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151 Caribbean - Southern Luxury Cruise Reviews

Background Information I booked this cruise while we were on the Maiden Voyage of the Spirit in December/January in order to take advantage of the 2% onboard savings and the free air program. We enjoyed the Spirit on our first sailing, ... Read More
Background Information I booked this cruise while we were on the Maiden Voyage of the Spirit in December/January in order to take advantage of the 2% onboard savings and the free air program. We enjoyed the Spirit on our first sailing, though we traveled where it was cold, and I thought a warmer itinerary would be fun. We have been on a number of Silversea sailings on Whisper, Shadow, and Wind and hope to get on the Cloud sometime soon. We have also sailed other lines We're in the travel industry and I am a Certified Travel Industry Executive (CTIE, Certified Luxury Specialist (CLS) and Accredited Cruise Counselor (ACC), as well as a former technology quality assurance lead. I seem to approach a lot of my trips from a QA perspective, and my husband often points that out to me!! This review will focus on this sailing, as I've done comparisons of the other ships, other lines, etc. before. Travel & Hotel Info We left Houston IAH on American, and Silversea was nice enough to let us have some say in our itinerary on the free flight promo. That was very much appreciated. We left on a flight leaving Houston at 10:40 a.m. and arriving in Miami at 1:25 p.m. Our only requirements were for complimentary internet, breakfast and 24 hour shuttle. We got all that, and that was about it. We stayed at a Comfort Suites in the highest end room there (lol) and walked to IHOP nearby for a quick dinner. It was nothing like any IHOP we have been to, but we ate. In the morning, we had an easy shuttle and took the next American flight into Barbados BGT, arriving around our expected time. The day of our departure, Silversea provided those with flights to Miami, JFK, and the UK a transfer at 9 a.m. to the Savannah Hotel in Barbados where we had a hospitality room (group) with towels, juice, coffee, tea, water, pastries, fruits, light sandwiches, and a couple of hot appetizers. They had an air conditioned room with board games, and we had full use of the pool and beach. Todd and I wore bathing suits under our departure outfits, and we took full advantage of the facilities. Unfortunately, they announced the departure time only to those in the main room, and the "rumor mill" time was not quite right. We stumbled into some of the group loading up and ended up with a few others on a second bus. The Savannah was OK, plenty of loungers and adequate shade, but the water off of their short beach was natural and 100% full of rocks. Some guests stayed all 4 1/2 hours in that room and did not look around. Others laid at the beach or pool. Some ate and had drinks. We sat under an umbrella by the pool and got in the water a number of times and walked around in the sand. We also had a few snacks. Arrival & Embarkation We arrived into Barbados BGT airport at 1:15. We had hoped to see a Silversea rep to direct us or at least signs since a number of Silversea guests were on our Miami flight. No such luck and no baggage assistance either inside the baggage claim or at the Silversea provided transportation. A lady was outside with a list of expected arrivals, but she did not even know her list had the cabin numbers, and she seemed almost unable to manage the group of maybe 14 people. She sent people here and yon and finally got everyone in cabs where no baggage handling was provided either free or at a cost. We all helped each other schlep our bags right into the vans. Then we waited a long time while they tried to cram another couple on, but eventually we proceeded when nobody came. We certainly did not have room for their bags. There was no water provided. We had a ride longer than the 6 of us in our particular van expected. Traffic was bad, and we inched along. When we got to the port, we were still self-directed with no rep in sight, but since we had been to Barbados before, we sort of told our group where to go and reached the tables with Silversea reps that were requesting cruise tickets. We then were put on a local bus again with no water and taken to the ship, though it was a very short distance. At that point, we had our ID cards and were told rooms would be ready. When we got to the gangway, someone took my bag and carried it up, but we were scolded for standing 2 inches from where they wanted us. I am sure newbies in front and back of us were not impressed, and nobody carried their bags or Todd's. Greeting was nice with cold towel and escort to the bar for nice drinks, nuts, chips, and party mix. No canapEs or greeting spread for the first time on Silversea. Nobody announced it, but I knew Silversea would have something nice open for everyone somewhere, and I was delighted to find that the lunch buffet was left open until 3:45. Todd didn't come up, as he wanted to wait for the butler, but I had my first of many delightful meals onboard, and I prefer the full meal to the canapes. Ship Info The ship holds 540 guests, and there were about 479 onboard or 89%. There are lovely public lounges onboard the ship. Last sailing, we loved the new main bar which was open day and night at that time and just off the lobby. Of course, it is still open for seating, and they have a big screen tv going in the afternoon, but drinks are not served in the afternoon as they were when we sailed over the holidays. One had to go to the Panorama or the pool deck or one's own cabin. This started to make those spaces where we hung out, and a lot of people used the nice space behind the Panorama or other nice shady areas around the ship. There are 3 hot tubs on the pool deck, and they were at 3 slightly different temperatures. I think it was on purpose and seemed thoughtful to me. The pool was used more than I have seen the pool used on any luxury sailing. We used it a few times ourselves, and I was really pleased to see Todd enjoying the water areas more than usual (not that he doesn't like them, but he never "gets around to it" much). We did not use the spa, steam room, etc. this time. I have covered these areas in my original report, along with the pluses and minuses of some of the locker areas. The ship is very easy to navigate, and our cabin 647 could not have been better positioned. We were in between two elevator banks and two staircases, and we were just about anywhere in a short moment. The library and internet cafe are mixed, and there is no divider for the internet section. The conference room is near the theatre. There is also a small card room. The medical facility is on deck 3, and unfortunately, I had to pay them a couple of visits after slamming my finger in the cabin door for nearly a full minute. Activities Activities were generally led by the cruise director and two social hostesses, along with members of the production cast. We participated in all of the team trivia sessions. Todd played in several table tennis tournaments. We attended many golf putting contests. Together, we did one shuffleboard contest, and Todd attended several others. On the sea day, I attended the wine tasting in the Panorama Lounge. This was led by one of the 3 sommeliers, Norman, and he was assisted by one of the others, Simon. There was a white and a red in the tasting. I also attended the cooking demo in the theatre. At the cooking demo, the emphasis was on fois gras. The chef made a fois gras terrine that everyone got to taste and a seared one that nobody got to taste. I had ordered this through our butler the day before, and he arrived that night with two beautifully prepared plates and a full table setup. On the sea day, they also did a bridge tour and a galley tour. I tried to sign up for the galley tour long before the deadline, but it was already full. I would not have been able to go due to my accident anyway. My accident really put a damper on the sea day and the last 1/3 of the cruise. I was on my way to arts and crafts to make a bracelet when I injured my finger in the door. Also in the arts and crafts department, they had origami lessons. There were Italian, French and Portuguese lessons, too. I believe there were card games. There were some classes from the spa on detox, acupuncture, botox, etc. There were two enrichment lectures on the sea day based on geology and Barbados. We enjoyed the things that we did, and we got some logo prizes at the end for participating. One night, we played blackjack at the casino before dinner. I won $5, and Todd won enough to pay for the two tours we did. We did not go back after that, as we were happy with our winnings. Also, there is a full exercise program and dance lessons with the ballet duo available at no additional cost. There was a captain's party on the formal night, and like last time, it was split between The Bar and Panarama Lounge. There was also a Venetian Society one night in the theatre. There was one couple that was honored for going over 500 nights. They will receive a complimentary 14 night cruise. Service The pool deck was a bit more crowded than our last sailing on Spirit due to nicer weather, and the deck staff was not as quick to remove towels. They were not usually resetting up towels like they usually do on Silversea, so we'd have to go seek a towel. Also, though there were more waiters than we have ever seen, but if you weren't sitting at the dining tables, you had to go ask for service. The pool deck service has always been over the top before, so it was a step down even though there were probably twice as many servers. They just seemed to be wandering sometimes. They were happy to do anything when asked. Some people did not think that the dining service was that great. Ours was fine to good. At lunch, it was not always easy to get wine without begging, and they rarely carried the plate to the table anymore, which is something I really enjoy them doing and something I really needed for 3 days. Breakfast service is the best we've ever had, and the other service was better than on the maiden voyage on Spirit. Our butler service started slow. We received the Bvulgari toiletries right away but wanted to try the new ones. We did get those after a few hours. It took about 5 or 6 hours to get our bags unpacked, and we had to let the butler repack a few hours before we were ready. Other than that, the butler and cabin service were exemplary. Several days, we received beautiful snacks at cocktail hour - things like huge mussels, crab dip on crackers, chilled shrimp with cocktail sauce, pate, crab claws, and meatballs. He knew that I liked limes and brought them automatically after a discussion on exactly how many I would need each day. He always kept our chardonnay stocked and our soda and ice, too. He, along with our room attendant did a wonderful job with the suite. When we ordered room service , it took so long. I tried to give up and go eat upstairs at noon when they opened and left for a tour at 12:10 (I was told the meeting time was 12:30 to make it to the tour at 1 pm) and went down to the tender. They had just left without me, and I missed the tour after getting over on the tender and finding they had left by 3 minutes after time even though they called the boat to see if I was on it. The head butler did not know this, yet he came to apologize for the delay with room service, which was caused by them calling to say they were not happy with the quality and were redoing the order. I thought that was very classy of the head butler to make a visit, unlike the shore department who did not bother to start lunch early anywhere in order for anyone to have lunch. Sometimes they served drinks in the theatre, which was something that was missing on the maiden voyage, and this was very welcome. The reception staff was also very courteous, and the bar staff remembered everything all the time and were so courteous and efficient. We always love Silversea service, and it a major factor in why we sail with them. Port & Shore Excursions We overnighted in Barbados on the ship, and I paid a couple $20 to take me around for an hour for some photos and to explain some of the historical and picturesque sights. They took me to a beach that had some hurricane damage and down into Bridgetown and some other places. It was enjoyable. Elsewhere in the review, I talked about our day in Barbados at the Savannah Hotel at the end of the cruise. The first port was Dominica. This was the only new port for us based on the originally scheduled itinerary. I went on the aerial tram tour. They brought an old rickety bus, which was not exemplary of Silversea, and it broke down 7 miles up the road. We were safe and looking at a beautiful volcano, but two ladies were uncomfortable and trying to talk everyone into going back to the ship. Twenty minutes later, we were rescued and divided into two vans that were still full but were more of the style of what Silversea should have sent in the first place. The tram ride was very interesting, and everyone crossed the foot bridge in the rain forest. There was some light climbing and hiking. Photos don't do it justice. We never got to see the 5 waterfalls like the description, at least not water falling but could hear them and saw a couple of rivers coming off of them. It was worthwhile, but I would not go again. Todd did the accessible tour. He went to Morne Bruce viewpoint and experienced a lovely view overlooking Roseau and could see the ship and also some rain forest. Next, they went to the botanical gardens and saw birds and some flora and fauna. It was small and had a lot of hurricane damage from Tomas that had just come through. There was not a lot to see except some nice views. They went on a long drive (at least 30 minutes) with nice views, first along the beach and then up a mountain in the rainforest to Jaco Falls. There was about 45 minutes there, and some of the bathrooms were not great. They walked down a steep area with a lot of rocks. Todd wanted to get in, but there wasn't much time since he had stopped to take so many pictures. At the end, both tours offered both a rum punch and a non-alcoholic beverage. Todd dined on the pool deck after his tour, and I dashed to the buffet. The people that went on the whale watching and dolphin tour mostly saw dolphins. I think the people that did the emerald pool enjoyed that one. I also went inside the market area and also toured the visitors center and walked a ways down from where the ship was docked for more photos. The next day, they flipped the itinerary around and went to St. Kitts instead of St Barths. Todd did not get to the ship. Last time we were there, he golfed at the Marriott, and I went to the casino and pool and beach there. This time, I walked quite a distance up and down various streets and viewed some old churches and other buildings, along with a brief look at the touristy shops at "The Circus". We never did go to St. Barths due to the safety issues and damage from Tomas. The captain spent a long time circling around Phillipsburg in St. Martin, but there were 25,000 people there from large cruise ships, and there was no slots, so he went to the French side where it was necessary to tender. We were a long ways out, and the tender was a 20 or 25 minute ride. That is the only thing I saw since the tour abandoned me, and we have only been to the airport there. I just got right back on the tender since I was upset. In Bequia in the Grenadines, many people just jumped on the back of the trucks sitting there for island tours. We did that last time and went to the fort and turtle farm and a beach. There were water taxis to take people to the beach, and I think Silversea organized a beach tour and also an island tour. I walked all around the waterfront as far as I could and took a number of beautiful photos and walked the little beach there. A number of people sat around at the little restaurants and bars there and had cocktails. I walked over to the vegetable markets to look around and also went to watch some local fishermen working with fish. I stayed there a while, as I was enjoying that. There were a number of people who had zodiacs docked and were coming in and out from yachts offshore to get things at the markets. The iced tea and chilled water at the tent where guests were to wait for the tender was a nice touch. Our Suite We adore the verandah cabins. The rain head shower is nice, and the shower is tall enough. Todd finds the space a bit snug, but it is fine for me. The tub is a luxury size for a cruise ship, and I love the nice rinse off spout that they installed. The cabin had plenty of storage space everywhere. There are two TVs controlled by one remote. This time, we had no issues at all with the system, and there are over 400 movies from which to chooses. We enjoyed several recent releases. Our drinks of choice were always there, we never ran out of anything, and after a very short conversation with the butler the first day, the things we did not need were removed to allow space for what we liked. We had nice fruits and orchids, and we had champagne on ice upon arrival. The verandah was very inviting in warm weather, especially since the loungers will lay back, and with footstools and a nice table, it is just a terrific place to be. Dining I enjoyed the buffets at lunch the most. The dining room was full, but they are using a sharing concept to help with this (optional). On the days that Todd did not come up, I always shared, and I really enjoyed the conversations. The restaurant was always open for course by course lunch, but I was enjoying selecting my own fruits and salad ingredients. Todd liked the meats and vegetables a lot. There were mostly cold soups at lunch, a disappointment, but there was a delicious squash soup one day. Most days, the lunch buffet has a regional theme. There is usually an Asian item (a couple of times, it was a chicken curry, and the other days, it was Thai or Chinese). There was always a carved meat, quite a few fresh vegetable dishes and a few nice dishes. One day, there was a nice boulliabase. Also on the lunch buffet are beautiful lettuces, a variety of dressings, salad toppings, a salad of the day, sushi, sashimi, gourmet cured