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4 Harwich to Europe - Eastern Mediterranean Cruise Reviews

Well this was our first experience of a Celebrity cruise. We have cruised many times with Princess, RCL, Holland America, P&O (just once) and Scenic Tours. Up until now, our worst cruise was with P&O on the Oriana, but this comes a ... Read More
Well this was our first experience of a Celebrity cruise. We have cruised many times with Princess, RCL, Holland America, P&O (just once) and Scenic Tours. Up until now, our worst cruise was with P&O on the Oriana, but this comes a very close second. It was advertised a an Immersive Wine Cruise. That was of little interest to us, but we needed an accessible cabin with a twin next to it and this was the only option at the time of booking. I was assured that Celebrity was 5 star and we would have a great time. I would firstly like to say what was good about the cruise: Embarkation was speedy and efficient and we were in the buffet with a cup of tea in hand within 45 minutes of arriving at Harwich. We found all of the staff amazing. Without exception, they looked after both my disabled son and daughter and myself and partner. The staff in the buffet couldn't do enough for us and always had time to speak to my son and daughter and ask about their day. The cabins were adequate. We had two inside cabins on deck 3 and the beds were very comfortable, although the cabins were 'tired' and our valance was ripped and stained. I have to say that a plastic shower curtain sticking to your legs did not seem 5 star to me. Our two cabin stewards did their job, just, but we have had much better. On two occasions, the sheet on our bed was not even straightened and we had to pull the bottom of it down and tuck in ourselves before getting into bed. Guest relations were extremely helpful and we have no complaints at all with their friendliness or service. Now onto things that were not good; Firstly, I have never been on a ship where there were so many extremely rude and arrogant guests. There are always a certain number of people with no manners, but I would say 80% were positively Neanderthal! I cannot believe that people could stand at the buffet demanding omelettes, pastas, stir fry's etc without so much as a please or thank you! Shame on you. Unfortunately, I would rate the food in general as poor. We did eat mainly in the buffet as the restaurant did not have suitable choices for my son. The emphasis seems to be an Asian cuisine with and without the grill station, we would have been lost. The grill station was also the only way of getting hot food. The temperature of the food on the general buffet almost cold. The cleanliness of the ship also left a lot to be desired. I ran my finger along some of the chrome work in the buffet area and had to go and wash my hands. There was far less evidence of ongoing cleaning than on any other ship we had travelled on. Entertainment was generally good in the theatre, with the exception of the magician, who we watched pulling things out of his coat. The entertainment around the ship was not so good with the female resident singer being positively out of tune on every song....... not good for the ears and to be avoided at all costs. The shops sold very little that well travelled folks would want, mainly what we refer to in the UK as junk. To top it all, one of our cases was ripped on disembarkation. As we had to wait for our cases to be found, we didn't check them over. My new Antler case now has a two inch rip in the underside and apparently we cannot claim from Celebrity because we did not notice until we arrived home. I have to say that I am now worried as we booked with Celebrity for next year at the same time that we booked this cruise. We are doing 3 b to b's on the Eclipse, a total of 37 days. I hope that someone will tell me that the standard is going to be an awful lot better than the Infinity. Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
THE CRUISE LINE Expensive and nasty. We paid £1,000 a head including Thomson charter flight. We had to pay extra for: • A double bed • Room service including breakfast • Transportation at ports away from their entrances ... Read More
THE CRUISE LINE Expensive and nasty. We paid £1,000 a head including Thomson charter flight. We had to pay extra for: • A double bed • Room service including breakfast • Transportation at ports away from their entrances Mainstream cruise lines would not dream of charging for these basics. Ryanair you are being out cheapened! The itinerary had to be reversed for good reason [a public holiday in Jerusalem]. This would have been known for some time but the first time passengers were notified was on arrival on the vessel. This caused a great deal of problems for those that had made independent tour arrangements. Such inconvenience could have been avoided by a simple courtesy of advising customers sooner. Clearly good manners are beyond Thomson. THE VESSEL Substandard for a ferry let alone a cruise ship. It is very old; for instance hot water was not available for periods and the air conditioning only worked