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6,375 Bahamas Cruise Reviews

I had heard so much about Carnival's ships before sailing and most of it was not good. I want to say that I found Carnival Fantasy a wonderful ship. After comparing my pictures with others I have seen, it appears that the Fantasy ... Read More
I had heard so much about Carnival's ships before sailing and most of it was not good. I want to say that I found Carnival Fantasy a wonderful ship. After comparing my pictures with others I have seen, it appears that the Fantasy has gone through some updating. There was less neon. Carpets were fresh and new in our stateroom. The ship was in wonderful condition. We sailed on a Sunday. Our embarkation was smooth. The entire process took less than 30 minutes. The people we worked with were very nice. Once onboard we went to our room. The room was bigger than I expected. I heard about "indirect lighting" in the cabins. We have nice, strong direct lighting. Our room was an inside cabin so it was nice to have it completely dark at night. The Lido deck food was great. The burgers and fries were as good as any restaurant. We just enjoyed exploring the ship before sailing. Once we sailed, we were all surprised at how rough it was. The wind was strong and the sea was rough. Many people on board got seasick including my wife and I. Unfortunately we did not take our medicine until after the sea got rough. By the next day we were better. Thoughts: Service- I had read about poor service on Carnival. Our service was well beyond expectations. Our room was kept in perfect condition. Room service was prompt. We had the late seating. We loved it. We could do all we wanted during the day and not have to worry about rushing back to the ship for dinner. Our table staff was amazing. We never lacked for anything at any time. We ordered two entrees almost every night. It was easy to trade out for something if your first choice was not what you wanted. Our staff was friendly. Occasionally you found someone around the ship who was a little grumpy but almost ever Food- The food quality was better than expected. Breakfast from the Lido restaurant lacked variety but was still good. We had lunch in the main restaurant as well as Windows on the Sea. Both offered good choices. The pizza and deli were nice surprises. Dinners were excellent. The portions were not big, but we found that as the cruise went one we were less hungry. I tried a few things and had some old favorites. The prime rib, lobster and NY strip were excellent. Desserts were beautiful but not very rich. We loved the food. We really liked the late seating because it was more laid back. We took our time and rarely left the dining room until after 10 PM. We spent a lot of time with our waiters and they were great. Also, our table mates could not have been better. Rooms- As I said, we had an inside room on the Verandah deck. The hall was quiet. Our room was plenty big. It was bright. There were several good choices on the TV. The bathroom was great. The vanity was bright. The shower was also great. Plenty of hot water. The room had just enough storage space. There is not much room for empty suitcases in the room. Activities- We did not participate in many activities. We found some quiet places around the ship. We enjoyed the music and just hanging out on deck. There was plenty to do. Excursions- Okay- we enjoyed what we did but admittedly it was a rip. Our bus ride around Freeport was informative but not worth $35 per person. Our snorkel was cancelled due to rough water. In Nassau, we went to Atlantis and it was interesting. It was probably worth the $35 charge. Freeport was okay but we loved Nassau. We had more fun just walking the streets of Nassau and meeting the people. Overall- We cannot wait to cruise again. Don't be afraid to sail on one of Carnival's older ships. The cost is much lower and the level of service is great. Some of the older reviews may reflect how things were but it appears that Carnival has worked hard to get the Fantasy to where it needs to be. If you have cruised with other lines, especially with the newer ships, don't miss out on the charm of this older ship. She is great and we can't wait to sail on her again. Read Less
Sail Date February 2004
I can't say enough wonderful things about the 4-day cruise to the Bahamas on the Disney Wonder (except that I wish it were longer). The service is outstanding. I enjoyed the variety of the restaurants. The food was good in most, but ... Read More
I can't say enough wonderful things about the 4-day cruise to the Bahamas on the Disney Wonder (except that I wish it were longer). The service is outstanding. I enjoyed the variety of the restaurants. The food was good in most, but was EXCELLENT in Palo. The breakfast buffets had a nice selection. Delicious fruit! The pools were fairly small and crowded, specifically the Mickey Pool, but we didn't mind and the kids loved them. The lounge chairs in the sun go fast! There were many activities planned throughout the day and the Personal Navigator clearly identified these. The children's programs were great. The staff was extremely professional, it was clean and the kids had really fun things to do. Many characters were available throughout the ship and the photographers were close behind. We really enjoyed identifying and purchasing the pictures that were displayed daily at Shutters. The shows are very enjoyable both for the adults and children. The staterooms were a bit small but this was our first cruise so we had nothing to compare it to, but I must say, there is ample space for you to unpack your belongings. Disney movies as well as grown-up movies played continuously. We stayed on the ship on the Nassau day because that worked out best for our family with 3 small children. We enjoyed the entire day at the pools. Castaway Cay could be a vacation of it's own. It's beautiful, there are many, many things to do and the barbecue was great. I wish we could have stayed there longer. I can't wait for my next Disney vacation. I only wish this one was longer. Next time I will definitely opt for the 7-day Caribbean. It is the ultimate perfect vacation for families with young children. Please e-mail me with any specific questions. I would love to share my wonderful experience. Read Less
Sail Date February 2004
Quickie with Mickey - Disney Wonder 2/11-2/15, 2004 Back to the cold and home routine, still dreaming of being on the Disney Wonder last week. Memories keep the dreams alive! Our family, Chris 50, Paul 50, PJ age 15 and Tyler age 13. ... Read More
Quickie with Mickey - Disney Wonder 2/11-2/15, 2004 Back to the cold and home routine, still dreaming of being on the Disney Wonder last week. Memories keep the dreams alive! Our family, Chris 50, Paul 50, PJ age 15 and Tyler age 13. We (especially me Chris) are addicted to cruising..this makes #15 for Chris, 12 for Paul and 10 for the boys. We have cruised on Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Celebrity, Princess, Norwegian and this is our first Disney cruise. Booking: made the booking for this trip with our favorite cruise agent. As always things went smoothly from the initial deposit to the final disembarkation. Booked this trip in May 2003 after finding out the boys would have 2 - ½ days along with Friday off school in Feb 2004. Had some free tickets on Airtran that we were able to book without restrictions after a battle with their customer service. A Disney cruise was always hard for me to justify with their higher than other cruise lines price tag. Not having to pay airfare and doing a short cruise made it a reasonable option. We also booked category 11 quad cabin to keep the costs down. Disney deposit of $200 pp was more than the usual bite for a short cruise. Made the final payment less hefty to pay near Christmas which was a blessing! Surprise!! Didn't tell our boys PJ and Tyler about the cruise. On Christmas day they had a treasure hunt around the house and found clues, when they would go to the location found by clue they discovered a piece of a puzzle.. at the last location they got the last puzzle piece, a countdown calendar and also the passporter guide to Disney Cruise line along with gold foil chocolate coins inside a treasure chest. The puzzle pieces together would form a picture of the Disney Wonder and said "Surprise, you're going on a Disney Cruise 2/12/04!!!!" Wednesday Feb 11, 2004 -- Luckily the weather gods were cooperating and we were able to escape this horrible winter in Maryland with our scheduled flight on Airtran. Arrived in Orlando 11:30 AM, picked up our van (free upgrade!) from Avis and were headed down to our 1 night stay at Pop Century by noon. Stopped by the Albertson's grocery, lunch at Chick-fil-a and then on to the newest Disney resort. Pop Century only opened mid Dec so we were looking forward to the experience. Check in went very smoothly, we were also impressed that the Disney Quest tickets that we had ordered from Ticket Mania just 3 days before were tagged to our reservation and waiting for us along with a few local Orlando discount brochures. We had requested to be in either the 70's or 50's buildings... we were given 1st floor in the 50's section, 'lake view' room not too far from the bowling pin swimming pool. Headed to the pools for a nice swim after getting our luggage inside our new 'home'. Pools were heated but just barely enough to be comfortable, clouds and sunshine were playing tag with each other all afternoon. Still so nice to be outside and warm after months of the miserable cold weather in Maryland. Back to room for a change and then we were off to the food court for an early dinner. Decent food at the food court, had the shrimp lo mein ($6.99), and Mom's night out tv dinner ($8.99) -turkey and mashed potatoes, brought soda from our room to drink. Hopped on the bus to Magic Kingdom afterward. Wanted to do some resort hopping and get a bit of Disney magic before our cruise the next day. Great statues of Mickey all decorated in different styles at the entrance to the Magic Kingdom. It was already 6PM and the park would be closing in an hour. It killed the boys to be that close to the park and all the rides and not go inside. We decided to head over to Fort Wilderness and went to the landing to get on the larger boat there going across the bay. Nice evening for a boat ride, sun was setting, we could see Wilderness Lodge, Discovery Island and soon arrived at Fort Wilderness. Nice beach area there, toured the gift shop and then it was time to see the Wishes fireworks. Joined the crowd gathering on the beach, had a good view of the Ariel fireworks but not the ground displays. I had thought they would pipe in the music soundtrack from the Magic Kingdom but unfortunately not. Still impressive fireworks, many unusual shaped ones and colors. Afterwards we boarded the small boat launch that headed to the Contemporary resort. Short ride, Peter Pan was on the pier there waiting for us to arrive. Inside the Contemporary we head up to get on the monorail. Quick wait and we are riding the short distance to the ticket center. The Monorail cars look ok but smell HORRIBLE. Urine, BO, I don't know what but these cars were nasty! Transferred to the monorail going to Epcot (also stinky) and enjoyed the mini-overview of the park there. Walked to the bus depot and soon we were headed back on the bus to Pop Century. Disney transport is efficient and not too frustrating. PJ had to stop by the food court to try the tied dyed cheesecake, yummy!, Tyler opted for ice cream and I had a frozen coke (good deal for those with refillable mugs). Then off to our room, pretty comfortable beds, fluffy pillows - a bit cozy for 4 but manageable... need to rest up cuz tomorrow is the day we will sail on the DISNEY WONDER!! Best of Day: fireworks over Magic Kingdom Worst of Day: waking up at 5:30AM to head to airport Thursday February 12, 2004 Embarkation Day!!! Up early, cloudy day outside. We head out and find the $3.99 breakfast buffet at the Ponderosa West of Disney World on 192. Decent breakfast choices, more food than we needed. Took a detour to the Animal Kingdom lodge on our way back. WOW, this is a great resort. We enjoyed the lobby area, walked around the pool grounds and out to the Savannah overlooks. Not much animal life in sight tho, we did see a few pelicans and also zebras in the distance. Nice gift shop too. Would be our first choice for a deluxe resort stay ($275 per night value season Savannah view, ouch!) Back to Pop Century we pack up and since we have express checkout no need to stop by front desk. Back on the road we are headed east to Port Canaveral... many toll booths later (probably about $5 total) we can see our first glimpse of the ship from one of the high bridges before you reach the coast. Ya Hoo! What a wonder to see for real!!! Have to go a few miles down A1A to the Avis office to drop off. Smooth process, the shuttle driver takes our luggage and we are soon on the way back towards the ship. Arrive in the Disney drop off parking lot at 11:30 or so, hand over our checked bags (make sure you have them tagged for the ship) —sun is peeking out now, we are really skipping over the short walkway to the terminal. Usual security checks getting in to the terminal we go up the escalator and are now inside the beautiful check in terminal. Impressive, nice facility that Disney has built for their ships. No check in line, takes about 10 min to get our Key to the World Cards. Meanwhile Captain Mickey has arrived next to the large model of the Disney Magic. Boys get in line for their first of many photos for the weekend. We head over to the ears embarkation portal, short wait later we have our welcome aboard photo done, walk on the ship and have them announce "Please join us in welcoming the Mitchell family" with applause from cast members. Nice touch! We are sent down the hallway to Parrot Cay but before we get there they have us exit to the left and head to the elevators going upstairs. I was a bit disappointed after reading the embarkation buffet is nicer in Parrot Cay...but we were fine with the food upstairs. Up on Deck 9, we join the 'cafeteria' lines getting food from the beach blanket buffet. 