27 Harwich Repositioning Cruise Reviews

This was our 17th cruise on RC. All our other cruises were wonderful. This one was NOT! I don't know if RC uses the repositioning cruises as training schools for their staff, but it sure seemed that way. First the good. Ports of call ... Read More
This was our 17th cruise on RC. All our other cruises were wonderful. This one was NOT! I don't know if RC uses the repositioning cruises as training schools for their staff, but it sure seemed that way. First the good. Ports of call and all land tours were great.Tour guides were knowledgable and entertaining. Entertainment on the ship was very good. Cruise director "Chloe" was charming and witty. Just wonderful! Our room steward and dinner waiters were very good also. The cruise was comprised mostly of the over 65 crowd. Not surprising since school just started. Most from the U.S. and Canada. Upon boarding, the ship smelled of smoke and mold. During the 4 at sea days there was no tv reception. Guest Services said they had no Satellite. I find that very strange. What was broadcast was reruns of U.S. programs with Spanish, German and Italian voice over. At no time was there any U.S. news or U.S. programs except the ships commercials to pitch products in English of course...spa, shops, photos, dining in extra $ restaurants. The main dining rooms and the Windjammer were referred to as "Complimentary". I think not since we had paid for them and they were included in our cost. Daytime entertainment was bean bag toss in the Centrum, napkin folding, towel folding and trivia in the Schooner Lounge.The worst part was trying to disembark for tours. The crew was totally disorganized and most tours started late. The day of disembarkation in Boston was a nightmare. We were directed dowstairs, then upstairs. All while dragging suitcases behind us. The food was marginal at best and sometimes pretty bad. I don't know if they were training chefs or they just couldn't cook. I just cancelled the repositioning cruise we had scheduled for Oct. 2016 from Barcelona. No more repositioning cruises for us. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
Back ground information-We have taken 30 plus cruises on various lines. We flew from Boston to London taking the underground to our hotel which was located near Liverpool Station. Stayed in London for 3 days then took the train from ... Read More
Back ground information-We have taken 30 plus cruises on various lines. We flew from Boston to London taking the underground to our hotel which was located near Liverpool Station. Stayed in London for 3 days then took the train from Liverpool station to Harwich with a change at Manningtree. Problem-doors on train wouldn't open, Finally someone helped out (not the conductor) & showed us you had to lower the window on the door and then press the button on the outside of the door for it to open. (We later learned these were old cars), Then we had to carry luggage downstairs, under the tracks, up the stairs. No elevators! Mostly older Americans were having trouble navigating all of this & most people making the change where going on the cruise. 90 minute train ride to the port. Cruise The Good 1. Embarkation - arrived around 11:30 am-got right on board 2. Main dining room- we thought the food was very good. Surprised to read other reviews not liking the food. I had the escargot several nights and it was excellent with butter and lots of garlic. 3. Service was excellent all around. 4. Entertainment was excellent 5. Ports were wonderful. 6. The people we met were wonderful. The Not So Good 1. We booked Chops for 2 nights and the Italian Restaurant for 1 night. At Chops the steaks were okay but it is not a high end steak house that we have experienced on land. The steaks were not cooked properly and had to go back. The sides were served without the steaks which should never happen as they will get cold. The service seemed to be rote without any thought. On our 2nd time at Chops, they were out of the veal chop and spinach. This is understandable on a transatlantic cruise but we should have been informed when the menus were given. The shrimp dish was not worth the $35 surcharge. No lobster was offered. The Italian restaurant was okay, nothing to write home about but again staff had no concept of fine dining. The Schooner Bar, which is right outside the restaurant, started an trivia activity and it was blaring into the restaurant. You couldn't hear your conversation. We had to ask the Maitre D to close the doors! He was standing right there! We felt the service in the dining room was so much better. 2. The ship did look a little beat. 3. Drinks and wine seemed to be quite high. The cheapest glass of wine was $9. Cosmo's were $12. 4. Disembarkation-a zoo but it always is. All in all, the good outweigh the not so good. Won't do specialty restaurants again. When you are paying extra, you except perfection. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
"Sorry that area is closed" is a refrain we heard on a daily basis in one or more areas. 1. Royal Crown Lounge is for Diamond only. 2. Colony Club is closed for private event. 3. Open dining area behind Windjammer is ... Read More
"Sorry that area is closed" is a refrain we heard on a daily basis in one or more areas. 1. Royal Crown Lounge is for Diamond only. 2. Colony Club is closed for private event. 3. Open dining area behind Windjammer is closed for private event (and was not open even when there were no private events). Availability of seating to eat meals at certain times was a problem. 4. Hot tub is closed for maintenance in Solarium. (Only one on ship) I feel we should know before booking that we will not have access to all public areas of the ship. At times we spent 30 minutes looking for a place where 6 people could sit and socialize. Lack of public spaces is the reason we have avoided the 6,000 passenger mega Oasis class ships. Beverage selections were restricted as we often heard "We are out of that wine selection" and we missed the "drink of the day" (staff didn't know what we were talking about) like we enjoyed on the Serenade four weeks earlier. We found prices to also be more expensive on the Brilliance as compared to the Serenade. It took 3 days for our group of six to get seated with another group of 3 couples (all nice people) but question why this was such a problem in the first place. We had cross-referenced our cruise reservation numbers well in advance and were told it had been handled. On a positive note; the staff overall was excellent with many of them being exceptional. Our wait staff did a good job in spite of the fact they had too many people to serve (2 tables of 12). We enjoyed Rita's Cantina (Vinko was great behind the bar) but often overwhelmed by the volume of demand at times. Our room steward was very good and attended us well. The entertainment was top notch and the cruise director (HelloClo) was one of the best we have ever had. For these reasons, the average overall score came out to a 3 out of 5 instead of a lower score. Kitchen was fair but certainly not exceptional. Experience in Chops Grille also could have been better based on past experiences on other RCCL ships (Steaks ordered medium were served well done for 3 of 6 people in our group). The waiter said they could cook us new steaks, but we had already waited and didn't want to wait to eat after the others were already finished. We received great service at the Rbar in the Centrum. Craig (asst. Waiter forward of Windjammer on deck 11) was friendly and attentive as we spent a lot of time in this area. Bar service in the Solarium was poor with the exception of Park Cafe (again staff was excellent) . Unfortunately; the Solarium bar seemed to be never open all the times we passed through the area. Early morning coffee outside the Windjammer was often empty and no coffee mugs. I learned to inspect empty coffee mugs before using as at least on 3 occasions when I found them to be dirty. I guess I need to read the ship reviews before booking in the future. I doubt I will be returning to the Brilliance anytime soon. Overall, I think the ship is a bit tired and needs a restoration. I expected more based on my past experience with RCCL. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
The itinerary for this Brilliance of the Seas cruise provided 6 ports (Le Havre, Plymouth, Cobh, Faroe Islands, Iceland - two days, and Halifax) on the way to Boston, as well as 7 sea days - 4 consecutive days between Iceland and Halifax. ... Read More
The itinerary for this Brilliance of the Seas cruise provided 6 ports (Le Havre, Plymouth, Cobh, Faroe Islands, Iceland - two days, and Halifax) on the way to Boston, as well as 7 sea days - 4 consecutive days between Iceland and Halifax. Thoughts about the ports: - Le Havre itself is not a great destination. Its best attraction is a museum of modern art, with work of the Impressionists and post-Impressionists who worked in the area. Several of the ship's excursions (specifically, to Paris and Normandy) are quite long and may exhaust travelers who have flown overnight to Heathrow the day before. - Plymouth provides a starting point for excursions to Stonehenge and other historic sights. The excursions to Corfe Castle is labeled "moderate," but one must make a long, uphill walk from the parking lot to the castle and town. The town itself is walkable and interesting, with free wifi at the public library and both local craft stores and souvenir shops. - Cobh is a charming little town, with a Titanic museum, several local craft stores, a drug store, an historic church, and lots of space to walk along the waterfront. The train station, with regular service to and from Cork, is right in front of the dock. - The Faroe Islands port is Klaksvik, a town of little charm and limited interest. The excursions offer drives through the beautiful countryside and scenic villages. - Reykjavik itself is worth visiting on foot, especially for people-watching. Several of the ship's excursions involved the Blue Lagoon; fellow passengers's reactions varied from 'Wow!' to 'meh'. Icelanders are quite proud of their geothermal power plant, so a few tours include a stop there. - Halifax has a Hop-On-Hop-Off bus that stops at historic and cultural sites. The public garden is beautiful. Pier 21, the ship's dockage, is at an end of a wide water-front walkway. Passengers who can entertain themselves or who enjoy trivia games will love the sea days. Except for a beautiful day between Halifax and Boston, the weather was too brisk to spend time outdoors. Sea day entertainment was limited to a daily lecture about the next port or Viking history, lots of trivia games, card games, spa services and free seminars to promote spa services, bingo, casino action, art auctions (which closed one of the best lounge areas to use for daytime reading), movies, and a few beer / wine / martini tastings (at a cost). Evening entertainment in the theater ranged from excellent to average. The ship did not provide Broadway-type shows or aerialists. The pianist / vocalist in the Schooner lounge drew a large crowd every night. The ship is clean but dated. Some of the upholstered furniture in lounges seems wobbly or threadbare, with saggy seats. Food and service in the Minstrel Dining Room were outstanding. Fellow passengers were generally over 55, with lots of Americans and Brits, as well as Australians, Germans, French, Japanese, and many other nationalities. Many of them were Crown and Anchor members, with dozens of cruises in their past. About 150 of the 2100 passengers were staying aboard for the next cruise, to the St. Lawrence Seaway and back to Boston. Many had been on the previous cruise to St. Petersburg. The very few children aboard were seldom seen. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
When I purchase a transatlantic cruise, I expect the food to be above average. We are not the college/Caribbean crowd that gets drunk and parties on a 4 night cruise out of Miami, the demographics on board are more affluent. I had a ... Read More
When I purchase a transatlantic cruise, I expect the food to be above average. We are not the college/Caribbean crowd that gets drunk and parties on a 4 night cruise out of Miami, the demographics on board are more affluent. I had a wonderful cruise on Royal back in 97 and had no problem booking them this time expecting the same. In the years between 97 and 2015, I had been over on Holland America, which I consider to be the gold standard for food without going up to a higher tier line such as Crystal. I had taken Holland about 8 times over the years, very impressed with them. I went back to Royal to join friends on the cruise. It appears the cruise line has taken the approach of the airlines lately, cut costs at all costs. Here is a synopsis of the meals: French onion soup, came out as a watery brown broth, minus onions, and rather than covered in cheese melted over the sides, had a small piece of toast about the size of a cracker, with about 4 pieces of shredded cheese, previously melted on it, floating on top. Escargot: greasy, couldn't even taste garlic, with some sort of greasy topping, I could not identify. Prime rib, a big slab of fatty meat, didn't even eat more than a few bites. Lobster night....hahahahahaha, that is gone, yes gone, baby gone! Now you get a menu on the table offering lobster for $35. Not even on formal nights, pay up if you want it. Breakfast was the same. No eggs Benedict, no salmon; oh wait, after a week, I was told by a passenger that if you ask for it, they will make it, they HIDE IT! Not on Holland America. The menu was even reduced. What used to be an appetizer selection, a salad/soup selection and an entree, has now been reduced to an appetizer and entree on the menu. You have to ask for separate selections. Now to the buffet, it's only open certain hours, no 24 hour food. It was not tasty, and sort of bad cafeteria style food, lacking taste. Once that is pulled out, your only option for food is a small corner cafe, that looks like a Starbucks food cooler, with sandwiches served in plastic containers, like you would find in a 7-11, "tomato salad", which was cut up tomato, in an Italian dressing, green bean salad, the same, and a pasta salad. Watery tasteless soup was also offered. Any attempt to get good food, means going to the pay restaurants, which some of our table mates wound up doing. Gone is the midnight buffet, that I remember so well, from years ago. Or maybe that was another cruise line with some imagination. I found myself running into restaurants on the stops along the cruise, to get some food I could enjoy. Even at the bar, no nuts served with your drinks. I had to ask the bartender for some nuts, that he had to run around looking for. The wine bar didn't have any, just a selection of cheese, and when I asked for nuts I, yes I, was sent to another bar to get some. A discussion among other cruisers who were in one of the suites, and who had been on Royal many times revealed more. Gone are the chocolate mints on the pillow at night, turn down service is no more, no robes in the rooms, "animal towels on the bed" are down to every 4 days, cleaning staff has gone from 2 per room, to one, apparently ship staff if cut in half. No newspapers. Per the ship staff, this is because most people now get their news off the internet. Really? Have you ever tried to get internet on a ship? Does dial up mean anything to you? 10 minutes to get a page loaded. Apparently they are "working" on this issue. The ship tour, which you now pay for, revealed more. The hotel manager advised that Royal has decided to cut services to divert more money to other areas, as he put it. Read: We are paying our management more money, on the back of your bad cruise! The ship in general looked like it had seen better days, the dining room chairs had food stains on them, curtains falling down, and the rooms looked like they needed a freshen up. Also the dining times were really strange. We booked a fixed dining at 8:30, yet the times on the daily itinerary kept changing the dining times. We missed 2 shows, due to our assuming that we had an 8:30 seating, only to find the show times had been moved as well as the seating times. It was all over the place. Just not happy with this cruise. Mind you the tours were great, the entertainment was great, most nights, and I was satisfied with the balcony room and size. Just wont be back on the line ever again. I go on the cruise as a foodie. Love a good meal! Its what I pay for when I cruise. I would have even payed $100 more for the cabin just to have the lobster on my plate without the extra charge. No, No, No! Won't be back on Royal. Can't wait for my next Holland America cruise. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
