57 Harwich Family Cruise Reviews

Hi this is our 5th cruise on the Thomson Spirit the last being in 2009. So what has changed starting at the stern of the ship there was the addition of a gazebo type structure covering the what was the open deck space at rear of the lido ... Read More
Hi this is our 5th cruise on the Thomson Spirit the last being in 2009. So what has changed starting at the stern of the ship there was the addition of a gazebo type structure covering the what was the open deck space at rear of the lido restaurant deck 5 with extra new tables and chairs under it for dining. The Broad way show lounge with new comfy swivel arm chairs and new carpets through out. Raffles casino bar which used to be the only smokers bar all new tables nice new armchairs and soft carpets and new wall units new bar and fittings all very smart. Cabins with balconies on deck 9 eagle deck all been refurbished very nice. The addition of tea kettle and coffee tea and sugar and mugs in the cabins very nice touch much needed as it was a long walk to the Lido for a cuppa. Don't boil the tap water tho it tastes horrible. All the chairs in the cabin had been changed from orange to platinium very nice. We where on deck 8 and the bathroom had all been regrouted and looked clean and tidy. Shame about the tv with hardly any channels other than their own and the news. The shows in the Broadway were excellent and Richard Gray cruise manager knows how to get the best out of the entertainers and takes an active part in some productions. The cruise ports of call on this cruise would have been amazing but they where marred by bad weather with two port stops cancelled Stornoway and Isafjord left a total of 6 days out of 12 at sea and on a ship with limited public lounges inside and weather to bad to use open decks or even sit out with coats made for a very crowded ship but the passengers are always friendly and nice. Excursion team as always a let down to laid back and quick to put up no availability for coach trips and cancel others cause there was not enough people to go. Meals well we found the food in the Lido not enough variation unless you eat salads that is. The Compass Rose restaurant was very good food we found the portions rather to large now as they use to be smaller with more veg variation other than carrots and beans. All fish dishes were fabulous. As always the staff waiters and housekeepers are brilliant and well trained. It will always a popular ship to sail on this and Thomson have spent a lot of money on it as they know it will book up well its a pity it shakes like an old tumble drier but you get to like it. Ah well another cruise over shame Thomson are not doing EXUK cruises next year only fly cruise. Bye for now Dado. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
Harwich departure: booked car park a week in advance for £90 for 12 night cruise. This saves £30 if you just turn up. Efficient and friendly staff. Well organised. They take your luggage away and it appears in your stateroom. They ... Read More
Harwich departure: booked car park a week in advance for £90 for 12 night cruise. This saves £30 if you just turn up. Efficient and friendly staff. Well organised. They take your luggage away and it appears in your stateroom. They operate a constant stream of shuttle buses to take you to the ship. Same experience upon return. Excellent all round. Ship: lovely and clean. Professional, mostly friendly staff. Good range of bars, restaurants. Childrens activities: arcade, mini golf good. Pool was salt water (unlike Princess cruise ship)... this was not great for the kids. Pool with slide had limited opening hours e.g 4pm - 6pm on port days. To be fair was enough but it meant you needed to plan. Climbing wall had very restricted opening times and therefore was overly busy when open. Good staff and equipment though. Childrens club: staff OK - range of activities not great and facilities no where near as good as on previous cruise (Princess cruises). 9 year old disappointed. Restaurants: Booked 8.30pm time slot in advance. Perfect time... allowing enough time to refresh from the busy port days. Excellent staff. Good range of food, which was generally good. Sometimes portions not big - but there is 24 hour food on board! How anyone can complain about not enough food is beyond me. you can literally eat a 4 course meal in the dining room and then head straight up to the windjammer for supper. Good range of food... salads, bread and fruit always seemed fresh. Entertainment: fine... pleasant band, although heard the same songs night after night, theatre OK. Made our own entertainment really playing cards etc. A lot of activities for the older crowd e.g. line dancing, art auctions, introduction to bridge - - we expected this and just enjoyed having time together without the TV/playstations to distract us. Ports: wow... great way to see 6 countries in 12 days. Highlight Tallin - lovely medieval town. 20 mins slow stroll in and then you can just wander. St Petersburg amazing. Booked private tour with TJ Travel. 7 of us in our party. Private minibus with a tour guide... Excellent. Cannot fault. Do not hesitate to use. Other cities lovely... but capitals are bit samey e.g. the lovely church, the lovely park etc. Expensive shopping. RC trips are very over priced and we wished we had opted to organise port days ourselves with advance prep, using shuttle buses ... but overall it is amazing that you wake up in a different place each day. People: like anything it is the people who make or break a trip. RC staff on the whole were good but the holiday makers themselves let the cruise down at times. Rude, pushy - the lack of manners was unbelievable. My children could be waiting in a line for their turn to order and adults would just push infront or shout over them. Not good people! Overall verdict: we would book with Royal Caribbean again and go on the same ship, if price was right. For this particular cruise Princess (who we prefer) were £1000 more - not sure on a family budget that this higher amount is worth it? If your aim is to spend family time together then a cruise is great. It is what you make of it. Go armed with port information. Plan ahead. Take cards, small games and find a hidey hole. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
Background:   This was one of our over 30 cruises we have been on. 2nd cruise with Celebrity. We have taken two previous cruises from London. The first was a British Isles and Baltic combination cruise. The second one was a Baltic/Russia ... Read More
Background:   This was one of our over 30 cruises we have been on. 2nd cruise with Celebrity. We have taken two previous cruises from London. The first was a British Isles and Baltic combination cruise. The second one was a Baltic/Russia cruise. Cruising is a passion of ours. We did not bring our kids on this one. There were just about 240 kids on this cruise. Pre-cruise: We left from Atlanta, GA and flew on the Delta 777 to London Heathrow. London Heathrow was a $85 pound taxi ride to our hotel, Marriott West India Quay. We liked staying at The Grovesnor Marriott previously, but the cost was really high. We absolutely loved everything about the West India Marriott. The location had everything you would want. Easy access to restaurants, pubs, shopping, rail access etc. The service at the hotel was superb. I definitely recommend it. We stayed here two nights prior to the cruise. By the way, if you are flying from the states, give yourself at least one day in London prior to leaving on the cruise. Your sleep will be off for about 24-48 hours due to time difference when you arrive. During our time in London, we visited the sights and took the railway to the West End to see Lion King. There are so many things to do and see in London! On the day of the cruise, we were picked up by EC Minibus. They were perfect. They arrived slightly early and got us to the ship as expected. Since we do not like the big bus transfers, this was a great option for us. The Harwich (pronounced haritch) port is about two hours away from London. Not much to do in town, so staying in London is what most people do. The town is very pretty, but there are not many major hotels. The cost was about 160 pounds for the four of us. The cost that the taxis were charging was a little more. The Ship: Celebrity Infinity This ship was built in 2001. The ship does show some wear, but it is not out of line for a ship that is just over 10 years old. The updates they made, including adding the Aqua Class deck, looks very nice. We stayed in the concierge floor while I have some family stay on the new aqua decks. The room size was no different. The perks and points will differ for aqua, but we did not see the advantage of it over concierge. It may be argued that concierge may be a waste of money. We did use our concierge person a few times. They were able to call one of our transportation hires for free. Overall this ship was fine, but here is the breakdown. General Public Areas: The ship has lots of little areas where you can hang with others or sit and have a more private conversations with others. These areas tailor to the interests of folks... wine, cocktails, music, reading, internet etc. Pools: The pool areas do show some wear. They are designed with the sleek simple modern look that is what Celebrity is known for. The Solarium is almost too simple. The hot tubs are nice, but the main pool is a special thermal pool. If you are in the hot tube, and you want a cool splash, you have to take a shower or go to the main pools. This would be great for Alaska. The towel access is wonderful. The areas could be better maintained by the staff. The less expensive lines do a much better, consistent job with table cleaning etc. We actually saw where managers had to go pick up old plates and cups since they were sitting there so long. They need to manage the pools a little better in regards to non-adults swimming in the solarium. It was not bad though. The main pools were nice. One was a deep pool while the others were shallow with additional hot tubs outside. Informal dining: The Lido/Windjammer deck was not bad. They cater to a European audience on this trip of course. The pizza, pasta, and egg stations were nice. You may see a little back up in these areas at times, but over all the lines moved pretty good. The ice cream is limited to the dining rooms only. There is an ice cream booth, which is nice, but the typical ice cream soft serve is very limited. Some lines here. The candy toppings are a nice plus. They need to do a better job with picking up cups and plates. Formal dining: The formal dining room is very nice. The food selection was pretty decent. The one lobster night brought forth some of the biggest lobster tails I have seen for a main dining room. In regards to steak, they are suffering here. They make a very wide range of selections that are geared more to the European crowd. I am pretty picky, so I really can not judge the different options. Day one of the dining room was the worst first day we have had on over 30 cruises. We know that the first day is always rough, but this was really poor. Now.. A shout out to the assistant Matre'd. He not only made it better the second day, he made the whole dining room experience great. Our drink waiter was the best we have had. Our waiter and assistant waiter really did a great job when they took over on the second day. Speciality Dining: QSine - a very fun concept where several courses that you can choose from are brought to you in a unique presentation. The iPad ordering is coming a long, but not there yet. The food quality suffers, but the originality is there. U.S.S. United States - this is a beautiful restaurant that wins over in look and appeal. The food is created to match the cross continent travel of the past. The artifacts and video on the outside of the restaurant tell a nice story about its origins. Bistro on 5 - has a nice mixture of selections available at different times. It is a little off from the others places, so it actually is a pretty quiet place to eat. The bars all around the ship seem to carry various themes. The wine areas on deck four seem to be a great spot. All sorts of wines available. Cabins: The rooms are well maintained. Our cabin steward, Frederick, was excellent. The cabin service seemed to be great all over the ship. No towel animals in the rooms. The shower area was bigger than most RCL rooms. Plenty of storage. The rooms are still smaller than Carnivals. There are two US plugs and two European plugs at the vanity area. The wall mirror opposite the bed is a little too much. The room was comfortable. The light could not be completely blocked out, but not bad. The 8th floor 8080 provides cover two follows up. This allows you to stand out on the balcony when it rains. My family was in room 1100, aqua class. The room was not in a great location. You can not get access to this floor through the central elevators. No cover on the balcony. The rooms get pretty hot. Casino: Yes, no smoke!!!! I actually did not play any on this trip. It was a smaller casino on four, but it seemed to have many of the games that are popular. It was pretty busy, but there was availability. Itinerary: We left Harwich to the sound of a live band that played us away. This is always a nice tough for this port. La Harve - most people either took the bus to Paris or to Normandy. We did Paris last time. The people that went this time were not able to go to the Louvre. I believe it is closed on Tuesday. We went to Normandy. There is not an experience that can compare to the memorial. The price they paid puts everyone in a memorial mood. We toured Omaha Beach and the point between Omaha and Utah beach. We ended up at the Freedom museum. It was amazing! It really makes you appreciate all that we, the French, and our allies have fought for over the past hundred years. St. Peter Port - we had low expectations for this port. Wow! Beautiful port with plenty to see. The excursion list was limited, but the city has some cool places to see. The shopping is nice along with the food. You can take all sorts of short trips to the neighboring islands if you want. Try to get the powerboat excursion before they sell out. This is the only tender spot of the whole trip. The tender service was better than average. Cohb (pronounced cove) - was one of our favorite ports. A beautiful city. We took the excursion to Blarney Castle, and it was very pretty. Kissing the Blarney Stone is not meant for the weak. You have to lay back and lean back to reach it. There is a person there to help you. There are steep steps to go up to it and come down from it. It was a great experience, but not meant for people with limited mobility. If you do not go up to the stone, it is ok. There are plenty things to see and do while at the castle. The woolen mill shops are pretty cool. The community really rallies around the ship in port. A band came out to play with us. The people were so friendly. I could see living here. Great historical facts during out tour. Great way to get in touch with some of my family's heritage. Dublin, Ireland - we have been to this port before. It is a city. There is no connection with the community. Unless you get outside the city, there is nothing very special with this port. The Guinness factory is cool for some. Liverpool - this place rocked. The community had a fireworks the first night we were at port. We took an Busy Bus for 39 pounds to go to Alton Towers on the first day. That park was amazing! 