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Review: Norwegian Gem: Cruise to Florida and Bahamas: March 21-28, 2009. There are pros and cons to every cruise vacation. It's probably impossible for any cruise line to get it 100% or even 85% right. Overall, our experience was on par with what we expected given that we were traveling with young children and knew that there were going to be adjustments with such a new experience for all of us.  This cruise was "experimental" for us as a family since we traveled only as a couple on our previous cruises.  Notwithstanding, the overall experience was good, not great. There was no "Wow Factor". The itinerary was fair, but not something we would repeat.  We will family cruise again, but perhaps may try a different cruise line, and better itinerary.  This review is really intended to help families with small children.Dealing with NYC and parking: I have to say that this component went quite well. We specifically chose this cruise based on the desire to not want to deal with the costs and complexities of flying and traveling by taxi or limo to port with children from the airport. For a mere $210, we parked our car for the week right outside of the ship. The porters were great and handled everything with patience and care. NY Port Authority deserves a lot of credit for getting all of this right and hassle-free. Embarkation: As expected there were lines and security checkpoints to go through. Once our number was called, we had our luggage scanned, filled out the necessary paperwork, and we boarded very quickly. We were glad to have followed advice on this website about making sure our carry-ons were full of diapers, snacks, toys, and drinks for the kids. NCL gets credit for making this part of the cruise easy. Lunch and Embarkation Party: The party was average given the cold temperatures. We took advice of this website and headed down into the dining room for lunch instead of going to the buffet. And yes, they attempted to sway us to the buffet and we insisted on going to the dining room. This was a great choice considering the mayhem of 2500 passengers trying to feed themselves in an area that couldn't seat half of them. The main dining room was a great choice particularly with the children trying to get adjusted to the flurry of activity. The disembarking on deck party was very average if not a little disappointing as compared with other cruises. Be very careful of the waiters taking advantage of new passengers. I ordered one Pursers Rum and coke and my wife ordered a tropical drink and the the bill for just two drinks came to $25. It seemed that the waiter decided that I needed a double and urged me to "always order a double". I didn't complain about it, but it sort of set the tone for how I viewed the poolside staff for the rest of the trip. Luggage Arrival at room: We received our main bag containing the adult clothes at about 10:15 pm. The second bag was found way down the hallway. In fact, several passengers reported finding their luggage in different places, even though, like ours, it was well-marked with the cabin numbers. So my recommendation is to look around, your luggage could be down the hall. Cabin Stewards and cleanliness: This component of OUR cruising experience receives the harshest criticism, and deservedly so. This is very much hit or miss as the experience hinges on "who you get" and we definitely drew the short straw on this one. I can only relate our terrible experience, and I can report that our neighbors were equally disgusted. As mentioned, we are traveling with small children so certain things are EXPECTED. I spoke nicely and directly to our cabin stewards from the onset about the need for us to put our child down for afternoon naps, and that we put the 1.5 year old down early. My request was acknowledged but not understood at any time during the week (as I repeated myself so often). We understood the first day was confusing for all, but were disappointed that they needed to find a crib to put together despite the request at the time of booking. I ended up showing the cabin steward how to put the crib (which is really a pack and play) together. First thoughts... oh great, no experience with children. And we didn't get the crib until 10 pm at night. The poor experience with our cabin stewards continued throughout the week: Late room make up and very late turn down (several times at 9pm!!!!). One turndown was knocking at the door and handing me some chocolates! Often the rooms was barely cleaned, the dust and grime was noticeable. Sand in the sheets, and several calls for towels were required! Hard to imagine someone cleaning the rooms and not leaving ANY towels in the racks. They decided to leave all the beds open (couch to bed) which meant us having to crawl to get to