Our first TransAtlantic cruise! We absolutely enjoyed it each day. Our cabin was clean, very comfortable beds, towels always refreshed, cabin steward always pleasant. Loved the size of the ship easy to get around and this class ship most ... Read More
Our first TransAtlantic cruise! We absolutely enjoyed it each day. Our cabin was clean, very comfortable beds, towels always refreshed, cabin steward always pleasant. Loved the size of the ship easy to get around and this class ship most like a " traditional " cruise ship. We thought food was great! We ate in all areas of the ship except speciality restaurants because we felt food was quite good everywhere else. Dinner in main dining room (early seating) sometimes took awhile but we enjoyed company of our table mates and really had no where else to go, but to the evening entertainment which was always very good. We then had great fun afterwards singing along with Manda in the Schooner lounge. During the day we attended lectures, played trivia, went to the spa, read, watched the dancers etc so plenty to do. All our shore excursions were excellent with knowledgable guides and clean buses. This was an exceptional itinerary so wonderful ports of call. We felt this was a great value for our money and would cruise with RCL again! Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
We have cruised with RC several times, we are Diamond members and did really enjoy the Brilliance and the cruise. We stayed several nights in London prior at the Grosvenor House. Great hotel in a central location. Transfer the the port ... Read More
We have cruised with RC several times, we are Diamond members and did really enjoy the Brilliance and the cruise. We stayed several nights in London prior at the Grosvenor House. Great hotel in a central location. Transfer the the port was good and embarkation was fast. We enjoyed each port, Ireland being our favorite. No complaints with any of the excursions we took, the ship, or our balcony accommodations. Very disappointed with Royal. It seems that the more mega ships they build, the more they take away from the cruisers and we were surely not the only ones feeling that way. Now the only lobster you can get is what you pay $42 for and do not even think about watching a movie in you stateroom. $11.99 Really??? So, we have moved on to other cruise lines. Sad to say we are no longer loyal to Royal. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
It was our 5th cruise with Royal and I was prepared to be WOWed .. Unfortunately the wow factor wasn’t there. Before sailing I got an email from RCCL stating that the gratuities will go up. But I never got an email about prices of drinks ... Read More
It was our 5th cruise with Royal and I was prepared to be WOWed .. Unfortunately the wow factor wasn’t there. Before sailing I got an email from RCCL stating that the gratuities will go up. But I never got an email about prices of drinks going up significantly, the food choices getting much more limited (good example - Park Café – very poor). No, we didn’t go hungry, but it was painful to watch how things changed for worse… Even during return guest’s party, canapés were not served. Lobsters and steaks at additional charges, no lobster for the last formal night. No smoke salmon for breakfast, only in MDR they served Eggs Benedict with salmon that was turning bad, sent it back , was afraid of food poisoning Purchasing department should be paying more attention to the quality of food they purchase. I could list some more believe me. Drinks although extremely expensive, were not up to par. Bartenders on the ship have to be calibrated as taste and quality of drinks vary from bar to bar. It was impossible to get cappuccino at 11:05 pm on the ship. Latitudes bartender was closing up and sent us upstairs to Park café for reg coffee. Entertainment – average to say the least. Royal Caribbean dancers didn’t impress (except Argentinian couple), singers were good though. ABBA MAX – this was not a tribute, but disgrace to ABBA, we had to leave the show, very disappointing. The rest of the performers also don’t cut it, they behaved and performed like they didn’t care much. Logistics – that’s really funny. Splenda was available in Park Café, but wasn’t in MDR or windjammer. Same goes for some teas. Service – breakfast and lunch in MDR was unbelievable. Long waiting time, sloppy, orders getting mixed, pastry not even offered in some cases. Dinner was much better, I guess because waiters had tables assigned to them and were hoping for better tips. Ship was clean; our room attendant was good although I think we only met him once briefly. Royal Caribbean was and still is our preferred cruise line; we are booked on Anthem in December. I hope that the experience will be nothing like on Brilliance, but close to what we had on Allure or Mariner. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
First of all, for everyone who was on that ship - don't hold the captain or the cruise line responsible for the terrible weather. He made the best of a difficult situation, and cancelled cruise ports, and rainy days in Bermuda are not ... Read More
First of all, for everyone who was on that ship - don't hold the captain or the cruise line responsible for the terrible weather. He made the best of a difficult situation, and cancelled cruise ports, and rainy days in Bermuda are not something you can complain about - take it up with the big man upstairs! Cabin; We were fortunate to get an accessible inside stateroom as this was all that was available at the time of booking. Designed for a person with mobility issues, it was huge and very comfortable - but this was a fluke and not something you could guarantee. Spa: The ship has an indoor thalassotherapy pool with side Jacuzzis. The temperature of this was always in the mid 90s, and this is a unique feature of this class of ship. I absolutely loved it, and went in twice a day before a sauna with window and a great sea view. The only down side of the changing rooms was the showers had no water pressure and it was difficult to wash off soap or shampoo with the limited spray. I complained about this and nothing was done about it. The gym area was very good, although the lat pulldown machine and shoulder press machine were very poor with an unnatural range of motion. The free weights had benches and free weight dumbelless up to 50lbs - this was adequate, but I was hoping for 60s or 70s. All in all, a very large and clean gym area and the classes were well attended. Dining Room: We had the early seating and went in about 6.15pm. The tables are on top of each other, and you have little privacy. The food is good quality but the service is slow and fragmented. Nice touches are the basket of bread and table setting. Salads are poor as you have to wait for the staff to come back with dressings etc. The steaks were nice, the roast turkey was very good, the desserts were so-so, soups were two thirds full and not that hot. Lunch service was a little better and a relief not to have to deal with the 10th floor buffet. Ocean View Café: This was the low-light of the ship for me. The layout is a joke as you have no idea where you are supposed to sit in order to access all serving stations. By the time you get back to your table holding a bowl of soup, or hot food with no tray (why no trays?), it is cold. Good luck finding all the cutlery you need, spoons, forks, knives etc, all in the wrong places. The quality of the food is cheaper and inferior to the dining room, and the attempts to serve yourself through very low glass dividers with giant spoons is clumsy and messy. The coffee in the morning was very poor quality and barely drinkable - compared with the Seattle's Best on RCL for example which is excellent. Entertainment: The production shows were OK, with one excellent singer, but a weak supporting crew, and for some reason all very tiny. They were high energy and a lot of well known songs, so easy to follow and enjoy. The guest entertainers were mixed. The comedian, Fred Klett, with his Newhart style deadpan, was very welcome and surprisingly good. The male singers were OK, even if the songs they presented were predictable and stale. I don't care for magicians and I like juggler and ventriloquists even less, so lets not go there. The musical impersonator at the end was very funny with some brilliant jokes and accurate impersonations. Celebrity Activities: The trivias was well run on the whole, especially by Aida and Andres. The progressive trivia hosted by Rachel fell apart when all her answers were wrong and she didn't seem to know how to handle it. Some of the entertainment was embarrassing when you consider the average age was 65, and the games were for 20 somethings or college kids. Overall, the impression was positive, and excellent value for money with some nice touches. However, you probably need to go for the premium drinks package and dining package to upgrade your whole experience. I would chose this ship again for the indoor spa facilities alone, anything else was a bonus. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
Reading some reviews of Infinity I was expecting to be a little disappointed but delighted to say that my lowered expectations were well exceeded in most areas. Reaching Harwich was a pain, needing a train and platform change at ... Read More
Reading some reviews of Infinity I was expecting to be a little disappointed but delighted to say that my lowered expectations were well exceeded in most areas. Reaching Harwich was a pain, needing a train and platform change at Manningtree - not fun with luggage and must be awful for anyone with mobility issues. Boarding simple and painless and the cabin was very quickly available. No surprises and everything seemed to be in working order, although the balcony was in need of a good clean and paint job. Deck 9 cabins have a large overhang making the balcony a shady retreat rather than a sun trap. Ideal for very hot cruises but not so great if you are expecting to get a tan! Weather was wet and cool to start, getting worse but only to be expected in October in the Channel and Bay of Biscay. Heavy swell and high winds combined to make the Captain abandon the passage in to Lisbon and divert to Ponta Delgada in the Azores. A treat for some but not for all. Hurricane Gonzalo hit Bermuda and our scheduled stop there was not confirmed for a couple of days. It appears that we were much better off on the Infinity than back at home. We took part in a "Cabin Crawl", enabling us to see all cabin types from an internal all the way up to a rather large suite - very nice but confirmed to us that we had made a good choice for us. Entertainments were a mixed bag: the comedian Fred Klett was one of the funniest blokes I have ever come across and was the stand-out act, whilst the regular stage entertainers were mediocre at best. The day to day activities were well run by the enthusiastic team who all seemed to enjoy what they were doing making it a good experience for us. Guest lecturers were also good providing a variety of of options for daytime activities. The main dining room food was good quality, well prepared and well served but this was in marked contrast to the buffet which was unimaginative, repetitive and boring. We chose not to use any of the speciality restaurants as we were very happy to use the main dining room, not only for dinner but also breakfast and most lunches too. One issue we had with table allocation in the MDR (anytime dining) was a minor blip but this was quickly rectified and never repeated, with the hostess taking special care of us thereafter. We didn't do this cruise for the sightseeing or port stops but wanting a good rest from work which we certainly got. On board shopping was similar to other ships - expensive, held no interest for me. Gigantic casino mostly empty. Very disappointed to find Michael's Club is now a suite-only room, mostly deserted too. However, Celebrity's policy of charging ridiculously high prices for drinks will make me think very carefully before booking any more cruises with them. The package prices are mad but individual drink prices are madder and 15% on top of those too! It was very obvious that fewer diners were ordering wine and the bars were mostly deserted at most times. Time for a rethink Celebrity? Disembarkation at Fort Lauderdale was a lengthy process - 4 immigration/customs officers to service 2100 passengers plus crew seems too few but someone remarked that Celebrity refuse to pay for more staff to be on duty. I have no idea whether this is the case. 90 minutes is a long time but made worse by the sight of previously able-bodied people suddenly needing wheelchair assistance to get to the front of the queue! We noticed little things had been cut back e.g. bedtime chocs absent apart from one choc biscuit on 1st formal night - why bother with this token effort? We had a great cruise, very restful, never boring, not disturbed by heavy seas (others were) and with no booze-induced hangovers. Will we sail again on Infinity? We're booked for March. Will we book future cruises with Celebrity? Maybe but will certainly look closely at other options. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
This was my 25th cruise. My 2nd on Celebrity. This repositioning cruise was an excellent value and wonderful crossing to Miami. The ports of call, La Rochelle, Vigo, Gijon & Lisbon were okay. I would not recommend any of them as there ... Read More
This was my 25th cruise. My 2nd on Celebrity. This repositioning cruise was an excellent value and wonderful crossing to Miami. The ports of call, La Rochelle, Vigo, Gijon & Lisbon were okay. I would not recommend any of them as there are more exciting ports of call to travel in Europe. The staff on Celebrity could not have been nicer. We were constantly greeted by staff and officers through out the trip. For an older ship the Infinity was in good shape and very clean. Our cabin was kept immaculate. The entertainment was second rate but one has to put all that in perspective as we paid less thent $100.0 a day for food, lodging and entertainment. The food was good. You would have a problem not being able to find something to eat, as the choices were varied and the selection large. Altough by the second week everything started looking and tasting the same. Most of my travels have been with Princess, NCL and Holland America. I had always heard that Celebrity was higher class of cruise line. Unfortunately that is no longer the case. They are basically a mass marketed cruise line competeing with the rest. With that said, I still would travel on Celebrity but would not expect anything special. Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
To celebrate our mom's 80th birthday, my sister and brother-in-law's 40th wedding anniversary and me and my husband's 25th anniversary we decided on a cruise. We started in Harwich and were surprised by rough seas on our ... Read More
To celebrate our mom's 80th birthday, my sister and brother-in-law's 40th wedding anniversary and me and my husband's 25th anniversary we decided on a cruise. We started in Harwich and were surprised by rough seas on our first "at sea" day. Our first stop in La Rochelle was great and the weather was better than expected. Our second stop in Gijon, Spain was also delightful. That evening, though, we got caught in what we later found was described as the "storm of the century" in Britain. Walking on board was challenging with the winds estimated at over 82 MPH (hurricane force) and waves from 45-50 feet. The storm went on all night. The Captain later said he had been in some bad weather but this was among them and another officer thought the storm was magnificent. Luckily our family weathered it well but it was quite the experience. Unfortunately we arrived three hours late in Vigo so had to forego seeing Santiago de Compostela which was a big disappointment as that was one of the highlights we wanted to see. I enjoyed the transatlantic and that part of the sailing was much smoother, but I still enjoy itineraries that offer more sightseeing. We are not to the point of wanting quite so many days at sea. We did have some excellent entertainment on board via a test program called Cruising with the Classics. This featured Brooke Aehron and an up and coming flautist. Hopefully this program will continue. All in all we had a wonderful time. Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