meats, fresh pastries, a cheese trolley, gourmet ice cream and sorbet, and fresh breads. The fish was the most disappointing since it was usually dry and overcooked, but the last day, there were large, nice sea scallops. Todd enjoyed a burger a couple of days on the pool deck. Another day, he just got onion rings. We shared a pizza one day. I heard one lady say she didn't want her food anymore because it was taking too long. It can take a while since it is cooked beautifully to order, so if you want a quick bite before dashing off somewhere, this is not the venue to use. If you are hanging out, it is a lovely option, and you can get your food at your pool chair or the table. There is a full menu on the deck. There is a full menu for the room with very nice choices, and you can get the restaurant offerings during meal hours. The day after I hurt my finger, we stayed in a lot since I was in pain, and we had a nice room service lunch. The tables that they set up in the Spirit verandah suites are larger than on the other ships since there is more space. Todd had French onion soup, and I had tomato basil. I ordered a pesto pasta, and Todd ordered steak. At breakfast, you can go to the restaurant for the course by course service, it was never crowded. You can also go to the buffet. For the first time at the buffet, my waiter always asked me if I wanted to order anything such as eggs, waffles, etc., and things were prompt and beautifully prepared. They have asked Todd before, but I have never been asked. Daily, a variety of fresh fruits were carved throughout the service time, and there were other varieties of fruits and gorgeous berries. They had piles of smoked salmon and cheeses. There was ham, bacon, sausage, potatoes, beans, pastries, yogurt, and cereals. The pink grapefruit juice was so delicious that it tasted like I was drinking a grapefruit ( I was!!). We went to La Terazza one night. We had soup and an antipasto platter and salads. Todd had sliced steak, and I had wonderful osso bucco. Todd had the tiramissu, and I had the panna cotta. I didn't like it because it had nutmeg in it. Service was nice, and the restaurant was quiet and relaxing. We really enjoyed our evening there. Early in the cruise, we went to hot rocks. I ordered the veal chop, and Todd ordered a steak and a couple of shrimp. The server insisted that I order sea bass, but it was not like any sea bass I have had and was too fishy to eat and likely was not sea bass. I normally love the sea bass on Silversea. We had salads, and Todd had a baked potato. My veal chop was divine, but there was no way I could finish all of it. Todd had the same issue as last time with it cooking before he could eat it and getting too done. The restaurant is so popular now that it is hard to get in if you don't reserve early in the cruise. We had a second reservation and gave it up. We had a great evening and really enjoyed the Filipino singer that sings up to the diners from the pool deck. We enjoyed our dinners at the main dining room, though there was often no fish choice besides the daily salmon choice. I ended up ordering other things. I couldn't order vegetarian due to it always having mushrooms, but I always found something like pheasant or shellfish or something. On formal night, I asked to have my lobster prepared without butter, and I loved it. Since the shows were at 10:15, too late for us if we finish dinner at 9:30, we adjusted our schedule to 8 or 8:30 the two nights of the production shows and went to the Panorama beforehand and listened to Amadeus and the DJ music and relaxed. It actually made for a complete evening doing it that way. One evening, we dined with a couple that had been married 61 years, and we had a wonderful time with them working our way through all 5 courses. Evenings were great until I hurt my finger, and then we just watched movies after dinner. That was fun, too. I just couldn't sleep. On the night of the pool bbq, it was just hours after I slammed my finger in the door, and I just had 4 crab claws and one rib, and Todd had 3 ribs, and I was just in too much pain, so we left about 15 minutes after it started. This event is not our thing, but we liked how this time they put smaller tables for 6 or 8 vs. those long tables we have experienced on most sailings. The main dining room was open, but I was not up to it. We did not go to Seishin or Le Champagne. Seishin has two teaser menus and the main degustation menu, and you can pair with complimentary wines, wine pairings, or sake pairings, and there are different prices for each of these choices. Le Champagne is so beautiful on this ship, if I was going to go there, it would be on this ship, but many times, I know that the menus are too exotic for Todd's more meat and potatoes taste. Entertainment I found this to be weaker than it has been on other Silversea cruises since there was no guest magician or comedian or cabaret act. Last time on Spirit, they offered the shows twice in an evening, and I know that was short-lived for only one or two cruises. This sailing had two production shows, both are repeats for us from the maiden voyage 10 months ago. Only Keeva remains from the original production company, and I feel the original entertainers were better, though this group is good. The Rocketman show was not nearly as good as with the other group. Same with Dawning of Aquarius. There was a Taste of Things to Come show that was very short. It was on the pool deck. On the BBQ night, there was a show by the production company. We were not able to attend that due to my accident. There was no guest performers at all, and that is a first time for us ever on a luxury ship and was a disappointment. Several nights, they had movies in the theatre, and those were on the TV anyway. There was live entertainment on the ship and DJ sets. Any we attended were quite pleasant, but the timing was not always just right for when the people were in the particular lounge. STARS was so crowded on the nights of the lack of live entertainment in the theatre that we could not even get a seat or get to the bar, We tried several times and never stayed over 5 minutes since it was just too full. Disembarkation The butler packed for us before dinnertime, and we kept our bags in the room and put them out before the 11 p.m. deadline, keeping out a few things for our day at Savannah Hotel. I had a short breakfast because we had to be off the ship for our ride to Savannah at 9, and both the doctor and the restaurant didn't open until 8 a.m. We did not get the luggage assistance that I requested, but we did alright and easily located our bags in the terminal. We took the shuttle over to Savannah, it probably took 30 minutes. We had easily opted out of the charity donation, and there were no unexpected charges on the bill. We had the two tours and my $606 and change doctor bill. There was a sort delay of 15 minutes for passport pickup which also made it a challenge to go to breakfast and the doctor, but I managed it all. This was not our best Silversea cruise due to a few issues with the shore excursions and the handling of my accident, but it was mostly very enjoyable. Our cabin was excellent, dining service was mostly excellent (beverage service was good but not excellent in the dining rooms). The shore staff size needs increased, and they need to take a look at getting back into treating people to a more luxurious tour style. We relaxed so much all around the ship, in our balcony and in the cabin, and we enjoyed every activity we attended and wish we could have made even more, though we gave it a valiant effort. I did a blog, which is a work in progress at http://www.luxurycruiseandland.com. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
Started our holiday with a 2 night stay in NYC. having never been there before, we were truly amazed at the size of the buildings. We loved new york and had a great time. Our hotel was Grand Hyatt near Grand Central which was lovely and we ... Read More
Started our holiday with a 2 night stay in NYC. having never been there before, we were truly amazed at the size of the buildings. We loved new york and had a great time. Our hotel was Grand Hyatt near Grand Central which was lovely and we had a good room on the 17th floor - very large,flat screen tv etc. Only downsize was the transfer from the airport using Super Shuttle - reasonable price - rude fast driver who texted while driving. We had a great diner across the road called Pershing Square where we went for breakfast twice - i would highly recommend it. We did a new york city tour which took in the main sites and had a very informative tour guide. We did Rockefeller at night - amazing seeing the city lit up and we went up Empire state next day after the tour. Enjoyed it all immensely. Used a limo company called ETG and had a comfortable journey to the port at a cost of 10 dollars more then the super shuttle. would definitely use again. On arriving at cruise terminal dropped our cases off, went straight to desk for registration etc, got a number and walked straight through to ship no waiting in lounges and had lunch. This was about 12.45. Room was usual thing but very clean and light. It seemed spacious and was well set out. We had a in hull balcony which I thought was great. Not bothered about sun bathing on the balcony and we like to stand and watch the arrival at port. Couldn't fault it. Room steward was excellent and came in and out like wil o the wisp - hardly ever actually saw him. Now for the actual ship. Yes it is lovely and very grand and traditional which i loved and if there were signs of wear and tear i never really noticed it. They were replacing the carpets and doing jobs late at night. The restaurant was nice and food was good. I can say our service on the whole was excellent and our waiter Jaes was very good. Maybe one or 2 nights a little slow but i would say that was the kitchens fault. We ate breakfast there once and it was horrendous-really slow and not all that when it came. We helped ourselves in Kings Court and we always got a table. Daily entertainment was plentiful - we were never bored although we didn't attend any lectures. Evening entertainment was another matter - it was on the whole, in my opinion, very very poor. The shows weren't good although the young singers had very good voices. The Queens room had dancing every night with the same songs every night and closed too early. The golden lion liked to close just as people were starting to enjoy themselves. Think the ship needs a new cruise director who is actually interested in what is going on. The guy on there just likes the sound of his own voice on his daily tv prog. I have been on 2 P&O cruises (owned by same company as Cunard apparently) and there is no comparison with the entertainment. I would also say that the food and service is equal to that of QM2. Its not that we want a party ship just some decent entertainment that doesn't shut down on the stroke of midnight. I think Cunard thinks anyone over 60 is in bed by then. Enjoyed it overall but wouldn't rush back unless it was a very tempting offer. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
This is our 15th Cruise on the sixth cruise line we have been on. We decided to go on this cruise because of the itinerary and this was supposed to be a classic ship. It took us longer to get to our stateroom after we boarded the ... Read More
This is our 15th Cruise on the sixth cruise line we have been on. We decided to go on this cruise because of the itinerary and this was supposed to be a classic ship. It took us longer to get to our stateroom after we boarded the ship than on any other cruise. Elevators are very small. If someone needs a walker or a motor scooter maybe one other person could fit in. After walking around the ship one notices that you tend to sink down into the rug in certain areas. A hole in the floor? You do walk uphill in some areas and downhill in others. There are also half decks to negotiate. Once again, if you are handicapped or have mobility problems good luck with the lifts. There is very little outdoor activities on the QM2. However, this ship is mostly an ocean liner to get you from place to place. The library is very good. Didn't go to the gym on this cruise. Dinners in the dining room- I had heard from past passengers that the food was very good on this ship and the service was excellent. Maybe it was for them, but, not for us. Out of five dinners in the Britannia Dining Room we got tired of things being brought to us that we didn't want, food not tasting good, and poor overall service. It may be the European custom to have tea after dessert, but, Americans prefer to have tea with dessert. The service in different areas of the Britannia Dining Room are substandard and does not meet the Carnival standard. On a good note they did make a special request for me. Moussaka. It is a Greek dish and usually tastes good. My wife didn't recognise it and it did not taste particularly good. Both my wife and I spoke to the dining room manager and even the hotel director. They failed to do something. Specialty Restaurants- On the other hand we had dinner several times in the different dining areas of The King's Court and Todd English. The food was noticeably better and so was the service. Also, we had our tea with our dessert instead of 25 minutes after finishing the desert. As an added bonus, we had what we wanted and not gotten served something else. Lions Den: It is only open a few hours for lunch. The food is pretty good. They serve drinks during most of the day and night. Has a piano player and they do karaoke here. Room service- Room service met the standard. Service was prompt and mostly correct. Entertainment- The shows for the most part were not that good. My wife enjoyed the singer, and piano player. I like the ventriloquist and comedian that came on toward the end of the cruise. They joined us at Barbados. My wife saw some movies in the illusions theater. Also, at same theater they had some speakers. The mystery writer drew a big crowd every time he spoke. That theater is also the planetarium. Casino- The casino is somewhat behind others in the Carnival Corp. They use tokens for slot machines. And you must bring them to the cage and cash them into money each time or you would still have gaming tokens. I played at the craps table every night. Love the game and met some interesting people there. Dealers got to know me long before the cruise ended. Sometimes I was the only one there playing. Then later we got some other players. What is the fasination with watching me play craps I'll never understand. Did have a few big rolls there. My wife and I enjoy playing BINGO. We only played once this voyage because they use the Lions Den for BINGO. Most cruise lines use the theatre where there is more room. The Lions Den could get cramped. Places we went to: St. Thomas: We docked at the Crown Bay pier. The last two times to the island we docked at the Havensight pier. We got off the ship walked around the went back to the ship. The Crown Bay pier is like a flea market. The Havensight shopping area is better. They allowed panhandlers in the Crown Bay shopping area. The stores are not as nice. This is the #1 shopping destination down this way. St. Lucia- The water was so bad that day we decided against risking it going on the tender. The people that worked in the area of the tender said, "we never saw the water so rough before." We stayed on the ship doing things. Grenada- Went on shore excursion. Island is very poor. In our limited contacts with the people who live there they seemed to be decent. Not a big shopping destination. Barbados- Went on shore excursion here. Better shopping than on Grenada and island is more developed. There seems to be more commercial interests in Barbados than on Grenada. Dominica- Poor island, but very nice. You purchase something here it is not made in China. This island does not go after the tourist trade the way the other islands do. As a result it is more preserved. Formal nights- There are many formal nights on this line. We did maneuver our way around them. We did go to s few and didn't participate in others. I noticed many passengers did not participate in some formal nights. However it is formal only for dinner. Also, you are not required to eat in the main dining room. You could go to another dining venue to eat. Even after a few formal nights my wife got tired of them. Go on a shore excursion then come back tired and tell me you want to dress for dinner. As the cruise went on the alternative dining venues filled up. They did have a Rabbi on board to have services for Hanukkah. That was pretty good. The Latkases were pretty good too. Jason was our room steward. He was very good. Provided everything we needed. Overall, I've been on worse cruises. This one left me disappointed after the big buildup people told me. Now that I am officially a Cunard-er, and survived the first cruise I would consider going again. In my experience on the first Cunard cruise it showed me what there is to do and there will be times to catch up on your sleep. I am booked until 2012 on other cruise lines. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
Queen Mary 2 November 27th Caribbean Cruise This was our third Caribbean cruise on Queen Mary2 and we were very happy with this trip. We love cruising from NYC because we can drive to the port in about 3 ½. Hours. Traffic on the ... Read More
