208 Los Angeles First-Time Cruisers Cruise Reviews

We went on a short "themed" cruise to Ensenada. We were very excited and we looked forward to our first cruise. What a complete Disappointment The Good: The wait staff and room staff were excellent. The comedy show was ... Read More
We went on a short "themed" cruise to Ensenada. We were very excited and we looked forward to our first cruise. What a complete Disappointment The Good: The wait staff and room staff were excellent. The comedy show was decent The Food was terrible.....the only decent meal was the hamburger, but how many hamburgers can one person eat. The buffet was terrible - breakfast, lunch, and dinner were all below par. The only good items from the buffet were the fresh fruit and chocolate brownies (available after midnight). The food on the ship tastes like its frozen and just reheated. The buffet even messed up the prime rib and carved turkey....The tacos/burritos/ and Mexican breakfasts on the pool deck were horrible. The only good item from the dining rooms was the Escargot (surprise, but it's soaked in garlic, butter, and topped with melted cheese). The Pool is soooooo very small. It's literally smaller than one's pool at your home, but it's supposed to accomodate 2,000 passengers. We were so very disappointed and won't be going on any other cruises after this experience. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
This was our first cruise, selected because we wanted to see Hawaii and Pearl Harbour. We had already been to LA and seen a bit but thought we could go to the Iowa and Queen Mary, which we did... Boarding was quite laborious and ... Read More
This was our first cruise, selected because we wanted to see Hawaii and Pearl Harbour. We had already been to LA and seen a bit but thought we could go to the Iowa and Queen Mary, which we did... Boarding was quite laborious and drawn out, but apparently the norm, and anyway I'd arranged for an expensive bottle of champagne to be delivered to our stateroom outside cabin...or so I thought? We accessed our cabin, which was nice enough and surprisingly spacious, but no sign of the champagne...and when we found the cabin steward, were advised that we should have a voucher (NO)...next visit to the main desk to be told we should have a voucher (NO)..it will be in your cabin...(NO)...after 3 days of being told this, we were informed that they had tried to deliver...Yes wrong cabin....eventually we got it, not the start we expected. The passenger list was aged, with the amount of motorised wheel chairs, buggies, and general support vehicle mind blowing, with ages of 80 upwards....the result of this was an endless stream of shufflers at almost every venue, and the inevitable queues that ensued. Except when it came to various functions on board, when the speed to be at the front of the queues was spectacular...anyway I digress...our luggage turned up long after we had set sail, after many requests, and the hanging space was fine when supplied with extra hangers.... The ship generally looked in good order, fairly clean and well appointed, but as we found out, did not have enough room in the various areas to accommodate the volume of people on board, with even the biggest area, the theatre having have two shows . This theme carried on in every area of the ship, even at the outside cinema, which insisted in showing a vast amount of Nfl American football games, fine for them but not for other passengers... We had anytime dining which worked well in the main, but we found that the dress code was not adhered too with shorts and tee shirts at the tables, even on formal nights, for which we had made an event...we got a glimpse of the captain who was mainly only available for elite passengers, the first class etc. The specialty dining, " extra cost " was generally good, apart from the Crown grill urgh...again with dress code issues, Sabatinis being the best overall. The other bugbear was the card procedures on pre paid "all inclusive ", which entailed handing over your card on every drinks request, even whilst eating a meal...the dress code here was very poor and some waiting staff as miserable as sin... The bars were hit and miss except one...Crooners...they were cheerful and prompt, keeping everyone entertained, but again not enough space, with one passenger deciding to sit in shorts and bare feet up on a chairs reading a book...quite revolting really. The food was generally good, but in the breakfast areas overcrowded with again more miserable staff with the minor exception, we were always polite but clearly not respected. Entertainment was hit and miss but too short, the manager was pleasant and whizzed around the too many small venues, we saw a couple of shows which were good but too short, and this was normal, activities are sparse.. Services are a little indifferent, with some good and others poor, with the main aspects driven by sales, sales, and more sales....no opportunity was missed in selling anything and everything to the point of annoyance. The ports and disembarking was chaotic, and manic, with one port served by lifeboats to the port, which was not pleasant, we had made external arrangements for Honolulu. The final disembarkation was the worst, and had many voices of dissent, which appeared to be normal for Princess cruises....we were happy to get back on shore, safe in the knowledge that this was our first and probably our last cruise..... Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
This was a first time cruise for me and my daughter. We were with another mother and daughter, it was their birthdays the week prior and this was a vacation we had all planned in advance to celebrate. We booked directly with Carnival ... Read More
This was a first time cruise for me and my daughter. We were with another mother and daughter, it was their birthdays the week prior and this was a vacation we had all planned in advance to celebrate. We booked directly with Carnival cruise lines and it was an extremely pleasant process. Upon arrival in Long Beach for embarkation we enjoyed the local area, beaches and restaurants. Embarkation went very quickly and the staff were all extremely pleasant and welcoming. If you are camera shy, you'll have to avoid all the photographers as they are taking pictures constantly. Our cabin was ready and our luggage was outside the door when we arrived. The buffet was ready upon our arrival and the music was playing, it was vacation time! All meals were great and room service if ordered was always there at the time requested. Disembarkation was easy and friendly as well. The border agent I personally had to deal with was helpful. The cruise line did not tell us until the day we were getting off the ship that there would be a limit on items we were allowed to bring in from out of country, that would have been nice to know, but again, border agent was very helpful and friendly in that process. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
This was a 2nd cruise on the same line and a very similar itinerary (no stop in San Francisco this time) but on a different ship (Island P 4 years ago). Experience was very poor and one wonders if Princess's standards can drop so ... Read More
This was a 2nd cruise on the same line and a very similar itinerary (no stop in San Francisco this time) but on a different ship (Island P 4 years ago). Experience was very poor and one wonders if Princess's standards can drop so much in that time. Here is a highlight of the things that weren't good: Well over an hour to check in and get onboard (no waiting in between the two, just standing in line all the time). And this was at delayed boarding time. Much could be done to streamline the process, if Carnival Corp. so chose to. Overworked, tired staff who were marginally surly as a result (probably up all night getting the ship ready for U.S. clearance and inspection - the ship had spent the winter in South America and had just come up for the season) especially on the first night or two. Ship and staff should have had a day's break. Managers that did their best to avoid eye contact with you. Cruise Director hardly made any announcements until last full day - presence almost undetectable insufficient dining room staffing (only 1 out of 3 open for breakfast, lunch and tea that led to long queues and long wait for some, and somewhat inept service - such as getting your jams long long after pastries arrive, long waits for the featured breakfast item - over an hour for breakfast one day) traditional dining room staff barely had enough time in between seatings to set up so second sitting was always late Our reserved/guaranteed and assigned table for 2 became a table for 6. Fortunately the other people we were seated with were very nice and we chose to keep company with them for the next 3 evenings Entertainment was pretty lame. We had come off a 16-night voyage on a container ship a week earlier and no entertainment on the CMA CGM Libra was preferable to the pathetic offerings on the Star Princess No Captains Circle events for the lowly tiers (Gold and Rubys - did see a higher tier have an invitation) - and this despite the boarding day in-cabin Captain's Welcome Back card promise for an event later on in the cruise. Not even some recoqnition or an explanation that it was a short cruise. Very overcrowded fitness all morning. Maybe these short cruises aren't full of lard bottoms. No luggage offloading services unless you had bought a cruise line tour or transfer. Some plusses Canadian entry was very low key and absolutely no formal entry process except filling the customs form early on in the cruise. Cabin (C514) was very good - though small per Princess standards. Lots of wasted space. Probably the best balcony level as it offers the most space and some modicum of privacy from cabins above without sun blockage. Food was quite good, when the kitchen could keep up. BEST QUOTE Breakfast time in the dining room usually closed at 0930 on sea days but 0900 on the port day in Victoria. Some people came that day a little late at ~0907 and were turned away and directed to the Horizon Court. His comment: "I guess we'll have to head for the troughs" Very good value because we were using it for repositioning to get home. As far a cruise vacation goes, highly NOT recommended Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
This was the first cruise for my husband and I. It was a birthday present for him. We did not know what to expect. Boy were we in for a surprise! From the moment that we started at check in, we were greeted by very friendly and helpful ... Read More
This was the first cruise for my husband and I. It was a birthday present for him. We did not know what to expect. Boy were we in for a surprise! From the moment that we started at check in, we were greeted by very friendly and helpful staff members. Maybe we had the first time look, but everyone was making sure that we were getting taken care of. They took our luggage and took it to our room, so we did not have to drag it on the ship by ourselves. By the time we got to our room, the bags were already there. Then the fun began. Lots of food and music daily. Our steward Putu was on our floor everyday, making sure that we were taken care of. He was such a pleasant young man. The 2 DJays, Mista Geeh, and DJ Chef Sure, were pumping good vibes, during the daytime and at night at the Illusions Night Club. The man in charge of overseeing the housekeeping staff, Orvin Seawell, is awesome and wonderful. Very pleasant guy, and his staff respects him and likes him. He walks the ship making sure that it is always clean. My husband was given surprise gifts from Carnival for his birthday!! He was so happy! Lots of entertainment going on every day! We couldn't keep up!! I would definitely recommend this cruise to my family and friends. Thank you for the wonderful experience!!! Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