In my opinion Holland America sets the standards for cruising, and I rate it a 5* out of 5*. Infinity I rate a 4*. The ship's management and staff were all first class. The entertainment guest selection was outstanding, as well as ... Read More
In my opinion Holland America sets the standards for cruising, and I rate it a 5* out of 5*. Infinity I rate a 4*. The ship's management and staff were all first class. The entertainment guest selection was outstanding, as well as the ship's singers and dancers. There were many selections of activities on board to satisfy almost everyone's desires. The 5 ports we visited exceeded our expectations. The food and presentation for breakfast and lunch was very good, but the evening meals were disappointing for the two of who are on restricted diets. The other 6 people sitting at our table were well satisfied with the "meat and potato" selections, but after 3 tries we gave up on the fish presentations consisting of; salmon, Pollock and Flounder. It is difficult to "mess-up" Salmon and Flounder, but the chief found ways to destroy the flavor of each of these fish. The ship's crew needs a little training in the maintenance of the ship. Our veranda had paint smears and drips from previous paintings. Also, about a week out an odor of fresh oil based paint was apparent in the second aft stairwell that was very irritating to me and my companion. May have been a coincidence, but my companions sinus' became inflamed by the next day. The odor persisted for the next 3 days. The aforementioned inconveniences did not materially affect our overall satisfaction with the ship's crew and the cruise. Would definitely cruse with Celebrity again. John G.K. Ferrell jgkferl@bellsouth.net Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
This was our first cruise on Royal Caribbean. For the most part everything was good, my issues are somewhat nitpicky but I choose cruises for the itineary first and the cruise line second. Starting off getting to Harwich is a chore, it is ... Read More
This was our first cruise on Royal Caribbean. For the most part everything was good, my issues are somewhat nitpicky but I choose cruises for the itineary first and the cruise line second. Starting off getting to Harwich is a chore, it is about an hour and a half from London. We opted to stay in London a couple of days before the cruise. Other folks flew in the morning of the cruise and had a very long day. The cruise line offers a very expensive transfer that takes all day to get there. We opted for the train. We bought our tickets ahead of time and paid only about $20 each for the train from London to Harwich. It did involve a change of trains that was very short and steps down and up to the other platform, however it took us right to the dock where we rolled our luggage to the baggage handlers. Embarkation was smooth. We waited a couple of hours for our luggage which was not too bad. We opted for My Time Dining, which allowed us the flexibility to eat at different hours. We actually at the same time each night except for three occasions, but it worked out fine. 80% of the time dinner was excellent, one time was poor, and two others were mediocre but that's not a bad batting average. We mostly ate breakfast at the Windjammer Buffet, which had lots of choices. Service was excellent at dinner and the few breakfasts we had in the restaurant. The ports were excellent. We opted to stay in Le Harve the first port rather than going to Paris or the Normandy Beaches since those trips were long days, the second port was Portland UK, where we took a tour to Stonehenge and the adjacent town. The third stop was Cork. None of the ship's tours were comprehensive enough for me. We opted to arrange a tour from Paddywagon tours who took us to Blarney Castle and lots of other places. It was all day but very reasonably priced with ten of us in a large van. Stop four was Dublin. I have been there several times but this was the first for my wife. So again we covered all of the elements of two of the ship's tours for quite a bit less. Stop five was the Faroe Islands where we booked an excellent tour of the islands. We had time in the morning to explore the village and learned a lot of the history of the islands. Stop six was Iceland. Two days in Reykjavik. Day one we took a ship's tour which was excellent. Day two we were on our own in the city which was very interesting. Weather was excellent, warm and sunny until we got to Iceland where it was around 50 degrees F and raining. Transit to Boston was five days long. It is a long ways and we ran into a little weather, seas were rough for about a day. Dinner crowd was somewhat light that night. Entertainment on board was excellent. Mostly acts from the UK and a Argentine tango group. Now the nits. Three ports we were a long ways from the downtown area. Shuttle busses were way overpriced. A local bus in Iceland was 1/5 of the price of the shuttle bus and it stopped two blocks away. In Dublin the Luas tram was less than a mile from the ship yet no one mentioned where it was. The shuttle bus was lots more that the tram/cab combo. In Le Harve there was a little tram that took you to downtown for less than the price of the shuttle bus, and gave a narration along the way. The other nit is the wine pricing. Mixed drinks were ok but beer and wine were outrageous. I looked at the wine pricing and I found wines that were 4 to 6 times the wholesale price on the wine list. Most restaurants in the US use a 3X markup. Beer prices are cheaper at some major league baseball parks than on the ship. Yes I know that offer cabins for very little and they need to make it up somehow but really? I bought a wine package (7 bottles) and that made the price somewhere close to reasonable. Cruises lines put a lot of effort into serving very good meals. I would like to enjoy them with a glass of beer or wine. Is that too much to ask? Overall I give the cruise a very good grade. Prices (with the exceptions noted) were reasonable. Service was excellent and food for the most part was very good. Would I rush back to this ship or RCCL again? Only if they had an itinerary I liked at a reasonable price. Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
I went on this cruise with four other male friends (gay upper-30 year olds) and we had two balcony cabins. Our cabin slept four, but we had three in it. There was enough room for three, but more would feel cramped. The itinerary was great. ... Read More
I went on this cruise with four other male friends (gay upper-30 year olds) and we had two balcony cabins. Our cabin slept four, but we had three in it. There was enough room for three, but more would feel cramped. The itinerary was great. The stops included, France, England, Ireland (twice), Faroe Islands, and Iceland. Could do without the Faroe Islands, as there was nothing going on there, barely were off the ship for 1.5 hours. The ship itself was very nice for its age. It recently had a bit of a facelift and it showed. The ship felt new and fresh. The common areas were all well maintained and classy feeling. The staff was mostly very good. Especially the R bar and Schooner Bar staff was very good, who were very friendly and experienced. The food was good in each venue, although I wasn't the biggest fan of the Giovanni's Table food. Not worth the upcharge I didn't think. I did like Chops. We did the drink package for unlimited drinks for 15 days at a cost of $825 each and that was SO worth it. Saved us tons of money and is well worth it if you are a drinker. You can get top-shelf liquors, which cost about $10 ordered separately. Just watch your bill if you get it, as we were each charged a few times from bars for drinks, even though we had the package. I highly recommend this ship if you have the option. Good size and many options of dining venues and bars. I can't speak much to the entertainment, as we only went to a couple shows. They are what they are ... mass-market cruise line shows. Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
Overnight flight from Boston to Harwich - stayed in the charming Tower Hotel in Harwich the night before the cruise. Embarkation was smooth and efficient. There were more people in the "priority boarding line" than in the ... Read More
Overnight flight from Boston to Harwich - stayed in the charming Tower Hotel in Harwich the night before the cruise. Embarkation was smooth and efficient. There were more people in the "priority boarding line" than in the regular line and I laughed as I breezed right through and waited for THEM! Once on-board,I had lunch and explored the ship a bit before the "drill". Then I had the pleasure of meeting some additional members of my Cruise Critic family at the Sky Bar. Mother Nature was kind to us - and all ports except St. John's NF greeted us with decent weather. Two days in Iceland was a dream come true for me. It was just as amazing as I had imagined. My favorite was the Blue Lagoon of course. Thanks to the generosity of several CC members, I was able to book excursions that others had set up. I took no RCCL excursions so I can't address the value of any of those. I liked that there were never any long lines getting back on the ship as I witnessed personnel quickly opening up another gangway when large numbers of people were waiting to re-board. The Jewel's staff as a whole were among the best I have ever experienced! My cabin attendant treated me like I was the most important person on the ship. The cruise directors staff had to be the hardest working bunch of people on the entire ship - they were a small but mighty band of energetic specimens who were truly committed to making sure we had a good - no great, time. The Customer Relations staff were always polite and very willing to answer questions and assist in any way. The bar staff were all very friendly. The genuineness of the staffs' interactions with passengers was the most positive I've ever seen on any cruise as well. All staff seemed very approachable. Okay - now for how RCCL disappointed. First the food - no way for me to put this except for how it came across to me. In my opinion, RCCL did food "on the cheap". A lot of the food was bland and one-note. Rarely were the portions hot(temperature-wise) enough. I did not eat in any of the specialty restaurants. The good news is I lost 3 pounds on the cruise. Second disappointment was the entertainment. RCCL, what were you thinking? The Schooner Bar which should have been a favorite "hang out" place was a venue that was painful to even pass through. This was because the singing piano player should NEVER have been allowed to sing! And two violin acts within 3 days in the theatre? Really?? And, yeah - that so called hypnotist? That would be funny if it wasn't so pitiful. Third disappointment and, again, this is no reflection on the wonderful staff on-board the Jewel, is the "divisive atmosphere" created by RCCL among tiered members who often verbalized their snobbery with having to interact with others not of their status. I travel solo and always pay double - so being able to afford to cruise means I have to book the least expensive cabin I can. And I have done this willingly with no issues ever! Until this cruise. I was on Deck 2 - and I had pressed the button for the elevator. I got on from Deck 2 and there were 5 others on there. One woman said to the other "oh there are cabins on Deck 2?" The other woman said "yes, but they are sub-standard. They are "steerage" - and she started laughing. I bit my tongue for 10 seconds and said - "Ya know, those of us on Deck 2 are having a really wonderful time and are very happy to be on this cruise on any deck". A man not with them, patted me on the back and said "atta girl". Thank you RCCL. This cruise was a dream come true for me. These issues didn't spoil my cruise in any way. The staff and the passengers will always have special places in my heart. But what this experience did open my eyes to - is the fact that for me, RCCL doesn't really give me the "bang for my buck". I have already booked two future cruises with another cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
This was our 3rd cruise (all with RCI) and first TA. We booked it 18 months in advance because of the great itinerary - so many ports, including the Faroe Islands! First, I want to mention how helpful our very active CC roll call ... Read More
This was our 3rd cruise (all with RCI) and first TA. We booked it 18 months in advance because of the great itinerary - so many ports, including the Faroe Islands! First, I want to mention how helpful our very active CC roll call members were for planning private tours, sharing information, organizing activities, and such. I felt like I had 350 new friends before ever setting foot on-board! Flew non-stop from Boston to London, took the Heathrow Connect train to Paddington Station and spent 3 nights at the Hilton Metropole. Nice hotel and easy access via Tube to all of London's attractions. We took the train from Liverpool St. Station to the port of Harwich, booked our train tickets in advance at a discount. Trip took 1.25 hours with a 5-minute transfer of trains in Manningtree. Managed the few steps down and then up just fine with our carry-on luggage. Check-in was smooth and efficient, we were on-board by 11:45 and in our room by 1:00 after lunch in the Windjammer. Had a nice Sail-Away party up at the Sky Bar with our new CC friends. Absolutely loved all the ports (see reviews below), but all-in-all, I would not do another TA cruise. With the cancellation of St. John's, NF due to bad weather, we had 6 consecutive sea days, which were a few too many for our particular tastes. Not enough "active" activities on-board, except for the table-tennis tournament - that was good fun. It is interesting to read others' reviews and see how they differ from our perspectives. Different people notice different things. We thought the food was just fine. Did not see any need to eat at the specialty restaurants, so can't comment about them. Windjammer sufficed for breakfasts and the occassional lunch & dinner after a long day in port. Our waitstaff in the MDR was exceptional, making sure that we were completely satisfied with our meals. The menus were diverse enough for us, but there was an Indian entre' every evening, which didn't appeal to us. Desserts were very good. We had escargot and lobster, even though there were rumors beforehand that these items were not going to be offered. Lunched in the MDR a couple of days for the great Tutti Salad Bar. Yummy and fairly healthy. There was a pool-side barbeque lunch one day that we enjoyed. Staff: Cruise director, waitstaff, cabin attendant and Captain were all fabulous. The captain kept us well informed of several unplanned events, including an accident that damaged the ship and injured a crew member (no fault of the Captain's or RCI), 2 hurricanes in the Atlantic that caused us to miss Newfoundland's port, and a medical evacuation of another crew member, which resulted in a diversion to Halifax. We thought he handled all these things in a professional manner with safety being the main priority. Entertainment: We found the evening shows lacking, and skipped several of them. We enjoyed the Three Tenors and the Tango dancers. The Enrichment Lecturers were a varied assortment, with a professor specializing in astronomy, and another gentleman lecturing on the ports. The port lectures were a waste of our time. A fellow passenger volunteered to give a talk on his flying over the South Pole in a hot air balloon, and this was the best lecture we saw. Two sisters offered "Iris Folding" craft classes, and we attended these every sea day. It was a popular activity and we enjoyed this very much. As it was free, the classes were extremely well attended, and the sisters were a bit overwhelmed by the demand. Trivia games: fun and lively. We had 75 hearing-impaired passengers on-board, and 3 classes in American Sign Language were offered. We also enjoyed this, and picked up some signs to communicate with our fellow passengers. Ship: We liked the layout of the Jewel, and it was in good repair. Staff kept the ship's public areas sparkling clean. Plenty of places to curl up with a good book on sea days. Disembarkation: We had Express Check-out, as we just had carry-on luggage, and were told to line up our baggage in the Coral Theater. Our ship took longer than expected to clear customs, and several passengers were on the verge of becoming unruly. We were not in a rush to get to the airport, and