the balcony. At one point, I went to the bar to get a pitcher of soda. Simply put, the Bali bar poured three sodas into a pitcher which I took back to the room. When I sent to dinner, the room stewards came in and took the pitcher of soda out of my room when turning down the room. I called to complain about this with the hope of just getting my three sodas worth replenished.... so after a return phone call, two visits within 20 mins from a white shirt guy a notepad, then a visit from the deck officer, then a visit from her with the wrong thing and no soda, then a call from her at the bar saying "they do not sell pitchers of soda". Again, language barrier problem. She finally realized I wasn't after a "pitcher" but the return of the soda that I paid for. This is one example where listening and understanding is a major problem on the cruise. If only I could have been directed to an English speaking person, the issues might have been avoided or addressed more quickly. Also, caution: Several people on floor reported misc charges from the personal bar on in their stateroom. We were fortunate to not be one of them, but this false activity was experienced by many people at least on our floor. Upon arriving to the room we asked for the fridge to be empty. You are better off ordering a drink and bringing it back to your room instead of using the personal bar. Personal Bar: $9 for some alcohol and $1.75 for soda to mix it with. Finally (and I know I waited too long), I went to the front desk on Thursday to complain about the consistent lousy service. I wanted to know what the heck was going on. After listening to my long painful story, the guest services person, stopped, looked a me and told me - in a quite voice - that she completely agreed with my feeling of dissatisfaction. HERE IS THE BIG THING: She also told me that they received a record number of complaints this week. She also told me that NCL had laid off many senior members of their service staff just prior to this cruise, and that the cabin stewards were inexperienced and upset about not having an assistant to work with them. So they were basically doing the minimum hoping to impact the NCL decision to layoff their work mates and double up their work. From MY perspective, when you pay big money to go on a cruise, you don't need to be caught up in the labor disputes or decisions by the cruise line and their employees. It's also interesting that upon another visit by me to the service desk to pay a bill, the issue of the layoffs came up, and the customer service rep sort of became alarmed and said she couldn't talk about such confidential matters. Well, I'm glad the previous rep did, because it clarified why service was horrendous. Sometimes "knowing why" while not justifying the poor services, at least helps you to understand it. I think I've hammered the cabin experience enough. I'm sure others have had the complete opposite experience, and I'm truly happy for them. As I've said, it's hit or miss! MISC POINTS: Based on previous reviews on this website I'd like to reiterate the comment that the rooms are much smaller than other Norwegian ships and other ships you might have sailed on. One lady told me that she has sailed on Norwegian ships for 17 years and felt that the room size are much smaller than on the Dawn or other ships. If this matters to you, take note. Hallways, Children, and Strollers: Given our experience on other ships, the halls in the Gem are much smaller than other ships. We made the mistake of bringing a small portable side by side stroller. Parents are better off with a small portable front to back two seater. The halls are usually clogged with cleaning equipment which makes the hallway impassible. It's very annoying when you have to make the kids get out of the stroller on Deck 4 when you navigate the maze to the elevator clogged with cleaning gear. Dining: Buffet: Breakfast buffet - excellent! Probably the best meal of the day! Dozens of choices for everyone! Healthy and not! Even hearing Kent say ... GOOOOD MORNNNNINNNG! every morning was a fun thing to look forward to. Buffet lunch - good selection of foods. Surprisingly, even the burgers were good quality. If you want something fresh, they make it for you. My only complaint.. nickel diming people for "fresh orange juice" - $4.25 a glass. Is that necessary? Main Dining room: Fair, at best. Freestyle certainly means sacrificing the quality of food that you might find on other cruiselines that use regularly scheduled dining room experience. Often the food at the buffet was somewhat better than the food on the dining menu. Seating with children is very good. They will help you get to a table if they see you have kids under 3. The downside is that food arrives late, and with children it was a little hard. If you use the