1st impression about this buffet is not good. Much more congested and less appealing than just about every lido deck restaurant we have been on. Seating crowded, lines resemble a high school cafeteria. Disney could have planned this area much better. (like their nice food courts at the value resorts Disney World). Food was good tho, enjoyed the peel and eat shrimp! Cream puffs and had a nice table on the aft deck in the sunshine overlooking the port. Ice tea, fruit punch and water are the options for drinks. Ah, sunshine, good food and no worries. Life is GOOD! Do a quick walk around the top decks, no big crowds in the pools yet. We head down the elevator to deck 7 and find our home away from home for the week, stateroom 7035. (inside category 11) Like the layout of the stateroom with the large bed, sofa and table with a pull down bunk above for our youngest son. We have been spoiled on the last few family cruises having the boys in an adjoining stateroom so having a quad was a bit too cozy...overall we managed fine. Luggage has not arrived yet. We sit on the beds, declare them comfortable and discover the little Disney touches. Like the bedside table lamps with mickey ear design on the shade. Nice propeller alarm clock, Table can rise up and down to adjust height. Safe in the closet nearest the vanity desk that you can operate with any magnetic strip card. We put our passports and $$ inside. Use the bathroom and discover we have a 'too efficient' flushing mechanism on our toilet. If you happen to just lean back slightly on the seat cover it will engage the push button for the flush! I warned everyone about the 'surprise' Not sure if this was unusual for the fixtures in the staterooms on the Wonder, but we hadn't had this problem before. Kinda scary!!!!! Like the bathroom tub with handheld shower, nice design. Decide to do a walkabout on decks 3 and 4, find all of the restaurants and show lounge locations. Nice big show lounge for the evening shows. Stop by wavebands and check on our table for dinner since we had only received 3 tickets in our room instead of the 4 for our family. Everything ok, have a table for 4, Early seating, and rotation TAP as expected. Head to cabin and wait til we hear the signal for the muster drill. Usual hike down the stairs to deck 4 and off to our station. Lucky to be in the shade, fairly painless we muddle together in our orange vests waiting to be released. Back up to the cabin we have 3 out of 4 suitcases and begin the putting away process. Not much shelf/drawer space, I was wishing I had brought a lot more things on hangers to get things put away easier. We manage to get it all stuffed away, (remember next time not to pack so much stuff!!) head up to deck 10 for the sailaway party. Get the boys some virgin colada drinks in the Disney souvenir glasses. ($14.95 for 2) Most of the action is next to the family pool on Deck 9 but we prefer our less crowded view from above on deck 10. Have the cameras out, bubbles to blow. The energized activity staff has music playing and dancing on deck. The crowd is pumped up for our sailaway. Mickey and friends join in and soon we hear the 'when we wish upon a star' signal from the ship's horn. Off we slide into the channel out to sea. Sun is shinning brightly and seas look calm. Hard to believe after almost a year of planning this long anticipated cruise is on it's way! We stay for awhile then return to our cabin to get dressed up for our first dinner in Triton's. Would have preferred not to have to dress up this evening and had a more relaxed evening for our 1st night aboard. The boys and hubby in their dress shirts and ties, I have on my dressy top and pants and off we head to Tritons. Easy to find midship on deck 3. We are escorted to our table #68 bout dead center in middle of dining room. Our servers Cheddormar and assistant Banjong introduce themselves and bring us the menu for the evening. Nice formal atmosphere in room, I can view the large mosaic of Triton and the ocean life in front of me. We quickly order and have an enjoyable meal. (I had garlic beef tenderloin, crème brulee, excellent!) Cheddormar (who asked us to just call him Cheddar) was great with the boys, he brought Tyler's dessert under a covered platter and made him wait for a few minutes til he was able to uncover his 'surprise' a Mickey ice cream bar and sprinkles! He loved the special treatment! Sun was setting as we had our meal. Back to cabin for a change to more comfortable wear and then off to see the 1st show, Hercules the Museical in the big theater on Deck 4 forward. Drinks, snacks etc. Are available outside for a reasonable fee. We find seats in an aisle row and wait for the fun to begin. The cruise director Jackie in her dress whites introduces the show. She's a bit more formal than the other CD's we have had before..guess Disney likes that image. We preferred the other cruise activity staff with 'regular clothes' and less stiffness. (party animals!) What a great show,, we laughed and enjoyed every minute. My son PJ a true Disney fan was so impressed with the show. Afterward we sent them to Common Grounds to participate in the teen activities... unfortunately my boys are not ones to mix in with new cruise friends. Their loss I am sure, we did see lots of teens on the ship and the activities we saw listed in their teen navigator seemed creative and fun. Paul and I head to wavebands and watch a bit of the 70's show, do a quick run around the top deck watching the stars and enjoy our first night at sea. Back to cabin 7035 all are in bed around midnight. Our cabin steward Gusti has our bed turned down, lights on low and chocolate treats on the pillow. A towel animal , sorry can't remember this night's treasure but we did photograph it! was waiting on our bed when we returned from dinner. Like the privacy curtain between our bed and the bunk for the boys. (bring a clothes pin/clip if you want to no break between curtains.) Gentle rocking of the waves sends us off into dreamland- Best of Day: Welcome from the Disney cast members when we board the Wonder. Worst of Day: Muster Drill, necessary but not magical. Friday February 13, 2004 (Yikes, I just discovered it was Friday the 13th writing this review, luckily we had a GREAT day no bad luck for us). Paul and I up early around 6:30AM or so and head up to get some coffee from Deck 9 near the beach blanket buffet. Supposedly a 24 hr drink station here. Nice insulated foam cups with lids you can put on to carry the beverages around deck. We walk a bit on deck 10 but my flip flops are slipping on the damp plastic decking and we decide to play it safe..go on deck 4 (teak wooden promenade deck) and enjoy some nice quiet sea time before we head to cabin to wake up the boys. Amazing very calm waters out there can barely see a ripple in the waves, have rarely seen it this calm. We leave the boys in bed and go off to Triton's for breakfast. Nice full service menu, we have a table with a big window, another couple from Fla/Illinois joins us for the meal. I have a Denver omelet, just ok, I am guessing they use either some form of liquid egg mixture or powdered eggs from the texture. Bring toast, delicious pastries etc. along with the ever filled to the brim coffee cup..just what we need to start our day. Decide to wait to head into Nassau after we go to see the movie "Miracle" in the big theatre lounge. Boys head up to the beach blanket buffet and get their fill up for the day with the eat all you want offerings on deck 9. Head to the theater and am slightly disappointed the preludes store is not open to sell my hoped for popcorn. Only 10AM but movies and popcorn are a must for me. Theater only fills about ½ of the seats and soon our movie is on the screen. Love Kurt Russell, always my favorite actor from back in teen age days! He sure has aged in this film, hope it is just cosmetic aging.. he's my age so can't look THAT old! Great movie, I am not a sports fan but this one is a very intense inside view of the Olympic sports world, especially during those years of the 'cold war' between US and Russia. Stop by cabin to pick up our beach bags before going to the 'all American buffet' on deck 9 beach blanket buffet. Good food offerings, mashed potatoes and turkey which are Tyler's #1 favorite foods. Have pasta selections and taco buffet as well, Good desserts. We enjoy a nice lunch overlooking the bridge to Paradise Island. Great sunny day and probably mid to upper 70's...wow, I had searched weather reports prior to our cruise and all of them had forecast rotten rain, wind and clouds for our entire trip... Glad that they were "off course" We grab towels from the pool area and take the elevator to deck 1 gangway. Off the ship and head down the pier. We are instantly grabbed by one of the taxi drivers in the information building. We have plans to go to the Paradise Island beach and then hope to visit most of the Atlantis resort. Our family joins another group and we all fit inside the 15 passenger van, a quick ride over the Paradise Island bridge. The driver drops off most of the passengers near the Atlantis casino, he takes us past the Sheraton to the path for the beach access there. We take the path over the sand dune and are soon on the soft sandy beach in front of the Sheraton. We head up to the Atlantis beach and it is a mass of bodies... having been to the resort before I have a bit of knowledge of where to go. We head up the stairs and over the resort area along the beach. Cross over a bridge where an Atlantis employee asks for our room key. I had been at the Comfort Suites a year ago and just happened to save the room plastic key from our trip, I flashed that at the employee and we were nodded on. I had also saved the Atlantis bracelets from our prior trip, had hoped we might be able to recycle them and use them for a few unauthorized trips on the water slides....but unfortunately the colors we had saved did not include the black bracelets that we discovered were the color of the day when we arrived. Oh, well. We went past the large Mayan Slide and over to 'Cove Beach' this is a small beach cove with less activity, lots of chairs. As expected we were not hassled here and enjoyed a little beach time. Water was a bit chilly but fine once you ventured in. Relaxed in the sun and just treasured the beautiful beach time, warmth and break from winter. Packed up, showered off the sand and headed back towards the main casino building. Came to the entrance to the 'dig' aquarium, there were 3 employees waiting outside there and we anticipated them asking for some type of key or bracelet. We just walked past them and no one said a thing. Beautiful aquariums and lots of fish displayed, always an impressive tour. We passed several tour guides and groups coming from the lobby area. Took our time walking thru, then exited to the lobby, visited the impressive bathrooms there- went thru the front entrance and a van headed to the port was waiting. I had the 'shotgun' seat and was glad I managed to buckle the seat belt before we took our wild ride back to the port. Insane traffic and instant lane changes made me a bit scared, the woman driver asked me if I would like to have to drive in Nassau..NO WAY JOSE! We were happy to exit the van at the port. Short line checking id's heading out on the pier. Back on the ship...shower and grab a slice of pizza, relax with a rum and coke (brought along our own sodas and rum for in cabin use) LIFE IS GOOD! Dinner tonite is at Animator's Palate. We find the restaurant on deck 4 aft and arrive to see the original black and white creations. The boys are very excited when they detect any changes in color or pictures during our meal. I guess I was expecting something different, maybe 1 color changing all over the restaurant at a time?? I enjoy the maple glazed salmon and Paul begs our head server Michelle to bring us the recipe. (which she graciously does the next evening) Strawberry cheesecake or strawberry shortcake for dessert are excellent as well. Another great meal and good service, thank you Cheddar and Banjong. Change attire again and relax a bit before heading off to Buena Vista Theater for the Golden Mickey's show. We all enjoy the red carpet interviews of passengers on their way inside the theater. Excellent characters and story lines give us another great evening of entertainment. It is nice that even having teenagers they can be excited to see the shows and get photos with some of the characters on the ship. Stop by the game show Mickey Mania afterward, too bad PJ didn't get picked, he knew most of the answers. One duo won by a landslide and was awarded the treasured winner medal on a ribbon. Paul and I decide to try to get a bit of bubble time in the hot tub post show. Up on deck the tropical deck party is in full swing by the family pool. We are at the adults pool and only a few passengers are sharing the evening there with us. A musical duo is playing some Jimmy Buffet music, we can hear the crowd partying in the distance but prefer our more subdued hideaway. Jump into the hot tub and a half dozen teens decide to join in. I question them about their being over 18 to be there and they act like they don't hear me. A few minutes later a Disney cast member comes by and gives them the heave ho out of the adult's tub. I was glad that they had it under control. Still some grumbling from the teens but they all managed to exit in a few minutes. Hot HOT HOT!!! Almost too hot, bubbled til our skin was feeling boiled in oil, dried off and then went over to catch the dance crowd partying with Mickey. Great action from the Disney activity crew. Wish I had their energy. Ate a bowl of ice cream from Scoops and checked out the display for the midnight tropical buffet—decided to just grab a burger from Pluto's instead. Stuffed again, we did a late night watch from the Promenade deck before heading for bed to get a good night's sleep before our day on Castaway Cay. A towel animal elephant wearing MY sunglasses is reading a book on the bed, more chocolates on the pillow. Sad to have another day gone of our wonderful cruise..but looking forward to the long awaited day on the island tomorrow. Good night, life is GOOD! Best of Day: soaking in the hot tubs under the stars of Nassau. Worst of Day: traffic scares returning from Paradise Island. February 14, 2004 Valentine's Day on Castaway Cay Up early again around 6:30AM and head up hoping for some sunrise photos over Castaway Cay. Ship is still a few miles out from island. We grab coffee and head down to deck 7 aft over look to watch them dock the ship. I am so happy the sun is shining and the waves are just a gentle ripple on the surface. Having missed the private island of Coco Cay on the Sovereign 2 yrs earlier I had worried that the weather might prevent our day on CC. The wonder gently slips into the channel next to the dock, you can see all the trams on their journey to pick up supplies etc. for the day. Get the boys up and moving and we all head to Parrot's Cay for breakfast. Very tropical atmosphere in PC , perfect for our day ahead. Think I like this restaurant the best of the 3, cute portholes with palm tree accents, light fixtures with parrots and bananas, comfortable chairs with palm trees carved into the seatbacks. We have a nice table for 4, order our drinks and head to the nicely displayed buffet of foods, Omelet man available for special orders, great jelly donuts, YUM! This is a great place to start your day! Back to cabin we lather on the sunscreen, grab our snorkel gear, put on our matching Cruisin' with Mickey T-shirts I had made and head down to the gangway. No lines getting off ship, get our beach towels for the day, (too bad they only have the small white pool towels instead of the large excursion towels we have had on the other cruiselines, probably worried about theft??) jump on the tram waiting to take us to the family beach. Head down beach past the playground in the water and grab a couple lounges, chairs and an umbrella for our family home in the sand. Paul takes a dip and decides to check out the snorkel area. Boys go in and Tyler swims out to go on the rope hanging part of the playground. Water is a bit nippy going in but clear, that beautiful aqua can't believe it is real color. I am on the chair soaking it all in...the beauty of the island, the ship off in the distance, the reality of this day at last on Castaway Cay. Even better than I had imagined for so many months ahead of time. I wished I could just stay here forever. Take the boys up the beach and get them tubes ($6 each) for the day. These were very well used and it was great to see these overgrown kids play in the water together as they have done since toddler days. LIFE IS VERY GOOD! Paul drags me in the water and we swim up to the snorkel trail, it is a LONG ways out there but we see the underwater Mickey, treasure chest, schools of fish and enough sealife to keep it interesting. Take the swim under the ropes and surprise the boys from behind the water playground on our way back. Almost noon, we send the boys over to the Cookie's BBQ for lunch, tell them we will be back by 3PM—stay together and be safe—Paul and I wait for the tram to take us to Serenity Bay. It is a wonderful memory on the tram, listening to the disney music take us away to our slice of paradise. Feel a bit guilty about leaving boys behind, but with their many cruises experiences and being level headed young guys we are comfortable with their being on their own for a couple hours. Lifeguard is on the beach a few yards from where we were staked out for the day. Both boys are excellent swimmers. On to Serenity bay. We decide to have lunch and enjoy the small picnic area. Good steak and salmon sandwiches. Salads adequate, enjoy the cookie dough frozen yogurt, fruit. Just enough. Walk over to the beach and grab a couple lounges under an umbrella. Someone had nicely deserted their foam mat in front of us so we take that 'freebie' into the water and take turns soaking in the wonderful bay. Bit of seaweed and rocks on bottom. Perfect perfect perfect, it is almost too beautiful to believe. This is probably my favorite cruise port/beach/place on planet earth that I have had the privilege to visit in my 50 yrs of life. Paul orders me a Konk Kooler in the cute coconut cup to sip on the chair when we are drying off. We see a couple crew members in the distance swimming on their adjacent beach, nice that Disney provides that