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11 Houston to Caribbean - Southern Cruise Reviews

My husband and I haven't cruised for over 25 years. Our last cruise was on a Carnival cruise back in the day when you had one dining option, the Grand buffet was grand and the food was equal to the best 5 star restaurants in New ... Read More
My husband and I haven't cruised for over 25 years. Our last cruise was on a Carnival cruise back in the day when you had one dining option, the Grand buffet was grand and the food was equal to the best 5 star restaurants in New York. Boy times have changed cruising. We cruised for Christmas this year. I was excited to see all the holiday decorations on board. I was disappointed that the decor for Christmas, a time when we all over decorate, was minimal. The gingerbread houses that were placed through out the ship looked like the children from the last cruise decorated them. Sloppy, candy still in wrappers and royal frosting put on without care. First impression was ehh!. Our cabin (11022) was very nice. We had a balcony that was great and we could sit out in the chairs at night to watch the sun set, or have our morning coffee. Our cabin steward, Karta, was terrific. Once we boarded, we got our bags unpacked, which were delivered quickly. As I laid down on the pillow, it smelled like old sweat! Karta was quick to give me a different one. These rooms are much larger than they used to be. If you like smaller ships, this is for you. Only 2400 passengers. Now for the food. We made our dinning reservations for the specialty restaurants as soon as we could. If you want to dine in any of these restaurants, get your reservations early otherwise you'll be dining very late if at all. The "complementary" dining rooms don't require reservations. We ate 3 times in the French restaurant Le Bistro. Food was phenomenal. Our waitresses were Nareen, and another wonderful lady from Grenada. Both were very attentive. We loved them both. We also ate in Cagneys, service was poor, and with the exception of the steak, the food was not so good. Another night we ate at the Brazilian steakhouse...wouldn't waste my time or money there. Meat was tough, under seasoned and the sides were at best institutionalooking tasting. The main dining room is served Cafeteria style..the food is good, but wouldn't write home about it. Deserts are just ok, nothing special. Even the Christmas Buffet was mediocre. I expected something really amazing. The ports are nice. Cozumel my favorite, they have starbucks with free WiFi. Belize city and Roatan are interesting, but so many are poor. We took the glass bottom boat trip that was very educational. Hosted my a Canadian trained marine biologist. Her main message was stop the algae growth by NOT urinating in the ocean!!. The ship crew really push the shopping in these ports! They almost scare you into only shopping at their recommended shops... just do your homework before going. If you want diamonds, Tanzanite and other gems, know what the cost us at home so you know if you are getting a good deal. With the exception of the diamonds, the gems may not be in white gold or even sterling. Most are plated brass. Internet is pricey. 100 minutes for 75.00. Or by the minute for 95 cents per minute. Think before you buy. It is so most time to debark and head to the airport. We had a nice relaxing time aboard. Before going again, I think I'd look at royal Caribbean because it is more formal, something I am more used to. Hope this helps you plan your cruise. Aloha. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
Staff is outstanding in trying to make sure you have a great vacation. All of them smiling, asking what they can do for you, very well trained. Boat is okay, have seen fancier ones but this was still nice. The casino is small with few ... Read More
Staff is outstanding in trying to make sure you have a great vacation. All of them smiling, asking what they can do for you, very well trained. Boat is okay, have seen fancier ones but this was still nice. The casino is small with few table games available. The food was really good. Only one meal that we did not like, the rest were memorable. The entertainment was for all different age groups and demographics. Plenty of planned events to keep your interest. Enjoyed many things we never did before. Wanted to play bridge but their games people did not do that so we were on our own to find other couples for bridge. They did supply materials for many games. Overall this was a very enjoyable short 4 day cruise and we would do it again to just get away for a few days on an inexpensive cruise. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
I have to tell you, I'm ready to fly home at the next port. I will be more than happy to follow up with a more positive review at the end of the cruise, but day one leaves a lasting impression. On the positive side..the only ... Read More