Queen Mary 2 November 27th Caribbean Cruise This was our third Caribbean cruise on Queen Mary2 and we were very happy with this trip. We love cruising from NYC because we can drive to the port in about 3 ½. Hours. Traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike was horrible making us arrive at the ship just after 3:00pm. The lines were huge at check in, but the grill check in line was totally empty so we walked directly onto the ship. Finding food at that time in Kings Court was a challenge. Our Q5 stateroom was wonderful except for the long walk to the Queens Grill. Our butler Lily was waiting for us wondering why we were so late. We did ask her to unpack us during dinner and she did a good job. More about Lily later. We had French Champaign upon arrival and had a second bottle in the fridge. Lily brought me a bottle of Beefeater Gin a pitcher of vermouth a martini glass a cocktail shaker and a steady supply of olives. Very nice. Last two times we dined in the Princess Grill, and I have to say Queens Grill was a very pleasant surprise. The service was impeccable, food was great for the most part and selections diverse. The a la carte menu was three times bigger then the Princes Grill. The last time we were on QM2 was '07 and most of the senior staff was sent to the new Queen Victoria leaving promoted waiters from Princess Cruise Line staffing the Princess Grill. The difference between our experience in the Princess Grill in '06 and '07 was like night and day. The '06 service was professional and wonderful. The service in '07 was typical cruise line service. The waiter would ask how the food was and if I said good he would not leave me alone until I said it was excellent. He was more concerned about our survey at the end of the cruise than making us comfortable. I thought maybe the same thing would happen this time because of the introduction of Queen Elizabeth, but the service was very professional and our table for two near the window afforded great views of passersby from the neck down and lovely conversations with adjacent tables. We do not dance or go to shows (poked my head into a show about Italy and saw dancing Mona Lisas which confirmed my feelings about shipboard entertainment and walked out) we love dining walking around the ship looking in the shops finding quiet places to sit and read. QM2 enables us to do this very well. We had two new ports for us on this cruise, Grenada and Dominica. Grenada was very nice we took the spice island tour which drove us to a volcanic lake and saw many beautiful views and a visit to a nutmeg drying facility. Because of the two hurricanes in the past few years almost all of the homes were heavily damaged, now most of the homes had been repaired with new roofs and new paint make for pretty villages along out tour. Dominica was a little scary if you wander beyond the gated-off part of the port, but the straw market was nice. Lily Lily Lily, our butler. Great job but something was a little creepy. After coming back from diner in St. Thomas Lily said "I saw you went shopping I love the Gucci watch but I want to see what you bought at H Sterns the box was empty". The shopping bags from said purchases were stashed under the desk, so she really had to look for them. Then later in the cruise she told us she let her friends in to see my wife's purse which was on the top self in the closet. Then she came in one day and said to Judy "you don't look very well can I do something for you". Judy said no she had medication to help then Lily said "I know, you have a drawer full of medications." If she tells us she is a snoop does that make it okay? We asked people at the table next to us and they were appalled and said you must report her. We still don't know what to do about this. She never took anything but we don't want to be responsible for her losing her job. Getting off the ship was a breeze. We were the first color called, found are luggage very easily, into our car and on the road by 8:30. In conclusion we love QM2 and will cruise on her again, but we are sad that there are no NYC Caribbean cruses next year planned. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
This was our second QM2 winter Caribbean cruise, the first in 2006 departing from a warm Fort Lauderdale. This trip was the final leg of a Vegas / New York / Cruise from the UK. We won't be taking another QM2 winter cruise to the ... Read More
This was our second QM2 winter Caribbean cruise, the first in 2006 departing from a warm Fort Lauderdale. This trip was the final leg of a Vegas / New York / Cruise from the UK. We won't be taking another QM2 winter cruise to the Caribbean departing New York.It would have to sail from warmer waters to get us back on board. The journey to and from New York was just too cold for our liking. We will look for a luxury cruise liner that is based in one of the Caribbean Ports such as P & O who sail from Barbados or even Holland and America from Florida. The ship itself is still very grand, the lounges ( apart from the tacky themed pub ) were very smart. Food in the Britannia was good. We ate in the Lotus restaurant one night and the taster menu was surprisingly good. Its a shame Cunard are introducing a charge to eat there in the New Year. Balcony cabin was immaculate. All in all, couldn't fault the ship, just kicking myself for sailing from New York, so sun lovers - be warned. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
Generally, we really liked the ship, but it was disconcerting to feel hollow spots under the carpet. The Queen's Room is a spectacular dance venue. The food was poor to average in the Britannia Restaurant. It could be American ... Read More
Generally, we really liked the ship, but it was disconcerting to feel hollow spots under the carpet. The Queen's Room is a spectacular dance venue. The food was poor to average in the Britannia Restaurant. It could be American vs English taste buds. I loved the food in the Todd English, but my wife did not find it very good. The service in the Britannia Restaurant was the worst I have ever had on any prior cruise. Our tables were the last to leave the restaurant every night. We ordered coffee with dessert every night and on only one night did it actually arrive with the dessert. The food service personnel were unprofessiopnal and unfriendly. Maybe if we paid for Queen's Grille passage we would have had better service. The room was okay and the room stewardess was excellent. The entertainers were talented, but the shows were not good and wasted the talent available. My wife viewed it as unimaginative cruise entertainment that is available on any cruiseline. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
I have a motto "If you have nothing nice to say, then don't say anything" I will make an exception with Silver Cloud. Upon arrival we were rushed aboard, quick but small glass of champagne then left to our own devices ... Read More
I have a motto "If you have nothing nice to say, then don't say anything" I will make an exception with Silver Cloud. Upon arrival we were rushed aboard, quick but small glass of champagne then left to our own devices to find our cabins, there was no meet and greet, into our cabins, where was the butler who unpacks your bags and shows you around? I only saw him twice, even then I had to get my son to track him down!!! The ship is tired and in desperate need of a major face lift, the food, AWFUL, anyone else found the New Years Eve dinner the WORST MEAL EVER? breakfast and dinner, the food was diabolical, I ended up eating a chicken burger and salad by the pool everyday as it was the only decent thing to eat. Where was the luxury? toiletries were never replaced, I asked on 4 occasions to replenish my shower gel to be told they had run out, 1 tiny bottle for 2 people for one week, Easy Jet could teach Silver Cloud about luxury and pampering. Now don't get me started on the entertainment, no music by the pool (it is not that kind of ship)if it had not been for the lovely Lisa and her crowd, I would have died of boredom, beach party cancelled,OK give us a New Years Day pool party then, noooooooo "it's not that kind of ship" Overall the general staff were brilliant, especially by the pool, as for the management, GET IN THE 21st CENTUARY, and do not look down your noses or speak down to your passengers, it is not the way to carry on. Having raved about this very poorly run ship my group had a fantastic holiday but that was all down to the wonderful fellow passengers we met, Silverseas again, NEVER, I will stick to Celebrity, now they do know how to run a ship. In all honesty, if you love life and like to enjoy yourselves stay away from Silver Cloud, however if you are of a miserable disposition, hate to see people have fun or have basically "gone to die" you will love it Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
We flew from the UK to Orlando with Virgin Atlantic. Good, direct flight, no complaints except for the fact that my husband had his windproof jacket stolen from the zipped pocket of our case. We stayed at the Hyatt Regency right in the ... Read More
We flew from the UK to Orlando with Virgin Atlantic. Good, direct flight, no complaints except for the fact that my husband had his windproof jacket stolen from the zipped pocket of our case. We stayed at the Hyatt Regency right in the airport then went to Downtown Disney for something to eat and to keep us awake - the cold did that! Took the 7.30am Southwest flight to Fort Lauderdale. Why are their flight attendants so amusing? Flight was fast and so low we had a wonderful view of the coast all the way down. We were at our hotel by 8.45am and left our cases. Lovely and sunny day, spent travelling on the water taxi and wandering. Ate at the Casablanca Cafe at the top of the street. Excellent food and great atmosphere. After a morning walk we called a cab and set off for the pier. Only two or three ships in and the Legend was there, looking as beautiful as she did in the Med last September! Embarkation took about 5 minutes, then we were escorted aboard into the King Olav, handed a fruit cocktail which we didn't get chance to drink as we were dealt with really quickly and taken to our suite, number 103. We opened the champagne and our cases arrived soon after, so within half an hour we had unpacked and were ready to be treated for the next week! Our onboard credit notification, silver wine package and welcome letter were there on the dressing table. No hosted table dinner invitation! Oh dear - we really enjoyed those last time we were on the Legend. A couple of times later in the week we did get invited to dine with staff and really enjoyed it. It's one of the things that makes Seabourn great, in our opinion. Sailaway was breezy and not very pretty, bearing in mind our last cruise departed from Monte Carlo! We talked to a few people as everyone was very friendly. At lifeboat drill we met a nice couple from London who we then sat with for dinner that evening. We weren't disappointed with the food - just as good as last time. Nothing is too much trouble for the staff - ask and you will get it. We were very impressed when we went in to the Veranda Cafe for breakfast next morning and were greeted by name by some of the staff - they had remembered us! Another lovely touch. First day was a sea day and the weather was kind although throughout the cruise there was 'motion in the ocean' as Captain Anderssen kept telling us! Went to join a Trivia team, leaving husband sunbathing. Did quite well and I answered a couple of questions that the others didn't know so I felt I earned my place! Next day we played again and hubby came with me. We finished that round in the lead, due to our team captain Kevin and his Mum, Ann, knowing lots of things that the rest of us had no clue about! We arrived at Grand Turk at lunchtime the next day but the weather changed just as we did so and it rained. We walked along the beach, round the corner and had the beach to ourselves. It was less windy there and the sea not as choppy. Another sea day followed and weather not good - quite cool and windy and sea fairly choppy so seasickness tablets purchased from the Purser! Trivia final was nail-biting but we won! Received black Seabourn tote bags as prizes which I now use with pride! Husband went to a wine tasting after lunch hosted by the Sommelier which was excellent. Jost Van Dyke was the next stop and we went on a catamaran sail and snorkel. Well, husband snorkelled. I climbed down the ladder into the sea then climbed back up again as it was too rough for me! Enjoyed the trip, but people complained that they should have had fins (flippers to us from the UK) so we had a partial refund of the cost of the trip. Went on the beach by the Soggy Dollar Bar in the afternoon and swam again. Beautiful sunshine, a few clouds and very hot. Perfect! Next day we toured St Kitts with Kate and Don who we met on CC and who are now firm friends! Had a lovely day with Roosevelt Taylor. Lunched at Rawlins Plantation, visited the batik factory and had a look at Ottleys Plantation too. Bought coconut rum at the port shops and then back on board for Sailaway. Wonderful trip through all the islands and a fantastic sunset. Our trip to Prickly Pear Island on the last day was the most disappointing - it was cloudy, windy and rainy so the beach barbecue and our trip to the Baths were both cancelled. However, the galley lunch was fantastic! How do they do it? They also arranged for people to visit a resort on a nearby island if they wanted. We disembarked in Charlotte Amalie, most upset at leaving the ship and our new friends, especially knowing that they were staying on her for another week. We then stayed on St Thomas for the rest of the week. Weather was mixed again so we were disappointed with our Caribbean experience, weather-wise, but delighted with Seabourn again. Just to mention a few highlights: Jez, the chef, was very high profile and all the food was excellent. We ate twice in Restaurant 2 on the Tasting nights and it was outstanding. Captain Anderssen was his usual amusing self and also always about chatting to people and keeping an eye on things. David E was very sociable but we missed Eric! Sam, the guitarist from England was brilliant. The whole ship was kept very clean and tidy and the staff and crew are fantastic. We made some very good friends and ate and drank far too much with them (and without them!) The wine choices were good and if you didn't like what was served you only had to ask and you would be brought what you wanted. To summarise - another brilliant cruise. Thank you, Seabourn. We'll be back! Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
This was my 1st Seabourn cruise. I have cruised on most of the major lines before, and truly, did not know if I would enjoy a small ship with 198 fellow passengers. Well, other than the Celebrity Alaska cruise I have already booked and ... Read More
This was my 1st Seabourn cruise. I have cruised on most of the major lines before, and truly, did not know if I would enjoy a small ship with 198 fellow passengers. Well, other than the Celebrity Alaska cruise I have already booked and paid for that is happening in July 2010, I will probably NEVER sail on a 'mega liner' again. The Seabourn experience starts off with several staff members welcoming you, dressed in their crisp, dark blue suits, with white gloves. You are invited into the King Olav lounge to fill out the minimal amount of paperwork, get your digital photo taken for your ship ID card (they take your passport, but don't worry, you do get it back when your cruise is finished) and then, one of the nice, well dressed staff, personally escorts you to your suite (they don't call them cabins on Seabourn!). We stayed in #125 on the Legend, and it was GREAT! We were midship, on the same floor as the self serve laundry, and on the same floor as the disembarkation for many of our ports. The cabin is well laid out, with a tub/shower combo (loved that!!), walk in closet, cocktail table that raises and turns into a dining room table, huge picture window, flat screen TV, BOSE CD player, safe, fluffy duvets on the bed, and on and on! If you use any electrical outlets, at all, YOU MUST BRING A POWER STRIP WITH YOU! Sadly, this cabin, as perfect as it is, only has ONE (yes, I did say one!) electrical outlet for those of us from the USA. Not sure why this lovely ship was designed with this, but that is definitely a flaw that can be easily corrected if you toss a power strip into your luggage. Also, if you are an adventurous 'foodie', you will LOVE the daily menus on Seabourn. If, however, you're a bit more on the conservative side and don't venture out more in regard to your food tastes and preferences than the Cheesecake factory menu, you will probably find this experience to be a bit challenging regarding the daily menu choices. I, sadly, am not a big foodie, so I was eating the chicken with mashed potatoes entrEe on a daily basis, or a pizza from room service. Of course, the chef would have made me something on a special request, but I never got around to making a formal request to the staff. The service and the kindness, is what the staff at Seabourn will bring to your party. What you must bring to this cruise are plenty of things to entertain yourself with (DVD's, books, etc.). As much as I loved this experience, and have already placed my $1K deposit down on a future Seabourn experience, they could use more activities. We were finally treated to a bridge tour and a galley tour on our 2nd to last day, and that was spectacular! We made a mention of 'wish there were more activities on board' on our survey, and Eric (the world's BEST and non-attitude-ish cruise director) took us aside as we were disembarking to leave our lovely journey and go to the airport, and told us that he was very sorry that he did not have more things planned for us. YIKES! Be careful what you write on your survey, as they are read before you leave the ship! Eric said that he had just transferred to the Legend and had been in constant performance practice/warm up sessions and had not had the needed time to put together a 'busier' itinerary. It was very, very nice of him to mention this to us, and I felt really crummy that I had even written anything down. BUT, it is important, that as passengers, there is more to do than just eat and drink. Bingo, port lectures, (there was no trivia on this cruise due to no at sea days). We would have loved to have a cooking class on how Seabourn makes those incredible, highly addictive breadsticks! I will definitely do a special request the next time I travel on Seabourn, for a breadstick class. You will meet some of the most lovely and non-uppity people on this ship. We were always greeted by fellow passengers with a big smile and a good morning/good afternoon/good evening. Also, the staff does their very best to greet you by name, a truly amazing touch! Also, I have always detested going to the shore excursion desk on any major cruise line. The staff is typically rude and pretentious, even though they are there to sell *me* something! Well, on the Legend, you will be AMAZED at Claudio, your shore excursion manager. He is so kind. He was actually on our 1st catamaran excursion with us, and was a blast! Each day, he would spend some time chatting with us and we so enjoyed his company and great stories! I would definitely recommend booking your excursions thru Seabourn, if at all possible. This allows you to meet so many of your nice, fellow passengers and really makes the cruise so enjoyable when you see familiar faces. Seabourn is very fair on their excursion pricing, so I will definitely be using them in the future. Also, our future cruise consultant, Charl, was the sweetest man, you would ever want to meet. He never 'sold' us on Seabourn, but just treated us kindly and expressed a genuine interest in us and the experiences we were having on our cruise. He gave us advise on different cruises that he thought we would enjoy. It's the little things, such as having breakfast in the Veranda Cafe and having the captain ask, very politely, if he can join us. NEVER, ever, on a mega ship, do you ever see the captain, except on the dorky 'meet the captain' party where everyone has to get dressed up like it's prom, and then stand around in a long line. Very demeaning!! Another nice Seabourn touch, is when you go into port, there is a Seabourn canopy with cookies, bottled water, soda, sunblock, etc. and a uniformed employee, standing by to take excellent care of you. WOW! This is such a nice thing to do. In regard to the dress code, be sure to bring plenty of dressy clothes. I would have preferred a more upper casual dress code, but that is not Seabourn. Women were always in dresses after 6:00 PM and men were in suits and jackets. This is not a Dockers/Tommy Bahama shirt (after 6:00 PM) cruise. In this world of rush, rush, rush - hurry up and wait, rudeness from the majority of the service people that you come in contact with, it is a blessing to know that a caring, wondering cruise line like Seabourn exists! Are there some things they could do a bit better, yes, but they do SO many of them right, that it is a shining star! I wish that Seabourn would offer more 5-7 day cruises for those of us who work and cannot take two weeks off to vacation. That is a suggestion that I also put on my comment card. I would love to see Seabourn do a Pacific Coast cruise, more East Coast cruises, and Alaska. All in all, this is a not to be missed experience. Just Book It! Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
