. It is not a moan or whinge as I have heard so many do so in the past - it would appear that some just like to moan for the sake of it and expect everything for nothing. Yes, I think the QM2 is well in need for her forth coming refit but that did not stop me having a wonderful cruise aboard her earlier this month. Least of all she needs to have that unsightly dent in her rear sponson knocked out. But I have been reliably informed that every square inch of her carpeting is to be ripped up and replaced. This is after extensive repairs have been carried out on the decking. I did notice her decks beneath the carpet were extremely pot holed where the leveling compounds had collapsed and I did note this was probably a health and safety issue. The external decking also is to have a face lift whereby all the sealant between deck-boards will be gouged out and resealed correctly and not left proud of the decking. The 'Lion Pub' is also in for a major re-design, apparently going for the more traditional pub setting of more intimate cubicle/cubbyhole layout. Unfortunately, I didn't hear of any extensive changes to the 'G32' nightclub, which I feel would be advantageous. It just does not have that nightclub atmosphere I have seen on other ships.The cruise itself was lovely, the food was excellent, although I did hear some having a moan. The staff were as cheerful, helpful and as professional as I would expect and have no complaints there. I feel Cunard could go a lot further with the entertainment on board and I found this also the case on the QV last year. I feel as well as the nightclub which is not everyone's cup of tea, they could nominate one of her bars on a daily basis being a late bar. The evening shows should be extended to take into account the second restaurant sitting. And the acts both in the theatre and bars could be a little more varied. Certainly in the theatre we don't all wish to watch singers and dancers. Maybe they could introduce the odd juggling or acrobat show. Solo guitarists also wouldn't go amiss - it seems to be all piano/harpist/string quartet. I also felt the band was not varied enough, mainly Caribbean music which is ok if you are cruising there. And my big disappointment was in the 'G32' the band played too much there and didn't have a regular DJ who who could 'feel' the night revellers and have a repertoire with them. All this said, whilst I found the QV had the edge over QM2 because I feel she is more intimate and elegant. it would not prevent me going on another cruise aboard her. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Pre-cruise....we booked 2 staterooms in June; one for wife and I; one for mother-in-law (at double occupancy rate!). Unfortunately mother-in-law had to have unplanned cardiac surgery in early September and it became apparent that she could ... Read More
Pre-cruise....we booked 2 staterooms in June; one for wife and I; one for mother-in-law (at double occupancy rate!). Unfortunately mother-in-law had to have unplanned cardiac surgery in early September and it became apparent that she could no longer travel. We asked our travel agent if we could substitute our son and daughter-in-law in the other stateroom. They said no problem, but Cunard refused point blank and also did not refund any of the £1800 we paid for that room.....yet they re-sold it to someone else!! This made us particularly annoyed and far from impressed with Cunard, with whom we've had positive experiences in the past and we are Gold World Club Members. So much for their White Star Service and one of its facets,'.....we never say no, we offer alternatives.....' Embarkation....smooth organisation in the Terminal, yet we were left to our own devices as we boarded the ship. Found our way to stateroom and bumped into our steward Joseph in the corridor, who was most welcoming and then helpful bringing our luggage to the room promptly. Stateroom....spacious, clean and well-maintained. Not unduly noisy, but some extraneous noise from nearby lifts (constant 'ping' as lifts arrived at deck level!)throughout the night. Dining....originally booked first dinner sitting (to suit elderly mother-in-law), but managed to change to our preference of later sitting with assistance from a helpful assistant maitre d'. Most meals taken in Britannia Restaurant; good selection of quality food always; service also very good. Kings Court buffet was visited occasionally, but that area was severely curtailed for several days mid-cruise, due to an outbreak of Norovirus. Afternoon Tea was an elegant treasure in the Queens Room. Room Service was prompt, efficient and free! Destinations / Excursions....ship berthed alongside at each port, so no tendering thankfully, as this can be tedious on QM2 with its large number of passengers. Free courtesy buses provided in all ports where they