intermittently. This is not acceptable. I saw two staff lifeboat drills in a week [in addition to the mandatory passenger drill] and figure the crew have little faith in the vessel. In our cabin's bathroom the wc was stained because the enamel had been scrubbed off and the enamel was also missing from soap holders. THE CREW A very surly bunch delivering a very poor standard of service. They would not say good morning, they cut in front of passengers and at times it was far quicker to go to the bar than wait for service at a table. This is in marked contrast to other cruise lines. I suspect the reason for this is that their tips are included in the cruise price so there is absolutely no incentive for them to provide anything more than minimal service. FOOD Good in a works canteen sense! Steak and kidney pie and all day breakfast are not what I would expect to see as entrees for dinner! It reminded me of a night at my local JD Wetherspoons! ENTERTAINMENT Pathetic. Quizzes, bingo old 1970s game shows reminded guests of a Saturday night at the Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club. The shows were a bad joke. The cast were on par with a poor local amateur dramatics society but in snazzy costumes. The funniest thing is that they think they are good! Well perhaps there is a TV show for them "Britain Hasn't Got Talent". THE CABIN Comfortable bed, plenty of storage, a tv screen that seemed to have been taken from a twenty year old personal computer. As previously mentioned, the bathroom was unacceptable. The towels were nearly as thin as tissue paper. It seems they were purchased at a cruise association jumble sale. BEVERAGES Expensive in comparison to pub prices but cheaper than other cruise lines, Thomson offers an expensive all in package but for many drinks an additional charge was still payable but if you like cheap and nasty draught Heineken or John Smiths and drink twenty pints a day go for the package. Thomson also work another nasty con with beer. They say they are selling you a pint [568ml] but in fact you only get a half litre [500ml]. Beware. THE PORTS Excellent. Worth taking the cruise despite all the failings of the line. FELLOW PASSENGERS Many first time Thomson cruisers shared my views on the failings identified but most passengers seemed to not only be repeat Thomson cruisers but also repeat Thomson holidaymakers. Having started at Blackpool, they progressed to Butlins and then to Torremolinos with Thomson and now they are loyal Thomsonites and prepared to happily accept whatever is put on their plate. OVERALL We enjoyed the cruise despite of the cruise line and its vessel. As I said before, we went to some fantastic places. Thomson have carried on from where they started packaging sub-standard accommodation in Benidorm to a clientele that don't know and don't want to know any better and this is a surprisingly large niche market. If you are slightly discerning or live south of Watford Thomson are unlikely to be for you unless the itinerary woos you like it did us. There are far better cruising experiences at better prices to be had with other lines. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
Normal convention with cruise reviews is to review the ship first & ports of call last. However in this case I must say a few words about Greenland before the detail of the cruise review. Greenland is 10 times the size of UK & is ... Read More
Normal convention with cruise reviews is to review the ship first & ports of call last. However in this case I must say a few words about Greenland before the detail of the cruise review. Greenland is 10 times the size of UK & is 83% covered in ice. 4 million cubic kilometers of ice, enough to supply everyone on earth with a billion litres of water! The ice free area is equivalent to the size of France. Only 56000 people live in the entire country with just 14500 in the capitol Nuuk. One lecturer said "you are going to the edge of the civilised world" & in the sense that there is no habitation north of Greenland, this is right. They do not have many resources & most things are imported, meaning expensive. We encountered all weathers except snow, missed things we hoped to see but still had a magical time. The 24 hours in Disko bay area was worth the trip alone! My wife only went because I wanted to see icebergs again, now she tells everyone "she would not have missed it for the world" to make that sort of impression on someone you just have to be very good indeed! We are retired & have cruised the Chilean fjords, Norwegian fjords & Alaska, in our opinion this exceeded them all in scenic splendour. I have photo albums of Icebergs etc, Greenland & Reykjavik+Thorshavn on webshots, link to Icebergs etc is http://community.webshots.com/album/174660450yJHkWp enjoy the splendour & majesty of the ice! So on to the rest of the review. Getting there...we parked our car at Manchester airport (ready for return flight) & had a long coach journey to Harwich made longer by a diversion for an accident blocking the road. Coach pulled up at 3.15pm right along side the cruise terminal. We handed in our passports & were given our ships cards with minimal formality, through security check & we were onboard, baggage was never seen after putting on the coach until it arrived in our cabin. Welcomed aboard & escorted to our cabin. The Ship... Formally the Island Princess (one of the two sisters of "love boat" TV show fame). Now 32 years old but well maintained, we would give it a 3*+ overall as while some public areas are superb, some are not up to the latest standards. We liked the quiet Palm court lounge area but part of this was partitioned off at night for the Bridge players as card room on Promenade deck was considered too noisy. Discovery lounge was used for everything from golf putting through bingo to cabaret & tea dances, the explorers bar off this area seemed to attract the smoking passengers. Thought the library was good for size of ship. Small casino & a night club were not used by us or by many other passengers! Carousel lounge was the show lounge, also used for the very popular lectures. For lectures there was not enough seating & if you were late arriving you could not get a seat with a view of the screen, though all lectures were repeated on cabin TV. Sight lines were fairly good with only 4 pillars to contend with & leg room between rows of seats was very good. Reception area on Bali deck was quite nice with the shop above on Pacific deck. . There was a small internet centre on Promenade deck that we did not use, nor did we use the health centre or beauty salon. The seven continents restaurant has a slightly lower central section that enables there to be 4 rows of bench seating, tables along these did not have much space between (only about 15") seemed to us the round tables were to be preferred. Having a fairly low ceiling also seemed to make it fairly noisy. Outdoor decks had several sheltered spots, very useful on this cruise! Pool on Riviera deck was small but deck loungers mostly had pads on them & some teak steamer chairs faced the stern. Promenade deck was not walk round but had some good viewing areas. Two viewing areas are right behind the Bridge wings & very useful to overhear the bridge deliberations when they were on the wings. Spa's & a good stern viewing position were at rear of sun deck, while the top sky deck gave a good all round viewing position with some shelter from the wind available. There is a forward observation deck in front of the yacht club but access is by going down to bridge deck then up. However this does slope up & consequently obscures the view a little if you are using the yacht club as an observation lounge. Lido has a small pool & is the ships buffet area, there is a sliding cover but we thought it noisy & only used it a few times. Cabin...We had an inside 4404, with L bed configuration & quite small but adequate circulation space. Probably because the beds are only 30" wide, this does not make for comfort & we would have liked normal 36" single beds with a bit less floor space. Bathroom was small overall but shower was good size. Cabin had a good closet with wood hangers & 4 drawers in a dressing table. Hair dryer in slim drawer was quite good. Suitcases would fit under the beds. Decoration was plain & could have done with a brighter lick of paint. TV was mounted high from the ceiling, so required an effort to watch, would not have liked to watch a film on it as bed did not convert to couch so no back rest except 2 small loose cushions. Most of time we were out of satellite TV coverage on this cruise anyway. Our steward was Romy who was always friendly & kept the cabin spotless. We usually ordered a pot of coffee for delivery first thing, sometimes good & sometimes not so good, delivery also varied from requested time slot by + - 15 mins. There was no noise from the engines although from deck plan we seemed to be right above them, Food & Service...Overall we thought very good, although we mainly ate in the dining room. Only ate in Lido buffet a few times, once for breakfast, twice for lunch when we were pressed for time. Breakfast was not hot enough, lunch menu's not very special & on those occasions we carried our trays into the yacht club to eat in peace. We never used the yacht club at night when it was an alternative restaurant (no charge) as it was an Oriental menu. Breakfasts in dining room had a similar format to Fred Olsen lines with standard items available from a menu served by waiter & a buffet of hot & cold items at end of room. Good supply of fresh & preserved fruits with cold meats, cheese, breads & cakes etc on the front table with hot items behind. Now I have to say these provided us with the best "British" cooked breakfasts we have had on a cruise ship! Properly cooked English back bacon i.e. not burnt to a cinder, best sausages we have had on a cruise ship + the usual scrambled egg, tomatoes, Baked beans, potatoes & very good "black pudding". The scrambled egg with herbs & smoked salmon from the menu were superb. Lunch in dining room was a full five course waiter service affair & usually very good. Dinner in dining room was again very good overall. Starters were probably only average but well