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10 Los Angeles to Canada & New England Cruise Reviews

My first cruise on Princess was a short repositioning cruise from LA to Vancouver. I found it a mixed experience. The Ruby is beautiful, loaded with features and amenities. Some staff are very helpful while others border on ... Read More
My first cruise on Princess was a short repositioning cruise from LA to Vancouver. I found it a mixed experience. The Ruby is beautiful, loaded with features and amenities. Some staff are very helpful while others border on indifferent. While I was well aware that this was not a all-inclusive cruise I was very put off by the constant upsell. I signed up for a massage and at the end the masseuse literally held me captive while she tried to sell me expensive products.when I was firm in my "no" she said - "If your doctor said you needed medicine, you wouldn't say no. Why do you say no to me?" My mother had the same unpleasant experience with a different masseuse. Both women then encouraged us to add gratuity to that already on the bill - again, not letting us leave the treatment room until this decision was made. I found that dinner waiters often tried too hard to sell me a bottle of wine when I only wanted a glass. There are other extras being constantly pitched. Personally, I found the notion of "The Sanctuary" to be absurd. One pays an extra fee for access to a quieter child-free area of the ship. The Crown Grill - an extra-fee steak restaurant - was excellent and well worth the price. Breakfast buffet at Horizon was very good. Dining room meals were hit and miss, but overall, nothing special. We did learn that many people on the cruise had paid amazingly low fees. We paid just under $600 each, but met others in balcony staterooms who paid $199 - which may explain the upsell push. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
Meh
This is our first Princess cruise. I do believe it will be our last. Th food is just so terrible. We had the buffet when we first came on board. Yuck. We figured dinner in the dining room had to be better. Nope. I would say Denny's on ... Read More
This is our first Princess cruise. I do believe it will be our last. Th food is just so terrible. We had the buffet when we first came on board. Yuck. We figured dinner in the dining room had to be better. Nope. I would say Denny's on an off night bad. Very bland, cold. The only flavorful thing on my plate was the little corn on the cob. The plus's on this trip: They upgraded us to a balcony. Embarkation was very smooth Friendly staff Negative: Again, the food. They lost my luggage. I hope they find it soon, it has both mine and my husbands clothes in it. Celebrity, I will never leave you again.... Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
We heard wonderful things about Princess Cruises. We were seeking a birthday celebration close to home and decided on Crown Princess before it dry docked. Big mistake. Embarkation was postponed. Room was slightly larger but mattress felt ... Read More
We heard wonderful things about Princess Cruises. We were seeking a birthday celebration close to home and decided on Crown Princess before it dry docked. Big mistake. Embarkation was postponed. Room was slightly larger but mattress felt like sleep on a sleeping bag, hard and lumpy. Air conditioning on emerald deck was lacking as was refrigeration temp on our empty refrigerator. Dining was by far worse than RCL, NCL, and Carnival. Anytime fining was a joke. Waiting was the norm and the food was on par with hospital quality. Five times we were served under cooked ( raw ) hamburgers, kielbasa, and omelettes , while eggs over easy and eggs Benedict were over cooked. I'm sure it's hard to serve so many but NCL has anytime dining down to a science. The Wheelhouse Bar where we drank served drinks that frankly didn't deliver. When we ordered AT the bar we learned that happy you drinks ( had to be the same 2 drinks) had the alcohol of one drink with the mixer of two drinks. Unacceptable especially when we rung up a bar tab nearing $400 in 7 days. The fellow cruisers were exceedingly "seasoned". April must be when old people travel, we ignored this warning when we booked. Because the ship was going into dry dock the crew had an attitude of "counting down the days to vacation". It seemed like those final days of school before vacation; lousy attitudes with curt, " mentally checked out" employees. I always like to try new things, but this was a bad bad choice. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
My husband and I, being of more mature years, yet newlyweds of 1 1/2 years had never been on a cruise together and he had never been on one at all. We did not know what to expect and I was skeptical about small quarters and confined space. ... Read More
My husband and I, being of more mature years, yet newlyweds of 1 1/2 years had never been on a cruise together and he had never been on one at all. We did not know what to expect and I was skeptical about small quarters and confined space. But the second we entered our stateroom those concerns quickly vanished! The room was quite spacious and very well-appointed with a huge mirror at the headboard of the bed that made the space seem even bigger. It is MUCH more roomy than it looks on the NCL website! AND, we had a huge window which my husband loved! He spent almost ALL the time in the room looking out that window. We were fortunate to have the land-side of the boat for all ports and it was lovely to be able to see our approach & take pictures from our room. Beyond that we were delighted with the food. Spending extra to dine at Le Bistro was SO worth it - we ate there twice. Although it was busy we did not have trouble getting reservations. The cuisine was divine! I especially recommend the Fruits de Mer! Lobster, shrimp on twin puff pastries with a delectable cream chive sauce! MMMMMmmmmmm! You will never have anything like it again! Now, as for our cabin steward, Jack - WHAT A JEWEL!! He was excellent - always bringing us more towels, a mattress crate for my comfort, ice...whatever we requested was there in a flash! I had only one disappointing incident on the cruise. We sent some laundry to be washed on a special rate. Everything was returned to us except my brand new, ultra expensive swim suit! I didn't realize it was missing until I started packing on the final night. I called Jack who took all the particulars and started searching for it. Soon the Laundry Master was at my door only to tell me that they had searched everywhere and were extremely sorry but it was not found. I would have to go to guest services to submit a claim. I was devastated! Jack could hear me from the hall and he took it to heart, I am sure. Once they left I broke into tears and had to release the whole thing but I was seriously saddened to lose the new swimsuit. Before long there was another knock on the door. Jack had not given up! Someone had just returned the suit to the laundry and he had discovered it & brought it up right away!! I was SO OVERJOYED! I think I even kissed him. He really did the save the day & the whole trip for me. I know I would have left with a much different feeling about NCL if it hadn't been for Jack! I hope you get Jack when you travel NCL! Other than that, my only complaints were that the pool was filled with freezing ocean water & we couldn't get in. Also I think they need to work on better entertainment. Overall, for our first cruise experience - IT WAS EXCELLENT! Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
