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424 Caribbean - Western Holiday Cruise Reviews

The Liberty OTS was the perfect ship because of proximity since we live inTexas. Boarding on New Years added to the excitement and anticipation. We had our Granddaughter with us and purchased a table in the RBar for convenience and a great ... Read More
The Liberty OTS was the perfect ship because of proximity since we live inTexas. Boarding on New Years added to the excitement and anticipation. We had our Granddaughter with us and purchased a table in the RBar for convenience and a great experience. The New Year party did not disappoint! Balloons, drinks, music and people all made this a special night. Even though the weather could have been better, starting the new year in the Caribbean with 73’ vs Dallas with 17’ was just what the Dr ordered. This was our 4 cruise on Liberty and again, we were not disappointed. The ships staff couldn’t have been more friendly, passionate and accommodating. Because of the ships consistency to go beyond our expectations, we have another 3 cruises booked on the Liberty....if you’re considering a ship for your first cruise, we would highly recommend Liberty of the Seas and if you can afford it, stay in a Grand Suite. Not only do you get a larger room you get the use of the Suite Lounge, priority boarding and disembarkation, seating for the shows, a Concierge and just a better overall experience. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
Literally the best holiday ever! We decided to spend Christmas on the Escape and it did not disappoint. Everything was wonderful. Our group consisted on folks aged 22 to 79 and everyone found their niche and enjoyed their time. My ... Read More
Literally the best holiday ever! We decided to spend Christmas on the Escape and it did not disappoint. Everything was wonderful. Our group consisted on folks aged 22 to 79 and everyone found their niche and enjoyed their time. My daughter was lucky enough to score a single room, and it was spectacular. The holiday decorations were beautiful, the shows entertaining, and the themed deck parties kept everyone dancing late into the night. I loved freestyle dining and had no problem finding a lovely place to eat. The bars were well stocked, and the service was quick and friendly. The pool area was entertaining, clean, and drinks and refreshments served quickly. As sad as I was to leave, getting off the ship, and finding our luggage was a breeze. Overall, I would score the staff, activities, food, and entertainment a 10. It was a week of unending fun. The Escape lived up to it's name and provided my family with an unforgetable holiday trip. Thanks NCL, I'll see you next December. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
This was our second time cruising with Royal Caribbean and our first time on Brilliance of the Seas. Everything went very smoothly right from check in to the time we left the ship. Our cabin was very clean and we had a great cabin steward. ... Read More
This was our second time cruising with Royal Caribbean and our first time on Brilliance of the Seas. Everything went very smoothly right from check in to the time we left the ship. Our cabin was very clean and we had a great cabin steward. We were sailing with our 3 kids, ages 17, 14 and 10. We did shore excursions at Costa Maya and Cozumel. The Costa Maya was great, just a beach day, with all you can drink. The Cozumel tour was fantastic, but the breach they brought us to afterwards, was very rocky and not very nice. The food and service in the dining room was great! We did not upgrade to any of the restaurants, just used the main dining room. We enjoyed the my-time dining and made a reservation for each night. The entertainment was truly top notch. We saw a fantastic Bon Jovi impersonator who put on a great concert. Also saw two comedians (one was super!) and 2 shows by the RC singers and dancers. The kids also enjoyed the shows. The only downfall for the kids was that the ice cream machine was located inside the Wind Jammer, so it was not available 24/7. They also ran out of white ice cream by day 3. It was worth it get to the ship early and explore on the first day. Our cabin was ready on time and our luggage was there and ready fairly quickly. I would highly recommend travelling with Royal Caribbean and this ship. While the ship is considered "smaller", it still had plenty to do and lots of activity. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
We chose the Reflection since we have been on other Celebrity Cruises and this ship did not disappoint! Celebrity Cruises is our niche. It was beautifully decorated for the holidays and the staff was ready for the first night of ... Read More
We chose the Reflection since we have been on other Celebrity Cruises and this ship did not disappoint! Celebrity Cruises is our niche. It was beautifully decorated for the holidays and the staff was ready for the first night of festivities for New Years. Embarkation was really nice. We had a Concierge level cabin and were greeted and placed in a separate lounge at the pier. Then we were escorted onboard before the regular class cabins New Years Eve was great. There were several parties going on before midnight and we were able to hop from one to another ending up at the pool for the midnight finale. They dropped the 2016 ice block into the pool and placed the 2017 up in its place. The rest of the cruise went without a hitch. Some of the highlights were the Lawn Club Grill, a must do participative dinner. Also the Silent disco was a huge hit. We had so much fun. We like Celebrity due to its classier style and dressy/casual evenings . Also seems to attract an experienced, diverse and well to do traveler. Wish they had 21 and older sailings. THIS IS FOR CELEBRITY TOUR STAFF Jamaica - We went on the Dunns River Falls and river tubing tour with the ship - this is the only time we felt uncomfortable on the trip. At the end of the tour they make you walk through the marketplace. There is no option. There were sellers trying to put items in our hands, when we refused they stated " Are you afraid of us " . Strange comment. There should be an exit option without the marketplace. We were also asked in a survey if the guides asked for a tip. We said they did not ask but then at the busses they had followed us and started asking and pointing to the people who did not tip after we had already taken the survey. So the guides figured out how to go around the survey and harass some of the people on our bus. Glad we had tipped ! Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
Choice based on rates and available dates. This one fit our needs best. Covered Christmas which we would have had without kids for the first time. Also covered our 40th Anniversary on 12/26. Cruise was great overall. Smaller ship ... Read More
Choice based on rates and available dates. This one fit our needs best. Covered Christmas which we would have had without kids for the first time. Also covered our 40th Anniversary on 12/26. Cruise was great overall. Smaller ship than we had on Carnival but not necessarily a bad thing. More intimate. We met some great people. Destinations were womderful. Climbing Maya ruins on Christmas Day, tubing on a rain Forrest river (in the rain) on our Anniversary with a Maya guide. Next day being smooched on by an amorous Capuccin Monkey. Great times. The staff was friendly for he most part and went out of their way to make us feel special. A couple of bartenders were less than the best but they were more than made for by the rother st. I would recommend this route and cruise line to anyone. We may we'll do this one again. On the down side, though, there were a couple of significant aspects that prevent this from being a 5 star review. First, the center of the top deck by the pool was taken up by a stage. That seriously limited the space for guests. More, though, the Gand that played on that stage was a reggae style band and LOUD! Speakers all around the stage blasted their music into every corner. Lest you think I am just an old fogey who doesn't like loud things, I have been around concussive blast waves. They do bad things to your internal body. This volume felt like one long slow explosion and was painful for me. There was literally no way anyone could carry on a conversation when they were playing. We had to grab whatever food or drink we wanted and head up a deck, and maybe away from the pool area, to get a sound baffle from the glass and other structures in order to enjoy sitting out in the sunshine. The other thing was that we had a card in our room congratulating us on our Anniversary. That was very nice. The card said to give it to the matre de at whatever restaurant we went to on our Anniversary. We chose the French restaurant, Le Bistro. Handed the card over as instructed and were seated. As we were eating a small group of people appeared and sang Let Me Call You Sweetheart to a nearby table. I looked at my wife and speculated that they might were supposed to be singing to us. But, whatever. Shortly the couple at that table came by and asked us if it was our Anniversary since we were the only people in the restaurant tha looked like we were celebrating such an event. He said that they were not even married and he didn't take our cake. Then he went to tell the staff of their mistake. A while later the same people appeared at our table and repeated their performance and placed a very pretty cake on our table, right after we had ordered desert. In fact, our desert showed up in the middle of their singing. We thanked them and asked, since we already had desert, what we were to do with the cake. They said the would box it up for us. That was nice. We finished and we're sitting at the table. Ready to go, we wondered what we were to do about the cake. We got our waiter and asked. He said they had sent it to our cabin. Well, you guessed it, no cake. We never did see that cake again after it was placed on our table. Now, to be sure, we didn't go on the cruise for tha cake. And, had there been no card in our room, we wouldn't have even noticed. But the gesture was made ... and then abysmally executed. We are not looking for any kind of refund and not even sure an apology is necessary. But I have worked in customer service organizations and this was definitely not that. So here is the feedback. Cost you a star. As I said, though, we may we'll repeat this cruise and with NCL. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
Traveled for the Christmas week on the Epic. Our group was a party of 6 with two large balcony cabins. We were 4 adults and 2 teens. Embarkation was very easy. No lines at 11 AM. Staff greeted us with a smile and we were easily on board ... Read More