presented, cream soups were good but consomme soups tended to be over spiced, salads were very good. Main courses were excellent, I mainly had the fish & the swordfish was the best I have had, Venison, Beef Wellington were also very good, my wife did say one lot of beef she had was a little on the tough side but we were well satisfied overall. However the weak point of the menu was the desserts, some were quite good but anything described as a "crumble" was best left alone--not a crumble as we know it! The "cherry pie" one day was awful & was exchanged for ice cream. The ice cream was very good, as good as we have had on any ship. Our waiter was Vik from the Philippines who gave very good service & his recommendations could be relied on. As we said before we did not like the Lido buffet, could do with updating & better tables & chairs than the current plastic ones. Beverage station was in a corner here & was quite crowded at times. Variable coffee strengths from very weak to stand your spoon in it! Only alternative was various tea's but no iced water, juice drinks or even hot chocolate at night (had to ask room service for that). However the scones & jam at teatime were very good & very welcome if you had been ashore thus missing lunch. Overall we thought the service levels & friendliness of all the staff from Officers to deck staff to be excellent. Who goes...On this cruise, people who wanted to go to Greenland, a surprising number of who were first time cruisers & quite a lot of single travellers. Ask them why they chose this cruise & the answer was always the same "we wanted to see Greenland" some had left wives & families behind, some had been trying to get to Greenland for 15 years. Most were from UK with a few from USA & Australia. There are no children's facilities on the ship but there were a few teenagers + a few "pre-teens" all extremely well behaved, well they would be with parents who wanted to go to Greenland! To sum up, very friendly people who it was a pleasure to cruise with. Only 2 formal nights & standard of dress was high, around 75% in DJ etc, 3 informal nights with jacket & tie rest casual. Entertainment... You do not expect full production shows on a small ship. The carousel lounge has limitations, just a level dance floor to put the shows on with no attempt at background scenery. However the company of 4 Russian dancers + 3 UK singers/dancers did a very good job, putting on some excellent shows in sometimes rough seas while keeping in step. They work very hard as they have to do duties around the ship such as library, sports & games, bingo etc as well as rehearse for the shows, the singers also did their own cabaret show. There are no entertainers brought on just for a couple of shows. Altogether they put on 6 different shows, 3 being very good, one average & 2 we did not see as the theme was to "old for us". There was a pianist in the explorer bar, a trio from Minsk in the discovery lounge, who also did a Russian folk music concert & a piano recital. A five piece band from Budapest played for dancing & for the shows & were very good. On a small ship I think the entertainment was up to the standard expected. However the lecture series was superb, some outstanding lecturers. Dr Alan Batstone covered the ports, we think he does a great job, we have met him on other ships & can highly recommend him. Professor Derek Blundell did geology, Greenland ice & global warming etc in a well illustrated & informative way. Brian Ford did science & amusing stories from his work. David Saunders was the wildlife & birds expert, again enjoyed very much & always willing to talk when on deck. We heard good reports of two other lecturers that we did not see, Carol Bunyan on Theatre & Georgette Conway-Toms on art. Ports of call... We arrived at Thorhavn Faeroe Islands under low threatening cloud at lunch time on a Sunday. Except for a couple of tourist shops it was closed down. The bird watching tour to the Vestmanna cliffs was cancelled due to weather. However the afternoon stayed dry with brighter periods & we did a long walk around Thorshavn & up to the park. Though the Islands are considered treeless there are quite a lot of trees in and around Thorshavn. Climate is cold & wet in winter & cool & wet in summer, but they must have very little frost as we found fuchsia magellanica in full bloom 9feet tall. We enjoyed our pleasant stroll around this town. The ship docked in a commercial area & a shuttle bus had to be used to get to the dock gates. After a day at sea we passed Surtsey the new volcanic island off Iceland that only erupted in 1962, late that evening. Docking in Reykjavik next morning there was a shuttle bus to city centre (5 kilometres away) for 2 pounds each way (sterling accepted) but no one from tourist board to give info. After the ride into town, we found the botanic garden was only about a kilometre from the ship & could have walked there easily. Instead we walked around the old part of Reykjavik, some of the local parks & a visit to the church tower (7Ikr for two in lift cc taken) great views all round but the huge bells of the