I am a yearly cruiser who has sailed on Princess, Carnival, RC, and Norwegian. I sailed on Freedom of the Seas last year. I sailed on a 7-day repositioning "winery" coastal cruise from Los Angeles (Long Beach) to Vancouver on ... Read More
I am a yearly cruiser who has sailed on Princess, Carnival, RC, and Norwegian. I sailed on Freedom of the Seas last year. I sailed on a 7-day repositioning "winery" coastal cruise from Los Angeles (Long Beach) to Vancouver on the Sapphire Princess. Overall, the cruise had some wonderful ports and was very port intensive with only one sea day. The cruise was enjoyable and relaxing. However, if there were more sea days, it would have been a bit boring on Sapphire.Getting on the ship was a breeze. I saw lines wrapped around many times over with the Norwegian ship sailing next to us. I arrived around 12:30 p.m. to 1:00 p.m., and it took about 10 to 15 minutes to get onto the ship. There was staff everywhere to direct traffic. As stated on cruise critic, lunch in the dining room is not open to people getting on even though the flyer they gave you said it was (I did not actually go into the dining room to try to get in, but a staff told me buffet only). The muster drill was the quickest and easiest one I have been on, much better than Carnival or Royal Caribbean. You got to sit inside and staff was everywhere to direct, and it was over quickly.ROOM:We had an interior cabin on Baja. The cabin was very spacious, despite it being smaller than the cabins I have had on Carnival and Royal Caribbean. I think it is because the layout (no sofa and open closet by bathroom) is better. I don't care about sitting out on the balcony or having a window, so the cabin was sufficient. Also, because over 75% of the cruisers were seniors, it was extremely quiet at night, which made for good sleeping. The mattress could be better, and there was no duvet cover.DINING:Dining on this ship was hit or miss. The good items were wonderful, but there were also more than one night in the dining room I found nothing that I liked, which had never happened before on the ship. Also, with anytime dining, I feel like they stuff too many people together with too few waiters. So, there were long periods of time when you were ignored, and service was not on par with other cruising experiences. Also, food would get cold because the waiters were too busy serving the other 5 or 6 tables in your area.The buffet is the most horribly designed buffet on a cruise ship I have seen recently. The food area is way too small and is very congested. On Freedom of the Seas, even though there were way more people, they spread out the different food stations, so if you wanted dessert, you could just go to that station. Well, on Sapphire, they shoved all the stations together, so if you want to get dessert, hot food, salad, you start from the same area and stand in line. Also, there was not enough seating in the buffet, and sometimes, they only opened one side. About 50% of the time, we ended up having to share our table with other parties because not enough tables were available. The food was okay, but they really need to redesign the buffet and have more tables.PORTS:This cruise had a wonderful itinerary: Santa Barbara, San Francisco, sea day, Astoria, Seattle, and Victoria. I did not purchase any shore excursions. I noticed that Princess excursions cost almost double the ones on Carnival or RC (i.e. a one or two hour excursion city tour averaged around $70 per person). However, if you take this cruise, you really do not need to take the excursion. These are major U.S. cities, and there were cabs everywhere. If you have a smartphone, you can just navigate to the major sites yourself easily. Astoria was a bit small and boring, but other than that, great ports, and the reason why I took this cruise.ENTERTAINMENT:Sapphire had the worse entertainment I have seen recently. The funny thing is they would have multiple activities planned while you were in port and nothing other than shows after 5:00 p.m. So, there was very little to do once you got back from the port, unless you wanted to play bridge or do trivia. The casino was open up until we reached Seattle, but not many people were in it, except for the final night it was open. Also, because there were many seniors, not people participants in the sporting events. The good thing is there were many pools on deck and very few people in it. The spa was also great, and because we had so many ports, they had great specials.Overall, good cruise because of the ports, If I had more than 1 or 2 sea days, I would have been thoroughly bored, but I definitely recommend this itinerary. It was a quiet rocky between Santa Barbara and halfway between San Francisco and Oregon, more so than any of the other cruises I have taken to Mexico or in the Caribbean. But, nothing too terrible. Overall, other than the itinerary, I prefer the bigger, newer ships because they have more to do. The service was better on Princess, and the "hits" for the food and overall food quality seemed better although there were dishes that were not good. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Introduction DW and I were scheduled for the Mexican Itinerary that was canceled due to the swine flu outbreak. At first, we were wary about traveling to Canada for our first cruise and canceled our cruise. However, when the price ... Read More
