7 Houston Senior Cruise Reviews

This was my 5th cruise, but my first cruise with Princess. I have sailed with Disney and with Carnival for my other cruises. I absolutely love cruising and being out on the ocean, and try to look at the brighter side of things when things ... Read More
This was my 5th cruise, but my first cruise with Princess. I have sailed with Disney and with Carnival for my other cruises. I absolutely love cruising and being out on the ocean, and try to look at the brighter side of things when things happen because I believe it's what you make it. This cruise tested me and my attitude, that's for sure. I took my niece for this cruise, this is her 3rd cruise, and it was quite the adventure we will never forget. She was turning 14 at the end of the cruise, so it was a celebration while on board, but I'll cover that in a bit. We drove to Houston on Saturday, March 5th, and stayed at the Marriott by Courtyard at NASA. It was a nice hotel, and we enjoyed it. No complaints other than there was no "free" breakfast, but we knew that before we booked, and planned on eating lunch on the ship, so it wasn't a concern. Driving into the hotel was beautiful, there were structures of astronauts and planets and lovely palm trees. We stayed in an accessible room apparently, as we had a doorbell and none of our surrounding rooms did, but being a child of someone who requires accessible rooms, I wasn't impressed at anything else in that area, as the doorbell and light was the only thing I noticed that was really different than any other room. The room was clean and very spacious. There was a desk with a chair and also a sitting chair. There also was an iPod dock (something we read about in the advertisement when we booked the room), but it was for older apple devices, as the charging port was the larger style instead of the smaller newer ones. No biggie since we brought our own chargers for the cruise. We got up and drove to the port, it was an easy drive, about 10 minutes away. We prepaid for parking and saved $5. We dropped off luggage with a porter first, then we had to drive all the way back around and check in with the ticket booth. We were directed where to park and the shuttle was right behind the car waiting to pick us up to take us back to the building. We had to stop at a table and fill out a health questionnaire and then proceeded into line and was quickly checked in. We were handed two ship maps/deck plans with our cabin number on it. We both traveled with our birth certificates, and nothing was ever said about her not being with another adult or not being my child, but I had a notarized statement ready just in case, as well as my marriage certificate, as we have been asked to provide both on previous cruises (but not every time). Back to back boarded first, and then we were able to board. We went straight to our cabin, R407. It was an inside cabin that was sideways. Pictures I had previously found online led me to believe the cabin was much larger than it actually was. We have stayed in sideways cabins before (on DCL) and it was our favorite, but I was shocked at the size (or lack of) of this cabin. Our cabin steward came and introduced himself. We checked out the bathroom, and I'm still trying to get over how incredibly small the shower was. This was the smallest room, the smallest bathroom and the smallest safe I have ever had. I have a hipster Vera Bradley purse, and it wouldn't fit in the safe. So I tried putting my folder of documents in there, and it wouldn't fit either (it's a regular size folder). I also noticed there was no drain in the bathroom floor (other than the actual shower drain), like I'm used to on Carnival, and I did flood the bathroom several times (even the water didn't have enough room in that shower! Ha!) We pre-ordered the Sodas and More package, and was expecting the cups to be in our stateroom, but they weren't. Once we unpacked (our luggage arrived while we were unpacking our carry on luggage), we decided to go explore and have lunch. I stopped at a table they had set up for the beverage packages and asked about the cups, and he stated if you pre-order the package, you no longer receive the cups. I stated that that was disappointing and ridiculous. We did receive the cups in our cabin on the 3rd night with a note saying we pre-ordered that, and that we prepaid our gratuities. I also requested on the last night a cake be delivered for my niece's birthday, they also informed me the door would have some decorations. I brought some just in case, because I noticed every time I spoke with someone on the phone about anything, it was different every time, so I wanted to be prepared. Of course, there were not any decorations, so I hung my own, and the next night, we had the ship decorations added. We went to lunch at one of the sit-down restaurants and met some really nice people. We had to share the table with 3 other couples. Lunch was good, service was quick, especially the drinks (Carnival I feel fails in this area). After