7 Los Angeles World Cruise Reviews

We joined Arcadia in Los Angeles, at the start of the second sector of her World Cruise, and disembarked 7½ weeks later in Dubai. It was our first time on this ship, and the longest cruise we have yet experienced. We found Arcadia to be ... Read More
We joined Arcadia in Los Angeles, at the start of the second sector of her World Cruise, and disembarked 7½ weeks later in Dubai. It was our first time on this ship, and the longest cruise we have yet experienced. We found Arcadia to be a very welcoming ship, and she very soon wrapped herself around us and became ‘home’. As with most cruises we have taken, we’ve come home with a bag full of impressions, some good, some not so good. Our comments here are intended to be positive and constructive, and we hope readers will take them this way too. Arcadia had just undergone a refit which seems to have worked well for the public areas, but not so well perhaps for the cabins, which have retained tired-looking bathrooms and limited storage space for such a long cruise. Our cabin was on C deck, overlooking the stern, and contrary to some passengers’ perception of these cabins we experienced very little engine noise, and a very sheltered balcony which we used a lot. Arcadia does however have a rather strange arrangement on the stern, with balconies on D deck being larger, but completely covered by the C deck one above (very little sun), and those on E deck being completely open to the sky and to those looking down on them from above (so very little privacy) Future cruisers beware! With the refit also came the introduction of ‘Freedom Dining’ on the upper level of the Meridian Restaurant, and the abandonment of ‘silver service’. Both changes worked well for us. Restaurant Manager Rajeev was adept at matching us to the size of table we wanted, and we rarely experienced queues. Until the very end of the cruise we also enjoyed meeting different folk each night (and at breakfast and lunch, since we took most meals here). The lack of ‘silver service’ actually meant that our food came quicker, on (very) hot plates, and looking as the chef intended. On the whole, the standard of food was very high, and we made only 3 visits to the two speciality restaurants, the main advantage being to escape the noise in the Meridian at its busiest times. Service in the Restaurants and throughout the ship was superb. Daytime activities could have proved problematic on such a long cruise. We enjoy dancing and in Jeffery Dobinson (ably assisted by Brenda Twigg) we found one of the best teachers we have ever had. He quite literally ‘made’ the cruise for us. The ‘downside’ was that his lessons had to be held in The Retreat, up on Deck 10, a room intended for Yoga and gentler fitness classes, NOT for ballroom dancing ( with its low ceiling and unsuitable floor). The ship added its own movements to the dancing, too! Other venues were also badly matched to the activities planned for them, and far too many events started at around 11am, making choices difficult. Painting classes were held in the Globe, a gloomy space with no natural light (but the obvious choice for dancing!), and quizzes in The Rising Sun, right next to the noisy Casino. Classical artists had to perform in the Crow’s Nest Bar, where new screens put in at the refit meant that they could be seen properly only by a select few sitting right in front of the piano. The acoustics there were poor, with low ceilings and thick carpets. On just three occasions they were moved to the Palladium, a much better space for them. We particularly enjoyed Allan Schiller, the pianist (by far and away the best of the performers) and the clarinet and piano duo of James and Maciej. Another example of mismatching was the siting of the Captain’s Welcome Cocktail Party in the Neptune Pool area. With the roof closed, this event was unbearably noisy, and the Captain’s speech could not be heard. Surely the Palladium Theatre would have been a better choice? We noticed that areas such as the Spinnaker and Intermezzo Bars were not used for events at all, because they remain ‘open plan’. Maybe that was why they didn’t seem popular as bars, either! We did not take many of the ship’s excursions, but those we did do were generally well-planned and enjoyable. We do wish, though, that the planners wouldn’t assume that we all need toilet stops and ‘shopping time’, which eat into time better spent at more interesting places. On the Mumbai tour, for example, we had 1¼ hours ‘shopping time’, but only 5 minutes at the ‘Gateway to India’! The Port Talks on board were excellent, and Sam was always ready to give her advice to independent travellers, too. Evening entertainment was a bit ‘hit and miss’. The ship’s own Headliners were brilliant (particularly the ‘Killer Queen’ show), but we got far too many ‘crossover’ acts (two violinists, two pianists, even two sets of tenors!). The Palladium is a lovely, comfortable venue, but sight lines are obscured by pillars and high-back sofas, and it was often impossible to find a seat at the first show if you arrived after 8pm. We enjoyed the regular dances in The Globe, though after the first few weeks things did get a bit repetitive! Internet use on board most cruise ships continues to be fraught with difficulties, and the