I will try to provide a VERY detailed review of our first ever Windstar cruise. A little background, this is only our 2nd cruise ever, our only other experience cruising was a massive Carnival ship, which was a great cruise at the time ... Read More
I will try to provide a VERY detailed review of our first ever Windstar cruise. A little background, this is only our 2nd cruise ever, our only other experience cruising was a massive Carnival ship, which was a great cruise at the time because we were entertaining my 13 year old daughter (Wife and I, early 50's, normal vacation is to pick one area and explore it very thoroughly). As a matter of fact this year's big trip was to be to Tuscany in the fall, but winter in Vermont was really dragging on, and when an email offering a tremendous discount on Windstar came across my desk, off we went. First stop was Barbados; we spent the night before at the Silver Point hotel. Big shout out, as this was a GREAT place to unwind and get ready for the cruise. A bit far from anything but great fun watching the kite surfers and the food at the on site restaurant was really good if a bit expensive. On Sunday we went on a tour of the island with a friend we met on the Cruisecritic boards and had great fun. Saw lots and lots of beaches then went back to the hotel to pick up our bags and lunch. Embarkation; truly could not of been easier. We boarded early as we were so excited to start exploring the ship. Walked into the terminal, handed off the luggage, and got a nice cold glass of water, picture taken and on board we went. On Board, for an older ship the public spaces are incredible clean and shiny. That said some areas are getting threadbare, carpets at the gangways, around the elevators and some parts of the cabins were dirty and dusty. Also I noticed some sheets had a few small stains but all in all a truly beautiful ship. Speaking of cabins we had quite a run around with ours, when we booked we were given cabin 122, mid ship, 1st floor, perfect spot. Then we were upgraded for free , Thank You, to the 2nd floor right where the elevators were, no thank you, so when I called back to say we rather have to room we booked, I was told no problem, but I never noticed that we had been moved to 111, same category but further back of the ship. This posed no problem with rocking but our cabin was right at the gangway level, so privacy was a problem when the tenders were loading. Cabins were small but very comfortable and served their purpose perfectly. Of course being such a small ship, it was no problem at all finding our way around. Food; I though the meals were incredible, something different every day. Food always fresh, well seasoned and some of the dishes truly 5 star quality. Over all I would say the food was well above average. Probably the most disappointing meal was the outside restaurant called La Marche, 5 course seafood menu that stayed the same all week and just didn't seem to be inspired. Degrees, on the other hand, with its Mediterranean inspired menu was excellent as was every meal we had in the main dining room. The main dining room had at least 5 choices for entrees every night including some unusual ones, my very first oxtail and it was GREAT. Breakfast and lunch were very good with made to order choices available every day along with a buffet.. The breakfast buffets were your standard fare but 4 to 5 made to order choices were available everyday (Tiramisu pancakes YUM). The lunch buffet changed every day, the Asian inspired buffet was really good. My one pet peeve was the absolute ridiculous pricing for sodas and bottled water, c'mon why rip off your customer that way?? Drinks and wine were expensive but not crazy bad and as a wine freak, I was very happy with the by the glass options we had for dinner. Staff was great. I have never seen a more polished, happy group of employees. Everyone really seemed to love their job and seemed to take great pleasure in serving you. Our room steward, while mainly invisible, kept our room spotless, (well if you ignored the dust and fingerprints near the ceiling, that is, but even we didn't notice that till the last day). Bar staff, front desk staff, were always smiling and helpful. I can not remember one single time when someone appeared to be in a bad mood. Activities, passengers and miscellaneous; For the most part, forget any activities on board, they had scheduled a couple of WII tournaments, a putting contest and nobody ever showed up, of course (and I may get lynched for this) if the "cruise director" had made a quick, simple announcement maybe we would of gotten a few people. Speaking of the cruise director, he must have the easiest job in the whole world as I never saw him do a thing except sing at the lounge one night and introduce staff. Passengers tended to be between the ages of 40-60 though we saw a few 30 something's and one incredible lady of 93 on her 15th Windstar cruise. Most everybody was really friendly, sorta felt like one big extended family. OK this appears to have gone on long enough, quickly just a few things, sign up for the laundry deal, $99 per cabin unlimited laundry well worth it, you have to be a serious drinker to get your monies worth from the pre paid deals, more modern music in the Compass Rose, great pre dinner music in the Lounge, talent show was fun, comedian is the absolute worse I have ever saw he must be the owners relative to keep a job. Any specific questions please feel free to write me; andyb1958 at comcast net I will post a link to our web album in the cruise critic Windstar board once I have the pictures all up. Bequia; Our least favorite stop, dirty, taxi driver tried to rip us off. Turtle sanctuary was OK, beach was nice but there is better later in the trip. Dominica; Port itself is only OK what made this an incredible stop was the Caribbean cooking class we took, Daria and staff are unbelievable as is her home. If you have a chance do this tour 5+ for the class. St Lucia; Another fun day, we went zip-lining which was alot of fun and then Windstar had a picnic for us on a private beach. We then explored the back side of Pigeon Island which is very cool. All in all one stop I wish we would of had more time to explore the island. Grenada; Would of liked to explore the town and market place more but we had booked a river tubing adventure, DO NOT do this unless you know exactly how much rain fall they have had . On our trip they had no rain for the last 3 months and the water level was WAY too low. This trip should have been canceled in my opinion and we felt ripped off. Our only disappointment in the whole trip, Windstar if you are reading this, pay attention to the trips you offer and warn your customers before they spend money. If we had been told the river level was low and we could choose another trip we would have. Mayreau; Incredible beach, killer hill, cool bars, great stop Tobago; Best stop of the whole trip, private guide who was unbelievable. saw almost the whole island and a huge amount of birds , Hiked the rain forest great time Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
I travelled on the Journey on her third cruise in May 2007. She was covering the Cape Liberty to St. George and Hamilton, Bermuda, route that first season and she was the perfect ship for a perfect destination (wish she would do that ... Read More
I travelled on the Journey on her third cruise in May 2007. She was covering the Cape Liberty to St. George and Hamilton, Bermuda, route that first season and she was the perfect ship for a perfect destination (wish she would do that again). Just completed the March 20 Caribbean sailing. Choose this ship based upon previous experience and the seven (7!!) ports of call. Embarkation and Disembarkation were organized, easy and swift. The stateroom with balcony was fine but I had forgotten that the bathroom is smaller than on, say, the Celebrity Constellation or Mercury. Two corners were angled and reduced the amount of room. Fine for one person though. Am allergic to feathers and the butler immediately changed out the duvat and pillows. Did need an eggcrate cushion to bridge the gap when the two twins were placed together to form the larger bed configuraton. The ship is just the right size for getting to know both the other passengers, the crew and senior staff. As a solo traveller, this made for many groups of new friends with whom I could share experiences and activities. The size also made for easy navigation throughout. The ports of call were good: three were old friends and four were new: St. Johns USVI, St. Barths, Martinique, Dominica, Grenedines, St. Kitts and Virgin Gorda. Good to not be in the frenetic tourist zones. We tendered in four of the seven ports but the service and timing were excellent. Liked that there was no 'recommending' of island shops and the excursion talks did discuss on what the island had to offer along with slides of recent excursions. One of the reasons that I chose the Journey was my remembrance of the outstanding quality of food. Alas, I don't believe the main dining room was a 5+ plus, as it was on the 2007 cruise, but more a 4. Service was sporadic - always courteous but sometimes poorly paced (took 15 minutes for the waiter to arrive to take our drink and food orders on one occasion). The buffet was a 3 - not bad but not overwhelming. Food was sometimes undercooked (breakfast potatoes) and generally not hot (despite the quick turnover) and sometimes slow to be replenished. The entire staff, from top to bottom, was wonderful. Senior staff was evident throughout the ship at many functions. The activities group was young and energetic. The enrichment speaker (from Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland) was marvelous and one of the best I've experienced. I witnessed the cruise director, physician and nurse responding to a medical emergency with professionalism and care. My major complaint is the lack of support for the Verizon network. Neither the US nor the International systems were functioning for Verizon. A fellow passenger had even checked with Verizon and Azamara prior to the cruise to determine if his service would function; he was assured that it would; but it did not. Verizon is the major carrier in the US so this is a significant problem. There is wear and tear evident (rubbed finishes on wood, missing tiles at the pool, missing railings, stained stateroom carpeting). Azamara has never been a discount line so this is not good; Azamara Club is looking to compete with the well-known luxury lines and its new pricing structure is evidence of that. What I forgive at the former pricing is not what I will forgive at a 30 to 50% premium. The ship needs to be spruced up now to compete. (On the last day at sea, the entire port side of deck 5 was closed for painting. This was my and several others favorite spot for snoozing and reading.) Need more deck chairs on either side of deck 5. As a non-flying traveller, I will not be joining the Journey again soon as starting in Spring 2011, the Journey does not embark from the continental US. That is a shame because, with the right pricing and Verizon service, I would travel on the Journey again in a heartbeat. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
My sister and I chose the Journey for two reasons: first, some new ports of call; and, second, we had sailed on Quest in '08 on a fourteen day western Med cruise and loved the ship's size - much more intimate than any ships we ... Read More
My sister and I chose the Journey for two reasons: first, some new ports of call; and, second, we had sailed on Quest in '08 on a fourteen day western Med cruise and loved the ship's size - much more intimate than any ships we had previously sailed. We were not disappointed on either point. We thoroughly enjoyed most of the seven ports visited with perhaps one exception: Martinique (although it did have its good points, like the local market, the library and the shorefront. We both had previously visited the island and were looking forward to taking the ferry across the bay to the hotel area for some beaching. (Like I said, this was to be a relaxing vacation.) Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate. Journey did not disappoint us in any way. We love the feel of the smaller ship, the fact that at each turn there is a familiar, friendly face in the passengers and ship's officers. On the larger ships one can go an entire cruise without meeting the same people twice, so being in a position to actually make friends with fellow pax is a plus. Also so very helpful on both Azamara ships is the fact that they have on-board at each port an actual resident of the island du jour armed with maps, info and a head full of answers for whatever questions asked. Very helpful for those islands which were new to us! But, back to the beginning: Embarcation was a BREEZE! We had filled out all our info on-line, so it was a simple case of handing over the paperwork and our passports for confirmation, then board the ship, have our photo taken for the ships pass, grab a glass of bubbly and wander the familiar surroundings till lunch time at Windows. After the mandatory boat drill - sans life vests - we met our fellow Cruise Critics at the bar aft of Windows/Breezas for an intro, matching faces now with screen names. What a wonderful, diverse group we were! Since we were a group of almost 50 pax, the ship hosted a cocktail party for us, which was most gracious of them. Senior officers were in attendance, so you get to meet them on a more personal level than at the Captain's Club cocktail party. Our cabin was adequate. We had booked the SA category this year, knowing how small they are. The balcony just fits a small table and two chairs. The stateroom proper is smaller than most balcony staterooms we have booked on larger ships, as is the bathroom, but we went into it with our eyes open having taken a tour of the Journey while she was in port two years ago. It took a while to get used to the smaller area, but we adjusted. Last year on Oosterdam we were in a deluxe veranda at 580 sq. ft. and a balcony to die for. Even hosted the Cruise Critic party there which OO set up for us and our 40 guests. On Quest, we had booked a Sky suite which was quite comfortable. But as I said, we knew what we were getting, so not disappointed on that account - just spoiled from past accommodations! Our butler, Rosalie, and her assistant, Juan, were happy to serve us for the duration of the trip, although Rosalie at times seemed quite harried - "meetings" going on. Probably about the transition for the next cruise when things would change. We did request extra pillows which were promptly delivered, as well as bed boards for the saggy springs supporting the mattresses. That is something which Azamara must invest in - some good beds! And simply replacing the mattress won't hack it, since they are supported by the old fashioned springs attached to the bed frame. No box spring at all. Perhaps platform beds would do the trick??? We ate at all of the venues, from the pool grille to the specialty restaurants and everywhere in between, including our stateroom where we could order from the main dining room menu. The food was consistently very good, some excellent, and with a good variety. My only complaint was an over-done tough rib steak in the Prime C. And the funny thing was my sister ordered the same and hers was under-done. Guess that was because her steak was about twice the thickness of mine. Talk about consistence here..... And need a quick snack mid-day? Stop by Cova Cafe for a small sandwich or a piece of cake. I recommend the sandwich on the ciabatta bread - the one with pesto and brie on it is to die for! As stated earlier, this was a 'vacation', not 'travel', so we did not do ship's excursions, and only did private excursions on two islands we had not been to before. I highly recommend Challenger Taxi on Bequia (think its challengertaxi@yahoo.com) They gave us a wonderful tour of the island for less than half that offered on the ship and more inclusive. They even took some of us to the beach after dropping off the fellow pax at the port, and picked us up for the same price. Can't beat that deal with a stick! A fellow passenger, CC name Elaynek, had arranged a tour on St Barths which was also great. Don't know who the provider was, but look up postings by Elaynek on the March 20, 2010 cruise and you can pick up the info there. On Dominica, we took a cab to the black sand beach which was recommended by the port representative. We told him we wanted a beach where we could rent lounge chairs, and that was the one he recommended. Our taxi driver was a charming man who was very proud of his island home and kept up quite the chatter during our 20 minute ride to the beach, where he waited for us for two hours (which we had arranged for in advance) for a reasonable rate. In St Barths, we went to Shell Beach, an easy walk from the pier. On inquiring about lounge rentals, were told they did not rent them; however if we bought lunch, we could use them free. Go figure, but that is exactly what we did. On Virgin Gorda, again asking the port rep about renting lounges, he suggested taking a taxi to Fischers Hotel and Beach Club. Leaving the ship, we stopped at the taxi kiosk and asked for one to take us there. The gentleman was truly that: he told us there was no need to waste our moneey on a taxi since the hotel was only about five minutes from where we stood! How often do you think that would happen??? It was a first for me, I'll tell you. Was this cruise worth the money? Yes, it certainly was! Would it be at the projected cost increases for AZ Club Cruises? I doubt it. Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed the ship, the crew, the food, the ambiance, the ports of call, the friendly people we met on the islands, and last but certainly not least, our fellow passengers and new friends. I'd certainly give Azamara Journey a 5 star rating for this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