14 loop record breaking coaster. Great park with a 1400's castle in the middle of it. Day two, we went to see "the open". What a treat! The city of Liverpool has everything. It is a beautiful city filled with many things to do. It is head over heals over Dublin in my book. Many people went to the bars and tourist attractions that focus on the Beatles' rise. Greenock - This port sits away from the community, but you can get to the town pretty easily. I definitely recommend the excursion to Sterling Castle. The history that revolves this area is wonderful. You can hear about the real William Wallace and Robert Bruce. The views from the castle were amazing. You can see where these famous battles occurred. Holyhead, Wales - the port was disconnected from the community. This stop was beautiful, but there are not many things to do at the pier. I recommend an excursion for this stop or simply stay on the ship. They do provide a shuttle bus for the pier, but there is not much to see. We went to a nearby beach town. It was pretty. This stop was so-so. We ended the cruise with a nice day at sea. The day at sea is always a blessing at the end of every cruise. Our tips were automatically added. They deserved it. Disembarkation: Simple and with ease. The EC Minibus was a few minutes and ready to take us back to London. We stayed at the Marriott Renaissance Hotel at St. Pancras. Wow is an understatement. We chose this place due to the absolute lock on to the trains. We paid for the upgrade to the suite. Definitely worth it. We had access to the chamber room for free drinks, snacks, and breakfast. The following day, we took the complementary concierge service to the Eurostar train. They took our bags through security and loaded them on the train with us, wow! We left the next morning to France bound for the Disneyland Paris station. We had an added on Disneyland Paris vacation. Worth it! Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
On the whole we didn't have a very good experience on this ship. My wife and I are both pensioners but we still like a bit of life. Most lounges were quite comfortable but the entertainment was quite boring. I suppose we are used to ... Read More
On the whole we didn't have a very good experience on this ship. My wife and I are both pensioners but we still like a bit of life. Most lounges were quite comfortable but the entertainment was quite boring. I suppose we are used to having karaoke nights and maybe singalongs with Thomsons or Princess. The shows we saw were poor compared to Thomson's. Also not a lot to do for us on the ship. These are a few suggestions that would improve this ship:- 1. Improve quality of food in the MDR and state clearly what is added to the meal, i.e. vinegarette, mayonnaise, cheese etc. (A lot of people like myself don't like things like this added to a meal) 2. Make sure meals are served hot 3. Reduce waiting time for courses to be served in main restaurant 4. When people are sharing a table and have to wait for other people to join the table don't let us have to wait too long for them. (Sometimes 20 minutes or more) 5. Add more tables to the ocean bar self service restaurant (Probably not possible) 6. Arrange food in a more orderly manner in the ocean bar without having to search for different foods 7. Keep coffee and tea hot 8. Ensure milk is constantly available 9. Reduce the price of drinks 10. Reduce the price of excursions 11. Improve the evening theatre entertainment 13. Have karaoke nights 14. Have midnight buffets 15. Have better entertainment in lounges 16. Make gratuities voluntary   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
To get to Harwich from downtown London we hired a taxi from http://expressairporttransport.co.uk. they provide free quote. (July 2014) 4 adults with one large suitcase each, cost 97 pounds, cheaper than the cruise transfer (100$ us pp). ... Read More
To get to Harwich from downtown London we hired a taxi from http://expressairporttransport.co.uk. they provide free quote. (July 2014) 4 adults with one large suitcase each, cost 97 pounds, cheaper than the cruise transfer (100$ us pp). From the ship to Heathrow it was 125 pounds cruise ship charged 122$ US PP. excellent drivers very polite and reliable. Boarding : went well because we were early … except luggage delivery: checked in at noon got the luggage at 6:00 PM Dining : menu selection is OK , no WOW here even if we don't have much cruise experience, we saw much better with other company cruise the ship looks clean everywhere, cabins to public areas. Talking about public areas, this ship has a design problem, it always looks crowded, no matter where you go. lack of "quiet" places The biggest strengths of this ship are the staff, they managed to do miracles with the tools they are given. The worst experience we had on board, was the disembarkation (day one) in Saint Petersburg. We had booked with a private (cheaper) tour operator. as we were waiting near the gangway to get off the ship, with other passengers, a tour guide came along and plowed through the line with her group, as if we were trash …. no manor no excuse no respect … then the security people left THEM out, making sure none of the "garbage" passengers would escape. They told us it was the company's regulation : Their tours go out first. One passenger in line got very mad … and it came this close to get in a fight with a security guy … when you fight with your "client" you have a serious problem …. I assume you are a valuable customer only if you book (over priced) tour with Mr Royal Caribbean, otherwise you are a second class client …. I have never been so humiliated in my whole life. Service in Windjammer cafe was very variable from "I don't want to see this table needs to be clean" TO may I clean this. Half the employees like to talk (a lot) while the other half does all the work. Evening shows were variable quality from "wannabe" to professionals. 50 / 50.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
I have had 8 cruises and my wife has had over a dozen. We cruised on the Celebrity Infinity only because it was going to our ports of interest.  Overall, I was not pleased. Although the ship was well maintained and the staff members we ... Read More
I have had 8 cruises and my wife has had over a dozen. We cruised on the Celebrity Infinity only because it was going to our ports of interest.  Overall, I was not pleased. Although the ship was well maintained and the staff members we interacted with were exceptionally nice, several going beyond the call of duty to resolve some scheduling and excursion issues, I won't do this ship again. Reason #1 to not go on this ship is the "Stars of the Infinity" and the productions. It seemed that not only had none of the lead singers ever heard the originals, their voices were totally unsuitable for the songs assigned. With the concept that more is better, the stage was often flooded with people who could not and would not sing together. If you do not have the range, do not insert falsettos into songs that never had them. I was not sure if the sound manager was trying to cover up the horrible singing with the WORST mixing ever or perhaps is a half deaf sadist. Admittedly, the orchestra and choreography were very good, but they could not save the show. Everyone I asked seemed to have the same opinion except for one couple from Canada who thought the show was good. It was their first cruise. NOTE: A Beatles tribute band that played after we visited Liverpool was the highlight of the cruise entertainment as people were dancing in the isles, verses when they used the isles to leave bad performances by the "Stars". Reason #2 to not go on this ship is dining options. Dining in the main 'open' dining room was very good and our waiters were excellent and fun. There were 4 other dining options with up-charges ranging from $15 to $35 each per seating. Every other ship I have been on had a single specialty restaurant, which we normally visit, but we would have preferred additional regular dining options. My travel group did think the buffet was well done and especially enjoyed the ice cream bar and the pizza bar. Reason #3 to not go on this ship is drink prices. We are a captive audience and I expect to pay more but $9 for a bottle of Newcastle or can of Guiness! We were sailing out of London around the Emerald Isles. My wife and I typically spend about $300+ in drinks on a 7 day cruise, but alcohol, and especially wine prices just hurt my feelings too much. We spent $27 at the bars on the ship and all the rest on shore. In context, I was buying $90 bottles of Scotch on shore so I am not a Bud Lite kind of guy. I was also not paying $6 for a liter of water to take on the excursions. Bring your own bottle. I am sure we have been spoiled by being on much bigger ships and Disney cruises. If you don't know any better, this cruse was OK. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
Infinity is in great shape. If you want to find minor flaws you can, but none were distracting or bear mentioning. The crew is happy and responsive. Hotel department officers very visible while at sea and in port; navigation officers were ... Read More
Infinity is in great shape. If you want to find minor flaws you can, but none were distracting or bear mentioning. The crew is happy and responsive. Hotel department officers very visible while at sea and in port; navigation officers were busy going from port to port. Ship set up a Cruise Critic meeting for the first evening just after boarding (from 7:45 - 8:15PM) providing sparkling wine and mimosas. Several hotel department staff were there although they were very busy having just embarked over 2000 guests. Our first 8 days were in various ports so it was nice to meet other CC members early on rather than waiting until the day before disembarkation. Dining in Trellis was very good. We had anytime dining and made reservations for 6PM. We found an excellent waiter Jose Salinas and his big assistant Zambrano who took great care of us, even though they were very busy doing it. Excellent service and good food. We normally book AQ and there is a world of difference in food prep between Trellis and Blu. Standard fare of three production shows and the usual magicians and entertainers. The highlight was a Beatles impressions group the night we left Liverpool - how appropriate. Formal nights - evenings departing St. Peter Port and Holyhead. Made for a quick change for our standing 6PM reservation, but our only sea day was the day before disembarking. Formal night - about 90% of the men had coat and tie, some in formal attire. 10% did not appear to meet the dress code, but were not turned away. Captains Club evening receptions in the Constellation Lounge - deck 11 forward; no coupons Captains Club morning treats in the SS United States on deck 3 midships. Cabin - 3114. Nice new cabin where the meeting rooms used to be. Great big circular window. Particularly nice cabin for a very port intensive trip in cold climate. Michael and his assistant, Vladimir, kept it clean and always greeted us and opened the door if they were in the passageway. Embarkation in Harwich was easy. Eddie Manning delivered two other couples and us arriving about 12:30. We were onboard in about 10 minutes - no long lines anywhere. Disembarkation. Luggage tag numbers based on information already available, e.g., flight numbers from Choice Air. Since we had prearranged earlier transport with Eddie Manning, we asked for and received earlier numbers. (Very nice not to have to fill out paperwork on the second day of the cruise.) Immigration is done at the airports, so it's not like Fort Lauderdale with long lines. Disembarkation started at 6:45 with 8:45 the last time. Very quick and efficient. We did all private tours arranged through CC except for ship's tour from Le Havre to Paris. - LeHavre/Paris - Ship tour LH03 - Paris sightseeing with lunch cruise. Lots of windshield time. As expected, most sights were seen from inside the bus passing by. River cruise lunch was very good with narrated tour. Had about an hour to walk around the Eiffel Tower and shop for souvenirs. 2.5 - 3 hours each way. - St. Peter Port - After some initial confusion over the meeting point, Gill Girard gave us an excellent walking tour and her brother did likewise using his taxi showing the high spots around the island including the German Occupation Museum. We were on the first tender; by 10:30 reported wait was about 1.5-2.0 hours for tenders. Go early and avoid the crowd. - Cobh/Cork - eCoach/Butler's Bus. Excellent guide and tour. Got us to Blarney Castle before the hoards from the ship tours. Could have been a long wait if you were on the last bus. Saw several additional sites and had time for lunch. - Dunmore East/Waterford - All Ireland Chauffeur Tours. Another excellent tour. It was hard to find a provider here, but these guys did an excellent job. Again a tender port. We were on the first tender with our group. - Dublin - Tour Dublin - Good tour, but do not take option B to Malahide Castle. It's a long trip and shortens the time in Dublin plus the ship tours had bought out all the afternoon castle tours. Disappointing. - Liverpool - Liverpool History Taxi Tour with Phil Garrard. Excellent tour. We asked for some history and Beatles sites and got it. Phil is an excellent guide with lots of information and "secret" places. - Greenock, Scotland - Great Scot Tours. Very good tour - 8 - people. Rearranged schedule to make sure we go to Stirling castle before the ship's tour busses which cut us out of our visit to Malahide Castle. - Holyhead - BusyBus. Not recommended. Their advertising implies they use small busses to get to places the big busses can't go. We were met by two 50 passenger coaches and one 30 passenger coach. We were told they shifted since it was so hot and only the big busses had air con. Well one of them did. Our initial tour guide was one of the worst we have ever had. We shifted to the other bus with the company manager. There were 5 empty seats on the bus. Seems like they have lost their focus on service and now favor bigger profits, If you want a small group tour, find another vendor. Our background: Late 60's; active; like to see lots of sights (and we did on this cruise); 9 cruises total; 7 on X; 75 days on Celebrity ships before this. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