clock struck 12 while we were up there! Walked back to the shuttle bus along the sea front after deciding not to walk all way to ship, those younger & fitter than us could have done it easily. Those who had booked the whale watching trip had another disappointment when that was cancelled due to weather or perhaps lack of whales in the area. At the dock there were many Taxi's & minibus available for tours, a 7 hour tour to all the sights was around 200 pounds for 4 people, good value we thought but we found no one to share with so did not do it...next time we will! As we neared Greenland we were informed that ice conditions were very bad this year & we would not be allowed into Prins Christiansund, from the photos we saw this should have been spectacular & we did wonder if bad weather was going to follow us all the way. Next morning we saw a distant view of Greenland with two beautiful icebergs close to us & a bank of fog hiding the line of ice off the coast. Turning south to go round Cape Farewell it was cloudy & foggy with rain. Rounding the cape it blew up to force 6 then rose to gale force 8, quite hairy at times. Noon air temperature was 43F but the wind made it feel 10 degrees colder than that, sea temp was only 35F. Captain announced we would be going into fjord for Narsarsuaq at 9pm instead of 4am. As we neared the fjord the sea calmed, sky cleared, sun came out & we were surrounded by icebergs of all shapes & sizes, a magnificent sight that made up for the earlier disappointments. Then had a good sunset with lots of ice floes in the fjord. After spending the night in the calm waters of the fjord we were able to get alongside the pier (schedule had us tendering) but first a tender had to be lowered to push away a bergy bit from the pier, this is the sort of thing that happens on a trip like this. We took a gentle stroll past the airfield with a lot of wild flowers to be seen. Narsarsuaq only has a hotel, some accommodation blocks & one cafe that is also the shop & museum. A shuttle minibus to here was available for 2.50 pounds return but it was not far to walk. Leaving in bright weather after lunch we again saw a magnificent display of icebergs, later that evening we past a large one that provided a display, as part of it fell off. Next day arrival at Nuuk was 1pm when a berth was available in the port instead of tendering to the old town area. A free shuttle bus was provided from ship to town centre & the old town area. Nuuk claims to be smallest capitol in the world & has a lot of rather depressing looking flats, however the old town area is quite attractive to walk around. The museum is superb & free. There are no gardens as such but we did see one patch with a few potatoes growing in a cold frame, shows how bad the climate is! Cloudy & dull for us but those who did the helicopter trip up to the ice cap said it was lovely sun up there. However the last helicopter got stuck up there with engine problems! 23 people + crew, they had to be ferried in a small helicopter to a settlement 40 miles from Nuuk then a boat trip back to ship arriving at 2am. Consequently we did not leave Nuuk until 4am 9 hours late. This did not give us time to do the glacier cruising that was on the schedule for that day. Instead we cruised north with cloud overhead & more fog around us. Crossing the Arctic circle around 1.30pm the fog lifted giving us a view of the mountains with glimpses of the edge of the ice cap. Air temperature was up to 49F with only light winds. After the evening show (1st seating) we started to enter the Disko bay area, I changed into my layered cold weather gear consisting of 2 warm but thinish sweaters & my golf wet & wind proof suit, this worked very well but you do also need a woolly hat & good gloves. The shapes & colours of the icebergs were fascinating & together with a good sunset (timed at 23.22!) I stayed on deck until 1.00am. Up again at 4.30am to be told I had missed some whales at 2.30am! Icebergs all around us, a magnificent sight in the early morning sunlight. We were around 6 miles off Illulissat & there was some discussion on the bridge that we might not get closer as the anchorage area looked full of ice, we could see the huge icebergs at the mouth of the fjord. We took early breakfast in dining room while the ship circled round. Back on deck in time to see a small freighter leaving Illulissat & it was announced we were going in to a small patch relatively clear of ice around 3 miles out. Passed very close to the big bergs, an amazing sight! The ship did not anchor but maintained position avoiding the bergs by use of engines & thrusters. We tendered ashore through the ice floes to the little harbour. A free minibus shuttle was operating up the hill to the town, from here we walked through the town past all the lines of husky's aiming to walk the first part of the path to Sermermiut to get a close view of the icebergs from the land side. There is no path!! It is just a scramble over rocks in the general direction of the icebergs whose tops you can see, so be warned you must be fit & active to do this trek even if it is only 1.5 