dining room, expect to be there for well over an hour. It seems to be hard for the crew to manage. Parents, remember to make your reservation for main dining BEFORE 4:30 pm. BUT, if you forget, go directly to the Main Dining desk and they will seat you - ahead of people who've been waiting for 30 minutes (sorry folks without infants or toddlers!!). Special restaurants. I'm sure we missed out. But after spending as much as we did for the cruise, we sort of felt on principle that we shouldn't have to pay $25 X 2 for adults and $15 for a three year old to receive a higher quality meal that we should have been receiving anyway. Previous cruisers on the Gem told us that up until recently some of the special restaurants where not extra charges, so they were disappointed in the new "nickeling and diming" approach. I guess we would have tried one or two, but were annoyed when we were told that the kids would have to pay even if they didn't eat the "special courses". So that was that. Kids pool: BIG COMPLAINT!!! Whoever the genius was who decided to place the kids pool immediately outside of the DESIGNATED SMOKING AREA should be terminated by the cruiseline. During our cruise, there was an old man who stunk up the kids pool area with his pipe which resulted in nasty breathing conditions for the kids. It wasn't just him, it was 10 or more smokers at a time blowing smoke into a unventilated area. Absolutely INSANE! I complained to several staff members about this unhealthy decision. So many parents were outraged that they had to take their kids out of the area. Several near augments occurred between parents and smokers, who as usual, don't care about the health and welfare of others. The kids loved this area of the ship. But the experience was limited due to the smoke that collected in that area. NCL really blew it on this one! My understanding is that there will be a change in policy going forward with so many complaints. NCL should put smokers elsewhere so they don't disrupt others. Kids Club: EXCELLENT!!!!! Initially, we were very suspect of leaving our child with someone we didn't know. However, after a few trial visits, we felt very comfortable leaving our three year old with the kids club crew. They were extremely strict about security and making sure the kids were safe. Plenty of crafts and things to without it being a free for all. They separated the small kids from the older kids to ensure safety on the jungle gym. Our daughter kept asking about going to the kids club, as she wanted to participate in the songs and stories and all the fun with kids her age. Naturally, we only put her in a few times a day, after all, we wanted time with her too!! They are also strict on the age limitation. We also had one child who was just shy of the 2 year minimum but alas it was a no-go for the little one! Don't forget to tip these girls, they all deserve a little something for their service. The tips aren't individual (they are collected and pooled), through we had our child hand deliver envelopes and thank them. Very patient and very kind group. The ladies are a credit to NCL! TV: Ok, I know we don't go on cruises to watch TV. But some of us have to stay in the cabins while the young ones nap. The channel choices are ridiculous (a few channels: CNN, Fox, ESPN, and cartoon network and the rest are informational ship channels). The extra charge for movies is outrageous. NCL can do better. Note to those with ipods. I have an ipod Nano 6th Gen. It's a nightmare to hook up to the tv because you can't easily get to the wire outputs which are under the High Dev TVs about three inches from the shelf it sits on. Also, I didn't buy the cable that has the High Dev connector so the best I could get was black and white after trying the regular hook up. If this is important to you, buy the ipod connector with the HDTV connector or you won't have color result. Drinks at the bar: Note to those looking for souvenir glass (via specialty drinks) - the better ones come at the end of the cruise. We got breakable plastic ones for the first day or so. Nice glass ones and coffee mugs come at weeks' end. You pay extra for the souvenir container, so you might as well wait for one worthwhile. DISEMBARKING: Do yourself a favor... Skip EXPRESS DISEMBARKING unless you REALLY need to make that flight. Long lines around the ship, down the gangway, and into the terminal. I never saw so many cranky,frustrated people. When they called our color... purple, it was easy. No lines, easy access, and we took our sweat time. Perfect for children. We hung out in our rooms and relaxed for an hour instead of standing in line for an hour. Do yourself a favor, relax, and take the hour to drink a coffee or play with the kids! Things to improve on: * Bring back the laundry machines. The laundry service