I have to tell you, I'm ready to fly home at the next port. I will be more than happy to follow up with a more positive review at the end of the cruise, but day one leaves a lasting impression. On the positive side..the only positive side...check in was a breeze and the people were very friendly. It went downhill from there. I paid double for my own private room and asked to be put in the quietest part of the ship. Screaming kids running up and down the hall. Oh well. I went down to one of the bars and was tried to be sold on a number of different packages that I didn't want. I was told I could not even get free coffee in the morning. I ordered a robe in the room..it wasn't there. I called room service and asked for a tray of canapes "We're sorry sir, but we need 6 to 8 hours notice to get those". I asked for a bottle of wine. "I'm sorry sir but we have to wait until we are out of the port of Houston before we can deliver that to your room". They nickel and dime you to death. I prepaid the gratuities, but have been told that only applies to to he wait staff in the restaurant and my room steward. Deceptive. Right now there is a pianist playing.. i could be in a floating Nordstroms. But I guess I have just realized that cruises are not for me. If I wanted to have to bypass crammed elevator after crammed elevator just to go up and down the stairs, I could just go to and office building downtown. The whole ship has this incredible air of cheapness about it. And, much like the airlines, the staff seems completely robotic. Stains on the carpet in my room, a laughable selection of TV channels (every other one being an ad for Princess). I was told i could bring plates of food up to my room from one of the places downstairs, but then no one told me what to do with them once I was finished. There were no to go boxes or bags. So here I am in the jammed elevator with china, trying to balance it. In addition, our lifevest demonstration was HIGHLY inadequate. We were hoarded into a theatre like we were going to see a show. Then, as if on a giant airplane, the attendants demonstrated how to use to vest. We were never told specifically where our lifeboats were. All in all, not a happy camper, in the least. Again, I will be the first to change this review at the end of the journey if things change. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
We enjoyed our time on the Jewel. We enjoyed the freedom of Norwegian's freestyle dining. We mostly ate lunches and breakfasts in the Garden Cafe, and dinners in Tsar's Palace. The food was consistently high-quality and diverse; ... Read More
We enjoyed our time on the Jewel. We enjoyed the freedom of Norwegian's freestyle dining. We mostly ate lunches and breakfasts in the Garden Cafe, and dinners in Tsar's Palace. The food was consistently high-quality and diverse; as a fan of Asian food, I especially appreciated the Cafe's rotation of Asian dishes. We thought about trying Azura, but the decor in there looked lackluster compared to Tsar's. We did have a special anniversary dinner in Moderno, but were somewhat disappointed by the service. I had to order wine four times from four different servers before the wine actually showed up. When we cruise, we like to relax and read and play card games, and the Jewel is a comfortable place to do that. We also like to take in some music in the evenings, but were somewhat disappointed by the entertainment selection on the boat. Musical tributes included Elton John, Elvis Presley, The Carpenters, Dolly Parton, James Taylor... y'know, I'm 35, and there *have* been a few good musical acts that have come about since I was born! The most impressive entertainment was the Russian acrobatic team featured on the main stage, who provided two breathtaking shows. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
We cruise on the Norwegian Jewel January 17th - January 24th, visiting Cozumel, Belize and Roatan. We are experienced cruisers; this was our 10th cruise, but our first on Norwegian, in the past we've cruised with Carnival and ... Read More
We cruise on the Norwegian Jewel January 17th - January 24th, visiting Cozumel, Belize and Roatan. We are experienced cruisers; this was our 10th cruise, but our first on Norwegian, in the past we've cruised with Carnival and Princess. This cruise blew our expectations away, probably one of the best cruises we've ever had. The crew was FANTASTIC, so friendly and welcoming, engaging with the passengers, they made us feel like part of the party. The excitement was infectious. The entertainment was also top-notch; especially David Naster the comedian, he was so funny at many times we couldn't breathe we were laughing so hard. The food in the main dining rooms was fantastic, our favorite was Tsar's Palace. We tried the Tepanaki and the Brazilian restaurants and they were also great. There were so many things to do we found ourselves running from one activitiy to another. We cruised with our 10 year old and also our parents. Great for a family trip. Our favorite stops were Cozumel and Roatan - do the monkey encounter there, well worth the money. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
This was the second time we've been on the Emerald. We were on it during its second year in the Mediterranean and now it is seven years old. She still looks very nice and they take good care of her, painting, replacing carpet, etc ... Read More
This was the second time we've been on the Emerald. We were on it during its second year in the Mediterranean and now it is seven years old. She still looks very nice and they take good care of her, painting, replacing carpet, etc that we saw while on board. Our mini suite, cabin D114 (portside), was very nice, but we were very forward and did feel the movement a little more than the mid ship staterooms we were accustomed to, but it wasn't real bad by any means. The Christmas decorations were beautiful around the ship! The added room in our cabin was nice with three of us sharing the space. Having a tub is also something you don't get in a regular balcony stateroom, and we enjoyed the bigger bathroom. The sofa bed for our grown daughter was great because the long sofa still had a portion to sit on even though the bed was open. Good idea! Our large queen size bed was comfortable for me but not as comfortable for my husband. The dining staff was the best of any of our 7 other cruises (4 th on Princess) They went way out of their way to please us, no matter what we requested! If we wanted a bottle of wine that we had not finished in