Cabin - will attach photos, U69, was upsold from an oceanview room to this one about a week before sailing, Carnival rep promised whirlpool tub, couch, and other grand suite amenities. As we were cruising with friends and love to play ... Read More
Cabin - will attach photos, U69, was upsold from an oceanview room to this one about a week before sailing, Carnival rep promised whirlpool tub, couch, and other grand suite amenities. As we were cruising with friends and love to play boardgames, this sounded good. However, U69 is a disabled-person suite, no couch, no tub (but big shower still), motorized door (cool at first, then annoying to wait for every time). Still felt very roomy, but the change w/out warning wasn't cool. Complained, received $50 onboard credit. Dining - We were expecting low-end buffet style food, and were pleasantly surprised, especially by the in-room dining and Dining Room dinners. The buffet on the pool deck was around or a bit above Chuk-O-Rama or Golden Corral. Lots of variety, mostly hits with a few misses. Embarkation - Overheard a crew member say the ship was only about 60% full, I think this helped a lot with lines getting on as well as food and shore excursion lines, we rarely had to wait for anything. Entertainment - Don't expect Broadway. We enjoyed it, but most of the entertainment came from laughing at how bad some moments were. The performers were mostly talented and tried really hard. Comedians - one was great and the other was TERRIBLE. Fitness and Recreation - The fitness area and jogging deck on top were both way better than expected. Public Rooms - clean and not too crowded, again probably due to less-than-full ship Service - 9/10, everyone had a great attitude and was helpful and friendly, except for the customer service rep we called about the room issues. Shore Excursions - we skipped Catalina, but Ensenada was ... Ensenada. We did the zip lines, that area felt 1st world (nice resort) and they were a ton of fun, but the Blowhole and fleamarkets were just depressing. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
This was our first cruise, so it was all new to us. Having read previous reviews of this ship we did wonder if adverse comments were true. More of that later. We are an early 60s British couple recently retired, travelling with a ... Read More
This was our first cruise, so it was all new to us. Having read previous reviews of this ship we did wonder if adverse comments were true. More of that later. We are an early 60s British couple recently retired, travelling with a relative. The cruise was 16d/15n from Los Angeles to Fort Lauderdale via the Panama Canal, with stops in Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia and Aruba. The ship was built in 2002 and refitted last year, with extra cabins added at the rear of Deck 7 Promenade. It is one of two built to Panamax size to suit the Canal, although larger ships can be taken when new locks and channels are commissioned later in 2016. Standard of fit out and furnishing was excellent, with much polished and varnished wood, chrome and marble. Maintenance continued throughout the voyage, and at each stop crew were on shore painting out rust and tug marks on the hull. Previous posters complained about the addition of cabins in the 2015 refit, cutting off the stern part of the Promenade Deck. This wasn't a problem for us when walking , as you could either turn around and walk a long U shape, or cross a landing to do full circuits. There were also comments about crowding in public areas, but we only found a problem in the breakfast buffet in Horizon Court at peak time. The answer was to order hot drinks, cereals and fruit from room service, then to have a cooked breakfast when the crowds had subsided. A daily news letter listed activities, talks and shows, with extra information sheets on destinations. There were also regular deliveries and reminders about "enrichment" (shopping) opportunities. It was irritating how Princess constantly tried to squeeze more money out of the passengers, through on-board shopping, wine tastings, photos and DVDs, the casino, and exorbitant behind the scenes tours at $150 each. Although we only saw a few shows they were varied and good quality. The food was varied and of good quality. Our dining option was the late sitting of fixed time, which gave time to relax and have a drink before dinner, especially after shore excursions. Although we three had asked to join a table of eight we were on our own for the first two nights. The Maitre D' then placed two other couples on the table with us after they changed their options. We like to think that he was proactive to ensure compatibility. The dress codes, including formal nights, were generally adhered to and enforced. Most passengers were American, with some Brits, Germans and Canadians, and generally older than us. Although there's a teenagers' area we only saw one young person and one toddler. Previous reviewers said that some staff were rude. Without exception, all staff were friendly, attentive and efficient. The only rude people we met were some passengers, who talked to staff as though they were inferior beings. Some vocabularies don't include "please" and "thank you". Doors to decks had stiff closers for obvious reasons, and when holding them open for passengers some didn't thank or even acknowledge me. It was irritating on shore excursions when passengers had loud conversations when guides were talking. A "sailaway" party was planned for departure, but was cancelled as we sailed away four hours late following a faulty software update on the ship's control systems. There were four sea days before the first stop at Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala, which gave us time to familiarise ourselves with the ship and to get over jet lag. A shore trip took us to to a coffee plantation and Antigua, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Both were worth seeing. At the next stop in Puntarenas we visited a rain forest where a modified ski lift takes passengers above the canopy. Tours started late as another cruise ship was moored at the same pier, and space was limited for coaches to reverse to the ships. The walk around Panama was interesting, when we anchored off Fuerte Amadore and were tendered ashore. At Cartagena and Aruba we decided to do our own thing. The cruise dock at the former is in a commercial port, but there's a shopping centre a short walk along the dock. Check out the emeralds, and haggling can reduce the marked price. Aruba's pier is next to the city, and there are plenty of shops, bars and restaurants to visit. The short time in port meant that some trips would have been rushed. Due to a late return flight to the UK we booked a disembarkation tour at Fort Lauderdale, cruising the Intercoastal Waterway before transferring to Miami airport. The coach driver and guide were confused about where to drop passengers for Virgin Atlantic, and dropped us at the furthest point. We then had a long trek through the airport with our luggage. It is worth paying to use an airport lounge, with drinks and snacks, as the catering provision in the airport is awful. Our cabin was one of only 8 mini-suites on the ship, with the same area as balcony cabins. There was some shuddering when sailing into heavier seas, and there was noise when docking due to being directly above the bow thrusters. In their wisdom Princess have put all laundromats at the stern, so the round trip from a bow cabin like ours to wash or iron was 500 metres. Given the number of sea days we paid for the all inclusive drinks package, which was value for money. If you tot up specialist coffees, bottled water for the cabin and excursions, cocktails before dinner, glasses of wine with, and liqueurs after it is worth it. Don't order bottled water from room service as you still have to pay for it. My wife lost a crown during the trip and I asked the front desk if treatment could be arranged during one of the stops. They never got back to us. We will definitely cruise again, and probably with Princess around the UK or to the Baltic, so the ships will be different. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
We didn't pick this cruise for our first cruise. My family picked it and we decided to tag along. It was a nice ship, the staff were super, and I did enjoy it. But 5 days at sea were a little long for me. My sister thought it ... Read More
We didn't pick this cruise for our first cruise. My family picked it and we decided to tag along. It was a nice ship, the staff were super, and I did enjoy it. But 5 days at sea were a little long for me. My sister thought it wasn't long enough, so it is a matter of personal opinion. Overall, I had a wonderful time and would like to cruise again. The embarkation process was very easy, even for a newbie like me. We were directed to a line, which was moving very quickly to register and received e our cards. We then sat in a large room and waited for our boarding party to be called. I don't think we were sitting for 10 minutes. We had received a card saying the staterooms wouldn't be ready until after 1 and our bags could take a couple of hours. Our stateroom was ready as we approached with one suitcase sitting outside. The second arrived within 15 minutes. All in all, very easy. Disembarking was even easier. Due to the early hours of our flight, we were walking off. Scheduled for 7:45, we were actually in a taxi speeding our way to the airport by 7:30. Thank you Princess. We had the early seating in the Botticelli Dining Room. Although the selection of menu items wasn't large, I always found something I liked on it. One thing I didn't like was the temperature of the soup. It was lukewarm at best. I had steak on several occasions and always order it rare. It usually came medium rare, hence the reason I order it rare. A couple of time, we passed on the dining room because the men wanted to keep their shorts on (not allowed) and had dinner at the Horizon Court. Lots to choose from there. I walk a lot and was happy to see the walking track on the Promenade Deck. 2.5 times around for a mile. The first couple of times I used it were fine, but then the smokers came out. Why would they put the smokers area on the walking track? Poor planning on their part. Along the same vein, the casino needs a better ventilation system. I was only in it for a short period of time since the smoke was hanging. Loved the crew. Everyone was so helpful and efficient. They did sometimes seem overworked and my family (the experienced cruisers) said they usually see a lot more deck attendants and wait staff than we saw on this cruise. I hope to cruise again but not necessarily on Princess. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
My parents treated me to my 1st ever cruise...a 7 day Mexican Riveria cruise from L.A. We had a mini-suite (Dolphin Deck - deck 9, and mid-ship) so it was a great location for a cabin. I was so not sure of what to expect, I expected to ... Read More