kilometres! By now it was quite warm & sunny, I had to strip down to one sweater! Now I rather wished I had taken the boat excursion for a close look at the bergs! However again be warned, excursions in Greenland were not given a starting time only a letter A, B, C etc as infrastructure does not run by the clock up there. Therefore some of those who had a letter low down for the iceberg excursion did not know exact time they would leave ship & consequently could not take the tender ashore to see the town area. This lettering system applied to excursions in all ports in Greenland. We walked down the hill to the tender & having willingly missed our lunch, devoured the scones with jam & cream at afternoon tea. We had perfect weather all day in Disko bay & sailing away I stopped on deck until the last possible moment before changing for dinner. We even missed the Captains farewell drink for a last look at magical Disko bay, just writing this brings tears to my eyes at the memory of it! Disko bay I mean not the missed drink! Next morning was our last day, we entered the fjord to Kangerlussaq (80 miles long) at breakfast time. Superb scenery with small hanging glaciers & banded rocks as old as any on earth. Dropping anchor near the Kangerlussaq pier at lunch time it was quite warm & sunny, I even saw someone with shirt off! Now this is not your usual cruise terminal, baggage was taken off/brought on in cages craned on/off the ship to an old landing craft. Those of us flying to Manchester were given dinner at 5pm but it was announced this flight had a 4 hour delay. After first announcing due to infrastructure problems we had to leave ship at scheduled time of 7 pm we were later allowed to stay on ship until 10pm. Roughly 20 mins ride to the airport after tendering to pier. Noted pier had some Army type tents erected for shelter should no tender be waiting! Airport was small but modern with a couple of shops & a small cafe. Departure gate could not handle more than one flight at a time. We had a good flight home with Excel airways, landing at Manchester at 8.30am instead of 4.30am. Conclusion... We had a great time & would go on this ship & this itinerary (at the right price) again. We went with an open mind & while we regretted missing some of the things on the schedule we knew in this area anything was possible. We are so glad we did the trip, we did have perfect weather in Disko bay & that made up for everything. Community Manager's Note: 'This review was written when the ship sailed for Voyages of Discovery. As of February 2013, it is now sailing under the Cruises & Maritime banner" Read Less
Sail Date July 2006
The embarkation port which was Harwich, UK not Dover as the only London based port on the list. 2.5 hour bus ride from Gatwick. What a fabulous cruise with the greatest group of Net friends (close to 100) and the best ship & crew we ... Read More
The embarkation port which was Harwich, UK not Dover as the only London based port on the list. 2.5 hour bus ride from Gatwick. What a fabulous cruise with the greatest group of Net friends (close to 100) and the best ship & crew we have sailed. YEAH JEWEL!. After 10 cruise credits with Celebrity as Elite member, I have to say that RCCL outdoes Celebrity for rewarding Diamond/Diamond Plus members, especially on a Member Cruise. We arrived pronto from Cleveland at 7AM but the bus doesn't show til 9AM per RCCL gal at Gatwick. So we got luggage & cleared customs & met her at her counter. She had a love seat for us to sit on & offered coffee. So our luggage carrier next to us & a man puts a small table in front of us & we see her carrying a tray with 2 soup bowls on saucers with a pint of hot cream. Costa Coffee from Costa Rica is one strong but great cup of coffee. Jet lag left after we finished that, which took a good hour to do. 2.5 hour ride to Jewel was relaxing, sure enough the DIAMOND/DIAMOND PLUS/SUITES area was well marked & they sure knew those Diamond pins, even polished ours. 1 person in front of us to wait for & we were on in under 3 minutes. Got in an elevator, pushed 9 as we neared 8 & got off & went to our room which was quite a walk back to AFT from the elevators, but it got shorter every day. Martin Georgios was our stateroom attendant & the best in all our cruises. Mail on the bed, not for others to take as we learned later. He worked when we were gone either to breakfast in the dining room or on an early morning excursion & while at dinner & the show. But he knew when to be by our room to say good night every night. Jerry is still waking into walls over all the gifts that cost them plenty, including a carry on luggage that was just to get gifts home. Not every day had a gift since they were large & worth plenty. Day 1 was a clock on a C Clamp which I thought was a radio. Day 2 was an envelope telling us that we are having dinner for 2 at Chops. Day 3 Hardcover Journal Books, Day 4 RCCL Suit-bag, Day 5 was thick banded C&A backpacks, Day 6 was Diamond member pins/Diamond Plus pins, day 7 was a RCCL doc holder, day 8 was an officer who knocked on our door presenting me with a thick RCCL beach