were needed. Excursions were plentiful, but quite expensive. We 'did our own thing' at all ports as we'd been to all of them previously. Prices....drinks somewhat pricey; $30 for a bottle of 'house' wine, plus their obligatory 15% service charge that is '....added for your convenience....'; more likely for their benefit! Norovirus....we were surprised that there was no sanitisation regime as we boarded in Southampton. There was the usual declaration to sign that you'd not been unwell etc in the preceding few days. I've always viewed these as useless as who is going to say 'yes'? Anyway, a few days into the cruise as we board at one of the ports, the Captain makes a PA announcement before we sail that a significant number of people were reporting to the sick-bay with GI symptoms. An advisory note it then delivered to staterooms later that evening from Cunard's medical adviser detailing the problem and what their intended course of action was. We had to endure about 4 days of intense disinfection of public areas and also lock-down of the buffet counters etc resulting in long queues as waiters had to serve food and drinks individually. The main restaurant tables lost their flowers, cruets and table numbers from then until the end of the cruise too. Can't help wondering if an early personal sanitisation regime might have prevented the outbreak in the first place. A couple of general minor irritations that are disappointing....1-SMOKING - it is a shame that Cunard have not adopted UK legislation on no smoking in closed-in areas. A particular example of this is the G32 Club on Deck 3L which smells throughout like a dirty ashtray whatever time you go in there. 2 -INTERNET - 4 years ago when we were on this ship they had a brilliant system of email and interactive services etc available in each stateroom. Where has it all gone?? Seems that a wifi network is now available in places, but I found signal strengths sporadic; speed poor and cost almost prohibitive! Overall....an enjoyable cruise. One of the great features of the QM2 that never fails to impress is the lack of awareness of sail-away or berthing movement. Many ships we've travelled on vibrate excessively during such manoeuvres, mainly due to the cavalier use of bow thrusters and their old design. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
I have come to the conclusion that RCI are the most inward looking company I have ever dealt wit, their quest for profit comes above all else. Let me explain: Things went wrong before we even got to the cruise. They more or less insist ... Read More
I have come to the conclusion that RCI are the most inward looking company I have ever dealt wit, their quest for profit comes above all else. Let me explain: Things went wrong before we even got to the cruise. They more or less insist that you log in on line and print off your cruise booklet and order baggage tags. To do this you need a special log in that RCI are supposed to send you 14 days before the cruise. We had to call our travel agent to get the log in as none had come via email, as had been promised. We ordered baggage tags but none came. I phoned a week before the cruise but was told it was too late to reorder. No baggage tags then. We flew to Malaga from Gatwick, upon arrival we went to the coach, which was waiting for us. The RCI rep took our cruise brochure from us, tore out a page and handed the remains back to us. We got on the coach and were swiftly taken to the docks to embark. The queue was huge but there were lots of agents so we got to one pretty quickly. We gave her our cruise booklet but she said she could not check us in because the page torn out by her colleague was missing. When I tried to explain what had happened she was quite rude and abrupt and thrust a form at me to fill in. It had all the information that I had spent some time filling in on line. She then needed my credit card, even though I had already registered that on line. It was now about 13:30, we had been traveling since 3 am, we were hungry and tired, I was not impressed!!! We headed straight for the Windjammer where we had a pretty decent lunch and then made our way to our cabin. The cabin was well laid out with lots of storage but boy was it looking tired. The ship is 10 years old and it really looks it in places. Things like a well rusted waste bin and a filthy toilet seat spoiled the overall effect. Right from the word go everything seemed to be about extracting the maximum amount of money from their guests. We had paid gratuities up front but soon discovered that 15 % got added to everything anyway. Everything on board was at sky high prices, the cost of drinks seemed to put most people off drinking altogether. It really was a rip of culture - 2 examples: Price of massage advertised at from $139 - 2 people went as a couple and