lunch I stopped by Guest Services to see if there is a limit I could put on my niece's card, and they informed me that isn't how it worked, but I could block some spending from bars, shops and casinos. I just left it alone, as I felt she was responsible enough and we had agreed on an amount. Turns out, there wasn't really anything either of us was interested in buying in the whole 7 days, so she didn't spend a single penny. We were both pretty disappointed with that. The night before we left, we found out we weren't going to be visiting Princess Cays (VERY disappointing), so we went to the excursion desk to try to find something for Nassau (they replaced PC with Nassau), so we booked the Discover Atlantis tour. Then it was time to go to the Muster Drill. We had to take our life jackets (you don't on CCL and DCL), but at least the drill was indoors. We also had to try on our life jackets which scared my niece because she already knew about the generator, and being that in depth of a drill, she wasn't used to, so she was nervous. After that, we went to the "Sail Away Party", but left early because it wasn't much of a party at all, at least not to our standards. We made our last phone calls before putting our phones on airplane mode and got connected to the Princess @ Sea app. You have to find your account number to add people to your list, and you don't get notified of any new messages, so the only thing we wound up using the app for was checking our stateroom balance. She was pre-registered for the youth club (the teen one, Remix). There were 70 total kids onboard. 70. Out of 3,000 + people, only 70 of them were children. It was spring break in Texas. I had heard that Princess is labeled as "Heaven's waiting room", and after this cruise, we believe it! There were scooters, canes & walkers EVERYWHERE. I have NOTHING against that, like I stated before, one of my parents is disabled, and uses a scooter, and a cane, and I am fully aware of the need for those things, and have respect and courtesy for those people, but I can't figure out how we didn't have power failure at night when all of those things had to recharge! I had never in my life seen so many. We finally made an ongoing joke the whole cruise to see how many groups we could find - knitters, readers, card players, and bar hoppers. (Every single time we went by this one bar, the same couple was there, and in the same seats.. seriously - every. single.time.) This cruise / cruise line / ship is not for young families or children. They seemed to have one CD that they played on repeat the entire 7 days in all of the public spaces, and about the "newest" pop song on it was "Shake It Off" by Taylor Swift. We went to dinner in the Island Dining Room (we had anytime dining) around 5:15 and had no wait. The service was good, the food was alright. We went to the 7:00 "Welcome Aboard" show. It was okay. The theater was small to have a ship occupancy of 3,000 + people. It wasn't like Carnival, but more like Disney. Arms on each seat instead of couches, and in one side of the arm, there is a table you can pull out- but if you have any size stomach at all, don't count on using that. Around 10 we went to the room, basically for a lack of anything else to do. We figured maybe tomorrow would be better since it's a day at sea, usually there are lots of activities happening on those, so we were looking forward to it. Turns out, every single day was a bore. I am one of those people who cringe when I hear someone say they are bored. I was raised not to say that, and that there is always something to do, but I was actually bored on this cruise. They had a holiday sale, and the shirts were $10 each. We got excited and ran to the shirt table, to find that the shirts said Western Caribbean, Cozumel, Belize and Roatan. (NOTE - our ports were Eastern Caribbean, Key West, Freeport and Nassau)..... I still can't figure that out. Another day, they had a "special" sale - 2 shirts for $20. IT WAS THE SAME EXACT SHIRTS. And, it's the same exact price!! We are still laughing about that one. On the "Fun Day At Sea", there were events like golf chipping in the pool, some movies, the shopping spotlight show (which we think should be renamed "The Diamonds International Show" - as that was 95% of what was discussed..... for nearly 2 hours.) The free gifts were some bamboo lei's, a Del-Sol tote bag, 1 shirt, 1 frisbee and a "diamond" necklace. This night was formal night, and people do go formal pretty well on this ship (comparing to CCL). The lines were SO long for dinner, we decided to go back, get "normal", and head to the buffet. We didn't want to miss the show (that's about the only thing exciting we had been waiting for all day). The buffet was good, and actually, due to menus in the dining room, we ate the buffet nearly every night. One night they had fried chicken on the menu, so we went, and sat next to a lady who informed us fried chicken was one of the worst things you could put in your body, and we had to hear a health speech during