There had been an outbreak of gastrointestinal virus on the ship prior to our boarding. Hence our boarding was postponed while the ship was decontaminated in the port of Harwich. I appreciate the antibacterial efforts, I do. And every day ... Read More
There had been an outbreak of gastrointestinal virus on the ship prior to our boarding. Hence our boarding was postponed while the ship was decontaminated in the port of Harwich. I appreciate the antibacterial efforts, I do. And every day entering any dining room, or shopping area, casino, etc., for the entire cruise. there was staff at the entrance dispensing antibacterial liquid which kept everyone healthy. (For the most part, because the captain kept coming on the loud speaker to emphasize hand washing and that folks were still coming to the medical facilities being treated for gastrointestinal virus ... for the entire cruise, so apparently whatever virus was there before we got on, lingered the length of the cruise.) What surprised me, was the ship was, from the moment we boarded, slathered in cloudy smearings of antibacterial for nearly the length of the cruise - mirrors, windows, all the glass, paintings, jewelry cases, elevator doors, everything was covered. And never cleaned off. So by the 5th day of the cruise, everything was covered in cloudy smears and thousands of fingerprints ....... it was off putting, whether the ship was dirty or not, didn't matter - the ship looked dirty. You didn't want to touch anything. Considering the sheer amount of glass on the ship you can imagine how bad it looked. Even on the way to the Windjammer (buffet) dining - someone had written into the smears "wash me" .... it was only the last 2 days of the cruise that someone finally washed the windows. As for the Windjammer (buffet) - the food was high school cafeteria food at best. Lots of carbs. Low quality, low budget offerings. Very disappointed in the quality of the food in the Windjammer. I rated the health club as I did because the mats STUNK ... they were gross. I had signed up for the 4 offered Pilates classes. The mats were gross, and the Pilates class was not Pilates .... I"m not sure what that was. I was charged $14.00 to stretch basically. Having said all the above - the staff is wonderful. Really great people, helpful, friendly, they were great. (not sure who was on the cleaning crew.) Our dining room crew became like family to us over the course of the cruise. My husband and I are both gluten free, and they went above and beyond to accommodate our special request. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
Where do I start - the worst Celebrity cruise ever! Miserable and insufficient staff - abrupt bar staff apart from Romeo (pool bar) and King Richard. Rubbish smelly cabin - needed mattress and pillows changed and stateroom to be cleaned ... Read More
Where do I start - the worst Celebrity cruise ever! Miserable and insufficient staff - abrupt bar staff apart from Romeo (pool bar) and King Richard. Rubbish smelly cabin - needed mattress and pillows changed and stateroom to be cleaned thoroughly before we slept in it. Very apologetic cabin crew who were marvellous from thereon in. Booked late dining and a table for 4 but were allocated a table for 8 with 4 places set and 8 seats - table 100. Lovely waiters Edwin (Peru) and Joel (Mexico). Changed to a 4 place setting on night 4! Pool deck music - the same 40 min loop was played for the entire cruise. If I hear Michael Buble singing "sway" again, I shall cry. We took the Classic Drinks Package but had to upgrade on day 1 as the Oceanview restaurant only had Perroni and that was not included in the package so they wanted to charge full value. This was a joke when ordering wines at dinner. It sometimes took 3 courses to actually attract the ommellier's attention. She was appalling too! Wine tastings and Connoisseurs' Wine Dinner in the SS United States were rubbish -unusually cheap wines, sherry or tawny port at extortionate prices. Belly of pork was more like English riding saddles. Wine expert was a joke - even reciting the fineries of 4 ports in the wrong order - laughable! No duty free store. Casino closed on several nights as in port for stop-overs. Entertainment staff appalling. Swimming pools drained frequently. Cold hot tubs to start with Nd then too hot. Met a couple who had sailed 2 months previously on the Northern Europe cruise and had loved it so much that they re-booked for this cruise - they could not believe the downgrade in service, Staff, food, entertainment - I could go on forever. They even collected the pencils at the quizzes! Bingo was a farce 50+ people at minimum $39 and they played 3 games paying $100 for a line, $150 for 4 corners and $185 for the full house - that was the total payout ! That's probably unlawful! Shuttle buses to every town were expensive - why should you have to pay? Sorry to rant! D   Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
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
I think it is always important to understand who is providing a review on this site. There is such a diverse community of cruisers that perspective is extremely important. We are a 40-something couple with two young children, 5 and 4. We ... Read More
I think it is always important to understand who is providing a review on this site. There is such a diverse community of cruisers that perspective is extremely important. We are a 40-something couple with two young children, 5 and 4. We have done quite a bit of cruising with our children, we always focus on the itinerary first. Harwich - Just one observation regarding departure - take the train! Unless you plan to tour England a few days before the cruise, driving in England (particularly this route) is very slow and difficult. Google maps quoted a two hour drive, it took us four hours due to heavy construction on the M25, pretty much the whole way around London. The train station is literally a hop, skip and jump to the cruise terminal. Since we were the last folks to arrive in the cruise terminal, check-in was smooth, quick, and easy. The ship design is generally pretty lackluster, and shows its age. The process of "Solsticizing" this ship lead to a lot of questionable design changes. For instance, the kids club took over half of the forward nightclub, the Constellation Lounge. Gym The gym was at the front of the ship so it was a terrific location to hit the treadmill in the morning as the ship sailed through the Fjord. I was there at 6am to 6:30 and was usually one of two or three people in there. It didn't pick up until 7am when the staff came on duty. Food/Dining Celebrity did a good job with food quality, I was a little surprised that a ship with such a fabulous pastry chef didn't have a midnight buffet on a 10-night cruise. Breakfast in the buffet was ok. In my opinion all of the ships serve the same stuff, there is pretty much everything you could want for breakfast. The buffet did have a nice(but slow) eggs benedict counter. We ate in the main dining room most nights, the menu was diverse enough night after night that there was always something new to try and the staples steak and salmon were good. The chocolate cake served in the main dining room was to die for. It was so good, we took photos of it. Lots of photos. We dined one night at the Qsine restaurant, this is a very cool concept but make an early reservation as you would need several hours to try several of the menu items. Service is very slow. Celebrity does the RCCL Opening dining concept which to me falls quite short of being an open dining concept since they take reservations; they need to take a lesson from NCL on this - first come, first serve. Entertainment The entertainment was ok. The production dancers were very good, the production singers - not so much (except for one of the female leads). The contortionist couple were amazing. Celebrity always caters toward the older crowd when it comes to entertainment so it didn't surprise me to see a concert pianist in the theater one night. However, the pianist, Brooks Aheron, was extremely entertaining for all ages. The only real miss for us in the theatre was a female soloist who had been on The Voice UK. The club and lounge singers did a good job. Kids Club As previously mentioned the kids club took over a portion of the Constellation Lounge, so it provided great views for the youngsters but the club design was an after thought. No jungle gyms to keep the youngsters active like Disney or Norwegian. Considering what they had to work with, the crew of the kids club did a great job keeping the kids entertained and interested. The hours of the club were a little odd, i.e. it completely shut down from 5pm-7pm every night. The flip side is that we didn't have to pay for the club in ports unless we left them for lunch. Most of the cruise lines use that tactic on sea days (to make sure the kids get fed). It was a annoying that they did it everyday. My gauge on the quality of the kids club is whether or not my kids are pestering me to go there throughout the cruise. I'm happy to report they never lost interest! (To date - Only the RCCL clubs hold the honor of boring my children) Ports: (We did not go on any ship-sponsored excursions) Oslo We did the City Sightseeing hop-on/hop-off in Oslo since we had never been to Norway before. We used City Sightseeing in several of the cities and the buses usually had wifi onboard. If you've never done an Icebar before, the Oslo one is small but worth the price. Stavanger Stavanger is a quaint little city. There is a mall/grocery store close to the port if you need any supplies. Flam Flam is an incredibly beautiful place. I will spend the rest of my life trying to figure out how to retire there. These is a walking loop from the port is about a 2 mile circuit but it will take several hours due to all of the photos you'll have to take. (if we didn't have the kids with us I would have rented bikes here). Alesund - It rained heavily the day we were here. This is a quaint little city but I assume the reason the ship was in port for 12 hours there had to do with timing into the fjords. I recommend an excursion that takes you outside of Alesund. Geiranger - Beautiful, but this place was a zoo when we were there due to having three cruise ships in port that day. The Infinity had to use the tenders. There are several tourists buses that will drive you to the scenic overlooks. City Sightseeing also ran a bus service to the overlooks. One tip on Geiranger - get up early to get a photo of the Seven Sisters waterfall as the ship sails into Gerainger. In the afternoon, leaving Geiranger, they do the whole production and photo op turning the ship 365 degrees. However, due to the time of day you will most likely be taking your photos in to the sun. Olden - Beautiful place and similar to Olden, I would love to retire here. Again, if we didn't have the kids here we would have rented bikes. There is a glacier tour here, but if you have done Alaska, you'll be disappointed. Bergen - This historic capital of Norway seemed to have more life than the current capital. We also lucked out in having a beautiful sunny day in Europe's rainiest city. Everything was packed with tourists, not just from the ships. It was crowded, very crowded. I disembarked from Bergen and hopped a flight back to US due to work obligations. It would be a great end to a cruise to hop off in Bergen and tour around Norway a little more, just a thought. Several folks disembarked with me in Bergen, I suspect that was their plan. Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
Let me preface the following by saying we chose the cruise exclusively based upon the ports (La Coruna for Santiago, Porto, Lisbon, Cadiz, Gibraltar, and Malaga for Granada/Alhambra). We had never cruised on HAL before, with two prior ... Read More