if we had to do this over, we would have just waited for the initial rush off the ship to clear out and then walked off with little stress. Got a taxi with minimal wait-time and arrived at the Boston airport in plenty of time for our afternoon flight home. Other: We were very surprised to find a charge of $50 for 2 pool towels on our printed out statement the morning of disembarkation, as I had checked our account status the night before. We got to Guest Relations at 6:15 am and there was only 1 staff member behind the desk and a long line of others who had the same charges as we had. Finally a gal took charge, taking names and room numbers of those of us in line with towel charges, and promised to get them refunded. If this had happened BEFORE we completed our guest questionaire, we would not have had such nice things to say about our RCI experience. We do not plan to cruise again for a while, so did not purchase a future cruise voucher. Will stick to land-based trips, so we can do some in-depth exploring on our own. Ports: We did all private excursions on this trip, several shared with other CC members. Le Havre, France - rented a car at Le Havre Rent a Car right at the dock with another couple from CC and drove to Mont St. Michel. Loved it despite the 3-hour drive each way. Much cheaper than the ship's tour and we beat most of the crowds. Portland, Dorset (England) - this was an "added port" to our itinerary, and we were excited to visit the Jurassic Coast (World Heritage Site) to do some fossil-hunting. We hired a driver from Here to There Services and got a great tour of the area on our way to Charmouth. Despite pouring rain for a 1/2 hour, we did find some fossils and I would like to return to this area for a longer period. (BTW - I am a geologist, so I was looking forward to this port for a LONG time!) The resort town of Weymouth looked to be very quaint and a nice place to stroll around, although we didn't have time for this. Cobh, Ireland: We did a private bus tour with Butler Busses to Blarney and Cork. Did not go into Blarney Castle as the lines were extremely long. Spent our time in the Blarney Woolen Mills, and I bought a hand-knit sweater as my one souvenir. Drove through Cork and stopped at the Market, just OK. There was a Titanic Museum at the dock that looked interesting, but we did not check it out. Klaksvik, Faroe Islands: The highlight of our cruise! Loved the unspoiled feel of this relatively new cruise ship destination. Arranged a private all-day bus tour of the islands' highlights. It was difficult finding a tour operator to do a tour from Klaksvik vs. the capital of Torshavn, but discovered 62N Tours who put together an amazing itinerary for us, which included lunch and afternoon tea, for a very reasonable price. Cascading waterfalls, beautiful coastal scenery, quaint houses with grass-topped roofs (with skylights!), and lots of sheep. The visit to the Bishop's House (built in the 1100's) was a highlight. Excellent tour guide. Heard some folks complaining that there were no souvenir shops, but that is what we liked about it so much!!! Here is our tour itinerary: "Pick-up and a short city-sightseeing in Klaksvík - then to the island of Kunoy - via the sub-sea-tunnel to Eysturoy. The glass artist Tronur Patursson has decorated the tunnel with amazing colours. We will stop for lunch at Hotel Gjargarur in the fantastic village of Gjógv. After lunch to the village of Eii where we will pass the highest mountain in the Faroes - Slttaratindur 882m and short after a view to the twin sea starks, Risin (75 m) and Kellingin (73 m), remnants, it is told, of an unusual attempt to tow the Faroes to Iceland by an Icelandic giant and his troll wife. Struck by the beauty of the islands, they laid a rope around Eiiskollur, the north end of Eysturoy, but quarrelled for so long that they were caught by the rising sun and transformed into cliffs. Further to the smallest capital in the World Tórshavn - where we will visit the World oldest parliament Tinganes. Have a walk in the old part of town and feel the atmosphere as placed in the Middle Ages but still alive with hens and children and all the buzz of ordinary life. We will visit the old cultural centre of the North Atlantic "Kirkjubur", where we also will have coffee/the/cake at the oldest wooden house in Europe "Roykstovan" still in use for the 17th generation. See the imposing ruin of Saint Magnus Cathedral and the oldest church in the Faroes, St. Olavs church erected in the year 1111." Reykjavik, Iceland: As special as I anticipated, with wonderful photo opportunities. We booked the Golden Circle tour with Iceland Guided Tours and had a marvelous day. On our second day in port, we did the Blue Lagoon, and got there just as they were opening at 10:00 am. Pure heaven! Expensive, but worth it. (We are hot-spring nuts, though...) Our ship underwent repairs for an accident in the Faroe Islands, but they were able to fix our communications mast and damaged funnel while we were in port. St. John's, Newfoundland: didn't make it there, due to hurricanes in the Atlantic, and as we didn't have any tours pre-arranged, it was not a huge disappointment. We had heard that this port can be "hit or miss". All in all, we enjoyed our cruise very much. Our fellow cruisers made the trip most enjoyable, and we have some fantastic pictures and memories. 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Sail Date August 2012
DINING ~was good. We had late seating, we could not get early, and I actually enjoyed seeing the shows before dinner. Food was good, always wish for better. We ate at Chops - Fantastic and Porotfino- very good. The food choices were ... Read More
DINING ~was good. We had late seating, we could not get early, and I actually enjoyed seeing the shows before dinner. Food was good, always wish for better. We ate at Chops - Fantastic and Porotfino- very good. The food choices were different than ships I have been on before, probably due to this being a transatlantic cruise. The Windjammer and Seaview Cafe were both very good. SERVICE on the ship was fabulous. They really went out of their ways, everyone. Our waiters (Sixto & Igor) & Cabin Steward (Ana) were fantastic. Leigh was a great Cruise Director, we stopped him with a question and he phoned our cabin with the answer. The Guest relations desk was helpful and fixed all problems I inquired about. The bartenders were all great. Lorenzo @ Champagne Bar earns a special shout out. ENTERTAINMENT was okay. We saw most shows and they were enjoyable. The couple who did the magic show were outstanding as was a pianist. FITNESS area is very good, gets a bit crowded but if you go early it is fine. Nice Staff. Bar Entertainment ~ Very enjoyable. A guitarist who was so enjoyable. The Trivia games were a hit. Since our last port was canceled due to weather conditions the trivia games were quite crowded as we had six straight days at sea. The Centrum (atrium) of the ship is really too small, as is the Solarium (Indoor Pool). I bet on warmer climate cruises where more people are outside, it is fine, but it was most difficult at times to find seating in both. We did have a few days on the Atlantic where the temperature was warm enough to find swimsuit clad cruisers enjoying the pool. Captain Stig ~ Second time sailing with him. He is awesome. With our ships accident he kept us informed of everything. We were never worried for long if we could continue to sail. The injured crew member was on all our minds and Captain Stig kept us up to date on his condition, which was good which created a cheer to be let out all around. Later a crew member was ill and needed to be hospitalized, the Captain kept us informed of his evacuation. The average age on this cruise did appear to be 65+. I also would note this cruise is a dressier one than our previous 7 cruises. They say the Transatlantic Cruises are like that, people tend to dress nicer even while at sea days. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
We flew to London on Monday and stayed at the Westminster Hilton Doubletree Hotel, which included a bus ride to the port in Harwich on Friday morning. The hotel was reasonably priced, and in an excellent location. The "hop on hop ... Read More
We flew to London on Monday and stayed at the Westminster Hilton Doubletree Hotel, which included a bus ride to the port in Harwich on Friday morning. The hotel was reasonably priced, and in an excellent location. The "hop on hop off" bus was only two blocks away, and Parliament, and Buckingham Palace within reasonable walking distance. We even found a launderette a few blocks away to do some laundry before our 16-day cruise. The bus ride brought us to the dock around noon, and even with a large bus groups arriving at that time we were on the ship in 45 minutes. After lunch at the Windjammer our cabins were ready. This was our second trip on the Jewel of the Seas, and we were very happy to be back on this beautiful ship. We saw many familiar faces in the crew, including Murat who was our waiter again, along with Nazareth assistant waiter. My husband and I cannot say enough great things about them. Rosa, Guest Services Manager, is a warm presence all around the ship, always helpful and pleasant. The whole crew on this ship is outstanding, and unfailingly pleasant at all times. Our Cabin Our cabin on deck nine was very clean, and comfortable, and every thing worked great. Cassandra our steward was excellent. It still has the older style televisions, which were fine. This was a transatlantic with 6 sea days, and the satellite could not always pick up a signal, so like others have said we saw the same things over and over again. Though the crew did make some requested changes and played the movies from the movie theatre on the television, which we enjoyed. With so many sea days we did spend time here reading, sitting on the balcony and watching movies. The Food and Entertainment My husband and I had MTD and enjoyed the food. The Windjammer has such variety at every meal, we ate breakfast and lunch there each day and never had the exact same meal twice. The main dining room did have a few more unusual choices, but we always found something we liked. We ate at Portafino one night, and enjoyed outstanding service. I tried the lobster, but it was both salty and tasteless. I understand it is frozen, I would not have it again. We went to the shows every night but one. We did not see the hypnotist, but the Tenors, Ryan Ahern the pianist, and the production shows were our favorites. The Ports Through Cruise Critic we contacted others going on this same cruise and signed up for trips sponsored by other passengers. They were all excellent and we took three. The ports were outstanding, and some better than that. Portland England, we took the C.C. trip to Stonehenge and the Salisbury Cathedral. We did La Havre, and Cork on our own. The train into Cork ran right along the dock where the ship came in. Dublin we took the ship-sponsored shuttle into town, and then the "hop on hop off" bus around the city. The highlight was the tour of the Guinness factory. It ends at the top of the building in a glass-enclosed area with a panoramic view of the city and a pint of Guinness. We enjoyed the ship-sponsored trip in the Faroe Islands. We went to a home of a resident for cake and coffee and got to talk about their life on such remote islands. It is a real highlight of the trip. We also had time to go into town and walk around, residents were very welcoming. Local high school students were out of school for the day to act as guides around town and to practice their English, which was excellent. The last two days before our trip across the Atlantic were spent in Iceland. We took the two CC sponsored trips. The first day we toured around Reykjavik, including a museum of historic farm, and animals only found in Iceland. The Golden Circle tour was incredible, our local guide Bjorn took us to waterfalls, and moon like landscapes. I hope to go back some day soon. In fact my husband and I would like to repeat this cruise, we didn't see it all, and it was wonderful from beginning to end. We even enjoyed the relaxing 6 days at sea. We missed St. John in Canada because of bad weather. Captain Stig kept us in sunny calm weather even though there were two hurricanes in the Atlantic. This was our second trip with the captain, and we found him a calm presence around the ship, and willing to stop and talk. We had an accident and hit an electric line in the Faroe Islands, with a crew member hurt, and another evacuated for illness in Canada, we were kept informed throughout. Disembarkation We live just outside of Boston so we choose to get off later. We had a relaxing breakfast and left our cabin at 9:00am. Those that had to clear immigration took longer than they thought so we did not get off until 10:30, but we relaxed in the Schooner Bar and talked with other cruisers. We were home before noon. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
What a fun trip! I've been taking cruises for years, but in the last 10 years had taken mostly road trips in the states. Last August, I found an interesting itinerary in the Baltic & sailed for the first time with Royal ... Read More
What a fun trip! I've been taking cruises for years, but in the last 10 years had taken mostly road trips in the states. Last August, I found an interesting itinerary in the Baltic & sailed for the first time with Royal Caribbean on the Jewel of the Seas. Earlier this summer, I began to get wanderlust and started looking for another cruise to take. I found that the Jewel was offering a Transatlantic cruise with another great itinerary so I booked the sailing for September 3. What a great experience—I think I had even more fun the second time on this ship. I'm a single woman who usually travels alone and find that cruising is great way to meet people and feel safe. The trip began with an overnight flight to Gatwick with transfer to Harwich. Everything went smoothly and we arrived at check-in even before they were ready for us. My check in for the Baltic was quick with no waiting, but unfortunately since I arrived before the embarkation desk was officially opened, there was quite a wait this time around, especially with the sheer number of priority check-in guests (at the time of sailing I was only a Gold level Crown & Anchor member so I was embarking with everyone else.) Once I checked in , even with a wait it was practically painless, I headed to my cabin but it was too early to go in and get a nap (I don't sleep well in the best of circumstances, but it's nearly impossible for me to sleep on a plane.) I headed to the Windjammer for some lunch and was pleasantly surprised that the food had improved since my last sailing on RCCL Mariner of the Seas. I went to my cabin when it was available and took a nap because our first port of call was the next day with 3 more ports in as many days after that and I was jet lagged. I called for a bucket of ice which took an hour & another call to receive, but I understood my room attendant, Wilson, was quite busy and he was very friendly. He gave me his card and I was quite pleased with his services and his friendly attitude, even the day he had a migraine. When I woke up it was time to get ready for late seating in the dining room. This was my first time in a long time where I had to take late seating because I booked so late and that was all that was available. I had asked to be seated at a large table because it provides an opportunity to meet more people. I was instead put at a table for 6 and there were only 2 other people at the table and one of them didn't speak English. The second night I was told they asked to be moved, so I ate alone. While I liked the waiter & assistant waiter, I asked to be moved as well because I didn't relish eating alone for 2 weeks. The next day I got a note in my cabin that I'd been moved and to my delight found I was at a large table with 6 people with 2 more added in the next few days. There were quite a few empty tables at late seating, so I guess those who were assigned to those tables chose the Windjammer rather than wait until 8:30 to eat. I liked my dinner companions, even the woman who complained about the food & talked about the superiority of another cruise line every night. We had excellent dining room attendants in Karen & Borko, and by the third night we met Janet, our head waitress, who was also quite personable. The food was pretty good for the most part, better than what I could cook and it was usually served promptly and with a great attitude by the