piece of paradise for their hardworking crew. Want to savor each minute, it all passes way too quickly. About 2:30 or so we are back on the tram to the family beach. Find the boys lounging in the shade, they had snorkeled, eaten, swam and explored. We go past the bike rental and take some more photos looking back towards the ship. So pretty, I want to find a place to hide on the island and stay for a month, year, century?? Or so!!! Pack up our gear and stop by the sea shell's shop for a couple Castaway Cay souvenirs. Jump on the tram, get some stamps for the postcards. (need cash 55 cents each, post office closes at 4PM, beach closes at 3:30, all aboard at 4:30) take a photo of the welcome to Castaway Cay sign, and the cute pole high mailbox. I don't want to have to leave but we join in the crowd heading back aboard the ship. Castaway Cay, a dream come true!!! Tyler grabs pizza and brings it back to the cabin for all of us. We take turns getting in the shower to wash away all the sand that has come back on the ship with us. Next bummer is having to pack. Get out the suitcases and start stuffing it all back inside. Have a large trash bag in the boys duffle for all of the dirty clothes, have to leave out the shoes, clothes etc for the next morning. Prepare the tip envelopes and also the small boxes of valentine hearts for our servers, and room steward. Head to dinner for our last one on the Wonder. Tonite in Parrot's Cay. Steel band playing island music. Our servers greet us and give us the menus for the night. I have little Valentine gifts for the boys. It is another great meal, favorite choices makes it hard to decide what to choose. Crab Nuremberg is the choice for all 4 of us as appetizer. YUM! Michelle brings us our requested recipe for Maple glazed Salmon. I choose Prime rib and then the crème brulee cheesecake for dessert. All too soon we are saying goodbye to our servers, rewarding them for their great service with the tips (had prepaid with vouchers from the purser's desk, very reasonable for the quality of service we received). They danced for us and we exited the restaurant, very sad this Valentine's day was almost over. Stopped by the atrium and bought the Disney Cruise Line limited edition Valentine's cruise 2004 pin. ($10.50) cute and will decorate our scrapbook page. Change into clothes for tomorrow and finish packing the luggage, put the Mickey tags on the handles and put them in the hallway for delivery. Off to the theater for the Disney Dreams show. Very touching show, an absolutely magical experience that brought tears to my eyes. Great Job dancers and performers on this ship. We were seated in a row with some preschoolers and they were screaming at every character entrance during the performance. Really the only time we felt the numerous kids on the cruise was waiting for the shows. Packed to the limit in the evening, you have to get there about 20 min ahead to get a decent seat. Lots of row saving by individuals not Disney friendly!! PJ goes to atrium afterward and takes the photographs of the many characters at the farewell greeting. We stop by the internet terminals trying to get our boarding passes for airtran the next day. Unfortunately the server was down, we had to wait for the internet manager to come and clear our account. She was nice enough to phone our cabin that evening to let us know they had restored the connection. We were able to log on and get that taken care of on Sunday morning before we disembarked from the Wonder. Paul and I head to the wavebands lounge for the 'match your mate game' Have seen this many times on prior cruises, Disney wins for the best stage props, cute lattice white benches and flowers. 3 couples with newlywed, 5-10 yrs, and 10+ yrs marriage are chosen. Liked the Disney question ''where was the most unusual place you and wife 'discovered the magic.' One couple claimed to have become 'magical' at the Disney World parking LOT, mid day!! Brave ones!!!!! We stopped by the hallway outside the Cadillac lounge and have a couple appetizers from the table there. Listen to a song inside the Barrel of Laughs club by the piano duo...not that funny to us. Wish Disney would have some adult comedians?? Instead. Dance to a song by the Seabands (Seawaves?? Have to check my navigator) group. The activity guide Teeshia is hosting the 80's party. What a HOOT...she has this huge afro wig on and is a great party starter for the small crowd. Enjoyed the boa dancing girls, the John Travolta 'body floss' with white jackets. It was a most memorable Valentine's Day!!! We walked out on promenade deck for a last night view of the ocean and stars. I am feeling sad to be almost finished with the cruise. I spend so much time (thank you disboards) researching the trip, I have mentally planned each minute ahead of time and I still have a hard time accepting the cruise is something that has to end!!! Back to the cabin, we are welcomed by the 2 swan towel animals that make a heart shape. Boys are bouncing around. PJ chattering about all the characters he has seen and taken photographs of. They are excited to be going to Disney Quest tomorrow. Lights out, I drift off to sleep, a bit of rocking and rolling on the ship tonight. Good night. Best of Day: floating on a mat at Serenity Bay. Worst of Day: Packing up the suitcases. Sunday February 15, 2004 -- Disembarkation Day Alarm off at 6:15 along with last wake up from Mickey. Quick shower, pack up all the carryon's and head to our last meal on the Wonder. Breakfast is in Parrot Cay again. Welcome Home menu. PJ's whining about not wanting to leave the ship. I agree!!! Good food and service, it is nice to be able to thank our servers and give them the goodbye hugs for all they have done to make this a memorable cruise. Thank you Cheddar and Banjong, service ranks tops of the 15 cruises I have been on. We stop by shutters and get the photo of the boys with Captain Mickey and Mate Minnie with the Wonder in the background. Also buy the one of the family together on Castaway Cay wearing the Cruisin' with Mickey T-shirts I had crafted ahead of time. Go to the internet cafe and log on to get our seats on airtran along with boarding passes. It's only 8am and part of me just wants to linger on the ship til they MAKE us get off, but we decide to head up the deck and join in the short line exiting from the Wonder. No holdups with customs, they grab our declaration form and glance at the passports. In the terminal I am amazed at the orderly easy luggage display. This is the easiest, best, most organized and hassle free disembarkation ever. Disney wins hands down by a mile!!! It was a painless experience, (besides the PAIN of having to get off at all). We roll the suitcases over to the tent in the adjacent parking lot and all too soon the Avis shuttle is there to pick us up. We gaze at the few early passengers coming to the terminal with envy...wish we could turn the clock back 4 days and have it be our turn to be getting ON instead of OFF. Smooth check in with Avis, no upgrade this time. We squeeze everything into the compact Oldsmobile Alero and drive west to Downtown Disney. More tolls later we are at Disney Quest around 10AM. PJ checks to see if they are opening earlier but finds the ticket office won't open til 11:30AM. We drive to the Marketplace, spend some time and $$ in the world of Disney store. Take the boys back to Disney Quest with their tickets around 11:15. Say we will meet them at 2:15 in the giftshop of Disney Quest, stay together!! Paul and I go back to the marketplace. I drag him into the Once upon a toy store and have a lot of fun filling the box with the Mr Potato head parts. The nice castmember repacks my purchase and tells me to head back for more things to include. I have that box bowed out and the top barely closes-- can't wait to play with MY new toy! We walk thru most of the shops and then stop at the Wolfgang Puck's to share a pizza and soda. Circle around and then get a great hot fudge Sundae at the Giradelli's (spelling??) ice cream shop. Diet starts tomorrow!!!!!! Drive back to Disney Quest and wait for boys to show up, they are right on schedule at 2:15. Back in car, fill up gas tank, prices for gas have gone UP this week! And drive off to I- 4 to the tollroad to the airport. Circle around terminal A 1 time before finding the rental car drop off. Quick return to Avis. Short line checking in with Airtran. We are at the gate about 3:30 for our expected 5PM flight. They then announce our flight is delayed due to storms out of Atlanta. Expect to depart at 6PM. We wait at the gate and then decide to buy diner around 4:45 PM. Order a pizza—I head back to check at the gate and now they tell me they will be boarding soon and leaving at 5:30! Our pizza comes out of oven at 5:10, we carry it to the gate and wolf down a piece just before our row gets called for the plane. Pack up the remaining pizza to eat on the plane and we join in the crowd. Uneventful flight home, we wait for about a 1/2 hr at the baggage claim for luggage. Just delayed enough to meet up with my sister returning from her cruise on the Carnival Inspiration. Nice to have a rendezvous in the terminal with her. Welcome home, it's 26 degrees outside. We open up the suitcases and pull on the sweatshirts and windbreakers we had brought along for the cruise but never needed. PJ is still in shorts, I try to get him to change into pants but he isn't ready to make the change. Outside we freeze for 10 min til the shuttle arrives to take us to the car. Home sweet home, thermostat at 60 takes a bit of time to warm up..I make everyone hot chocolate with marshmallows for comfort. BOO HOO! Don't wanna be home... have a mountain of laundry, groceries to buy and a pile of bills on the counter to pay. I huddle under a blanket and wade thru the hundreds of emails in my acct. Log on to the disboards to get my post cruise fix. No nice rocking of the ship to lull me to sleep tonight. Good night. Best of Day: waking up and still being on the Wonder. Worst of Day: going to sleep in a cold not on the Wonder anymore bed! Life is NOT GOOD!!!! But still, I am a lucky one. Have been on many cruise adventures, have many more planned and hoped for in the future. Thank you Disney Cruise line for this memorable cruise. A WONDER-ous adventure, a quickie with Mickey. OK, really--Life is GOOD. Read Less
Sail Date February 2004
Embarkation: We knew from the message boards here on CruiseCritic that the Dawn would be late coming into NYC. So we arrived accordingly at 4 pm (normally sailing time) and found no lines. We were assigned a boarding number and were on the ... Read More
Embarkation: We knew from the message boards here on CruiseCritic that the Dawn would be late coming into NYC. So we arrived accordingly at 4 pm (normally sailing time) and found no lines. We were assigned a boarding number and were on the ship in less than an hour. Our balcony stateroom was beautiful - well worth the $75 per person upgrade we'd been offered from obst. oceanview! Plenty of room for all our things, and a nice place to spend some quiet, private time whenever we wanted. We explored the ship - the biggest we've been on, but easy to get around. Dinner at Impressions, one of the main dining restaurants, was wonderful - our favorite restaurant by the end. The Dawn didn't leave until almost 10 pm, as it took longer to refuel than thought. Got hungry at about 11 pm but there was no place to grab a snack (the 24-hour Blue Lagoon was overrun) so called room service. Estimate of a 45 minute wait happily turned into 15. Sea Day #1: Unfortunately muster drill was set for 10 am, same time as our cruisecritic get-together, so didn't meet everyone we'd hoped to. Plenty of activities to choose from throughout the day, although admittedly not as many appealed to us as on our trip last year on the Carnival Inspiration. Since it was still only the first day of March, the weather wasn't quite warm enough to spend time around the pool. Chocoholic Buffet - surprisingly, nothing appealed there either! I was expecting more actual chocolate and pastries and less cake. Desserts overall on this cruise were not as good as I'd hoped. Petit fours after one dinner were made with Rice Krispies! Rest of the food was excellent. Exercise: I opted for the $5 yoga class (also a charge for spinning classes) and found the small studio to be too crowded, with no sight line to the instructor. Other classes (kickboxing, zumba) were not nearly as full; Pilates was full but no charge. This was the only formal night, so in our respective long black dress and collared-shirt with tie (no jacket) we went to dinner at the reservations-only but no cover charge Salsa's. Excellent tortilla chips, too-spicy fajitas. Service was a bit slow, and we had to ask for our bill (we'd ordered sangrias) twice, so we were late for the Jean Ann Ryan Co. Webber production show. The show itself was good, but if you're not a fan of Andrew Lloyd, it can get monotonous. "Who Wants to be a Bazzillionaire?" game after the show also got monotonous, as the contestant was getting too many hints at correct answers and wasn't very entertaining. John, the asstistant cruise director, should have picked a new contestant. Casino was open, so won a little at the slots and retired. Cape Canaveral: As we left NYC late, we got in to Canaveral at 11 am, about 2 hours late, which caused problems for some with theme park plans. The Captain did, however, extend our stay in port for an hour that night. Breakfast earlier at the main dining Venetian was crowded, as everyone was killing time onboard; service a little slow. We opted to stay on the ship and eat lunch rather than stand in the LONG line to get off, and instead left at about 1:30 pm for Kennedy Space Center. The shuttle van fare there and back (Art's Transportation) was $50 for two people - almost as much as the admission to KSC, more if you count the tip!! Internet research pre-trip hadn't revealed any cheaper way to get there, though. After about a 20-min drive (you can see KSC from the ship, but it's across the water and a roundabout way by car) we were dropped at KSC with an arrangement of pick-up at 5:30 (altho the sign at KSC said they closed at 6 pm, the driver said they closed at 5:30. Still don't know which was right...). We hadn't been to Kennedy in a long time, so there was a lot of new things to see and do - especially on the bus tour, which took about 2-1/2 hours. That left us with an hour to spend at the "main" center, enough time, though, to see the Space Shuttle exhibit, the memorial, rocket garden, and both the past and future in space exhibits. No time for the IMAX movies, which are included in admission. Maybe we should have stood in the long line? Saw enough, though, and were back on board at 6 pm, so beat the Disney crowd to dinner at the Venetian, another main dining restaurant. It was Italian night, so the dinner fit the decor, and the food was good overall. Chocolate souffle was one of the few desserts I finished. The night's entertainment was seeing the movie "Chicago" on the big screen in the Stardust Theatre, and then relaxing in the adults-only whirlpool at the spa. Miami: The ship got in on time at 9 am, but we opted again to stay onboard a while and relax by the pool. Not too much planned by way of onboard activities, anyway. We had booked the 2:30 South Beach Segway tour and so took the Hopper bus down to South Beach (included in the $45 per person excursion) and found the Segway tour guide (no help from the bus driver or NCL - our group of five on the tour had to wander around a little to find him at the bus pick-up stop). We followed the tour guide to the rental shop (a block and a half from the beach) and had our lesson and practice before we set off back to Ocean Drive. We mostly went along the "boardwalk", a little away from the art-deco buildings of Ocean Drive, but the Segways were a good way to save our feet and see the architecture. We'd wished we'd booked an earlier tour, though, as the last bus left at 4:30 and we only had enough time on the beach to touch the water and trudge back to the bus. We opted to have dinner at the Garden Cafe buffet, where we breakfasted and lunched most days also. I heard some complaints, but I found the buffet food to be better overall than most buffets at home (one exception: salad bar much