Traveled for the Christmas week on the Epic. Our group was a party of 6 with two large balcony cabins. We were 4 adults and 2 teens. Embarkation was very easy. No lines at 11 AM. Staff greeted us with a smile and we were easily on board and on our way to the buffet area. We had the drink package and immediately began to use it with a cocktail of the day. Amazingly, there was outdoor food ready for us!! The buffet opened shortly after that. We did wait a long time to get to our cabins, and when asking how soon it would be, I was told "when it's ready we will let you know" A bit curt, but oh well! Cabin was as described...........strange but doable Lots of storage but awful lighting and outlets awful. Bring along some extra extensions of some sort.. Met our wonderful cabin steward, Rosalee, who remembered our names from the first time we met! How do they do this???? She did all that she could to meet our needs but was never intrusive. Will get back to cabin issues in another section of this review. Been on several cruises and feel this food was some of the best. Have read other reviews of this ships food and can't understand why all the complaints? Ate in 3 specialty restaurants and all were great!!! Mostly ate beef the entire trip, so after I have my arteries cleared, will stay off beef for awhile! Drinks were good and plentiful and service was very good for the most. Wonderful service in Cagney's and Tempanaki !!! Catered to our shell fish allergic granddaughter, always watching to be certain there was no cross contamination. Entertainment was as good as any ship we have been on and we were sure to have made reservations as we knew this would be a very crowded cruise. Husband liked the casino, but was unlucky! Felt some of the big events held in the Atrium should have been moved to the theater as there was just too much crowding and not nearly enough places to sit. Actual shipboard activities were just OK. As always pool deck very over crowded and seat savers the usual problem as on all cruises. Basically used my own large balcony instead. Bought admission for the adult only water spa and enjoyed the peace and quiet and huge water features for the entire week.Very clean! Thought Epic did a good job celebrating Christmas all week....music, movies etc. Did not do any tours this time as we had been to these islands previously. Also there was the need to tender and water was rough for me to safely get on and off the ship.Missed Jamaica due to high winds, so felt bad for my grand kids. Now the ugly! We noticed that our carpet in the cabin was very wet and reported it in the A.M. We were having room service in our cabin when maintenance knocked and asked if they could come in to check. No problem we said. They failed to mention that they were going to open a drain while we were eating!!!! Quite an odor! We quickly went outside on the balcony to finish our meal and when we went back in, they had left two very large pieces of equipment to quickly dry up the carpet. Now we all know how small these cabins are and it is next to impossible to get past the bed to begin with, so having a large fan and a dehumidifier in the ONLY walking space was quite a trick!! Also the volume of noise was unbelievable!!!!! So after we tried our best to get ready, we left the cabin for the day. They were still in place when we came back to rest and had to call maintenance to haul them away. Carpet never really dried and on the night of day 4 it happened again!! Really nasty!!! Back with the fans etc! Now on the last night of out cruise, while packing, I received a call from customer relations asking if we would please move out for the night to a cabin one flight up. Ummm, I don't think so! They then proceed to say they were concerned with our health...think MOLD.....really?? How about the last 6 days? If they had another cabin to move us to, then why didn't they? Originally said ship was at capacity. Where did the people who were in this new found cabin go? Did they leave them on last port? Were they sleeping on the pool deck? Did they jump ship? Made no sense and so declined. What they really wanted was to run those fans all night to cover up the wet carpet for the oncoming next day guest!!!! Well good luck with that as they never did find the problem. For a week of soggy carpet the generously compensated us $100 Probably not nearly enough to cover one of the medical tests we may need for mold disease!!!!! All in all it was a good cruise if you eliminate the carpet stuff and our inability to stop in Jamaica. Nothing is perfect. When dealing with 4,000+ passengers you must expect some blips, so get over most of these issues. Again, special thanks to our room steward, Rosalie!!!!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
9 of us ranging in age from 78- 4 years old on the 12-19 Christmas cruise- It was a very good cruise and given that we could just make a 3 hour drive to the Houston port and park it was the easiest embarkation/disembarkation ever. We have ... Read More
9 of us ranging in age from 78- 4 years old on the 12-19 Christmas cruise- It was a very good cruise and given that we could just make a 3 hour drive to the Houston port and park it was the easiest embarkation/disembarkation ever. We have been on 10+ cruises and this one being our second on NCL. Mostly sail from FLL or Miami to enjoy the newer boats and better weather but took a chance on the Jade because of the convenience and value. We were a little concerned by all the November and December negative reviews but it appears they have most of the earlier problems worked out. The bartenders were good and I discovered a new favorite drink- the Moscow Mule! Have it made with Tito's vodka! Ultimate Bev Package worked well although the selections are not as good as Celebrity's program. We dined at Grand Pacific each night and other than the first night (when they were rather overrun) we had no trouble with service. The food was okay but was not impressive. It seems the days of lobster, escargot, or a nice jumbo shrimp cocktail are over on NCL. Not sure if this is because of the emphasis on all of the specialty restaurants but overall a step back from previous cruises within the last few years. For instance one night I had Prawns in Alfredo sauce which was good- the "prawns" however were about the size of a nickel. C'mon, I wouldn't mind "shrimp" with Alfredo but don't get my hopes up... Didn't go to all the shows but the ones we did get to were great- The Elements show was probably the best I have seen at sea. The reggae band on the pool deck was great and I enjoyed listening to them very much- pool deck always had chairs available. 4 year old really enjoyed the kiddie pool and made friends there which helped with the drop off at the kids club the couple of times he went. The two early teens in the family made friends and had a great time while onboard. White Hot Party was fun but was better on the NCL Sun where they held the event outside and had more staff involved. The ship is a little old and showing some age in places but overall not bad. While we had a completely full sailing it did not seem crowded at most times. Everyone that I encountered both passenger and crew seemed in high spirits. The Hawaiian theme is weird and I missed the multistory atrium that is found on most ships of this size. The Christmas décor was mostly disappointing- they tried a little. Having Santa there on Christmas morning was really nice for our 4 y.o. and the carolers were fun. Arrived early back in Houston due to weather which was no problem and seeing the fog as we came up the ship channel Friday afternoon it was probably a good call by the captain. We took a cab to Paradise beach in Cozumel based on CC reviews and it was very nice. Lots of water toys to use on the beach, pool, showers- just what we were looking for this time. Its not an all inclusive so everything was al a carte and they ask you to spend $10 in food/bev...$15 for use of all the non motor water toys. Belize tender was no problem. Did cave tubing and zip line with cavetubing r us. Fantastic experience and the owner/operator David was very knowledgeable about his country/enjoys his job! More time in the river, better tubes, half the cost of the ship. Roatan tender was no problem- we didn't have as much time in port as I would have liked but we visited West Bay beach through bananarama. Awesome beach and snorkeling but very crowded with 5 ships visiting that day. Of all the cruises we've been on I can say that they all have been 5 stars+ and I have always appreciated the hard work the staff puts in to make sure everyone's experience is a great one but withholding a star this time because of the big food decline in the main dining rooms. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
This is our third Carnival cruise and first time out of New Orleans. As many have said, Elation is an older ship, but she's a great value for the money we spent. The public areas were very clean and comfortable. The decor seems much ... Read More
This is our third Carnival cruise and first time out of New Orleans. As many have said, Elation is an older ship, but she's a great value for the money we spent. The public areas were very clean and comfortable. The decor seems much more subdued than her sister ships Paradise and Ecstasy. I really wish they could find a better way to vent cigarette smoke, because it sometimes became overpowering when the bars/casino were busy. Embarkation Easiest embarkation yet! New Orleans Port Parking was simple and the porters were friendly and very helpful. We arrived at 1030 am and boarded at 1130ish. Our room was ready by 1230. Our luggage arrived just before muster. Stateroom We had a porthole room on the Main Deck. M 14. The room was very large. We had a lot of motion, but it wasn't really a problem. The ship moved quite a bit everywhere. The water was rough and we had some 50 mph winds. Entertainment We probably spent 75% of our time in the Comedy club. We loved both comedians. They showed college and NFL playoff games on the big screen in that room. They provided football clappers and poms. I wish they would have had popcorn and/or munchies, but it was a great place to watch a game. We enjoyed several trivia games and won a ship on a stick. The shows were okay. Food As long as they continue to serve warm chocolate melting cake, I'll always give the food good reviews. I prefer the main dining room over the buffet, but both were good. I really loved the pumpkin soup and lobster. Breakfast in the dining room was good as well. I would have eaten the buffet more, but the wind was really strong, making our preferred outdoor seating impossible. Service The service was just okay on this cruise. Our cabin steward wasn't around as often as we've come to expect from our previous cruises. He was nice, but he seemed to just be going through the motions. I called about ice the afternoon of the second day and he kind of snapped that he was off duty and I'd have to call room service. I was ok with the room service referral, but the attitude was a little off putting. I asked for extra glasses and he looked at me like I was asking for something impossible. The girl assisting him was very friendly. Most members of the dining staff were great. The customer service desk was very helpful. Cozumel I love Cozumel. We booked Mr Sanchos All Inclusive for the second time. They provide great service! Our waiter, Erizel, gave us a cabana and table away from everyone. He was always around for yummy drink refills and food. We left Sanchos and spent a few hours shopping at port. Disembarkation This was not my favorite disembarkation. They call so many groups down together, it created very long lines. Why have zones at all if you're going to lump them all together? Overall I really enjoyed this cruise. My experience on the ship was mostly great. I believe it was well worth the money we paid. I would go again tomorrow if I could!   Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