is a rip off. Less clothes to bring means less luggage for the cruise line and travelers to deal with. * Room service: 40 minute standard to bring a cup of coffee is a joke. Also, incomplete orders means repeat visits and wasting of time. We get the point, you want people to go to the buffet! * People with leadership accountability for staff or who serve as escalation points for issues MUST have a better command of the English language. Communicating basic needs should not be like trying to play "Charades". It's frustrating for everyone involved when it takes 5 people to get involved to replace a pitcher of soda. * Better entertainment. Singers shouldn't question people in the middle of a performance as to why they are leaving (particularly with children). I can understand comedians doing this, but singers? Very rude!!! I thought this was "free-style". * Stop charging people $25 a towel deposit and then sending someone on the prowl to snatch up as many vacated towels as you can - particularly, when the people are in the pool. C'mon guys! I can see going the deposit route for excursions where towels may get lost, but PLEASE - not by the pool. Didn't happen to me, but I saw others dealing with this (and it was less than 30 mins!!) * More than three or four real tv channels. Stop nickel/diming people on the movies. $13 for an old movie? C'mon! *$6.50 for bottled water. Crazy. * Learn to serve Weissbeer in a tall glass, not a standard mug! LOL. Things to keep: * The Kids Club * The dress code in the dining room (Thank God, some people are just slobs that don't know any better) * Keep the 30 min standard for selfish people nabbing pool chairs at 7 am and coming back at 1 pm or whenever they feel like it. Glad management acts on complaints and takes their stuff to free the chairs for those who REALLY want to use them. * Caribbean Vibe: Great band.... sounded wonderful! * Keep "Beer of the day" and the two for ones! * Fitness Club is clean! * Quality beer selection including Fraziskaner and Pauliner Weissbiers! British Ales, Dutch, and Stella, etc. For some reason I couldn't find Great Stirrup Cay as an option below. So I'll comment here: Probably one of the best days of the trip! Clean and fun. Lot's of fun for the family as a full beach day. One warning! They don't tell you this... but they tell you to get a ticket (which they never collect) so that they don't have mass scale riots to get to the tenders to get to the shore. They then call each group to get on the tender. If you are NOT on tender one or tender two... good luck finding seats! I was able to scrounge two laying lawn style chairs and two regular folding beach chairs by scrounging around for 10 mins and dragging them afar, and we were group 3. Morale of the story... get to the island as soon as you can or you'll be out of luck! I give this island a rating of 4.

Norwegian Gem Cruise to Bahamas - March 21- March 28 - OK

Norwegian Gem Cruise Review by MrPreseley

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: March 2009
  • Destination: Bahamas
  • Cabin Type: Mid-Ship Balcony
Review: Norwegian Gem: Cruise to Florida and Bahamas: March 21-28, 2009. There are pros and cons to every cruise vacation. It's probably impossible for any cruise line to get it 100% or even 85% right. Overall, our experience was on par with what we expected given that we were traveling with young children and knew that there were going to be adjustments with such a new experience for all of us.  This cruise was "experimental" for us as a family since we traveled only as a couple on our previous cruises.  Notwithstanding, the overall experience was good, not great. There was no "Wow Factor". The itinerary was fair, but not something we would repeat.  We will family cruise again, but perhaps may try a different cruise line, and better itinerary.  This review is really intended to help families with small children.Dealing with NYC and parking: I have to say that this component went quite well. We specifically chose this cruise based on the desire to not want to deal with the costs and complexities of flying and traveling by taxi or limo to port with children from the airport. For a mere $210, we parked our car for the week right outside of the ship. The porters were great and handled everything with patience and care. NY Port Authority deserves a lot of credit for getting all of this right and hassle-free.
Embarkation: As expected there were lines and security checkpoints to go through. Once our number was called, we had our luggage scanned, filled out the necessary paperwork, and we boarded very quickly. We were glad to have followed advice on this website about making sure our carry-ons were full of diapers, snacks, toys, and drinks for the kids. NCL gets credit for making this part of the cruise easy.