wait staff. My only complaint was that there were very few desserts that I wanted to try so I ate ice cream most nights (and should have probably skipped it altogether, but who does that on a cruise?) The main complaint I had the last time I was on this ship were that the beef dishes weren't very good, but this time I was pleasantly surprised at the improvement. I ate in the dining room every night but one. Our first port of call was Le Havre, France. I took shore excursions in every port and on our first stop I took the opportunity to go to Paris since I'd never been there before. Even though it was Sunday, it still took a couple of hours to get there. We went by most of the famous sites one expects to see in Paris and while my excursion didn't include any stops at the sites, I could see there were large crowds everywhere. My group was delivered to a barge for a luncheon cruise along the Seine. The food was good with lots of wine flowing and the folks with whom I ate were lovely. After the cruise we were dropped off at the Eiffel Tower for a little while to wander around and buy a few trinkets. Besides being bothered by some women who I suspected had ulterior motives, all it took was a firm No to get them to leave me alone. After our visit, we headed back to Le Havre, and an auto accident resulted in a delay in returning to the ship and it was quite a wait to get back on the ship, though it was no fault of the ship that everyone who went to Paris got back at roughly the same time. The second day's stop was Cherbourg which I loved. It was a quiet little coastal town. I took an excursion which included visiting some of the countryside and a trip to Castle Ravenal. It was a beautiful place with gorgeous gardens and even a little rain didn't bother me. We were then taken downtown where our guide, a very handsome Frenchman named Dominick, showed us a few places including the location of the film Umbrellas of Cherbourg, a film I love. I think I was most excited to see the little shop which was the setting of the shop Catherine Deneuve's character & her mother owned in the film. We got a little bit of free time and I found a shop that sold locally made items and purchased a few things. Back to the ship where this time we got back on immediately. I wished I could have taken Dominick home with me, but whatever. Cherbourg was my favorite port on the entire cruise. The third day was the port of Cobh Ireland near Cork. I took a full day's excursion which included a trip through the beautiful countryside of that part of Ireland. Our first stop was Kinsale, a seaside village which our tour guide claimed was the culinary capital of Ireland. Since it was still early in the day, I just walked around this village, went to the drugstore to buy some toiletry items I needed and had a cup of coffee. We then drove back toward Cork for a lunch of fruit salad, Irish stew & dessert, which I enjoyed. Our next stop was Blarney Castle. While I did walked up to the castle, I didn't kiss the Blarney Stone—I just couldn't get past the sheer volume of people that do and not be a little fearful of sickness. It's a quirk I have. Anyway, it was cool to see it and afterwards we had quite a bit of time at Blarney Woolen Mills, where I have to say there were quite a few bargains in a huge store with something for everyone. I could have spent a lot of money there. Since I was traveling alone, I kept my buying to a minimum because I had no room in my bags and had enough stuff to schlep as it was. I drank my first ever pint of stout (Murphy's since it was the local brew) and I was ready for a nap. Back to the ship where a medical evacuation of one of our passengers caused another lengthy delay in reboarding the ship, but at least another gangway was opened and they tried to get us all back on the ship in a timely manner. Overall, it was another great port of call. By the fourth day and another port of call in Dublin, I was very tired because I think I was still jet lagged and we had been in 4 ports in 4 days without a day at sea to rest. My shore excursion this time included a trip to St. Patrick's Cathedral and Trinity College with a drive by of a few local sites. It was my least favorite port, maybe because I was so tired and it didn't seem that much different than any average American mid-sized city. Plus, we didn't really have any free time on this short tour, our guide was soft spoken and she took us on a long walk to find our bus because of a miscommunication with the driver. Finally a day and a half at sea and I needed it—I was exhausted! I finally got to participate in my favorite on board activity, the trivia games. I was quite successful on my last trip on the Jewel, winning 12 prizes. I met two couples who were my trivia team mates for the rest of the cruise and we won a few times. It was a quite popular activity during the at-sea days, where you had to be in the Schooner lounge early to get a seat. I had a lot of fun, especially during the afternoon sessions when Clo, the cruise director was the host of the game. I just want to add here that I've been on 8 cruises and she's just the best cruise director I've ever encountered. She & Frankie, the activities manager, were on the ship last year and they are both great at their jobs. In fact, we were basically on first name basis by the end of the cruise and she delighted in teasing me about my enthusiasm for trivia games. She's a great gal. Next stop, Reykjavik, Iceland. We arrived late in the afternoon and I took a trip to the Blue Lagoon, the well known geothermal pool about 30 minutes outside of town. It was windy & chilly but I thought why not go since I probably won't be back here again. It was great getting in the pool once you got past the fact you were outside in a bathing suit in such cool weather. I used the mud pack and my face broke out in whelps that took a few days to disappear, but I should have known better. My only complaint about the trip was that the tour guide had candy or cough drop in her mouth and had the microphone on the whole time where you could hear it clicking around against her teeth. After 40 minutes of that, it became quite annoying. The next day was another day in Reykjavik and I went on a museum tour, although the title of the excursion was a little misleading. It was called Discovering Reykjavik with mention of only a stop at an outdoor museum, similar to Williamsburg here in the states. However, it appeared we were the only people there that day. There was no chance to shop since the gift shop was closed—a first for me since most places like that thrive on tourist dollars. The main drawback to this tour was that I was sitting in the back of the bus and a couple sitting behind me complained the entire time. By the third stop, I'd had enough and told the husband of the couple he could probably get a cab and go back to the ship. I guess I should have minded my own business, because no one else spoke to me for the rest of the trip. Oops. It was interesting to see Iceland, but it was quite expensive. I'm glad I went but I'm not sure I'd go back. We spent the next three days at sea where we were able to see the Aurora Borealis on a couple of nights in the North Atlantic. I'd always wanted to see it and it was beautiful and the second night we had a gorgeous full moon in addition to the green hued skies. We arrived at our final port of call, St. John, Newfoundland. What a lovely place and lovely people. My shore excursion included a drive out to remote Cape Spear, where the lighthouses were located. It was a beautiful and dramatic landscape with waves and fog. Then we went to an old fort in town where we got another picturesque view of the coast below. After a drive through town, we were dropped at the ship and had some free time to explore downtown. It was my second favorite port on the cruise. I rarely attend shows on any ship, although I did attend the comedy show with Kelly Montieth, a guy who I remembered from television appearances in the 1980's. It was okay, but he wasn't as funny as I remembered. I was also surprised that Marty Allen, a comedian I remembered from my childhood, was performing on the ship. I had an encounter with him one evening a couple of days before his show. He is 89 and still performs with his wife. Wow. I didn't go to his show but heard from several people that it was very good. I did see a Q & A he did with Clo that was shown on the cabin television a few times before we got off the ship and he had a lot of great show biz stories to tell. I also did a little gambling this time and came in third in the blackjack tournament and won some money at video poker so I came away with more money than I started with. That rarely happens so I was excited. I didn't have any luck at Bingo but I still had fun playing. The music in the Centrum during the afternoon and before dinner was very good and had a lot of couples on their feet and dancing. We had two more days at sea before disembarking in Boston, where we were taken off the ship in a mostly organized way. There was some delay due to the fact that some of the non U. S. citizens didn't follow instructions to report early for clearing customs. However, I got off the ship at the appointed time and my cruise was over. I was heading home. The Jewel of the Seas may not be the top of the line for cruising, but I like the ship and have had two marvelous cruises on her. A couple of the employees remembered me from the previous year when I took the Baltic cruise. One of the bartenders even remembered my name and what I liked to drink. I was surprised since it had been a year and they see thousands of people. The other person was in the salon and while it took me a few minutes to recognize her, once I asked if she'd been there last summer, she remembered me by recognizing my hair! (I'm quite white haired so maybe it's a little distinctive.) The only employee I had any contact with that I didn't care for was one of the male entertainers and he was quite snooty. He rarely spoke to anyone even though he was an escort on two of my shore excursions. He was in charge of leading our groups to the buses and walked very fast, not keeping in mind that a majority of the passengers were over 50 and quite a few were elderly people. If I have any complaints about the ship, there are very few. My main pet peeve was having a hard time finding a table in the Windjammer at peak times, where I ended up eating outside more than a few times. That would have been alright if it hadn't been very cool & windy for most of the trip. My bed was quite hard which could be improved. While I realize most people try to keep busy with planned activities, I like to spend some down time in the cabin, and the television programming left a lot to be desired. I surmise that most of the stuff they showed was pretaped because we saw a lot of shows & films repeated constantly. The Jewel could also probably use a few months of dry dock for a refurbishing. It looked a little run down in some areas. Overall, it was an excellent cruise and good value for the money. I met a lot of very nice & friendly people. Even though I had a few complaints, it wasn't anything that I couldn't get past and understood some of the little inconveniences. If you have expectations that this cruise is similar to Celebrity or any other more expensive cruise line, you're setting yourself up for disappointment. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Route: 14 day cruise starting in Harwich, England - Le Havre, France - Cherbourg, France - Cork, Ireland - Akureyri, Iceland - Reykjavik, Iceland - Sydney, Nova Scotia - Boston. 1. General Comments: An interesting cruise through the ... Read More
Route: 14 day cruise starting in Harwich, England - Le Havre, France - Cherbourg, France - Cork, Ireland - Akureyri, Iceland - Reykjavik, Iceland - Sydney, Nova Scotia - Boston. 1. General Comments: An interesting cruise through the stormy north Atlantic. This was the ship's repositioning cruise from its Baltic runs to its New England trips. Our itinerary was to include St John's, Newfoundland, but a "regular Arctic low pressure storm" formed on the route we were to take from Iceland. This made for a 250 mile detour around the storm and an early arrival in Sydney. My wife and I are frequent floaters and were not bothered by the stormy waves and winds, but enough was enough. The Caribbean it wasn't. The ship was nearly full with 2,046 passengers and 850 crew. While the majority of passengers were American, there was a good representation of European countries. There appeared to be very few first time cruisers. As this was school time, few children were on board. We booked a junior suite on the tenth deck. Details below. We also used My Time dining, and it worked perfectly. The cruise wound up with seven, instead of six, sea days. The Captain announced when we could see whales; a few of us did (I saw two). Remember that this is an Atlantic crossing. We had to change clocks forward one hour for France and turn them back six times enroute to Boston. 2. Travel to England and Embarking: We made our own plane arrangements and arrived in London three days before the cruise. We did use an RCL hotel (Guoman Tower) and the RCL bus to the port in Harwich (a 2 hour trip). You must stay in an RCL hotel if you want to use their bus; otherwise, you are on your own to get to Harwich. The hotel was fine, close to subway and next to both the Tower Bridge and the Tower. An RCL representative was available for some hours starting two days before the cruise. Having done Sea Pass check-in on-line got us through the check-in procedures very quickly. We were on board by noon in time for the usual lunch in the Windjammer and in our cabin around 1PM. One suitcase was waiting for us in the cabin; the other did not arrive for a couple hours. 3. The Jewel of the Seas: An attractive ship. Our junior suite was perfect for the two weeks. Plenty of storage space and nooks, a walk in closet, and bathroom with a tub shower. The cabin has a small safe and a small refrigerator (mini-bar, which we did not touch). There is a TV that receives movies, CNN, FOX, ESPN, shipboard activities, and other channels. You get a daily planner in your cabin the night prior. You need to read it carefully as there are next to no announcements on the PA system. The Captain does his noontime report from the bridge, and there may be one announcement in the afternoon about the evening's show. There is no newspaper; you have to get your news off the TV. There are maps at each elevator bay. The elevators are quirky; often you push the button and watch the elevator go right past your floor. There is a huge children/teen area and programs for them. I defer to others with children to comment on this part of the ship. 4. Meals: Food in the Windjammer buffet - which almost everyone uses for breakfast and lunch - is good. There are plenty of choices at both meals, and you can eat as much or as little as you want. It is a bit hurried, though, and not a place for a slow meal. The dining room's food was very good, well-prepared, and well-served. We only used it for dinner, although it is available with open seating at breakfast and lunch. Again, you have to pay attention to the daily ship's program concerning where lunch is served. The Windjammer or the dining room may be closed, or they may both be open. You have to read. We used My Time dining - 7PM - and RCL got it right. The area for this dining was organized with plenty of tables for two, besides the usual tables for four and more. We would arrive pretty much on time and were always seated immediately. While we were shifted around a bit, we had only three sets of waiters for the 14 days, and this was all in the same area. Thus, the waiters did get to know their guests and their preferences. Our waiters would advise us when they thought dishes were not up to par. Food portions are of respectable size, and if you don't try to eat all the courses everyday, you should not do bad weight-wise. The wine list is respectable, and wine is available by the bottle or glass. We had made reservations on-line for the Portofino specialty restaurant. Excellent food, wine, and service. Well worth the extra charges. There are other food outlets around the ship as well as plenty of bars; you cannot go hungry or thirsty. Because of the mob scene in the Windjammer one noon, we lunched in the Seaview Cafe. Sandwiches and fries were not bad; no extra charge. At the session of "ask the Captain and his staff," we learned an interesting item. RCL ships usually only resupply at the beginning of their runs; in our case it meant that we loaded up in Harwich and had no resupply for 14 days which, according to the hotel director, is about the maximum number of days a ship can go. So, bananas ran out, pineapples became iffy, and margarine ran out. Even the Schooner Bar ran out of Drambuie. 