This was our second MSC cruise, having been on The Posea a couple of years earlier. The whole experience was brilliant, fabulous food, loads of choice, lovely waiters and cleaners. Other staff on the boat - hairdresser and cruise ... Read More
This was our second MSC cruise, having been on The Posea a couple of years earlier. The whole experience was brilliant, fabulous food, loads of choice, lovely waiters and cleaners. Other staff on the boat - hairdresser and cruise booking director need more training, not helpful at all. But the awesome shopping guide was worth loosing an hours sun bathing time, to find out where all the great deal were. The ports of call were ok, not as good as The Bahamas. Falmouth Jamaica was VERY artificial as was the last island on the itinerary. This was a Christmas cruise and apart from the decorations and the Christmas carol sing-a-long on Christmas Eve, there was nothing else. Christmas Day felt very flat, no excitement on the boat. We booked a Sunday flight and a night in Miami after the cruise, this allowed us to disembark 1st and take our luggage off. I highly recommend this strategy as having to wait around the boat for your exit time is a pain as we discovered on our first cruise. The extra night in Miami allowed us to get our land legs back! To summerise - great value for money. But if you want 24 hour entertainment and fancy food. (Lobster, crab etc) choose another line. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Just got off the Carnival Victory 4 days Western Caribbean (12-18/12-22), our 7 cruise in the last 24 months, 6 on Carnival, 1 on Royal Caribbean. I am a firm believer of having a consistent user experience that is what Carnival has ... Read More
Just got off the Carnival Victory 4 days Western Caribbean (12-18/12-22), our 7 cruise in the last 24 months, 6 on Carnival, 1 on Royal Caribbean. I am a firm believer of having a consistent user experience that is what Carnival has delivered so far. Second time on the Victory. Comparing Carnival to my sailing in Royal Caribbean, simply no comparison, maybe I took the wrong ship with Royal (Vision of the Seas) on a Western Caribbean sailing back in October for Halloween (2014). Let me share some highlights… Excellent cruise director Marcelo, second time with him (different ships), great activities on-board, good entertainment especially for kids during the Holidays and the adult comedy is always great. I am trying to understand why I see comments from people complaining about the food, to me and my wife it was great, and at the Pacific dining room we had Reynaldo, great host to our table, very attentive to all of our request. Jeffrey our cabin attendant was great and very personal greeting us by name all the time. Bar staff with Benedicto by the pool on Lido deck was great; Ayu as well on the pool bar was great. Kelly from the Netherlands in Guest Services was excellent attending to my requirements. If you are on a budget an interior cabin is the way to go, we had 2342 on Deck 2, main deck, tough we felt some movement, and it was just perfect!!!! If in Cozumel as for taxi#50, Alex you will not regret it! A Happy Carnival customer and fan!     Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We sailed out of Port Canaveral on 12/7/14 for a 7 day Western Caribbean vacation. Getting on the ship was no problem. Once on the ship we went to the buffet for lunch. I had a hamburger and some fries....so far so good. No utensils to eat ... Read More
We sailed out of Port Canaveral on 12/7/14 for a 7 day Western Caribbean vacation. Getting on the ship was no problem. Once on the ship we went to the buffet for lunch. I had a hamburger and some fries....so far so good. No utensils to eat with though so it was good I had food I could eat with my hands and not soup or salad! There were also announcements telling us to basically hurry up and eat and leave as they had many people to feed. SERIOUSLY! Hurry up and get out! Yes. I was getting a bad feeling about this one! On to the cabin. The cabin was pretty small for a large ship . We had two adults in the cabin and we couldn't move without kicking the coffee table and wastebasket . I ended up putting the coffee table in the closet and the trash can by the bed. The bed could not be accessed from the side, to get to the end tables, one would have to step or slide over the corner of the bed. This was obviously ridiculous and made the area on the side of the bed useless and wasting the already very limited square footage in the room. I gave up trying to shower with the door closed. I just left the door open and let the water fly everywhere, then put towels on the floor. Otherwise the room was clean and comfortable with the couch in front of the TV. The entertainment on board was pretty good. The Ice show was excellent and the Stage Shows were very good. They also had a comedian/juggler guy that was entertaining albeit somewhat racist. The Acrobat's were fun to watch and the overall entertainment in the theater was very good. The musical venues could have been better. I would have enjoyed more string music and a lot less breaks. Musicians do not need a break every 15 minutes! OH...and the ship was hot. Especially in the elevators. HOT.HOT.HOT! The cabin temp was fine as long as it was set to the coldest setting. The buffet dining was a disappointment with the same food basically...day after day. Pizza was awful. I just ate hamburgers for lunch. I would recommend going to the sit down dining room for breakfast and lunch. Dinner in the dining room was usually pretty good. The food was overall OK with mostly a selection for every taste. I would have preferred it to be hotter but it was never cold. Our wait staff of Sharline and Dennis were courteous and provided friendly professional service. The Maître de visited our table every night to ask about things. I was very impressed by this as I rarely have been visited by them in the past. Service in the lounges was slow because of a lack of staff. With the cruise line pushing the drink plans there is very little effort put into providing drink service. I would have to leave our table and go to the bar and wait for service for 10 or 15 minutes because there was only one bartender. Many of the Drink of the Day specials did NOT provide the souvenir glass that was promised. There was never any explanation as to why. I didn't ask. I had bigger fish to fry! ABOUT THE SHORTENED PORTS...we were notified 24 hours ahead of boarding that the port times were shortened. The ship was limping along a 3/4 speed and needed more sailing times between ports. This made our stops at the private Island in Haiti and the Jamaican and Grand Cayman very short. We felt very rushed to get back on board in time and really detracted from the cruise port experience. We did not make Cozumel at all because an infant had a medical issue and needed to return to Grand Cayman for treatment. Our understanding is that she was flown to Miami and is doing well. Everyone on the ship understood the priority of getting the child treatment. BUT, most were also in agreement that had the ship not been limping along, that we still would have been in Grand Cayman when the emergency occurred AND that even had we needed to return to Grand Cayman we would have been able to make up time in a ship that was functioning correctly. Royal Caribbean hid the fact that The Freedom of the Seas was damaged for weeks prior to our cruise and by doing so provided an inferior cruise experience to the passengers who paid big money for a top notch cruise vacation. Royal made no real apologies for not allowing us to know of the situation beforehand and provided no compensation that I'm aware of to any of the passengers other than the $15 tax on the missed stop of Cozumel. They did not even return the port charges from Cozumel. Maybe RCCL didn't get reimbursed from Cozumel for missing the port. I don't know. I just know that I and practically everyone else felt screwed by Royal Caribbean for their lack of communication and lack of compassion for peoples vacations being compromised . I'm planning on filing a claim with the BBB in an effort to receive some compensation for this cruise. I was told by other cruisers that attempting to get any response from RCCL was nearly impossible. It's also my understanding that some onboard credit and future cruise certificates were given to passengers on previous and prior cruises on the Freedom. I don't know why they felt the need to cheat us on the December 7-14th sailing. Needless to say, it will likely be a long time before I cruise RCCL again...if ever. The cost of the cruise and all associated expenses were approximately $2500 for the two of us and it was not money well spent. One final complaint. OK...two. Disembarkation was a total nightmare with at least a two hour delay getting off. Again, RCCL provided no information about the delay because if they had we could have gone somewhere and just relaxed instead of waiting in limbo for hours in line. I don't know if this delay was RCCL's fault or if it was a port issue that was unavoidable and not RCCL's fault. Now lastly. The day after leaving the ship (Monday) our credit card was charged for the approximate amount of $500 that we spent onboard including tips. That was fine...BUT they also had two $450+ holds on our account for a total of $900+ of money on hold and unavailable to us over and above the valid charge of $500. This money was not released until late in the week and was the cause of concern and worry in the week proceeding Christmas. Normally, when the account is charged for the actual onboard charges the money on hold is released immediately. Why they had two holds totaling $900+ in ADDITION to the actual charge of $500 is beyond me. My girlfriend thinks they are trying to make interest on the money. I think that RCCL is just incompetent! Anyway, that caused unneeded stress for almost a full week after we left the ship. So, If you are looking for a relaxing....refreshing vacation getaway on a cruise I would suggest a different cruise line. It seems to me that Royal Caribbean's glory days are over. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
PERSONAL Review Special Note: This review is presented in two parts: first, my own ‘Personal’ review (what happened to me) which is followed by a somewhat more objective view of the MSC Divina based on an Western Caribbean cruise as ... Read More