My parents treated me to my 1st ever cruise...a 7 day Mexican Riveria cruise from L.A. We had a mini-suite (Dolphin Deck - deck 9, and mid-ship) so it was a great location for a cabin. I was so not sure of what to expect, I expected to feel the motion of the ship way more than I did. Anyway, the ship was really nice, the cabin was great, big enough for 3 people, but would have been better for just 2, but anyway, the ship was nice, the food was amazing and the crew was friendly, attentive, helpful and always eager to please. Here are the negatives, at least for me: first, we went on Presidents Day weekend, AND it was also Valentines Day, so as a single, it was all families and couples - so BOO to that, nothing for a single girl to do. Second, the first 2.5 days we were at sea, that was brutal, there was nothing fun to do in the way of things I like, like there was no pool table, bowling alley, karoke bar, not even a big slide for the pool. What there was however, was a art auction (snooze), movies under the starts (played almost ALL kids movies), bingo, line dancing, knitting group meet up, etc, all stuff for old people (and I am 47), but c'mon. The casino was the only saving grace, but they allowed people to SMOKE in there ! Ew - really ? The shows were not really interesting enough to even go see, except the comedian, but he was only on for like 40 minutes. Overall, the boat was nice, the crew was great, our cabin was pretty big, but if you are a single person, this is probably not the cruise line for you. I will most likely not cruise again, or maybe go with friends and not for 7 days. ***Side Note*** for those of you who do not know, cruise ship employees work about 91 hours a WEEK! I have a friend who is a Cruise Ship Director and that is what she has told me, so if you go - please try to remember that and treat them nicely. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
Wow, we were so excited for this Cruise. It was our first. I took my husband for his 50th birthday and my mother-in-law for her 80th birthday. We booked JR. Suites with a balcony. V-5, V-7, and V9. All of which are directly under the ... Read More
Wow, we were so excited for this Cruise. It was our first. I took my husband for his 50th birthday and my mother-in-law for her 80th birthday. We booked JR. Suites with a balcony. V-5, V-7, and V9. All of which are directly under the weight room so we heard employees working out above us all night long. We had weights dropping on our ceiling waking us up with a jolt every night. The balcony's were too small to sit in the chairs provided. They are squeezed in the space so there is no where for you legs. To sit in them you have to remove the little table they give you and lift the chairs up over the railing to turn them sideways. Then you can't get back in the room until after you turn the chairs around again. Don't waste your money on a Jr. Suite. In fact, don't waste your money on this cruise. The Safety Briefing started at 4:45pm and lasted until 5:55pm. We were made to stand in lines shoulder to shoulder while we listened to it in multiple languages. Many people could not stand that long and needed to sit, despite the protest of the staff. We did not have time to change for our 6pm Dinner seating and were turned away at the door because we had not changed our clothes. The dining room had great choices and great wait staff members but the chef was not able to cook meat. We had tough veal, chewy pork loin, over done lobster (that we had to pay $20 extra for) and leathery steak. The food was horrible and not available the entire cruise as promised. Many places were closed most of the cruise. The Breakfast Buffet was the worst, cheapest food I've ever had so we tried to avoid it by going to the Dining Room for breakfast only to find that they fill your plate from the BUFFET! They have no snacks available at anytime during the cruise, a Mexican buffet with no chips and salsa and the taste bar they brag about is a joke and was rarely open. I lost 2 pounds and my husband lost 4 pounds during this cruise. I'm very glad for the burger bar as it was to only consistently good food. The drinks are great when you can get one as the bar tending staff is so slow it was faster for us to go get our own drinks EVERY TIME we wanted one. I observed more underage drinking than I ever have and security does nothing to stop it. They just follow these minors around so they don't fall down the stairs or off the boat. They hadn't cleaned the Lido deck before we got on the ship the first day, there were drink spills all over so we had to avoid the sticky mess while walking around. The ladies rest room on the Lido deck was filthy the entire cruise with only two toilets and one plugged and over flowing most of the time. That toilet didn't work the entire cruise yet they left it open and smelly. There are two main elevators to get to the top levels and one was broken for the entire cruise. They were so unorganized that it appeared that the staff had never been on a cruise themselves. To top it all off, when I would try and speak with someone to complain we could not understand them. Very few of the staff speak understandable English. I spoke with several passengers who had cruised with carnival many times and I was told not to judge them by this particular cruise as it was they worst they had every seen and not typical for carnival. However, it will be pretty tough to get me or any of my family members back on a carnival ship. Thank god for our Cabin Stewardess. Mai was fantastic! She is the only one on the ship that made us smile. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
My first cruise, just wanted a short, relaxing getaway to see if I would enjoy it. Used EZAir and Princess Transfer, which were very smooth despite my flight getting cancelled and replaced by another. I was on the ship within 90 minutes ... Read More
My first cruise, just wanted a short, relaxing getaway to see if I would enjoy it. Used EZAir and Princess Transfer, which were very smooth despite my flight getting cancelled and replaced by another. I was on the ship within 90 minutes of landing at LAX. There were plenty of helpful staff at the airport and the cruise terminal and almost no lines anywhere. In general the ship was very nice, clean, did not feel crowded (except for maybe the Piazza), and easy to navigate. There were plenty of friendly and helpful crew around. The other passengers were to my liking: friendly and not too rowdy. Entertainment was okay: a comedian whom I found hilarious and a nice dance show, but the comedy/juggling act one night (called Team Rootberry) was shockingly bad. Food was good and plentiful. I am a vegetarian and ate well for the most part, though I think my head waiter could have been more helpful with dinner choices (I've written a separate review with pictures here http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?p=49150111). Pizza was good, but I don't know why it's been called "the best pizza at sea" unless pizza on other cruise lines is just bad. Room service was good, though I wish they had more vegetarian choices, and the room service breakfast, while simple, was prompt and nice to be able to eat on the balcony. I didn't participate in many excursions as I just wanted to relax on the boat. The tour to La Bufadora in Ensenada was nice. I also didn't attend many enrichment activities onboard, except one health seminar that was more an advertisement for a detox program offered by the spa. I had a nice massage, but probably not worth the cost just to have it on a boat. Disembarkation was good, although less smooth than embarkation. Again, I was at the airport within 90 minutes of my disembarkation time. Princess requests that passengers not arrive at their assigned meeting place for disembarkation early, so I arrived two minutes early only to find that my group had already left. For some reason crew is scant during disembarkation and I couldn't find anyone to ask where I should go. Not a big deal but a little frustrating. Overall, a relaxing cruise with good service for a reasonable price. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
I wanted to write a review because as a first time cruiser there was a lot I did not know or fully grasp until I took this trip. So I wanted to do as in depth a review as possible because I feel sometimes reviews don't say enough. ... Read More
I wanted to write a review because as a first time cruiser there was a lot I did not know or fully grasp until I took this trip. So I wanted to do as in depth a review as possible because I feel sometimes reviews don't say enough. So you know I am a single male, I traveled with a friend, and had no kids in tow. We opted for a inside room and had the pick 2 of 4 amenities options and chose to go with the Unlimited Beverage and Ultimate Dining Package. Start of the day we went to the World Cruise Center in Los Angeles, went in took a right past the Battleship to the terminal. When you go in especially early, people are leaving so there is a lot of commotion, we checked in our bags, I carried on a bag pack with some spare clothes and my toiletries as was suggested by many. So we had stand in line answer some health questions and since we were no Latitudes members (being first timers) we were given a number and had to wait until our number was called for us to be able to go on the ship. So as we finally got on the ship, we headed over the O'Shenohans or whatever the Irish pub was on the 8th floor and decided to try out lunch. You should know the menu at this restaurant stays the same for breakfast and lunch. We did not have an opportunity to eat here for dinner as we wanted to try the other many options on the ship. So each bar has drinks they specialize in and can vary from amazing to yuck, and depending on the bartender that all can change. Standard pub food was served wings, strips, mozzarella sticks for appetizers and corn beef sandwiches, meatloaf, chicken pot pie for lunch just to name a few. Strawberry shortcake and cheesecake 1 or 2 other items for dessert. It was good I quiet enjoyed it, its true you can order multiple of anything in this restaurants, Chin Chins, and the main dining rooms Azura and Tsars. The grill upstairs and the Garden Cafe were buffet style. To continue on the discussion of food we did have the Dinner package to four restaurants and decided to try Le Bistro, Tepanyaki, La Cucina, and Cagneys. We also ate dinner in bother Azura and Tsars and Chin Chins one night each. Le Bistro As this is an Ala carte restaurant the dinner package works differently, each person gets one appetizer, one soup or salad, one entree, and one dessert. The food to me was just so so, they are located on the 6th floor and we believe they share a kitchen with Tsars and Azura so some food may cross over for convenience making the cuisine feel nice but not wow. My friend did get to try escargot and the lobster which was included, I decided to opt for the lamb and some cones. The Hazelnut dessert was my favorite overall. Tepanyaki Its dinner and a show, we were crammed into a small room accessible through Chin Chins on the 7th floor. There was four cooking tables in a fairly tight space, so it gets pretty tight and noisy. Food was good, they watch out for allergies, I had the chicken udon which was you know Asian food on a ship, getting it to be average is my highest expectation. You got to choose your entree, you were given miso soup and salad and a dessert to top it off between fresh fruit or a green tea cake, The garlic butter fried rice was good. La Cucina So again different rules here for dinner package, as many appetizers, desserts, pizzas, and soups or salads but only 1 entree. I ordered all the pizza three were good but the fourth the meat sauce pizza was weird. The food was overall enjoyable about the same level as well just a hair under Oliver Garden. The restaurant on the 12th floor gave us a nice view of setting sun as we left Puerto Vallarta. Cagneys On the 13th floor towards the back is Cagneys right next door to the Brazilian BBQ which we did not eat. Cagneys is like a traditional steakhouse. You order your meat and sides separately. You can order two sides at this restaurant and 1 appetizer and 1 soup or salad and 1 of the cuts of meat. I went for the Porterhouse which was huge and hard to finish, but cooked a bit under but I expected that for the size of meat. It was good overall. The restaurant was low key, we had a later dinner, and the cheesecake I had was good. Chin Chins If average is what I expect as a high point for Asian food on a ship, I would say it did not meet this expectation. Chin Chins was just a waste of a meal, but if you come from outside of a major urban center with lots of Asians and Asian food, Chin Chins might be an okay place to eat. Located on the busy 7th floor next the Fyzz