better on the Inspiration). We found seats early for the JAR Co. production show South Beach Rave, which was the closest we got to Miami at night, as the ship left at 6 pm. Good show. Great Stirrup Cay: The weather was again, perfect, as we sailed in to Great Stirrup Cay at 8 am. We waited until about 10 to take the tender over to the private island, and set up camp on the right-hand side of the beach, near the boat rentals, but far from the crowds. The water was much colder than we'd expected, so we didn't snorkel or swim. After our requisite time in the sun, and an $8 Bahama Mama in a souvenir cup, we walked to the island's little Straw Market, made no purchases, and then had some of the BBQ lunch. The BBQ is permanent, a flat grill on concrete, under a pavilion, rather than the charcoal-type grills we'd expected. Also found seats under another pavilion at picnic tables, out of the sun. Not a lot of choices for health-conscious or vegetarians (compared to onboard, there's a veggie buffet at lunch every day). After a little more exploring we headed back to the ship, and spent the afternoon at the spa pool, which was definitely warmer than the water around the ship. Floor to ceiling windows gave us a view out the back of the ship of the private island until sailing time. Another fitness class, Kardio Kick Boxing, proved much less crowded (only 4 people) and definitely challenging. I earned dessert! Caribbean dinner at the third main dining restaurant, Aqua, was very tasty and unique. For once, the Cooking Light option (Carib chicken stew) was good! Didn't see any desserts I liked, so the kickboxing was even more effective. Again, great service (considering you never see the same server twice with Freestyle) but we did have to wait a bit to be seated at this peak time. We didn't stay long after the Artistry of Dominique began - a violinist and then, we heard later, her husband, a comedian. We did go to the Not so Newlywed Game, which was pretty tame compared to other cruises. Nassau, Bahamas: We docked early at Nassau and were the first of what ended up being five cruise ships there that day. The famous hair-braiding ladies must not have been in full swing yet, as we weren't really approached. Our first stop was a horse-drawn carriage ride, with photos taken by a man who I thought was going to steal our camera, but then only asked for a tip (we gave $2, one for each photo taken). Our guide, Molly, gave us a polite but cynical tour of downtown ("Bahamas is for making booze and babies"). The horse, Showtime, was a pro. Fare was $10 each. Next stop, Atlantis, on Paradise Island, for a $4 each van ride. We made our donation at the casino, then wandered around the nearly-empty grounds (still pretty early) and wandered into the Dig, the Atlantis Aquarium. It took us until we hit the gift shop to realize that this was actually the PAID guided tour, and we were doing it backward at no charge. We didn't see the other half of the Aquarium, with the predator tunnel, though. So we came out at the lobby cafe, and walked around the rest of Atlantis, where security was now in place and we weren't able to get back into the beach area we'd stumbled into before. Water taxi back was $3 one-way and not a long wait. A very friendly guide gave us a talk on Nassau and Paradise (formerly Hog) Island as we made our way back to Nassau (again, tips encouraged). Ah, the hair ladies awaited, but weren't overly pushy. A quick stop at the Del Sol shop for our free NCL color-changing tote bag and ring, and then on to the Straw Market, where overfed cruisers tried to squeeze past each other to look at "local" souvenirs. Some of the wood carvings were nice, but we mostly saw T-shirts and cheap-looking straw bags. Again, I was surprised that the vendors weren't more pushy. Our last stop was at the Pirate Museum, where we had a coupon for $2 off admission (making it $10 each) and a free rum punch. After the first "Pirates of the Caribbean"-like room (which they'll let you peek at to decide if you want the tour) there was mostly dioramas and a few artifacts at the end. The rum punch made it better! We made it back on board in plenty of time for the 2 pm sail-off (the Disney Wonder was staying til 11 pm - we were jealous), with very good feelings about Nassau. Despite what we'd heard, the natives were friendly (friendlier than on Aruba) and we had had a very good time in the Bahamas. The ship pulled away at 2:10 pm, then surprisingly, went back to the pier to pick up an unhappy couple who'd missed the boat! Incredible! So kudos to Captain Hoydal, but we hope you haven't set a precedent. The Wonder's onlookers cheered as the couple hopped aboard. We were having lunch at the 24-hour Blue Lagoon, the menu items not to my taste, but passable. They tend to forget the diners out on the deck, though. The rest of the day was at sea, headed back to NY. Our second time at Bingo (this was the "cheap" game, although Bingo onboard the Dawn has been the most expensive so far of our four cruises). While Bingo was finishing up, I headed to a Zumba class (pretty easy and uncrowded), then did a mile around the Promenade, then barely made the Pilates matwork class (some moves were difficult, even after I've been doing Winsor at home). Again, I earned my dessert. It was Lobster night, so we dined for the second time at Impressions, where we turned a 75 minute wait into immediate seating by agreeing to dine with strangers, who turned out to be a single friendly woman from Connecticut whose husband only ate at the Blue Lagoon. We enjoyed our dinner, and out of four desserts ordered, found the best was the crepes souffle. Good souffles on the Dawn! The rice krispie petit fours were very disappointing. The best show on the cruise was Bollywood, mostly for the Cirque du Soleil-style acrobatics. They should make more of the fact that Lance Ringnald, a two-time US Olympic gymnast, is part of the show (he had his own show the next night). Afterward was the requisite, but well-deserved tribute to the staff, crew and officers of the Dawn. Sea Day #2: The air was surprisingly warm as we woke up at sea and brought breakfast to our balcony. I opted for another Pilates class (9:30 am) as Bingo card sales began, but made it in time for the first game a half hour later anyway. Double the price, and lost again. They did give away a free cruise (any length, anywhere) to those who had gotten raffle tickets from this and past Bingo game participation. Pastry demonstration at 11:30 am was less than exciting - marzipan. A relatively well-informed nutrition lecture at 11:30 (Candi needs to brush up on her knowledge of fats, though), along with the other 5 classes and the 6 miles around the Promenade, qualified me to pick up my free (earned!) Sports Afloat T-shirt later in the day. Another BBQ lunch on the pool deck (all told, I think there were four), then relaxing at the bow whirlpool and lying in the sun for as long as possible. The weather showed we were going North at about 3:30 pm or so - the sun disappeared, and the wind started to get a little chilly, driving us finally inside and into warmer clothes. Our last dinner onboard was at the cover-charge Bamboo (we booked an early 6:30 reservation, which qualified us for 50% off the $10 cover). Maybe it pays to pay - the food was excellent (best ahi I've ever had), the service even a little more attentive than in the dining rooms. Ginger creme brulee was too sweet, though, with no taste of ginger. Last pro show onboard - a variety show, with a 25-minute segment devoted to Lance Ringnald's gymnastic skills (thoroughly enjoyed) and the singing of Eric Reid, one of the Jean Ann Ryan cast members. I didn't care for Reid, good voice, but way over-theatrical! Others around us seemed to like him, though. Next stop was the Liars' Club game, which I think one had to be drinking to enjoy (so I enjoyed) and then the guest Talent Show, which had some "gong-show" caliber and some very good talent. The winner was from Montreal, singing a very pro-sounding "Angels". We weren't tired, but there wasn't much else to do but go to bed. Disembarkation: We were sailing past the Statue of Liberty at 7 am, just as predicted, and were at the dock by 8. The best part of Freestyle is being able to stay in your stateroom until your luggage tag color is called, so we brought breakfast down and relaxed as we waited for our color. We were called at about 10:40 and quickly passed through the lines, and were on the way home before 11 am. OVERALL: A great cruise. Some things above I'm nitpicking - really, the Dawn gave us one of our best cruise experiences (the other being our first cruise on the Celebrity Century for our honeymoon). The weather was perfect, the staff attentive and polite, the food was excellent considering the mass production, and we enjoyed ourselves at every port of call, especially Nassau. We definitely like Freestyle Cruising! We'd love to go again on the Dawn, maybe the 10-day down to the southern Caribbean, next year! Read Less
Sail Date February 2004
Majesty of the Seas January 16- 19th 2004 Pre-cruise Planning Like any good sequel, the roots for our cruise planning started the day we returned home from our seven day western Caribbean cruise on Voyager of the Seas. This planning was ... Read More
Majesty of the Seas January 16- 19th 2004 Pre-cruise Planning Like any good sequel, the roots for our cruise planning started the day we returned home from our seven day western Caribbean cruise on Voyager of the Seas. This planning was aided by getting "bumped" from our flight home to a later flight giving us free airfare and cutting the cruise cost in half. In the middle of summer we thought about the depths of winter and a three day holiday. Martin Luther King Day was the first that came to mind for us. This review will cover in depth our cruise on Majesty of the Seas January 16- 19th 2004 departing out of Miami with stops in Coco Cay and Nassau, Bahamas. Before we start I wanted to take some time to tell you a little about ourselves and the perspective that we would be using for our review. I am 34 years old and a Computer network administrator for a local school district. My wife is 33 and a Dental hygienist who works in a very modern office. We also have a four year old daughter. We had made a decision not to take our daughter with us on Voyager due to her age and at the prompting of both sets of grandparents who took care of her half the week each much to her over indulged delight. Six months out when we booked, we hemmed and hawed about taking her on this cruise and in the end felt like this cruise would be a "quickie" and decided that she would have more fun at home. To that end, we tried to streamline the process of getting to the ship, activities on the ship and getting back as well planned as possible. One of the main sources of information I had used for our Voyager cruise was the Cruise Critic boards, which had been very helpful. I found with the exception of one or two helpful Majesty veterans there was not a wealth of information to be found on this particular ship or its destinations. That is why I am writing this review. As we approached our departure date our plans for our daughter started to unravel. My wife's mother, an avid cruiser, passed away suddenly in early December making for a difficult and sad time for our family. My stepmother was also having some surgery and medical problems and with this added pressure, communication between us became strained. To our relief my brother and sister in-law who had accompanied us on our Voyager cruise, were happy to take care of our daughter. She would also spend the day with both grandfathers. We did explore taking her with us on the cruise. At this late date, the cruise would have been almost $900 cruise and airfare. I left the airport mumbling about her just being four and said "What? For that kind of money she should be able to fly the plane." We had decided up front to forgo any hard sided luggage and go all carry on (official real carry on luggage, one bag each). We skipped any formal clothes and just brought smart causal, our only worry would be our table mates and we brought a bottle of wine to smooth over any problems. We also brought our own snorkels and masks, the first two Harry Potter books and books for my wife. All in all I felt we had packed all that we would need and not a stitch more. Our plan was to Snorkel and sit on the beach in Coco Cay and shop and do Atlantis "The Dig" in the Bahamas. Day One - "Holy Cow it's cold" The first day of out trip seems to always start the night before. Having cleaned the house, packed, contacted every one with "in case the ship sinks" information and planned everything out for the morning, we headed over to a local restaurant with my brother and sister in-law to treat them to dinner. After dinner we headed to the market pick up some travel snacks and treats for our daughter when I noticed the van was not quite driving correctly. We stopped to get some gas and discovered the front driver's side tire has deflated and had come off its rim. We called a tow truck and sat and waited for help to arrive. (Now before you get the wrong idea I am pretty handy and although have never changed a tire on the van and when I looked for the spare it was not where I expected it to be but I would not have let that stop me. What stopped me was the fact it was -8 degrees out with a wind chill of -25). When the tow truck driver arrived he also had no interest in changing the tire either so we just towed it. In the end you can add picking up the van and putting gas in it to my brother in-law's list of good deeds for the weekend. January 16, 2004 -Weather Albany -10° with a wind chill of -35 to -55 Miami 70° light clouds Four thirty in the morning came really early after the night's excitement. We watched as school after school closed due to the cold. Then we headed off to the airport. Since we only had carry on we skipped the line and did the self check in. We had no problems getting through airport security except they did look twice at the bottle of wine. We didn't use any locks or zip ties, I did not have to take off my shoes. We boarded and we were off to Charlotte then Miami. Once in Miami we scooted past the luggage carrousel and right into a waiting cab. Once at the ship we filled out our Bahamas immigration forms and went right to check in with no line. We were cheerfully greeted and quickly processed. Then we boarded and started searching for our cabin (4565) on deck four the same level as our dining room and boarding area. The cabin we found and once we got over the initial shock of sleeping in a closet (These cabins are small, that is no secret 117sq ft to compare them with other ships of the line would be unfair, just be aware) we also were surprised to find no safe or mini fridge. The soda and water were just stacked on the desk. The bathroom was equally small and we finally found one of the infamous shower curtains that people mention on the Cruise Critic boards. All that being said we found the cabin to be fine for sleeping and getting ready for dinner. I could see if you had to spend a lot of time in there because of the weather it could be too small. After changing we went off to explore the ship. We also meet our Cabin attendant Ivan from St. Vincent. We quickly discovered the only way to traverse large areas of the ship would be by the stairs (Which thankfully went both up and down, Thanks Rico) we went to the Centrum where we purchase soda cards $18 per person and checked on our dinner table and menu. Then off to the Windjammer for some lunch. We didn't see anything that varied from the traditional RCI fare, but everything was good. We shot up to the pool deck and took in the sun; there are two large pools with kid pools attached and two hot tubs (which were closed). Wondering why no one was swimming yet, I dipped a foot in a discovered that they were a wee bit on the cold side. That would be the theme for water on the boat and on the islands; I would do some swimming but not today. We then sought out the gym, Schooner bar and theater. My first overall impression of this ship is that it is showing it's age, stained & ripped carpet, dents in the walls, tape hanging from the ceilings and an overall out dated theme that is right out the early 90's. Did that ruin my