charges that P&O make for it are quite outrageous, given its slow speed. We had reason to query charges twice, because the connection had been lost, and we were clocking up the pounds and pence simply getting back on to email. I guess most of us are not interested in using the service every day, or even every week, but we do like to keep in touch with family and friends on a very long cruise like this one. Passengers could be seen scurrying ashore with laptops at every port of call, to the cruise terminals and beyond, just to get a connection at an acceptable price. We managed 2 dollars an hour in Singapore; on the ship, this would have added £30 to our bill! Free Internet use should be included in the cruise fare, and if this causes problems with bandwidth on board, passengers can be allotted specific times to access it. These few ‘moans’ apart, we had a fabulous cruise which was excellent value for money.   Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
After almost 300 days on Seabourn ships: Seabourn was once an elegant, almost perfect cruise line which I truly loved. Since it is part of Carnival, it's over. Seabourn is now Middle-class. "Luxury" remained only the ... Read More
After almost 300 days on Seabourn ships: Seabourn was once an elegant, almost perfect cruise line which I truly loved. Since it is part of Carnival, it's over. Seabourn is now Middle-class. "Luxury" remained only the prices. First of all: English is not my mother tounge. So please excuse my mistakes. And then: Maybe a couple of serious suggestions. * Don't book Seabourn. There are better deals on the market. * In case you book, don't book a couple of segments in a row. On the disembarkation/embarkation days they simply forget you. Example: In LA I had to change room. No information about this day, no phone call, I didn't know when to leave the room to be transferred in the other one. The "wake-up-call" was a terrible noise outside my roomdoor. A girl with the vacuum cleaner banging against the door, a boy dropping empty cans and bottles in a big box, a man in my bathroom wanting the trash. I could grab a towel at least ... After that I went for breakfast. No breakfast any more, it's too late. "You can order room service." I was close to explain that I need a room for that or a chair to have the tray on my lap, but I didn't. At 11.30 am I was finally transferred, but the room key didn't work. The so called Guest Service Manager came, opened the door with his card and said: "It's open, go in." Perfect management. And when I go out and need to go in again? "Then you can call me." After that he went away. It was 3.45 pm till I finally had a room again. Nobody had an excuse. * Don't be surprised when you find groups on board a Seabourn ship, sent by Holland America. They wear flipflops and swimsuits on a formal evening, get the best suites und 80% off the price. * Privacy: When they do the security drill, they have papers with all names of the guests plus room number PLUS AGE! No idea what this is good for, but after the drill they leave the papers lying around for anyone to see. Of course some guests immediately start snooping: Oooh, Mr X is that old? And look at Mrs Y ... The ones who keep the Odyssey alive don't have stripes: the stewardesses, the waiters (most of them), the people in the square. They are always friendly and raeady to help. Of course, there are exceptions. Nick Hale is the perfect cruise director, Ray Michaels as well. The Bar Manager Michael and his team. Thanks to all of them! But these exceptions are rare... I deeply regret that "Seabourn" - as we all knew and loved it - doesn't exist any more. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
Ok, it wasn't quite perfect. Close but no cigar. From my viewpoint, the food was great. I had one bad meal (Duck-very tough) and that was it. All the desserts were great, the meals were very good to excellent. There was usually a ... Read More
Ok, it wasn't quite perfect. Close but no cigar. From my viewpoint, the food was great. I had one bad meal (Duck-very tough) and that was it. All the desserts were great, the meals were very good to excellent. There was usually a bit of a wait for 5:30 seating in the Non traditional dining room, but it went fast. A smile and a thank you went a long way with the Maitre D. He was a bit harassed. The ship was great too. Lots of places to go and relax or not. That's what I love about cruising, the choices are yours to make. Not sure I got my money's worth with the soda package, but it was fine. I didn't get the coffee package because I drink one cup of coffee in the morning and I'm not a gourmet about it. I most often got coffee from room service and had it on my balcony. The bed wasn't horrible, but it wasn't great. A bit hard for me, but not that bad. The Trident Grill was nothing to write home about nor was the Pizza parlor. The ports were fine, although I have no comparison, since this is my first trip to Hawaii. I loved the way they organized the departures for the excursions. It was really well done and absolutely no waiting on a dock to find out where you were going. You waited in the Princess Theater until your group was called, went to the disembarkation deck and got right on the bus or van. It was truly great. They do need more seating in the Princess Theater. I only got to see one show because there was no seating. The 10:30 was too late for me because I get up at 6 am, without an alarm clock. I'm not sure what I missed, but everyone said the shows were great. My only issue was my flight home. When I left, I was flying out on US Air 6344, but when I got to the airport, they said there was no such flight. Finally, I got on a 10:10 flight that took me to Philadelphia. Not my first choice, but at that point I didn't have any choice. I'd have liked to know about the change before I left the ship. I spent money trying to check-in on line. It was frustrating. Can I blame Princess for that snafu? I don't think so, but they should have let me know about the change. US Air's people were great. They helped me all the way along. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
I just returned from an exhilarating 27 day World Cruise leg from Los Angeles to Sydney on the Pacific Princess. I really enjoyed the cruise and was fascinated by the major dramas at sea. I though I would miss my favorite TV show ... Read More
I just returned from an exhilarating 27 day World Cruise leg from Los Angeles to Sydney on the Pacific Princess. I really enjoyed the cruise and was fascinated by the major dramas at sea. I though I would miss my favorite TV show "Desperate Housewives" and instead I found my own live version right on the ship. The stories I heard were unbelievable. There was a big drama on the ship—and I bet there is one every year—and you are either in the know or being made fun of. It is better to in the know than to be left out of the loop, welcome to Desperate Cruisers! This ship had just come out of dry dock and it was in good shape, all new carpeting in many rooms and only one elevator was out of service for several weeks. This is the old Renaissance #3 ship for those who are interested in this. The public rooms were beautiful. The elevator in repair was a Godsend, the food was outstanding and plentiful and I needed incentive to walk those stairs. I spent a lot of time in the Pacific Lounge, the Cabaret Lounge, and the Casino Lounge—Steven the bartender in the Casino lounge was very nice, he made a mean virgin Margarita. We had a lot of rough sea days; however once I got my sea legs nothing bothered me. For many days walking through the ship was like snow skiing, rather tiring but great exercise. I also love to walk around sideways; I am really good at it! :) I stayed in a balcony room by myself and there was plenty of storage for me alone, but sharing this space for a month with my husband might present a challenge because space is much more limited than on a traditional ship. I do need to learn to pack less things, this is the bane of my existence when I travel alone and have to schlep my own stuff around. The bed was very low and a bit hard for me; they don't have real egg crates anymore, only puffy pillow tops which are not as soft as egg crates. I got one bar set up for 27 days, not the weekly set up I though I was getting. I was a little bummed out to learn this after I had given away all my booze and stuff because I had been told the wrong info by another FCC person on another ship. Live and learn, I though it sounded too generous for Princess to do this but I did not listen to my own instinct. I got one set of shampoo and conditioner and lotion for the whole 27 days, fine by me because I don't like the stuff anyway and I always bring my own. I got a nice array of elite amenities and used them for the boat building contest. I did not get any upgraded towels or bathrobe; I don't know why they bother promising them since I have never gotten them as elite. The occasional thick towel is such a treat! I had a weird dining experience initially as I was seated with a loud and unpleasant person who was traveling solo like me. Thankfully I was also seated with a couple, Ken and Peter from Australia, who were fantastic and they totally saved an otherwise problematic situation. We got stuck with an unpleasant person who had made no friends on the first leg of the journey and demanded "young" people be seated at the table. This person treated the waiters like they were personal slaves and we all found ourselves getting more and more uncomfortable with this poor behavior. I finally spoke up in front of the group and asked this person to refrain from speaking to the waiters poorly in from of me. Then the whole table ignored this person, and we talked over this person for several days. Finally this person decided to change tables; this was the only way we could get Princess to take action. We could not get Princess to change this mean person's seat for us because nobody in the dining room wanted to sit with them. This person ultimately became a great source of humor for the remainder of the trip, suffice it to say we saw the humor in a bad situation and choose to find the joy rather than the bummers. Nancy No-friends (the name my friend Ken gave her) sat alone every night! This person terrorized a few individuals on the cruise; Princess did nothing to manage this person because they were bragging about bringing 100 people on the world cruise next year. This was a joke; this person talked a big game but had nothing to back it up with. You know the kind of person who manipulates situations