Introduction DW and I were scheduled for the Mexican Itinerary that was canceled due to the swine flu outbreak. At first, we were wary about traveling to Canada for our first cruise and canceled our cruise. However, when the price dropped so dramatically that we were able to book a Spa Balcony Cabin (Spa Level) for the same price as an ocean view (which was still about 50% less than our originally booked inside Cabin!), we decided to take a gamble and book the entire family. The booking considered of myself, DW, and two sons (ages 5 and 8). Although we travel frequently and extensively, I was very apprehensive about cruising for multiple reasons, not the least of which:  1) I'm not crazy about the idea of motion sickness and rough seas. 2) I actually like spending time in the places I visit.  I've heard so many wonderful things about cruising, and really wanted to enjoy the experience, but I can honestly only give this cruise a mixed review in comparison with other trips I have taken. Embarkation We drove early in the morning from the Sacramento California area, and arrived at the Long Beach Terminal at about 10:30am. Traffic was light, and once we got to the port, signs were visible, and it was very easy to navigate. I dropped my family and luggage off at the curb, and parked on the second level. We took our time shopping with vendors before our early check in, and found there was no line when we arrived. We were in Zone 3 boarding, and the whole process was very smooth. We were on board having lunch by 12:30. I saw reports on CC, that many people received phone calls telling them not to check in until 2pm, but we didn't get that call...and they actually started boarding earlier than usual (11am ), so I am not sure what the problem was, or why the call for delay. Dining I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the food on the Lido Deck. It was certainly better than the kind of buffet fair offered at other venues, and I appreciated the wide assortment of food available. The only complaint that I have regarding the Lido, is that the Lemonade and other free beverages offered were almost undrinkable. The water and drink mixes never seemed to be set up properly on the machines, so it was always a guess as to how much water needed to be added to make the drink tolerable. I don't drink alcohol, and though I enjoy soda, the brands that I prefer to drink (Dr. Pepper, Mountain Dew) were not readily available. I also found the price $2.34 per can, to be a bit steep. Lesson Learned: Next time I cruise... I'm bringing my own beverages. We were scheduled for 6pm dining in the Black Pearl Dining Room. We had a booth for the four of us in the upper level. It suited us, especially since we were traveling with younger children that haven't exactly perfected their table manners yet. I found the food to be very good, although, not necessarily comparable to some of the finer dining venues I have been to. Considering the amount of people they had to feed, I certainly have no complaint with how well the food was prepared. Service was just okay. The waiter was friendly, and we could tell he was working very hard. One night we waited over 40 minutes for our drinks. Another...it took 2 hours just to be served our meals (We didn't get out of there until after 8pm!).  While some people might have complained (and I was pretty close!), I could tell that the waiter was working hard, and decided to just let it go. The last few nights, the service was very quick, and we were very happy with it. Breakfast was served in the Golden Pearl Dining Room. We ate there twice. Although the food was very good, the dining room was shaking constantly both times...so much so, I was concerned that my food might just shake off the table if I didn't hold onto it. My 5 year old was quite afraid...and I had to reassure him constantly that this was normal. I'm just glad The Golden Pearl was not my regular dining room, especially based on this experience. Public Rooms Although I heard a great deal of complaining regarding the dEcor of this ship on the CC reviews, I personally thought the ship looked great. It didn't bother me in the slightest. The public areas were kept very clean. Although we were on a full ship, I never struggled to find a place to sit, and I had zero problems finding a poolside chair any time I needed one.  The way the decks were laid out were a tad confusing, but considering all the food I was eating...I didn't mind a little extra exercise. Cabins The Cabin was well appointed. I was a little concerned before the cruise, about how crowded the cabin would be with 4 people, but my concerns were unfounded. There was plenty of storage space and room for 4, and we actually spent quite a bit of time in our cabin, so that was good. Having the balcony was wonderful, even though it was somewhat windy and chilly at sea. Other deck spaces were crowded and loud, so it was nice to have that space to ourselves. The cabin steward did an excellent job, no complaints here. Entertainment I enjoyed the evening shows. The dancers and singers were great, especially considering the variety of music they had to deal with. The comedians and even the juggler ("edge") were all good. Most of the other activities were mediocre at best. Brad, the cruise director, and the assistant cruise directors, just didn't seem to really like their jobs. They went through the motions, put on the "Carnival Smile", but there just wasn't much energy behind it. I found the entertainment options during the day to be quite lacking. Unfortunately, traveling with children...I didn't partake of much of the evening activities which might have been quite good. Unfortunately...Camp Carnival did not turn out to be a very good option for my family, as I will explain later. The pools were too cold to swim in, except for the Lido pool that was covered almost the entire trip. Unfortunately, this pool was closed and emptied twice during the trip. Both front and aft Hot Tubs were often closed...and when they were open, people were almost on top of each other crammed in there. The kids splash park was closed almost the entire cruise. The water slide was a joke... very few people could even get moving in it...I had to walk myself down...it was so slow... The mini golf was pretty fun...although the experience was over rather quickly. Spa and Fitness Ahh...The Spa...one of my favorite parts of the cruise. Before booking the cruise...I honestly would not have paid the extra money for this experience. Since my booking included Spa access, I decided to give it a try. I thought the spa was as relaxing an experience as the Splendor Crew set out to make it. Given the crowded and often noisy ship, it was nice to have a relatively quiet and solitary part of the ship to enjoy. The Thalassotherapy Pool was more than twice as large as any hot tub on the ship, and usually had less than 1/3 the amount of people in it. The steam rooms, and Saunas were great...and hardly ever seemed crowded. I didn't spend too much time in the Gym...but it didn't seem to be too crowded, at the times I visited and equipment seemed readily available. When I cruise again...I will now seriously consider the extra money for the Spa...it seems like money well spent. Camp Carnival Camp Carnival is divided into 3 age groups 2-5, 6-8, and 9-11. Before