5. Dressing for meals: For this 14 day trip it was three formal nights. A good number - perhaps half - of men at formal nights were in tuxedos or suits; some who did not want to dress up just did not appear for these meals. Considering how the ladies dress up for these meals, I suggest more men who served in the military obtain miniatures of the medals they were awarded and attach them to their tuxes. It's permissible to do so, and the medals do add some color to our basic black tuxedos. Scheduling of the formal nights was odd. We expected they would all be on sea days. Wrong! Two were on port/shore excursion days, and only the third one was on a sea day. 6. Shore Excursions: A word of advice: make your shore excursion reservations on-line! Otherwise you will either have to use the not-so-user-friendly on board TV system to make your reservations or stand in line on board at the excursion counter. The on-line billing goes direct on your credit card and not on your shipboard account. If you know the ports of call and want to travel by yourself, then, of course, you don't need the ship's tour office. RCL's tour prices are not cheap; you are paying for the convenience of having the ship organize the tour rather than you doing it after you get ashore. Also, if you obtain your tour through the ship's staff, you have support when there is a problem. When making my on-line reservations I ran into one tour that was marked "check on board." I went to the tour desk right after we boarded. Yes, the tour was running. I was able to change around a couple of tours with no problem. These charges and adjustments all appeared on our ship's account. The adjustments for all the cancelled shore excursions when we did not stop in St John's were quickly added to the ship's accounts. There was an Icelandic gentleman on board who lectured on all aspects of Iceland (history, geography, etc) before we arrived. His first session was so interesting that for his second session the theater was packed. Everyone commented on how pleased they were to have heard some, or all, of his lectures. 7. Shipboard entertainment: The ship has a daily schedule full of activities for all tastes: sports, lectures, bridge, bingo, etc, etc. Don't forget the rock climbing wall, though because of our weather, I don't know if it was ever open for use. Most days the poolside chairs were lashed down. Some hardy souls continued to use the hot tubs and the pools. On the other hand, the adult solarium pool was quite busy, possibly because it is enclosed. The bits of the evening shows we saw were fine; we heard good reports about them in the Windjammer. The down side appears to have been that the theater was packed every night, and seats were being taken up to 45 minutes before the show. Park West, the bane of many cruise ships, did not have its contract renewed by RCL. Thus, there were no art auctions. This was not a problem as the ship has plenty of art all around the public areas. Instead of art, though, there is plenty of advertising by the ship's spa, which appears to be a franchise. The casino was of good size and the payoffs did not seem to be much worse than Las Vegas. Duty-free liquor on board was reasonable; you order your liquor and it is delivered to your cabin the day before disembarking. If you are flying, though, how do you take it home? There will be plenty of opportunities for you to have your picture taken by the ship's photographers--pricey, but a good souvenir. There are various venues for night owls. 8. Tipping: Not a problem if you sign up for the recommended amounts (for cabin steward, waiter, asst waiter, and head waiter). The amounts are charged to your shipboard account; you receive vouchers and envelopes before the last night on board. Put the vouchers in the (pre-addressed) envelopes, and hand them out. You're done. You only need to tip separately (cash) the person who brings your room service. Your bar bill automatically adds 15 percent. My Time dining raised a question that the Guest Services desk did not really answer. I asked how we tipped the wait staff when we had different staffs. Their solution was for us to tip the staff that waited on us at the last night. "They will take care of it." I hope so, and it may be so. Our nightly table was recorded in the computer, so it would not have been difficult to determine how often which wait staff waited on which passengers. 9. Settling of Accounts: During your cruise, anything you purchase on board (drinks, souvenirs, tours, duty free items, photos, etc) is punched into a computer; you sign one copy of the ticket and you receive a copy. You can track your account on the ship's TV channel. On the last morning you receive a paper final statement of your account. 10. Disembarking in Boston: Your bags have to be out at 11PM, and breakfast is early. You can wait in your cabin until it is time to leave. We ran about an hour late because the customs/immigration officers were late. Added to that was that pier side safety regulations prevented passengers from moving in the baggage area while baggage was still being unloaded and stacked in the building. Immigration procedures were handled on board in the dining room, and customs was handled pier side. Once the officers were set up and the baggage handling was completed, disembarking went pretty quick and smooth. 12. Conclusion: This was an interesting trip. We had a great time in London adjusting to the time difference; the weather was sunny and pleasant. Stops in France and Ireland were equally pleasant. Iceland was fascinating, cold, and a bit wet. Yes, we have our certificates for having crossed the Arctic Circle. As I mentioned at the start, the trip from Iceland to Nova Scotia was long and windy, with high waves (and that was *not* going through the storm!). Nova Scotia was wet. From there to Boston we had to go through another storm. Sigh... Are we glad we made the trip? Definitely yes. Would we do it again? Probably not. Would we take the Jewel again to someplace calmer and warmer? Yes. If anyone has questions, send me an e-mail at LTC519@satx.rr.com. Fred Groth San Antonio, TX Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
Background Having undertaken a couple of eastbound southerly route transatlantic crossings before, my wife and I decided to join this westbound northerly sailing from Harwich (UK) for a change. We were particularly attracted by the ... Read More
Background Having undertaken a couple of eastbound southerly route transatlantic crossings before, my wife and I decided to join this westbound northerly sailing from Harwich (UK) for a change. We were particularly attracted by the published itinerary which included stops in Le Havre and Cherbourg (France), Cobh (Ireland), Akureyri and Reykjavik (Iceland), St John's NF and Sydney NS (Canada) before disembarking in Boston (USA). It subsequently transpired however that the call into St John's was missed due to bad weather (see below). Travel to port In consideration of the variety of potential causes for flight disruptions which arose in the months leading up to the cruise (volcano eruptions, airline staff disputes and threatened airport closures etc) we thought it prudent to position ourselves in Harwich a day ahead of the cruise. Accordingly we flew to Stansted airport and completed the 46 mile road journey to Harwich by private transfer (I'm still trying to fathom out why that cost us more than our 314 mile flight from Edinburgh did). Pre-cruise Hotel We stayed overnight at the Premier Inn which was clean, comfortable and convenient for a supermarket to pick up those inevitable last minute provisions we somehow believe that we just could not do without on the ship. The adjacent Mayflower restaurant offered a good variety of reasonably priced pub style food for dinner and a choice of healthy, or not so healthy, breakfast options for those who could not wait for the Windjammer to open onboard at noon. Embarkation Embarkation at Harwich was extremely well handled. Having checked-in online and printed off our Set Sail passes beforehand, the check-in procedure took no longer than it takes to swipe a credit card. Issued with our Sea Pass cards, which serve as your stateroom door key, your identity card for getting on and off the ship and your charge card for onboard purchases, we were allowed onboard the ship by about 11:00am, our stateroom was available by 1:00pm and our luggage was delivered by 2:30pm. Ship info The ship itself is one of our favourites in the fleet and has been highly maintained throughout to preserve its appearance and charm. The Centrum area in particular is quite stunning from all angles (remember to look down on it through the glass observation window in the Crown & Anchor lounge on deck 12), the decor and furnishings in the Schooner bar and Safari Club on deck 6 are a delight to behold and the glass covered Solarium area on deck 11 offers the facility to read or relax on a lounger regardless of the weather. The Seaview Cafe on deck 12 offers a good choice of casual style made to order snacks and meals as an alternative venue for lunch or a late night supper. Stateroom Due to the popularity of this cruise, the best stateroom available when we booked in December 2009 was a solitary E2 balcony which we gladly accepted purely and simply to ensure a place for us onboard. However, after final payment date, a few more staterooms opened up and we were able to upgrade to a junior suite instead. The additional space and storage this afforded us was most welcome on a 14 night sailing. Our stateroom attendant team did a great job maintaining the place to our liking and constantly replenished the toiletries, tissues, tea & coffee tray and ice etc as required, without having to be asked. Dining Back home we would never think of going to the same restaurant for dinner 14 nights hard running and, as such, we adopt a regime onboard which we call 'My Time and Place' Dining - some nights Main Dining Room, some nights Windjammer, some nights Chops Grille and some nights Portofinos. We were assigned to a full table for 10 in Tides dining room deck 4 level and were fortunate insofar as everybody got on really well with each other and the service was good. The down side to the MDR nowadays is that the dinner menus are pretty much standard across the fleet and have not varied in recent years. As such, they tend to lose interest and appeal after a while. Serving food whilst it remains hot also seems to be difficult to achieve when serving so many meals at the same time. In contrast, the food in the Windjammer is usually warmer and includes choices over and above that on the MDR menu of the day. Pity they closed the doors at 9:00pm on this sailing (on some European itineraries it stays open longer to fit in with the lifestyle of those accustomed to having a siesta in the afternoon and eating later at night). We have found that 'Chops Grille' and 'Portofinos' food and service can vary from one ship to another but on this sailing they were both excellent. Activities Apart from the usual recreational activities as listed in the daily compass this particular cruise added a couple of unique events. Firstly, a fellow passenger had suggested to the Cruise Director that, since the ship would pass close by Plymouth UK on the 390th anniversary of the Mayflower having set sail from there laden with a group of disgruntled separatists intent on setting up camp in America, the cruise line should mark the occasion in the form of some onboard gatherings and talks on the subject for those interested in the alleged similarities between that sailing and ours. Personally I do wonder how one could compare the two. Mayflower took 66 days to get there - Jewel of the Seas did it in 14 days. Mayflower carried 102 passengers with a crew of 25-30 - Jewel of the Seas carried 2501 guests with a crew of 842. Mayflower colonists suffered greatly from diseases like scurvy due to lack of shelter and conditions onboard ship - Jewel of the Seas paying guests could expect nothing worse than acute indigestion and perhaps a bout or two of alcohol intoxication. The other event came as a surprise when Captain 'Stig' announced that on the night before arriving in Akureyri the ship would cross into the Arctic Circle and accordingly King Neptune would board the ship then to assist him perform the traditional ritual of initiating those onboard who wished to be inaugurated into the Ancient and Honourable Company of Blue Noses as is customary on such an occasion. The initiation ceremony required having ice and cold water dropped down your back, knocking back a shot of grog in one go and having your nose painted blue at the end. The Captain (who claimed to be born within the Arctic Circle to the North of Norway and was therefore exempt from initiation) had mischievously brought along two different sizes of ladle for dispensing the ice and water (a regular size for the passengers and a jumbo size for his executive officers). A formal certificate to commemorate the event was presented to everyone as a keepsake. For the benefit of those who have not set eyes on King Neptune before, he looks just like a crew member dressed in drag and threatened with termination of his contract if he refused to do as he was told. Itinerary change Due to the presence of an Arctic Low Pressure Storm in our intended path from Reykjavik to St John's, in the interest of passenger and crew safety and comfort, the Captain made the wise decision to alter the ships course and avoid the worst of the storm. In so doing however, the required diversion added 300 miles to our journey which, in turn, necessitated cancelling the visit to St John's. To his credit he hosted a special presentation the next day to fully inform the passengers of his reasoning in this regard and was commended by all present for doing so. It was suggested that if the original course had been maintained we could have encountered waves of 13-14 metres in height. By changing route we got off with seas in the region of 6 metres or so as we sailed through the night. A refund of the recoverable port fees was automatically credited to our onboard account in the circumstances. Ports of call Le Havre (weather good) - this is primarily the setting off point for visiting Paris and the majority of tours offered from here reflect this. It is quite far however and can be exhausting. If Paris sounds like a journey too far, closer by is the lovely port of Honfleur for those who prefer a more relaxing time. Having been to these places before we opted to stay onboard this time and made good use of the Solarium whilst the ship was quiet. Cherbourg (weather fair) - the landing beaches of Normandy are the most popular tour from here and never fail to tug at the emotions of all who visit to pay homage. However there are a few places of interest to be discovered within Cherbourg itself, the highlight for us on this visit being 'La CitE de la Mer' maritime museum which houses an aquarium, an exhibition of numerous deep sea diving vessels spanning many years and, last but not least, the French Navy's first nuclear missile-launching submarine 'Le Redoubtable' superbly preserved and open to internal inspection. It is situated directly adjacent to the main cruise terminal building which, itself, contains a number of interesting artefacts reflecting its connection with notable sailings from there in years gone by. Cobh (weather fair) - The fact that the ship berths directly alongside the town centre it encourages you to do nothing more than walk off the ship, find a good pub and eavesdrop on the inimitable Craic between locals whilst supping a pint or more of Murphy's draught ale. The Heritage Centre on the quayside gives a good insight to the history of Cobh and its links with the Great Famine, Ellis Island immigration processing centre and, of course, the Titanic. Also on the quayside is the train station from where they run a regular service into Cork. Coach tours can also be arranged to visit other nearby visitor attractions including Blarney Castle with its infamous stone which purports to give all who kiss it 'the gift of the gab'. Akureyri (weather good) - Upon first sight, I could have sworn that we had docked somewhere in the North of Scotland. The scenery and landscape is very similar. The town