vacation? No, it did not; we took the ship on face value. It's smaller than many and a little out dated which also means less people on the cruise and a sense of the history of RCI and its fleet. The shops and casino were closed while we were in port, something to remember because you are usually in port during the days on the trip. Before dinner we had the compulsory muster drill. I found it strange how many people were taken completely by surprise when the drill started, though RCI had made three announcements and left detailed instructions on the bed. We mustered in area 10 which happened to be the bar, so we got to sit down and relax while the rest of the ship sweated outside. We met our neighbors there and found out it was her birthday and first cruise. After the drill we went up to the bow of the boat to watch the ship pull out, only to be thwarted by Captain Kristofferson announcing that the pilot was stuck in traffic and we would be running late. After taking time to explaining to a fellow cruiser that it was not the pilot that flew her plane here but the harbor pilot that was running late. We got ready for dinner and headed off for the Mikado dinning room where we met our dining companions. I think this was the only trepidation that my wife had on the trip. It would turn out that we were seated with some wonderful people. Our tablemates would be Bob and his wife Jill from Wisconsin; they were on their 7th cruise, the other couple was Dave and his wife Connie from Pennsylvania they were on their 3rd cruise. It was also Connie's 40th Birthday on Saturday the formal night. Our waiter was Mustafa from Turkey and our assistant waiter was Jose from Argentina. We will rate the service on a one through six scale; everyone will start at three and move up and down from there. We feel very strongly about tipping and dining in the dining room. I was anxious to see if the reports of Tip night flu would come to pass. I will also say that the staff works very hard and unless I run across a total lack of caring, they will get the full tip they deserve and usually more. We quickly discovered that Jose was in training and we just hoped that the glasses that he broke every other night don't come out of his pay. The first night of the cruise was Venetian night at dinner I had Strawberry bisque, a Caesar salad, and the Ranch steak. I also had Chocolate cake for dessert. I enjoyed the soup, bread and salad. The Ranch steak was my choice because I am having some problems with red sauces. I found this steak to be some what chewy (I have had a very good Ranch steak on Voyager; it may have just been this piece of meat.) The biggest disappointment was the Warm Chocolate cake; it was dry and flavorless I could not even eat enough of it to get to the chocolate center. My wife had the Roasted Garlic soup (very good) the Caesar salad (typical), the Shrimp Scampi (excellent and much anticipated) and the Warm Chocolate Cake (see above). We used our soda cards in the dinning room so Jose brought us a couple of cokes. (Jose had to be prompted to bring soda and refills.) During this night we also endured the photo with the pirate, and a song from the wait staff, the song would have been fine if not for the music that was too loud to hear any singing. We finished the dinner with a discussion of the next day's plans and went off to explore. First day ratings: Waiter - 2 (Mustafa was harried and stressed, mostly with working with Jose). Assistant Waiter - 3 (Broken glasses and all he is just trying to learn). Head waiter -3 (Introduced himself). Cabin Attendant -3 (Solid job keeping things clean). We moved on to the welcome aboard show. This is where we met Rico the cruise director who was very high energy. We also were treated to "The beat goes on" a song and dance show covering music from the 1950's to 1990's Main stream pop. The show consisted of four singers two girls, two guys and a troupe of dancers. It was not Broadway, but it was entertaining and a comfortable theater. We enjoyed the show & drinks from the Schooner bar. After the show we went up for a walk on deck and retired to our cabin for some much needed sleep. We found our cabin clean and with a stingray on the bed for those of you not in the know that means "welcome home, from RCI." Day Two - "This champagne tastes ...." January 17, 2004 - Weather Albany 24° Cloudy Coco Cay 79° Sunny Six fifteen in the morning is too soon also, now before you get all "hey you're on vacation sleep in for heaven sakes." My wife and I are a little over weight, we were not going to let vacationing get in the way of getting back down to a more comfortable weight. Our first stop: the gym and two treadmills. If I was a fitness expert I might give the fitness center a rating but for our purpose it worked just fine. After ½ hour we moved through the crowd of skinny people who were waiting for the fat people to get done with the treadmill (In the next installment I will let you in on how the treadmill people docked the ship in Nassau.) We did a couple cool down laps and headed right for Windjammer where we enjoyed a moderate breakfast out on the top deck. We watched the sunrise over Coco Cay. After breakfast we took the stairs down to the cabin to get changed. Let Ivan know about the toilet (When it refilled it came right up to the top of the bowl so when sat down it was more like a bidet, No Rico we did not get a feel for if it was fresh or salt water). We shot down the stairs to deck one and on to the first tender. The tender went over to Coco Cay with mostly the crew, staff and us. We made a right turn on the island and went right into the shops where we managed to surprise the shop keepers and hair braiders. We picked out a dress for our daughter and left with a new found respect for Caribbean shop keepers (SO, much different than Jamaica where we will never shop again). We then moved down to the beach and staked out two chairs tested the water (cold) and read for a while. After a 1/2 hour of that I wanted to go out snorkeling so I braved the cold water and was rewarded by crystal clear water and reefs teeming with life. It also helped that I was the only person in the water. Being the only person in the water I did get a little concerned when I saw what I believe was a barracuda swimming along. I looked at him and him at me and we just kept on swimming. Finally reaching the raft and wreck of an airplane, where one of the singers from the show/ lifeguard offered to feed the fish for me. A school of fish moved in and out of the airplane and all can say is it was well worth the trip. Returning to the beach my wife and I decided to explore the island. Using our soda cards for some refreshment, we followed the path around the island. We went past a couple of nice beaches and a hammock area. Then as we moved to pass another group one of the girls squealed out "Of my god, he's naked" Well we had found the naked beach or to be more precise one naked sun bather a gentleman about my size sunning it all. All I can say is dude, unlike the airplane reef "It" wasn't worth the trip. We reversed course and decided to join the buffet line. The food was plentiful and the lines were short. Again we didn't see anything that varied from the traditional RCI fare, but everything was good. We were intrigued by the roosters and chickens pecking around the picnic grounds. Around one o'clock we packed up and headed back to the ship. If you're a fan of just the ship, this crossing provides for the best pictures I think you can get of Majesty. We changed and showered and ran into our neighbors. We mentioned we were going to check out the art auction and they came along. We went to the preview and tagged a couple of things we liked. Jason the auctioneer gave us a preview of the prices of the pieces we had picked out. As we waited for the champagne to come we moved some tags over to some other hopefully less expensive paintings. As the champagne was passed out our neighbor was heard to say "This champagne taste like ^$$." Well it may not have been all that good, but it was free. We did not bid on anything mainly because the one time a piece of art work came up for bid in the range we could afford and I liked it, my wife had already left to get ready for dinner. Without her help I could not lift that heavy bid card by myself. The art auction was informative and exciting, plus you walk away with a little piece of art work which I think looks good. Our neighbors bid on a couple blind bids and won a necklace from the shopping supervisor. They went back to the cabin to celebrate her birthday. Speaking of which we found that there were a lot of anniversary, birthdays and family reunions groups on this ship, I would think at those cruise prices that would be a great get together. After quickly showering we went off for dinner with our wine in hand. Formal night I wore a polo shirt with khaki pants and sandals. I am unsure as to what elicited more stares my attire or the bottle of wine (I have purchased wine on RCI before a solid but unremarkable white zinfandel. We did not mind paying for it. We decided to bring the wine which at the last minute and were very happy with our choice which was more our speed). Arriving at the table we made comments on how nice everyone looked, and right away Dave loosened then removed his tie, we poured the wine and everyone was off telling the stories of their day. We notice that Jose had made some strides and was feeling more comfortable, which in turn allowed Mustafa to be able to spend more time with each of his tables and allow his charm to shine through. Tonight having eaten in the afternoon I skipped the appetizers, had a Caesar salad (good) and the NY strip steak (Very good) and I tried the Cheese Cake for dessert. (There were other entrEe choices that I could have had I was just in a beef mood all weekend). My wife had the Lobster Bisque (excellent) Caesar salad (typical), the New York Strip steak (a solid choice) and skipped dessert (nothing appealed to her). We talked for awhile and then went our separate ways. My wife and I, after shopping in the Centrum, where she got her inch of gold anklet from Voyager repaired/replaced, moved on to the casino. The casino on Majesty is very busy and seems to have its fair share of winners. For a while we played nickel slots; we were just not destined to win that night. Second day ratings: Waiter - 4 (Spent time at every table and even scraped the table for us). Assistant Waiter - 4 (This would be his best effort). Head waiter -2 (Did not see him). Cabin Attendant -4 (The toilet was fixed and the room was clean). We went to the cabin to relax and nap until the midnight buffet. The buffet which was on the pool deck was a good assortment of food. If you are expecting that creativity and amount that is available on the bigger ships you will be disappointed. The crowd seemed to be excited and happy with the choices. We can not speak to the food though because we left without eating; food that late would keep us up and we wanted to get an early start. I would also like to address the "trash" problem on the ship; we would run into bottles and glasses and food plates all over the ship, I never saw enough staff members cleaning up and on the flip side I think we should make an effort to move "trash" to where it can be found not to the smallest nook and cranny of the ship. You carried it down there bring it back up. We found our cabin clean and with a Lobster on the bed and went to sleep. Day Three - "I just got propositioned by a lady on a hover round" January 18, 2004 - Weather Albany 31° Cloudy Nassau, Bahamas 81° Sunny Up at six fifteen, again, in the morning and off to the gym. On to the treadmills, we were soon joined by a couple of other people we were treated to a rare view as the gym looks out over the back of the ship and we were backing into the dock in Nassau. As the lady next to me started to falter I hit upon the idea that we six on the treadmills were pushing the ship in to the dock and we had to finish. This seemed to perk everyone's spirits up. We finished docking the ship and moved down to the Windjammer and ate breakfast on the deck. After a quick shower we shot down to deck one and into Nassau. Our first stop was the Straw market where not only did we take most of the vendors by surprise; we were treated to a church service in the front of the market; after all it was Sunday. We took advantage after the service to tour (Most vendors were eating breakfast). We treated the vendors and their merchandise with respect and were able to get not only the early bird special also the first customer of the day discount. We picked up a couple t-shirts, straw hats and dresses for my daughter. After exiting we walked down to the Parliament Square stopping at shops along the way. Then around 10 o'clock we walked to Atlantis, Yes you heard correctly, Walked. It took a while but what a beautiful day and challenging walk. We did get some great photos of the harbor from the top of the bridge. We reached Atlantis and went in marveling at the beauty of the building. We passed through the casino and looked around for the dig. I had read that they were tightening up the areas you could get into if you were not a guest. The dig was $25 per person. We passed on the dig: I know it is most likely worth every penny but we wanted to spend the money on other things, like lunch. We flagged down a cab, you're crazy if you thought we would be walking back, and headed to the Green Shutters pub. Finding the pub closed (it's Sunday) we moved down to Senor Frogs where my wife and I had some Tex-Mex food and watched the festivities. The food was good and the views and people were just a riot to watch. After lunch we decided to go back to the boat and rest by the pool. We collected up our books and headed to the pool. I took a quick dip in the pool and then off to the hot tubs. (Just a note on the only two hot tubs they were not open in or out of the port of Miami, or at night after dinner. I found that very disappointing.) My wife and I were just sitting down to read when a woman on a hover round rolled up and gave us her cards and asked us if we wanted to make more money. It was some kind of scheme I am sure I will be seeing on Dateline (NBC) soon. She moved on but not without giving my wife and me a bad taste in our mouths, which we promptly washed out with strawberry daiquiris. After resting for a while on deck we went down to the Schooner bar to watch the Colts vs. Pats playoff game. An informed and likeable crowd ( With the exception of one over indulgent girl who not only was drinking too much, she let us all know about her 36c's which in the event of the ship sinking could be used as a flotation devices. You know I'm all for being friendly with people but her friends really needed to reel her in) formed and sat and watched undeterred by the drink waiters trying to move anyone who was not drinking along. RCI did provide small cups of goldfish crackers, but like many there I would have drank more if I had some food to go along with it. After a heart breaking Colts loss we dressed and went to dinner. Tonight for the appetizer I had Ox tail soup (Very good), I also had a Caesar salad (good) and the prime rib (Good). I really thought about the turkey dinner. I wanted to try it to have in my review but I just could not bring myself to order Thanksgiving. I had the Brownie Sunday for dessert (good). My wife passed on the appetizer, the Caesar salad (typical), the Prime Rib (excellent) and the Baked Alaska (average; not quite as good as I had hoped). We said good bye to our table mates for the last time after taking some pictures. Final ratings: Waiter - 6 (Spent time at every table and did something special for us with the chef). Assistant Waiter - 3 (Went back to hurried & forgetful, still in training though). Head waiter -1 (Stopped by for his tip) (On Voyager Asif our head waiter was attentive and informed, also willing to help in the main dinning and any other dining space). Cabin Attendant -5 (The room was clean & we asked for red departure tags and he came through). We then spent some time shopping and picking up our pictures. (The photo area is a mad house as they are extremely unprepared for the onslaught of people. I think it has more to do with the space than the staff who was patient beyond