Let me preface the following by saying we chose the cruise exclusively based upon the ports (La Coruna for Santiago, Porto, Lisbon, Cadiz, Gibraltar, and Malaga for Granada/Alhambra). We had never cruised on HAL before, with two prior European cruises being on Carnival and Princess. There were four of us in our traveling party, utilizing 2 inside cabins on the Main deck. Though the cruise began in Rotterdam, we joined the cruise in Harwich. Embarkation only had a slight hitch as the computers were down, yet we boarded around 11:30 a.m. and our luggage was waiting for us outside our cabins. Our first impression was the age of our fellow passengers, especially embarking with us in Harwich. As our party consisted of a 59, 62, 72, and 81 year old, we felt like youngsters among the cruisers. Our second impression was the size of our cabin. It was significantly larger than ones we have experienced on Princess or Carnival. It even included a couch! The room steward was efficient(which, as I will later relay, an unusual occurrance on the ship). The public areas were very classy and attractive, especially for an older, smaller ship than we had previously used. Our first experience with the staff, other than the room steward was dealing with the front office regarding their taking our passports prior to embarking on the ship. There was no reason given and there was no stating when they would be returned. When asked, the first gentleman just said we would get them when we get them. Thanks for the insight. Eventually, we demanded them the next day and they were given to us by another person at the front desk. Apparently, those who did not ask had them returned days later. The Lido and Dining room were staffed by people who either had limited English abilities or lacked the incentive to quickly deliver meals. Most meals were lukewarm or cold. In some cases, in the dining room orders were forgotten or misunderstood. As such the food was just okay. In the Lido, it looked like for every one person working, there were two watching. At the "burger" place on the Lido deck, slow would be a euphemism. The staff was totally indifferent. When we would see a staff member appearing to be enthusiastic, he or she would really stand out (e.g., at the late night desert party). At one of the Lido outside dinners, they ran out of items within the first hour. Room service was very efficient. The room steward provided us with fresh fruit, though the bananas were usually quite old. As for entertainment, the best was the first night singer and the second night "Broadway" singers and dancers. Unfortunately, it went down hill from there. There was a particularly unfunny gentleman who showed up twice (Broadway and Duet shows) and significantly put a damper on the other talented performers. The entertainment director did his best to promote enthusiasm, but the general age of the majority of the cruisers limited his effectiveness. The piano/singer seemed to work hard, but his music sounded more like elevator music. Indeed, the best entertainment was that provided by the house band and a singer in the upstairs lounge. Unlike other ships, there were no comedians.Overall, we found the activities on the ship, especially on sea days either limited or boring. The person who gave the 2 talks on the ports(about 30 minutes each or about 10 minutes per port) seemed to be giving them by rote memory. When we asked him for approximate cab costs from the port to the city(Porto), he turned out be off by 100%( it cost 10 euros not 20 euros). Overall, he seemed to exude the same indifference as much of the rest of the staff. We did appreciate the "lack" of constant announcements and selling as we had experienced on other lines. The shops were extremely limited in their offerings. For example, there were no t shirts representing the cruise. Instead, you could buy t shirts from the Baltic cruises. We found it difficult to purchase on board miscellaneous sundries. The casino was relatively tiny, but it appeared that the machines were not as tight as most cruise ships. The internet/Explorers lounge was rarely busy, so computers were readily available, though as on other ships, quite slow and costly. The person supervising the computers was helpful and knowledgeable. We did not use the pool area, though it was often covered, which made it comfortable. It looked like vary few people ever used the pool. The fitness room was up to date and rarely used by other cruisers. The wrap around deck 3 was great for power walking. I especially appreciated their Cancer Walk on the last sea day. As mentioned before, the ports were the primary reason for the trip and they did not disappoint. We used a private tour company at 3 of the ports, as they were at least 30-40% less than the HAL excursions. At the other ports we just walked off and did "our thing". I should add that the "hotel director/manager" did a wonderful job organizing a cruise critic meet and greet as well as inviting me to participate in post cruise evaluation(on the last day prior to our arrival in Barcelona). Overall, we found the ship to be adequate, but the staff not so much. We did not feel we belonged to the demographic of our fellow cruisers.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
The ports of call on our British Isle cruise were nice, some spectacular. The busy schedule left little rest time for rest but that was OK. The crew was uniformly friendly and the cabin was OK. The "king size bed" was, of course, ... Read More
The ports of call on our British Isle cruise were nice, some spectacular. The busy schedule left little rest time for rest but that was OK. The crew was uniformly friendly and the cabin was OK. The "king size bed" was, of course, nothing of the sort but why quibble? Entertainment was first rate. Harwich, the dock, is a sleepy village 2 1/2 hours from London. The only reason to dock there must be low fees. It is in the middle of nowhere and creates a longer sail time. There is also the little matter of transport fees. Unlike the old days, transporting to any place closer than 50 feet is big business. We paid $500 for round trip since Celebrity could not (as promised) leave early enough to ensure our plane connections. (There is also a rail involving two changes of trains and a taxi -all with luggage.) The initial Oceanview Cafe buffet was horrid - obviously leftovers from the previous cruise. Gone are the days of service when waiters brought silverware and drinks. No, the traveler carries plates (no trays! - a new policy) then must get silverware and drinks - confusion USA. Glass panels block self-serve except at the salad bar where folks squatted, pushed their head through to reach the veggies and dropped hair on the food. The dining room was equally unorganized. Long lines waited for tables yet the young man who greeted the diners also had to search the ship when a table became available THEN lead them back to their table. Meanwhile, a woman at the other entrance never moved. NIght after night this charade was carried out to the chuckles of guests who wondered why in the world they didn't ask one of the waiters standing around to get the guests or lead them to their table. Excursions. Something we avoid since they are wildly overpriced and impersonal. We'd team up with other couples for rides to town or the countryside at 1/3 to 1/2 the cost. For some reason, Celebrity blocks booking excursions four days before sale (that's a new one). I was told it was because the tour group they used did not have enough buses and the tours were sold out. Many reports of folks sent on wild goose chases by employees unfamiliar with the ship. I was sent to three floors (3, 5 and 8) before finding the Internet cafe on 9. There is also the problem of understanding English beyond "I want that." A request for runny yellows in eggs resulted in something crusted on both sides (the poor guy smiled, clueless). The two-tiered policy of service was a disaster. Frequent travelers and "special" guests had reserved rooms that were uniformly empty. And about those "specialty restaurants". There is a reason for the hard sale prior to boarding. Nobody was paying the ridiculous "cover charge" for a "special" dinner. So discounts were offered (increasing daily), crew members pushed them to those waiting for elevators. We were with a couple designated "special" (they had no idea why) but who refused to dine or drink alone. Celebrity should reward frequent travelers with a bottle of wine, reduced costs, a free night at a "special" restaurant. Speaking of empty, Celebrity must expect an army of relapsed AA folks. The bars and lounges were ubiquitous yet empty except during dinner when folks searched for a place to sit while they waited on a table. The casino was likewise empty as has been the case for the past few years. Selling is still the primary goal. Wine packages (250-300% markup), coke packages, spa packages as well as numerous stores with overpriced jewelry and clothes. "Fresh" orange juice can be had for $3/glass (a lonely server never had a single customer that I saw). No rhyme or reason - ice cream and desserts are free but not coffee, water or tapas. The cooking demonstrations were advertisements for the "specialty restaurants". Recommendation: Charge $100-$200/ticket extra and cut out all the packages, constant selling and phony pitches. Give folks water, coffee or a coke (with ice around 20 cents). Reduce or omit internet charges. Celebrity is now hawking Apple products which is fine (I'm an Apple user) but what's next - Walmart or Toyota? New travelers were impressed as were Celebrity-only travelers (although many tired of the constant nickle and diming). But those who have traveled widely on other cruise lines were not impressed. I understand that Celebrity wants to cut costs but they're going about it all wrong. Use personnel for waiters - not manning empty bars and lounges.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
My Husband booked this cruise to celebrate both our Wedding Anniversary and my Birthday. We booked the Tower Hotel (Harwich)for the night before and met fellow cruisers. We highly recommend this charming seaside hotel, and Harwich is well ... Read More
My Husband booked this cruise to celebrate both our Wedding Anniversary and my Birthday. We booked the Tower Hotel (Harwich)for the night before and met fellow cruisers. We highly recommend this charming seaside hotel, and Harwich is well worth a walk through, be sure to see the REDOUBT fortress. As for the cruise itself, Royal Caribbean never disappoints, Kudos to the line who hired an exceptional Russian Folk Group one night in St. Petersburg. In fact, all the entertainment was great including a comic from Wales who had everyone screaming with laughter. Copenhagen, Stockholm, Helsinki all great tour stops. St.Petersburg Russia was a 2 day stop. We toured both Pushkin (Catherine's Palace) and the Hermitage the second day. Catherine's Palace was the highlight of the trip for us. The Hermitage is touted equal to the Louvre, we didn't think so. The biggest surprise was Helsinki and Tallin Estonia, our two favorite ports. Walking and shopping Helsinki (a very modern city) is reminiscent of the Via Vennata in Rome, a great experience. Tallin was the most fun, the market place, the Nevsky Cathedral, and our tour guide was a scream. St. Petersburg overall is the cruise highlight, but we learned on shipboard that a one day to Moscow was added..but no one told us beforehand, and the 60 spots were quickly filled. For that reason alone, we will not pre-book months in advance again. Brilliance of the Seas is a good ship, and we enjoyed the Solarium deck and the food being offered there, as you could starve until they open the Windjammer Restaurant. We give this cruise 5 stars out of 5. Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
We have only cruised 3 times before, all with P&O. This was a big holiday for us, our expectations were high, and we weren't disappointed. We travelled by car from our home near Nottingham, which took approx 3 hours, the traffic ... Read More
We have only cruised 3 times before, all with P&O. This was a big holiday for us, our expectations were high, and we weren't disappointed. We travelled by car from our home near Nottingham, which took approx 3 hours, the traffic was good as it was the weekend, the Port of Harwich was easy to find, we paid for parking at the booth on entry, just over 7 per day. We drove to a large car park where luggage was taken from us and put on a trailer to be taken straight to the ship, then we parked our car ourselves, retaining the keys, and hopped on a shuttle bus with hand luggage for the short trip to the check-in. Short delay for check-in as the computers had crashed, lots of apologising from staff, and then on to the beautiful Brilliance of the Seas. The fabric of the ship was stunning and plush compared to P&O's Oceana and Oriana, the glass lifts and Centrum where amazing. Our cabin was nice, the bed huge, with our 16 year old in the bunk above our heads. Space was tight, we needed to be organised, but we fitted all our clothes into the wardrobes and drawers. Our cabin assistant Merle was so nice and friendly, always making us feel welcome, we felt all the staff were exceptionally helpful and couldn't do enough to help. Loved the towel animals, disliked not having shampoo, conditioner and body lotion...and no chocolate on your pillow! The usual free-for-all in the self service restaurant for lunch, fantastic food, and free flavoured squash, juice, water, tea and coffee. This felt like a restaurant, and was plusher than the self-service on P&O. We happily shared a table and realised that Brits were in the minority, we thoroughly enjoyed mixing with people from America, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Israel, Armenia, Nigeria, Australia...the list is endless, and this made our holiday. Loved the help yourself breakfasts and lunch in the Windjammer (free self serve icecream machine), nice organic salads at The Park cafe in The Solarium and supper here too, together with Fruit Punch, iced tea and lemon squash all free of charge. Evening meal.....hmm...AnyTime dining, if you don't book in advance, it's more like AnyTime to suit the restaurant dining. Not being aware of the importance of booking, we ate in the Windjammer the first night, as only 8-45pm was available. After this we booked each night for the following night. If I could put the P&O evening menu on this ship, it would have been perfect. The waiters were fantastic, very accommodating with our fussy eating son, couldn't fault their service, BUT, the food was not the best. Once we realised which things weren't to our taste, we adapted by ordering something different. Smoking policy....smoking inside ruined the Colony Club, The Casino and the NightClub, we just avoided these areas. I'd forgotten how lucky we are in England with the smoking ban. Alcoholic drinks...wow, they know how to charge, and then add 15%. So we didn't bother, if they had been cheaper we would have spent more. Entertainment....managed to see most shows, different each night, with mostly a British slant ranging from comedy, comedy magician, singers, dancers, Russian evening, hypnotist and magician all in a lovely theatre. We went to the cinema and also the outdoor screen around the pool. Loved the Mini Golf course. Loads to see in the Centrum, bands, quartets, singers and a great British evening. Hats off to Keith, he got involved and really made us laugh. We walked into Copenhagen from the ship, took the HoHo in Stockholm (made certain we went straight to Vasa museum). Took the ships shuttle in Helsinki, walking around the shops and sea front market stalls. Went with SPB Tours to St Petersburg, who, after an initial mix up with groups, were excellent. Thank you to our fellow travellers in Svetlana's group, we loved your company and sense of humour. Used the shuttle to the centre of Tallin, which was walkable, and just soaked up the Medieval atmosphere. Tallin and StP were best for souvenirs. Ships shuttle again to Gothenburg(which was needed) walking around the old part and the new shops. Oslo, wow, parked up next to a Fortress, we walked along the harbour, visited the main street shops and back through the Fortress. Our son went along to the Teenage Lounge on the first evening, and we barely saw him for the rest of the holiday, other than Port visits and most evening meals. He has made loads of friends, they enjoyed their freedom on the ship and he is now keeping in touch via Facebook. We drew the curtain separating our cabin from the beds, and left a small light on as he was later to bed than we were! This was a fantastic holiday, we will use Royal Caribbean again. We would actually like to do this cruise again, as hearing about the different aspects of each Port from other people made us realise how much we missed. Thank you to all crew and fellow cruisers that made this a very special holiday.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