lounge and Atrium was easy to find and right above the lounge in front of Le Bistro and the Martini bar where live music played every night. Tsars and Azura The main dining, the decor could not be any more different from each other, Azura was like a psychedelic eatery with fancyish food. The dress code was more relaxed than Tsars but felt more cramped. Tsara was opening dining area, towards the back of the ship, it had pictures of nobles in portraits on the walls and felt a little more open then Azuras. The menu was the same for both, a set of items that were similar every night and the rest changed daily. I had to say the food was just as good here as it was in the Specialties, if I had to only eat in Tsars or Azuras, I would be content because food was at time exceptional. Garden Cafe Its a big buffet and outside was Topsiders Grill, its a buffet, massive amount of decent food, available most of the day. Room Service Is not free, its 7.50 and up depending on how crazy you order. Breakfast in the morning is included if you put out your order before 4AM, it is delivered between 5-10. It includes pastries a maximum of 2 each, cereal, coffee, and juice. Things like eggs, and other stuff come with the 7.50 charge. Finally the coffee bar, they were missing items, because well I guess they weren't loaded or baked or something but it was unfortunate to advertise a cupcake and dessert bar but be very limited on selection. They had two of the four or five cupcake choices, and the coffee was good but it wasn't as good as say a Starbucks, it left you hanging a little bit. My friend tried almost every drink on the boat in nearly every bar, she had an enjoyable time at Spinnakers, the Sake Bar, and O'Shays. Highlights for her included Pisco Punch, Mango Meltdown, and Chilada. She said the Negroni was gross and a couple of the martinis were just meh. She loved the drink at the Sake bar, Wasabi something. Entertainment The ship has three main areas for night life Spinnakers, the lounge in front of Le Bistro, and Fyzz. Spinnakers on the 13th floor had all the parties, dancing, it was the night club on the ship. The music grew tiresome after the first few nights and for people wanting to relax more and be social well Spinnakers is a club. In the day activities like Bingo, and movies occurred here it was great for big group stuff and had wonderful views. Fyzz at night had dance lessons,trivia and karaoke. We usually had family from 10-11, and from 11-12 was adult time. Karaoke was limited on selections and the same few people always sang. Each night they taught the basics of a lot of dances like salsa, triple swing and hop hop. We also had trivia done here and presentations for like jewelry and stuff. The lounge in front of Le Bistro next to the champagne/ martini bar, had live music every night. It was nice to hear, but I never really sat down to listen for very long. They had theme nights, and so if you had a particular music you liked, it was a nice place to relax and be social with friends. During the day as well as night there was of course the pool, the super expensive video arcade, the casino trap, basketball court, shuffel board, a game room and a little library. All these activities were good and added to bring the monotony of doing the same things over and over. I went to three shows in the Stardust, the shows are at 7:15 and 9:15, I saw Rod Long a comedian, JP a magician comedian,and Bijou the Cirque style acrobat and dance show. Bijou is the most popular on the ship and clearly for the all the pizzazz its justified. Rod Long was funny but there was something enjoyable about JPs show that I did enjoy very much. So I did a massage and got a pretty nice deal on Embarkation day. I did the Elemis Aroma Therapy massage. In essence you strip down to almost nothing they lather you up in a seaweed cream, stick you in a plastic streamer, have you shower it off, and then they steam you again. After that they give you a massage, it was unique and slightly uncomfortable because well I am a big guy and they gave me a paper underwear that was clearly to small, at some point we just gave up and there I was just butt naked to the world. The massage was nice though and I felt good for the rest of the trip. I did not venture into the gym, I should have but I passed on that. I did however enjoy the Therapy Suites, it was a nice place to find quiet, and to relax. I highly recommend paying the extra for the serenity. I can imagine on the newer ships they upped this feature and it must be even more so delightful. Shore excursions were expensive, I ventured away from that and decided to book elsewhere. I am glad I did because I was not about to spend that much money on something that was 1/3 the cost. For us Cabo was okay, we ventured to San Jose and it was more real Mexico to us, Mazatlan was my favorite city, and Puerto Vallarta we did a taco tour was very enjoyable. Going away from the cruise ship excursions was a little uneasy because if you're late back well, see ya later. As the last part of this review, I participated in the art Auction. It was enjoyable. Everything was really expensive and at time it felt like we were dealing with an oil salesman. We did purchase a Winnie the Pooh etching "third level of collecting" for 75 which made my friend really happy. Disembarkation was a little less fun, my friend lost an item, and something in my bag shattered. We opted to check stuff in but the line for customs is long, next time I'm walking my bag off. The cool thing was, the form was easy, you do one for all the people in your household (same last name), you itemize all the items and even though we brough more then 1 liter of alcohol they let us slide right through. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
Have just returned to Australia after cruising to the Mexican Riviera on the Norwegan Jewel. Being "foreigners'' we had not known where to stay precruise but are glad we decided on the Doubletree Hilton at San Pedro beside ... Read More
Have just returned to Australia after cruising to the Mexican Riviera on the Norwegan Jewel. Being "foreigners'' we had not known where to stay precruise but are glad we decided on the Doubletree Hilton at San Pedro beside the boat harbour. This wonderful hotel provided a sanctuary for weary travellers before and after our cruise. Great room - yummy biscuits - a free shuttle to town anytime (and to the boat on cruise departure day) + free carparking if you need it - free baggage storage and pickup after the cruise. Highly recommended by me and my fellow travellers. Now to the cruise. WOW - loved this. When we arrived at the pier there she was the Norwegian Jewel which I had only ever seen in pictures before. I have to say she was a beautiful lady and I was impressed by her clean sleek appearance. Embarkation was quite orderly and within acceptable time limits - got on the ship and of course what do you do straightaway! EAT and DRINK of course. The cabins were not available until 1pmish which was not outrageously long considering that they feed you and also have to set up for this new intake of passengers and get everyones luggage delivered. We had only got on at 11.30ish. Have not been on a cruise for many years but it seems to me that these cruises are so abundant in food and alcohol and soft drinks that it is hard to comprehend. Disembarkation was just as orderly as embarkation and if you wish to wheel off your own luggage is much quicker than having it collected. Just remember though that the staff cannot help or assist you in any way as they are bound by union rules. All in all myself and my family loved this cruise and had not much to grumble about - value for money. TIPS FROM A FIRST TIME CRUISER If you like a drink on a hot day DO buy the UBP . We had 2 free ones and purchased the 3rd one onboard and dont regret it. If you dont drink alcohol consider one of the non alcoholic ones. If you want peace of mind about the cost of drinks - even though the drink packages seem expensive and if you like beers wines or cocktails regularly then I highly recommend that the UBP is for you. They soon add up! Dont be like us and try to dodge the free photo opportunities that they provide everywhere. Get as many done as you want as when you go to view them you only need to buy what you want. You dont have to eat in the specialty restaurants to get a good meal. Tsars offers a great sit down breakfast right on the back of the boat next to the window and its included. Azura has another good enough meal which is part of the deal but most of all the meal options in the Garden Cafe are not to be sneezed at - more often than not they have a great big turkey - a huge leg of pork or piece of beef - no one goes hungry on this boat and each night has a different theme. You can also dress up if you want or go casual if you choose - nobody cares - be warned though that Tsars requires men to wear long trousers for evening dining. Chin Chin and Osheehans were also good charge free options. Remember FOOD is the word on this boat. If you miss breakfast there is always another option like a spread at the Great Outdoors - a fabulous outdoors barbecue on the pool deck daily (weather permitting) and even in the Casino they lay out food for the peckish and no doubt other places that my bloated and overfed body couldnt get to!!! Disembarking at ports is orderly and well organised - passenger safety is paramount - and I was highly impressed with the polite attitude of the staff on this ship. Should you wish to book an excursion from onboard or when booking there plenty of options and also you can get a driver when you go onshore who will show you all the sights and luckily we never got ripped off. Mazatlan has umpteen dozen english speaking volunteers at strategic points all around the port (expats I think) who are pleasant and helpful about all aspects of their chosen place of retirement. Take advantage of their knowledge. The Norwegian Jewel has a great attitude towards cleanliness on board - there are the washi washi guys who offer antiseptic spray and also free standing dispensers everywhere on the ship - the womens restrooms display signs asking you to washup and open the doors using paper towels. There were no signs of illness on this ship. All you need to do is heed the signs. Activities aplenty on this ship. From Bingo Deal or No deal deck games reading walking shows ping pong deck quoits heaps of kids activities recipe demonstrations music and bands round the pool - you name it - not to mention the nightly shows in their wonderful theatre. There are many that I cant remember but the list goes on. If you are tempted to take some bottles of wine onboard - dont bother - unless you are a real lover of particular wines. We never once were challenged for taking our alcoholic drinks to our cabin. Look for the free icecream dispensers - they are VERY popular. On Deck 11 if you walk all the way down the passageway on the right hand side of the ship from back to front - you will find a viewing window which allows you to see whats going on on the Bridge. Found this by mistake and it was interesting. I suggest you check your onboard account the day prior to disembarking to make sure there are no stuff ups - ours was fine - but some peoples wasnt and the queues are long on the last day. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
Embarkation went very smoothly. We thought it weird that you have to bring life jackets to muster drill. The buffet was one of the best we've experienced (we are huge royal Caribbean fans). The pizza everyone seems to love really ... Read More