the whole dinner. The fried chicken was gross, and we couldn't eat it. We hit the buffet after the show. Note - I normally NEVER miss dining in dining rooms for dinner. In fact, out of 5 cruises, this was the first time I had ever eaten in the dining room, so eating in there nearly every night really says something!! I normally love dressing up and going to the MDR and enjoying the atmosphere, but not here. Not this time. We went to the comedian's show in the Explorer's Lounge. A lot of shows and games were hosted in this lounge, and if you want to go, get there AT LEAST 30 mins. early to get a good seat (We usually shot for an hour). The comedian was hilarious and the best part of the cruise! We were sad he didn't win Entertainer of the Year (that was happening during this sailing). We hit the Captain's Welcome Aboard "Party", and saw the "champagne waterfall", and the line of people to take a picture of themselves supposedly pouring some champagne, but the captain actually did the pouring, and it really wasn't a waterfall. It took 12 bottles, so you can imagine how long that took, with people stepping up a small ladder, smiling, pour a few dashes, and then the next person came. We went to a few game shows they had onboard, Majority Rules, Marriage Game Show, Liar's Club, Yes/No Game Show (our favorite), etc. You don't want to miss the Yes/No Game Show, it's pretty funny watching people try to avoid saying yes and no for 3 minutes, and most people can't make it. The evening show in the theater was Born to Be Wild or something like that. We sat in the middle of the 2nd row. The rows are close together in that once your in, you don't leave until it's over if you are in the middle. We never sat in the middle again. This show was supposed to be about a road trip and had songs such as "Life is A Highway", "I've Been Everywhere", etc. I'm still trying to figure out why the female dancers dressed as night walkers (thong leotards, SUPER mini skirts, bras, etc.), and danced as if the only thing missing was a pole. My niece turned and looked at me when the thong lady came out during "Life is a Highway", and our jaws were both dropped. Now, the old man in front of us was clapping and cheering, and we thought he may have a heart attack he was so excited. I would have been REALLY upset if my child was younger. I just don't understand the need for that with those kinds of songs, and for a "family" friendly show. After the show, we walked around the upper decks to see if anything was happening (we usually don't go to bed until around 3 am on CCL and DCL), and usually by 10:30 this ship was pretty well shut down other than the casino and the piano bar. The next day was supposed to be Key West, but as we sailed right by it, it was decided that it was going to be cancelled. The captain came on the intercom system and said due to the wind we were not able to dock. Trust me, the ship's atmosphere REALLY sank after that!! We ran to the shore excursions desk to find something to do in Freeport now, as we were just going to "wing it" since we knew we would be having lots of fun in Key West and in Nassau, but now, I was determined the rest of this trip was not going to be ruined. Of course, like everyone else, the whole reason we picked this week was for KW and PC, and now that both were cancelled, I was rather irritated that I didn't just wait a week (the next week is my spring break and I was off). I do understand the weather is out of people's control, but I don't understand about Princess Cays. Supposedly the generator was not working correctly and we were informed we wouldn't be able to travel at full speeds, but we did. There was a lot of discussion about that among passengers. Before the 1:00 port time, there wasn't much going on, Knitters & Knatters, Back Pain Relief, Jewelry sales, Art sales, etc. They announced they would be putting out a new Princess Patters that would start at 1:00 with new activities. Not much was offered different from before, with the exception of a few games (pictionary, etc.) Pretty disappointing day. I had been looking forward to the Stargazing that they have been advertising a lot, and I love stars, but it was too windy, so they cancelled that also. The employee stated they would try it again on our last night at sea, so I was hopeful (NOTE - the last night at sea was gorgeous, and I have never seen the moon shine on the sea quite like it did that night - and NO, they did not reschedule stargazing!!) For Freeport, the Shore Excursion employee recommended we do the All-Inclusive Beach, and we did. There wasn't an option to not do all-inclusive, and most of the choices were garden tours, history tours, etc., so we jumped on this opportunity even though we don't drink. We met off the ship in the pier, and had an A/C bus ride to the beach (about 20 mins away), and it was only us cruise passengers. It was a BEAUTIFUL beach. They did serve alcohol to an underage kiddo - more than once actually - because he and my niece became friendly (I told her