belief.) We then went to the final show which was "Ralph" Jeff the Juggler. Jeff Harris "is a uniquely talented performer whose original juggling and comedy show has dazzled audiences around the globe." That is what his website says. I am ashamed to say I heckled the juggler. At the start of his act our cruise director Rico misspoke and called Jeff -Ralph Harris, which threw him off slightly giving the audience an opportunity to get into to his style of act, he took it all in stride and performed a show that I very much enjoyed, and "Ralph if you ever read this review sorry about the flash photo". You had to be there. We finished up the evening with a walk on the top deck. Off to bed. Day Four - "I'll just let them wand me" January 19, 2004 - Weather Albany 10° Snow Showers Miami 75° Overcast We didn't get up to the gym on the last day due to it being closed, but we were up at six fifteen as were a fair amount of guests. We finished packing and showered, headed to the Mikado for breakfast. We had never been to the main dinning room for breakfast, and now we know why. It takes forever for breakfast; the ordering, waiting and with ten at a table it just is so slow. They called four colors while we were waiting including red. We did sit with some nice people from Texas and Atlanta but we should have just gone to Windjammer. After breakfast we picked up our luggage, checked the room one last time and left the ship. We waited for a while in line, then hopped into a cab and sped off to the airport. At the airport we got our tickets and got in line for security. In front of me in line was a girl who had a significant jewelry collection on. She asked the TSA agent if she needed to remove it all and he replied "I'd just let them wand me you'll be okay". The last I saw of her after I got through was a large female TSA agent walking her into a private room with no shoes; no jewelry, in only her under shirt, her pockets turned out and a bewildered look on her face. We moved down to our gate and waited for the plane and a possible bump. We did get bumped again but this time only up to first class for half of the trip home. I never thought I would be disappointed flying first class. We will have to save up for airfare and a cruise some time in 2005-6. My final thoughts on Majesty of the Sea, which is scheduled for an overhaul this spring would be: I believe a cruise is what you make of it and Majesty gives you the chance to make it special. I think the crew could use a boost in the "go out of your way for the guest" column (With the exception of Mustafa). The ship is a little on the tired side but you are only there for three days and you can keep so busy you won't notice. The crowd was diverse with 20 something's mingling with 60 something's with everyone having fun. I am happy to report that the dinning room was full and there was no outbreak of "no tip" flu, the water in the cabin was not brown and no one fell off of the boat. Read Less
Sail Date January 2004
Since we live in Key Largo, Fl. we drove to the pier on Friday. We arrived around 1:30pm and parked in the parking garage which is very safe and easy to access. We then checked our baggage in and proceeded to terminal. There was little ... Read More
Since we live in Key Largo, Fl. we drove to the pier on Friday. We arrived around 1:30pm and parked in the parking garage which is very safe and easy to access. We then checked our baggage in and proceeded to terminal. There was little line and we went thru security in a matter of a few minutes and then proceeded to our check in. They have really come far on this as before it took forever. They check you in by decks now so the line is very short. We went right over to the counter for our deck which was 8. The check in process was very well done and we were handed our sea passes and proceeded to boarding. We got our picture taken and then got on board. The boat was very clean and the crew very helpful. They immediately came over and directed us to the children's program booth where our two boys age 4 and 6 got their muster station bands and papers on what activities were offered. We decided to go eat some lunch in the Windjammer which was pretty good for buffet style. After that we walked around the ship and got ourselves familiar with the areas. The muster drill was not bad this time as our muster station required us to sit in lounge. Dinner that night was great. We had the early seating and no other guests at our table. The wait staff was great with the kids and dinner moved quickly for us instead of the usual hour and half or more. We took the kids to the children's program and headed to the casino where of course we lost. Next day was Cococay but was cancelled due to all of the rain so headed to Nassau. Went to Atlantis on Sunday and the kids as well as us enjoyed it. Overall I think it was a great experience and we had a great time. The only negative was the stateroom. Pretty tight for 4 people and you feel like you are closed in with the beads over your head. Also, they need to do something about the shower curtain as it is very friendly. Definitely will go again for the weekend as it was well worth it. Read Less
Sail Date January 2004
When I first thought of going on a weekend cruise Disney was not my first thought! We have no kids and the ship should be full of them, but when I saw a great price pop up on an Interline website I thought what the heck I will give it a ... Read More
When I first thought of going on a weekend cruise Disney was not my first thought! We have no kids and the ship should be full of them, but when I saw a great price pop up on an Interline website I thought what the heck I will give it a try, I live near Port Canaveral so it is convenient as well. Embarkation: When we got to the Gate of entry we where directed to park and unload our bags, as soon as we pulled up a porter was waiting to take our bags and then we moved to the building entrance to an escalator that brought you up stairs to the terminal. There we filled out forms for our travel (there where people there to help you with the forms) and moved to a short line where we waited about 15 min. before we where at a representative. After getting our keys we went through security and the Mouse ears to enter the ship, total time 45 min. to get on the ship it was the fastest time I have spent getting on a ship! The Ship: The ship was very well maintained and clean everything had a new look to it even though the Wonder is 5 years old. Even through the cruise people worked on the wood to refinish to a new clean look. The Public rooms where very nice a movie theater and lounges through out the ship. The three pools keep pretty busy, one for kids another for family's and the forward pool for adults only! They have fresh water and hot tubs around them. Our cabin was very large for industry standard's with the best two bathroom system. Food: I thought the food was very good and had a complement of everything that other cruise lines have today, there buffet had all you can eat Shrimp and Crab with stations for personal omelet's in the morning. Palo's restaurant by reservation only! We got to eat there the first night only because we got on the ship late and it was already booked every night but the first night. It was the best food, presentation and service we had on the ship! 6 out of 6 stars. The next night we ate at Animators Pallet where we got a video show during dinner, our service there was very good and the food was good to very good. The third night we at a Parrot Cay restaurant where our servers from the night before follow us to a new restaurant, We didn't eat at Titans because of being at Palo's the first night. Service: I must give the crew a very good rating! Never did anyone have a un willing attitude and smile on there face much better than on RCCL and Princess. Entertainment: I didn't think the shows where bad I just don't like to many Disney cartoon show of Hercules and other's. Over All: A great ship that has big rooms and great service I will definitely go on a Disney cruise again even though we do not have kids it is still a great over all cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2004
REVIEW: NORWEGIAN DAWN New Year's Eve Cruise 2003 This was our third New Years cruise, our first on NCL. My wife and daughter (age 11) have been on Holland America (5+), Carnival (2), Celebrity (1) all thru the Caribbean, Alaska, ... Read More
REVIEW: NORWEGIAN DAWN New Year's Eve Cruise 2003 This was our third New Years cruise, our first on NCL. My wife and daughter (age 11) have been on Holland America (5+), Carnival (2), Celebrity (1) all thru the Caribbean, Alaska, Bermuda and New England and think we know our way around ships, so NCL's "Freestyle Cruising" was an interesting new option. It had a few plusses... but many minuses. EMBARKATION: We chose this cruise because it left from NYC, avoiding the need to fly at the holidays during an orange alert. We've sailed out of NY several times and knew the drill, but NCL's was one of the smoothest embarkations ever, thanks in part to the pre-registration process for passengers on the NCL website. We arrived at the Passenger Ship Terminal about 12 noon, paid $168 to park for the week, and were thru the lines and on the ship in about an hour. We departed spot on time at 4 pm in time to enjoy the harbor at twilight. RESTAURANTS One of the big selling points of "Freestyle Cruising" was the choice of restaurants and no fixed "seatings". We tried most of them, especially enjoying Le Bistro (at a surcharge of $12.50 per person). The Tex Mex eatery was only so-so... sort of like a Scandinavian's idea of Mexican food. And Bamboo, the "all you can eat" sushi parlor was a rip-off. There's a $10 surcharge and only a limited selection of sushi, much of it pre-made and refrigerated. Anything more exotic than a tuna roll is priced a la carte. Most nights we went to the two big restaurants, the Venetian and Aqua. The food was good, though the portions were small and service, though harried, was slow. The upstairs buffet restaurant, "The Garden", was pretty good though usually crowded. It's "NY style deli" was mediocre. The 24 hour "Blue Lagoon" was pretty good and very popular with teens. Don't miss the "Chocoholic's Buffet", an afternoon exercise in obscene consumption of mass quantities of food by hordes of morbidly obese passengers. There were two "formal" nights, both optional. I only saw a very few tuxedos and a smattering of business suits. Another plus for "Freestyle Cruising"... you can wear resort casual attire any night you wish without feeling under-dressed . THE SPA My wife and daughter both went and said they enjoyed it : massage, nails, hair. As with all cruise spas, go up to the Spa and book early as soon as you get on board, especially if you want a massage on the first day at sea. Prepare for sticker shock when you get the bill. KIDS CREW This kids program was a big disappointment. On Carnival our daughter could sign herself in and out and come and go and she pleased. On NCL, any kid under 13 must be signed in and out by a parent... at least a 15 min. inconvenience for one of us as we had to go all the way to the top rear of the ship just to do paperwork. The counselors were mediocre, often sitting watching TV with the kids instead of leading activities. The final day at sea one of them even discouraged our daughter from even showing up instead of doing her job. She was tired and seemed intent on getting some rest instead of working with the kids. As a consequence, our daughter sat around complaining of being bored instead of being engaged with kids her own age. At holiday time all of the cruise lines bring on extra staff to handle the kids... usually barter work unemployed young people from Canada. They get a "free cruise" in return for a few hours a day working with the kids. What paying passengers get is unpaid staffers with a bad attitude... kids who think they're on a cruise, instead of working a job. SERVICE The staff has to be given marks for trying. With 2,700+ passengers on this sell-out cruise, they were kept busy. But the food servers need a lot more training. While gracious, always referring to us as "sir" and "Madame", they lacked the profession panache we've come to expect in the main dining room of cruise ships. A few examples... In the Venetian: My wife drinks decaf. The waiter started pouring regular coffee (about an inch) before she stopped him. He went to get the decaf and tried to keep pouring, creating a half-caf mixture. Instead, he should have removed the mistaken half-pour and brought a fresh cup. Another... at lunch, also in the Venetian, we had a Thai salad which we both thought was much too salty . When we mentioned this to the waiter , she said "Oh, I've never had that dish." What she should have said was "I'm so sorry. Can I bring you anything else, and please let me share your comments with the Chef." At diner in Aqua, the server inquired how I wanted my leg of lamb cooked, and I asked for medium-rare. When she brought the lamb, she said that only medium was available.... period. She should have come see me as soon as she knew the situation, explained their error, and offered me the menu to select something else if I didn't want medium. It was ungracious and not focused on the needs of the diner. We noticed that the servers are rotated throughout the ship's various restaurants, buffets, snack bars, etc. Our head waiter one night was mopping floors in the buffet the next day. I guess NCL figures they can use a staffer anywhere, but there's a trade-off. Servers don't learn the fine points of excellent service that's appropriate in a formal dining room. In fact, we thought the servers in the Venetian seemed stressed and were often confused about where tables were, leading us to wonder if they are trying to compensate for inexperience or poor training. My wife's pet peeve about the Venetian, the main dining room: Guests arrive at the top of a flight of stairs that go down into the dining room. The "greeter" inquires about the number in the party, decides where to seat you, then calls the table number down the stairs. The space and noise in the room requires the "greeter" to call the number loudly and sometimes repeatedly, and it made my wife feel like we were dining at IHOP. Not very classy or personal, certainly not the way a formal dining room should be run. TIPPING How do you motivate a staff when they all share tips ($10 a day per person)? On most ships with fixed seatings you get to know the waiter, they go out of their way to please you and are rewarded accordingly. On NCL you may never see the same waiter again, so the service is cordial but just so-so. Some waiters, bar tenders and cabin stewards were wonderful. Most were just adequate. THE SHIP We had two cabins... an outside twin with a balcony and an inside single. They were both fine... smaller than on Carnival, but well appointed. The showers were bigger than on most ships, but why no bar soap? The ship is quite new, and it shows. The public rooms are lovely and very tastefully decorated. The ship was spotless, even after a very messy New Year's Eve. Cleanliness and hygiene were a top priority with hand-washing lessons on the TV and waterless sanitizing stations greeting you at every restaurant. It paid off... none of us got at all sick. THE PORTS We rarely chose a cruise by its itinerary. It's the calendar that dictates our choice. But we were pleased with the two US ports on this cruise... Port Canaveral and Miami. The tour options at both were phenomenal. Nassau was nothing new to us (and only a 6 hour stop). NCL's "private island" Great Stirrup Cay was nice, but far too small for our mob. The biggest surprise was our first and last days, leaving and returning to NYC, sailing along the East Coast. I was fearful of gale winds and blizzards, but it was sunny, calm and in the 50's. ENTERTAINMENT The stage shows were spectacular, especially "Bollywood", one of the most creative such shows I've ever seen at sea. The ship's big band was excellent as was the magician / comedian. But celebrity comedian Jimmy (Dyn-o-mite) "JJ" Walker was just awful... not funny and on stage three nights! I'd have much rather seen some newcomer than witness this has-been! Another plus... a big movie theater showing almost first-run titles (repeated the next few days on the in-cabin TV system). A negative... NCL charges $3.95 for daily "newspapers" (photocopied satellite versions of the NY Times, Wall St. Journal, etc.) which other cruise lines disperse for free. And the TV only offers CNN, TNT and ESPN. Why no local channels while in port??? NEW YEARS EVE Here, NCL scored big points. Admittedly, they were hawking their own champagne all evening. But there were free glasses of bubbly for all to toast in the new year at midnight as well as hats, noise makers, streamers and little glow-sticks. The mob scene around the pool on the top deck was festive, unlike on Carnival last year where it was filled with over-boozed, under-aged teens... a bit scary for my daughter. The scene in the Spinnaker Lounge was even more civilized thanks to the big band and a definitely more adult crowd. DISEMBARKATION This is easily the worst part of any cruise... the mad crush to get off the ship. But here again, NCL's "Freestyle Cruising" scored major points. While we arrived on time at 8 am at the dock in NYC, there was no mandate that we had to vacate our cabins and sit in the public rooms as on every other cruise line. So, we enjoyed a leisurely sit-down breakfast in the Venetian restaurant and lolled in our cabin for another 90 minutes before our "color" was called. We strolled off the ship about noon, found our bags, cleared Customs and were in our car driving home in about 15 minutes... amazing! WORDS OF ADVICE ? As soon as you're on board, book dinner reservations at the specialty restaurants. They accept reservations 48 hours in advance (ie on Tues. you can book for that night and Wed.), so book early for the best times. ? If you don't have a reservation, eat early (by 6 pm) or late (after 8:30 pm) and you'll never have to wait. ? Get a soda card (actually a sticker on your key-card). It's $28.75 for the week, but worth it if you drink a lot of soda. ? Bring your own soap. The cabins only offer liquid soap and shampoo. If anyone has any specific questions, I'm happy to answer them as best I can. Others' comments have been most helpful in the past, so I'm happy to reciprocate. Just e-mail me at jim@mediatrainer.tv Read Less