PERSONAL Review Special Note: This review is presented in two parts: first, my own ‘Personal’ review (what happened to me) which is followed by a somewhat more objective view of the MSC Divina based on an Western Caribbean cruise as a friend and I experienced in early December, 2014. Arrival The Ft. Lauderdale airport is not known for their efficiency and user services. Our Southwest flight on one of their newest 737-800’s was pleasant and just over 2 hours, non-stop from Providence RI. Baggage claim was the first sign that our troubles were starting. Signs and announcements claimed that Providence baggage was arriving on carousel 6. That changed to carousel 8 and then back again to 6. In the end, my traveling companion and I stood at each carousel. Our luggage arrived on carousel 7. I smiled and popped a valium. There was a cruise line rep gathering up passengers for the transfer to the Miami Cruiseport- 99% for the NCL ‘Getaway’ and us. The only reason I knew this is because as she passed by me, I noticed that she was also holding an MSC sign on the back of the NCL sign. She was less than pleased when I approached her and asked where we should go. We had purchased the transfer from our travel advisor. It was booked with MSC and added to our master bill ($40 each I think- the return was $20 each on a private van service). A 48 passenger motorcoach with 46 NCL passengers on their Getaway and 2 to the MSC Divina loaded slowly. MSC passengers were ‘tag alongs’. We waited for all the Getaway folks to board the coach first and then we took our place in the last row. The transfer was a merciful 40 minutes long. Now, the baggage drop, US Customs and escalators have become familiar and almost ‘old hat’ to us by now. We waited in separate lines to check in at what felt like a “mile long” check-in desk with dozens of MSC reps. I just about fell to the floor when my check-in clerk said, “Excuse me sir, are you sure you have the right ship? I don’t have you on any of our lists.” WHAT? I produced photocopies of my confirmation sent to us directly online from MSC with the oversight of our travel professional and that was the only thing that seemed to work. “We are sorry sir, but this information was not transmitted to us” he said more than once. I was not quite sure if he was accepting blame or throwing it back to my agent. Please know that I have been dealing with one, extremely professional and picky person who makes sure that all bases are covered when she makes my reservations. I trust her and her company and feel that whoever ‘dropped the ball’ was NOT her. My ‘clerk’ went to see his “boss” and returned after about 15 minutes and said, “Excuse me sir, but we still have that cabin available and we would be happy to accept you as a last-minute shore side reservation. Did that mean that my travel pro was then cut out of her commission? I simply said, “Put us in that cabin . . . now”. He accepted my charge card and issued an MSC room-charge card. It was about 1:30pm and I had thought that we could gain access to our cabin quickly. No. Cabins would not be ready until 3 pm. The buffet or sitting in any common area was the option. We went to the crowded buffet with our carry-on bags and waited for the call to access our Deck 10 room. Our room steward had cleaned the room but not separated the beds, so to ease his work- we stripped the linens, separated the beds and had it ready for him to make up more easily. They are all greatly over-worked and what we did was easy and he thanked us. He produced his room manifest for me to look at and sure enough- our cabin and names were NOT listed. I guess “the information had not been transmitted” to housekeeping either. Now came the most interesting challenge- dining. Our room ID – charge card did NOT indicate dining time or place: So, we boldly went to the 6 PM early seating in the Main Dining Room (The Black Crab) and requested to be seated at a table for 2 or 6. The maitr’d said “I am sorry sir, you are not on my list. We do not have any space at all. Our dining room is full and there are no empty seats.” I guess “. . . the information had not been transmitted” to Food & Beverage either. I was starting to feel like I didn’t exist. He suggested that we go to the buffet on the top deck. Like whipped puppies, we found an elevator and pressed 14. The buffet was hardly the way to open our glamorous cruise on the Divina. I don’t remember what the food was, and that should tell you how impressed I was. There was a savior. At the Reception (Front) Desk, where I was headed to blow up or commit a crime, I met a big burly man who knew how to snap out orders and get things done. I approached him with our story of woe. Pavel Gazzo, the Guest Relations Manager knew what to do! He checked my photocopy of what MSC had sent and started snapping out orders to various staff members. Things started to happen. As promised when booking, a packet of drink tickets magically appeared. The complimentary ‘no gratuities’ actually worked, and the sparkling wine and deluxe fruit basket of seasonal foods appeared on the second day of the cruise as I was changing to go to dinner. Voila: One banana and Granny Smith apples must have been “in season” in the Caribbean last December. That’s a kiwi fruit under the plastic. Have you ever peeled and eaten a kiwi fruit? The wine went to a Trivia game winner and we split the banana. The cruise was getting better. There is no more to write about. This review should give the average reader an idea of my first and last cruise with MSC. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Caribbean cruises aboard the MSC Divina (3,500 passengers) are enjoyable one-week getaways that come with a collection of offerings very different from those of other major lines serving Southern ports. To be clear, Mediterrean Shipping Company’s twelve passenger vessels serve Mediterrean and other European ports. Only one of their ships is assigned to the North American market, sailing out of Miami, mostly on 7-day itineraries. The company is obviously trying to establish a presence in a place they feel is underserved for their style of service. The point here is that MSC is attempting to make inroads to the American/Canadian markets and this cruise passenger maintains they are failing. From the outside, the ship looks beautiful. In fact, most of the cabins and public spaces are magnificent. It is a ship to be envied . . . but there are interior details to be considered. Negotiating in any direction is a challenge because there is little if any signage. Odd numbered cabins are on the port (left) side, and even on the starboard (right). It ends there. There are no front-back, forward-aft signs whatsoever. Deck numbers are hidden, even in the elevator lobbies. The Divina does maintain current industry standards; the theater is forward on lower decks, the main dining rooms are in the stern with one dining room (Villa Rossa) that can barely be found. It’s on Deck 6, but you have to go to Deck 7 and walk down one flight of stairs to get there. It takes practice and patience and makes me wonder what asylum did they put the designer of this misplaced room in such a difficult location . . . The “casino” is just outside the theater, of course. On a 2 year old ship, it looks tired and worn. Game tables are covered in a depressing dark forest green- not bright and lively green felt. Most of the 135 slot machines have aging front screens and games that 72-year old ladies who live in land casinos can’t understand. If they (the machines) look prematurely yellow and foggy . . . they are. After having cruised 23 times, I can remember that almost every passageway had “art”, some good, mostly bad . . . but I could remember the way to my stateroom by knowing that the ‘skyscraper’ came after the ‘wolf’ or the ‘Art Moderne nymph’ was just before the ‘manhole cover’. The Divina has almost no art on the walls- probably because the passageways (all of them) are too narrow. In fact, almost all walking areas are too narrow- especially those on the top deck buffet where hundreds of passengers walk at every meal. The 20 step Swarovski crystal double staircases in the atrium is a feature of the ship. They are eye-popping and worthy of a photo or two. I strongly recommend that you think twice before attempting them. Whatever you do, don’t look down and hold the handrail. Sooner or later, someone will tell you that each step cost $60,000 which means that one step is worth more than the median U.S. income, and collectively, could buy you a new Lear jet. Impressed? Food Today, food is one of the most important reasons people take cruises. The Divina offers a multitude of restaurants, both included in the price and some carrying extra charges. The difficulty is there seems to be nothing in print or online that lists which restaurants charge what. Maybe, it’s a secret. I avoided all of them and made myself happy in the main dining room, interestingly called “The Black Crab” . . . hardly a name one would expect on a ship from Italy. The Divina was built in France- it’s French ships that are built in Italy- go figure. The food is generally good (not great) with some exceptions. Menus offer a nice selection of appetizers, soups, entrees, and desserts. Seafood is special with excellent prawns (big shrimp) as a main course. Roast beef offered on two nights was a toss-up- the first was passable, the second- impossible to cut through the grizzle. Maine lobster tail was already cracked with meat bursting from the shell. Expect the traditional Baked Alaska Parade and an Italian theme night. There was one appetizer that actually brought chuckles and giggles throughout the dining room from those who ordered it. It was described in print as: Seafood Seared Scallops on a creamy risotto with Prosecco wine and smoked Provola cheese When served, there was ONE (yes- one) half-inch overcooked scallop in the middle of a sea of mushy white rice. I guess there was wine and cheese in it, but my palate has not been to any culinary institute, so I couldn’t tell. I ate the scallop and passed on the mush. Please notice the “s” on the first line- ScallopS. The top-deck buffet has two names and I still don’t know why. There are NO ship buffets arranged in any way that makes sense. The Divina is the most confusing of all. First, it’s not arranged in a straight line. It has food stations out and indented with some semi-circular. Offerings change daily, and don’t assume that all breakfast items are the same or in the same locations. There are no cooked-to-order foods. My personal favorite, smoked salmon, was not available other than by special request. There was a selection of juices, but no tomato, another favorite that was missing. I’m told that the variety of pizzas was impressive (I am not a fan) and the burgers were good. Who goes on a cruise for burgers and pizza? Worthy of note are the fresh cut cold cuts for make-your-own sandwiches and fresh breads. On the minus side- there are no spoons to stir coffee- just wooden swizzles and never enough cream, or half & half to lighten any of the Divina’s strong coffee. There are not salt and pepper shakers anywhere on the deck- just annoying tiny packets, as are all condiments. Serving plates were large, oval and scratched Melamine (or Melamac), a throwback to the 1960’s. They were tacky. Bars There are more bars and lounges (18) on the Divina than on most ships her size- pool bars, sports bars, elegant bars, disco bars, etc. Alcoholic drinks were uniformly priced at $7.25 (Dec 2014) and included all the standards, as well as some inventive libations with names that never hinted at their contents. Rum, vodka and tequila all merged their way into “Deep Blue Lagoons” or “Deck X Smashers”. Be sure to check the drink packages for significant savings and remember to bring you room key-charge card wherever you go. Service Employees of any cruise line fall into two categories. Basically, those who work