the cruise I looked at some of the activities, and felt that they were geared a little too young for my children. I was hoping that my concerns in this area were unjustified, but unfortunately that is not the case, My children ages 5, and 8, are both at the oldest end of the spectrum in their perspective groups. In fact...they are both much closer to ages 6 and 9, than 5 and 8. The 2-5 year old group is mostly geared towards toddlers. There are only toddler toys to play with, and the activities are all "toddler friendly". Similarly...the group activities for the 6-8 year olds are geared more for 5-6 year olds. When we registered for Camp Carnival, we talked to the youth director about moving our 5 year old up to the 6-8 year olds to join his older brother. They refused, and we put him in the 2-5 group. He hated it...and was absolutely bored. On the second day, they agreed to move him into the 6-8 year old group, and he seemed to like that better, but his older brother had the same problem with the older group. The 8 year old would have preferred the activities for the 9-11 year olds (For example, He loves to swim...but no swimming if you are under 9) He also complained that the staff was mean...and often yelling at the kids as a way to get them organized for different activities. If it wasn't for the staff...he probably would have enjoyed Camp Carnival enough to stay around a little longer. Unfortuately, he didn't like it AT ALL...and since it was his vacation too, I decided not to push the issue. As it turned out...Our kids "fell through the cracks" so to speak...and we were all very disappointed with the Camp Carnival Experience. This detracted from our vacation quite significantly, because we weren't able to use Camp Carnival as much as we would have liked. I have a feeling, that if my kids were just a year older, they would have enjoyed this experience quite a bit more. Ports of Call The first port was Astoria, and Disembarkation was a mess. There were really only a few hours to enjoy this port...and an hour was spent waiting in cramped hallways of the ship, just trying to get off! It was a nice little town...but there was precious little time to enjoy it. The second port of call was Victoria. There was no line to get off the ship, and all day to visit. We used the public transit system which was very easy to use. The bus drivers were all very friendly, and more than happy to help us out. In fact...on one transfer (at the terminal) The bus driver actually got off the bus, and led a group of us across a busy intersection, to show us where to get on the next bus. We had Canadian Currency, but American Currency was accepted on the busses, and paper currency was not an issue. We visited Butchart Gardens (a bit pricey, but a must if you have never visited!) and the Castle (really, just an old mansion). We also enjoyed a nice walk in downtown. Vancouver was also an easy port to visit. We exited the terminal and took the Sea Bus to North Vancouver. From that terminal there was a bus straight up to Grouse Mountain, and Capilano Suspension Bridge. We enjoyed our excursions there, and then made it back to town in time to visit China Town, and Gas Town. Disembarkation Disembarkation went very smoothly. The only complaint I have...is that at 8:45am, we were told by our cabin steward that we could leave (For early disembarkation) only to take all of our luggage down to the 3rd floor, and be told that we had to go back up to the 9th floor to wait for disembarkation. Other than that little snafu, everything else went smoothly...we were in our car, driving home by 9:30am. Conclusion I am very happy with much of the experience that Carnival provided on this cruise. The Ship was great, the food was good, and I enjoyed quite a bit of the amenities. I couldn't be happier with the price that I paid...but I admit being a little sad knowing that I will have to pay FAR more in the future, to enjoy the same level of amenities. As for my mixed feelings...I suppose they have to do more with the experience of cruising, rather than with the ship herself. I would have enjoyed spending more time in ports...and less time on the ship herself. I also think that this type of trip, and perhaps even this particular itinerary, might have been better suited for just adults or perhaps with older children. I have future cruise credits (From my canceled cruise) which ensure that I will take another cruise. I just hope that a change to a warmer itinerary, perhaps just a trip for the adults, might improve my perspective about this way of vacationing. Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
I decided to take a risk and try a cruise to celebrate my 50th birthday even though my partner could not accompany me.  The first thing I would add is that anyone considering this would benefit greatly from joining the roll call for their ... Read More
I decided to take a risk and try a cruise to celebrate my 50th birthday even though my partner could not accompany me.  The first thing I would add is that anyone considering this would benefit greatly from joining the roll call for their ship and getting to know a few folks on line before embarkation.Our roll call had over 100 members and we all agreed to meet up wearing mardi gras beads at the Liner bar just before sail away. It was tremendous fun walking up to strangers wearing flashy beads and saying 'Cruise critics?' then trying to guess who the person might be. Luckily there were no non critic guests wearing loud beads so any embarresmsnt was avoided. It really helped me take the courage to travel alone knowing that there would be friendly faces waiting to say hello on board. In fact the staff were also very friendly and helpful too.The ship itself is bright and amusing in design. It is very family orientated. The lido deck pool and seaside theatre is covered in cooler weather and this became a haven for all the small children who swarmed there daily as the parents sat by watching from the comfort of their loungers. I tended to avoid this area as it was quite noisy with the childrens chatter and shouts but it was easy to find a haven of peace on the serenity deck which is adults only (except when it was too windy to sit outside).The cruise route was a substitute for the Mexico cruise during the swine flu control period. We had shore leave at Astoria Oregon, and Victoria and Vancouver in Canada. Despite sailing north the waters were quite calm and nobody on board seemed to suffer any seasickness although some were kept awake by slight shaking on the first night. All 3 ports were very nice and disembarkation was smooth and unstressed. The coast here is very green and the contrast of the trees and water was lovely to see as we arrived at port.As a woman travelling alone