towel, but just one. Day 9 we got penlights that say C&A Society when lit (this was quite funny that you have to take apart the batteries in it to remove a cloth piece between them, then it works). Day 10 was the shocker. A carry on size luggage with wheels & expandable handle. Good to carry the gifts home in. Day 11 was luggage tags & tip envelopes & we are off at 6:30AM. We all got magnets for Scandinavia/Baltic cruise May 14, 2006 on Jewel OTS. Meet & Mingle on Jewel OTS also. So second formal night we did Chops & only 6 other folks in there with us. Prime rib for Jerry, Petite Fillet for me & it melted in your mouth, Lobster Bisque for me & Scampi cocktail for Jerry, and then the deserts of a fudge mousse cheesecake for Jerry & Mango cheesecake for me. With us raving how great it was our waiter Oscar delivers a covered plate of 2 more for breakfast. He even carried it up to 9256 with us. I told him I'd write about him here, so now he is reading & blushing. He also serves the dishes up in the Concierge Lounge, even taught me when the coffee maker flashes GROUNDS FULL and it won't make coffee for anyone how to pull out the right hand container & dump it into the FOOD ONLY garbage area. Then put it back in & push ENTER and it works fine. SO it is freshly brewed SEATTLE'S BEST coffee, actually espresso which does latte & cappuccino also. Then hot water for tea lovers or hot cocoa folks. We drank easily $120 worth of coffees in 12 nts. And Paul, as everyone named him, as his real name was a lot of letters with 2 vowel. But he was the best Concierge yet. He even made a great Cosmo for me tho it was missing one liquor so he used half a glass of vodka, some cranberry for color, lime which he juiced also, then iced it. 2 of those & I was smashed!!!! Jerry had Jack Daniels which was half a glass with ice. WOW! Our Grey Goose stayed wrapped in dirty clothes. Day 3, oh yes, the famous OOPS day on Jewel, when the computers charged folks $158 for our FREE EXCURSION in Oslo, Norway. That took 6 days to fix. That is when the Purser, a real hunk of a French Canadian named Francois. (if they are telling him I wrote about him online, those ice blue eyes may be dollar size). But he saw me at 8AM talking to his great clerk named Daniel. I had the postcard mailed to me about the free excursion for Diamond Members. He made a Xerox of it since they were flooded with phone calls from folks who were charged for this. He told me it would be fixed. So daily I was back down telling him, nope not fixed, and he blamed the computers for charging & Jerry laughed at him saying that as he told Francois that "everyone blames the computers when it is the person who input the info erroneously", so now he gets to name the perfect keypunch party to fix it. He also learned fast about Diamond & Diamond Plus members, especially UK folks who never got pins or luggage tags. When we boarded Jewel I noticed I was bleeding from my chest as I removed my pin from my blazer & put it on my S&R T-Shirt, and the back was sharp & cutting my skin. The Purser noticed it & had his Activities Director have a technician file it down to be safe & deliver it back. He never returned. Then we went in his office, I got a alcohol swab to clean it up & a band aid & he found a drawerful of pins on white cards. So he gave me a new one pitching the other. That was the start to my new JOB onboard Jewel as I made folks happy getting pins. That night a knock on our door & a server with an ice bucket & champagne with chocolates on the size that resembled Rice Krispies in them. A note from C&A apologizing for the error. Major points from us for a mistake. Boy, what a difference from Celebrity Concierge Class as an Elite member. You get -0- extra. Drinks on trays, not what I want, and then not free. No free cappuccino, latte, espresso. A bottle of sparkling wine in an ice bucket, but we had Korbel Gold champagne on RCCL. Diamond class robes are thick like Celebrity CC robes, hand held shower is like Celebrity CC shower head & even has massage setting. Toiletries in large bottles of shower gel, shampoo & body lotion with an advertising placement piece for vanity top. Shower cap & body poof included. Not on Celebrity! Shows were not that terrific, casino was very cold but a few pulls that netted us $100 a night made it fun but no major jackpot. Drifters now called The American Drifters were the best & one of them freaked me out in the elevator returning from Estonia. He remembered me from a 1966 TV show called Upbeat that I was a dancer on. He stated I haven't changed a bit & I added 30# & 40 years less. So we went dancing for half an hour & then I had to hit the sheets. The sea air just relaxes me that I could sleep all day everyday at sea. The sound of the wake out the balcony door, the cool breeze, no wind in AFT. 3 blankets & I was set on our egg crate bed topping, 2 pillows each. 10 hours per night after our first night surprise when the blinds separated as the door shut when the ship turned, and it was high noon at 3:35AM. I didn't believe Jerry telling me the time, so I looked at the phone & it agreed with him. It is called WHITE NIGHTS & the sun gets milky from 2AM-3:30AM and bright by 4AM. This for 12 nights!!!!! So we had the door opener shoved into the balcony door slide & that locked it in place. Blinds shut but the air still got in til it sucked the drapes outside on the North Sea & when the sheets from the bed were headed out the door, so we closed it. Parties, yes we had them besides nightly in the Concierge Lounge where he could make Cosmopolitans, named Paul's Cosmos after him, as well as tumblers with Jack Daniels filled half way then ice to top it off & Jerry was feeling good after one.... both our favorites. 