for a salary (entertainers, upper cruise staff, technical staff, the Captain and engineers, etc.), and those who depend largely on tips and gratuities (room stewards, dining room staff, casino dealers, etc.). Aboard the Divina, room attendants go out of their way to stay out of your way and clean the room carefully, at least once a day, usually more. Ice (tiny buckets) and fresh towels in the morning and at night. Our steward, Garfield Williams (Jamaica) had 15 rooms on Deck 10 to ‘make nice’ every day. In a 14 plus hour day, he had a total of one hour break time, and sometimes, not even that. Would you like that job? Those employees who never receive tips showed me why. Front desk (Reception) ‘clerks’ (best word to describe them) are efficient and professional. So much so, they often come across as Field Commanders for some general staff. They do their jobs, but, on the Divina, without a sense of humor, a smile or an attitude that “the customer is always right”. The same is true for the bartenders and photo staff when they are not hunting you down to pause on the jewel staircase or the fake ship’s wheel on the dock. Most people on the service side of the industry, frequently attend ‘smile schools’. They rarely work unless it’s a Disney related enterprise. The bottom line is that MSC scores low in service, not counting their dining room and housekeeping departments. Entertainment I had heard from a number of people, and had read online, that the shows were magnificent and I shouldn’t miss a single one. Wrong. The Pantheon Theater is impressive and the shows are generally good, with some better than others. The problem is ‘sameness’. The show names and costumes change, but the productions are only slightly different. It’s the same two singers and violin player. The same dancers doing the same moves and in a one-week cruise, there was one piece of “magic”. One. I heard the song “Volare” at least twice- maybe three times during the cruise. The dancers are A+ and perform the same choreography the same way in different elaborate costumes almost every night. The stage set is the same- a number of steps with LED lighting that change colors (wow!) and sometimes move a bit to accommodate an elevator lift in the center. In one show, a trio of Oriental ladies do some impressive acrobatics and the two hand-balance muscle men cannot help but impress. The Michael Jackson Revue is OK. It is not great- and that’s from a person who has published reviews of stage performances’. There are important pieces of entertainment that I missed. There are no comedians, no novelty acts, no mix of live musicians no patriotic shows, no magicians, no feature dancers, no Broadway or Hollywood themes . . . well, by now, you get the idea. I never even went to the last show. There is no live orchestra, and the sound equipment barely makes it on a level that my profession can detect. This was confirmed to me by a sound technician who admitted that MSC had cut corners on the microphones and other important sound equipment. Lighting programming (everything is digital of course) violates one of the primary rules of stagecraft. Powerful moving Gobo beam lighting circles the audience, shining in the faces of almost everyone. While interesting, these lights have proven to be a health hazard, triggering seizures to those who cannot handle the repetitive bright flashing. This is something that should be addressed immediately. If you were hoping for a cocktail or other drink to go along with the show, forget it. There is no bar service in the theater. “Guests may not reserve seats for others before show time” is another ridiculous policy in print that simply does not work on the Divina or any cruise ship. There simply is no ships staff on duty in the theater that I saw during any of the evening shows. Saving seats on this ship is as common as any ship in the Caribbean. Again, the take-away here is that show time on the MSC Divina is grossly overrated. It is barely adequate to other like-sized ships. In the winter of 2014, the ship’s Cruise Director is a nice lady who is linguistically challenged. She mispronounces many words and speaks so fast that many guests have difficulty understanding her. Maybe I’m being too critical and her talents are right for the Divinia or a stadium. Other entertainment in smaller lounges and venues are good, but always compete with silly art auctions-at-sea. Who goes on a Caribbean cruise to buy a really ugly painting? Bingo and a number of inside lounge ‘games’ are scheduled and I will admit to enjoying Kevin’s Trivia Quiz sessions. Ports of call My cruise visited the ports of Falmouth, Jamaica; Grand Cayman, Cozumel and NCL’s (yes NCL) “private island”- Great Stirrup Cay. Any review of these ports would make this a book, so I will reserve port comments to another posting. “A Ship Within a Ship” (the Yacht Club aboard the MSC Divina) When one flies First Class, there are benefits and perks that those in Economy never see. Usually, there is a list of amenities that include special treatment from start to finish. MSC Cruises offers their version of First Class with “A Ship Wit hin a Ship”. It’s a special section of deluxe cabins, with a private elevator, concierge, pool, restaurant, etc. The balance of the passengers on any sailing receives a much different and lesser offering. It is fair to say that passengers in the Yacht Club are in a First Class setting that in almost all cases separates them in fact as well as cruise experience.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Nice ship, wonderful staff, great food, terrific entertainment. What or who ruined it were other cruisers. Guess because it was so close to Christmas and the colleges and universities were off, the young people decided to party. First day ... Read More
Nice ship, wonderful staff, great food, terrific entertainment. What or who ruined it were other cruisers. Guess because it was so close to Christmas and the colleges and universities were off, the young people decided to party. First day at sea a group got very intoxicated at upper pool bar. On the last night there was a loud party on deck 8 that continued til midnight. Loud people on balconies and people smoking where they should not be. Lesson learned here, avoid this time period for future cruising. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Pros: big ship, 3 water slides, 2 rock climbing walls, lots of hot tubs, huge gym, many restaurants, great food and service, excellent entertainment (Blue Man show is a must!), perfect for families with kids (young or teens). Cons: small ... Read More
Pros: big ship, 3 water slides, 2 rock climbing walls, lots of hot tubs, huge gym, many restaurants, great food and service, excellent entertainment (Blue Man show is a must!), perfect for families with kids (young or teens). Cons: small cabins, separated toilet & shower means you dry yourself off in the hallway of your cabin(!!), no large atrium or glass elevators, very crowded buffet at Garden Cafe on deck 15, sundeck area is small. First time on Norwegian, loved the laid-back "freestyle" cruise atmosphere. No need to dress up for dinner, no assigned dining times. Food was excellent -- lots of selections from a variety of countries (Indian, Mexican, Italian, Japanese, American). It's a party ship -- lots of dancing and music on the pool deck. Even if you're shy or feel you can't dance, they have simple line dances that anyone can join. The inside cabin is very small. There's storage, but not much room to open your suitcase on the floor. If you order room service, you'll have to eat on the bed(!!). The bathrooms = everyone hates them. The toilet and shower are separated. So, if you want to dry off after a shower and change into your pjs or fresh clothes, you can only do that in the shower, or in the small space right in front of your cabin door. While brushing your teeth or washing your hands or face, your cabin roommate will see you, as the sink is located in the middle of your cabin. Entertainment and variety of activities is excellent. Blue Man Group is a must see. I attended several lectures on board -- digital photography, upcoming cruises, Meet the Blue Men, etc and found them extremely interesting and useful. Families with kids will love the pools, water slides and rock climbing walls. Saw a lot of teens at the video arcade and basketball court. The ship attracts a lot of families, so if you prefer quiet cruises, please choose another ship. Couples who want privacy (meaning no kids), can use the Spice H2O/Haven area at the rear of the ship. It's quiet and there are 2 hot tubs, a bar and a heated (!) pool. This was my third cruise. I would highly recommend Norwegian Epic to those who: -- want great food and entertainment -- like a laid-back, relaxing cruise, without dress codes and assigned dinner times. -- like a big ship and don't mind crowds -- are traveling as a family with small kids or teens Don't chose the Norwegian Epic if you: -- like peace and quiet on your holiday -- hate small children -- hate large crowds About me: -- Late 30s, female, Canadian living in Asia. Traveled on a "girl's only" holiday with a female friend. -- My parents (late 60s, early 70s) joined me on this cruise. They loved the ship and didn't care about the small children or noise. -- I've cruised Western Mediterranean with Royal Caribbean and Middle East with Costa. This cruise was my first time with Norwegian. -- I was impressed with Norwegian and will likely cruise with this company again.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We fear that the days of feeling like Royalty while traveling as a verandah-balcony-class passenger are slipping away. The Cruise Industry may be following in the steps of the Airline industry in their effort to economize. Space is tighter ... Read More