We recently just finished our fourth Windstar cruise on the Windsurf sailing from Barbados for a week. The cruise was absolutely wonderful and an experience every cruiser should take advantage. We are avid cruisers and have sailed on all ... Read More
We recently just finished our fourth Windstar cruise on the Windsurf sailing from Barbados for a week. The cruise was absolutely wonderful and an experience every cruiser should take advantage. We are avid cruisers and have sailed on all of the main stream cruise lines. They all have something for passengers however Windstar takes it to another level. Checking in was the easiest thing. If you have ever sailed on the larger ships you know what that experience is like it can take forever unless you are a preferred guest or are travelling in a suite. This was so easy, no line up just a quick check on a couple of things, register you credit card and then you are handed your keys and you board. The whole process took approx. 2 mins. They did change it this time as when we previously sailed you check in on board in the lounge, this time was on shore however both ways are very simple. This sailing we were in a mini suite and we really enjoyed the extra space and the fact that we had two bathrooms so when we were getting ready to go out we didn't have to wait on one another. A real bonus. The cabins are generous and because it is a sail ship every ounce of space is used so that you could put everything away and didn't have to have things lying around. They knew what they were doing when they planned these cabins. We have stayed in a regular cabin before and they are just as wonderful so if you opt for that you will not be disappointed. The food was wonderful, with lots of variations and the dining options would rival any of the big ships. For dinner you had a choice of 5 options. The Restaurant, Degrees, Candles, Le Marche or room service. On this cruise we took advantage of every option and ate twice at the Restaurant and Le Marche. Le Marche is a great experience and the meals were creative and tasty. You couldn't want for anything as they had it. Breakfast and lunch were also good although we did end up eating on shore mostly for lunch and just getting back in time for some of the bread pudding. Windstar has the best bread pudding and there was always a line up for it. I recall one day when there was none in the pan and the waiter jokingly told us that it was all gone you should have seen the faces. Of course it was not all gone he just had to refill however you would have thought he had just told everyone to get off the ship! It was interesting in some of the ports when the larger ships were there and I can honestly say we were glad not to be on them. Small ships are the way to go. The crowd on this sailing were wonderful. We were travelling with friends however we also met and travelled around with other guests on shore and at dinner. We only did one shore excursion and that was in Dominica. It was a cooking class and if you have an opportunity to do this excursion we would highly recommend it. At the other ports we just got off the ship and made our own way around. It is pretty simple to do since we went to very small islands. I would highly recommend that you take the laundry package. For $99 dollars it was money well spent. We went home with clean cloths that were nicely pressed. It was a real treat. Windstar is not for kids as there are no daily activities. There is a cruise director however other than singing in the lounge at night we really didn't see him do much. Nice gig if you can get it. Overall Windstar's motto is "180 Degrees from Ordinary" and it is. Simply put it is one of the best cruise lines we have sailed and we plan on sailing on it again. Next time we are going to do the Greek Islands. If you are looking for a unique experience then try Windstar you won't be disappointed. Happy sailing!!! Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
This cruise isn't for everyone - just those who like to have fun. The food was good, sometime great - never cold or tasteless. Yes, I ran into a couple of staff members that were a little snootie - but no one that mattered. The dining ... Read More
This cruise isn't for everyone - just those who like to have fun. The food was good, sometime great - never cold or tasteless. Yes, I ran into a couple of staff members that were a little snootie - but no one that mattered. The dining room service could be faster. Sometimes you have to time it just right to get an evening hot beverage - so ... We learned to workaround the things that we weren't use to on an American style cruise. We loved the entertainment team - they made you have a good time - if you don't have a good time - you probably are a watcher and not a doer. Generally, I watch. Not this time... My sister tried several of the new dances they taught, I was in the parade (definitely out my comfort zone) - it was a blast - silly outfit and all! Oh yeah, I was in the dance contest - I did the Tango and more... Interesting since I don't know how to do the Tango - must have been the rum! Every night we went to our favorite place the Zebra lounge. The Eteam would ask everyone to dance - fat, old, mean looking... didn't matter - they tried to make everyone have fun. Truthfully, I didn't start participating until the second week. I had fun the first week - but the second week was the most fun I have ever had on a cruise. We loved St. Maarten's Beach - The French side. Warm water and lots of fun in the waves. We climbed the Dunn's River Falls- that was fun also. The excursions were reasonably priced and worth more than we paid. The photographers were good - not too many scary pictures. In short, if all you care about is great food and being able to find food at all times - this isn't the cruise for you. If you are a single woman or man - and you like to dance and party - this is the cruise for you. Looking to book again next year. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
My sister and l arrived 3 days early so that we could enjoy Miami and each other before our adventure at sea was to begin. Our arrival at the Azamara Schedualed hotel "The Epic" was better than we expected! They upgraded us so ... Read More
My sister and l arrived 3 days early so that we could enjoy Miami and each other before our adventure at sea was to begin. Our arrival at the Azamara Schedualed hotel "The Epic" was better than we expected! They upgraded us so that was a bonus. I think the $150/night charged to the cruise line was about half of what we paid for the room so booking yourself might be more economical. We were given free breakfast vouchers and only had to pay $8 to include the hot selections. It was very busy at all times so the free glass of wine before supper helped to take our minds off our wait. The shuttle to the cruise port was not well known to us so was shocked when l found out 30min. before it arrived that 11am was pickup time. If l hadn't called we would have missed it. The embarkation was a breeze! We were offered a sparkling Zinfandel on arrival and proceeded to the Windows Cafe for our lunch. Sudarto greeted us with his friendly smile and a muchacho (macchiato) and we laughed about that for the rest of the cruise! That was the beginning of a great first impression with all the staff. At first we were not pleased with our room as it was dusty and warm with a gnarly blue car blanket on the beds. Our butler was a little tardy about bringing us ice and so we never had water and wine on the rocks. One night he missed us all together, we did not like room 6078 so were moved to 7028 5 days later as the lack of sleep was getting to us. Hot and humid does not make sleeping comfortable. We had foamies put on our mattresses as we found the beds hard. Now as soon as we got to our new room the cruise started to pick up momentum!! We started to enjoy using our balcony as just opening the sliding door once would have meant 25C all day and night. We were actually able to keep the door open in the new room so that we could hear the wonderful music from the TV station with the web cam. We loved the Masterpiece Theatre channel too!! A little hiccup with the plumbing made for some stair climbing on our last night as toilets were not working. Breakfast on the veranda lost its charm after we discovered how amazing it was in the windows cafe. Even in the Discoveries it was boring as Herring, sardines and stinky fish is not what l eat first thing in the morning. Our supper in the discovery was the best part of the day esp when the desserts were served. I only gained 3 lbs as we made sure to walk the stairs and eat lots of delicious fruit and good for you oatmeal with ground flax in the mornings. We loved the lamb kabobs at the pool grill and found the staff very hard working and friendly. The ice-cream was so yummy and l ate sorbet at least 3 times a day. Fresh fruit and the excellent quality of food made for less waste and made guilt free foraging a daily adventure. The smaller ship was a first for me and it won't be my last. We met so many wonderful people and danced together and laughed till our faces and sides hurt! The Musical trio of Mickey,Larry and Dallas made the cruise so special as they entertained us by the pool and up in the Looking glass. D.J.Oleg helped us to work off our days feasting into the wee hours and his sweet demeanor and dance moves a great way to end the day. Our many friends laughed, visited, danced, ate, drank and made plans for the next day! Loved the ports, even the tenders! I think that all cruisers should experience the Azamara Journey so that they will have the chance to meet wonderful friends, friendly crew, listen to great music and dance, drink free specialty coffees with no hassles if you ask for soy milk!!! and get to know islands that are hidden gems. The front desk staff were very helpful and always attentive to our needs. So many activities on sea days made for a relaxing cruise. Now if there was a way to stop all the seat saving then everyone could enjoy basking in the sun! The sanctuary was great but there too was lots of seat saving so we just moved the books to another lounger. We enjoyed the shower in the sanctuary as our room was so hot.It was worth the $100 for a shower curtain that doesn't hug!!! I bought an underwater camera on board but was disappointed when l was unable to use my 20 free photo downloads as the picture machine was ancient. Ronaldo was very helpful and accommodating and should get cudo points for having to wear the dolphin costume our in the sun!!! Loved the feeling that l was on a non smoking cruise!! Loved Azamara! Loved Bequia, Gustavia, St.Johns, and St.Kitts!!!! Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
This is my 2nd cruise with Regent. The first on the Navigator. It is as nicely appointed and detailed as we have come to expect from Regent and it was kept clean and in good condition. I don't think that was a big chore as the ship ... Read More
This is my 2nd cruise with Regent. The first on the Navigator. It is as nicely appointed and detailed as we have come to expect from Regent and it was kept clean and in good condition. I don't think that was a big chore as the ship had just come out of dry dock. Our cabin was on the 11th deck and unfortunately directly below the treadmills in the gym. Yes every day ALL day someone was running on them. There was NO way one could take a leisurely afternoon nap and forget any relaxing evening appetizer as the continual thumping of someone running on the treadmill overpowered everything else. Our safe did not work and we contacted several different people form the cabin stewardess to the security officer... I doubt the safe is working yet! We did not have a room service menu in the book of ship info and was treated a bit snooty by the butler when I asked for one. FINALLY-- the executive staff was not all helpful or friendly. The cruise consultant Mike was in fact rude and we have cancelled a scheduled cruise in August. Basically all he could tell us repeatedly was how busy he was booking... booking- booking - booking - booking- Really he said 6 times in one brief conversation... The excursion director seemed a bit terrified of face to face dealings with guests and I got the idea none of the excursion staff really had been on some of (or most of ) the excursions. The staff ALWAYS seems as though they are too busy to talk to YOU - to bad YOU are NOT important enough. NOW-- the room was nice - clean and the housekeeping is impeccable. The maintenance is so-so and honestly the revamp of the pool area is a surprise as I had thought for the first 7 days "to bad they didn't redo the pool in dry dock" Silly me , they did ... I don't think I would spend the money on Navigator again. Unless some substantial improvements are made and very publicly declared. Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
We arrived at the port and the Azamara/Celebrity/Royal Caribbean was the first parking structure. I pulled up to the terminal and was greeted by a friendly porter who asked our cabin number. We told him and he said I will take care of your ... Read More
We arrived at the port and the Azamara/Celebrity/Royal Caribbean was the first parking structure. I pulled up to the terminal and was greeted by a friendly porter who asked our cabin number. We told him and he said I will take care of your luggage. He escorted my wife to a seat to wait for me until I parked my car. I drove into the parking area. Parked and walked across the road to meet my wife. We entered the terminal and only one person was online. We were greeted by a friendly person who did the paper work and gave us our photo boarding passes. We walked onto the ship and were greeted by the friendly staff. They escorted us to our cabin. We were told the butler would meet us later. Ronald did and was friendly and informative. We proceeded to the beautiful buffet on deck nine. Everything looked good and tasted fresh. On the cruise: When we got to St. Barts everything was closed and there was no notification to the passengers. The parade was very nice and ran a little late. Passengers were afraid to stay to enjoy it. The time to depart could have been delayed for an hour. We were so close to our next port we could have made up the time. Religious services: It was Ash Wednesday. The town and the church were closed. Why didn't Azamara have church services for those who wanted to attend? This was very bad and those people will remember this and tell others. The Azamara cruise should have issued a notice before we went ashore in Fort De France aka MARTINIQUE that all the stores were closed for a holiday. We were at the dock that was about 1.5 miles from town. There was a dock right in town. Why didn't we dock there? The Fresh flowers in the room and the beautiful Orchards on the tables and all around the ship were a plus. The ladies were given a Red Rose on Valentines Day that was very nice. The buffet had a very good selection. We found ourselves dining up here most of the nights. I was very impressed with Michael Peterson the head chief of the buffet. I sent in a negative comment about the first Caribbean night. When he saw me at the buffet getting a stir fry he said, Hello Mr. Schecter how is everything. Again on the last night he asked me the same question. He also asked me about the next Caribbean night buffet. I told him the second Caribbean night was much better than the first one. Food was very good with many great selections and decorations that gave a nice ambiance to the theme. The guitar music was very good. The entertainment team and the band made it an unforgettable night. He thanked me and said he always try to improve his department. The decorations around the buffet were interesting. Ice cream was served in the buffet during lunch and diner was great. We think servers should wear gloves when they serve the ice cream cones. We were never told or discovered the soft serve ice cream until we found it by accident on the tenth day. More crafts are needed. Ladies love them on sea days. There was only one craft making Valentines cards. I