to their advantage. We were all amazed that this person never got booted from the cruise; instead they continue to cause a tremendous amount of trouble for some individuals and a huge annoyance for the rest. If you are going on a segment this year you will meet this person, just don't say I didn't warn you! The food was great; I really enjoyed the variety and abundance of options available for such a small ship. We had a late dining table that seated up to 10 and we had a few empty spots that we used to invite people to join us, especially after ridding ourselves of our problem tablemate. The MDR was a little more traditional with the Head waiters preparing pasta and pineapple flambe, and the food was truly standout fare. We also loved the Bistro, they had their own menu and you could also order off the main dining room menu and you did not have to dress. A fantastic solution to no anytime dining, we loved the bistro! On port days the buffet stays open for the evening, otherwise it becomes the Bistro. We had a few loud and large dinners there and really enjoyed it. I did not want for anything during the entire cruise, there was more food around than you can possibly imagine on such an intimate ship. I learned a secret; you can order things like Lobster and Filet Mignon in the MDR if you give 24 hours notice on any night. We only had 2 formal nights in the whole 27 days and I guess this reflects a general lack of interest in dressing up when one cruises the World. I seemed to be the only one who knew about the Elite and Platinum lounge but soon lots of people were frequenting it. I regularly stopped by for nibbles, especially since I had late seating, we didn't usually get served until 9pm thanks to our poorly behaving tablemate. They had a lot of food and drink parties in the Pacific Lounge, with skewers of Pineapple and Shrimp and all sorts of fruits, kind of a happy hour thing with reduced priced drinks and stuff. Room service was great; I ordered lots of fresh fruit for those late night moments (LOL) where food is necessary. I got to know my morning coffee and toast kid well, he dutifully served me for 26 days and I miss him a lot. I got several trays of fancy strawberries and stuff sent from captain's circle, plus I got to order stuff as an elite perk. This was very nice, and boy did I get spoiled. I had brought my own coffee press and fresh ground Cubita coffee but the press broke in transit and I was not able to get it fixed and then I just got used to the syrup coffee and gave up on brewing my own. I did bring my bag of coffee down to the coffee bar and asked them to brew me a cup which they did, I though that was very nice. I had issues with some of the waiters in the dining room, one in particular was very petty and mean to me based on who was sitting at my table (mean person) and kept handing me scalding pots of hot milk for my "best friend" (mean person) who quickly became the bane of my existence! I realize that when people are mean to waiters, they can become curt and slow but imagine how it feels to be seated as a solo traveler with someone who is so nasty that their reputation becomes yours! This happens quickly on small ships and I found that I suffered the sins of this mean person, as did my other table mates, until we took control of the situation by making this person go away. Meanwhile, I do think it is dangerous to have waiters who target people, even the bad ones, because my hand got burned badly and I was not able to use it for days. I hope none of you get this waiter and if you email me I will give you his name! I did turn him in but nothing happened to him and he is still in the MDR. Be careful of him. My room steward Victor was very good, he had 16 rooms to care for and yet he took outstanding care of me. He made me feel safe and secure all the time. He was never obtrusive, always there when I needed him and kept my room clean and tidy. My laundry was handled perfectly; they never lost one single pair of the junky target undies I bought for the purpose of not caring if they lost or damaged them! Go figure... There were some very interesting lecturers on the ship including an Astronomer, a Middle East Crisis expert, a style adviser, an Academy Award winner, a nice Port Lecturer, and a WWII Historian. We had at least 2 lectures on Sea days. There was also a Water Color paint teacher who gave regular lessons in very high surf! We had Concert Violinists and other wonderful musicians and singers, and we had several dance shows done quite well on the very small stage by the excellent Princess Singers and Dancers. We had several lounge acts, all very talented. There was a wonderful fitness instructor who taught Yoga and Pilate and she had her Appendix burst while we were in Honolulu so we lost her, she is doing great back in Sydney and getting better. By the time her replacement came several weeks later, I had given up on Yoga and Pilate. Oh well, some things are not meant to be. I got much exercise righting myself on such a rocking ship for almost all of the sea days. Karaoke was very fun, we got the whole place going one night and it was very fun. My first Karaoke song ever was "Bye Bye Miss American Pie" which is the longest Karaoke in history. I loved it! Sadly there was only 2 Karaoke sessions during the