Overall a great cruise, the staff are wonderful and nothing is too much trouble. Unfortunately the hard sell of all extras is off putting which involves extortionate wine prices for average wines, the cheapest bottle was $37, high drink ... Read More
Overall a great cruise, the staff are wonderful and nothing is too much trouble. Unfortunately the hard sell of all extras is off putting which involves extortionate wine prices for average wines, the cheapest bottle was $37, high drink prices in general, no draft beers after 2/3 days, restaurant extras for certain meals, i.e lobster and every other restaurant apart from the windjammer buffet style dining area carried a cost. We all expect the never ending photo opportunities but this was somewhat excessive and bordering on annoying. We enjoyed the ports of call and went on 3 pre booked excursions which were well organised and informative. At most of the ports it was easy to make your own arrangements to sight-see and was more cost effective. The ship also had indoor smoking areas and certain nights for smoking in bars/casino which spoilt activities and the smell of stale smoke in the entertainment areas was ever present. The food was enjoyable but repetitive, one of our party was vegetarian and the choice was bland curry or pasta and tomato sauce most nights; in comparison with other cruises the food and variety was lacking. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
1. We were given no idea how far and EXPENSIVE getting to the ship from London was. $808 for round trip for 4 was offered by the cruise line. We were able to do it for $550 in a private car service. Still one heck of a bunch of money for ... Read More
1. We were given no idea how far and EXPENSIVE getting to the ship from London was. $808 for round trip for 4 was offered by the cruise line. We were able to do it for $550 in a private car service. Still one heck of a bunch of money for transfers.2. Food in the Main dining room was NEVER up to normal Cruise Line standards. You could find something eatable at the buffet on Deck 11 (Windjammer)3. The speciality restaurants were good, albeit, with a very expensive surcharge. ($20-30 per person, or as much as $70 at the Chef's Table)4. Lack of cabin amenities one normally finds on a cruise ship (No Robes, hair conditioner, lotion, fruit basket, etc)5. No on board self-service laundry (first line I've been on without this)6. Elevators hard to catch for anyone who couldn't move extremely fast.7. Main dining was extremely crowded (tables too close together), making service slow and uncomfortable.8. Charges for room service after 12:00 AM9. Not being able to get items on the main dining menu delivered as room service(very limited room service menu)10. Lack of information on ANYTHING the ship did not make money on.(ie, Hop On/ Hop Off buses, etc)11. All ship personnel were very nice and helpful, except for one person (who I named in the on-board review), except in the case of Number 1012. On board Internet service was slow and expensive.13. Charge for Shuttle service, which was never done on other cruise lines.14. No notification about schedule changes, making our departing flight hard to make. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
EMBARKATION Arrived at Harwich 11.30am and followed signs to the car park to the left of the Ship. Luggage was taken; we parked the car ourselves and got the courtesy shuttle bus to the Ship. It was busy already with the priority area for ... Read More
EMBARKATION Arrived at Harwich 11.30am and followed signs to the car park to the left of the Ship. Luggage was taken; we parked the car ourselves and got the courtesy shuttle bus to the Ship. It was busy already with the priority area for platinum members and above overflowing so we went into the normal queue which was much quicker. We then queued up to the scanners and all the way on to the Ship. The Windjammer buffet restaurant was not too full so we had lunch. Next we ordered the Evian water package from outside the Windjammer - yes I know it is very expensive (16x1 litre bottles for $66 including the 15% tip added automatically) but I do prefer it to the water on board which has a funny taste and as I do not drink tea or coffee, I am rather limited as to what I can have. This arrived in the cabin at 8.30pm so next time I will order beforehand if it says it will be waiting in the cabin on arrival. We went to our cabins at 1.45pm and they were open. I never did hear the announcement saying they were open so not sure if they said or not. Two out of 3 suitcases were already there and the 3rd arrived within a few minutes so very good service. We unpacked and attended the lifeboat drill at 4pm before sailing at 5pm. My cabin steward came to say hello and was generally very good. I did have to ask him for my bathrobe which should be standard for platinum members and above and Guest Relations for my Crown & Anchor Ultimate Value Booklet which was also missing. This has discount coupons for drinks, photos, casino, laundry, bingo, jewelry, tattoos, Pets at Sea, $7.50 internet credit and a few other things too. FOOD & DRINK The Windjammer was ok for self service. I like to look first so always eat here rather than the main waiter service restaurant which does make you feel hemmed in. I heard one passenger say they were all herded in like cattle down there! It is very handy having free lemonade here although they do fill the glass full with ice so I have to constantly ask for no ice or just 2 cubes. They also do occasionally have lime water and a couple of other flavoured drinks free. My only criticisms were that at dinner, half the Windjammer restaurant is closed off and the make your own pizzas at dinner had been replaced by plastic fruit! I spoke to the restaurant manager one night as the glare off the sea was so bright it was difficult to see in the only side that was open. He did explain it was due to staff shortages amongst other excuses but did say I could sit the other side if I wanted to anytime. Other people were coming in asking the same question but the waiter staff still insisted it was closed. We saw our dining room waiter from last year's Russia cruise on Day 9 twice. We did not think he would still be here so it was nice to see him and catch up. Keeping up with last year, on the last day at lunchtime they had a giant cake and scooped ice cream. Yum! GENERAL The destination guides for each port are no longer put in the cabins in the evening before the next port. You now have to go to guest relations/shore excursions to pick one up -- I wonder why! Make sure you check the language is correct too. I was disappointed there was no proper information about where we were docking at each port. They did not explain if we would be in a working port area where we needed to get shuttle buses or if it would be literally next to the town and we would be able to walk. We only found out when getting off the Ship. In fact guest relations twice told us there were no free shuttles in Bergen when there were. CASINO I was disappointed it was impossible to walk from the front of the ship on deck 6 through the pit stop bar to the casino without being choked from the smoke. Some parts of the casino had no smoking signs but this was pointless with the smoke wafting through from the bar. We had two Crown & Anchor members' only casino tournaments. You redeem 1 of the $5 match play certificates in your ultimate value booklet to enter. For the 1st game you get 5 minutes on the slot machines. Whoever scored the most in the top 3 won prizes. Nothing special, T shirts etc. but it was free and good fun. We also had a blackjack tournament as we left Iceland where you get $500 chips to play 7 rounds. Again whoever wins gets a prize and no you don't get to keep the chips! When playing the slot machines in the casino, insert your Seapass card to accrue points which you can redeem near the end of the cruise. SHOPS ON BOARD The $10 sale has been replaced by the $12 sale. Also they were still doing a Russian Bazaar the last day trying to sell the dolls etc. which are a lot cheaper at the markets in Russia if you ever take that cruise. (Our cruise was a one off as normally this ship goes up to Russia). CABINS Still no flat screen TV's in room and no decent TV so not possible to check what is going on back home even if you wanted to. No BBC UK news, just BBC World news and no Sky. ESPN was the best channel if you like sports. This came in handy to watch us lose yet again on penalties in the European footie tournament but this time to Italy! Cabins are looking rather dated although clean but could do with a refit. The chair & sofa beds look grubby and worn as do the bathroom cabinets and the toilet had a permanent black ring around it. My hairdryer socket stopped working on day 6 but maintenance promptly fixed it but the next morning the hairdryer and the fridge had been fused again. When I returned from breakfast the maintenance man explained he changed the circuit board and was fitting a new fridge/cooler just in case. Later that day the same thing happened and the cabin steward said same problem next door. Not sure if they were plugging the wrong voltage in or not but it never happened again. Shower doors did not close totally in the middle but it only caused a spray of water outside no major flood so I did not report it to maintenance. Overall it was as clean as it could be. INTERNET We used our $7.50 internet coupons from our discount booklets during the cheap rate time of 7-9am making it 44c per minute. I bought my netbook this time so registered on one of the ships pc's to set up a username and password and then logged into it via my pc. Unfortunately it did not go back to the log off page and although I selected disconnect from the options on the pc, it was still charging. Luckily I checked with guest relations and the lady was very helpful and showed me on my pc what ip address I need to input for their internet cafe to log off. She also re credited me the extra time. On board internet seemed quicker than usual in Shetland but was very slow at Sea the last day so I gave up. I think it will be cheaper for us Brits in Europe to use a mobile phone with a good deal for internet access. I must get with the times and get a blackberry or something similar soon rather than just use my mobile for calls and texts. I had a text in Iceland saying calls 50p connection and then I can use my free o2 minutes. Also it said internet was only �£1.66 plus vat for all day up to 25MB. So it is worth checking with your provider if it will be cheaper and easier to use your own mobile instead for internet access. Obviously when at sea, you are connected to the Ships connection so will be very expensive. The internet packages the Ship offer were 60 mins for $35, 100 mins for $55, 150 mins for $75, 250 mins for $100 and 500 mins for $150. You need quite a lot of time as connection is very slow. SHIPS EXCURSIONS On Day 2 whilst at sea, we booked the Panoramic Faroe Islands tour. They had 3 different times for this tour but 1 was already sold out. I couldn't find much to do independently here in my research so decided to book with the Ship. I also asked about vacancies on the Reykjavik geothermal field's tour and she had 3 places left so we also booked this too. We have learnt over the last few cruises that the Ships tours are getting very expensive and it appeared to me they are charging around �£20-�£30 mark up on what you can get them for if you book locally in the Tourist Info offices or online beforehand. I wonder if they are also getting a group discount but are not passing this on either! We heard a lot of people comment on the same thing this cruise especially in Iceland where tours are a lot cheaper in the TI office just off the Ship. Of course the benefits of taking a Ships tour is that the Ship will not go without you if you are late back and you do not need to plan anything in advance.BERGEN, NORWAY Clocks had gone forward 1 hour the 1st night at sea so we were already on Norway time. We docked on the left side (port). Was quite interesting watching the goings on in the working port. Good views both sides though. It was quite warm & sunny until lunchtime then clouded over. (worth noting not to take much notice of the Ships weather forecast). We didn't bring any Norwegian Krone (NOK) currency with us this year which was a mistake. We decided to convert some dollars we had yesterday at Guest Relations but they told us they would not have any until they docked in Bergen and to come back at 7.15am. When we did this, we were told no they did not get any as thought but may have some later that evening. She said it was not a problem as our ports accepts Euros. This was ok for Bergen but not Flam. At the current exchange rate it would have been better value for us to use NOK. Last year we came with P&O and they had told us some useful information on the talk the day before in the theatre and that there would be free shuttle buses to the lake & fountain area. RC did not tell us this and we were told twice at guest relations there was no shuttle. Later on we were told there was a free shuttle. This delayed us getting off the ship. Last year we were off 8am and up the Funicular Railway -- just 80 NOK return. We decided once at the waterfall area to take the City Sightseeing Hop on Hop off (HOHO) bus this time as I am still recovering from DVT & PE's so cannot walk far yet. Not quite sure why RC set up the exit point at the far end of the ship, furthest away from the coaches! HOHO was 150NOK, or £20, 20 Euros or $30. You can pay in any of these currencies or credit card. The people in