a previous dining room for Anytime Dining, they tracked it down. If we wanted to try two different desserts, they just brought them without us even asking for both. They were all so friendly and never acted as if we were troubling them in any way. Many had a super sense of humor and made our dining experience a real pleasure. Entertainment we saw only on some of the evenings, so can't judge them all. The trivia game in the Explorers Lounge was very fun, the comedian illusionist was terrific, and the Casino non- smoking nights were good for just a little while, so as not to lose too much. Dancing in the Wheelhouse Bar was nice. We even learned some new dance steps in the Club Fusion. Bingo was well attended and was more reasonable to play than on other cruise lines. When you think about the chef having to plan for 15,000 meals per day, it is amazing what they are able to accomplish. We ate one evening in the Crown Grill Steakhouse and thought it was outstanding, well worth the $25 surcharge. Also on our last evening, we dined in the beautiful Sabatini's restaurant and had a wonderful meal, also a specialty restaurant. We never bought the alcohol package because we didn't feel it was worth it. You are allowed to bring a 750 mL bottle of wine per person in each cabin without a corkage fee. It was nice to sip a glass of wine on our balcony before dinner. At dinner we'd order a glass of wine and a pina colada by the pool, but never would have spent the amount of the alcohol package. The exciursions were okay except that in Belize we had to use local catamarans that held about 200 passengers to tender us to shore instead of the tenders from our ship. Because of that, it was open air and cooler on the morning trip to shore. The 2 hour river cruise was in an open air boat that was not very comfortable, it rained on us and we were cold, but we saw many crocodiles, iguanas, birds, and even bats on trees. Interesting. Tulum in Mexico was a long trip from the ship because you had to take a 30 minute big enclosed speed boat trip before taking a 45 minute motorcoach ride to the Mayan Ruins of Tulum . I felt it was worth it to see this ancient civilization on the gorgeous turquoise sea, but felt that I also missed a day on the beautiful beaches. You can't do it all! I figured that you can't always see the ruins on this magnitude. I loved this particular cruise because there were 3 full days at sea and it was so relaxing to just do your own thing! Whether it be walking the Promenade deck 3 times around for 1 mile of exercise or going to the big fitness center or just lounging under the huge outdoor screen to see a Beatles concert or see an NFL game, there was always something to see, eat, or do. I truly believe that it is up to each individual's attitude as to whether you will enjoy yourself or not. Some people complain about very minute things when on the whole picture, the cruise was wonderful and the staff was terrific in every way! Would we cruise with Princess again? Absolutely. It is very economical for what you get and if you paid a lot more on a high end smaller cruise line, you would expect more. Free liquor with dinner, smaller numbers at dinner, no waiting, etc., but we didn't break the bank and were very pleased ! We had a great time.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
First time sailing with princess after sailing with carnival in the past on several cruises. Was very impressed with the condition of the ship, attitude of the crew, and food compared to carnival. Ship seemed less packed with passengers ... Read More
First time sailing with princess after sailing with carnival in the past on several cruises. Was very impressed with the condition of the ship, attitude of the crew, and food compared to carnival. Ship seemed less packed with passengers than the carnival cruises and crowd probably were in mid 40's and older (I'm mid 50 so better fit with music, waits at the bar, etc). Still plenty of night life and stuff to do- just without the hoardes at the bars and techno music in the nightclubs. Only negative comment was we had late seating for dinner and missed all the shows since they didnt provide a late show option for late dinner guests. Houston departure was the fastest and most organized I've experienced and the debarking only took ~ 20mins to gather bags and get through customs. Very nice overall experience. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We were two adults and one kid . The cabin ; Size was ok for a ship ( like a NY hotel room ) Bed was twin and comfy . Pillows were good and planty . Open sofa was good for my kiddo but for an adult or tall kid will come short. TV was ... Read More
We were two adults and one kid . The cabin ; Size was ok for a ship ( like a NY hotel room ) Bed was twin and comfy . Pillows were good and planty . Open sofa was good for my kiddo but for an adult or tall kid will come short. TV was not working . Shower was good Toilet have a wired angle which make it very tight . Room service : Cleaning was good. Very good service . Recognized by name when we passed by . Towel animals for my kiddo on daily basis . Food : Breakfast is good but the same for the week , no changes or specialty items. Lunch ; decent but not exciting , some changes through the week. Dinner ; They offer two restaurant complimentary , and one bar restaurant . Food was good but portions are small ( we always ordered two appetizers , two main dishes and etc.. per person ) . Service is slow , in some cases took almost an hour to get our food. Buffet for dinner was like dog food in two times i tried it, very shameful . Deserts : on restaurants they are good , on buffets don't even bother as they are all bad. Snack ; Snack next to the pool