whole 27 day segment and there should have been more! We had a fantastic crossing of the Equator Ceremony, it was so funny and messy and everybody had a blast. I am no longer a pollywog, now I am a shellback! Many of our sail-a-ways included Champagne although I am not a drinker so I did not have any. The ship building contest was also quite fruitful, all the ships were great and I got to donate all of my "elite amenity items" and my Obama Surfer Bobble head doll to one group who should have won but didn't. Must have been the crappy elite amenity items! I took a Princess excursion in Vanuatu to see Ekasup Cultural Center, it was nice but limited to that place only. I did not get to sit with the people I went with, this always happens when I take Princess tours. I liked the place we visited, a fake tribe who also appeared on Survivor. Survivor was filmed on this island, on the other side of the island but fairly close to Vila! The port had lots of junk to buy, mostly from China but I did manage to find me some Kava. ;) I took a Princess excursion in the Bay of Islands to see the Kauri Forest and Glow Worm Caves and that was really fun. We got to see much of the area including some artsy toilets, there was plenty of stops for postcards and junk and opportunities to hike a bit if you wanted to. It was a good excursion. I took a Princess excursion in Picton to see the area via land and sea and this was a classic bummer made so by an individual who showed up late (they waited) and then who "got lost shopping" at a 10 minute stop and caused another half hour delay, all of this amounting to a shortened excursion. This is why I hate ship excursions. I don't mind so much when we go slower because of handicapped people, but I go crazy when some selfish loon shows up late (duh) or wanders off to shop at a toilet stop! I took private excursions in all the other locations. In Honolulu we rented a car and spent the day tooling around the North shore and more. It cost 50 bucks for the whole day, plus $15 in gas. Several folks rented cars as well, one man who drove to buy flowers and to see the Diamond Head lookout point later told me he was suffering from Macular Degeneration. Be careful driving when the World Cruise is in town! In New Caledonia we took one of the petite tour "trains" around on our own and that provided for a nice overview of the Island, which is quite beautiful and civilized if expensive. We were in town late, we got to port at noon and that is when the market closed for the day so we missed that. It is an expensive place, one can hardly afford to blow ones nose at $7 a box of tissues. I did manage to find a jewelry store open and there was this Gold Tiki I could not resist... We walked on our own in Auckland and Sydney and had a blast. We took local buses and ferries and walked as much as we could. The only HOHO we took was in Sydney Harbor, a boat you could hop on and off but we did not end up using it in that way. The Botanical gardens in Sydney were outstanding, we saw tons of bats just hanging around and mating (flying foxes) and so many different birds, bugs, and butterflies it was amazing. This was a perfect place to end our stay in Sydney. We found a wonderful restaurant 14 years ago in London and were pleased to find it again in Auckland and Sydney, it's called Wagamama and it is well worth a visit. You have to try the Passion Fruit & Lychee Sorbet, with a shot of Sake. All in all it was a nice cruise, it was just the right amount of time to be away and though I did enjoy the cruise I was ready to get off the ship after so many Sea days. I am not sure I could handle being on such a small ship for such a long period of time (107 days) with the same people and the same staff. While some staff was a delight to be around, others seemed tired and battered and ready for a break. The same was true of the cruisers, many were delightful and happy, but there were the occasional grumps that got grumpier as time moved on. I was happy to leave the mean and the grumpy but very sad to leave the wonderful friends I met on the cruise. Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
The QM2 is a very interesting and rewarding experience. Unlike today's contemporary cruise lines which are trending toward Las Vegas in their look and feel, the QM2 hues to a more subdued approach where old-world elegance is more ... Read More
The QM2 is a very interesting and rewarding experience. Unlike today's contemporary cruise lines which are trending toward Las Vegas in their look and feel, the QM2 hues to a more subdued approach where old-world elegance is more valued that surface gloss. The weak point of the experience was boarding the ship in Los Angeles when 1800 new travelers came aboard. For the fortunate, it took only an hour to board. For the later arrivals, it took up to 3. Unlike the Crystal line, where each on coming guest is escorted to their room, Cunard simply takes your mug shot for their computer, a welcome aboard photo to sell later and let's you find your own way around. Our room, a premium balcony on the 12th floor, was average for contemporary cruise lines. Materials were solid, space was sufficient for our two week jaunt and the glass walled balcony was just roomy enough, with its two chairs and single table, to allow the door