Sail Date December 2003
My girlfriend and I went on our second cruise w/ Carnival (our first cruise was to Ensenada on the Ecstasy) and had a BLAST! We had to fly to Orlando a day early because there wasn't a flight out of San Diego early enough. So we ... Read More
My girlfriend and I went on our second cruise w/ Carnival (our first cruise was to Ensenada on the Ecstasy) and had a BLAST! We had to fly to Orlando a day early because there wasn't a flight out of San Diego early enough. So we stayed at the Clarion Hotel a couple of miles from the airport. The hotel as well as many others provides transportation to and from the airport at no cost. (They can also drop you off and pick you up at some of the nearby restaurants). The next day we took the free shuttle back to the airport and took the Mears transportation service to Port Canaveral. The bus was packed to the max w/ cruisers. The trip took about 45 minutes and the seats were more comfortable than the seats on the plane. The Carnival staff at the airport was very nice and courteous. We were then led to the terminal for check in. The place wasn't too shabby. I was expecting something more extravagant after seeing the Long Beach Cruise Terminal (looks like Epcot Center). Once again, it was packed to the max w/ cruisers but the line went by smoothly. Our cabin was what I expected (we had a 2 port hole cabin). They put together the two twin beds to make up a full sized bed. The room was really clean and the closet space very spacious. Once we got on the ship we immediately put some funds into our sail & sign cards. The line was really long and real slow. But it wasn't the worker's fault though; there was a group of people that were completely clueless about cruising. MAKE SURE YOU READ THE HANDBOOK BEFORE BOARDING. We had the 8:30PM seating for dinner. This gave us plenty of time to relax and get our drink on. Once we entered the dining area they had worker's lined up to walk groups to their tables. I thought that was really nice. The food wasn't too bad either. Just don't expect a lot, for example, I ordered prawns as an appetizer and got four pieces of shrimp. People have their choice to either go to the sit down dinner or the buffet on the Lido deck. The only show we made it to was one of the adult comedy shows at midnight. It was pretty cool but I've seen better (on the Ecstasy). First stop, Freeport. Freeport was a nice little place. When we arrived in Freeport I noticed that it was real hot, and humid. So make sure you pack your shorts and tank tops. I recommend you not do any of the ships shore excursions. They want lots of money and you can do the same thing on your own for less. First off we went to the Lucayan Beach (right by the Sheraton Hotel) to do a little sun bathing and snorkeling. When we went into the water w/ our snorkel stuff a couple next to us recommend that we go to Deadman's reef (Paradise Cove) for excellent snorkeling. After a few minutes at the beach we decide head over to Paradise Cove. Let me just add that the Sheraton has one of the best pool set ups that I've seen in my life. So off to Paradise Cove. It was a 30 minute ride but was well worth it because we got to see the residential areas of Freeport and a lot more (things you won't see on a shore excursion). Deadman's Reef was the best; they have an instructor that tells you how the reef is shaped and what to look out for and sends you on your way. We saw so many beautiful corals and fish. I recommend this place to everyone visiting Freeport. There were about 10-15 people on the beach so it seemed like it was our own private beach. The sun was out, weather was excellent. Just a beautiful day in paradise. Oh yeah, let me add that the cab drivers are really cool over there. Our driver offered to pick us up. Well back to the ship. Before we got on the ship we went to the straw market. They say not to buy stuff from there because they have the same stuff at Nassau. Plus I think that it wasn't too great. Formal night. Formal night was nice. Everyone dressing up like its prom night. They also have booths around the ship w/ different backgrounds for people to take pictures in front off. We didn't take part in the formal night on the Ecstasy cause we didn't want to lug around thee extra clothing, but I would recommend that you do participate in Formal night. Everyone dressed up + drinking = Good times. Next stop Nassau. Once we got off of the ship (about 8am) we got hassled by a lot of people. First a bunch of cabis asking if we need a ride and second, by a bunch of women asking my girlfriend if she wanted her hair braided. My advice, just keep on walking. We strolled through downtown and wanted to do a little shopping but the shops don't open till around 9'ish. As we were walking we saw the straw market. It seemed that every shop sold the same old trinkets. We ended up not buying anything. After our stroll through downtown Nassau we decided to head to Paradise Island and check out Atlantis. We took a cab to Atlantis (about $4 per person). Man, that place is NICE. We purchased the tour through Atlantis ($25) because if you don't, you won't have access to anything but the casino. Plus, $25 is way cheaper than what the ship was charging. The tour took us through "the dig", which is a nice aquarium that they have. It's about an hour long and afterwards you can stroll around where ever you want (because they give you a wristband) except for the pool and beach. We enjoyed Atlantis a lot, it's so beautiful and worth seeing. The casino wasn't too spectacular; I've seen better (Vegas). Fun day at Sea was fun. They have all kinds of activities on board like Ice carving and men's hairy chest contest. And lots of drinking!! It's only been 1 day since the cruise and I'm already planning on another. Email me if you have any questions. Have fun!! jigga619@cox.net Nov03 Read Less
Sail Date November 2003
November 2003 What the New York metropolitan area needed was a year-round cruise ship to provide a cruising option for those who would like to cruise and have the convenience of do it out of New York City. Norwegian Cruise Line has moved ... Read More
November 2003 What the New York metropolitan area needed was a year-round cruise ship to provide a cruising option for those who would like to cruise and have the convenience of do it out of New York City. Norwegian Cruise Line has moved into this long overlooked market with the DAWN, a beautiful ship staffed by attentive and friendly people who provide quality service. EMBARKATION/DISEMBARKATION The embarkation/disembarkation process is run smoothly by NCL. The problem is with the poorly designed and poorly managed process of getting to and from the ship. The traffic and crowd control is an embarrassment to the City of New York. On the days we left and returned not a single police officer could be seen helping with the traffic situation. If New York is going to attract an increased cruise business they must deal with updating this cruise facility. ITINERARY The itinerary on the DAWN includes: stops in Florida, Port Canaveral and Miami (for our trip Fort Lauderdale was substituted for Miami due to street demonstrations in Miami), Nassau and Great Stirrup Cay, NCL's private Caribbean island. In Port Canaveral we signed up for the transfer to Disney World. The trip cost $28 round trip and was an easy way of getting there and back. We arrived in Disney World at 11:00am and left promptly at 6:00pm. At Nassau you dock basically at the town and a 5 minute walk puts you in the center of the shopping district. Great Stirrup Cay is a pleasant stop with tenders taking you to and from the ship. The beach is not as extensive as other private islands (Disney's Castaway Cay or Holland America's Half Moon Cay), but there are plenty of beach chairs and umbrellas available. One suggestion here is that more attention be paid to keeping the beach cleaner prior to bringing the passengers to this beach for the day. THE SHIP This is a remarkable ship. It is beautiful, quiet running, clean and beautifully appointed. There are 10 restaurants and we managed to eat in 8 of them during the cruise. The food, without exception, was excellent. The Garden Cafe on deck 12 has a vegetarian buffet lunch which was impressive. Le Bistro is not to be missed; you have elegant dining in a beautiful setting. Cagney's Steakhouse was also a positive experience. The ship's staff was friendly and was always there to help, if help was needed. Entertainment was excellent and we enjoyed the shows and the more intimate piano bar entertainers. SUMMARY The DAWN provided us with a completely positive experience. We enjoyed the ship so much that we are planning to book either the 10 or 11 day Southern Caribbean itinerary for next year. I also would not hesitate to book the 7 day itinerary again, just to spend time relaxing on this ship. Read Less
Sail Date November 2003
The cruise was great... Uneventful in a good way... Friday: Arrived at the ship by 2:50 and were in our cabin around 3:30. After we unpacked it was time for the 4 pm Muster drill. After 8 or so cruises, this was the fastest drill I have ... Read More
The cruise was great... Uneventful in a good way... Friday: Arrived at the ship by 2:50 and were in our cabin around 3:30. After we unpacked it was time for the 4 pm Muster drill. After 8 or so cruises, this was the fastest drill I have ever experienced! :-) We missed the lunch on the lido deck, but the pizzeria and deli were open (24 hour pizzeria), so we were able to grab some food after the drill. The pizza is quite good (you can also get bread sticks and Caesar salad at the pizzeria), and the sandwiches at the deli were great. Additionally, there is a bar right next to the pizzeria & deli on the lido deck, so everything was quite convenient. We had late seating... so we ate dinner at 8:30. On Friday night we were seated at table 104 - it was an 8-person table by the windows. Our tablemates were a family of five - consisting of three young (and sometimes obnoxious) boys. Additionally, the headwaiter and his assistant were cold & had no personality. We had to ask for ice tea and coffee three times before receiving it. That evening's dinner was alright - I had the lobster, which was a bit tough and difficult to cut. My friend had the prime rib and she said it was tough as well. The appetizers and desserts were wonderful, however. On Saturday we arrived in the Bahamas around 7:30. The weather was cool and breezy... The shopping district is within walking distance of the boat - there are lots of stores and all kinds of goodies, such as jewelry, liquor, perfume, etc... The odd thing about this port is that the people in the stores did not bargain with you - if you saw a price on a piece of jewelry, then that's what the price was. Additionally, many of the people really had attitudes here! I even heard one saleslady complaining loudly about Americans - while a bunch of us were in her store! So we all just walked out... I wish I would have gone to Senor Frog's and to the Atlantis - but I just ran out of energy. All in all we had a nice time walking around there and enjoyed ourselves. Saturday was the formal night... The dinner this evening was the best - we all had the "Delice of the Ocean" - which consisted of scallops and shrimp. The appetizers, dinner and dessert were all excellent that night! Oh, and I almost failed to mention... I think one of the reasons dinner was so good was based on the fact that I asked for a new table. We lucked out and received table 139 - a booth that we soon realized we were to have all by ourselves!! Both waiters were wonderful (and quite funny)... Sunday was the day at sea... There were so many activities planned that I was unable to attend all of the things that interested me! It was cool out again and a bit cloudy - so laying out on deck was out of the question. It was a fun and relaxing day... Monday's debarkation went quite well - probably one of the best yet for me! After ordering room service for breakfast, we took our time getting ready and waited on the Promenade deck by the casino until our color was called. We didn't leave our cabin until 9 am or so, so we only had to wait on the Promenade for about an hour. All in all we had a very nice trip - nothing went wrong and the staff were all wonderful (except our two original waiters, but I'll cut them some slack here). The ship looked great and was always clean. As a side note, we had a Cat. 11 suite on the Upper deck... I think I am hooked on having a cabin mid-ship! We never felt the ship dock nor was it ever rocky! Happy sailings!! Read Less
Sail Date November 2003
IT WAS A PLEASURE TO GO OUT OF NEW YORK. BIG CROWD AT THE PIER BUT MOVED VERY QUICKLY. VERY WELL ORGANIZED. MY MINI-SUITE WAS LARGER THAN MOST SHIP LINES. SERVICE FROM EVERYONE ON THE SHIP WAS EXCELLENT. FIRST NIGHT OUT WE WENT TO THE ... Read More
IT WAS A PLEASURE TO GO OUT OF NEW YORK. BIG CROWD AT THE PIER BUT MOVED VERY QUICKLY. VERY WELL ORGANIZED. MY MINI-SUITE WAS LARGER THAN MOST SHIP LINES. SERVICE FROM EVERYONE ON THE SHIP WAS EXCELLENT. FIRST NIGHT OUT WE WENT TO THE CASINO AND I WON $8,OOO.00 ON THE SLOTS. I STILL CAN'T BELIEVE IT. THAT MADE THE CRUISE EVEN BETTER. THE RESTURANTS WERE ALL EXCELLENT THE SHIP ITSELF WAS BEAUTIFUL AND THE CREW WERE SO POLITE AND COULDN'T DO ENOUGH FOR YOU. THE PORTS OF CALL WERE GREAT, THE TOURS WERE GREAT. THIS FREESTYLE CRUISING IS WONDERFUL, LESS PACKING, VERY INFORMAL YET EVERYONE WAS NEATLY DRESSED. OTHER CRUISE LINES SHOULD TRY THIS FREESTYLE CRUISING. Read Less
Sail Date November 2003
This was a wonderful cruise that exceeded my expectations in almost every way. There was one small service glitch that was upsetting on the last day, which I will address later, but I am not allowing it to taint the memories of this ... Read More