We fear that the days of feeling like Royalty while traveling as a verandah-balcony-class passenger are slipping away. The Cruise Industry may be following in the steps of the Airline industry in their effort to economize. Space is tighter and services and amenities are being "redirected" to maintain profitability. As long-time balcony-cabin cruisers our first shock came when we saw the small 4 ft x 10ft balcony in cabin V5084 with just enough room for two of us and a couple of chairs, an ottoman, and tiny 18 inch high table. Balconies on older ships were significantly more spacious. Our Upper Verandah room was just above lifeboats #8 and #6 on Port side. The balcony was private and well protected from rain by a large overhang above, the only intrusion being maintenance crews greasing the lifeboat hoist mechanisms - which they did while docked on days 2 and 6 of our cruise. The cabin was small but adequate with very comfortable bed, and an additional couch and desk area. Bathroom with shower and small tub were fine (incl shampoo & conditioner & soap dispensers), though we wish there had been a night light; instead we kept the bathroom light on with door closed at night since light switches were hard to find in the dark. 2 cozy robes were provided. Closet space was ok but poorly illuminated. Three life-vests occupied the top shelves of the 3 closets --- these would be better stowed in the difficult to open cabinets above the couch. Volume on the small TV was poor while watching movies, even at max setting. Closed-captioning was definitively a help, but did not always work for some reason. Fortunately channel 44 announcements came through loud and clear. The morning sun was quite obvious since the curtains were not room-darkening enough. We faced away from land at Half Moon Cay and in Key West. The next shocker was the coffee - something that was always a treat on Holland in the past. It was downright mediocre and not becoming of the Dutch tradition of a "lekker kopje koffie" (delicious cup of coffee). The Half and Half was thin and milk-like. No doubt the motivation is to economize with cheaper beans and to drive coffee aficionado's to deck 11 Explorations Cafe, which features a Starbucks type coffee-shop that charges extra! Likewise, internet access is available but slow and expensive ($55 for 100 minutes). We had an excellent signal in our room, but just signing on and getting our backlog of messages consumed several minutes each time. Wi-fi calling was impossible on my t-mobile phone since the connection was too slow. The cabin stewards did their best, were pleasant, and were obviously being pushed to their limits: one afternoon my wife accidentally spilled some crackers in front of the couch, and while the room had been turned out nicely for bedtime, we found crumbs still all over the floor. When we asked about this the next day our cabin steward indicated they only had time to vacuum in the mornings. The ships' staff were excellent as always, and seemed to be even friendlier than we remembered in our past travels ... plenty of "good mornings", "how are you", "have a nice day", etc. The TAMARIND restaurant in particular was a truly exceptional experience! For the $20 extra cost you are treated to an extraordinary oriental meal, and my 1-1/2 inch thick wasabi-encrusted filet mignon put any other meat served in Lido or the Rembrandt restaurant to shame - especially the 3/4 inch drab filet they served on Steak & Lobster formal night (Note: we never ate at the Pinnacle Grill, so can't compare). Food quality and selection in general was very good and we never had stomach issues. We do suggest you plan on eating outside of "normal" hours since rush hour gets really busy. The elevators were TERRIFIC!!! Super fast and efficient with lovely waiting areas that were tastefully designed, and with roomy staircases. We loved the outside elevators with their awesome views. Other areas of the ship, in particular the main Lobby & Atrium on decks 1 & 2, seemed small and narrow, though most of the time they were not crowded. The Casino was ok but the older-type 25 cent slot machines we like to play were on the smoking side, and ventilation was inadequate to prevent drifting smoke from becoming unbearable at times. Neither of us felt compelled to attend evening performances in the Queen's lounge, and we missed the ol' days of magicians, comedians, and hypnotists. The shops are excellent, brightly lit with plenty of selection in a wide variety of prices. There was a sidewalk sale one day on Lido but due to maintenance on the the sliding roof mechanism the trapped heat and humidity from the pool and all the passengers present was stifling as we waited in long lines to pay the cashiers. The SPA was fantastic though expensive (as usual). We consider it a treat and don't mind the surcharge, though we did opt for shore days when rates were discounted. The facilities are lovely, and the very capable massage therapists had wonderful attitudes. The nearby Gym has plenty of room and equipment, with nice sea views. Exercisers have plenty of opportunity to walk on Promenade, the observation decks, and play tennis/soccer/basketball etc. on the very nice net-enclosed Sports deck. The Eurodam is equipped with the latest stabilizing equipment, but I doubt those were needed during our cruise since we had such perfect weather throughout our 7 day trip. Cabin V5084 is located exactly midships and therefore already extremely stable. We hardly felt the waves and it was only the soft vibrations of the engines that reminded us we were on a ship. In fact we didn't even experience the after cruise wave sensations that normally stay with us days after a cruise ends. So, while this new ship is technologically more advanced, for us the bottom line feeling was that of a cheapening of the cruising experience. New cruisers may have a completely different opinion, but we can't help make comparisons to our previous trips. The economic reasons are understandable, but nevertheless we will avoid the Eurodam, and its sister the Nieuwe Amsterdam, in our future travels. We hope that the older ships will maintain their stature and dignity long enough for us to enjoy a few more cruises before those too get redesigned to achieve financial efficiencies.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We are platinum members with Norwegian. We booked this Western Caribbean cruise for December in May. We arrived in Miami after spending a few days at Disney World in Orlando. Once we checked in our bags for our 12th floor balcony, we ... Read More
We are platinum members with Norwegian. We booked this Western Caribbean cruise for December in May. We arrived in Miami after spending a few days at Disney World in Orlando. Once we checked in our bags for our 12th floor balcony, we proceeded to the priority check-in. We took advantage of the kids sail free program, and we received great rates on the Balcony rooms. We were told our room was changed which had me concerned. I thought "it's already starting". The representative told us we were moved to the 16th floor. I thought, it's close to the pools so that is good for my daughter who is autistic and has a slight cerebral palsy and wears a brace on her leg. She has cruised many times including Hawaii on the Pride of America ship. We went to the fifth floor hotel staff once on the ship in the atrium to change our baggage delivery to the right room. Well, we were upgraded to a two bedroom two bath Haven complete with a butler, concierge, and more. We had double sinks with a soaking tub and a water jet shower which overlooked the ocean. We had a bottle of wine and champagne delivered to the room at no charge. Godiva Chocolates, chocolate covered strawberries. our own restaurant area. When we wanted to get off of the ship in port or tender, we were escorted right off the ship without any lines, we had exclusive seating at the shows, huge dining room and living quarters, we had our own sun deck and pool, spa to share with other haven owners. Too many things to mention, but this was by far the most relaxing we were due to the fact that we were secluded from the other 4,000 passengers or so to fight for a sun chair or a spot in the pool. In short the Epic was amazing ship and the Haven made it that much more special. What made it even more special was that we didn't even ask for it. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We've been on many Carnival cruises. This was the first on the Carnival Magic. We began our trip at the Hilton Galveston, which offered free parking for the duration of the cruise. The Hilton provides a shuttle to the port, but it ... Read More
We've been on many Carnival cruises. This was the first on the Carnival Magic. We began our trip at the Hilton Galveston, which offered free parking for the duration of the cruise. The Hilton provides a shuttle to the port, but it fills up early, and it is difficult to get a cab when there are ships in port. Get on the list early or make reservations to park at EZ Cruise. We arrived at the port a bit early and were on the ship sipping a pina colada around noon. The Carnival Magic is large, and has the general Carnival feel. It was decorated for Christmas and Hanukkah, which added an extra festive atmosphere. We very much enjoyed the Serenity Deck, the workout room, and the daily tea time- try the dreamy biscuits with clotted cream. We attended the ceremonial lighting of the menorah each evening before dinner, but there was a cultural miscommunication- the kitchen provided breakfast pancakes rather than traditional potato latkes which we all found more amusing than annoying. Service in the dining room was superb. The wait staff took care to accommodate every request. As always, the photographers on board are talented and provide some of the best portraiture around. The most notable thing about this cruise was the smoke. I'm not sure if it is the ship design or Carnival's smoking in the casino rule, but it was difficult to find a place on the Promenade Deck from the casino back to the dining room that did not have a smokey essence. The casino itself was unbearably smokey. On previous cruises, we spend time and money each day in the casino. On this cruise, once was enough. A little non-smoking emblem on a slot machine is no match for the row of chain smokers a few feet away. My eyes burned and my clothing reeked after 20 minutes at a slot machine. We spent the money normally spend in the casino in the ports- Carnival's loss. 18% of adults smoke. It seems rather unwise to drive the other 82% percent away from an income stream. I'm not allergic to smoke or an anti-smoking cruise-aider (pun intended) but until there is decent ventilation, the smoking in the casino rule will keep us from spending time and money there. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We were on the Navigator 12/07-12/14, 2014. Since being home I have read CC for the week we were on the ship. Sometimes I wonder if we are even on the same ship with some of the others. I have read complaints about no hot water, ours was ... Read More
We were on the Navigator 12/07-12/14, 2014. Since being home I have read CC for the week we were on the ship. Sometimes I wonder if we are even on the same ship with some of the others. I have read complaints about no hot water, ours was very good. Some said flooring on balconies was bad ours and all the friends travelling with us were good. We thought the entertainment was good. Food is usually the only issue because it is not the type of food that we normally eat at home, however I like trying new dishes and if we don't like something they are always so happy to bring us something else from the menu. Even something not from the menu. One night my husband didn't like any of the deserts and jokingly he said he would like a banana split. In about 5 minutes there it was before him. The whole table was surprised. The last comment I have is about embarkation and debarkation. We had no problems with either. On the 7th we walked straight through the terminal, security and waited about 3 minutes to get to the counter to check-in. After check-in we walked straight to getting picture taken for sea pass purposes then onto the ship. On the 14th we got off at our appointed time of 9:00 and had no lines in the terminal until we got to customs and we were 3 couples back. The lines were short and moving very quickly. There were others writing that is was horrible and long lines, therefore I sometimes wonder if we were even on the same ship. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We had a great cruise this December on Freedom. A child's life was saved and we made it home safely, with a loss of propulsion power. The ship was in great order otherwise. The staff were exceptional, and cruisers were friendly and ... Read More