to be opened even while one was on the balcony. But the suite lacked the latest amenities such as basin sinks as found on the Crystal Symphony and there was no flat panel TV. Just an old fashioned Philips CRT. Our fellow travelers, as we later learned, included 320 folks who were going all the way around (the world), 365 Americans, 350 Brits and 1200 Aussies along with representatives from various other countries. Total passenger count was just below 2500. One of our fellow passengers guessed that the average age on the ship was 75. It may not have been quite that high, but I felt I was in the bottom quarter and I'm 63. Happily we were assigned to the Brittania Grill. Nestled into a back corner of the huge Brittania dining room, it offered us our own table for the evening with no restrictions for late/early seating. We liked the flexibility to eat when we chose as it allowed us to mix the early and late show entertainment depending on our own degree of fatigue. Days are well spent on the QM2. With compelling enrichment lecturers, trivia contests, dance and bridge lessons, afternoon tea, 2 golf simulators and 5 swimming pools, we were never bored and always had something to do. Of particular note is the planetarium where 150 could be shown one of 4 shows about the cosmos. Food on the QM2 is interesting and varied. On arrival to the ship we signed up for 5 specialty events: two in the Chef's Galley where around 40 of us received menus, a cooking demonstration and compelling food; one each in two of the "specialty" buffet areas that become upscale restaurants at dinner and one in Todd English. While the food in the dining rooms is very good, Meg and I thought it was just a cut below that available on the Crystal Symphony, the specialty dinners in the buffet area were perhaps slightly better and were more varied due to their ethnic focus, Todd English served the best food we've ever had on a cruise ship. In my opinion, their regular menu is approaching a Michelin 2-star experience and their deserts have already made it to 3 stars. I should also add that the beef served in the Brittania was superb. Service on the ship is personable and one does not get the feeling that the crew's main purpose is to extract extra money from the guest's pockets but it falls a little short of the very warm experience we've had on Crystal. For a simple illustration, at a Crystal buffet, guests are not expected to find their own table or even to carry their own tray. A crew member does bothand for every guest. On the QM2, guests find their own table and carry their own tray. Other features on the QM2 were exemplary. Ball room dancing on the ship is second to none with live and recorded dance music every evening. In fact, the overall level of musicianship on the cruise was the best I've experienced. The library is tremendous. Two hall ways are filled with board games and the tables and chairs on which to play them. Beyond the main theater which seats 1100 and could be crowded after early seating, no area of the ship seemed crowded. The bars and lounges were inviting and their always seemed to be space for the next arrivals. The exercise area was ample with plenty of treadmills, stair climbers, etc. The extra cost "water spa" experience was very enjoyable and probably worth the extra cost even to a cheapskate like me. The promenade path on Deck 7 was sheltered from the wind at the ship's bow. For an understanding of its size, 3 laps of the deck covered 1.1 miles. Entertainment on the ship was a bit of a mixed bag with classical or near classical musicians, comedians, a magician, singers and large shows. One even had a 22 piece orchestra. It must have included nearly every musician on the vessel. While the main shows lacked the integration of singers and dancers that seems common on most cruises, the dancers12 Russians with 6 boys and 6 girls were clearly the best we've seen on any cruise. The 4 singers were merely OK. WiFi internet is available in all areas of the ship. I purchased 4 hours of access for about $180.00 and although it was more like dial-up than broad-band, I was able to keep up with the main issues at work while I was gone The ship made only 4 stops: Honolulu, Pago Pago in American Samoa; Auckland, New Zealand and final departure in Sydney. The available excursions, although they are probably typical of all cruise lines, were not the best we've had and one QM2 policy defied explanation. In both Hawaii and New Zealand we took 5 1/2 hour tours that did not include lunch. Instead of real sustenance, we got a bottle of water and a Nutrigrain bar. The odd part: both tour operator's told us that the tour usually included lunch but that Cunard had asked them to omit it. We finished the cruise with two great days in Sydney. We walked the old section of town (the Rocks) and took a ferry to Manley Beach on our first day. The second day we went to a wildlife "zoo", petted Koalas, fed the kangaroos, etc and then toured the Blue Mountains. It was a day well spent. On our return, our biz class upgrades on United finally came through at the airport and we discovered that seating from Sydney had been revamped and now included chairs that became completely flat beds. We liked it and jet lag has been the least we've experienced when returning from such a long trip. All in all, it was a great trip. Although not quite up to our Crystal experience, the lower cost gave our trip good value. And finally, 6 formal nights for a guy who owns three tuxedosheaven. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