front of us used credit card. There were signs up in the road in Norwegian that had 12.00-21.00 on them. The driver on the HOHO said the streets were closed for a cycle race from 12.00. Shame RC decided to go here this day and also why were HOHO not charging half price! There were another 5 or so ships also in today so the place was heaving with people. The P&O Oceana docked over the other side right next to the HOHO stop. Last year P&O Ventura docked miles out like we did this year. We decided to go around anyway on the HOHO and when we reached the funicular at 10am which is only a 15 min walk from the fountain and lake by the way (where shuttles drop you off); the queue was right down to the bottom of the hill! (There are toilets at the bottom which you pay for I think but free ones at the top from what I remember. There is also a cafe at the top. We carried on to some picture stops, not that impressive and past some other cruise ships, the aquarium and back to the fountain area. Was it worth £20 -- no to be honest. The aquarium is 200NOK for anyone wanting to go in. Page them up online for timetable e.g. seal show, feeding times etc. Website says it is a 15-20 min walk from city centre and also the number 11 bus goes there. FLAM (pronounced Flom) Docked starboard side (right) looking over to the Flam Railway. Nice views over the bay the other side. Temperature was 18c sun & cloud but much colder up the mountain on the train. We arrived at 7am. Again they set the exit point off the Ship as far away as possible. Flam railway station is literally a few minutes' walk to the left past the souvenir shops & cafes from the ship. There is also a museum slightly further along to the left of the railway. We got off the boat at 8.10am to get our own Flam Railway ticket to Myrdal and back as the boat are charging approximately £25 more per ticket. Return ticket for adults is 360NOK (was just under £40). You can pay in NOK or credit card. You CANNOT pay in Euros so we used the credit card. People were just starting to queue out the doors of the ticket office but still we missed the 8.35 train by a good 10 minutes. The sign said ticket office open from 8.15am but worth getting in the queue from 7.30-7.45. Although this early train was not full even with the excursion tours, they would not allow tickets to be purchased on board so it left half empty. The next 2 trains were sold out as were the returns trains. Although there were spaces on the 12.20 this meant we had to get the 14.43 train back, arriving back at Flam at 15.40 when the time set to be on board the ship was ten minutes before at 15.30! The ticket office asked the Ship if they could book this train but they told us the Ship had said no. However, after we learnt a few people had booked it and some were told by Guest Relations that the ship will wait for them we also booked it. Even so, it was an anxious wait all day which was unnecessary. Surely RC knew the only thing people wanted to see here is the railway so why not say on board time 15.45? The timetable was clearly printed online so they must have been aware we needed just 10 more minutes. They have definitely lost some of their credibility with me over this! The captain was more concerned with the crew lifeboat race going on outside! Slightly better view up the mountain was on the left side going up (3 seats). It stops about 10 minutes from the top for you to get out and take a picture of the waterfall. Be warned you may get a little damp with the spray. You pass through the snowcapped mountains that you can see from ground level. Not much up the top but you could spend the hour and a quarter or so up there, but remember to take a warm coat, hat & gloves for when you get to the top. As we went up, we passed the sold out return 13.27 train which was not full at all. I wonder if RC had booked all the seats. Although we were the only ship in port, there were a few coaches from elsewhere who had booked tours. My tip for here is to get off the Ship around 7.30 and get in the queue for tickets! GEIRANGER This is a tendered port with town views to the right side (starboard). Good views both sides. As we left Flam yesterday, the Captain announced we would pass the Seven Sisters Waterfall in Geiranger at around 7.30am. This is around 10-15 minutes from the port. The sun was shining and a rainbow had formed over the falls. Everyone wanting to go ashore had to queue from 9am for tender tickets to leave from 9.30am but the ship announced at 8.45 that as they were ready early & anybody who wanted to go ashore within the next 10 -- 15 minutes can do so without tender tickets so we hastily left. We were ashore just after 9am and it was a beautiful sunny day so we walked into the tourist information office just by the docks and booked the coach up to Mount Dalsnibba. It was 250NOK or 35 euros. The bus left at 9.40am. There were 2 further tours later in the day. The HOHO bus only goes part way up the mountain which would be ok if the weather was not great and was 180NOK. I would say it is best to see what the weather is like before booking in advance. It took around 1hr 30 to get to the top as we picked up a couple of people en route and detoured to drop a couple off by the frozen lake. We didn't mind the detours as it was truly fantastic views and we went up into the snowcapped mountains. Great view up the top and a souvenir shop and clean free to use toilets. It is a lot colder at the top so even though it was 18c at the bottom of the mountain, it was below freezing at the top so a thick coat, gloves etc. required! The shop takes NOK, Euros, GB Pounds and Dollars. The trip down was only an hour and again great views. There are a number of souvenir shops at the bottom of the mountain by the tourist information. Reading other reviews I believe this is a visitor Centre (Fjord Centre) just a little way up the mountain that some people walked to. Also clean free to use toilets to the left side of the Tourist Info office. As we left the port, we again passed the Seven Sisters Waterfall. Clocks went backwards 1 hour overnight tonight. LERWICK, SHETLAND, UK We arrived around 9.30am and again tendered port so needed tickets for the lifeboat to go ashore from 11am. No early let off today so we got a tender ticket which was up to number 9 already. Unfortunately they were not calling the numbers out in the rooms or the corridors, only by the theatre where tickets were issued so we walked down to the lifeboats a little while later to see where they were up to and were let on after a tour party just going on had a few spare seats on their lifeboat. A good 5 minute tender ride to the pier, looks like independent boat trips available from here also. We just walked around the town and did not do any tours, as only 2 available anyway. I heard you can do the local boat trips to the see the birds on the cliffs -- check map given out when you get off the tender boats. Small town just off the pier with some big name stores like Boots and shoe shops, etc. Several souvenir shops including Shetland fudge but the shop was packed we could not get in the door. Lots of cafes and the smell of fish and chips were very tempting. There are lots of free toilets around the town and by the pier and local buses available also for those wanting to ride further around the island. As we were back in the UK we were able to use our mobiles free again. We heard people commented there was free Wi-Fi in most of the ports. KLAKSVIK, FAROE ISLANDS Sunny day 11c which actually felt quite warm, except when we went up the mountain on the tour pm. Arrived at 8am. Docked port side (left) but still nice view of the mountain the other side. Not many houses although there are lots of small villages around the island. Again, getting off the ship was right at the back of the ship with the end of the pier the opposite end. The free local shuttle buses were driving up to the departure point which was helpful. Shame the ship did not tell us this in the daily compass guide, seems they would rather use that to sell their chargeable services rather than provide useful information! We did not go into town but I imagine it was full of the usual tourist shops. Instead we were on a ships tour in the afternoon -- Faroe panoramic. My tip for the tours -- get off the ship earlier than it says. I am not sure if the ship overbooked this tour but all 3 coaches were full yet we still left around 7 people on the pier. They were not late, in fact 10 minutes before the departure time. This was a 2 hour 30 tour driving around the island. Maybe those left behind were the lucky ones, our guide decided to sing to us twice and really he was bad! He was very helpful though answering lots of questions. He was telling us the cost of houses here are 300,000 euros and you need 3-4000 euros per month to live here as taxes are around 42%. We drove through the 6km undersea tunnel. You drive downhill to 150m below sea level before going up and out the other side of the mountain. Then we passed through another shorter tunnel. We drove the whole time around little villages and mountains stopping for 3 picture stops. The 1st stop had toilets (1 passenger said they looked like a garden shed -- he was correct). Luckily as it was a short tour, the toilets were not required. The guide did not tell us there were no more toilets for the other 2 hours though. Clocks go backwards 1 hour tonight as At Sea tomorrow. REYKJAVIK, ICELAND Day 1 We arrived at 7am. Docked left side (port) but just overlooking the working dock area. The other side of the Ship has nice views. Gangway was once again at the back of the boat, as far away from the entrance to the dock. It was very uneven and not flat, and very difficult to walk on. Luckily however, Iceland Port had their own gangway they wheeled on and set up near the front so wheelchairs etc. could get off. Breakfast was quiet at 8.30am as many people were out at this time for the Golden Circle Tour. We docked in SKARFABAKKI harbour which happens to be on stop 9 of the HOHO City Sightseeing bus if you page this up on the internet. The HOHO is 3000 ISK for adults (approximately £15) and 1500ISK for 12-15 year olds and free for 0-11 year olds. The tour does not look very interesting, it goes to the main town, the BSI Bus terminal Stop 4 (other tours go from here but I think they also offer pick-ups from dock or hotels - you just need to ask.) It also goes to the National Museum, the Hilton Hotel and a hostel. You could use the HOHO instead of paying the $15 return for the ships shuttle buses which were not free here unlike the other ports we had visited. Tickets for HOHO are valid 24 hours. The Ships shuttle bus stops at stop 1 on the HOHO route. I spotted the tourist office from my cabin using the binoculars I bought with me and I could see it said on the windows of the building to book tours here etc. We walked down and there is also a Europcar rent a car desk inside the tourist office and an internet cafe -- didn't check if free or not. The staff were very helpful indeed and showed us all the tour leaflets and gave good advice. They offer even more tours than the ship does. They do several evening tours including the Golden Circle at 13.00 or 19:00 which goes to the Gullfoss waterfall 120km away and the geothermal area. Gray Line operates a lot of tours from here. One company from BSI terminal was advertising free Wi-Fi on their coaches. Most tours are in English with some offering other languages also. The whale trip we booked was English and as the guide was German, she repeated everything in German also. There is also a souvenir shop inside the TI Office and the staff said you can pay in ISK, Euros, Pounds, dollars or credit card (which we used) for the tour we booked. We could not believe how much cheaper the tours were than the ships excursions to the same places. We went back on board and cancelled the geothermal tour which they did without charging us a cancellation fee. We decided it was such a lovely sunny day with very flat sea that we should do the whale watching instead. I would recommend waiting until you arrive and only do this tour if the sea is very flat. I read the reviews on the whale watching boats and they do say many people are sea sick on it if rough seas. We paid £47 euros or 7500ISK each and that includes the pick up from just outside at the back of the TI office -- just look for the blue whale watching minibus. Pick up is 30 minutes before the tour. We did pick up at 2 other places around town but it gave us an overview of the town and to be honest there doesn't look much here. Most of the interesting bits are further afield. It was called Whale watching & puffin tour LIFE OF WHALES. There are around 3 different companies all about the same price. They leave at 8.55am, 12.55 and 16.55. Other companies were around the same time or 10am 2pm 6pm and 1 leaflet says 20.30pm June -- August. The whale watching boat accepts credit cards for purchases in the cafe and Euros. There are thermal suits downstairs if you want to wrap up warm. Even though it was 18c by the ship, it is still windy out in the bay so you do need a thick coat, hats & gloves. It is worth noting that the ships Whale excursion was using another boat in the same area and was packed. We only had around 30 people on our boat and it was therefore a lot easier to get a good viewing position. We mostly spotted whales ahead of us so it is worth trying to get to the front although very windy there. We saw a mother and calf mink whale and another whale further along. The morning trip saw a humpback whale also. Toilets on board were clean and the cafe had lots from cans of drink to hotdogs & sandwiches. The tour also went past Puffin Island on the way to the whales. There were loads of puffins but I would recommend binoculars for a good view though. I wouldn't recommend just the puffin island tour (around 24euros) as the boats look very small so could be very bouncy. The windjammer restaurant opened before 6pm tonight although it was advertised as 6.30pm as usual, due to the fact many all day tours arrived back just before then. REYKJAVIK, ICELAND Day 2 Sadly we had to be back on board at 12.30 so we did not do any of the other tours. We would have liked to have done the Golden Circle and could have done the evening tour last night but I decided against this as still not 100% fully fit but it is possible to cram lots in here. I will have to come back next year! There were some local buses going to the blue lagoon