ended up with a $510 bill plus a $5 gratuity!!! On the day we went to Lanzarote they were selling 500ml bottles of water for $4.95 then telling people that on land they would be over$6. Utter rubbish - any supermarket will sell you one for under a euro. It's one thing to rip people off but quite another when you start lying to them as well. One thing that really got to me is on the last evening we tried to find somewhere for a reasonably quite drink, all the public areas were full to bursting. We went to the sports bar and asked for a Bacardi and diet Coke only to be told they had no Bacardi. OK says I, just a diet Coke then. They didn't have any of that either. Unbelievable, they go to all that effort to empty your wallet then run out of the basics. Be wary if they offer you freshly squeezed orange juice at breakfast, they will charge you for it, same as they will charge for a "speciality coffee" after dinner. Look, RCI if you are going to charge me - tell me up front, otherwise I will feel like I have been conned. Be very careful of what they sell in the shops too. If you go for a quite drink you will have the peace shattered by somebody shouting sales messages over a pa system, it's like being in a market. They were trying to sell cheap Chinese watch sets at 20 bucks, the same stuff our local market sells at a quarter of that. The other thing you need to be aware of that RCI have not cottoned on to yet is that when you fly these days any toiletries of over 100ml will be confiscated at the airport if they are in you hand baggage. Given that many people may want to freshen up as soon as they are on board I am guessing that many people may carry some bits and pieces on with them. RCI do not put any toiletries in the cabins except for a small bar of soap. I find this astonishing. I have travelled all over the world and stayed in the best and the worst of hotels, B&B's guest houses and cruise ships and this is the first time I have ever gone to my room to find no toiletries. To make matters worse not one shop had any shampoo for sale, we had to buy some in Tenerife. Come on RCI, at least stock the essentials or give "pamper packs" like all the other cruise lines do. The ship has some great areas, the food was pretty good although teh steak on the first nigh was inedible, the mash was always so salty that most people left it and in general it was nowhere near the standards we are used to on P&O or Cunard. We won't be going RCI again, we will be going back to P&O where we will get much better value for money and be with a company that cares as much about teh customer experience as they care about profit. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
Smooth and well organised embarkation, nice welcome from staff as we entered the ship. The cabin was spacious with ample storage, we had a wardrobe each with space for shoes & suitcases, the cabin was clean & tidy and the beds were ... Read More
Smooth and well organised embarkation, nice welcome from staff as we entered the ship. The cabin was spacious with ample storage, we had a wardrobe each with space for shoes & suitcases, the cabin was clean & tidy and the beds were really comfortable, the cabin steward made up our beds and cleaned the cabin whilst we were at lunch & dinner. The highlight for me was the standard and quality of the food served at all meals, our table waiter (Danzil)was first class friendly & very professional what we really liked was that the staff had time to stop and chat unlike the P&O staff on our last cruise who were surly and too busy to care.The soups served at lunch & dinner were hot extremely tasty and well presented, the meals were good sized portions and were always hot and well presented (unlike the lukewarm effort one gets with P&O). Entertainment wasn't always to our choice but the 3 shows we did choose to watch were excellent, I would say that the majority of passengers went to most of the nightly shows. The weather wasn't always good enough to have a sail away party when leaving ports but the one we did have was great fun and we were even given complimentary rum punch unlike P&O who charge an average of £3.50 per drink. Disembarkation was as smooth as embarkation we were driving out of Dover within 1 hour of getting up and we even had time for breakfast! We will certainly be going with Fred.Olsen again they seem to have everything right, the ships are not the huge liners that one sees these days but for quality of service, food and the right balance of all day entertainment small is definitely beautiful. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
Only problem with this cruise is the very few but rather outspoken critics - especially if you sit with them at breakfast - best to go to the bistro then you will not be forced to sit with them. Chose this cruise for convenience of ... Read More