after watching him partake of the drinking games 3 times and downing shots like it was nothing - she is to no longer hang out with him!). His parents were busy doing their own thing - like they did the whole entire cruise. It was apparent this kid has his own room with his little brother and mom and dad didn't have any control or care what happened, as he even talked about the bar staff on board giving him drinks one night when we all had dinner together. (This was before the beach, and I thought he was just trying to be a big shot in front of my niece, I now realize he was probably serious, and he probably drank it!) We tried to make it to the magic show for 2 of the shows, but couldn't find a seat for the one did in the Explorer's Lounge. Each contestant for Entertainer of the Year performed 2 shows - one in Explorer's Lounge (the place you need to get to 30-1 hr ahead of time), and one in the main theater. Each show was supposed to be different. My niece stood the whole time for this magic show in the back, but I went and sat in the Piazza area and people watched. The night before the last night, at 4 something in the morning, we awoke to our drawers flying open, hangers banging, and some strange noises. Come to find out, we were in the middle of a pretty bad storm. Most all of us and our neighbors were out of the cabins (pj's and wild hair and all!) and several of us went to the top deck to see what was happening, and then down to deck 7. I have some video of the waves from deck 7, and it was really something! It was a LONG night that night, because by this time, we were so done with this cruise, and now the storm, and we were just ready to go home. I also wanted to note, there were no towel animals in our cabin. To some, that's probably not a big deal at all, but it's pretty sad for us when it's something you look forward to. The service on this ship was great and overall speedy. I really enjoyed having the Sodas & More package, we enjoyed a total of 73 mocktails over 7 nights, so it was worth the price for us ($8.05 per person, per day). We went to one of the "Fun Deck Parties" one night, and it was literally just me and my niece, and one person walking by.. which I also have on video, because I knew my friends and family back home would find it hilarious, comparing to what we've done before. Overall, if you are 70+, you will probably enjoy this ship. And I don't mean that to be rude, not by any means!!! If you are looking for nothing to do, you will enjoy this ship. But don't go expecting to have fun in the same sense you would on a CCL or DCL ship (Again - I don't drink alcohol, I'm not some party animal, and I don't go to night clubs... but I do enjoy people watching, getting something to eat, trivia's, games, comedy shows, and so on... not just knitting and origami....) Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
My husband and I booked this cruise because we had never been to Houston and wanted to see if it would be a good place for future cruises. We have cruised on most of the major cruise lines except Holland America and Disney. We are ... Read More
My husband and I booked this cruise because we had never been to Houston and wanted to see if it would be a good place for future cruises. We have cruised on most of the major cruise lines except Holland America and Disney. We are Platinum Latitudes passengers. We did not have a good beginning to our trip since our flight from Halifax at 5:30 AM on Air Canada was delayed (and then cancelled) which meant we would miss our connection in Toronto. I won’t bother with details but we will not be flying with Air Canada again unless they are the only airline left. Instead of getting into Houston at noon we got to our hotel at midnight! Anyway, we booked a RideWe car to take us from our hotel (Ramada:Airport) to the cruise terminal. The drive is over 45 minutes and not cheap. We arrived at the port around 10:30 and we were in group four to board. That all went smoothly and we were on the ship by noon. We had a mini-suite #11632 on deck eleven and everything was fine in the cabin. There was a lot of storage space and we had a bathtub in the cabin. The balcony was the normal size and the chairs did not recline. We had ordered an egg crate pad for the bed because I didn’t expect a 10 year old ship to have soft beds. I would not recommend this cabin however because it was quite noisy after 10 PM. The deck above had a restaurant so I don’t know what the noise was but it sounded like people wrestling and falling on the floor. The muster drill was in one of the dining rooms and it is always tedious. You are better off to watch the safety information on the television. We discovered that is it not very warm in Houston in February and we were both wearing shorts and t-shirts. In the morning it was only about 50 F and didn’t go much above 60F in the afternoon. So the first two days of the cruise were not warm enough to swim. Only one of the pools (two total) was heated and it was not the adults only pool. There