on a regular basis for anyone not wanting to pay the Ships excursion prices. We went ashore early and got some souvenirs in the TI office before it good too crowded. Not cheap but Norway and Iceland are expensive anyway. Thimbles 495 IKR, Postcards 100ISK, fridge magnets 695IKR, ornaments from 895IKR. Clothing is quite expensive. Calendars were very expensive at 1295IKR. If we had gone on the HOHO bus yesterday we could have used the ticket today for a ride around as valid 24 hrs. Ship was due to leave at 1pm which was a shame. I do not know why they did not stay until 4 or 5pm as this would have allowed a lot more sightseeing and we are back in Harwich at 4am Monday which is really not necessary. I can only assume the mooring fees are very expensive in Iceland. Real shame though. Lots of the ships tours were late back so we didn't get away until nearly 1.30pm. Just before we sailed away the captain warned us we would be sailing in to rough weather and 12ft waves from midnight tonight and during tomorrow. Having been on some rough seas in the past we didn't take much notice even when it started getting very rough and swaying later in the evening. However, it was a relentless night of jolting about and the whole ship shuddering. The next morning I felt sick when I walked or tried to walk around the cabin. This is very unusual for me but most people were affected today. It was difficult to stay upright at times. It felt much better lying down. By 11am I had to take anti seasick tablets. I ordered room service for the 1st time the whole trip and it appeared everyone else had too as I was told it would be a 45 minute wait. I thought I may feel better if I ate something as had skipped breakfast. Room service menu is rather basic but OK. I had a couple of slices of pizza and then rested in bed again. A couple of hours later I was feeling a lot better but could not face getting up until dinner. The captain informed us we had changed course slightly due to the storm and were battered by 5 metre high waves (as if we didn't know)! It started to ease about 7pm thankfully. Clocks went forward 1hour tonight. The last day at sea was a lot easier but did get a bit choppy again in the afternoon. We packed before dinner and used up our quarters from our winnings the days before in the casino. It took a good hour to lose $10 and was good fun. Worth noting, some people got off the ship in Iceland. This is actually not a bad idea. You could spend a good few days here seeing all the sights and then fly back rather than taking 2 days. Maybe the Ship should have called in to one of the other ports on the way back instead of on the way up. DISMEBARKATION We were allocated a numbered ticket depending on travel plans on departing the Ship. For the car park we had a choice of 7.20am or 8am so we selected 8am. When they allocated them, there were actually 4 times for departure for the car park but we were allocated 7.40am. We had taken milk and cereal down to our cabin the day before to avoid the crush in the Windjammer! The departure lounge for platinum members was on deck 13 in the Vortex but as it was so early we just left from our room. Overall a great trip apart from the storm and a bit of a wasted 2nd day in Iceland but that happens. Looking forward to booking another cruise soon.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
Norweigian fjords, an overnight in Reykjavik, and a stop on the Faroes were the selling points of this itinerary in late June from Harwich. Our family booked this while onboard the Jewel on her usual Baltic run in 2011. We all enjoyed the ... Read More
Norweigian fjords, an overnight in Reykjavik, and a stop on the Faroes were the selling points of this itinerary in late June from Harwich. Our family booked this while onboard the Jewel on her usual Baltic run in 2011. We all enjoyed the calm, cool weather and spectacular port scenery as well as the amenities of the lovely Jewel of the Seas. We spent an overnight in Gatwick at the airport Hilton, then made our way via Gatwick express and a taxi to Liverpool Street Station, where we picked up our pre-purchased tix for Harwich (66 GBP for 6 of us, great groupsave deal and kids cost 1 GBP). We needed to change at Manningtree and drag our bags up and down some stairs, but it worked out fine. Soon we were on board (after some "extra security screening") and at the Windjammer eating some chicken curries. Bags and rooms were ready on time and we were off to Bergen. Except for one rough day coming back from Iceland, we had calm seas and 60-70 degree F weather, perfect for deck jogging, and hiking that we had planned. We had one dinner at Portofino which was fine. My 12 year old was unable to find anything he liked, but the rest of us were happy. My DM is on a salt restriction and was happy with her special dinners prepared by the MDR and Portofinos during the cruise, she felt they were improved over the Allure 2011. MDR had the usual menus, waiter Joao brought as extra plates to taste and was very concerned that we were happy with our selections. Diamond lounge was moved to the Vortex due to there being 300 Diamonds on this cruise, and Diamond plus-ers moved to the Odysey lounge. We Diamonds had wine unlimited but DM was unhappy there were no snacks provided. The servers were all very friendly and remembered us from day to day. Love the Champagne Bar and Lorenzo,bar server extraordinaire; who remembered us from last year, and our drink orders. Good snacks available here and caviar, too. Our 12 and 15 year old enjoyed the teen club, there were 60 kids their age on board, the majority of passenger were 60+ British - so minimal families on this cruise. We did not notice too many couples in their 40's here. Dismebarkation was fast and smooth. Walked off and on the train at 8:30 am to visit Buckingham Palace. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
I am just back from an excellent 12 night cruise on the Jewel of the seas to the Baltic with family. We drove to Harwich which was our embarkation point. The port is easy to find although the signs to the parking area are not ... Read More
I am just back from an excellent 12 night cruise on the Jewel of the seas to the Baltic with family. We drove to Harwich which was our embarkation point. The port is easy to find although the signs to the parking area are not perhaps as visible as they should be, we got a little lost, but after asking we found our way. Checking in was simplicity itself. We drove to the car park entrance where we were checked off a list, drove through the entry and handed our luggage to the person waiting to take it then drove into the parking area where we were directed to a parking spot. We then waited for the shuttle bus to take us to the check in desk. Check in was swift and easy, we arrived just about 1pm as directed and we waited approx. 10 minutes to get to the check in desk, check in took about another 10 mins, we then had a little longer to go through security and then walk on to the ship, with a lift immediately available to take us up to our deck which was deck 9 and then straight to our cabin which was ready for us. After lunch in the Windjammer our luggage was in the corridor and ready for unpacking. The cabin was at the very rear of the ship and I would highly recommend it. The cabin itself was probably a standard size but felt a good size. The shower room is much as expected, not terribly big but adequate for our needs. The balcony was very large, much larger than expected, with not only 2 seats and a table but loungers as well. Being at the back we certainly had quite a walk to get to the cabin but once there, noise was minimal, all in all we were very pleased and when we cruise again will definitely try for these cabins again. The cabins were clean (I even checked under the loo seat, a sure way to find out if your cabin is cleaned properly) and comfortable. The beds were comfortable as well. The staff were ALL excellent, polite, unfailingly friendly and courteous. We were any time dining, which needs a little work I'm afraid. We had previously been anytime on the Star Princess which was simplicity itself, we basically just turned up and if we couldn't get into one restaurant we went to another, but on the Jewel we always had to book a time slot and even then we often had to wait for a table on one occasion we had to wait 30 mins. The area set aside for anytime is only one half of the upper part of one dining room, and isn't really enough. The staff though were excellent, the Maitre D. the Head waiter and Deputy head waiter in particular were all excellent. The head waiter in particular stopped at every table every night to check how things were going and often served meals when the waiters were extra busy, one night he not only took our order, but served most of our meal himself, he seemed to be everywhere in the dining room, keeping an eye on things as a good head waiter should. I'm very glad to say most of our fellow diners dressed well for the 2 formal nights we had, many of the gentlemen wearing dinner jackets which was nice to see. However there were several guests who turned up in short sleeved shirts, no tie and one person who wore cut off combat trousers, he and his partner who was also dressed casually should have been turned away to the Windjammer, but weren't, what is the point of the rest of us making the effort to dress nicely, when others don't bother and it's accepted. The food was good, although at times a little bland, but always beautifully presented. I read one review which said the food in the Windjammer was much the same as in the restaurants, but it's not. The Windjammer is much more of a canteen style of food, lots of stews, curries, minced beef/bolognese, pasta, salads. Fine if you want casual dining and perfect for dining on a long day following a trip, when you are too tired to change for dinner. There is the usual problem of getting a table in the morning when it is so busy, some people sitting at table for six when there are only two or not leaving when finished etc. Occasionally announcements were made to encourage people to vacate tables when finished, but this was not always heeded, however I don't blame the staff for not moving people on, the guests are on holiday and moving people on could cause some unpleasantness. We tended to go fairly late to breakfast, about 10 am, often the food stations were starting to be cleared so half way through breakfast it could be difficult to find what you wanted on occasions. I also didn't like that all the coffee stations on the other decks were the Seattle coffee i.e. you had to pay for it, if you wanted the ordinary coffee you have to go back to deck 11 to get it, which is a pain when on another deck. Also the ice cream station is in the Windjammer rather than on one of the outer decks, so when the Windjammer wasn't open too bad. The Jewel is a very nice ship, although I preferred the lay out of her sister ship Explorer of the seas, with not just a central atrium like the Jewel but a central "main street" where the shops and bars were situated, also on Explorer I loved that on the upper decks at the corners at the lift lobby they had "cabinets of curiosities" as well as art work on the walls. I really liked that, having said that the Jewel is a very nice ship, very well maintained, comfortable with plenty of seating for sailing days, although a larger solarium area would be good, as frequently it was impossible to get a lounger in the solarium especially when the weather was bad. The entertainment staff worked very hard, there was a lot going on especially in the central atrium area. There were not very many lectures which was a pity, there was a series on the mind, which were excellent and very interesting, but mostly the other lectures were just selling opportunities, especially for Amber, Russian dolls and Faberge Easter eggs. The evening shows in the theatre were not so good I'm afraid. We didn't go to them all, we liked the classical graffiti group who were excellent and the beach boy tribute band were fine, also the specialty act were good, but the production shows were not great, the dancers were fine as were the band and costumes, but the singers I'm afraid were not particularly good. The one irritation was with the plumbing. There seemed to be a persistent problem with the lavatories on the starboard rear of the ship. Three times we were unable to use our lavatory. The engineering staff were fairly quick to solve the problems but on one occasion the problem lasted for several hours, from 8 pm till after midnight. Sometimes information was not passed on very quickly about what was happening. We also have the same complaint as everyone else, the price of alcohol is ridiculously high. It doesn't seem to occur to the owners that if they kept the prices low, people would drink more, but faced with sky high pricing they will drink but not as much as they would otherwise. Also the shops sold mostly 'tat', really not worth buying and what they put out for the $10 sale was rubbish. If you claim that one of your stores is a general store it would be nice if it acutally sold store goods like body lotion, toothpaste, body wash etc, somebody ALWAYS forgets something, and it would be nice to actually be able to buy it on board. All in all though we had a terrific time on the Jewel, and would not hesitate to sail on her again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
This was our first time on the Jewel, and after sailing in the Independance a few times, which is much bigger, we were prepared for the smaller ship, and the Intinerary was a new one for us as well. We were in a grand suite, which ... Read More