Lunch and Embarkation Party: The party was average given the cold temperatures. We took advice of this website and headed down into the dining room for lunch instead of going to the buffet. And yes, they attempted to sway us to the buffet and we insisted on going to the dining room. This was a great choice considering the mayhem of 2500 passengers trying to feed themselves in an area that couldn't seat half of them. The main dining room was a great choice particularly with the children trying to get adjusted to the flurry of activity.
The disembarking on deck party was very average if not a little disappointing as compared with other cruises. Be very careful of the waiters taking advantage of new passengers. I ordered one Pursers Rum and coke and my wife ordered a tropical drink and the the bill for just two drinks came to $25. It seemed that the waiter decided that I needed a double and urged me to "always order a double". I didn't complain about it, but it sort of set the tone for how I viewed the poolside staff for the rest of the trip.
Luggage Arrival at room: We received our main bag containing the adult clothes at about 10:15 pm. The second bag was found way down the hallway. In fact, several passengers reported finding their luggage in different places, even though, like ours, it was well-marked with the cabin numbers. So my recommendation is to look around, your luggage could be down the hall. Cabin Stewards and cleanliness: This component of OUR cruising experience receives the harshest criticism, and deservedly so. This is very much hit or miss as the experience hinges on "who you get" and we definitely drew the short straw on this one. I can only relate our terrible experience, and I can report that our neighbors were equally disgusted. As mentioned, we are traveling with small children so certain things are EXPECTED. I spoke nicely and directly to our cabin stewards from the onset about the need for us to put our child down for afternoon naps, and that we put the 1.5 year old down early. My request was acknowledged but not understood at any time during the week (as I repeated myself so often). We understood the first day was confusing for all, but were disappointed that they needed to find a crib to put together despite the request at the time of booking. I ended up showing the cabin steward how to put the crib (which is really a pack and play) together. First thoughts... oh great, no experience with children. And we didn't get the crib until 10 pm at night.
The poor experience with our cabin stewards continued throughout the week: Late room make up and very late turn down (several times at 9pm!!!!). One turndown was knocking at the door and handing me some chocolates! Often the rooms was barely cleaned, the dust and grime was noticeable. Sand in the sheets, and several calls for towels were required! Hard to imagine someone cleaning the rooms and not leaving ANY towels in the racks. They decided to leave all the beds open (couch to bed) which meant us having to crawl to get to the balcony.
At one point, I went to the bar to get a pitcher of soda. Simply put, the Bali bar poured three sodas into a pitcher which I took back to the room. When I sent to dinner, the room stewards came in and took the pitcher of soda out of my room when turning down the room. I called to complain about this with the hope of just getting my three sodas worth replenished.... so after a return phone call, two visits within 20 mins from a white shirt guy a notepad, then a visit from the deck officer, then a visit from her with the wrong thing and no soda, then a call from her at the bar saying "they do not sell pitchers of soda". Again, language barrier problem. She finally realized I wasn't after a "pitcher" but the return of the soda that I paid for. This is one example where listening and understanding is a major problem on the cruise. If only I could have been directed to an English speaking person, the issues might have been avoided or addressed more quickly.
Also, caution: Several people on floor reported misc charges from the personal bar on in their stateroom. We were fortunate to not be one of them, but this false activity was experienced by many people at least on our floor. Upon arriving to the room we asked for the fridge to be empty. You are better off ordering a drink and bringing it back to your room instead of using the personal bar. Personal Bar: $9 for some alcohol and $1.75 for soda to mix it with. Finally (and I know I waited too long), I went to the front desk on Thursday to complain about the consistent lousy service. I wanted to know what the heck was going on. After listening to my long painful story, the guest services person, stopped, looked a me and told me - in a quite voice - that she completely agreed with my feeling of dissatisfaction. HERE IS THE BIG THING: She also told me that they received a record number of complaints this week. She also told me that NCL had laid off many senior members of their service staff just prior to this cruise, and that the cabin stewards were inexperienced and upset about not having an assistant to work with them. So they were basically doing the minimum hoping to impact the NCL decision to layoff their work mates and double up their work. From MY perspective, when you pay big money to go on a cruise, you don't need to be caught up in the labor disputes or decisions by the cruise line and their employees.