When we first heard about Azamara, it was on Royal Caribbean's Splendour of the Seas. We have booked passage on Cunard, Princess, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, NCL and Holland America, so we know the general drill and what to expect. ... Read More
When we first heard about Azamara, it was on Royal Caribbean's Splendour of the Seas. We have booked passage on Cunard, Princess, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, NCL and Holland America, so we know the general drill and what to expect. The lure of a more upscale line was just what we were looking for, but were disappointed that we just did not find it in Azamara. We had an ocean view cabin right near Guest Relations on Deck 4, which was a great location and a tremendous value. We purchased the optional spa deck package for $175 + 18% service charge and found that to be a much better way to go than booking a balcony stateroom. The balconies are very small relative to other lines, and in my opinion, not worth the money. Here is What Worked in Favor of Azamara' "Luxury" Spin: Zippered tote bag, binoculars and umbrella in our stateroom were a wonderful touch: especially for a Panama Canal cruise. The tote bag was ours to keep. The bathrobes and towels are a higher quality than other ships. I am a steak girl, and thought I would favor the specialty steak house (Prime C) over the more seafood oriented Aqualina, but I really enjoyed the ambiance in Aqualina more. Also, you can order food from one specialty restaurant (I preferred Prime C's fondue for dessert) and enjoy it with your friends in Aqualina. The Windows Cafe is fantastic for breakfast and Dinner, too! Huge assortment of breakfast food including made to order omelettes, waffles, pancakes, smoothie shakes etc. Also an impressive offering of herring, salmon, bacon, sausage as well as breads and pastries. For dinner, the cafe rotated its made to order offerings: including stir-fry (my personal favorite), pasta, and international themes such as Indian and Greek. We really enjoyed being able to swim and throw on a cover-up and have dinner on the back deck at night. We never waited for a table in the Discoveries restaurant, and you could go to the restaurant any time, with a number of people or just the two of you. The veal was an excellent choice. Loved the coffee: it was strong and fresh! The Captain kept us informed of a delayed arrival time in Aruba caused by rough seas when we entered the Caribbean from the Pacific Ocean. He also explained that, because there were guests that had flights from Miami the morning we disembarked, we could not extend our stay in Aruba. The Guest Relations Desk handled special requests really well. The shows were well-done. The Twisted TV is not to be missed. We found the caliber of the dancers to be better than on other lines. Magician and comedian were also enjoyable: Eric's "how-it's-done" regarding card tricks was my favorite shipboard activity The Cruise Director said it best: "You either like me, or you don't." We really enjoyed her. She is also a talented performer. Her show at the Cabaret is not to be missed. Contrary to other postings, I found that the absence of hovering by bar staff at the pool to be enjoyable. If you patronize them enough, they will find you. LOVED the limited smoking area. LOVED having only 2 little girls on board: though the parents are typically more of an annoyance than the children... The virtual bowling and duck hunting tournaments ala the Wii were great fun. The crew was a little more mature and ALWAYS very polite and helpful Here is what fell short of Azamara's "Luxury" Marketing Spin: 18% Service charge tacked on to Spa Deck was not warranted: Guests often left towels on chairs, and no one attended to it like the main pool area. Adding a service charge implies that there will be a level of service provided. Would have enjoyed a broader variety of excursions: ports offering mainly 6 - 9 hour "best of" bus rides should be offset with more exotic offerings (such as the Swim with the Dolphins in Acapulco. In general, the shore excursion desk staff had limited knowledge of ports and activities. The maps for each port were not to scale and lacked a basic "you are here" moniker. The shops were very limited, as many small ships are, but to not be able to offer postcards from each of the ports of call was disappointing. The enrichment lecturer was dreadful. Dry and monotonous, with a poorly designed PPT presentation. They only thing he enriched for me, was a nap... The "Butler" was really just a cabin steward in a nicer outfit. In listing these likes and dislikes, the cruise really was more enjoyable than disappointing. Azamara, by hyping itself as a "luxury" line, subsequently sets the bar higher, raising the stakes for criticism. Overall, we prefer the smaller ships to the larger mass-market vessels. Bottom line: we would book passage on them again if we found another great deal. P.S. Marty, stop lurking and post one of your own! Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