itself is quite small but we did come across a couple of places worthy of a visit. We climbed the 112 steps to the Akureyrarkirkja church on the hill for a look inside and to admire the view from its grounds over the town and the fjord it stands on. We also visited the botanical gardens which, surprisingly for its geographic location, included some lush vegetation and species of plants that would not survive in my own garden back home. For those wishing to see further afield, coach tours were available to take in the surrounding countryside and the waterfalls, craters and bubbling hot and smelly mud fields etc that it had to offer. However, judging by the people we spoke with who had gone on this tour, the majority of time was spent driving to and from these sites with nothing of great interest between stops. Reykjavik (weather heavy showers) - In contrast to the charm and homeliness of Akureyri, we actually found Reykjavik dull, dismal and depressing. We had taken the local tourist board shuttle bus from the pier into town hoping to find some impressive buildings, broad streets and upmarket shopping precincts etc that you associate with capital cities around the world. Nope! - We didn't find any I'm afraid. Mostly tacky souvenir shops all selling the same items. Things were not helped by the fact that the heavens opened the minute we stepped off the bus and it looked set to stay that way for some time. We persevered for about half an hour before deciding to catch the next shuttle bus back to the ship. Coach tours to some more waterfalls, hot springs and steam vents etc were available as was the option to visit the Blue Lagoon and wallow in geothermal water along with the bacteria of countless others who have been there before you. Sydney (weather fair with occasional showers) - As s result of the aforementioned itinerary change the ship arrived here half a day earlier than planned offering the opportunity for us to sample the local nightlife in town. However, since it started to rain heavily, we decided to stay onboard till the morning. Next day we picked up a map from the tourist information desk and set off on a suggested walking tour which took in many of the oldest houses, some of which are now preserved as museums. Disappointingly, many of the surrounding properties on the route are in a dilapidated state and project the image of a rundown area. The main street too lacked appeal and atmosphere with little in the way of decent shops. That said however, we did enjoy are time there and, being Scottish, are pleased to have set foot in Nova Scotia. We shall always remember the friendliness and politeness of the locals who go out of their way to assist you find your way around. The drivers too are the most courteous I have come across anywhere in the world. If they sense that you may wish to cross street they will stop and wave you over, regardless of whether or not you are near a crossing. Sea Days (weather typical for the region and time of year) - The majority of sea days were on the bleak side with high winds, mist and rain which somewhat curtailed outdoor activities. By night the mist turned to fog which thwarted any chance we may have had of seeing the Northern Lights in the skies around Iceland. Apparently the fog did eventually clear and they were visible at 3:00am on a couple of nights but, alas, we were in a deep slumber by then. Disembarkation Disembarkation was preceded by US Customs and Immigration inspection of all passengers. In this instance not being an American worked to our advantage as they had set up a separate stall for 'aliens' only, who were few and far between on this cruise. Was surprised at how the process on this occasion was less stringent than that we are usually subjected to when arriving by air - no finger prints taken, no questions asked and no having to show tickets to prove our intention to return home. Due to an apparent problem unloading luggage from the ship, disembarkation did not start at the predicted time and, when it did start, the so called express walk-off took an eternity because of the inability of the majority of people to manage their own luggage down the sloping gangway. Fortunately we were in no rush to get off since we had arranged for an overnight stay in Boston before returning home but the possibility of this happening again should be kept in mind when planning onward travel arrangements. Post cruise in Boston (weather glorious) - Thanks to some really good information posted on Cruise Critic North American Homeports board -East Coast Departures forum before leaving home we were able to decide where to stay and what to do in the time we had available. Because of its close proximity to Black Falcon cruise terminal and good transport links for getting around town and to the airport we chose the Westin Boston Waterfront hotel with late check-out facility allowing us use of the room right up until we needed to leave for our early evening flight home. The Old Town trolley tour was ideal for us since we were able to join it directly in front of the hotel and could get off and on as we wished at the various stops along the route. Our ticket also included a harbour sightseeing cruise which offered a different perspective of the city. Summary We thoroughly enjoyed this crossing particularly because it afforded us the opportunity to sail in new waters and see new places we would not have contemplated travelling to by any other means (Akureyri, Reykjavik, Sydney and Boston). The Jewel of the Seas is a fabulous ship and Captain Stig Nielsen, his officers and crew were fantastic. The crystal block presented to us for having attained our 30th Crown & Anchor cruise credit whilst onboard will serve as a great memento of the good times and experiences we had. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
Stormy North Atlantic crossing on the Jewel Overview: We had cruised on the Jewel before - through the Baltic s in 2006, so we knew what to expect. However, our expectations were exceeded. If anything, RCCL have upped ... Read More
Stormy North Atlantic crossing on the Jewel Overview: We had cruised on the Jewel before - through the Baltic s in 2006, so we knew what to expect. However, our expectations were exceeded. If anything, RCCL have upped their game since our previous Jewel experience and our first trans Atlantic crossing was overall an exciting adventure. From the highly visible Master of the vessel Captain Stig Nilsen, through his Officers and crew, we enjoyed a quality cruise experience marred only by the disappointment in not being able to dock in Newfoundland. As the cruise was scheduled to sail around Iceland and through some notoriously unpredictable North Atlantic seas, we were comforted when we learned that the Captain had been born and raised in Nordic waters! His experience of North Atlantic waters proved to be particularly beneficial when in the interests of passenger safety and comfort, the Captain had to change course and skillfully navigate the ship around the fringes of a major storm that had developed off Greenland shortly after we left Reykjavik. Embarkation: We had pre-arranged an RCI transfer from Heathrow airport to Harwich. We were met by an RCI representative in the arrivals hall. Ours was a relatively early flight so we were asked to wait in a waiting area with our luggage until sufficient other passengers arrived to connect with the transfer bus. After about a ninety minute wait we were directed to a coach for the two hour journey to Harwich. On arrival at the pier we were ushered through to a priority embarkation area reserved for Platinum, Diamond and diamond Plus Crown and Anchor members. Embarkation formalities were speedily processed and we were on board within fifteen minutes of arriving in Harwich. The Ship: The Jewel is a beautiful ship. Now over six years since it's launch in 2004, she is still in remarkably good condition showing only few signs of wear and tear. She is spacious, clean, well appointed and well maintained. Although we had booked some ten months prior to the cruise, we had only managed to secure a balcony cabin virtually at the front of the ship starboard side. We were a little apprehensive having such a forward cabin especially as we had been warned of potentially high seas as we crossed the Atlantic. We normally prefer a much more centrally situated stateroom. We need not have worried as, even while sailing through the storm after leaving Reykjavik and the high seas that ensued for the following three days or so, the ship proved to be remarkably stable and we did not experience any more notable rocking and rolling in our forward situated cabin than anywhere else on the ship. Our balcony cabin was what one would expect on a ship of this nature. The bathroom is incredibly small but ingeniously designed and once one gets used to the cocoon like effect of shower, it is more than adequate. However, we are amazed that some of our overly obese fellow passengers who sailed on this specific cruise, could even fit in the shower which effectively is not much bigger than the capsule used to rescue the trapped miners in Chile. We did not get much use out of our balcony this cruise, partially because of the inclement weather during the latter half of the cruise but also because we were surrounded by chain smokers - above, below and to both the left and right of our stateroom! We really recommend that RCI reconsider its current smoking policy that prohibits permits smoking in a stateroom yet, inexplicably, permits the habit on balconies! For reformed non-smokers such as my wife and I, it effectively negates the benefit of a balcony stateroom when there is a constant stream of cigarette smoke wafting across the balcony as we experienced on this cruise. Dining: For a mass-market cruise line, we found the food on the Jewel to be generally good to very good. We understand dinner menus on RCI ships are pretty standard but apart from the typical fare that did not vary from day to day, we always found there to be sufficient alternatives to keep us interested. We had elected the "My Time" dining option in the Tides dining room for evening meals. The special area set aside for My Time diners was well managed and organized. We generally like to dine fairly late (after 08h00 p.m.) which means we usually miss the rush and we only had to wait more than a couple of minutes for a table on only one occasion of the twelve nights we dined there. Meals generally were well prepared, attractively presented by attentive waiting staff. The only downside of My Time dining is that one can never be guaranteed a seating in the same area each night which makes tipping a bit of a problem as one is often served by different teams of waiting staff. We had four different teams during our 14 night cruise. Still, we assume the waiting staff pool their gratuities. If not, we guess if all diners gave to their last set of waiting staff, tipping would even out in the longer run. In the Windjammer, the alternate buffet style restaurant, we found the food to be more than satisfactory in range, quality and presentation. It tends to be a bit of a scrum at breakfast and lunch times unless one is prepared to dine either very early or very late to avoid the crowds. Seating is always a premium at peak times. Even when we only went to lunch well after the peak dining period, we found seating to be very scarce - often exacerbated by somewhat selfish diners who continued to occupy tables to read or play cards after they had clearly finished their meals. We had dinner in the Windjammer on two nights and were surprised to find how many people seemed to prefer the very casual dining option. Meals were generally OK but when items run out a no replacement policy seems to prevail. On the one evening we noticed a lovely prime rib being carved medium rare just the way we liked it. However, by the time we had finished our starters, the prime rib had run out and no alternative was provided. There were three formal evenings on the cruise but we found that the majority of diners tended to ignore the recommended dress code often pitching in casual attire even on formal nights. We really believe all cruise lines should reconsider their formal dining policies and go the way many of the more up market cruise lines, such as Oceania and Azamara, have gone by adopting a smart casual dress code throughout their cruises. Passengers who like to dress up should be encouraged to do so whenever they like leaving the rest of to enjoy the casual ambience of a country club casual atmosphere. In particular, for those of us who have to travel long distances to link up with a cruise and therefore have restricted luggage capacity, the option of not having to pack formal wear would be very helpful! Entertainment: For the first time on a cruise (this was our seventh), we actually thought the entertainment on offer was pretty good! The hard working entertainment team under the able direction of an energetic and affable Cruise Director could not be faulted for effort and enthusiasm. Nightly shows were invariably better than we have come to expect on cruise lines and some shows, in particular the female impressionist and a musically versatile country and western singer, were especially good. The show orchestra was excellent and one could almost always find an entertainer, singer or ensemble performing at various places on the ship. Fitness and Recreation: We made good use of the fitness centre particularly on the additional unscheduled cruise days necessitated by the change in course to bypass Newfoundland. The centre was well equipped and maintained and one seldom had to wait for a treadmill or exercycle, even at peak times. However, we were disappointed there were no change room facilities at or near the fitness center. We found such to be welcome facility on other cruise lines as after an early morning workout, one could then proceed directly for a shower and clean up prior to breakfast without having to schlep back to one's stateroom - often at the other end of the ship. Destinations: The main purpose of our vacation was to visit relatives and friends in Canada. We had a choice of either flying direct to the States (very long and exhausting), or to break our journey by flying first to London. We were then faced with the no brainer dilemma of deciding whether to fly or cruise across the Atlantic. Needless to say, it did not take us too long to discern that a cruise would be the better, more relaxing and enjoyable option! We chose the Jewel primarily for it's itinerary and were not disappointed. We only took one ship excursion - in Reykjavik, and, as we enjoy touring new destinations on foot wherever possible, we did our own thing in the other ports of call. We find this generally to be a good way to get the "feel" of a place we have not visited before. In Le Havre and Cherbourg, we just walked the quaint city centres. We have been to France many times before so did not find any of the tours offered to be of much interest. Of course, we would have loved to revisit Paris (one of our favourite cities) had we docked for a longer time. However, the day excursion to Paris that was offered, half of which was to be spent on a tour bus, just did not seem to be attractive! Cove was delightful. We took a train to Cork but frankly found Cove to be of much more interest with, inter alia, its beautiful cathedral and famous Titanic walk. The obligatory black stout (in my case a Murphy's as we wandered into a typical Irish pub that served the local brew in direct opposition to the more famous Guinness) was especially enjoyable after a long walk through the town. In Akureyri, we were met by a niece who had emigrated to Iceland some twenty years ago. She gave us the grand Akureyri tour including visits to the beautiful, if small, Godafoss Falls - literally the Falls of the Gods and then the interesting Laufas turf covered settlement that has recently been restored that gives a good indication of how the settlers in the 18th/19th century lived. We thought Akureyri was a particularly beautiful part of the world, an area that reminded us a lot of Scotland. The ship's tour of Golden Circle outside Reykjavik was both good and not so good. The highlights were the Strokkur geysers that erupt on average every four to five minutes (very impressive), and a visit to the Gulfoss (Golden) Falls - apparently the highest Falls in Europe with a double cascade of 105 feet. It reminded us a little of a mini scaled version of the more famous Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. The negatives were a