Embarkation went very smoothly. We thought it weird that you have to bring life jackets to muster drill. The buffet was one of the best we've experienced (we are huge royal Caribbean fans). The pizza everyone seems to love really isn't that great. The service was very good. The main dining room experience comes no where near the royal Caribbean experience (only because of the food quality and selection). The service is good throughout. The shops onboard are a huge disappointment with both selection and cost. The only specialty dining we experienced was the crab shack which was terrible. The food was severely over cooked. The entertainment was ok. Movies under the stars was nice (including the popcorn and blankets which were very much needed in January). Overall, we would definitely recommend this cruise for those wishing to see Hawaii. But personally would not do again as there are way too many sea days that cannot be enjoyed because of weather. did our own shore excursions as the cruise lines gouge you on what is offered. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
We booked a suite and an adjoining room, as we had six people. So four of us slept in the suite and two in the adjoining room. The agent who recommended this didn't fully explain all the benefits of a suite. If you can do it, do ... Read More
We booked a suite and an adjoining room, as we had six people. So four of us slept in the suite and two in the adjoining room. The agent who recommended this didn't fully explain all the benefits of a suite. If you can do it, do it. The room was so much better than two regular rooms. And the benefits were outstanding -- private breakfast and lunch area, a butler and concierge, early boarding etc. It was so nice to have a meeting area where everyone could meet, and our butler always had appetizers in our room before dinner so our entire party could enjoy a nice cocktail hour before dinner. Both sets of grandparents were also on the cruise, so overall there were 10 of us. The ship offered something for everyone -- the teenagers, the twenty-somethings, the grandparents, and my wife and I. We were very impressed with the specialty dinning restaurants and the nightlife on the ship. What impressed me most is that everyone had a great time -- no matter the age. The one downside is that the shore excursions were only ok. We had a problem with one, and NCL refunded us 20%. But it was not at all what was advertised. The ship's pools and hot-tubs are small, but the weather wasn't really conducive to enjoying the pool/ laying out. I thought the drinks included in the beverage package were of a really good quality -- much better than I expected. Overall, my family had a wonderful vacation. I thought the NCL employees were very responsive when we had various issues that arisen. And if you take a cruise with NCL, make sure you organize a Cruise Critic reception. Senior management came to it and gave us their direct dial numbers. We used these several times, and it made a big difference. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
We just finished our trip on the NCL Jewel. I learned one thing I can state with absolute certainty. When a person on the staff uses the phrase, "I will look into it.", they are really telling you to go away because they ... Read More
We just finished our trip on the NCL Jewel. I learned one thing I can state with absolute certainty. When a person on the staff uses the phrase, "I will look into it.", they are really telling you to go away because they don't care enough to help! This canned phrase, used by most of the upper staff, is simply a polite way they use to say I will do the bare minimum to make you go away! The primary reason for my lack of satisfaction in from three events. One involving my 15 month old son getting sick, one involving people smoking on the balcony two rooms toward the bow of the ship in front of ours and the third being terrible service in the Tsar's Palace restaurant. The biggest problem was the horrible, rude incomprehensibly poor behavior and judgement of the staff when my son threw up in his stroller directly next to the registration desk. Let me paint the picture. We were headed to dinner at Azura with me, my wife our 4 year old and the baby. The baby erupted and threw up all over himself and his stroller. Nightmare! It was terrible and we didn't know what to do. We wanted to clean up our son, but to move him without a towel would have spread the puke everywhere. Had we pushed him back to the room in the stroller we would have spread vomit through the whole of the ship. We didn't want to do that. We used all the wipes we had and were begging for something to help clean up our son and stroller. We were literally next to the desk and we asked for help three times! The lady who we talked to treated us horribly and did not communicate the situation properly to housekeeping. We literally were stranded next to the desk for 20 minutes before help arrived. We asked three times for help during this time! All we wanted was a towel to pick up our son and clean the vomit from his whole body and stop the pooling vomit from spilling. She responded with a curt, I have called housekeeping twice when we pleaded for help. She then went back to helping other guests in line despite our mini crisis. No less than three members of the staff walked by us and did nothing! After 15 minutes and having asked twice for help and being treated rudely, we got help from the desk supervisor who called housekeeping again to let them know it was an urgent matter after I stepped into the front of the line and loudly demanded help for the third time. After that they were there in 5 minutes. No parent should ever have to sit in a high traffic area of the ship, next to the registration desk and be treated in a similar fashion. Shame on the front desk for being so poorly trained and so incredibly rude. This was gross negligence on the part of the staff. It was embarrassing as a parent to have to sit there and wait so ling for help with people walking by us the whole time, not to mention the helpless feeling of not being able to pick up and comfort our crying son as we didn't want to spread the vomit everywhere. I complained about the treatment at the front desk and I got the standard, "Let me look into it"! The first person I spoke to said, this does not meet the criteria for compensation, what do you want me to do. At that [point in time I had asked for nothing and was simply registering a complaint about the behavior and the indifference of the front desk as a whole. The assistant hotel director, a nice man but his response was "I'll look into it" We also got the same from Hotel Director after leaving a note in his box... Ill look into it! They sent an empty gesture of a bottle of wine and some chocolate covered strawberries. They should have been more attentive to the baby and us as parents. They should have offered some compensation for the incompetence! The second problem was they were essentially non responsive to the passengers smoking on the balcony. The lady in the room in front of ours took pictures of the people in both of the next two rooms smoking cigarettes and also, what smelled like pot on the balcony. Again, we were traveling with a 4 year old and a baby and could not open our door because of the smell of the two different kinds of smoke wafting into our cabin at all hours of the day and night for most of the cruise. I spent over $500 to upgrade to a balcony room we could not use. It was terrible. They should have fined the people in the other rooms and credited the upgrade in full back to my account! The third problem was that the service staff in Tsars Palace was rude and did some really gross things. The biggest problem outside of the disinterested service and lackluster meal was when the server put her entire hand into my older son's ice cream, wiped it on her leg and then served it to my son hoping we didn't see her stumble and put her hand in the ice cream. After she dropped it at the table and asked if we needed anything else we asked her for a different ice cream as we saw what she had done. She lied to us and said she was already going to get a different one, but her actions of putting it on the table and starting to walk away was not what had actually happened. Other than these problems, the ship was nice, but dated. The elevator third to the right in the aft of the ship was broken and made several people get stuck. Besides that, the staff was cordial and nice for the most part. The service was generally lacking, but it was a full ship. Our room steward, Hilary, was awesome! He made the trip for us and was a real pro at his job! He was wonderful! Chin Chin was really good, with the appetizers being better then the main courses. Azura was fantastic with great service and really attentive waitstaff. The buffet was really great and we enjoyed our times when we ate there. The Great Outdoors on the back of deck 12 was an amazing place to have breakfast and we did so everyday! Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
My family (including 3 kids: 17, 11 an 9) spent Dec 21-25 on the Carnival Inspiration for our Christmas break. This was our first cruise and after reading reviews, we expected a great time, fun-filled vacation. Unfortunately, our trip was ... Read More
My family (including 3 kids: 17, 11 an 9) spent Dec 21-25 on the Carnival Inspiration for our Christmas break. This was our first cruise and after reading reviews, we expected a great time, fun-filled vacation. Unfortunately, our trip was less than great. Our port at Catalina was delayed by a day, putting our first day spent at sea. The seas were incredibly rough and the boat ROCKED and ROCKED! I had no idea that a cruise ship would be tossed around. The bartending staff said that the winter months off Cali are like this, so why didn't Carnival warn vacationers ahead of time? After rocking around for the first full day, we were supposed to tender into Catalina at 7:30a on the second day. However, at 8am, we were moving and moving fast and away from Catalina. It was not until 11am that the cruise director announced that we were not able to port at Catalina and instead, we were making our way to Ensenada for an early-evening port, which meant our third day was spent at sea (again, rocking and rolling). We spent the night docked and were able to spend a full day in Ensenada. Our last night was spent sailing back to Long Beach. In all, we spent 1 day and a few hours on land. All of the other time was at sea. Given this and the usual winter sea weather, you'd think Carnival would be well prepared for a lot of "ship time." The ONLY THING TO DO FOR ADULTS was to play bingo and the casino, which wasn't even open half of this time. Bingo consists of three fast games and the cheapest buy in is $20. They offered this twice in the same day. That's it. The "shows" were high school musical quality, dated costumes and performances. The best entertainment was the Mardi Gras dining staff dancing to "Gangnam Style." Really, that's it! The saving grace in all of this was the staff: atrium bartenders, Ali - the Lido deck server, David the Magician, and the comedian who made fun of kids. The buffet and self-serve food was mall food court quality (plentiful, hot) and the dining room options were banquet style. To have lobster or finer cuts of meat were $20 upcharge. Desserts were great! Service was great! The kids club's were great. Our 9 and 11 year olds had a blast. Met lots of kids and kept themselves entertained and well-hydrated! The best purchase was the bottomless soda package!!!!! In all, this was our first and likely last cruise. I am just surprised that the ship didn't have much to offer adults except for a few very dated shows and bingo. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
It was just my husband and I on this trip. I have never cruised before, so I can't compare it to anything, but it didn't have as much glamour as I was expecting. Still, the ship was very clean and service was very good. We ... Read More