Only problem with this cruise is the very few but rather outspoken critics - especially if you sit with them at breakfast - best to go to the bistro then you will not be forced to sit with them. Chose this cruise for convenience of travelling and because we would hate a large impersonal ship with the sort of entertainment that some people seem to long for - X factor it ain't but a talented team provide a variety of shows and Richard (who is multi-talented, charming and ready to improvise entertainment at the drop of a hat if the weather alters the programme) organises the entertainment with imagination and flair. The staff are excellent from the cabin maids to the waiters, never complaining and serving with curtesy and a smile (even when dealing with the odd difficult passenger). How one of the critics can say the boat was dirty is just unbelievable - it is spotless and continually cleaned and tidied throughout the day and how another complains of lack of choice at breakfast: continental breakfast or full English, freshly cooked omelettes, fish, etc. plus a wide selection of fresh fruit, fresh rolls, bread and toast, etc. If you want a large, noisy boat with so many people on it that getting on and off is a nightmare the Marco Polo is not for you. If you want a calm atmosphere, good service and (much as we love our own children) a child free environment then choose this ship. Many people return year after year - we have only been on two cruises with them and are novices compared to most. Horses for courses I would hate a large impersonal ship and wish that those that enjoy such cruises would keep well away from the Marco Polo and leave those of us who appreciate it's charm in peace. The Marco Polo will continue to thrive with the return year after year of people like me. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
By 12.15am every night the only place with any music playing was from a disc in the disco!All the bars closed down by before midnight or 12.30 in the Casino and the only place to get a drink was in the disco where there were never more ... Read More
By 12.15am every night the only place with any music playing was from a disc in the disco!All the bars closed down by before midnight or 12.30 in the Casino and the only place to get a drink was in the disco where there were never more than a couple of dozen people. And this was a Christmas Cruise!!! After the last performances in the Footlights theatre and Starlights Lounge ended at latest 11.30 the ship died. By midnight every night there were about 20 or so in the Yacht and Compass bar, most of 10 in the casino,and a handful of people dotted around the beautiful Atrium. With no drinks being served, no late night piano being played passengers went off to bed! Mind you the average age was well into the late 60s but even us older ones want a bit of sparkle and a late night chat/entertainment. The Entertainment Team were brilliant and did their best to get some atmosphere going but they were thwarted mainly by the layout of the ship itself. With no large floor area, like a level show lounge or dance floor, it was not physically possible to engage a large enough gathering on one level floor, hence things like carol singing etc took place in the foot of the Atrium with passengers having to stand on different deck levels and on the stairs! The speed of embarkation and disembarkation was very good. Our balcony cabin was by far the smallest we have ever had and the bathroom was crazily small. It was nigh impossible to turn round from the sink to the toilet to the shower or vice-versa. And if you wanted to partly dress in the bathroom, like put on your underwear, then you had to be a contortionist. The decor was fine and the service of the cabin steward was excellent. The food generally was very good. As we have always tended to gear our eating round the shows, we take advantage of the buffet and this was on deck 14 with panoramic views. Whilst the food was very good, the ambiance also good, the two important things to me which let it down was 1.About 50/60% of the various foods/dishes on offer were not labelled and you had to guess what they were . 