It's also interesting that upon another visit by me to the service desk to pay a bill, the issue of the layoffs came up, and the customer service rep sort of became alarmed and said she couldn't talk about such confidential matters. Well, I'm glad the previous rep did, because it clarified why service was horrendous. Sometimes "knowing why" while not justifying the poor services, at least helps you to understand it.
I think I've hammered the cabin experience enough. I'm sure others have had the complete opposite experience, and I'm truly happy for them. As I've said, it's hit or miss!
MISC POINTS: Based on previous reviews on this website I'd like to reiterate the comment that the rooms are much smaller than other Norwegian ships and other ships you might have sailed on. One lady told me that she has sailed on Norwegian ships for 17 years and felt that the room size are much smaller than on the Dawn or other ships. If this matters to you, take note.
Hallways, Children, and Strollers: Given our experience on other ships, the halls in the Gem are much smaller than other ships. We made the mistake of bringing a small portable side by side stroller. Parents are better off with a small portable front to back two seater. The halls are usually clogged with cleaning equipment which makes the hallway impassible. It's very annoying when you have to make the kids get out of the stroller on Deck 4 when you navigate the maze to the elevator clogged with cleaning gear.
Dining: Buffet: Breakfast buffet - excellent! Probably the best meal of the day! Dozens of choices for everyone! Healthy and not! Even hearing Kent say ... GOOOOD MORNNNNINNNG! every morning was a fun thing to look forward to. Buffet lunch - good selection of foods. Surprisingly, even the burgers were good quality. If you want something fresh, they make it for you. My only complaint.. nickel diming people for "fresh orange juice" - $4.25 a glass. Is that necessary?
Main Dining room: Fair, at best. Freestyle certainly means sacrificing the quality of food that you might find on other cruiselines that use regularly scheduled dining room experience. Often the food at the buffet was somewhat better than the food on the dining menu. Seating with children is very good. They will help you get to a table if they see you have kids under 3. The downside is that food arrives late, and with children it was a little hard. If you use the dining room, expect to be there for well over an hour. It seems to be hard for the crew to manage.
Parents, remember to make your reservation for main dining BEFORE 4:30 pm. BUT, if you forget, go directly to the Main Dining desk and they will seat you - ahead of people who've been waiting for 30 minutes (sorry folks without infants or toddlers!!).
Special restaurants. I'm sure we missed out. But after spending as much as we did for the cruise, we sort of felt on principle that we shouldn't have to pay $25 X 2 for adults and $15 for a three year old to receive a higher quality meal that we should have been receiving anyway. Previous cruisers on the Gem told us that up until recently some of the special restaurants where not extra charges, so they were disappointed in the new "nickeling and diming" approach. I guess we would have tried one or two, but were annoyed when we were told that the kids would have to pay even if they didn't eat the "special courses". So that was that.
Kids pool: BIG COMPLAINT!!! Whoever the genius was who decided to place the kids pool immediately outside of the DESIGNATED SMOKING AREA should be terminated by the cruiseline. During our cruise, there was an old man who stunk up the kids pool area with his pipe which resulted in nasty breathing conditions for the kids. It wasn't just him, it was 10 or more smokers at a time blowing smoke into a unventilated area. Absolutely INSANE! I complained to several staff members about this unhealthy decision. So many parents were outraged that they had to take their kids out of the area. Several near augments occurred between parents and smokers, who as usual, don't care about the health and welfare of others. The kids loved this area of the ship. But the experience was limited due to the smoke that collected in that area. NCL really blew it on this one! My understanding is that there will be a change in policy going forward with so many complaints. NCL should put smokers elsewhere so they don't disrupt others.