were only four hot tubs and most of them were filled with children. FOOD – The food was quite good although we did not use the buffet as much as usual because we had a dining package. The MDR was very good and breakfast was excellent in the buffet. I was very surprised at the size of the buffet restaurant. It is very small compared to any other ship I have been on. It only takes up half of the back of the ship so it was nearly impossible to get a table at the window and always crowded. We ate at Moderno and the cheese rolls were awesome but we were not too fussy about the rest of the meal. We ate at Cagneys twice and both were very good. One meal was at Le Bistro and that was a big disappointment. The baby potatoes were raw and inedible and the string beans had all the stems still on them. However my husband did enjoy the lobster tail. ENTERTAINMENT- We only went to two shows since we were busy with other things most of the time. The dance show was very good. However, the Tenors of Rock were terrible. The four men have incredible voices so I have no idea why they had to sing screaming rock/roll songs. They pretty much ruined every song and the first one was so loud that people actually got up and left the theater. We both wear ear plugs to the shows and even with them in the music hurt my ears. We would have left but we were sitting in the middle seats and didn’t want to bother other people. We also thought that this ship had mini-golf and discovered that it doesn’t. There are only two shuffleboard courts and that was all the sports you had unless you played basketball or tennis. CASINO - Typical ship casino which didn’t seem as smoky as most of them. Staff were friendly and they had a lot of penny slot machines. EXCURSIONS – We did all our own excursions. In Cozumel we went to an all-inclusive for the day which was excellent. We tendered in both Roatan and Belize and that is always a headache. We went to another all-inclusive in Roatan but I will not be doing it again. Roatan is just too small a place to handle large cruise ships and we had three of them in port when we arrived. There is only one road in and out of the port and it is a narrow, two-lane road. It is total chaos and we will never bother again. In Belize we just went in to look around the shops. Another big problem was finding a lounger on the pool deck. We always try to get loungers in the shade and as far from the music as possible. We picked two that were at the back and next to the towel exchange room. Then the SMELL hit us! It was like a sewer! Disgusting! We moved up a row and about 10 loungers away and the smell was still there. We left. SHOPPING - Not very good at all. This ship did not have separate shops but instead had one very large room with everything in it. A very limited selection of clothing and no fancy lanyards at all We wanted to buy some Aloe Vera gel after getting some sunburn in Roatan but discovered that they had sold out of it the day before. I would think that they should have enough previous experience with the itinerary to know how much of this they should have in stock. I normally bring my own but this time I didn’t bother thinking that I could buy it on the ship if I needed it. DISEMBARKATION - This was a big disappointment. We had yellow luggage tags which were the first ones off the ship after the Haven passengers. We had an early flight and knew that our drive to the airport would be at least 45 minutes. The ship docked at 7 AM and they were allowing passengers to “walk off” at 7:15 so we expected our luggage to get down to the pick-up area by 8 or 8:15 AM. We went down and were herded into an area beside our luggage and had to wait, and wait and WAIT until hundreds of other passengers disembarked and picked up their luggage. We could see our luggage but we were not allowed to go and pick it up. We did not get out of the terminal until after 9 AM. The other problem was our room steward. He was very friendly but apparently either very overworked or slow. We did not get our mattress pad installed until 8:30 at night and although we told him when we were dining every night (and put our sign out to have our room turned down) it was never done when we returned. Instead he would be starting it and we would leave or he would show up and we would go out on our balcony. In the mornings our room was never made up until around 11:30 AM. I enjoy NCL ships but we will be sticking with the newer, larger ones and leaving from Florida in the future. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
This was our first cruise on Norwegian. The room was very small compared to other ships I've been on. This was not a luxury-appointed ship - very basic. The ship store was very, very small with very little in it. The entertainment ... Read More