believe everyone would like some good craft sessions. The movies and TV pre recorded programs were very enjoyable. Happy to be able to see some Olympic events on the TV. TNT is always a good movie channel. Room service menu had nice selections & servings were ample. Time from order to delivery was ok. Pedro did a great job cooking omelets in the morning at the buffet. We enjoyed eating on back deck with tropical breezes and panoramic views. We really enjoyed dining at Aqualina Restaurant. The seafood appetizer was absolutely delicious and presentation was excellent. The dining experience was outstanding. The matradi Daniel and our waiter Frederick were excellent and accommodating. As the head Chief Lisa adds a distinctive feminine touch to the presentation of all the food served. Her presence added more. I was also impressed by one of the chiefs at the buffet addressing me by my name. Sanitation aboard the ship was very good with Purell dispensers everywhere food was served and other places. At each place we boarded the tenders and after each tender ride there was always a person with a bottle of sanitizer but some of the bottled ones left our hands feeling sticky. The room butler Ronald did a great job keeping our room clean and neat. There was always fresh water and ice twice a day and new towels and soap, shampoo, and conditioner. I think it a very poor practice for a top cruise line to give badly worn and frayed bath towels. I have had at least four. They should be taken out of service and donated to Haiti or homeless shelters. We have cruised with every major and some minor cruise lines. We have cruised more than sixty times in eight years. The entire staff was friendly, courteous, helpful, etc. The bright spots are Tony; He is without a doubt the best cruise director we have ever met. He was eager to set up a Military Veterans meeting at my request. He provided coffee, tea, cookies and more. He is bright, energetic and talented. He did a great job of entertaining everyone at his one man show with the assistance of the Dan Redner playing the piano. He is an excellent pianist. Lisa the activities director is very warm and friendly. She does a great job and has a great staff helping her. Oleg was there helping and did a great job with the pantomime classes. All the entertainers were very good. The Mirage trio, the solo guitarist, and Carlos Avalon were very good. We really liked JamiIa, and Antonio Salci. We did not care for the magician and the classical music by McSweny. She was very good but not for our taste. The five singers were great. The music chosen was excellent every time and the performance was outstanding. We also like the big shows on the larger ships with the cast of talented performers. I feel I am qualified to judge the talent as I have seen the best in my lifetime. In addition my son is Jeffrey Schecter. He has been a dancer, singer, and actor and has been on Broadway in many productions as well as world wide. He has been on TV and in films. You may have seen him recently in the Broadway production as MIKE in "A Chorus Line." Also in the film "Every Little Step." Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
We boarded the Shadow Early in Lauderdale around 1PM. Were directed to the Terazza for buffet lunch, it was easy quiet and very well organized. We had lunch and the cabins were ready. Luggage was already there (yes in one hour) and the ... Read More
We boarded the Shadow Early in Lauderdale around 1PM. Were directed to the Terazza for buffet lunch, it was easy quiet and very well organized. We had lunch and the cabins were ready. Luggage was already there (yes in one hour) and the butler was knocking on our door soon thereafter. Cabin was in good shape, a few dings and dents but overall still in shape and we always enjoy the two sinks that the smaller ships lack and the separate shower. The butler helped us unpack and brought us hangers and met all our needs with shampoo choices, shoe shining and even brought glass polishing clothes for us and polished our dirty Sunglasses etc....really excellent cabin attendants throughout our cruise. Laundry service which we used often, was flawless and happily free as we had over 100 nights on the line. Great perk. Food onboard was delicious and the quality of fish and meats was excellent. If we did not like something we always ordered something else. Sometimes off the menu and sometimes on the menu...whatever we asked they did and made as long as we gave 12 hours notice. Get creative, their kitchen was working amazingly well and ate some excellent food. On Deck buffet night was fun with much eating and drinking, grilled lobster tails and claws shrimp as far as the eye could see and ribs and a huge paella...deserts were also fabulous. As you can tell, we LOVED the food and we are are tough judges. Entertainment was the weak spot as the shows are all the same. The entertainers themselves were OK...but these are the same shows we saw last year at this time and again in August and October everything is the same. They need to end this and go back to cabaret performers. We once had Emma Sinclair onboard years ago and she was fabulous....she could sing every night as far as we were concerned. She had a beautiful voice. That said we last saw her on Regent so who knows whats going on with Silverseas entertainment. We were unimpressed and the last 2 years have not changed our feelings about this. Activities onboard were many. The New Cruise director, a lady who was English, name escapes me...was excellent. She had lots of energy and bring much to the ship. Activities were language lessons, cooking and wine pairings, ice carving, water volleyball, dance lessons and a speaker. The speaker and X CIA operative was true to his bio however his speeches we felt were a bit boring....he was chatting in a bit of a monotone and was very relaxed which put us to sleep. And the people next to us. They now have Phillip onboard hired by Diamonds International, Colombian Emeralds and Tanzanite international (same owners ultimately I think) to sell their jewelry...he gives talks and is big on "upgrading your diamonds"...friendly fellow. We also had artwork onboard and it was all for sale and you could meet with them to "learn about art" at many times during the day. We were not in love with either of these changes....however if it keeps Silversea as good as it has been we can put up with it. It is an additional revenue stream which costs us nothing. That said....buyer beware.. and there were lots of people buying. Ports were nice, and weather was lovely, little cold out of Lauderdale. Ignazio Tatulli is the Captain and he is excellent and we have sailed with him before. We always feel in capable hands with him. Other captains hardly talk or just smile a lot or can barely speak English....Tatulli really seems to care and we understand him on the loudspeaker. Overall the Shadow was fantastic for us. Levels of service both at the bars and restaurants were great. Gille the wine steward, Gilbert the maitre D, Antin in la Terazza handled the 350 us like guests and not passengers....it was spoiling and much enjoyed. The crew really seemed to work together as a team and it was nice to see. Are we going back for more? YES. Wishing you a wonderful journey and may yours be as nice as ours on the Shadow! Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
Our expectations were high as we left our comfortable Barbados hotel after four nights to join the Royal Clipper. We should have stayed in Barbados. Something seemed odd that we could only board a ship which had docked at 7am after 4pm, ... Read More
Our expectations were high as we left our comfortable Barbados hotel after four nights to join the Royal Clipper. We should have stayed in Barbados. Something seemed odd that we could only board a ship which had docked at 7am after 4pm, but of course that relieved the cruise line of serving lunch. We then had to fill out a health form and have our temperature taken, a perfectly reasonable request. What was not reasonable was another paper from we had to sign, limiting the liability of the cruise line and making passengers agree that if they were going to sue Star Clippers, the suit would be filed only in Monaco. Now that was kind of strange. I signed. They would not have let me board if I didn't. But there is a family, I am sure, who wishes they had not. My wife is partially disabled. She can walk slowly but long distances are difficult for her. We asked for a wheelchair for boarding. None was available. When we boarded, we found that there was no elevator. This was never mentioned. We were in for a week of enforced climbing of 4 flights of stairs, many of which led to narrow and difficult doors. This ship is completely unsuitable for disabled people. We could barely manage. Those more disabled than we would have had to have been left on the shore. With no refund, I am sure, although there is certainly nothing in any large print in their literature which indicates this. But I guess you were supposed to scrutinize the deck plan to find this out. Let's say this at the beginning: The ship is beautiful, the interior spaces are lovely, and the service crew (waiters, cabin stewards and deckhands) are friendly, efficient and personable. The Cruise Director was not to my liking and the Hotel Director turned out to be a baloney artist. The Captain seemed nice, but his Ukrainian accent prevented all but the most basic communication. The sailing bit is almost a gimmick. The sails are raised with great pomp and piped in music from "The Hunt for Red October. Then, as soon as everyone is at dinner or in bed, the sails are furled and the ship proceeds under power. It is too bad, the experience of proceeding on a large ship under sail is truly delightful. You get it about 25% of the time. The food is no better and no worse than many cruise ships Mostly frozen ingredients dressed up in fancily named sauces. You would think that sailing in some of the most fertile fishing waters and tropical fruit growing areas that they would make some effort to add fresh food. You would think that with Royal Caribbean and Holland America as well. The ship offers water sports equipment to the passengers. The equipment is old, dirty and disgusting it belongs at the Salvation Army. So do the books in the beautiful library. They didn't bother to got to the Salvation Army for these. They are just the left behinds from past passengers. The real problem was the port policy. It was designed to save the cruise line many dollars. It cost a life. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
My husband and I were on the Azamara Journey for this 12 day Caribbean cruise. I will tell you some of my observations without repeating what others have posted. Transportation: We started in Fort Lauderdale and had to find a way to get ... Read More
My husband and I were on the Azamara Journey for this 12 day Caribbean cruise. I will tell you some of my observations without repeating what others have posted. Transportation: We started in Fort Lauderdale and had to find a way to get to Miami. SAS Transportation was not able to help us. I reserved Michael Rozenbaum, www.US1TransportationService.com. He showed up, on time, in an immaculately clean Lincoln Town Car. He was well dressed and helped us with the luggage. I will use him again. After the cruise we used SAS Transportation, www.ridesas.com, to get from the ship in Miami to the airport in Fort Lauderdale. The driver, Tony, was waiting for us when we got off the ship. He picked us up and then picked up others from other ships. The trip went well and it was only $15 plus tip per person. Arrival: We got to the ship around 11 AM and walked right on. We gave them our luggage, they gave us some champagne, and we gave ourselves a self tour of the ship. As others have described it in other posts I will just say it is very nice. We were allowed into our cabin, around 2 PM. Cruise Critic: The Cruise Critic Meet and Mingle party was held on the first day at sea. All the officers were there to greet us, answer questions, and wish us a great cruise. The day before we left the ship there was another CC get together. This time they wanted to be sure we enjoyed the cruise and asked for input on how they could improve the Azamara cruise experience. We had very few ideas for improvements as the cruise was excellent. The Cabin: When you walk in there is a very nice bag on the bed to use on your port days. They do not leave little pieces of chocolate on your pillow at night. Instead they leave a plate with truffles, petit fours, chocolate covered strawberries or other delights. There is an interesting vase with some green stems in it in the cabin. As time passes the green stems turn into flowers which are still in their prime when you have to go home. The fruit bowl is kept full with ready to eat fruit. You don't have to wait until it ripens. Activities: Be sure to go to the raffles in the shops. You show up, they give you a raffle ticket, and then they pull a ticket. You may be a winner! Winners got jewelry and gift certificates. They have an asterisk by some of the activities on the daily program. When you participate in these activities you get the presenter to sign a special paper. On the last full day of the cruise you take your paper up to the Looking Glass and get rewards. The categories for rewards start at ten points and go up by tens. You get different things depending on how many activities you attended. The rewards include Azamara book marks, mugs, and tee shirts. The Experience: The best restaurant on the ship is the Aqualina. I had the best meal I have ever had there. You can go there more than once. They request a $5 gratuity per person. The officers are everyplace. They show up at the shows and greet you as you enter the theater. They are there in the morning when you get off the ship to wish you a good day. They pass you in the buffet and greet you. I figure they must work at least 22 hours a day! If you have any concerns they are addressed immediately. Part way through the cruise they asked for suggestions for improvement. I had a suggestion and the head of the relevant department called me to discuss it. This does not happen on the big ships. They make you feel like the passengers really matter to them. The Ports: There were seven ports in seven days. We went on shore every day except one. The sixth day, at Antiqua, the seas were high, the tenders were bouncing, we were tired, and we had been there before so we stayed on board. We had been to St. Martin recently so we just got off the ship and walked around for a while. In St. Croix, St. Barts, and Virgin Gorda we got a driver and toured the island. Each time we waited a little beyond the gangway until we had four to six people who wanted to tour before we hired a driver. They charge by the vehicle and not by the person so we all benefited by going in a group. All tour drivers spoke English and did a great job of showing us their island. Most tours were about $15 per person. In Dominica we found Oris Campbell, joca_57@hotmail.com. He took us around the island. He speaks English and did a good job of pointing out the highlights of the island. For St. Lucia we booked Cosol Tours, www.cosol-tours.com, before we left home. It was absolutely the best day of the cruise. Cosol drove our van and another man drove a second van. He showed us the island, fed us island food, took us to a snorkeling/swimming spot and generally treated us like royalty. If you go to St. Lucia you want to contact Cosol. The charge is $65 per person for a 5 to 6 hour day. It was well worth it. Conclusion: I have never seen a crew so eager to please the passengers. We really enjoyed our first Azamara cruise and look forward to going on another.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
I am a solo traveler and was on Silversea's Silver Shadow for 9 days beginning November 13, 2009, embarking in Barbados. I have cruised on Seabourn several times, so many of my observations about Silversea will be from the perspective ... Read More