2...Very many times especially at dinner, the napkins were 1/2 ply cheap and nasty paper ones! Not good.The food in the main dining room was excellent as was the service. However, one evening we ate in the so called Marc Pierre White restaurant which was located on deck 8 in the Cafe Jardin. Lovely ambiance, wonderful quality service. There was a £6.50 supplement to dine there and then another supplement if one wanted the 21 day reared rib eye steak. Well I have had better down my local pub for £6.99, better taste, better cooked and better presented. Such a let down. The entertainment generally was very good. Broken down into: duos, pianists, trios; guest artists and the Headliners Theatre Company. One particular duo was Serendipity who were very talented indeed. With Lyn playing the tenor and alto sax, the flute, the clarinet and can also play piano, guitar and bassoon. She also has a great voice too. Stewart on the keyboard and guitar was brilliant. The pianist were ok but nothing special and were not seen playing very much. Would have been lovely to have some late late night music or even a sing song, especially as this was billed as a Christmas Cruise. The comedians on the first part of the cruise were pretty awful but another Steve Tandy was very good as was Maxime Mazunder who did a Lulu tribute one night and a Dusty Springfield another. A lovely voice . However the group of young guys and girls who were just fantastic were the Headliners Theatre Company. They performed six DIFFERENT shows over the 12 nights, playing three times on those nights. The energy was outstanding and the quality of the two main dancers Darren and ? was superb as were the vocalists. Each show as a knock-out and saved the day as far as the overall cruise was concerned. The Cruise Director Leanne was lovely, so natural, so easy, so friendly and caring too. He Assistant Paul had a beautiful velvet voice when they did their spot one night, with him singing a Michael Buble number...great voice Paul. The overall cleanliness of the ship was very good, but then the cleaners had a clear run from just after midnight!!!! One slightly irritating thing was the slowness of the lifts. Somehow for most of the times we used them they were all either up or all down and a bit like the No.10 bus you wait for, for ages then two or three come along. Now to the weather! Within about 12 hours of leaving Southampton we started to encounter very rough seas which gathered pace for almost 36 hours culminating in a Force 9/10. The ship became deserted with many passengers being frightened to venture out of their cabins for fear of falling. There were casualties and a cabin window blown in. A lot of sickness of course, but fortunately I was not affected and in fact I quite enjoyed the experience as this was the first time in some 20+ cruises when it has not been calm seas. We only took one shore excursion and that was down to Playa de Americas in Tenerife. The other ports of call we did our own thing. P & O are very good with their shuttle buses as they do not charge for this useful service. The prices of drinks was very good compared to those on Royal Caribbean for example. P & O also play down the "gratuities" and have a very relaxed attitude towards tipping again compared to Royal Caribbean which thrust it at you several times in a cruise (One cruise of 10 nights on RCL the reminder about gratuities was mentioned 9 nights in the daily news letters, once by the cruise director and once by the two dining room waiters)...so well down P & O. Overall we enjoyed the cruise, me more than my wife, as I wanted to escape Christmas as much as possible. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
Embarkation, after a taxi from Barcelona Airport (half the price of NCL bus!), took merely minutes and we were on board before cabins were available - so we took advantage of lunch in Blue Lagoon, a 24/7 cafe. The cabin was beautifully ... Read More
Embarkation, after a taxi from Barcelona Airport (half the price of NCL bus!), took merely minutes and we were on board before cabins were available - so we took advantage of lunch in Blue Lagoon, a 24/7 cafe. The cabin was beautifully clean and well presented. Cabin steward was courteous, friendly and efficient. It was a delight to get reports from the bridge over the PA, and the Finnish captain was friendly and kept us regularly informed (whereas with MSC we never heard from the captain, and feel he may not have sailed with us!) DINING was a delight, and better than we experienced on Jewel or Jade. Using mainly the free dining rooms (Alizar and Grand Pacific) for dinner each evening, service was excellent, menu selection was good, and food was produced quickly, beautifully cooked and well presented! The Brazilian diner was an extra cost restaurant - but was worth the $20 surcharge for the different dining experience! As on other NCL ships, the Garden Cafe buffet was exceptionally good, with great variety, and only modest quantities being on display (to prevent drying out), but topped up continually! Always courteous friendly service ... And an exceptional attention at all times and in all dining rooms to passengers being made to use hand sanitizer! Sincere congratulations to the head chef for his superb food! DRINKS on this ship the bar service was less high pressured than on Gem or Jewel, waiters were around when required and service was great. Sadly, prices were rather high (especially wines at dinner), and