We had a great cruise this December on Freedom. A child's life was saved and we made it home safely, with a loss of propulsion power. The ship was in great order otherwise. The staff were exceptional, and cruisers were friendly and polite. There were a lot of experienced cruises, as in diamond plus and above. Most experienced cruises did not mind missing Cozumel, while some were disappointed because the were looking forward to something there. Either way the captain makes the decisions and I am happy as long as all are safe. There was some excessive vibration in the aft, but usually only noticed this for a few minutes. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
I'm usually not one for posting reviews. However, after this cruise I had to give our highlights. My family & I have taken numerous cruise before but this was by far the best cruise we had to date. The main reason....The ... Read More
I'm usually not one for posting reviews. However, after this cruise I had to give our highlights. My family & I have taken numerous cruise before but this was by far the best cruise we had to date. The main reason....The Entertainment staff under the Cruise Director, Eversen Bevelle aka Dr. E. This entertainment team was by far the best we have experienced on Carnival. I wish I could take Dr. E and his entertainment team on every cruise we take with Carnival. We stayed at Marriott hotel the night before which was approximately 20 minutes from the port. We used Premier Parking USA which offered a free shuttle to the port. The location for parking was great but the staff at the parking lot weren't very organized. I'm not sure if I would use them again, We left out of the Port of Miami on a 7 day Western Caribbean cruise December 2014. It was a smooth embarkation and the port itself was very modern and nice. The ship was nicely decorated with Christmas ornaments and the tree in the lobby was amazing. Carnival really put on a lot of nice Christmas activities so you didn't feel like you missed out on the holiday spirit. Each day there were fun activities to do. Dr E kept you laughing, dancing and really excited about everything happen around the ship. My family and I aren't usually one for the shows, but we did get involved this cruise. The Motown review, Hasbro Game Show and Welcome Abroad show and Name that Tune were our absolute favorite. The White Heat was great. DJ Devine played good music each and every night for each age group. The Dive In Movies were also a big hit with our children because they showed movies for each age range. Our only complaint would be the activities available in the Camp Carnival program. Our son is in the Circle C (12-14) age range. He wish they had more opportunities to play the game with each other. Most of the activities in this age group were after leaving the ports (4pm). However, during sea days they had a variety of activities all day. They still weren't very exciting to our child in particular. Carnival Glory had good cuisine and variety in the dining room and on the Lido Deck. Our favorites were Guy Fieri's burgers, the Blue Cantina, Pizza and Fish and Chips. Fish and Chips is actually a hidden gem many people miss. It is located above the Home Kitchen eatery. Take the staircase in the middle near the Sweet Spot. It's only open during lunch hours. Our favorite bar for drinks was the Red Frog Rum Bar. It also seemed to be the favorite for most of the cruise passengers. The pool area in the back of level 9 (near the pizza and deli) is adults only and we didn't get a chance to use it. If you are looking for a quiet area you will probably enjoy it. You could not hear any of the music from the Lido deck activities which was a tad boring for my husband and I. We like the liveliness of being in the middle of the action. There is a bar back there as well so you don't have to miss out on drinks. Elegant nights were very laid back for the most part. We found that the picture backgrounds were better on casual nights. Most people on this particular cruise dressed up for Christmas and not for the first elegant night. The wait for Your Time Dining was very short when we went between 7:30-8:30pm. All in all this was a very exciting cruise. More details about the ports is listed below.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
This was our second cruise. Our first was a great experience with Royal Caribbean. Based on reviews, we decided to go with Celebrity this time. The experience was a great deal of fun with plenty of opportunities for relaxation; but was it ... Read More
This was our second cruise. Our first was a great experience with Royal Caribbean. Based on reviews, we decided to go with Celebrity this time. The experience was a great deal of fun with plenty of opportunities for relaxation; but was it worth the cost, and did it live up to its 5 star rating? Embarkation was smooth and painless. The Constellation had docked at terminal 4. This is a brand new building with a well organised and friendly staff. We were through the terminal and on the ship in about 15 minutes. Once on the ship, we received a complementary champagne, were just about to start exploring, and the sales pitch began. We were immediately approached by a hostess from the specialty restaurant "Ocean Liners". The hostess thrust a menu into our hands and began giving us details about the menu, service and value we would receive at this restaurant. We responded that we had already booked and paid for the other specialty restaurant "The Tuscan Grill". This did not halt the sales pitch. Feeling a little pressured, we relented and booked in for that evening. We then decided to head to our stateroom, on our way out of the lobby, we were approached by a host from the "Tuscan Grill" specialty restaurant with a similar sales pitch. He only relented when we explained that we were already booked into the Tuscan Grill and provided details of which night we were booked in. From there, we went to our stateroom. We had booked 2 inside staterooms on deck 3, one for my husband and I, and one next door for our teenage son. We were pleasantly surprised at the size of the staterooms, much bigger than on Royal Caribbean, and very well laid out. The bathroom was large enough to move around in, and the shower was huge (huge in ship terms, which is small, but much larger than the one we had on Monarch of the Seas). There was plenty of storage. So much in fact that we didn't use it all. The rooms were clean and comfortable, and the housekeeping staff met us at the door to introduce themselves. Throughout the cruise they were very friendly and always available. The Constellation has several specialty restaurants, a main dining room, and a buffet. Ocean Liners is their signature specialty restaurant, and that is where we dined on the first evening. The service was flawless. We ordered ala carte and were not disappointed both with taste and presentation. My son had the rack of lamb, I had the chateaubriand, and my husband ordered the lobster, which was prepared table side by our hostess. My husband a I enjoyed a couple of glasses of wine from the wine package we had previously ordered (the 5 bottle classic wine package). Upon leaving the restaurant, we were approached with the bill, which showed that they had originally charged us for the wine by the glass, then realized they had confused the classic wine package with the classic beverage package, reversed the charges, and told us that the remainder of our wine would be sent to the next restaurant, The Tuscan Grill. The following evening, we went to the Tuscan Grill. Once again, the service was impeccable, and the food amazing. My husband had the rib eye steak and says it was the best steak he has ever had. I had the fillet mignon, and our son had the lobster penne. The desserts were "to die for". Again, my husband and I enjoyed wine with our dinner. We had informed the waiter that we had the classic wine package and that our wine was supposed to be sent over. At the end of the meal when the bill came, we were charged for the wine. They had once again confused the beverage package. The maitre'd apologized for the confusion, admitted it was their mistake, but refused to reverse the charges. We paid, then went to Cellar Masters where after about five minutes, it was sorted out by a very helpful staff member. The remainder of the cruise, we went to the main dining room. The food was amazing, however the service was far less impressive than in the previous two restaurants. Each time we ordered something "extra" (pop, espresso), they immediately asked for the sea pass and presented a receipt to be signed, instead of waiting until the end of the meal. We selected the anytime dining which worked out well. We were able to sit at our own table and book any time we wished. For breakfast and lunch, we went to the buffet. The buffet was average, as to be expected when serving over a thousand. Activities were scheduled throughout the day, appealing to a wide variety of people. There was ballroom dancing, live entertainment in the theatre, and bands both on the pool deck and in the lounges. We especially enjoyed the trivia game shows, and the comedian showing in the theatre. There was also plenty of opportunity to sit back and relax in the many quiet areas on the decks. Our 16 year old son enjoyed the teen club activities. Our ship docked in Cozumel on Dec 24. There were several tours available to choose from. We wanted to see the Myan ruins. There was an 8 hr tour, and a 4 hr tour. We chose the 4 hr tour rather than spend hours on a bus. We really enjoyed this trip. We went to the ruins in San Gervasio, then a bus ride to The Mayan Cacao Company. The trip was very interesting, great people, very informative guide. There was plenty of opportunity for photography. On Dec 26, we docked in Key West. We decided not to book an excursion, instead opting to walk around on our own. We purchased tickets for the Hemingway House and the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum from a local vendor. The Hemingway House was amazing, and again, plenty of opportunity to wander around and take photographs. We very much enjoyed this. Next, we went to the Mel Fisher museum. Again, very interesting with amazing artifacts. Great value for money on these excursions. On Dec 27, the last day of the cruise, the ship docked at its final destination, Fort Lauderdale, at around 7 am. Since our flight was not scheduled until 7 pm, we chose to do the shopping excursion to Sawgrass Mills Mall. We were to meet our tour guide in the theatre on deck 5 at 8:45am. Our guide was then meant to escort us through the disembarkation process. However, at 8:05, an announcement was made for those of us going on this excursion to go to deck 3 and disembark. I immediately went to deck 3 and explained the confusion of the contradicting instructions to a staff member. This staff member seemed confused, spoke to someone on the radio, then said we needed to come to deck 3 right away and disembark. Therefore, we followed her instructions and disembarked. After clearing customs, we went to the front of the terminal. There was some initial confusion as we did not see a tour guide or bus. After asking several terminal staff, we were approached by a tour guide who said that we were late. We explained that were told to disembark. He said we did not follow instructions properly, then he left. About 5 minutes later, we were met by a second tour guide who was extremely helpful and informative. He said the bus would arrive shortly and stayed with us and the other guests who had begun to arrive, assisting us with our luggage, very nice. We were driven to the mall, and dropped off with a time to meet for transport to the airport. Unfortunately some people chose to be 45 minutes late for the meeting time, making everyone else late for their arrival at the airport. We were in no danger of missing our flight, but other travelers were, due to the inconsideration of people who chose not to meet the timings. The positive point about this excursion is that we didn't need to worry about our luggage, which was kept on the bus during the shopping trip, and we didn't need to try to find a taxi. The Celebrity Constellation is one of Celebrities older ships. It received a remodel to upgrade some of its amenities but is still showing some signs of age. The staff was courteous and friendly and for the most part very helpful. Celebrity sell themselves as an upscale cruise line. However, despite paying more for this cruise, we feel the service was not as good as our Royal Caribbean experience. We had a great time, and will probably sail with Celebrity again, but would like to try a different ship.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