I found there was still a lot that you can do on board even if you do not team up with others. The hot tubs at the rear of the ship look out onto the ocean and they made a great place to relax and chat with people after a workout in the gym. Mentioning the gym I might add that I went one day at 7.40am on a day when we were due in port at Astoria at 3.00pm. Even at that time there was a queue for the treadmills. Other days it was not as bad so I guess it was just everyone who would have gone in the afternoon normally also being there.As to vegetarian food on the ship there was an option on the main dinner menu every night. The menu did not offer a choice of vegetarian main meal but there were often several vegetarian starters and also the buffet, deli and pizza counters if you wanted to avoid the main meal offered. The vegetarian mail meals were edible but nothing imaginiative or special was ever offered. If you eat to live you will be fine but if you live to eat you might be a bit dissapointed. The salads at the buffet were always fresh and enjoyable and the fresh fruit was also good.The shows at the Spectacular Spectaculat theatre were lively and of the singing and high kicking variety. There were a few nice effects with laserlight but the shows did not live up to the name of the theatre. They were good for filling in a bit of time if you were stuck for somehting to do but certainly not the highlight of the voyage. In contrast the Carnival Legends show was very entertaining even though the entertainment is provided by other guests on board for the voyage. Likewise the couples game was great entertainment and really funny but maybe that is down to the guests on my particular cruise and it may not always be the case.The cruise forum also organised a cabin crawl which covered everything from a suite and a spa balcony right down to my own A1 stateroom.I had a bunk room but since I was travelling alone the top bunk was stashed in the ceiling making the room a single bedded area. There was a lot of floor space and even those in more expensive cabins commented on the amount of space I had. I did not miss having a window as it made it nice and dark at night and then during the day I went out on deck or visited the public rooms. The Atrium is a nice place to sit with a drink and listen to music or singing during the day. The piano bar is also good entertainment with song requests being taken and sing alongs often taking place. It does become a bit smoky though since this is an area where smoking is allowed. The dining room is the best entertainment on board. People will chat to you easily over the meal and it is a great way to make friends on board. Additionally the waiters sing and dance on pedestals around the dining room and they are marvellous. They are also very helpful and friendly and welcome you to the table with a flourish.To sum up I would say that this is a good choice for someone who is travelling alone if you make a bit of effort to get to know people before you go and once you are on board. If you prefer to be alone there are places on board that you can get some quiet time - I never tried the spa but it looked lovely and would also be good if you were looking for this. I also never tried the singles events as I am happily married and I feared it would be people looking for partners rather than friends but if that is what you seek they do have regular organised meets during the cruise.I would certainly cruise again as it is a nice relaxed lifestyle and it is also fairly easy to chat with other cruisers. If I did this again I might try a different cruise line to see if the vegetarian food is any better and also in the hope of seeing and hearing a few less large groups of children. Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
Pre- Cruise:  I was traveling with my DBF and DS (age 8). This was my DBF first cruise and my son and I's fourth cruise. Our previous cruises were on Celebrity Zenith, Golden Princess, and Carnival Miracle. We originally booked this ... Read More
Pre- Cruise:  I was traveling with my DBF and DS (age 8). This was my DBF first cruise and my son and I's fourth cruise. Our previous cruises were on Celebrity Zenith, Golden Princess, and Carnival Miracle. We originally booked this cruise over a year ago and were expecting Mexico. However, when the Swine Flu came about and changed the itinerary, we decided since we never did this itinerary, we would go anyway. We drove from Peoria, AZ the day before the cruise. It was the first time that I had ever driven to California. For the most part the drive was uneventful; we did not hit any traffic until we hit LA. Unfortunately, we hit a road closure and since our GPS did not have it in its memory we were a little turned around.  It added almost an hour to drive. The ride back was much nicer.   We had booked the Crowne Plaza from Priceline for $65 a night. We added parking for $10 a day when we got to the hotel. It included free shuttle service to and from the pier. When we checked in we asked when they shuttled to the pier. They told us that we were to meet at 10:30 am in the lobby and that the shuttle would run every 30 minutes after that. Although, we stated we were sailing out of Long Beach, it turned out the last shuttle to Long Beach leaves at 12:00. We had gotten the name of the lady (Tara) the day before so even though we were running late, they did give us the free shuttle to the pier.  We had an ocean view room at the Crowne Plaza. We were able to see the Mariner of the Seas sail into port. The room was nice, unfortunately we got a smoking room, if we were staying more than a night I would have changed rooms. It was my mistake not requesting. We walked around the area of the hotel and found this great Greek Restaurant - Papadakis Tavern. It is a family run restaurant. When we got there it was empty but quickly filled up. The food was excellent. The owners were present and made it a very enjoyable experience.   Embarkation:  We left the hotel around 12:30 and were onboard and in our room by 1:45. I would have to say that contrary to previous reviews our embarkation was painless and very organized. We did get a phone call from Carnival on Friday stating not to get to the pier until 2:00. However, since check out was at 12:00, we did not want to wander around until 2:00 with all our luggage.  Muster drill was painless. It was relatively quick. I know it is something that we don't like doing but to me it is a sign that the vacation can begin.   