It was just my husband and I on this trip. I have never cruised before, so I can't compare it to anything, but it didn't have as much glamour as I was expecting. Still, the ship was very clean and service was very good. We arrived in San Pedro the night before the cruise and stayed at the Doubletree Hotel. Most of the rooms have just been renovated, so everything was very nice and new. Our room looked out on to the Marina, which was a nice touch. The next morning we took the hotel shuttle to the port. It was very organized and quick. We left right on time. (you sign up for a time when you check in) The port was a bit of a mad house when we arrived at around noon. The porters didn't have enough luggage carts, so people were crowding around the luggage drop off area. There was no kind of line or signage about where to go. Luckily we spotted a porter and since we had priority tags he agreed to take our bags. Check-in was smooth but a little confusing. The staff directed us to the line for Haven guests, but we weren't in the Haven...we only had a penthouse suite. Anyway, the Haven line is apparently for both Haven and Suites. We waited in a separate lounge area until the concierge took us on board. While this is a nice touch, it's a little unnecessary for just 2 people. Lots of awkward small talk. We were escorted to Moderno for lunch and to wait until our rooms were ready. Surprisingly, they were ready around 12:30! Lunch in Moderno was very good. Cabin Our cabin was an aft penthouse suite on deck 10. There was more than enough room for 2 people, lots of closet/drawer space and an excellent shower in the bathroom. The bed was so comfortable. We always got a good night's sleep and woke up refreshed. The balcony was huge with 2 loungers, a small table and a chair. Our butler (Jennifer) pampered us beyond belief bringing snacks every afternoon and even setting the table with a white tablecloth when we ordered room service breakfast. Our cabin steward (Marrgie) was also awesome! Our room was always made up by the time we got back from breakfast and turned down by the afternoon. I was surprised by the in-house movie channels. There were a lot of new releases. The only annoying thing was that there wasn't any kind of guide so you never knew when a movie was going to play. Food -Ate in the MDR (Tsar's) the first night. Food was great. Service a little slow, but not bad considering it was a holiday sailing so it was a completely full ship. -Teppanyaki - food was fine, but the experience marred by an obnoxious family at our table. I probably won't go back on my next cruise. -La Cucina: very good. A bit Olive Garden-ish, but the food was very good. Great wine list and service. -Cagney's: awesome. How can you go wrong with steak. -Moderno: didn't eat dinner here but we had breakfast here almost every day (it was included for suite and Haven guests) and breakfast was very good. They do French press coffee which I'm not usually a fan of...but this coffee was very good. Buffet: ate here one time and it was gross! I don't know if it was the time of day or what, but the selection was bad and the food even worse. Plus, it smelled really bad from some kind of fish chowder they were serving. We joked that it was trash stew. Thermal Spa: got a weeklong pass but only managed to get here 3 days. Still, it was worth it. The sauna had a window with a great view of the ocean. Art auction: a lot of fun...at first. Then the auctioneer turned into a condescending jerk when nobody bid on the overpriced art. The art staff told us to tell them about any artwork we were interested in and it would be included in the auction. We waited and waited, but it never made it on to the block. They said they ran out of time and couldn't include every piece, but they put up stuff that no one had marked or was interested in. Well, on the bright side we probably saved ourselves $1500. We left empty handed and annoyed that we wasted 3 hours of our time. We didn't get to any shows. Tried one time, but it was packed so we left. Casino was fun, but don't expect to win on the slots. We hung out at the martini bar a lot and always had good service. Overall, it was a great cruise but the ship was a little more basic than I expected. For example, There wasn't a grand atrium. The atrium looked like a hotel lobby. We still had a great first cruise experience and plan to do it again next year. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
This was our first cruise and my daughter and I had a fantastic time. We upgraded to an ocean suite and had faster to the fun. Both were well worth it. Both embarkation and disembarkation went smooth and well organized. Herry was our ... Read More
This was our first cruise and my daughter and I had a fantastic time. We upgraded to an ocean suite and had faster to the fun. Both were well worth it. Both embarkation and disembarkation went smooth and well organized. Herry was our steward and he was very friendly and attentive. We did the Chef's table which was fantastic! It was very interesting to see the workings of the galley and how well organized it was for serving so many meals. Not to mention that the food was great! We also did the steakhouse for our first night of the cruise and had a great dinner. Overall the food on the ship was great. We had fun trying the drinks at the Alchemy bar! The bartenders were fun and friendly and the drinks were tasty! Overall the cruise was a lot of fun. Everyone was friendly and helpful. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
I am a first time cruiser so the thought of flying half way around the world to get on a ship for 17 days did NOT interest me at all but as this was to be a family reunion for my husbands family I nervously went along. Wow ....that was ... Read More
I am a first time cruiser so the thought of flying half way around the world to get on a ship for 17 days did NOT interest me at all but as this was to be a family reunion for my husbands family I nervously went along. Wow ....that was my best decision ever. From the moment we boarded until we disembarked we had the most enjoyable time. As a family group of 15 in total we could catch up but then disappear and do our own thing. The cabin ( cabin 6027 with a verandah , mid ship forward) was marvellous , a tad squishy but we had 4 suitcases and a carry on ...all eventually fitted nicely under our bed. Themis our cabin steward was a legend keeping us in clean towels often as we are constant gym and jogging people. The gym was adequate for our needs , clean and tidy. The spa was expensive by any comparison but the salon side for hair and nails was great. The food couldn't be faulted and we visited the 2 signature restaurants twice each and for the extra US $25 pp it was great value. Daniel and the boys, anoop, Lawrence , Henry and others are brilliant and made our meals and trip in general so memorable. We loved this ship because of its size with only approx 670 passengers.... A few kids but they weren't too bad and I believe most were officers kids that were on the trip to spend Xmas with dad and 3 from our group. We did do a tour in Mexico and one at our disembarkation port of Fort Lauderdale....both ok but we walked in Columbia and Aruba as we would rather do our own thing. Crew are good to ask about ports as well. Good to note is that if you need to fly out later at night from either Miami or Fort Lauderdale the ship offers trips for the morning that will drop you at the air port ...your luggage stays on your bus and is cared for by the driver while you are sight seeing. Miami airport also has a hotel that supplies day rooms so you can have either the full day or a half day for about $125us to rest and freshen up ...with asking travel agent or looking into your self. We enjoyed this cruise so much we are booking other for the same time in 2017 this time either around Australia or to NZ. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
Like many couples, my wife and I have busy schedules. Ours prevented us from taking a honeymoon immediately after our wedding (last November). We debated and debated our options- Dominican Republic All-Inclusive location, Hawaii, Costa ... Read More
Like many couples, my wife and I have busy schedules. Ours prevented us from taking a honeymoon immediately after our wedding (last November). We debated and debated our options- Dominican Republic All-Inclusive location, Hawaii, Costa Rica, etc. We initially didn't consider a cruise because I'm prone to getting sea-sick. But after talking to my wife's sister, we decided to look into cruise options. We decided to take our travel agent's advice and go with Carnival for the following reasons: - Great dining options - Reputation of good service and entertainment options - Port location (didn't have to travel out of state) - Liveliness of the guests Carnival's web site clearly explained our dining, entertainment and beverage options as well as the shore excursions. I wasn't able to use the live chat option but the phone service agent I spoke to was not only helpful she really went above and beyond to explain options and to help us prepare for the trip. Embarkation- I guess this is unavoidable but this process is a little bit like waiting in line for the Cars or Indiana Jones rides at Disneyland- it's best to get there early but you still will have to wait in line. Bring a jacket if you're cruising in the winter time because it's pretty chilly in the waiting area. You'll get your credential/room key at check-in. Once you get on the ship (after going through security) food is available on the Lido deck which is a good thing because most people are hungry by that point. Cabins are usually said to be ready an hour or two after embarkation. We'll go for the priority boarding option for our next cruise. Room- the room was larger than expected and very comfortable. We had ample closet space, a nice bathroom with a standup shower, and an enlarged balcony/deck. Our room was 5131 which near the front of the ship, right above the emergency boats. The beds were decent but a little uneven- they were out of queen/king beds so they had to convert two twins to make a queen sized bed for us. There was a 24 inch flat screen tv with a few cable stations and fully stocked mini fridge which we didn't take advantage of. The room also featured a couch with a pullout bed. Food- there is a little of everything on the ship- 24 hour pizza, a sandwich bar, 24hr ice cream, American food station, Asian food station, salad bar, desert bar and several coffee, tea and juice stations, breakfast buffets in the morning. Guests also have the option of going to brunch in Bacchus dining room (where dinner and tea times are also served). The brunch and dinner options were our favorite. My wife also liked the Asian buffet station. All of the options just listed are included in the cruise price. There are other dining options that are not included. Entertainment- The entertainment was fine. The Heart and Soul concert and the couples game show were our favorite. The comedy club was also good. Karaoke was good but depending on the talent could get weird. The trivia games were good and there is really something for everyone but there is also a lot of down time so the cruise can be very restful. On that note there were a lot of kids on the cruise but this only added to the energy level of the cruise. Port stops- our first stop was Cabo. The debarkation experience at the port was fine. We didn't do any of the excursions but did hire a pedi cab to take us on a tour. Cabo is a fine city but not a favorite of ours. Puerto Vallarto was awesome. Debarkation process was fine and the city itself was a little more lively and tourist friendly. There are other elements of the cruise that I could write about but I'll end the post with a final note. We met some amazing people on the cruise and made some friends that I'm sure will be in our lives for a long time. The entire crew was awesome and we very much enjoyed getting to know some of their stories. A few specific shout outs- our waiter for dinner- Minor and his team- Jake, Alexander and Jason. Ankit, Stephen Chasney, Gavin and others. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