This was our first cruise on Norwegian. The room was very small compared to other ships I've been on. This was not a luxury-appointed ship - very basic. The ship store was very, very small with very little in it. The entertainment was average, at best. This particular cruise had a Nickelodean theme and therefore I think it was more family-oriented. Food was average. There was more than the normal number of specialty dining restaurants, which led me to believe they were more interested in getting you into those restaurants to spend money than they were to making good food in the buffet and main dining room, although the main dining room was beautiful and never busy. The servers in the dining room were very attentive. Our steward was a very nice guy, but he seemed to be overloaded, like maybe they had cut back on stewards so he had too much to do. The hallways were always crowded with cleaning supplies. I would rate this ship on par with Carnival - nothing special. I was expecting more due to the rating of the ship. I don't think we'll sail on Norwegian in the future. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
This is probably our 20th cruise. This is our first Norwegian Cruise Line trip. We bought the all inclusive package with tips included. Our room was nice and the room steward was nice- but average. Our waiters at dinner where pretty ... Read More
This is probably our 20th cruise. This is our first Norwegian Cruise Line trip. We bought the all inclusive package with tips included. Our room was nice and the room steward was nice- but average. Our waiters at dinner where pretty good but we ate at the fine dining restaurants every night. My big concern was the archaic system for paying (which ironically, we did not have to pay because we bought the all in or all inclusive package). We were told it was for record keeping. There seemed to be limited staff to get you drinks and then there system for paying took close to another ten minutes. One time at a pool bar, it took over 20 minutes to order a drink and another significant period of time for the payment process to occur. They took your cruise card, used it through an old time card reader. Printed a receipt, then brought you the receipt and had you sign it. Yet getting on and off the ship was quick and they keep pretty good records just electronically. The casino had card readers that the bar staff carried around. One night at the Spinnaker Bar where I was the only one at the bar, the bartender was taking a pictures of what looked like an officer (at least he had that type of uniform). So I waited. When he finally got to me, he told me the bar service staff would bring me the drink. I looked over at the only staff member present, and now he was taking pictures of his officer friend. I had always though the customer comes first. This obviously is not the case with the bar staff. I felt that whoever is in charge is at fault. The staff seems to be poorly trained, yet often there were working as fast as they could, there system created a good part of the back log, and this detracted from our experience. I have sailed with Carnival, Princess, RCL, Windstar, Regent and Uniworld prior to NCL. We even sailed with Renaissance which is not longer in business. I doubt we will cruise again with NCL again. Most the service was average except for the bar service which was poor. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
Our 9th cruise (4 NCL, 2 Carnival, 1 Celebrity, 1 Holland prior to this one). Arrival and embarkation were no problem, very fast. We prepaid parking since we were local to save the 5 bucks. Disembarkation was well organized and pretty ... Read More
Our 9th cruise (4 NCL, 2 Carnival, 1 Celebrity, 1 Holland prior to this one). Arrival and embarkation were no problem, very fast. We prepaid parking since we were local to save the 5 bucks. Disembarkation was well organized and pretty quick as well. Cabins available very early. Cabin - See cabin review, would have liked it better except C248 has a worn out mattress, hopefully not a common theme on this ship. We did get locked out of our room one morning. If you see other than green lights when unlocking your room, the battery that unlocks the door may be weak. We waited about 5 minutes for someone to come and unlock it and replace the AA's. Dining - Dinners were generally good. Just one or two times when service was slow, but usually service was much faster than other ships we have been on but did not feel rushed. We were anytime diners and rarely had to wait and then not for long. Dress code in main dining rooms is a suggestion only, we saw one woman in shorts and tank top on formal night! Breakfast was our least favorite in the buffet. I joke not when I say the hottest thing at breakfast might be the plate if it is fresh from the dishwasher, food was consistently lukewarm at best. Some improvement for sit down breakfast. Variety at breakfast not as good as other cruise lines. We did find going to the international cafe for the (free) breakfast items a good option and my daughter liked the gelato there for $1.50 for 3 scoops. The buffet also uses plastic coffee cups, not ceramic like most ships. Probably not an issue for most, but the plastic retains the coffee odor and