The Ecstasy is an older ship, even though it had a recent upgrade with painting and carpeting changes. But it is old. Nothing in the cabin lavatory works correctly. toilet does not clear everything, Sink lights are burnt out. No glassware. ... Read More
The Ecstasy is an older ship, even though it had a recent upgrade with painting and carpeting changes. But it is old. Nothing in the cabin lavatory works correctly. toilet does not clear everything, Sink lights are burnt out. No glassware. Hardly any storage space. Sink stopper when activated, will not release. Don't turn shower up to 50 degrees, you will not be able to turn it back to a normal temperature. Other then these inconveniences the room was ok. A bit small. No refrig. No ice bucket. Did have a safe. Little storage space. But comfortable. Some sound from thrusters when docking. Occasional wave sounds hitting the sides. 2 Portholes give good light and vision. I don't know if it was the Xmas holiday, or if it was normal, but the main entertainment was pretty poor. Singing and dancing was not good (maybe these were holiday substitutes). And the shows were inconveniently schedules between the main dining seating times. Other on board entertainment was good, lots of variety for everyone, and the adult comedy shows seemed to be the best attended. Food in general was just OK. Breakfast: bacon was as thin and greasy as can be. Take the ham instead. Eggs were good. Stay away from any potatoes. Pastries must have been purchased a week ago. Everything else was so-so. Ice Cream was a big breakfast hit for the kids. Main dining dinners had limited selections, and the meats had little taste. Nothing to write home about. Deserts were not spectacular and had little taste. Lunch: fresh deli sandwich were always great, as well as the 24hr. Pizza. Lunch Cuisine varied daily French, American, Asian, etc. but had little variety. Hamburgers and Hot Dogs and Chicken Strips were always popular by the pool. Key West was ... Key West. It has not changed much. Just enough time in port to get off, do some shopping, walk around the old town and to Hemingway's House, then time to get back on the ship and depart. Cozumel was a long stay, but docket after noon. Little time to take a long tour to the ruins as sundown was just a few hours away, so had to stay close. Walked and shopped around town, and spent some time at Senor Frogs for some good food and a big drink. Ship was unable to leave the dock. It tried for about 5 minutes, but the winds were too strong and kept us at the dock. Three hours later, with all propellers and thrusters at peak, we were able to back out of the port, and kept going backwards for quite sometime, until we were able to turn around without drifting into something !! 50 mph head winds kept the waves hitting the sides, and the ship rocking and rolling slightly. As it was past midnight when we left, it was very nice sleeping. As it was Xmas, there was lots of caroling in the main lobby, Songbooks were passed out, and everyone participated. Very well done. All in all, a memorable trip.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Our family has not been on a cruise in 28 years - that one was arranged by a family member. Positives - staterooms were more spacious than I expected, we had 2 inside staterooms on the 8th floor. Staff very friendly, always said hello or ... Read More
Our family has not been on a cruise in 28 years - that one was arranged by a family member. Positives - staterooms were more spacious than I expected, we had 2 inside staterooms on the 8th floor. Staff very friendly, always said hello or acknowledged you on the ship. Negatives - FOOD was the biggest disappointment. Lack of variety overall - seemed like lunch items were re-hash of whatever was left over from the day before - just in a different sauce or form. Every single dessert served was inedible except the German chocolate cake which was only served the afternoon of departure. Desserts looked and tasted like styrofoam, airy, tasteless. Prime rib at Garden Cafe first and last night was reasonably good. A few of the salads were nice.Just huge lack of variety - never saw a shrimp, crab or lobster anything. Most of the on deck meals were cancelled due to wind - which was really not a strong wind. the two they did have were some of the better food served. Only saw grapefruit one day, otherwise cantaloupe, pineapple and honeydew cut fruit ever. yogurt in large dish looked so gloppy I did not even want to try it at breakfast. Excursions we booked on our own and saved about 75% over NCL prices and from what we saw and heard we had much better excursions than those who booked through the ship. Two best were BZ Cave tubing - loved Melvin our guide, great day, lunch was enjoyable, but bring a snack because you only eat at the very end of the day. Other great day was at YaYa Beach Club - club was OK, but it was Carolyn from Undertoe SUP (stand up paddle boards) and Simmone from the Yoga studio who was helping Carolyn who made our day. These two women were amazing they made our day in Mahahual - Costa Maya port the best day of the cruise! Everything you would want - smart, funny, kind, gracious, helpful, friendly. We (especially my sons 24, 22 and 19) had a blast with their lesson and just hanging out with them during the day. No they are not young 20 somethings but have this appeal that crosses generations. Simonne did an impromptu yoga session with me that was a real WOW experience, not just poses, very emotional, healing and something I never experienced before. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
The enticing itinerary of Roatan, Cozumel and Costa Maya, was the reason we chose this cruise departing from Tampa. The port stops were lovely and we had some great excursions including cave tubing, zip lining from 9 platforms, horseback ... Read More
The enticing itinerary of Roatan, Cozumel and Costa Maya, was the reason we chose this cruise departing from Tampa. The port stops were lovely and we had some great excursions including cave tubing, zip lining from 9 platforms, horseback riding, fishing and shopping.The tour guides were very helpful and friendly. One caveat the 6 hour fishing excursion in Roatan is advertised as leaving from the dock as you disembark the ship. It did leave from a dock---- following a 1 hour bus ride to the opposite side of the island. This was clearly false advertisement. The ship on the other hand was a disappointment in several regards. The food in the breakfast and lunch buffet was uninspired, lacked variety and was mediocre. We ate breakfast in the main dining room hoping for better fare. We ordered eggs benedict and were served hard boiled eggs on luncheon ham with no Hollandaise sauce. The main dining room fare was better; excellent French onion soup, great rolls, decent entrees and a delicious turkey with dressing for Christmas day. The servers were very good. We dined in Chops where they had a delicious Forest Mushroom soup and excellent strip steak. The evening we dined in the Izumi specialty restaurant was disappointing and unacceptable. A couple had brought 2 children, one appeared to be around 18 months and the other age 3. The youngest screeched through dinner and the older attempted to climb the room divider as if he were on a playground, all the while the parents were oblivious to the disturbance they were making. Apparently RCL does not have any age standards in place for this specialty restaurant. The Solarium is designated as an adults only pool but there was no dedicated staff member to monitor this and children were in abundance. In general the ship public areas were clean and attractive, but the ship is aged and needs a redo. Also the public restrooms would benefit from more frequent cleaning. In summary, after having sailed on Celebrity and Holland America we expected more. We will not again sail on RCL. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We were very excited to join the royal loyal following of RCI only to be met with disappointment after disappointment on this, our first (and possibly last) cruise with RCI. This was not only the Christmas cruise but it was our honeymoon ... Read More
We were very excited to join the royal loyal following of RCI only to be met with disappointment after disappointment on this, our first (and possibly last) cruise with RCI. This was not only the Christmas cruise but it was our honeymoon as well. A few highlights: 1) Our a/c was not working properly and our room never fully cooled. They tried to fix it - once - but it did little to alleviate the problem. Actually, the whole ship was overheated - we were sweating at dinner, walking in the halls and for SURE in the un-airconditioned elevators. 2) Service was sub-par. Our server was exceptionally awful and rude and eventually just 'left the ship' when we docked in Jamaica (his home country). Room service attendant sighed at me and argued with me (claiming they had NO salads with chicken on them, which was untrue and she later realized), etc. 3) Food was disgusting. Greasy, bland, cold....even the 'grilled' chicken left a grease film on our plates. They also close all dining options at 9 unless they're paid restaurants, and the room service menu is very limited. 4) Limited hours - of everything. Instead of a carefree vacation we felt strapped to timetables the whole time. 5) The TV booking system didn't work correctly which caused us to miss our excursion. 6) Little decoration for Christmas on this, the Christmas Cruise. The best part? Disembarking was quick with the self-serve option. All you have to do is schlepp your own stuff and have a US Passport and you're homefree! Read Less
Sail Date December 2014

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