consist from burgers and hotdogs , the burgers were dry as hell, as they dont cook them there but reheat them and get them to be a big glob of overcooked meat. YUCK ! the great-outdoor ( at the back of the boat ) have more decent selections but nothing amazing ( Deserts are good though ) . Pros : Go wherever you want whenever you want . Cons : Get used to the lines , poor service , long wait for food . And the biggest issue is when you come from offshore like at 2 or 3 pm ... you have nothing to eat but dry burger and overcooked dogs . Activities for adults ; Many games like deal or no deal , bingo and other crap . Deal or no deal is rigged and a scam , bingo is bingo nothing exciting here . Overall there is almost nothing interesting to do that doesn't require you to pay for , and even if you pay the activities suck big time. The reason i will never cruise with NCL again is due to that reason . Being stuck on a boat for a week with nothing to do is not fun in my book . As the weather was not great we did hoped for stuff to do and were very disspointed when there was none. Activities for KIDS ; The nickelodeons stuff is a joke . Art and craft for example they don't activate the kids , a crew of idiots come with paints and post cards to color . And they were just sitting on the floor and painting the cards themselves`s . Instead of interacting with the kids they were playing by themselves . This type of behavior and approach was the same with all the other activities. Minimum effort , and doing "stuff" to to say they did . If you expect the Dora characters or something like that , you might see them twice during the cruise . We paid for breakfast which was ok , they charge 20$ per person including adults and offer the same breakfast shit with tons of food coloring . The show was ok but that's was the ONLY time when all 6 characters were presented to the kids. Kids club : We did not used the kids club . as they do not allow you to see the kids while they are there nor to get in to see whats going on . I dont trust them with my kid seeing the way they operate and behave there. Drinks ; Drinks were good but pricey . Many times where there was activities in public places the bar in that area was closed. most of the times at least half of the bars are closed. The only good service you receive on the board is from the bars , as they know they receive tips directly conclusion ; I had high exceptions and got these crushed very fast. We did enjoy our vacation just because it was a vacation , but i am a guy that like to do stuff and see interesting stuff. A vacation for me is more then 3 meals a day of good food . If that is all i get i can stay at home and go to 3 nice restaurants every day . If you look to sit all day doing nothing beside eating and reading a book or listen to tunes this is not the crusie for you. If you look for activities and excitement look elsewhere . As my first cruise i am very disappointing and i know that NCL is off my books forever . Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
This was our first Princess cruise, and I was looking forward to it, but....This ship needs a refurb badly. Worn carpet, out of date furnishings and colors, tarnished metals. Even the shower reminded me of a cheap hotel shower, the kind ... Read More
This was our first Princess cruise, and I was looking forward to it, but....This ship needs a refurb badly. Worn carpet, out of date furnishings and colors, tarnished metals. Even the shower reminded me of a cheap hotel shower, the kind you definitely don't want to forget wearing shower shoes in. Cabin and balcony were adequate, if not inviting. The crew staff seemed demoralized, and in some cases, downright surly. Our cabin attendant made an effort to be friendly, but just seemed tired and overworked. Unlike all the other ships I've been on, there was no outdoor area on the back of the ship to sit at a table, drink, snack, and socialize while watching the ship sail away. There was a small outdoor pool/bar area on the back of the ship with a few tables, but that was a smoking allowed area, so wasn't really an option. The library was actually just a wall of books set aside in the Internet use area; no tables for quiet socialization or playing games. The food was well executed and presented, but was very average, taste-wise. And whoever set up the navigation system around their main buffet needs to be fired. You can enter from one direction, and exit from another direction. The space between serving areas was cramped. Instead of road rage, I was sure we would encounter "buffet line rage" before the end of the cruise. It was fairly chaotic. Every cruise I've been on if you wanted to go to the buffet after getting on the ship, diners were easily and quickly accommodated. With the way their system was set up, there were very long lines, and this also included during main buffet use times. Princess needs to put some highly visible signage near the elevators so cruisers will easily know where they are. There were small signs at the hall on each side of the elevators, but these were not adequate. The ease of getting on and off the ship was good. And the muster was excellent. Some people would think it was too long but I appreciated the details provided. I also enjoyed the movies that were shown in the main show auditorium. I normally wouldn't go to a movie on a cruise, but somehow felt at loose ends and just decided to see a couple of them. At this point, I can't say I wouldn't try another Princess ship or cruise. Maybe this was just an exception. But this is the first cruise I've been on where I was kind of looking forward to it being over. Read Less
Sail Date April 2014

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