This was our first time on the Jewel, and after sailing in the Independance a few times, which is much bigger, we were prepared for the smaller ship, and the Intinerary was a new one for us as well. We were in a grand suite, which featured a spacious bathroom, with bath, shower and two sinks, a bar area, a sofa area, and a spacious balcony. We also had tea and coffee making facilities in the room (didn't use them though!). Our cabin was located just outside the centrum, near to the concierge room, and despite this, we heard no noise while inside. The concierge room itself was lovely, but too small for the number of guests the used it, especially during the busy periods before dinner. We have heard that there are plans to move this room to deck thirteen, and we think that this would be a mistake- it is perfectly placed where it is. The concierge Nedere (sp?) was very good, and rang us every day to check everything was ok! The casino staff were good, and we had plenty of banter as we lost our money! The smoking policy in the casino was confusing- sometimes it was smoking, and sometimes it was non smoking. It should be kept as one or the other, and I don't appreciate someone joining me on a table and lighting up! Being in a suite also meant that we could use chops grille for breakfast, and we used this rather than fighting our way around in the windjammer! The waiters were exceptional. We placed our order, and it was cooked fresh and served for us promptly. I can recommend the pancakes! There was also a small buffet, with fruit, cheese, cereals etc, to occupy us while we were waiting. The ports of call were all good, with the exception of Tallinn. We went on a tour in Copenhagen, and visited the ice bar, which was amazing! In Stockholm we went on a shopping/ panoramic tour. The two shops we visited were ok- the first one was lovely, with traditional handmade Swedish items, and the second was a crystal shop. I appreciate that crystal is expensive, but we felt that this shop was vastly overpriced. It was the only place we didn't get anything! But the, items themselves were beautiful. In Helsinki we went to see Santa in his summer house. We were expecting something vastly over commercialised, but it wasn't! I lovely tour, next to a scenic lake, it was relaxed and peaceful. We then went on to have a quick tour, and back to the ship. There was a state funeral happening on the day we visited, so things were a little sombre in one of the picture stops (but then, it was right next to the church)!! St Petersburg was interesting. We had to go through customs, which was arduous, and as we hadn't applied for a visa, we could only travel on a tour. Our first one was a night time boat trip. It was hilarious. We saw lots of sights, sampled some vodka, and watched an hilarious performance with some folkloric dancers/ singers. I bought a duck-flute thing. It was great. The next day we went to paint our own stacking dolls. It was different! My work of art was nothing compared to the beautiful dolls in the shop next door. This was definitely a tour I would recommend. Next was Tallinn. Where the souvenir shops were outnumbered by those offering a private dance and a'happy ending'. If we visited this port again, we would stay on the ship! Managed to get a nice fridge magnet though. We stayed on board for Gothenburg, but heard good reviews from this who had been off exploring. The only downsides to the cruise was the slow service in the dining room-not the waiters fault, and we have never seen the head waiter so many times in one voyage! The food was, as usual, well presented, but a bit OTT and fancy- sometimes you just want something plain and boring! Dress codes were not enforced on board. It is irritating to make the effort to get dolled up on formal nights when the people on the next table are wearing open necked shirts and jeans. They should have been turned away to the windjammer, and sent away from the bars. There were only two formal nights on board, with the majority of the rest being casuals, people should have to make an effort. The drinks were, as usual, expensive, however you do get considerably more vodka than your average measure, and on occasion, had to ask for my drink to be watered down! The shops on board were also lacking. We have been spoiled with the high street on the independence, but the general store stocked barely anything! Very poor! The Internet was awful. It is expensive, coverage was poor, and it was soo slow! We had one wireless package, but could never get connected, and we had one computer package, but it was so slow, the we couldn't even use it! This needs to be improved. There should be wifi in the rooms, and if its going to be of this quality, it should be free, and time remaining should be refunded! We have booked to sail again on the Jewel in June next year. The staff were absolutely fantastic, from the cabin steward leaving origami t-shirts, bar staff running to say hello as you sneak out the casino, the waiter bringing piles of garlic bread and extra strawberries on and evening and the most relaxed captain we have ever come across. Fantasic. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
My husband and I cruised the Baltics on the 20th August, it was a last minute booking but decided to give the Shearing cruise ago....and we were not disappointed the collection from the interchange to Harwich was very good, as was the ... Read More
My husband and I cruised the Baltics on the 20th August, it was a last minute booking but decided to give the Shearing cruise ago....and we were not disappointed the collection from the interchange to Harwich was very good, as was the location to our cabin on ship, everyone was very helpful and we CANNOT fault the service at all. The dining room staff, cabin staff, chef, bar staff, were excellent and nothing was too much trouble for any of them. There were lots of activities to do on board if you wanted to take part, there was a library for those who wanted to read or a cinema. The excursions were a bit pricey, but they usually are on these sort of ships, we did our own site seeing most of the time but went on the trips to St.Petersburg, which were very good with excellent guides. The entertainment was EXCELLENT with a wonderful comedian Bobby Beran, also Gaynor Connor an EXCELLENT singer, also ANDANTE a unique & unusual show of musical dexterity. The Discovery Theatre Company also were EXCELLENT and were of West End standard. As for the Shearing staff they were brilliant always there to help but as always you always get the handful who are never satisfied with anything and love to complain.....You all did a great job....All in all we loved our time aboard the Discovery and will be sad when it is taken off. I might add it was a very friendly atmosphere and we got to know lots of nice people. 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 August 2011
We travelled to Harwich by train and within minutes of leaving the train we had checked in and were aboard. The ship was very attractive with open windows allowing sea views from the central atrium. The solarium was particularly nice with ... Read More
We travelled to Harwich by train and within minutes of leaving the train we had checked in and were aboard. The ship was very attractive with open windows allowing sea views from the central atrium. The solarium was particularly nice with a Balinese theme. We had an oceanview cabin at the front of the ship, overlooking the Helipad. The cabin was spacious and well decorated with plenty of storage space. In comparison to the balcony cabin we had on Oasis of the Seas there was masses of storage ! The staff were all very pleasant although our cabin steward never seemed to be around and we had to leave notes to request things like ice etc. Having said that, the cabin was cleaned superbly. We ate at second sitting in the main dining room and were impressed by the staff and the food. The prime rib and meat in general seemed much better than on cruises departing from the States. Nothing was too much trouble for our waiter and he ensured that any requests were attended to immediately. Another highlight of the cruise was the superb cruise director, Clodagh, who went by the name of HelloClo. She was excellent, very funny and got to know all the guests. Her morning show on TV was always a good laugh and she was around the ship from morning till late night. The entertainment was mostly good. All in all it was an excellant cruise and although we missed seeing Stockholm because of engine problems ,the ports of call were great. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
Having always cruised inside before, a trip North in mid-summer made the decision for us to upgrade to a balcony stateroom. We went in for a Cat X guaranteed balcony and goit allocated a great D1 cabin on the stern. It was all you could ... Read More
Having always cruised inside before, a trip North in mid-summer made the decision for us to upgrade to a balcony stateroom. We went in for a Cat X guaranteed balcony and goit allocated a great D1 cabin on the stern. It was all you could hope for and the attentdant, Parasandi was quietlt efficuent. The balcony is great: two loungers, two chairs and a coffee table and being at the back, sheltered from the wind on a sea day. Well worth the extra. Had a late dinner seating for a change and it worked out quite well. Though it was a little odd eating after the theatre on occasion. We ate at Chops Grille twice and the fillet mignon was just superb on both occasions. We were booked into Portofino, but never made it because the sickness descended. Somehow Norovirus made its way on board. Despite the crew's best, if sometimes confused and misguided efforts to clean. By the time we got home more than 400 people had gone down with it. 48 hour cabin confinements and missed ports, along with a lot of sickness were not pleasant. There were reports of long and insanitary waits in the medical centre, but I was ported there and back in a wheelchair, got triaged within ten minutes and seen by the doctor within thirty. There's no way round it, if you get it, it does ruin the back half of your holiday. Jewel looked great in most parts. Just some signs of being six years old creeping in. Some of the fabrics could do with some attention in places, but that's very nit picky. There is a sense that RCL are doing this on a budget these days. No turndown chocolate at night, no more endless towels and blankets round the pool, higher shop prices, premium coffees served in paper cups, regular coffer served in yellowing plastic, no grand midnight buffet and a strict three courses in the dining room. Gone are the days when US cruisers enjoyed a soup and a salad and an appetiser and an entree and a dessert and cheese. Little touches that on their own are of little concequence, but taken together indicate a lesser level of service. Ports were great, but then they always are in the Baltic. Copehagen, Stockholm and St Petersberg are the stars. Unless you really want to take an RCL excursion (and in Russia you have to for visa reasons) then stick with the shuttle bus or get a taxi. It really is cheaper. Avoid the Russian Bazaar on board and get your Russian stuff in St Petersberg for the same reasons Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
We sailed overnight on the ferry from the Hook of Holland, by Rotterdam, and it was less expensive and stressful than commuting from central Europe by car. We will definitely cruise again with the kids, because there is so much to do ... Read More
We sailed overnight on the ferry from the Hook of Holland, by Rotterdam, and it was less expensive and stressful than commuting from central Europe by car. We will definitely cruise again with the kids, because there is so much to do to keep them happy - plus, we can sight see and have fun!The kids area was open 30 minutes before the first shore excursion of the day and closed 30 minutes after the return of the last excursion. We left our younger kids on the ship in 3 ports, because they really enjoyed the kids area and were "bored" with sight seeing(plus the younger ones won't remember much). Our younger kids begged to go back to Ocean Adventure, during dinner every night. This was great for us, because the grown-ups can go have "dates" ;) My middle school daughter did meet a few kids and had fun in the teen zone, but did not feel comfortable there all the time, when the older teenagers were there. She ended up hanging out with friends playing ping pong, etc..., more often than the teen zone. We had outstanding service. I have read many complaints about the food, and we found there to be a good selection. The dinner menus changed every night in the many dining room, but the breakfast and lunch menus were almost always the same every day. In the Windjammer cafe, there are several items that are similar but they do have a few main dishes that change every day. We found the food to be better in the main dining room for breakfast, and usually dinner. But lunch was better in the Windjammer or Seaview cafes. It is disappointing that there is not as much seafood and no lobster, as compared to our first cruise, 15 years ago. We also do feel the food quality was better on our first cruise. But let me tell you this: I will not complain too much about food, when I don't have to cook, do dishes, or cut up children's food for nearly two weeks! The real world of food is oh so harsh, for a mother with small children! The one thing I will complain about is the price for spa services. It was not worth the quality of services rendered. I have had much better facials and pedicures for less than what was charged on the ship. The hot stone massage was very nice, but too pricey. It is so nice to be able to go to a spa on a relaxing cruise, but it left you wanting so much more! We were in a family suite on the 8th floor, front of the ship. It was a long walk from the center of the ship, but worth it for the quietness! The entertainment was good, but not great. The first comedian was hilarious, but it was downhill after that, as far as comedians go. The Las Vegas Extreme show was amusing. Bottom line: you can usually get cheaper transportation in every port than what the ship tells you. There seems to be a hop on/off bus or ferry in every city that you can do on your own, but some cities are pricier than others. Pack layered clothes, as you will have some warm/sunny days and some cold/rainy days. Bring a raincoat, even in July and August. I would consider smuggling a suitcase full of bottled water for your port days - water is very expensive! Regardless of what the ship tells you, we found merchants/transportation accepted euros in every port, and sometimes US dollars. Most places will give you back the change you desire, but some will give change back in the kroner equivalent. So, don't worry about getting the local currency in every port. There are many "safe" stores to use credit cards. We had a wonderful time, overall! The biggest gem for us was meeting our dinner table mates - they were really fun! Our biggest recommendation is to try something new on the ship, whether it be dance lessons or poker lessons, and talk to complete strangers! Read Less
Sail Date July 2009

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