I'm a tea drinker and my tea smelled and tasted like coffee sometimes. I'd bring my own cup next time. Afternoon tea uses ceramic cups and is generally a pleasant experience, though they just serve Lipton. They actually have the same tea deserts at the buffet at the same time and you can pick your tea if you prefer it that way. Lunches were just ok, pizza and burgers were ok, expect lines but they moved pretty fast for us. The buffet area is not big, fewer choices than newer ships out there. Activities - Our favorite was actually the movies in the theater. Pretty recent movies shown in the theater during the day when there are no shows going on. They might want to serve popcorn but we often brought our lunch/snacks in with us (trays in the armrests). Trivia was the typical with pretty competitive groups, yes or no show was mostly fun. Golf is a putting green, they have croquet but you have to use golf putters to hit the balls (no mallets), and shuffleboard is not workable in the corner arrangement they have (plus broken parts). Fitness facility was not very crowded. Few channels on the treadmill TVs and quite a few with fuzzy reception (bring your own earbuds). Service - One of the best parts of the ship. Other than the mattress issue with customer service, everyone was top notch. Entertainment - Mostly good. We're not into the Vegas style shows though other reviews will give you an idea, but we liked the comedian (mostly family friendly), the illusionist was typical for a cruise ship - ok, and the comedy singer was good - including his second performance. Excursions - We did one excursion through Princess, Amazing Secret River, Caverns and Playa Del Carmen (Rio Secreto) (ferry to Playa del Carmen, van ride to facility, don wet suit, hike/swim thru cave/river with stalactites (uneven walking surface, think twice before bringing kids under about 12), reverse the process with shopping time at Playa). We liked this one (16 yo daughter said it was her favorite of the trip) and given the timing, doing it thru the ship is the only way to go. In Roatan, we did a zip line thru South Shore Canopy Tours/Zip Line Adventures, trying to avoid the companies the cruise lines use to avoid the crowds, we prepaid with no problem, walked to meet them per their instructions, somewhat hot van ride to get there (people in the front row took all the ac vents) but overall a good time, a nice zip line and good value, felt safe. In Belize, we did the cave tubing thru Belize X-Stream Cave Tubing (part of Island Marketing). There are many companies offering the cave tubing. One big difference in my opinion, this one offers a 2-cave tour, you carry your tube about 10 minutes longer but get to do 2 caves. This matters because we were basically the only group in the first cave about 11 people and 2 guides, when we got to the second cave we joined everyone else from all different companies about a hundred people or more, not shoulder to shoulder but much more crowded. They tie your tubes together in a chain of 5 or 6, try to be in the front to hear the guide better. This is in a national park, multiple companies come here and x-tream brings people on several tours that start and finish in the same place - 2 cave tubing, 1 cave tubing & zip line, zip line only. Take earliest tender you can, they load vans as they get enough people and earlier departure means earlier return. Ship - The ship itself seems nice and did not seem crowded. Plenty of venues and always a place to sit and relax if you want. Pools didn't seem too crowded and this was spring break. Too bad there are no slides at the pool, but we knew that going in, Princess doesn't do slides (I'd say they cater to an older crowd). Hot tubs in the sanctuary were better, in the main pool area the jets were minimal. The nights where the casino was non-smoking made it easier to walk thru it. Scored enrichment low because there wasn't any. Other passengers - Did overhear a couple drunks at dinner one night (last formal night), a woman at the table next to us who just wouldn't keep her voice down and repeated the same curse words at regular intervals and a middle-aged man who was trying to dance in the dining room with a 21 yo girl from another table. Get a good mattress and temper your expectations about breakfast and a few other things and this is a fine cruise and a good value. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
We took this trip to see if my 87+ year-old husband's new knee was up to traveling any more. To make everything as easy as possible we took Princess' hotel package in Houston that included transportation to the port. It was a ... Read More