I am a solo traveler and was on Silversea's Silver Shadow for 9 days beginning November 13, 2009, embarking in Barbados. I have cruised on Seabourn several times, so many of my observations about Silversea will be from the perspective of comparing two luxury cruise lines. The reason I chose Silversea over Seabourn for this particular cruise was for three reasons: Silversea had a generous single supplement (only 125%); the itinerary was the southern Caribbean (only Seabourn's new ship, the Odyssey, is sailing that particular region right now....and their single supplement is 175%), and Silversea still has formal nights in the Caribbean (Seabourn's smaller ships do not). I was in a Vista cabin, on the fourth deck. Embarkation was very easy. I had come into Bridgetown, Barbados several days early and stayed at the beautiful Hilton. I am a scuba diver and, since I dive only about once a year, I chose the Hilton for its gorgeous views of the Caribbean, and the fact they have an on-site dive shop. I loved the hotel and the diving was great. Interestingly enough, I met a couple, on CruiseCritic, who was also on my sailing and we met up at the Hilton for dinner, and boarded the Silver Shadow together. One of the great benefits of the CruiseCritic message boards is meeting people before your cruise. Especially if you are traveling solo, it's nice to have some "friends" right off the bat! I chose early embarkation and got on the ship about 11am. Very easy to get things squared away and fortunately, the suites were ready. 430 is a Vista cabin on the fourth deck, and I was very impressed with the cabins. Similar to Seabourn's standard suites, the Silver Shadow has one nice touch; a shower separate from the bathtub. As I bring my scuba gear with me, the tub was a great place to rinse it off and leave it! The cabins are gorgeous; nice big window, beautiful decor. Flat screen TV, desk with personalized stationery, and...surprise...a very comfy bed! The bathroom was very beautiful with marble everywhere (the towels, as other reviewers have reported, are a bit scratchy), two sinks, and Bulgari products (hair conditioner and shampoo, body lotion, etc.) Very nice. The luggage did not arrive for awhile, but that gave me the opportunity to scour the ship, as this was my first Silversea cruise. The Shadow has the capacity for 384 guests (Seabourn's three smaller ships hold 208). Our ship was full, but other than around the pool (or if we were gathered in the show lounge), there was never a feeling of crowds, ever. The ship itself was gorgeous, I loved it. Lots of places to hang out, the expansive Observation Lounge (with massage chairs, an impressive selection of books, and a breathtaking view of the ocean), a very well stocked library, and both the stern of the ship and deck 10 (where there is a wide walking/jogging track) gave you great views. It took me awhile to figure out to get to the restaurant, I had to go up one level, through reception, and down to deck 4 again (the deck plan showed the restaurant on level four....you can't get to it from four though!). No problems, it was fun being on a larger ship that had so many places to be. One vast improvement of the Silversea ships over the smaller Seabourn ships is the pool area. Large, perfectly positioned pool in the midst of deck 8, surrounded by chairs, so it's a very social gathering place. On our two sea days back to Ft. Lauderdale, we had stellar weather and this was the place to be. I absolutely loved this part of the ship. One of my favorite places to hang out on Seabourn's small ships is the forward jacuzzi on deck 5. I was planning to miss this feature, but Silver Shadow's happenin' pool area more than made up for it. They also had table tennis and shuffleboard "tournaments", which were lots of fun. I enjoyed the stability of the larger ship as well, and seldom felt any movement of the sea at all. Of course, we enjoyed very good weather (only Bequia and St. Bart's had intermittent rain). Our ports were Bequia, Martinique, Dominica (wins in my opinion for the friendliest people in the Caribbean), St. Kitts, St. Bart's, Tortola. I dove in every port except St. Kitts, where I took a horseback ride. Pretty island, had lots of fun. From the reports of the other passengers, they seemed to enjoy all the shore excursions that Silversea provided in the ports. The one disappointment was the food on the Silver Shadow. I'd say upwards of 50% of the time I did not like what I was eating. Most of the time I'd have just fruit in the morning (either in the Terrace buffet, or by room service), and then a quick lunch (same). I ate in the restaurant six evenings, the Terraza once and Le Champagne once. In my opinion, Seabourn's food was far superior to Silver Shadow. The service on the Shadow was friendly, but did not blow your socks off like Seabourn does. That being said, I enjoyed my cruise so much I booked Silversea's new ship, the Spirit, for another Caribbean cruise in 2010. The pool deck really won me over. On all my cruises, I've never run into a friendlier group of people than were on this sailing. The passengers were just delightful and very warm to a woman traveling alone. I was invited to dinner often, and felt included in conversations wherever they were taking place. Unlike Seabourn, Silver Shadow does not have "hosted" tables every night at dinner in the restaurant. I do like that feature of Seabourn, but all I had to do was show up in the restaurant and request a table with others who wanted company; I always had a great group of people to talk to. I did receive one invitation to dinner at a hosted table, the first formal evening. Being exhausted from diving all day, I never took in ANY of the entertainment, so I'm sorry I can't comment on that. I heard from other passengers that it was very nice. The one thing I did was Liar's Club (where they come up with a word you've never heard of, and four people give you silly definitions, one of which is true, you have to guess which one!), and that was great. I spent alot of time in the gym; they have treadmills, stairsteppers, and other exercise equipment. They also have another room with mats, exercise balls, and weights. I did not do anything in the spa as their services were over the top expensive. The people who ran both places, though, seemed very nice and helpful. The cruise director, the reception area staff, the suite stewardesses, the international hostesses, the waiters, were all wonderful. Silversea has a wonderful crew and I liked them. We did have an incident on the sailing with a man overboard, this was on the last sea day. It is a miracle, and I thank God, that the man was recovered alive and well. Kudos to the crew of the Silver Shadow for their hard work in finding him. Even after a sleepless and traumatic last morning, they were appreciative and gracious as they said goodbye to us and scrambled to invite on a new group of people. All in all, I thought Silversea a very nice line. Obviously I liked it, since I booked it again. I would give Seabourn higher marks in food and service, but that in no way takes away from how hard Silver Shadow tries to please its guests. I would be very comfortable recommending this beautiful ship to anyone. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
We have cruised on several lines from the basic to the luxury, but first time on Celebrity... The Millennium was a beautiful ship, well laid out, with first class amenities - reasonable prices for beverages - decent prices for spa services ... Read More
We have cruised on several lines from the basic to the luxury, but first time on Celebrity... The Millennium was a beautiful ship, well laid out, with first class amenities - reasonable prices for beverages - decent prices for spa services - good mix of entertainment. and service was excellent -- throughout the ship. But food was a disappointment - EXCEPT in the Olympic Restaurant, where it was outstanding the three times we ate there -- the $30pp charge was well worth it -- the ambiance, the service and the food - were the best in any specialty restaurant we ate in. However, food in the main dining room, second seating, left much to be desired...it was at best, inconsistent. One the first day, the steak that my wife ordered had to be returned as uncuttable and inedible....My slice of prime rib, and her replacement slice, were perfect.... on the third day, the steak again wasn't cut-able.. perhaps its the lack of proper steak knives, although the steaks we were served should have been able to be cut with the serrated knives offered. On several other times, the food was served cold and had to be returned. On the positive side, the menu selection was great, the apple pie a la mode, was the best ever on the seas. I was also disappointed when I tried to book a spa appointment using a coupon, and was told that only inconvenient hours were available for coupon users--they did find a more appropriate time. Cabin was great, plenty of room for luggage storage, shelf and hanging space Comfortable beds and pillows.. Bathroom left some things to be desired -- lighting was poor; shower had curtain that didnt reach floor, so floor was soaked after each use. Single sink did not have much counter space... Light switch to turn off overhead lights was only one side of bed. There were morning announcements every time we docked (about 8am) which was piped into room -- it should be turned off if one wants to sleep later. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
Our March 2009 cruise on the SPV ROYAL CLIPPER was a delightful experience that exceeded our expectations. The ship is beautiful, the crew extremely friendly, professional, and helpful, and our fellow passengers were great and interesting ... Read More
Our March 2009 cruise on the SPV ROYAL CLIPPER was a delightful experience that exceeded our expectations. The ship is beautiful, the crew extremely friendly, professional, and helpful, and our fellow passengers were great and interesting cruise companions. We had the good fortune of fair weather with plenty of sun and only the briefest of rain, and, considering the sailing nature of this ship, we had plenty of wind all week to make our way under sail.We picked the SPV ROYAL CLIPPER primarily for propulsion by sail and for the smaller passenger complement. We have owned boats and done a lot of boating in the past 25 years, including living aboard and cruising for several weeks at a time on our own boats, principally in the northern Great Lakes. Our previous cruising experience is limited. We spent a week aboard the NORWAY (formerly the SS FRANCE) in the eastern Caribbean in 2002. FOOD The food was excellent, served in elegant fashion, and in great variety. There was a bit of a European style to the cooking and some of the dishes. Breakfast and Lunch are buffets. Dinner is a grand meal, often stretching to almost ten o'clock at night. The main dining room is wonderful, filled with mahogany and brass, very nautical, with large port holes just above the waterline which are often filled with white foam from waves as you enjoy dinner under sail. The dinner menu offered fish, meat, and vegetarian choices each night. Wine can be bought by the bottle, and if you don't finish the bottle, you can have it stored and brought out the next night. The waitstaff is very congenial. Don't expect to eat and run. With our permission the Maitre d'Hotel seated us each evening at a different table with an interesting variety of dinner companions. He seemed to have a knack for mixing up congenial groups at each table. For the reclusive, there were a few tables for two available. Most people dined in parties of four, six, or eight. CABIN Our cabin was large, comfortable, and beautifully appointed. It was one of the better cabins on the ship, but we discovered that other than a bit more room and the luxury of a tub with a jacuzzi, there really was not much difference between our cabin and the less expensive ones. They are all quite elegantly furnished. We were in Cabin 316, an aft cabin on the main deck, somewhat removed from most of the other passenger accommodations. We could walk out our cabin door directly to the open deck and railings. Most of the time there were no other passengers in our deck area, so it was almost like being aboard a private yacht. Although we were near the Tropical Bar area, the sounds of its music or other activities were never intrusive. Being near the stern there was a bit more vertical motion from the ship. Cabins located amidships and lower will have less movement. ACTIVITIES ON BOARD Being a smaller ship, there are not a great deal of on-board activities, which was fine for us. Each evening around ten o'clock the Tropical Bar (on-deck but under canvas) hosts some entertainment or dancing. Passengers have free run of the ship and its decks. You can climb 60-feet to the first crow's nest on the main mast under supervision of the crew, or you can scramble out on the bow sprit's netting whenever you feel like it. The Chief Engineer gives a tour of the engine room. There are water sport activities each day, and you can go to the beach to swim, snorkel, sail small boats, or kayak for no additional charge. There are also diving activities almost daily, but at added cost. The snorkeling was conducted by a marine biologist, and it was every informative and pleasant. The marine biologist also presented one or two lectures during the cruise. The principal on-board daily activity is the sail-away each evening. This usually brings all passengers on deck to watch the sails being hoisted and set, done to the accompaniment of music by Vagelis, "CONQUEST OF PARADISE" (from the sound track of the cinematic feature "1492"). This literally puts a tear into everyone's eye as it is a very moving experience. The process of hauling the anchor, raising the sails, and gently gliding under sail from the many cozy anchorages we visited was universally enjoyed by all passengers. The Captain is an excellent ship handler and often sailed us into or out of crowded harbors without resorting to any assistance from the engine or bow thrusters. Every day is a new port and there typically are multiple shore activities available. We only went on one excursion, snorkeling at Dominica, which was billed as being some of the best available in the Caribbean. The snorkeling was good, but the overall excursion was not quite what we expected. It was too long, included a luncheon, and too much bus riding. We were very glad to get back to the ship. THE SHIP The most impressive element of the trip was the ship itself and the amount of time it spent under sail. The captain truly likes to sail, and the SPV ROYAL CLIPPER moves from port to port under sail power as much as possible. As a result, there is more motion to the ship than might be comfortable for those accustomed to very large and very stable ships. My wife and I are both experienced sailers and have spent a lot of time underway and living aboard moderately sized sailboats boats. For a 430-foot ship, the SPV ROYAL CLIPPER surprised me with how nimble it was. It has a rather quick roll period, must faster than I expected for a big sailing ship. I got a chance to take the helm on afternoon while under full press of sails and at 11-knots. The ROYAL CLIPPER is very responsive to the helm and responds quickly to any rudder input. We embarked at Barbados, which is quite separate from the other islands. You have at least 125-miles of open water sailing to the closest island, and the trip from and to Barbados generally brings higher seas than any other portion of the cruise. On our week the winds were unusually strong. We left Barbados on Saturday evening with a Force-6 (25- to 30-knot) wind on our starboard bow. Once we cleared the lee of Barbados, we were in open seas with significant waves, their tops being blown off into spray by the wind. There was considerable motion on the ship. The Captain had the cabin stewards deploy the lee boards on all berths as a precaution. With large seas and the wind well forward, the ship was put under motor propulsion, although several staysails were up for steadying. Quite a few passengers did not fare well on this first night at sea, including me. I used to be able to say I had never been sea sick, but I can no longer make that claim. I would recommend taking Dramamine or similar anti-motion sickness medication for this first night unless you are truly immune to sea sickness. Compared to the rough first night, we sailed comfortably after that, and with our sea legs regained, we never had any problem with sleeping or discomfort again. The run back to Barbados was again in rougher seas, but the wind was just far enough aft we could sail all the way. In general, sailing gives a more pleasant motion to the ship, in my opinion, and although we were rolling down the seas, the last night was not a problem. The ship is a thing of beauty and it is maintained in tip-top condition. If you arise early you will see the crew washing down the teak deck every morning, wiping down all the varnish and brightwork, and polishing the brass. They even re-painted the huge anchors during the trip so that they looked perfect. While you are ashore during the day, the crew goes over the side and touches up any little blemish on the hull. The mast and rigging all appear to be in perfect order, and the sails themselves are mainly new and without stains or patches. Even when you are ashore, your gaze will be drawn back to the ship as it rides at anchor in the harbor. It dominates every setting and attracts attention wherever it goes. It is beautiful. The other passengers were an interesting mix of Americans, Canadians, Europeans, and South Americans. On our trip there was a large German contingent, so all announcements were conducted in English and repeated in German. The several French speaking passengers were comfortable with English, so we avoided a third language in the public announcements. Menus and other ship information are printed in English, German, and French. Americans were probably about 40-percent of the passengers. The rest were mainly European, with a few Canadians and South Americans in the mix. The crew is composed of men and women from many countries. The Captain, Chief Engineer, and one of the senior Officers were Russian, which is probably due to the necessity of having proper licenses and ratings for a very large sailing ship. Russia had or has a fleet of large sailing ships, so there are more officers qualified on large sailing ships from Russia than anywhere else these days. Every one of the ship's crew with whom we came in contact was very pleasant and friendly, and we never lacked for service or assistance. Our weather was wonderful, with sunny skies and warm temperatures, made even more comfortable by a constant sea breeze. The many shades of blue of the Caribbean Sea sparkled at us day and night. We enjoyed several sun sets from the aft deck, including a rare Green Flash sunset one delightful evening while at sea. The rhythm of the cruise puts you into a new port each day, generally arriving in the late morning. The ship sets anchor, and tenders are deployed. You can go ashore to explore, swim from the beach, or just remain onboard and enjoy the expansive deck. The last gangway is typically in the late afternoon. The anchor is then hauled and the ship sails away. After sunset, everyone retires to their cabin to prepare for dinner. After dinner the ship sails into the night to the next port. Repeat this six times. A delightful week of cruising. We were told that Star Clippers has a very high repeat business rate, and I am not surprised. After this trip we are very likely to cruise with Star Clippers again. Most of the people we met aboard were veteran Star Clipper cruisers and were on their second, third, fourth or even tenth trip with the line. Most other passengers had more cruising experience than us, and they expressed a strong preference for the Star Clipper style of ship and cruise. Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
The Mariner is a beautiful ship and fresh out of dry dock she boasts all brand new seating, carpeting, curtains, bed linens, etc. The thickly padded pool deck lounge chairs are quite possibly the comfiest at sea and I found myself falling ... Read More