Ship: We were on a Carnival ship prior so we kind of knew of what to expect. After seeing numerous pictures from fellow Cruise Critic posters, I was not surprised. I honestly was not too bothered by the pink. For some strange reason, it all seems to come together. The ship never seemed too crowded. There were plenty of places to be alone if one wanted to. My DBF who is taking summer classes used the quietness of the library often. We purchased the $55 internet plan and he said he had no problem getting service in various areas of the ship. It took him awhile to get used to the speed or lack thereof.  I did find some of the Splendor's layout a bit troublesome. It took awhile to get used to going up and then down in order to get to the dining rooms. I am used to being able to get to one side of the ship to the other. The roof over the pool was closed most of the time. However, it was heated. We went in it many times and almost always had no difficulty finding a seat. We also enjoyed the hot tubs. We went down the slide a couple of times. My son enjoyed the splash park area; although in my opinion it was COLD. I guess kids can tolerate more.  I did not feel the public areas by the pools were too crowded.  The last sea day I thought the Lido area was crowded. Everyone taking advantage of the last day at sea, I guess. I found the ship to be very clean and well taken care of. They were replacing some carpeting on our floor while we were there. Unfortunately, it meant that an elevator was down so they could do the carpeting. Otherwise, the elevators were quick. Room and service: We had a category 8C room 7334. I found it very conveniently located, it was by the elevator but we never heard any noise. We did not use the balcony as often as we used to due to the coolness of the weather. However, it was nice to have the extra space. We had plenty of storage for all our stuff. We had run out of hangers but our room steward gladly gave us additional ones. If I would leave a request on a post-if then it was completed. However, there were three days that are room was not made up in the day. Now prior to the cruise, my DBF worked a lot of OT and slept until 9:30 so I am not sure if after a certain time, they don't make up the rooms. However, it is the first cruise that I was on that the room was not made up. Normally, it seems that they had radar and knew when we left the room and when we returned from breakfast it was made up.  This was also the first time that we did not receive a comment card the last day.   Food and Service: I found the food on the ship to be very good to excellent. I really can't say that we had a bad meal the entire time. We ate dinner every night except one in the main dining room.  We ate breakfast and lunch at the buffet. One day, we at breakfast in the dining room. We were seated at a table for six. We were seated with another couple from LA who had a 7 year old daughter. My son and their daughter got along great. My DBF acted as if he just found food. He often enjoyed late night snacks at the buffet. My son and DBF really enjoyed the little acts in the dining room. My son and tablemate got and danced with the waiters just about every night. It is growing on me. For the most part, service in the dining room was relatively quick. Our head waiter was ok but our assistant waiter was very personable. He made sure we had iced tea and lemonade at the table.  The only complaint that I had was the fact that after the first two nights we did not see the wine steward or someone from the bar. We are not big drinkers but there was a time we wanted one and never saw them again. We celebrated my DBF's birthday while on the ship. We went to the Pinnacle Steakhouse. I have to say it was absolutely worth the $30 per person. The service and food were unbelievable. We had a great time. I also had ordered a birthday cake online prior to leaving. We had it delivered to the dining room one night and it was great. We shared it with the table and everyone said it was wonderful.   Ports: Our first port was Astoria Oregon.  The itinerary was cut by three hours and I can't say that I was disappointed. It was a quaint little town but it is a port that I would say that "I have been there done that". It is beautiful but not much to do. The weather while we were there was a bit overcast but no rain. We pretty much just walked around for a bit and then went back on the ship. Our second port was Victoria. I really enjoyed Victoria. We were in port with Pacific Princess and the Mariner of the Seas. We took the shuttle to the main part of the town and spent the day. The line to get onto the shuttle was a bit long. We went to the IMAX and did the tour at the government building. We did a lot of walking. We even went back on the ship for dinner and went back out after dinner. We had a great time. I found it very beautiful but my DBF found it old.  Our last port was Vancouver, we had a great time there but did not feel we had a lot of time to do all that we wanted to do. We did the hop on hop off with Sightline. We did the aquarium and Stanley Park. While we were at the aquarium we saw the beluga whale that was born just four days prior to our arrival.  We also went to Granville Island.  The weather was absolutely beautiful. We could have gotten away with wearing shorts.   Camp Carnival:  My son had a great time participating in the Camp Carnival activities for the 6-8 year olds. He did the build a bear activity (or Carnival's version). He did the late night parties and had dinner with them on one night. He never was bored. If he wanted to go, he went, if he wanted to stay with us, he stayed.  He said the counselors were very nice and liked most of the kids. The only complaint that I had, which is not a major one was that on every other cruise, even the one on the Miracle, we were required to show photo id not just a sail and sign card.  However, this time we were only required to show our sail and sign card. I think I am more comfortable with showing photo id. To me, even though the ship is a self contained area, it is like a small city. Sometimes, when it is pick up time, it is very hectic. Entertainment: We enjoyed the most of the shows. We did not see the Legend show this time around. The first three shows were excellent. We did not really care for "The Beat". We noticed quite a few people actually walking out. We sat by the area where the Camp Carnival kids were seated and we actually noticed quite a few kids had fallen asleep. We did not see any of the comedians this time around.   Disembarkation: We did not rush getting off the ship. We had #9. We got up around 9 and went to eat breakfast. When we got back from breakfast we packed the last minute essentials. It was at that time that we realized that they had called our number awhile ago. We got off the ship easily. The one thing that I have to caution if you are taking the shuttle from the Crowne Plaza is that they do not pick up where the other shuttle services do. Since they have what is termed a bus, you need to wait for them in the bus area. We had a porter take our baggage brought over to the shuttle area only to be told when we called Crowne Plaza that we needed to go to the bus area. However, they did pay a porter to have our luggage brought over to the bus area, which was nice of them.   Overall impressions: Overall, we had a great time on the Carnival Splendor. I have to say I missed not hanging at the beach but I am glad that I took the itinerary since it is something that I would not normally have chosen for myself.  I enjoyed the Splendor and would sail on her again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