My parents did a World Cruise in 1990 on the Royal Viking Sun, the top class ship of her day. Ever since then I have wanted to go myself, and when I saw the itinerary for Crystal's 2008 World Cruise on Serenity, I knew it would be ... Read More
My parents did a World Cruise in 1990 on the Royal Viking Sun, the top class ship of her day. Ever since then I have wanted to go myself, and when I saw the itinerary for Crystal's 2008 World Cruise on Serenity, I knew it would be perfect! I chose this cruise based on the destinations, the ship, service, food, and my previous experiences sailing with Crystal. Over the course of 108 days I would visit most everyplace on earth I had never been, but had always want to see. Out of 45 ports of call, thirty eight were new to me. From Tahiti and French Polynesia to New Zealand, Australia, Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand, India and Egypt, this voyage had everything I was looking for. Serenity is a state-of-the-art vessel that is rated the best in class with six star food, service and accommodations. I had last sailed on this ship in 2006, when I did a circumnavigation of the British Isles. I knew and loved many of the officers and crew. When I stepped aboard this January, it was like coming home. Serenity is very luxurious, but understated. My stateroom was a deluxe outside on Deck 7, which is the Promenade. This is the standard category of cabin, but is very spacious at 225 square feet. There was plenty of room for me and all my belongings for this extended voyage. For this year's World Cruise, over 100 of us would be sailing solo, due in part to Crystal's very reasonable single supplement. Everyone on my hallway would make the full voyage with me. This was Crystal's largest and most successful World Cruise to date; fully one third of the ship's capacity of 1,080 were on for the duration. The cruise was divided into eight segments ranging from 11 to 17 days each. Some passengers were only on for a segment or two, so there were always fresh faces coming and going. When we embarked in San Pedro, CA on January 19th, the ship was almost full. Later segments became progressively lighter with fewer than 600 passengers as we neared the end of the World Cruise. The service never varied and each passenger was treated as a most valued guest by the crew. Many of the passengers were repeat World Cruisers, some on their tenth such voyage. Some of the older passengers never left the ship as they were here only for the onboard experience. Others, myself included, went ashore in every port exploring and doing excursions, some of which went overland to destinations such as the Taj Mahal. Crystal Cruises offers an unmatched onboard experience. Destination lecturer Jay Wolff made presentations almost every sea day for the entire cruise. Special interest guest lecturers, celebrities and entertainers changed every segment. Financial advice was offered by Jane Bryant Quinn and Dr. Bob Froehlich. World affairs information was provided by the likes of anti-war activist Scott Ritter and retired General Nick Halley. A WC Olympics program was headed up by Cathy Rigby and Mitch Gaylord, with competitions ranging from putting to paddle tennis. Onboard entertainment was offered every night by the resident dancers and singers supplemented by stars such as concert pianist Hyperion Knight, singer Michele Belle, flautist Gary Arbuthnot and Broadway dancer Tommy Tune. This is in addition to college level computer courses, Berlitz language lessons, Yamaha piano lessons, and the Chorus, which I sang in. Highlights of my experiences included a return visit to Maui, discovering Bali Hai on magnificent Moorea, marveling at the Fjords of New Zealand and making a long awaited visit to Australia. My return visit to Hong Kong was long overdue and was where I acquired my favorite souvenir of the journey; an incredible custom made silk dinner jacket. Southeast Asia brought many revelations, not the least of which were exposures to Hinduism, Buddhism and the Muslim world. My best day was undoubtedly spent on Kata Beach in Thailand. My least favored destinations were Oman, India and Vietnam, but all were incredible learning experiences. The Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon was the most incredible of sights, right up there with the Temple of Luxor. I savored visiting Krete, Sicily and Valencia for the very first time. A World Cruise is an incredible experience that is a huge investment of time and capitol. Serenity was the perfect choice of ship to carry me safely around the World in comfortable luxury. While I met many wonderful people onboard and ashore, some of my fellow passengers were most unpleasant company. As with any cruise, the people can make or break the experience. Fortunately the positives outweighed the negatives, but it took some getting used to the selfish and demanding attitudes of some of the older, repeat World Cruisers. I feel so incredibly fortunate to have been able to take such an incredible journey while I was still young enough to participate in the most demanding of excursions. My only regret is that I did not have a companion available to share my experiences. What a wonderful World we live in! Read Less
Sail Date January 2008

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