The Mariner is a beautiful ship and fresh out of dry dock she boasts all brand new seating, carpeting, curtains, bed linens, etc. The thickly padded pool deck lounge chairs are quite possibly the comfiest at sea and I found myself falling asleep more than once while basking in the poolside sun. Of course, that could also have been the cause of late night activities because while the Regent passenger demographic skews a little older - these are a very active bunch! There are plenty of choices when it comes to how much or how little you want to do while on the ship - and the activities run the gamut from mid-day games to enrichment lectures to team contests to wine tasting. If you decide you want to do absolutely nothing at all - there's a place for that too! The passenger/space ratio on the Mariner is very high and it quite evident, especially when you are looking for some solitude. There are plenty of nooks and crannies and comfortable seating options to be found all over the ship when you want some "alone" time. Embarkation was painless and once on board the ship, we were given flutes of champagne and escorted to the Pool Deck by a staff member who also carried our unchecked bags. The whole process took less than a half hour. Our cabin was ready before 2pm and it was every bit as spacious as I had anticipated. Plenty of room to move around and plenty of storage space. The towels and bed linens are of the highest quality, as is the complimentary bathrobe and slippers. They even provided an umbrella for inclement weather! We had a problem with the safe and with the interactive tv but those items were addressed quickly. The food in all venues was outstanding, although the service was sometimes on the slow side. Nearly every single dish we ordered was cooked to perfection and the presentation was always creative. Room service was always prompt and for the most part the orders were flawless (one or two very minor errors such as forgetting the lemon for the tomato juice). Even the lunchtime pool grill food was way above average, with large juicy cheeseburgers, hotdogs, chicken wings and then an additional themed grill (Mexican, American, Seafood, etc.) with extra items from which to choose. I have mixed feelings about the entertainment. Perhaps I had gone into the cruise with high expectations and since all of my expectations as far as food, service, ambience, etc. was met, I expected the same thing from the quality of the shows. This wasn't really the case. The trio which played on the pool deck during lunch, and then at other times throughout the evening were very very very good! The Regent orchestra which accompanied the singers and dancers in the shows is also very good. The production/variety shows themselves, however, were amateurish and cliched. The (so-called) comic/impressionist that was featured the first night was almost painful to sit through; and he ended up doing two more shows! Truly the best entertainment on the ship (besides the Nature's Rhythm trio) was to be found at the Liar's Club which is touted as a game but should be called a show and is one of those "not to be missed" events. The ship's itinerary allowed us to visit seven different ports in 12 days: Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, San Juan and Grand Turk. It would take far too much room to go into what we did at each port, but feel free to read my blog (http://rsscmarinersoutherncaribbean.blogspot.com) which details the trip further or email me with specific questions. I am not the only one to get choked-up while sitting through the Captain's Farewell the last night of the cruise. And emotions were running high the final morning when having to say goodbye to the ship, the staff, and all the new friends I had made. It is quite difficult to put into words exactly what the Regent experience truly is because it's more of an atmosphere that is created by the wonderful staff. Suffice it to say, however, that once you have experienced Regent, you will want to experience it again and again! Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
INTRODUCTION My wife and I sailed on the January 17, 2009 voyage of the Royal Clipper round-trip from Barbados. This was our second cruise with Star Clippers, having also sailed on the Star Clipper in 2006. Our previous cruises were on ... Read More
INTRODUCTION My wife and I sailed on the January 17, 2009 voyage of the Royal Clipper round-trip from Barbados. This was our second cruise with Star Clippers, having also sailed on the Star Clipper in 2006. Our previous cruises were on Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Carnival and NCL. We had grown tired of the larger ships and wanted to try a sailing cruise for a change. After sailing on the Star Clipper and Royal Clipper, we have no desire to return to the mass market cruise ships. ARRIVAL We took a taxi from the airport and arrived at the pier in Barbados around 4:00, and the check-in process had already begun. Check-in consisted of receiving our ID cards (which doubled as our room keys), dropping off our passports and leaving an imprint of our credit card for purchases on the ship. We finished with the process and were taken to the ship via a very short shuttle ride. As we boarded the ship, we were met by the Captain and Hotel Manager and given complementary cold drinks and light snacks on deck. We then were escorted to our cabin and our luggage was delivered to our room shortly after our arrival. SHIP The Royal Clipper is a fabulous ship. It is a sailing vessel, not a cruise ship. The ship is very elegant and sophisticated with none of the pseudo-glitz of the large ships. There are no casinos, ship's photographers, show lounges or elevators. There are three bars on board: the outside Tropical Bar; the inside Piano Bar and a Pool Bar. All of the nightly entertainment occurs at the Tropical Bar. The ship has plenty of teak and mahogany wood, all varnished to a high gloss. Additionally, there is lots of brass, which is also kept polished. The crew was working every day doing routine maintenance around the ship. The ship's passenger capacity is 220, and this week it seemed filled. The breakdown of passengers was international - from the United States, Canada and Europe. About one-half of the passengers had previously sailed with Star Clippers. There were several passengers on board for two weeks, combining the Grenadine Islands itinerary of this sailing with the Windward Islands sailing the week immediately prior to or after our sailing. The crew members were from 25 different countries. The ship offers several features not found on cruise ships: passengers could climb the main mast to the first level crow's nest (with appropriate safety equipment) on two separate occasions during the week; we could relax on the widow's netting at the bow of the ship anytime the crew was not operating the sails; there was an open bridge policy throughout the week; the crew lowered tenders one day during the week to give the passengers the opportunity to photograph the Royal Clipper at sea under full sails; and passengers were given the opportunity to steer the ship while at sea. Each day as the sails were raised as we were leaving a port, the ship would play the Vangelis soundtrack, "1492: Conquest of Paradise" over the sound system. The passengers would congregate on deck to watch the crew raising the sails and to listen to the music. The sailing during certain periods throughout the week was rough. We heard that some passengers were ill at points during the week due to the ship's movement. However, we did not feel any discomfort during the week. CABIN We booked a Category 6 (Inside) room, cabin 228. In retrospect, we would have booked a higher category (Outside) room to give us a little more space. The room had a fixed double bed. The bathroom had a shower, toilet, sink and a two-door medicine cabinet with plenty of shelving for storing toiletries. While most of the electrical outlets in the cabin are 220 volts, there are two outlets in the bathroom for 110 volts, which I used for charging our digital camera's battery. These outlets could also be used for electric razors or charging cell phones. There was a hair dryer attached to the wall in the bathroom. The cabin had just enough storage and closet space for the two of us. A safe with a programmable lock was located in one of the cabinets. There was a TV in the room, which received a few English speaking programs, including CNN International. A DVD player was also in the room, and video disks could be borrowed from the ship's collection. Our cabin attendant was excellent. Towels were exchanged each morning and evening. MEALS All meals were served in the main dining room. Like the rest of the ship, the main dining room was very elegant. It was very common for the ship's officers, including the captain, to join a group of diners at each meal. All dining is open seating, with service between 8:00 and 10:00 for breakfast, 12:00 and 2:00 for lunch and 7:30 and 10:00 for dinner. There are no formal nights - dress for dinner is resort casual for men and women. Buffet meals were served for breakfast and lunch. For breakfast, there was an assortment of cereal, yogurts, pastries and fruits, along with scrambled eggs, French toast or pancakes, bacon, sausage or ham and potatoes. There was also a station for fresh omelets and eggs each morning. Lunchtime had a nice assortment of salads, cold cuts, cheeses, fruits and homemade soups, plus one or two hot entrEes. There was also a carving station each day with either fish or meat. The breakfasts and lunches were all very good. An afternoon snack would be served daily between 5:00 and 6:00 at the Tropical Bar. Like the breakfasts and lunches, the afternoon snack was very good. The snack would consist of items such as finger sandwiches, fruit, a hot dish and dessert. The dinners have improved since our last cruise on the Star Clipper. On our prior cruise, we were disappointed in the dinners served, both in the nightly selection and quality of food. We were much more pleased with the dinners on this cruise. Dinner would feature four choices for the main course: a seafood entree; a vegetarian entree; a meat entrEe and a Caribbean chef's special. Lobster Tail was served on Thursday night, which is the Captain's Dinner. One nice thing about the dinner food on this cruise (and on the prior Star Clipper cruise) was that each night, the various entrEes would be displayed in the piano bar for the passengers to get an idea of what would be served that evening. An early morning breakfast of croissants and pastries was also available in the Piano Bar from 6:00 to 8:00 in the mornings. Many mornings, we would be up early and grab a croissant and coffee and tea and sit on the deck as the ship sailed to the next stop. Coffee, tea and fresh fruit are available 24 hours a day in the Piano Bar. The coffee on the ship is barely drinkable. I think that they must let it brew too long and leave it on the heat after it has finished brewing. The best thing I found was to grab a fresh cup as soon as the brew cycle finished or to mix the coffee with hot water to dilute it somewhat. SERVICE The service in the main dining room and throughout the ship was good. However, with the ship filled to capacity, the service seemed slower than three years ago. We often had to ask for refills on water or coffee. Bar service was mainly at the bars, with no bar waiters hounding you to purchase drinks every few minutes. The guys (and one young lady) on the sports crew were excellent. As noted above, our cabin steward was excellent. The crew that worked the sails was also very good, showing great patience as the passengers were on deck as the crew was trying to raise or lower the sails. They were also very helpful with any information that the passengers asked them for. ENTERTAINMENT Entertainment on the clipper ships is very limited - this is one area that could use improvement by Star Clippers. There was one entertainer on board who sang and played the keyboard during the afternoon snack period. He also played the piano in the Piano Bar during the dinner hours and served as the deejay for nighttime dancing. The music selection for nighttime dancing seemed strange and hardly anyone danced after the organized entertainment ended each evening. It would have been much nicer to have a talented duo or trio providing the dancing music in the evenings. There were organized entertainment activities each night at 10:00 at the Tropical Bar. The first night was a Welcome Aboard party. Other nights featured crab races, a musical trivia quiz contest and a fashion show. A crew and passenger talent show was held on another night, which was very funny and enjoyable. While we were docked Monday night in Grenada, a very good steel drum band came aboard to play for us. Other forms of entertainment centered around the cruise director's daily talk on the upcoming port and the captain's story time. Every morning before we reached a port, the cruise director would hold a briefing on the bridge. He would explain the history of the island and places of interest to visit. He detailed what times the tenders would operate to the town or to the beach, and what time the last tender would return to the ship at the end of the day. The captain held two story times. The first session lasted about one hour and consisted of the captain narrating a slide show of sailing ships and then answering questions from the passengers regarding the ship and sailing in general. He also held another story time later in the week, demonstrating sailing maneuvers from the bridge area. ITINERARY This is not a typical cruise ship itinerary. Because of its small size, the ship can fit into ports that the larger ships cannot. The stops are in remote islands and harbors. The focus on the stops is on sailing and enjoying the natural beauty of the islands. There is not a lot of activity going on in most of the ports. At most stops, the ship would run two tenders, one to the town for limited shopping and to meet the shore excursions and the second one to a beach. For each beach stop, the sports crew would take water ski equipment, a wave board (similar to a snow board), a windsurf board, sea kayaks, and small sailboats. All of these beach activities were provided with no additional charge. Snorkeling gear was also issued at the beginning of the week for use throughout the cruise, again at no additional charge. After departing Barbados on Saturday, Sunday we stopped at uninhabited Young Island for a full beach day. On Monday the ship called at Grenada and spent all day docked at the pier in St. Georges. Several excursions were offered by the ship but we opted to walk into town in the morning and stopped at a public library to use the Internet connection. During the afternoon, we took a private taxi tour of the island, stopping at a spice plantation, Annandale Falls and a scenic point overlooking the harbor. On Tuesday the ship stopped at an uninhabited island in the Tobago Cays for a full day. This was probably the most beautiful beach we have ever been on. In addition to the beautiful beach, the natural harbor was filled with sailboats in the area for the day. You could take a short walk to the other side of the island where more sailboats were anchored offshore. There was good snorkeling right off of the beach. The ship's crew provided a full beach barbecue for lunch at this island stop. On Wednesday morning, we stopped in St. Vincent at the capital city of Kingstown. This was by far the worst stop of the week. No one could understand why the ship stops at this island. The pier area is crowded and dirty. Once you leave the protected area of the pier, you are hounded by taxi drivers. We did not feel comfortable walking through the city and headed back to the ship. Fortunately, we left St. Vincent around noon and sailed to Port Elizabeth, Bequia. As bad as St. Vincent was, Bequia was just as good. It is a beautiful island. The beach area is wide and sandy, without any rocks. There is a small town at the pier with many charming shops, restaurants and pubs. I know that many passengers made suggestions that St. Vincent should be dropped and the whole day should be spent in Bequia. There were two stops on Thursday on Martinique. During the morning, we stopped at the capital city, Fort de France. We spent the morning walking the city streets. During the afternoon, we anchored off of Grand Anse Beach. While on the beach, the sports crew led a snorkeling excursion to another part of the island on their Zodiac boats. Two excursions were offered, each with a capacity of eight persons. I was fortunate enough to go on the first excursion, and it was simply the best snorkeling I have ever done. Our excursion stopped at the same site as the local scuba dive tours. The water was incredibly clear, as we were able to see the ocean floor at least 70 feet below us. The coral formations living on the rocks were fabulous. During our time in the water, we saw two eels and an octopus, along with many other colorful fish. The best part of the snorkeling excursion was that it was free - no additional charge for the side trip. After snorkeling, we stayed on the beach until the last tender at 6:00 and witnessed a beautiful sunset on the tender ride back to the ship. The final stops on Friday were St. Lucia. In the morning, we stopped at Marigot Bay. A tender service was offered into a small marina, which turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. There was a coffee shop with nice patio seating along with several small specialty stores. There were several beautiful sailboats and yachts docked at the marina. A very nice resort hotel with beautiful grounds, Discovery at Marigot Bay, was located at the end of the marina. In the afternoon, we sailed to Soufriere Bay, where the sports team offered another snorkeling excursion - this time a one Euro fee was charged as we snorkeled at a St. Lucia national park, and the one Euro fee was the entrance fee to the park. During this snorkeling excursion, we saw and swam with a sea turtle for 10 or 15 minutes. The ship also offered shore excursions and a tender service to the town of La Soufriere. The passengers who went into the town were very disappointed, as they were harassed by local youths begging for money. SUMMARY This was another great week with Star Clippers, and we would definitely love to sail with them in the future. Read Less
Sail Date January 2009

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