24/7 free cappuccinos, lattes, espresso in the small cups & saucers too. Laptops for a price to use, but he was looking up stuff for us on his computer. But computer time was not too good out there. Out of service signs were plentiful. Continental breakfast served by Oscar from Chops daily & finger sandwiches, cheese tray & fruit for lunch & hors de d'oeuvres with the drinks. Nice spread for us Diamond/Diamond Plus......... The Captains Party was nice with photo taken with Thor. Then the Welcome Back party for all C&Z members, a Diamond/Diamond Plus party, a Platinum, Diamond/Diamond Plus party, our Meet & Mingle which was a party and a few others that slip my mind. Photos were interesting also. 500 Diamond/Diamond Plus members on the helipad before our excursion in Oslo Norway for a photo. Everyone is teeny tiny. Then Meet & Mingle had one taken with a late photographer with a few folks & again at a planned time & place, the Centrum stairs with Karen but that one was out of focus. SO I wait for Jerry to give me what he took. Excursions: Oslo was the gift to Diamond/Diamond Plus of the glassblowing factory & Viking ship museum and a great view of Norway from the highest point. Copenhagen: a walk of the town followed by a boat ride along the canals back to the ship. Stockholm, bus ride around sights that stopped for shopping & photography. Helsinki another bus ride that was short, since it is a small town, so we got onboard the ship to visit Seaview Cafe which is open Noon-6PM on sea days but 2-6 on port days. Dining room serves no lunch on port days, so buffet is it for lunch or room service which was better to us. But at Seaview we were served onion rings when we sat down after placing order at door. The burgers, Cuban sandwich, ruben sandwich, chicken salad, feathers & fingers (fried chicken) with fries or onion rings. SO I had a large plate of onion rings that I carried out & walked outside & was greeted by 40 gulls who were hungry. One sat on my shoulder & took a ring. So I am breaking them into pieces feed them all. Then we go to our balcony & the loungers we have to watch the folks outside & our railing is now having the gulls joining us. So we are singing, driving Jerry nuts out there. So he photographed us. Can't wait to see these shots. Disappointed that Freedom & sister ship Liberty are built 150 miles away but we got to see Anker in Helsinki where Celebrity ships are built per the guide. St Petersburg was quite unfriendly. Without a VISA you are stuck on the ship til your excursion, not even to go to their souvenir shop. No casino, no shops, no dining room til dinner, not much to do when docked overnight for 2 days there. Tallinn, Estonia reminded us of Monte Carlo with the small streets, great shops, great medieval restaurant & servers in costume. Funny, the CD Karen Maybury, a great Brit with a great sense of humor. She saw my heels that flash different colors & immediately wanted to wear them on stage. She was great at Meet & Mingle, giving over an hour of her time to pulling tickets for folks to choose their gift, and we had a ball. RCCL had notepads with pen attached to lanyards for everyone to put their name tag in that George & Sadie made. Another nice gift from them. So great to meet everyone I've typed to for 15 months & the food & drinks & yes, they were top shelf! Jerry was busy with Jessie, the shopping gal who wound him around her little finger quickly, so he didn't show at M&M. But he got a nice gift of a Russian Mamooska (not the spelling) with 6 dolls inside. Then he has Karen asking for my shoes, so she got them for her show with the Drifters, now called The American Drifters. Even disembarkation was a breeze, Diamond was off at 6:30AM porters awaiting us to get our luggage & then transport us to the buses. Then off to the airport & that was a zoo. But patience in long lines made for a smooth process. Then the flight home on Delta to Atlanta from Gatwick that took almost 10 hours. Then 2 hour wait to flight to Cleveland, so we got home at 1AM. But we had a great time, on a great cruise, with great friends we made, in a great stateroom & 2 more member cruises booked with more to come. Any questions or additional comments, just write! Now I wait to see if I get a name tag ;-) To all 100 friends, I miss you all already! __________________ Funny that a bad cruise is still better than a day at work - AGREE? One day we will cruise together.......... Read Less
Sail Date May 2006

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