The Carnival Splendor is a spectacular ship!  Sailed May 24, 2009 ~ May 31, 2009 Getting on board was painless, and the process was smooth even with a packed ship of 3500 guest (last minute "fire sale" resulted in a lot of ... Read More
The Carnival Splendor is a spectacular ship!  Sailed May 24, 2009 ~ May 31, 2009 Getting on board was painless, and the process was smooth even with a packed ship of 3500 guest (last minute "fire sale" resulted in a lot of locals on board)... funny that they still took photos at the pre-staged Mexico background (even though we went to Canada).  We received an automated call the day prior indicating that the ship was diverted to Canada, thank goodness we used a great Travel Agency (Traveline) who kept us informed, as we ran into a few passengers who were not aware of the diversion until they received the call the day prior.  The ship was spotless and stable... even when traveling at 22knots against 40+ knot gale force winds.  A very festive, art deco that reminded me of "carnivals" of the past, but with taste... speaking of which, the food was fantastic, much better than Celebrity and NCL.  The service was great with top notch waiters as well as cabin stewards.    The sports bar did not have "VS" and could not show the Stanley Cup play-off hockey games.  We only caught one of the 3 games played on Saturday, since it was shown on NBC.  Other cruise lines had ESPN, ESPN2, VS, and other popular sport channels in their sports bars... so we were disappointed.  We even brought our "Detroit Red Wings" jerseys and received lots of "Go Wings" comments... so I know we were not the only disappointed fans on board! The cruise director told jokes that were cornier than mine, and at times annoying.  The onboard activities, and Trivia were fun and frequent.  The shows that we went to were outstanding (missed the ones where they were late showing only, and disappointed that they didn't offer early shows on all days).   Seating and visibility was limited to only the premium seats, if you arrived less than 20 minutes before the show... expect an obstructed view!      Our cabin 8320 was located under the Lido pool area, and every morning, without fail, the chairs were moved for deck cleaning at 4:15am to 4:45am... we heard every movement and me being a light sleeper had to wear ear plugs in order to sleep.  My ear plugs were "cleaned" away, likely knocked on the floor and swept up on the day prior to our last night, so I didn't sleep from 4:15am to 4:45am.  The balcony cabin was well appointed and laid out very logically giving a spacious feeling.  Our friends who were next door, requested that the balcony divider be opened, but the design would have obstructed our balcony door, so we were not able to share the space.  Our "Sprint" cell phones found the roaming network but was not able to connect while at sea (same phones worked fine on other lines).     Victoria and Vancouver were great ports, and we did our own thing... in Vancouver we got a city transit pass $9 and went to the suspension bridge for a very scenic retreat to the Tempered Rain Forest and crossed a 300 ft gorge (something not offered as a shore excursion).  Victoria was a great city to walk, toured the government building (free), walked along the bay and viewed local artist works, went to China Town and even stopped in a local pub.  Astoria... well we walked off the ship, looked around for 15 minutes and got back on, the weather was WET, and didn't see anything to our liking.  Others however found it interesting, but far from a highlight.  The final 2 days at sea were nice, with wonderful weather and no wind (18 knot tail wind, ship traveling at 20 knots), on day one, lots of time to enjoy the pools and outdoor activities including put-put and the water slide.  The last day at sea was cool and overcast, so we just relaxed and enjoyed the ship.    I would have given this cruise an 8 out of 10 had our disembarkation went as planned, however... the gangway was not working, and all 3500 guests sat around from 9am until 11am waiting to get off the ship, with a mad dash and chaos with a fist fight breaking out in an elevator.  We ended carrying our luggage down from 8 to 3, and stood in line for 45 minutes to get off the ship.  Handicapped passengers in motor carts and wheel chairs were disembarking through the same single door to the somewhat repaired gangway.    The port was a zoo, and we missed getting our Enterprise rental car since their port office closed at 12noon.  We were forced to take a cab to Long Beach airport for $30 to pick up a National Car (thank goodness I'm an Emerald member).  This cut into our day in the LA area, as we didn't get on the road until after 1pm. Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
Vision of the Seas Repositioning - Los Angeles to Vancouver BC Prologue: This review will cover many aspects of the Vision and serve as a reference for the Alaskan cruising crowd of spring/summer '04. There were three of us on ... Read More
Vision of the Seas Repositioning - Los Angeles to Vancouver BC Prologue: This review will cover many aspects of the Vision and serve as a reference for the Alaskan cruising crowd of spring/summer '04. There were three of us on this voyage: my wife Pat, yours truly - along with a friend of many years named John, (a first time cruiser.) We booked an inside cabin for John, right across from our stateroom. In this way he could compare an inside to a cabin with veranda. Getting There: Sea/Air with RCI was a breeze. Direct United flight from PDX to LAX. Greyhound Land was used by RCI for airport to pier transfer. Embarkation: This was the smoothest boarding we have ever had. Passengers were arriving throughout the afternoon so there was simply no wait at the pier. We were processed and onboard in fifteen minutes! Please remember: Canada accepts birth certificates in lieu of a passport but it must be a certified copy. John said he had a certificate, which turned out to be a hospital record. We caught this in plenty of time and he was able to obtain a CERTIFIED copy from Ohio. You cannot get on the ship without it or a