So good things first: A.) This was our first cruise and the embarkation / disembarkation at all the ports (including LA) was fast. We were particularly worried about the disembarkation at LA because we had a flight to catch, but there ... Read More
So good things first: A.) This was our first cruise and the embarkation / disembarkation at all the ports (including LA) was fast. We were particularly worried about the disembarkation at LA because we had a flight to catch, but there were no problems there (ship arrived at 8am, we were at LAX with our luggage by 10:30am). B.) Food, entertainment (especially the acrobatics and the magic show) and on-board activities were great. C.) Ports were gorgeous and felt very safe. Temperature at the ports were perfect for swimming but not too hot. D.) And last but certainly not least, our steward was very friendly and helpful. The folded towel animals were adorable! Now the bad (from least to worst): A.) Ship is gorgeous but noticeably aged. The toilet needed to be serviced our second day because it lost suction. The cabin door stopped locking after our third day. The toilet was fixed in 30 minutes. The non-lockable door took 2.5 hours to get a carpenter on-site (during which time we were stuck in the cabin to make sure our belongings were safe). B.) Don't expect lost keycards to be deactivated by guest services. We lost a keycard by the pool and went to guest services to get it deactivated and a new one issued. New card never worked (didn't open the door at all, after 3 trips to the service desk for a rep there to check). Old card was eventually returned to us by another guest. We were astonished to realize that it still opened out cabin door and scanned into the ship and the dining areas - guest services assured us it was deactivated immediately. And below you can read about our continuing saga with guest services: C.) Service on the ship was great everywhere except at guest services. General questions were fine (how do we disembark / tender, etc) but be prepared for an extremely unapologetic and accusatory attitude if you actually have a complaint. My sister and I were up on the 14th deck taking pictures of the sunset after we came back from Mazatlan and were unaware that the deck was booked for a private function. A man from the party that booked the deck told us to get off the deck less than politely. We are two petite sized females and didn't want to argue with other guests so we left. However, we felt uncomfortable that this happened and it certainly dampened our mood. Moreover, we were confused as to why a crew member wasn't there to inform us that this was the case and that another passenger essentially shooed us off the deck. Thus began our story. 1.) We went to the service desk to figure out what happened. The rep there told us the deck was indeed booked and gave us a freestyle daily to figure out which areas were closed at certain times. We thought maybe we were in the wrong and didn't read freestyle daily correctly. 2.) Freestyle daily had no mention that the deck was closed to the public. Now it seemed like the service rep didn't give us correct information. So we returned. And the second rep told us there would be no more of these private functions that would book out public areas. Still no mention of any apology that there was no crew to close off the area / explain. (There were private functions booked in at least 2 dining areas, one of which became closed to the public, after he told us this.) 3.) Guest service assistant manager came out. We explained the situation to him. He told us he was there around that time and didn't see us. Which sounded like he was calling us liars. We told him we have pictures during the sunset showing the time and place. At that point, he asked us if we wanted the guests from the function to apologize. No! We didn't have a problem with the other guests - they probably paid for the deck and felt equally confused as to why we were there. We just wanted an apology from NCL that this happened and more importantly, that there would be more clear information in the future so we wouldn't be put in this uncomfortable situation again. No apology given. He repeated that he was there and didn't see us. The entire experience with guest services changed what was originally curiousity and a hope for a just an apology (not monetary, just acknowledgement and reassurance) into what felt like accusation. It left a fun cruising experience with a bitter aftertaste and makes us seriously consider another cruise line even though we love the idea of freestyle cruising. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
This was my first cruise. Please see below for my review of each aspect of the cruise (cabin, service, food, etc.) We went on the Ensenada only cruise. I am a single 35 year old female and had an amazing time with my friend and my parents. ... Read More
This was my first cruise. Please see below for my review of each aspect of the cruise (cabin, service, food, etc.) We went on the Ensenada only cruise. I am a single 35 year old female and had an amazing time with my friend and my parents. We went on the cruise for the experience and I can say with much confidence that we all loved it. I went in early December so the evenings offered a chilly breeze, but the day time was perfect where I didn't even need a sweater, and I usually run on the cold side. The food was great quality and delicious. I was pleasantly surprised by the size of our cabin and bathroom. The customer service was outstanding and the embarkation and disembarkation process went smoothly with little to no inconvenience compared to what you might experience with airport travel. Parking and Embarkation It was easy to find the parking structure. Just head toward the Queen Mary and follow the signs. We arrived around 1:00 pm to the structure and there were very few other cars driving around the area. It is not congested like at an airport. Drive to where it says Luggage Drop Off if you have a lot of luggage. If you drop off your luggage, you will drive up to the curb, someone will take your bags for you. Be sure to tip this person. They take your bags and then you go find a parking spot in the structure and then go into the terminal. The next time that you see your bags will be when they are sitting outside of your cabin door in the hallway. This system made me a little nervous because your bags are out in the open in a busy public hallway. It is a good idea to not pack anything super valuable. Otherwise you can just park and roll your bags into the terminal. You are allowed to start embarking on the ship at 3 to 4 hours before the ship leaves. So I recommend that you arrive to Long Beach around the time that you are able to start embarking, to avoid lines. The process and having our bags screened and checking our passports was smooth. They don't let you take on bottled water, not even empty water bottles (This is a Customs policy, not a Carnival policy). But you can take up to 12 cans of soda. They take your picture and give you a Sign and Sale card that serves as your pass on and off the ship. It also serves as a credit card. With the exception of the casino, you pay for all of your purchases on the boat with your Sign and Sale card. Your balance then gets charged to your credit card on file at the end of the cruise. You wont be able to go straight to your room. We waited about 2 hours or less for our room, which was fine because we were enjoying lunch at the buffet. You know when your room is ready when your try to open it with your Sign and Sale card and the door opens. Cabin The cabin has plenty of space for 2 people. My room had 2 twin sized beds, that could convert into a queen if you ask your room steward that is assigned to your room. The bathroom was a good size too. The sink and toilet were full sized. The shower was the best. The hot water came out hot really fast and you could even adjust the hot water to hotter if you prefer. The water pressure is great; really strong. I wish I had that here at home. The cabin was clean. They clean your room 2 times a day. There is one electrical outlet in the room. You can take a surge protector on the ship if you have multiple devices that you need to plug in. I took a surge protector to plug in my Flat Iron and charge my camera phone and regular camera at the same time. There is an AC but I did not see a heater. Fortunately, it did not get too cold in my Ocean View room. My room was at the very back of the ship and the view was spectacular. There was no complimentary water in my room. However, there was a 2 liter of water in my room with a purchase tag on it for 3.75. I wasn't going to pay for that so I called up for room service to bring me 2 glasses of ice water every night. Room Amenities There was no hair dryer that I saw or a heater. There is an AC, but it is not strong. There are 2 bathroom robes. I saw several people walking around the ship in theirs! There is a TV with 20 channels. There are chairs to sit on and 2 mini night stands. A really nice sized vanity with great lighting. Ample closet space. A free safe to use. There was not a refrigerator or a microwave. You can bring your own cooler if you need one, or you can rent theirs. Shampoo and Shower Gel dispenser in the shower. Food/Room Service There is food available 24/7. I'm a big time foody and I was very impressed with the food. The variety, quality, and selection was great. I recommend the Anytime Dining so that you can walk into the fine dining restaurant whenever you are ready to. Fine dining offers a menu of appetizers, desserts, and entrees. You can order more than one of each at a time if you want since the whole cruise is all you want to eat. I ordered two appetizers and 2 desserts one evening. Allow about an hour and a half to eat dinner because service isn't very fast, but it is not terribly slow. If you don't want fine dining, you can also eat is the other dining area, which is buffet style. There are very good food choices there too. There is also a place outside near the pool that serves hot dogs, hamburgers, nachos, and rotisserie items like round steak and chicken, and Mongolian wok type food made to order. Room service was great and best of all, free! They offer sandwiches and desserts. For additional money, you can buy other items like a chicken quesadilla or chicken fingers. I ordered room service all 3 nights and it took about 15 minutes to get my sandwiches and iced water. I loved it! Entertainment The entertainment was good. I went to a comedy show. There seems to be more things to do at night after 7 pm. The music all over the ship was incredible. Good music like R&B/Funk, disco, 80's, 90's, some county, some Latin. I was dancing the whole time all over the ship, all by myself, and nobody was staring at me funny, because that is what a lot of people do! The ship offers a lot of half hour shows to keep you entertained. I went to most of them and was pleased with them. The pool They have a DJ at the pool playing today's hits and yesterdays favorites. They even take requests. There is a dance floor near the pool and plenty of places to lounge. The pool itself isn't very big. I think its 4 feet deep. The Jacuzzi was too small for as many people that wanted to be in it. I stayed away from the pool and Jacuzzi the whole time because it just didn't look like the right environment for me, and also because there were too many other things to be enjoying. Weather I expected it to be very cold in December, but it wasn't. The days were very nice, like 70 degrees. The nights were chilly outside and I needed a light sweater. I stayed inside the ship at night most of the time, so I didn't need to carry around a sweater. The weather in Ensenada was perfect, around 75 degrees; I didn't wear a sweater. The sky was bright blue and the sun was out. The weather on our Day at