Kids Club: EXCELLENT!!!!! Initially, we were very suspect of leaving our child with someone we didn't know. However, after a few trial visits, we felt very comfortable leaving our three year old with the kids club crew. They were extremely strict about security and making sure the kids were safe. Plenty of crafts and things to without it being a free for all. They separated the small kids from the older kids to ensure safety on the jungle gym. Our daughter kept asking about going to the kids club, as she wanted to participate in the songs and stories and all the fun with kids her age. Naturally, we only put her in a few times a day, after all, we wanted time with her too!!
They are also strict on the age limitation. We also had one child who was just shy of the 2 year minimum but alas it was a no-go for the little one!
Don't forget to tip these girls, they all deserve a little something for their service. The tips aren't individual (they are collected and pooled), through we had our child hand deliver envelopes and thank them. Very patient and very kind group. The ladies are a credit to NCL!
TV: Ok, I know we don't go on cruises to watch TV. But some of us have to stay in the cabins while the young ones nap. The channel choices are ridiculous (a few channels: CNN, Fox, ESPN, and cartoon network and the rest are informational ship channels). The extra charge for movies is outrageous. NCL can do better. Note to those with ipods. I have an ipod Nano 6th Gen. It's a nightmare to hook up to the tv because you can't easily get to the wire outputs which are under the High Dev TVs about three inches from the shelf it sits on. Also, I didn't buy the cable that has the High Dev connector so the best I could get was black and white after trying the regular hook up. If this is important to you, buy the ipod connector with the HDTV connector or you won't have color result.
Drinks at the bar: Note to those looking for souvenir glass (via specialty drinks) - the better ones come at the end of the cruise. We got breakable plastic ones for the first day or so. Nice glass ones and coffee mugs come at weeks' end. You pay extra for the souvenir container, so you might as well wait for one worthwhile.
DISEMBARKING: Do yourself a favor... Skip EXPRESS DISEMBARKING unless you REALLY need to make that flight. Long lines around the ship, down the gangway, and into the terminal. I never saw so many cranky,frustrated people. When they called our color... purple, it was easy. No lines, easy access, and we took our sweat time. Perfect for children. We hung out in our rooms and relaxed for an hour instead of standing in line for an hour. Do yourself a favor, relax, and take the hour to drink a coffee or play with the kids!
Things to improve on: * Bring back the laundry machines. The laundry service is a rip off. Less clothes to bring means less luggage for the cruise line and travelers to deal with. * Room service: 40 minute standard to bring a cup of coffee is a joke. Also, incomplete orders means repeat visits and wasting of time. We get the point, you want people to go to the buffet! * People with leadership accountability for staff or who serve as escalation points for issues MUST have a better command of the English language. Communicating basic needs should not be like trying to play "Charades". It's frustrating for everyone involved when it takes 5 people to get involved to replace a pitcher of soda. * Better entertainment. Singers shouldn't question people in the middle of a performance as to why they are leaving (particularly with children). I can understand comedians doing this, but singers? Very rude!!! I thought this was "free-style". * Stop charging people $25 a towel deposit and then sending someone on the prowl to snatch up as many vacated towels as you can - particularly, when the people are in the pool. C'mon guys! I can see going the deposit route for excursions where towels may get lost, but PLEASE - not by the pool. Didn't happen to me, but I saw others dealing with this (and it was less than 30 mins!!) * More than three or four real tv channels. Stop nickel/diming people on the movies. $13 for an old movie? C'mon! *$6.50 for bottled water. Crazy. * Learn to serve Weissbeer in a tall glass, not a standard mug! LOL.
Things to keep: * The Kids Club * The dress code in the dining room (Thank God, some people are just slobs that don't know any better) * Keep the 30 min standard for selfish people nabbing pool chairs at 7 am and coming back at 1 pm or whenever they feel like it. Glad management acts on complaints and takes their stuff to free the chairs for those who REALLY want to use them. * Caribbean Vibe: Great band.... sounded wonderful! * Keep "Beer of the day" and the two for ones! * Fitness Club is clean! * Quality beer selection including Fraziskaner and Pauliner Weissbiers! British Ales, Dutch, and Stella, etc.