whilst adding 15% is tolerable for waiter service, I deeply resented going to the bar to get a dring, and still getting a 15% surcharge for self service! ENTERTAINMENT ... The best of any ship I have been on! Frequently full houses for both shows each evening, and variety, polish and presentation were excellent! Shows ran for at least 45 min. And the star show 'Elements' was a breathtaking tribute to Cirque du Soleil, mixed with magic and live music! Better than brilliant!!! ...and almost 75 mins! ... And the technicians who 'operated' the theatre deserve great credit for their skill and professionalism, changing lavish 'sets' each day ... And never a slip in their presentations! (again, on MSC a lavish theatre seemed to have one amateur operator, and one show was only 12 mins!) On the down side, the shore excursions seemed expensive, but in most ports, busses operated free or for token charges into the towns, and the hop-on hop-off City Tour busses were great for getting round the towns (Funchal, Teneriffe, Lanzarotte and Malaga). Yes, as reported in another review, bags were x-rayed, but NCL seem very security conscious - and I thank them for that! Altogether, FREESTYLE cruising (formality optional and not essential) works well for me! The lack of tipping (daily cabin surcharge) means the staff are friendly and efficient ... Great food, great entertainment, it all made it a great holiday for me! Thanks NCL! Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
We booked this cruise extremely last minute as the cruise we had originally booked on was cancelled a few days before we were due to sail!! Boudicca was sailing in and out of Portsmouth and within easy distance to our home, managed to get ... Read More
We booked this cruise extremely last minute as the cruise we had originally booked on was cancelled a few days before we were due to sail!! Boudicca was sailing in and out of Portsmouth and within easy distance to our home, managed to get a superior cabin (which glad we chose)and one of the stops was Madeira - for the fireworks (something that has been on our must-do list) Embarkation was easy, we did arrive a bit earlier than stated, but found did not have to queue to check-in, although did have to wait about an hour before we were called to embark. Once aboard we went directly to our cabin which was on the Lido deck, and first time ever, our luggage was there :-) We did expect that we would have found some sort of lunch available - even tho it was a bit late for that.A disappointment! But we went to the Secret Garden and had Tea with a roll etc. which we managed to survive till 8.30 (second sitting.) The ship we found was easy to get around, as we were on the Lido deck (7),reception, shops on 5, the Neptune lounge, dining rooms,swimming pool etc. being one below on 6, library, Internet and Lido lounge on 7, Observatory "lounge" which we used a lot on 9. The ship being a "mature" lady we found her similar to a welcoming comfortable friend, like an old English established hotel, with regular clientele - it has apparently been "upgraded" beginning of 2011, not quite sure what, apparently the gym was on deck 4 and now top of the ship!! New carpets, not sure about that, but reserve judgement. We did find her rather "tired" but that is our humble opinion. Our cabin was a very good size (200 sq ft)An extremely comfy mattress, the shower was over the bath, personally would have just preferred a shower cubicle! Our windows looked out to the Promenade, but did have a coating on the windows. The food, we feel, was the best we have had on any holiday - and we have travelled quite extensively. To have Beef of such a wonderful quality in the dining room!!! The was a very good choice for Vegetarians, fish eaters etc. The entertainment was pleasantly acceptable, a very good Jazz sextet, Classical guitarist, Male & female singer, comedian, together with various pianists trios, duos round the ship, together with 7 young dancers/singers who also doubled as "cruise helpers" round the ship. We enjoyed the ports the first being Casablanca and then 5 islands of the Canaries and finally Madeira. We found the port info given was not good enough, yes I know all cruise companies want to sell their tours, but today many more passengers, like to do their own thing. To offer shuttles at ports at £5 per head, when able bodied people can easily walk, is not on. Yes offer the shuttles for those who want them, but.... We only used the shuttle at Casablanca, but then needn't have!! Unfortunately the crossing of the Bay of Biscay upon our return I found a bit too uncomfy, and were grateful for the tablets I had taken - that can happen on any ship! The day before we were due to return, we were advised by the captain that we would be returning to Southampton and not Portsmouth, as the weather was not good and too windy etc. etc For us it was not a problem. All passengers were offered a free 5 min call or Internet access to change arrangements. Those passengers who had left their vehicles in Portsmouth were coached back complimentary. Most of the passengers we chatted to we found only travel Fred Olsen and are a mature age, but still knew how to enjoy themselves. Constructive criticism, no Tea Pots , we don't like Tea poured out of a "Thermos" Even tho we had an enjoyable and restful cruise, not sure we would sail with FO again, maybe just a bit too old fashioned for us. Would definitely recommend the ship for the "food" - great Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