We took this trip to see if my 87+ year-old husband's new knee was up to traveling any more. To make everything as easy as possible we took Princess' hotel package in Houston that included transportation to the port. It was a great deal and everything went smoothly, making us wonder why we haven't taken the cruiseline packages before. Airport Mariiott was very satisfactory and access from the airport couldn't have been easier. The Emerald Princess is one of the most beautiful ships we have been on in 30+ cruises. Service was outstanding, the food was good. Our room steward Arkadii was always available and anxious to make us comfortable. Embarcation and debarcation were handled very well. Fog caused a delay in sailing until about noon the following day, but we didn't care, we were comfortable and happy and I didn't have to plan or cook the meals or make beds, etc. Western Caribbean ports aren't too interesting but we knew that in advance and have done this cruise before. Our only problem was the noise level in all the public areas of the ship. Loud music everywhere! We couldn't enjoy the Lido deck at all because of deafening music. Entertainment was only so-so at best. Every moment was a shopping opportunity and we are not shoppers. We have come to the conclusion that Princess now caters to a much younger demographic than we are and probably won't sail with them again but my husband proved that he can still travel.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
Several years ago my wife and I sailed to Alaska aboard the NCL PEARL and had a wonderful time with great food including lobster the first night. We are retired and this latest Caribbean cruise aboard the Jewel for our 50th anniversary was ... Read More
Several years ago my wife and I sailed to Alaska aboard the NCL PEARL and had a wonderful time with great food including lobster the first night. We are retired and this latest Caribbean cruise aboard the Jewel for our 50th anniversary was disappointing in many ways. Smaller Atrium with only a piano and no live music. The buffet food was not that good, had burnt crust pizza, luke warm food, tough meat, biscuits that crumbled apart, some of the buffet food was good, but it was usually everyday common food. Lots of children running all over, some people dressed like slobs. The Azura and Czars palace restaurants had better quality food and great service but we were annoyed by roaming photographers and a "loud mouth" we shared a table with. Cagney's was very good and enjoyed the meal, superb waiter service, but within one hour later we both had a diarrhea from it, perhaps the mushrooms? Never did see any lobster, king crab, prime rib anywhere except the "specialty restaurants". On disembarkation, we saw a poster advertising prime rib that night at O'Sheehan's bar and grill (was not on our cruise). All the alcohol drink prices very high with automatic gratuity of 15%. The head bartender at the cocktail lounge didn't know how to make a Bacardi cocktail and insisted it was Bacardi rum mixed with Pepsi or just on the rocks. Oh boy!!! The ship itself (Jewel) was older than the Pearl, not as nice but was well kept up. I got scolded by one of the photographers (Russian girl) for taking a photograph inside that area and was ordered to delete it off my camera. Our stateroom was clean and comfortable, the stewardess was FANTASTIC, so very friendly and took care of all our needs, gave her a big tip. Theater shows we attended at the Stardust theater were good, but many did not appeal to us because they were for children or adult themed. Unlike the Alaska sailing, all there was to see, was the sea itself and not much to do on board except eat, drink, gamble, walk around, sit by the pool (water too cold to swim) or go into the hot tub for a little while. The shore excursions were okay except for the switch NCL pulled on us... we booked our cruise when Roatan was port of call, and made plans for a good shore excursion, then they switched to Banana Coast and left us with bad choices for a shore excursion there. We took one that was supposed to be a walking tour through what we thought was jungle preserve with monkeys and wildlife to see. Instead it was a muddy road trip in a bus without air conditioning and arrived at a vegetable farm with fruit trees and rescue habitat for a few native animals. Got covered in fire ants walking around while being shown tomato plants, onions, limes, lemons, etc., how not to touch things like cashew nuts. Terrible tour!!!!!!!! Hope things get better there, so much poverty. But the people were friendly despite a hundred or so armed police all over the place. Lots of police presence in Belize and Cozumel also, bars on windows, razor wire, run down shacks. I tried to buy tourist junk from the people who needed the money just because they could use it and not the fat cats who own the fancy shops. In Belize, the trip to Altun Ha was very good and our tours guides fantastic. Enjoyed that excursion. Same with the mini-sub tour in Cozumel but did not feel comfortable walking around and within 1-block off the main tourist street we turned around and went back because of all the shady characters and run down businesses. Anyway, I was spoiled by the Alaska trip and doubt that I will ever take another cruise. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014

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