For some reason I couldn't find Great Stirrup Cay as an option below. So I'll comment here:
Probably one of the best days of the trip! Clean and fun. Lot's of fun for the family as a full beach day. One warning! They don't tell you this... but they tell you to get a ticket (which they never collect) so that they don't have mass scale riots to get to the tenders to get to the shore. They then call each group to get on the tender. If you are NOT on tender one or tender two... good luck finding seats! I was able to scrounge two laying lawn style chairs and two regular folding beach chairs by scrounging around for 10 mins and dragging them afar, and we were group 3. Morale of the story... get to the island as soon as you can or you'll be out of luck! I give this island a rating of 4.
MrPreseley’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Mid-Ship Balcony
Cabin BA 9102
Rooms are smaller than you may find on many other ships. Small bathrooms. Hallways are not wide enough for side by side strollers. Parents of small children - chose rooms close to elevators!
Deck 10 Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Freeport
    Yuck! I think we went there to fuel up! This port was awful! The biggest disappointment was the lack of time at the port... about four hours so you couldn't really spend time investigating Great Bahama Island to any extent. So we opted on a one way $15 taxi ride to a hotel to sit on the beach for an hour and a half and play in the sand with the kids. Again, warm enough to tan, but surf too rough and too cold to go in the water.
    Be Careful to remember that taxi pricing is group pricing. If you make a mistake and miss your taxi, you could pay $30 or more for an 11 mile trip back to the ship. Be warned! Luckily we were with our group!
    Freeport was a sad way to end the cruise. Sort of disappointing. I wish we had done this up front. Great Stirrup Cay was the best day of the cruise. You sort of want your best experiences toward the end.
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  • Nassau
    We enjoyed the visit to Nassau and took an $8 cab from the ship to the Atlantis Resort. We then walked around Atlantis and looked at the Aquarium Tanks that were free. There was plenty to see in the free tanks. I guess they were asking $35 per person to see the other tanks but our kids were just as happy seeing what they saw... lot's of fish, stingrays, starfish, etc. I'm sure there was more to see in the other tanks, but for all of us the forty minutes in front of the massive wall of tanks was enough to satisfy. I think the resort wanted a booming $100 a person to use the facilities, slides and beachfront which I wasn't all that impressed by what I saw. If you are honeymooning perhaps its worth it. $400 for the family is a little too much when they are happy seeing sand and sea anywhere.

    Moreover, if you are smart, walkthrough the resort and exit out as far as you can go, then take the easy path about 1000 feet from the exit of the parking lot to the free public beach. Again, it was VERY windy and moderate air temperature (no one was in the water - to frigid and rough) and after our family roasting at Great Stirrip Cay the day before, we weren't ready to extend our burns! But our kids ran around the beaches and enjoyed the experience.

    Note: You can also take a boat taxi for a few dollars more to Atlantis, instead of a cab.

    Shopping was ok. The natives aren't great business people and for whatever reason were not willing to negotiate as much. They were a little rude actually. One told my wife to go back to ship... nice. Well, we can get the same towel at a local store for about the same price, so what's the point of paying more than you should. We did pick up a few toys for the kids... which fell apart after mild use (two flutes and two drums). They don't make 'em like they used to... even in paradise!
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  • Port Canaveral (Orlando)
    Florida is Florida. But overall the Port requires a taxi or bus to get to and fro the main strip. I can't comment too much on this port since we had family pick us up, we went to the beach, and we did a little driving, and went out to eat. As it happened, it was quite cool and very windy. Still better than being in CT. As an aside, we did look at the option of going to Disney World, or Sea World (which I heard from those who went learned that it is closing down) but the cost associated with purchase through the ship seemed very steep. If you want to go to Disney World - plan a trip to Disney World. You just won't have enough time to visit or see what you want to see in the park. Disney world is easily a 4-5 day, minimum visit to get a good taste of all that's offered... and you still won't see it all!!
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