passport. Staterooms: Ours - Cat D1, deck seven, starboard and aft. 195 sq. ft. with a 41 sq. ft. veranda. Just fine for five days at sea. John's - M class inside appx. 160 sq. ft. Perfect if your friends are across the hall and sharing the balcony! Around the Ship: Schooner Bar - The favorite spot for my wife and I. Deck Six - mid ship, starboard. We sat for hours sipping the drink of the day or specially made coffees and watching the ocean go by through floor to ceiling windows. Ship Shape Fitness Center: Good assortment of exercise equipment. I work out with cable weights which they had plenty of and managed to tear myself up pretty good. Lacking squat and leg press stations - mainly upper body weights. Plenty of treadmills and steppers. Solarium Pool: Similar to the AquaSpa on M Class Celebrity ships with a few differences - it is, perhaps, half the size of AquaSpa and instead of serving healthy, light foods from a cafe, there is a bar forward and a hamburger/hot dog stand aft. Windjammer Restaurant: Standard, run of the mill buffet with limited changes of menu from day to day. The offerings were satisfactory. Ports of Call: San Francisco: Shopping in Sausalito and touring Alcatraz. I was determined to awaken early and photograph our passing under The Golden Gate. I did not, however, want to wake my wife. I set that strange and unexplainable inner alarm to rouse me at 5:30am. It worked poorly and I sprang to the balcony every hour on the hour from three o'clock on. The pilot boat finally came alongside. In lieu of a flashlight I used the screen on my cell phone to quietly maneuver and prepare. Finally dressed and with camera in hand, I made my way top deck and forward. I thought I would be there alone but found myself with over one hundred others who were there for the same experience. Here came the Golden Gate.... closer and closer... so many cameras clicking and videos running. As we passed directly under the center span our ship let out with three long horn blasts. Knees buckled as we stood less than fifty feet from that enormous sound. Acapulco is the gem of Mexico and San Francisco is surely the most beautiful port of the US West. Approaching the city in that early morning light was an aesthetic moment in time. We docked at Fisherman's Wharf. Our shore excursions took us across the Golden Gate to Sausalito. It was before 10:00am and the shops were not yet open. Our tour guide said we had to leave at 10:10am.... ten minutes... to do what??? I later filed a complaint with the shore excursion desk regarding this limit of time. We were all refunded half the excursion price. The next activity was touring Alcatraz. The boats to the island dock two blocks away from our pier. 'The Rock' was a great tour and though crowded with children on school outings, it was all we hoped for. I compare it to a cattle yard, housing humans who were treated in a most sub standard way. Good to show this sort of thing to children - what can happen if they are 'naughty'. Victoria, B.C. Touring Craigdarroch Castle and English Tea at The Empress Hotel. Wonderful city tour on a British style red, double-decker. We had a wonderful and exceptionally talented guide/driver. He was a veritable database mixed with charm, humor and a voice good enough for radio. We visited Craigdarroch Castle which is more of a four-story mansion - a 23,000 sq. ft. museum with copious amounts of woodwork. Next was a drive to the eastern suburb of Victoria - Oak Bay - established at the turn of the century by wealthy Victoria residents of British descent who wanted to keep their distance from the tidal mud flat that was then the Inner Harbour. The homes were of mansion stature and spoke of true opulence. Next stop was The Empress Hotel in beautiful downtown Victoria. I wish we could have toured more of the grounds but it was in for tea augmented with finger sandwiches and desserts, and out in 30 minutes. Plenty to do and see in this city - a real joy to visit. Vancouver, B.C. This cruise showed me how patient and polite people the Canadian people can be. It became a harrowing disembarkation and the airport needed all the patient and polite souls that it could muster. There were three ships in port to end/start a cruise, the Vision, the Infinity, (coming in from Hawaii,) and the Ryndam. It didn't occur to me that most of the 5,000 of us were going to converge on the airport... all at once. I counted seven check points prior to gate.... the lines were akin to Disneyland with the switchbacks and impatient Americans WANTING to get home. I think I'll pick Ensenada for my next entry port. Yes, it was that bad... I do not want to see that airport again for many, many years. Alaskan Preparation: Make sure to bring layered clothing - heavy long sleeved shirts, more slacks than shorts, sweaters, windbreakers and umbrellas. Bring one or two extra umbrellas to give out to poor 'little old ladies' who are shivering above deck in the rain. Never anticipate fair weather in this region - Northern Pacific storms can roll in at any time of year. But do bring your swimsuit for the solarium is covered with a retractable 'crystal canopy'. The crew loved my two-dollar bills. I tell them they are magic and something very good will happen to them on this cruise. Bring a good pair of binoculars... lots to see in these Alaskan waters. Anticipate massive crowds at all the ports. No, I've never been to Alaska but I do view web cams and where I can see three ships, it may be as many as 6,000 tourists ! ! ! In most of the ports for most of the summer there will be minimum of three ships at dock or anchor. Vision End: Unless one takes extensive notes during a cruise, it is hard to chronologically recall all the events. Photos help but I have found all our voyages are comparable to a culinary dish - a blend of activities, emotions, thoughts and experiences, which culminate in a final presentation - to be savored throughout the years. Our Vision repositioning, (like all our cruises,) was positive and well worth the investment. The ship shows a bit of wear but was clean. The crew was friendly, well trained and attentive. The dining was good to excellent. The evening shows were professional and pleasing. Everyone sailing to Alaska this year - you can anticipate this with excitement! I write this on our final full day of the voyage. It has been a short five-day jaunt but I feel prepared to re enter my workplace and mundane day-to-day existence with renewed vigor and a relaxed state of mind. The end of every cruise brings a new beginning to my life - filled with hope and happiness. Thank you Vision and thank you RCI for a job well done. Comments and questions: hmb01@comcast.net Read Less
Sail Date May 2004

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