This was our first experience with an American ship.We expected it to be large, but it didn't seem to be when we went to embark. We were forward, and the dining room was aft, so there was always quite a walk there and back,either ... Read More
This was our first experience with an American ship.We expected it to be large, but it didn't seem to be when we went to embark. We were forward, and the dining room was aft, so there was always quite a walk there and back,either along the corridor then up 2 decks, or going up then walking through the pool areas. We had no problems finding a table, and there was a varied choice in the Windjammer for breakfast and lunch.The downside was that there were no trays to carry the food to a table. We chose first sitting and were placed in Romeo and Juliet, on deck 3. On the whole we both said that P&O dinners were better.Independence served a set amount on the plate; if you wanted extra vegetables you have to ask for them.The dining room crew were really great, doing everything possible, and very friendly.There wasn't always much variety in the dishes offered.The evening shows weren't bad, though one "comedy" act was shades of Norman Wisdom/Tommy Cooper,but not really funny. Prices in the bars were very expensive, having 15% added as tips.Quite a lot of people talked about the way the options for tipping were continually advertised.Much was said about pre- paid tips, which took a set amount from each passenger.Vouchers were given to cabin steward and dining room waiters and head waiter at the last night. It was suggested that the amount those crew received was not the whole amount that had been quoted. Some staff said it was important that they were described as "excellent" in the questionnaires, otherwise they might not be taken on again for a future voyage.The whole subject of tipping was controversial. If it is expected, and deducted from the passengers' accounts, then it is not a discretionary amount given as a mark of appreciation for exemplary service; rather it could be construed as a subsidy to the crew's wages. There is a jogging/walking track on deck 12, though the distance of 3 laps making 1 kilometre and 5 laps making a mile doesn't equate.5 miles equals 8kms.Sometimes in the early mornings it was very windy, but the fitness centre has plenty of treadmills to use without a fee, so it was still possible to get some exercise. P&O give more information in their daily programme of events. We didn't find any list of channels for the cabin TV.You had to scroll down to find out what there was. The lifeboat drill wasn't really much use. Some P&O ships had the drill outside with lifebelts and you were shown how to put them on. On the Independence, you went to the designated station, but didn't have to take the lifebelt with you.If you want to look round the galley, you have to pay. There were some events in the Royal Promenade running the length of deck 5,and they were colourful.New Year's Eve was fun.However, with such a large crowd an emergency could have been chaotic.All entrances to public rooms have hand sanitisers. In the lifts the voice is English, but in the toilets, the reminder to wash your hands is American.Under 21s aren't allowed alcohol, and there is a 1.0am curfew for young people. We hope to use P&O again,but aren't too sure about Royal Caribbean, but that is just our opinion. We had done this destination some years ago, so we just explored the ports of Vigo, Lisbon and La Corunna. Lisbon on New year's Day and being a Sunday, nearly everywhere was closed.surprisingly the previous evening's revellry left the streets in a mess, rather like it often is at home.If using a shuttle at the ports expect to pay 10 dollars round trip.La Coruna Spain This was the final port. It was built on an isthmus, and is sheltered. We had a walk round some of the streets. One or two shops were open on a Sunday, but most were cafes and restaurants. There was quite a large marina, and there was a very large square with some imposing buildings. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011

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