Sea was the same way. I wore a t-shirt and was fine dancing outside on the highest deck. On Shore Excursions I was nervous about taking my parents around Ensenada on my own, so I booked the City and Shopping tour with Carnival. I was happy with the choice. The excursion offered a nice variety for our day. We met in a lounge on the ship and the tour guide greeted us and took us off the ship, through customs, and to the large 40 passenger bus. We drove to the former casino and were offered a margarita or Coca-Cola. There were about 12 vendors selling souvenirs. Our tour guide gave us a tour of the casino and then gave us about 20 minutes to enjoy our drink and shop. We then went to a Wine shop (not a winery) and they let us sample 4 different wines and cheese and olive oil. We were there for about 35 minutes. I don't drink so my Dad and I walked across the street to a few pastries shops; it seemed safe to do that and the guide didn't mind. We then went to the shopping district and were given 1 hour to shop. We had enough time to sit at a restaurant on the corner where we were dropped off and have some fish tacos. We then went shopping for souvenirs. It was just enough time for us. You have the option to stay behind and shop if 1 hour is not enough time for you. Just let your tour guide know and she will tell you where to get a shuttle back to the boat for one dollar. The shuttle is right on the corner at the McDonalds on the street where the bus drops you off. Thinking back, I would have been okay with taking this option, but my parents have ambulatory issues and so going back on the bus with the tour guide was the best option for us. I would recommend the City and Shopping tour for anyone who wants to get a little sample of Ensenada without the stress of having to figure out what to do or how to get places safely and timely. I recommend that you book the early excursion at 9:30 so that you have plenty of time to get back to the boat and enjoy the ship. If you decide to leave the guided tour and stay shopping in the district, you have to be back on the ship by 5:30. If you stay with the tour guide, the whole excursion is 3 hours and she will take you back to the boat by around 1:15. There are about 10 shops outside of where the boat docks. I did most of my shopping here, only because they were last minute purchases and I didn't have the time constraint. If you plan out ahead of time who you want to get souvenirs for and roughly what you want to get them, then that will be helpful with managing your time when you are shopping on the guided tour. Disembarkation I recommend that you watch the information on embarkation that they have playing on your room's TV. We had a lot of bags, so we chose to have them checked in to the ship. We put our bags in the hallway at night and they took them around 12am. You need to be out of your room by 8:30, but they serve a very nice breakfast. You wait around for them to call your group number to be able to leave the ship. We ate breakfast around 8:45, we were called around 9:20. You go through Customs again, which there was a line, but it only took about 15 minutes. After that we picked up our luggage that was there waiting for us, very clearly marked and quick and easy. Be sure to add a ribbon or something that will help you identify your luggage from the rest because it is grouped with other peoples' luggage who were staying on your same cabin floor. A worker was there to offer us assistance with our luggage. They take it to the same place were you drop your luggage off at the begging of your trip. You then need to go get your car, exit and pay for your parking, and then loop around to pick up your luggage. Be sure to tip the guy who brought your luggage before you go off to get your car. If you don't need help, you can just take all your luggage to your car. Customer Service Was great on the ship. Everyone was courteous and professional. My only issue was the photo department. They will take pictures of you throughout your trip and you have the option to buy them. After they take your picture, they print and display your pictures. You need to find your printed picture, which is easy but can take some time. When I found my picture, it had finger prints all over it. I then notice a worker handling the pictures and putting her fingers right in the middle of the pictures. I know that they are processing literally thousands of pictures, but they should wear gloves or be trained to handle them more carefully. I requested for my picture to be reprinted and they did that but I had to come back more than 24 hours later to pick it up. It was the most inconvenient part of the trip, which isn't too bad when you think about it. Passengers There were kids on this ship, but it didn't seem like there was a whole lot for kids to do. The cruiseline does try to make the cruise entertaining for kids though. There is a good amount of drinking going on, but I would not consider this a booze cruise. There are a lot of large groups that cruise together to celebrate birthdays and family reunions. There is a lot of diversity among the passengers and the crew. I wouldn't consider this to be the kind of cruise where the passengers are rowdy and obnoxious. I think this cruise has something to offer most everyone. Seasickness I do get seasick and was concerned about being sick on this trip. I stayed at the very very very back of the ship, which is not the best place to stay for people who get seasick. The center of the ship is the best. I could feel the ship's movement the most. I took Bonine 24 hours before my trip started at night time. During the cruise, I always took Bonine at night, because it does make you drowsy. This worked for me and I didn't get seasick at all! I had also purchased some ginger concentrated lozenges that I found near seasick medicine at CVS, but I didn't use those. They might be helpful to some people. Just the Bonine was enough for me. The casino They have slot machines, roulette, and other table games.They take cash at the tables on the Imagination or you can play using your Sign and Sale card. I played with cash, because it was just easier. Health and Safety There were no seat covers on the ships public restrooms. Bring your own. There were hand sanitizing stations throughout the ship. There is a safety disaster drill at the beginning of the cruise. They will make you come out of your cabin for it, so be prepared. The drill took about 25 minutes of our time, which wasn't too bad since we are all vacation with nowhere else to be for the next 72 hours! Watch your step because there are little lifts all over the ship, in particular, when you are going from the indoors to the outside of the ship. You will find yourself telling your group "watch your step" often. Even in your cabin the bathroom floor is about 5 inches raised from your room floor, so you have to really be careful to raise your feet when you step up into the bathroom and when you step down, especially since there will be times when the boat is rocking and your balance can be slightly thrown off. There is a decent sized gym and a sauna. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
We were so excited to go on our first cruise. We paid for Faster to the Fun which was definitely worth it and got started. Once we got going on the cruise, there was disappointment after disappointment. First, our room stunk of smoke. The ... Read More
We were so excited to go on our first cruise. We paid for Faster to the Fun which was definitely worth it and got started. Once we got going on the cruise, there was disappointment after disappointment. First, our room stunk of smoke. The room itself was fine, especially for a cruise, but stunk. We called down to complain so they sent someone who did nothing and said they'd send someone else. HOURS later, someone else came and did nothing. Fast forward again to the next day (after I got sick from the smell) and someone else came and said they could use some machine to fix it. They left the machine for longer than expected at 11pm when we were exhausted and it didn't help. We asked about changing our room and no one even valued us with an answer. That wasn't the only thing... ever single member or the waitstaff or casino staff was rude, short and unpleasant with the exception of our two dinner waiters. At breakfast buffet - rude, at the casino - disrespectful and it seemed it was because I was a woman gambling at table games, at sit down breakfast - rude, inattentive and full of attitude. I have a severe wheat/gluten allergy and anyone who I asked to accommodate (with the exception of our dinner waiters) seemed as if we were asking them to jump off a bridge and serve their water soaked bodies to us. If it weren't for the fact that my boyfriend and I made fun for ourselves in port and around the ship playing cards and people watching, it would have been the most awful trip of my life. I do not recommend this trip to anyone. To top it all off, after returning, I voiced my concerns to Carnival and they seem to barely care. After 3 tweets, a survey and two emails, I finally received a response saying sorry, we'll give you a bon voyage gift next time you sail. They'd have to pay me to sail with them again. I asked for a refund. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
After taking a couple of hours to embark with great excitement we were not disappointed. When we arrived at berth 93 at LA we handed our cases to the porter and next time we saw them they were safely stored outside our cabin. We had a ... Read More
After taking a couple of hours to embark with great excitement we were not disappointed. When we arrived at berth 93 at LA we handed our cases to the porter and next time we saw them they were safely stored outside our cabin. We had a balcony stateroom R342 which whilst not being the biggest room we've ever stayed in it suited us fine. Our porter was a lovely guy called Donato who couldn't do enough for us. Overall the staff onboard were absolutely superb always helpful always available. Before we went on this cruise i read a lot of reviews on this site criticising the food but we found the food ranged from very good to superb.. The entertainment on board tended to cater for the older people even though we are 57 we were among the younger element on board ! We used to go in the fusion bar in the evenings for the band and dj but most nights there was less than 10 people in there ! There was also a nightclub called skywalkers which looked amazing and we were really looking forward to going in there but every night we went in there was a couple of people reading books! What a letdown ! The band onboard were called Castaway who did 3 or 4 gigs a day all over the ship and they were brilliant. We booked anytime dining which was a great decision I couldnt believe that people rushed to the dining rooms like robots for their 5.30 and 7.00 dinner and queued for ages! The restaurants were excellent we used Di Vinci and Leonardo for our formal evenings and the buffet style Horizon restaurant the rest of the time. We also paid $25 per person cover charge to go in the crown grill which was absolutely superb some of the best food I've ever tasted.. There was plenty of bars to use our drinks package card which was also a good decision when drinking expensive cocktails and shorts all evening. The facilities on board were excellent with Zumba classes every morning and an excellent well equipped gym. We paid for 3 of the ships excursions which were very good in Hawaii and one day we just got off and did our own thing. The stop of in Ensanada Mexico on the way back was a total waste of time. We found it run down and scruffy and not a great place to visit. Overall we had a fabulous time and would recommend the Ruby Princess to anyone thinking of going on a cruise. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015

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