grossly overcrowded bus (55 passengers!) and sub standard refreshments that consisted of half a polony sandwich, a dried out pastry and a cup of undrinkable lukewarm coffee - this after the ship's tour brochure publicized that the tour included a lunch. We complained but got a distinctly hostile reaction from an unhelpful guest relations desk. We subsequently did get an apology about the misrepresentation of what the tour offered from the Guest Relations Manager, which was appreciated. Disappointingly, we missed docking at St John's in Newfoundland. As a result, our next port of call was Sydney, Nova Scotia. We had booked a ship's tour of the Cabot Trail but we cancelled this after our negative experience in Reykjavik. It rained quite heavily during the day we were in Sydney so we were not too unhappy that we had cancelled the short Cabot Trail trip. Sydney is a lovely little town that one can easily walk in a couple of hours. It has a strong Scottish heritage. One van see the Scottish influence everywhere but, somewhat incongruously, it has adopted the fiddle as it's musical instrument of choice. The bagpipe still abounds but definitely plays second fiddle to the fiddle!! Service: Service throughout the ship was friendly, courteous and efficient. Our cabin attendant, a delightful West Indian lady Michelle, kept our stateroom clean and well equipped at all times with unobtrusive attention to our needs. Disembarkation: Disembarkation was an absolute shambles, quite the worst we have ever experienced on any cruise anywhere. Despite the valiant efforts of the guest relations department to pre-plan and schedule what was always going to be a tricky process, many passengers completely disregarded the guidelines that had been fully communicated to them to facilitate a smooth disembarkation procedure. The chaos started with a requirement by the US immigration authorities to complete immigration procedures for all staff and passengers on board prior to authorizing the disembarkation process to commence. To ensure that the authorities saw those passengers who had early flights etc first, passengers were asked to present themselves in accordance with a pre-assigned numbered sequence. Needless to say this did not go according to plan with passengers generally pushing and shoving to get to the front of the queue regardless of the number they had been assigned. The result - inevitable congestion and frustration. The same problem reasserted itself when the go ahead to commence disembarkation was finally given. When we finally were allowed to disembark some ninety minutes behind schedule, we then experienced a further incomprehensible delay of almost an hour in the luggage collection area of what must be one of the worst cruise terminals anywhere. The nett effect was that, even though we had booked a ship transfer from pier to the airport, we only arrived at Logan International barely in time for check in for our midday flight to Canada. Concluding comments: Since our previous cruise on the Jewel in 2006 we have sailed on the other two brands in the RCI stable viz, Celebrity and the semi luxury Azamara, both of which are marketed at the more discerning traveler. We were thus expecting a cruise experience of somewhat lesser standard in terms of quality and service than that we had enjoyed on RCI's so called premium brands. However, even though it is clear the Royal Caribbean brand is pitched at a more mass market level, we were more then happy with our overall cruise experience on the Jewel, an experience that despite the stormy weather we encountered in the latter half of the cruise, in most respects exceeded our expectations. When we booked the cruise we had no appreciation that the crossing would be at the height of the North Atlantic hurricane season! We were somewhat astonished to see a chart on board that indicated we would be most likely to hit the back end of a hurricane off the cast of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland in September. Had we taken the trouble to research the historical weather patterns more closely it is highly probable we would have opted to cruise the North Atlantic a month or two later. It is sobering to reflect that our specific crossing fell directly between two major storms; one that hit Nova Scotia about ten days before we docked at Sydney and the other that devastated St John's in Newfoundland a week after we completed our crossing. We can thus be all the more thankful that due to the skill of the Captain and crew, we completed the crossing safely and in retrospect, with minimal discomfort. Overall a most enjoyable cruise. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
This was our first 14 day cruise and our first Transatlantic. It was like two cruises in one. The first part of the cruise we did the British Isles and we hit a port just about everyday. We had beautiful but cool weather and rain only on ... Read More
This was our first 14 day cruise and our first Transatlantic. It was like two cruises in one. The first part of the cruise we did the British Isles and we hit a port just about everyday. We had beautiful but cool weather and rain only on one day. Our pictures came out great. The tours were ok but there was a lot of busride time. The sites we went to were in France, including the US World War II Cemetary and some small towns along the Normandy area. All of our tours went well except the one in Scotland when we went to Edinburg. The tour guide was very disorganized and we lost two people. It included lunch but that was in a hotel and the food was hotel fare. As far as the ship was concerned, the food was outstanding, the service outstanding, the ship was clean, and we absolutely enjoyed Perry Grant each night after the main show. The entertainment for the most part was very good but there were a few nights where the main entertainment was filler, if you get my drift. So we always went back to Perry Grant and we assured of a fabulous show with him as well as great music. Couple 69 danced and Joyce, as always, was there. He also had a number of other groupies and although he repeats his jokes (he yelled about Cruise Critics.com one night) he is always a hoot. We got his DVD but it does not do justice to his in person talent. Anyway, the downside to the Constellation we thought was that the rooms are a bit dowdy. They need new carpet and the storage space is pretty minimal. Bathrooms are nice and the cabin service is excellent. We had a Ocean View with balacony but used the balcony infrequently on this cruise. Room service was excellent and very punctual. They really tried to pull out all the stops for this group of passengers as we have been on other cruises on Princess and Holland where the service was terrible. No so on this cruise. They knew they had an audience with some means and they intended to make us happy. Another downside I thought were daily activities. There were not as many activities as we had experienced on other lines like Princess. This could have been because the pool area was too cold to use so everything had to be inside. I accidentally happend upon the Bridge Tour and that was excellent. If you can get a Bridge Tour I highly recommend it. No other cruise that I know of has allowed a Bridge Tour. We met with the Captain several times and he was very personable. I thought the stores were low on merchandise but they did have some sea day sales. The transatlantic crossing from Scotland to Iceland is not for the faint of heart. The seas were rocking and rolling and while I found that really cool, others on board were not as amused as I was. The crossing from Iceland to Canada, at times, was also a tad bumpy. There were some general updates but the info was few and far between. Also we had no CNN or other news contact via TV and the internet was really slow and quite expensive. So be prepared to be cut off from the outside world. In any event, I would highly recommend the Constellation, she is a beautiful and fine vessel and she is going into dry dock next year, I believe for a makeover. In many public areas, however, it looked like she had had a makeover recently since that carpet looked great. Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
Onboard life-I like the less announcements policy a lot. Rarely do you hear announcements exception being the Captains noon update. Staff knows your name, drink, food preferences within a few day of boarding, which is a miracle in itself ... Read More
Onboard life-I like the less announcements policy a lot. Rarely do you hear announcements exception being the Captains noon update. Staff knows your name, drink, food preferences within a few day of boarding, which is a miracle in itself to me, since I rarely remembered even my table mates' names until after the first week. One of the things that was quite impressive that I never noticed before was Celebrity's attention to people with disabilities. We had a nice couple onboard who were deaf, Celebrity made available to them interpreters anytime they needed it for shows, excursions, etc. People who had a physical disability that confined them to a wheelchair were treated like the VIP's that they should. We did have a day or two of rough seas, which wasn't totally expected since it was a transatlantic cruise in September. The ship obviously tried its best to minimize the rocking, was really impressed though how the crew/staff handled the passengers concerns. They tried to keep people from focusing on the movement and suggested simple but effective solutions to make it as smooth/comfortable as possible. One suggestion for cruise travelers. Find a cruise line you like and stay with it. These was my 10th cruise with Celebrity, and appreciate the perks they offer repeat visitors. Galley tours, backstage tours and even a bridge tour as well as meeting the senior members on the staff, really make you feel like they value your business, and I appreciate that. Crew-Seems genuinely happy and integrated- From talking to various members, found that ~ two weeks they have a get together in the lounges for crew only, really sense that this helps to bond them. Master and Hotel Director are respected and admired for their work, they talk the talk but more importantly they walk the walk, and lead by example and this same spirit flows to the rest of the crew. The hotel director Christian was astounding with his attention to detail, personality, and recall. He's a great asset to the Constellation, Celebrity and RCL shareholders. One thing also I thought worth mentioning, the crew seemed to genuinely respect the leadership of Celebrity up on the corporate level as well. One of the singers was telling me during a backstage tour that they appreciated that the fleet wide recycling effort (Save the Waves) they did onboard, any profits generated went to the crew recreation fund, and heard on several occasion from more than one staff member that "they take good care of us here". Spa-Went for a few massages while onboard and all where quite good. Found though was better booking the day I needed them rather then in advance as usually could save 30% off listed prices. When I tried to negotiate a deal upfront for package of 10 best they could do is 20% off, so glad I waited and got the 30% off almost daily special. It is riskier as they generally don't offer the larger discount on sea days, but on this cruise they did several times. Was happy too that after telling the first "therapist" that I wasn't interested in creams, lotions, products they sell, they left me alone and stopped recommending Excursions- Thought they were good, and used the time well. Think I took four or five while onboard. All I thought had a good host, well versed in the local history of the spot visited. I was glad also that they weren't trying to point you to a store for shopping. Always been a pet peeve of mine to pay for a tour and have them spend the time bringing you to their colleagues shop instead of concentrating the focus on the local sights (unless of course it's a shopping tour). Dining-Overall give it 4.5 stars out of 5. The buffets are good and plentiful. San Marco dining staff attentive. Absolutely love their presentation and attention to detail on every plate. I don't think I eve r waited for a course in 14 days, always served promptly. I also-liked that the waiter Justo suggested his favorite choices from the nightly menu, as well as desert. If he noticed you didn't seem to be enjoying you're entree, he would suggest a different entrEe, as he wanted to genuinely see you go away happy. Only complaint I guess I had was the NY strip steak, at our table of 12 at least a dozen were ordered over the course of the two weeks, but all were tough and stringy. Maybe it was just a bad batch we had. -Soups were delicious, our table devoured the fresh bread every night, and deserts were excellent and original. Enjoyed the Michelin type service of the specialty restaurant as well, food there was EXCELLENT, service EXCELLENT, atmosphere and attention to detail EXCELLENT. Reminded me of a two star Michelin restaurant I visited in Toulouse a few years back. Most cruise ships know how to dress up an entrEe, but Celebrity takes it a step farther and has a great way of turning even something as simple as a salad or bread course into a culinary treat for the eyes and the palette. That takes some finesse that they pull off. Embarkation: Took the bus option from Celebrity to Harwich and arrived at approx 2PM, embarkation was a breeze and was on the boat by 3PMs. This was my second time at Harwich and both times embarkation was easy and stress free. Noticed though that the train stopped right at the Harwich terminal, so next time I might try that from London instead of the 2.5 hour coach ride, since I heard they have non-stop trains from London on cruise days. Cabins- Are what I've grown to expect for Celebrity. Clean, Smart Design, and well maintained. Towels changed out twice a day as needed. Beds generally made up promptly in the mornings after you leave and turned down at night while at dinner. Always a few chocolates on the pillow and fresh flower bud or two in the room as well. Had the greatest stateroom attendant for my cabin, a nice man named Newton. His smile and attention to even the smallest detail was there every single moment I was onboard it felt. I always look at miniscule details like the paint on the railing and deck chairs even though on this cruise it wasn't used much, but you could see that things were maintained even in parts that might not be seen or used all that much. I admire that attention to detail, as I think it reflects back on the bigger picture. Price- ROI (return on investment) EXTRAORDINARY. I don't see how Celebrity does it, provide top notch service, food, ships and still works out to about $100/day, which in most cities, you would be lucky to find a moderate at best motel room for with no food or entertainment included. Entertainment: Overall pretty good,. On a positive note, the Voicemales which were an A cappella group were quite good and personable. The voices were good. Movies onboard were recent first runs. The shows by the Celebrity singers/dancers in the Celebrity Theatre were good as well as the young talent has a lot of enthusiasm and spirit and put on a full enjoyable show. You could tell they worked well together. Did try the comedy show, but came across as bland and a bit too bland for my taste. Perry Grant's, performances in Michaels lounge were enjoyable to his audience, but was really just wasn't to my tastes. Was really surprised though what a big following he has. Onboard. Thought the entertainment staff was excellent, full of energy, funny and they obvious enjoy there work. Disembarkation : Easy, quick and organized. Ship arrived well before our scheduled 7AM arrival and was on the pier, cleared from customs with my luggage before 9:30. Overall-5+ stars out of 5+. You see what you get, an unforgettable first class vacation where you really are treated like an honored guest on the ship. The negatives were inconsequential compared to the positives compared to other cruise lines I've experienced, and will sail again with Celebrity without a doubt. In my experience the difference with Celebrity is they are a learning organization, that strives to continually improve. They experiment and learn and grow. To me it's not all about who has the newest/fastest /largest ship or the latest bells and whistles of the day onboard, it's about quality, and Celebrity is quality. Read Less
Sail Date September 2009

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