This was a wonderful cruise that exceeded my expectations in almost every way. There was one small service glitch that was upsetting on the last day, which I will address later, but I am not allowing it to taint the memories of this amazing cruise experience. Travelers: I had planned to go on this trip with a friend that I always travel with, but she became ill at the last minute, so I invited my 79 year old grandmother. At first I was concerned that she would not be able to keep up with my high energy activity level and I thought I might be slowed down, or be forced to spend my days alone. It turned out she was an excellent travel partner. Spending time alone: There are a few points I would like to make about the prospect of being alone on this ship, as on my sea days I was by myself while my grandmother played bridge. This ship has plenty of activities to participate in that facilitate interaction with passengers, and I found the environment to be very friendly and upbeat where one could meet people throughout the day just about anywhere. And no, I'm not naturally extroverted, but I found plenty of interaction with fun people whenever I wanted it. Also, I did not attend singles parties, but they have them on the first night, broken down by age groups. Several people who were traveling alone met and became friends, or in some cases more than friends, for the duration of the trip. Embarkation: We arrived at the pier at 11:30 AM on Sunday. Arriving at this time, when the cruise line suggests 1PM, has always worked to my advantage, because usually I'm on the ship in no time and taking photos before it's all crowded. Not this time. I didn't realize that "freestyle disembarkation" meant that people were just getting off the ship at that time. Usually they kick you to the curb by the crack of dawn. We stood in line for about an hour before they let us inside to the next line, where we waited to get on line to check in (yes by now we stood in three) then we went to the next line to get the key card and then the final line to get photos taken and get on the ship. Confused yet? We were, because they had no signs to tell you where to go each time, so we found out by word of mouth and by getting on wrong lines a few times. We do have Latitudes (past passenger program) which is supposed to make it easier, but the line for that was just about the same length. So I think the total was about two and a half hours. On the positive note, it was nice to sleep in on the morning when the cruise ended. As I waited in line for embarkation, I knew I'd appreciate this when my time came, so I was not too impatient. The Cabin: I am very picky and all noise bothers me at night, so I purposely booked a cabin in the very bottom in the inside (#4579) hoping to find quiet. This was a category K, one of the lowest. They wanted to book me a guarantee category, but I forced a cabin assignment so there'd be no surprises. My grandmother was concerned about this cabin down in the "dungeon" but to her surprise, it was very nice and spacious and we didn't miss the window too much. We tuned the TV to the outside camera which served the purpose of a window for us. Fortunately this room was in a quiet location. You can hear other passengers in the hall or neighboring rooms if they are talking loud or banging around, but this was not a problem as it never became excessive. I have heard people on the upper decks talk about noise above their cabins and things that sound like heavy items dragging repeatedly across the floor keeping them up all night. We did not hear anything of that nature. We were also in a good location for minimal rocking during rough seas. When the ship was rocking, however, there is an orchestra of rattles and squeaks in the ceiling of the cabin. This didn't bother me as it melded together as a constant sound because it was so continuous. Also, I travel with a "white noise" machine that masks little annoying sounds. The cabin had adequate amenities like a small fridge, hairdryer, one outlet, TV, safe, and a decent sized bathroom with a nice sized shower. The shower had a sliding glass door so you are not attacked by a curtain and you don't have water all over the floor. There is liquid shower gel and shampoo in a dispenser. There is no bar soap. I brought an extension cord, realizing there was only one outlet and I have multiple appliances. I ran it under my bed so my nightlight and "white noise" alarm clock could sit on the night table. Keep in mind, there is no clock in the room, and if you have an inside cabin, it is pitch dark without a night light. The beds were very comfortable. Everything was very clean and this is something else I'm normally very picky about. The cabin is decorated in cheerful bold tropical colors, and there were plenty of mirrors to help it feel spacious. Drawer space in this cabin was lacking for two people, and I lived mainly out of my suitcase and off one shelf. There were only three small drawers, but plenty of closet space for hanging items. I didn't have many hanging items since the dress code is mainly casual. I had one dress for "formal" night, and the rest were khakis or slacks and sweaters (yes, sweaters. They really ran the AC cold even thought the outdoor air was never above 75 degrees). Passengers: We found a great variety of passengers on board. There were many families with small children. They were well contained for the most part in the extensive children's program, but it was hard to have a meal without a screaming baby or whining child somewhere nearby (my grandmother thought this was cute, but I found it less than adorable). Throughout the buffet area there were always tons of noisy children. This was less prevalent in the dining rooms, but there was still no getting away entirely unless you go to a specialty restaurant. With that in mind, this is a very good choice for families with children because they really cater to this. The children's pool area on the back of the ship is like an entire water park with giant dinosaurs and water slides and nooks and crannies of pools and sprinklers, and even a hot tub. There are fully packed schedules for children of all different age groups. We met several passengers traveling single, and some younger people traveling with an older relative, like myself. There were also a good many young couples, middle aged married couples, or people traveling with groups of friends. I saw a good variety of all ages. I think almost 90 percent were from New York, and the rest from New Jersey and Connecticut. There were a few foreigners, but who knows? They might have been from New York too. I think they must have run a local special or something because they filled the ship to full capacity within the last few weeks before sailing. We got a great deal and so did everyone else we spoke too. Everyone we met was very friendly and seemed to be having a good time. Dining: There are at least ten restaurants on this ship. We ate at five: The Venetian (traditional dining), The Aqua (Contemporary Traditional), The Garden Cafe (the Buffet), Le Bistro (French specialty with $12 cover), and Bamboo (Asian specialty with $10 cover or ala carte sushi or $10 all-u-can-eat sushi). • The Venetian The food here was good and the service was polite, but it took about 2 hours to get through a meal even though the dining room was not busy. We thought it was a fluke the first time, so we tried again, and the same thing happened. The ambience of this dining room is very nice. This is the largest one with sweeping sea views from the rear. I had the best salmon dinner one night here, but we went elsewhere for meals for the rest of the cruise. • The Aqua The food here was also good and service was much more attentive and quick. The room was nicely decorated in teals and blue with a water theme, but it is smaller and more cramped than the Venetian. If you do not pick a location carefully, there could be plenty of foot traffic brushing by behind your chair. It is also noisier with clanging dishes and busy bus stations due to its condensed layout. • Le Bistro This normally has a cover charge of $12 per person but we tried this because we won dinner for two here at the Latitudes party drawing. We found the service to be excellent and the presentation of the food was great. Very gourmet looking upon delivery, however, the flavor was no better than in the regular "included" restaurants. I had the salmon (as I always seem to) and my grandmother had filet mignon. Everything tasted just okay, but service was impeccable and ambience was great. • Garden Cafe For some reason my grandmother enjoyed this noisy crowded buffet and as a result, we went here everyday for breakfast and lunch. When I say noisy and crowded, I speak relatively because it is better than many I've tried on other ships, but I always find this kind of dining chaotic. There seemed to be a good variety of food here that was about the same quality of what would be found in the dining room. There are several stations of regular food, a vegetarian station (which went unmarked and people got confused), a NY deli, and a children's buffet with a special seating area (although as I said before, children are found throughout). There is also a fresh fruit station, dessert station, and cheese selection, as well as some freshly cooked "pick your ingredients and they'll cook it" setup. In the morning this is eggs and omelets, and at lunch, it might be a pasta dish or something, and at dinner, carved meat (I was horrified to see a whole sucking pig being carved one day with its head looking at me with olives for eyeballs). Also, they provide antiseptic towelettes where you pick up your tray and silverware. There is a sign stating to "Please Use". I think the intention was for people to wipe their hands before they touch the buffet utensils, but I didn't see anyone do it. Knowing this, I followed suit and used the wipes after I touched all the germy handles, being careful to only take food from the back of the bins. • Bamboo This is the "Asian Fusion" restaurant with a $10 cover ($5 if between 5:30 and 6:30) or ala carte sushi. They also have all-u-can-eat sushi for $10 where you take all that you want from a conveyor belt that rotates around the bar with dishes of sushi selections (this is amusing to see). The selections were varied, but they were missing some of my favorites, so I opted for ala carte. I spent $4 for 2 rolls (12 pieces) and was full. They threw in a 3rd roll (6 more pieces) complimentary. With this I got a seaweed salad, miso soup, green tea ice cream and coconut ice cream (yes, two desserts). My grandmother spent $5 and got Peking duck and shrimp tempura, along with all the appetizers and dessert. The service was absolutely terrific and the food was the best here! The ambience is very nice and open as this overlooks the piano bar on the deck below. You can listen to music from the piano bar as you dine and people-watch. My grandmother does not care for this kind of food, otherwise I would have dined here everyday. Entertainment: I made a point to attend all the shows I could during this trip. The major production shows were very good. The dancers and singers from the Jean Ann Ryan Company were excellent and there were even some very capable acrobats that never ceased to amaze the crowd. There were 3 major shows in the Stardust Theater: South Beach Rave, Music of Andrew Lloyd Weber, and Bollywood (I still don't know what the name means, but this is a huge show that everyone loves with acrobats swinging from ceilings and amazing feats of flexibility and dance moves). The theater is very impressive and the sightlines are unobstructed. I found there was a lack of legroom though unless you were on an end, and I'm not tall. There is one row with lots of leg room, but this is used as an aisle throughout the show. Bring sweaters because there are AC vents that blow out of the setback in front of you. Then there is also the "Welcome Aboard variety show", the typical ventriloquist/comedian with audience participation which was just okay, and the usual passenger talent show on the final night. In the Spinnaker Lounge, which is the forward facing and very unusually furnished club on deck 12, there was nightly musical entertainment. This also serves as an observation lounge. (If you go all the way up to the front and into where the glass enclosure juts out under the bridge, you can see a very cool view of the length of the ship. This was particularly fun for observing huge swells during rough seas as they splashed up thirteen stories high.) We heard and excellent singing trio called Modal Magic. There were different themes each night. They also played outdoors by the pool. We also saw a comedian named Bob Ramsen who was surprisingly hilarious! He did three shows, all three of which I saw, and the first one was by far the best. He seems at first like he is very disorganized, stumbling with words and like he is going to stink. He even tells some very bad jokes at times. But this unpolished natural way about him accents the comedy. I laughed so hard I was in pain and so was my grandmother. We were in tears practically rolling. And I will tell you, it is typically very unlikely for me to roll with laughter at a comedian unless he is Jerry Seinfeld or equivalent. On several occasions we also enjoyed the pianist/singer Pamela Stanley who played nightly in Gatsby's. This is a piano bar that serves as almost a second smaller atrium. The performances were themed each night, for example: Broadway Favorites, Jazz, or Classics. She was excellent. Public Areas: This is probably the most attractive ship I have ever been on. It is brightly decorated but not gaudy. There is pleasingly colorful artwork throughout. There is a several (at least 4 or 5) deck high central atrium with sculptures, skylight, waterfalls, and glass elevators. There is artificial foliage throughout, but it is tasteful. Lighting is subdued and contributes to the ambience. There is a huge wraparound promenade on deck 6. This is nice for walks, but no jogging is allowed. There is jogging on one of the decks above the pool area. The pool area is very nice. There is one main pool which is a very good size, and there is also a smaller wading pool. This is separated by the stage for entertainment. There are also four hot tubs in this area as well as a large forward facing hot tub on one of the upper decks. The children's pool area is very impressive on the back of the ship, as I mentioned earlier. I actually used the children's hot tub because the children were all in the adult pool on the one day I went to use it, and I had the whole children's area to myself. There is also a very well equipped fitness center and the usual classes. Some are free and some require a fee, anywhere from $5 for yoga to $25 for weight training and body fat/metabolism analysis (these are the ones I did). There is one instructor not to be missed. Debbie led many of the classes and did informative fitness lectures (nutrition, weight training). Unfortunately for us passengers, she is leaving in January '04 to start her own fitness training business in NYC. She was a very captivating and painfully honest instructor with a great sense of humor. The other instructor, Mike from Australia, really kicked our butts and I was in pain for 3 days with sore muscles I didn't know I had. He was very good as well. If you participate in 12 classes, you get a free t-shirt at the end. Walking on your own counts too as long as you log the miles. Easy to miss if you're not looking for it is the Spa with its indoor pool and two Jacuzzis. This pool is nice for lap swimming as it is shallow but spacious, and it is maintained at 98 degrees. The one Jacuzzi is like the others outdoors, only it's inside. The other one is a big square thing with a giant chaise lounge shaped metal grate "bed" thing under the water that provides room for four or five people or so to lay and relax as the jets pulse from underneath. My only problem with this is that the water was a little to deep to lay comfortably with my head out of water. Otherwise, it's very relaxing and you feel as though you are in the lap of luxury. One thing about this ship that I wish were different, but is the case on most new ships, is that there is no place to get away from bright light and watch the moon and stars. I guess it's a safety thing. Also, on the upper decks, there are glass panels attached beyond the railing, all the way around, so you have to stick the camera in the small spaces in between to get a clear shot, or look out one eye to view something if the glass is dirty. This was most likely to cut down on wind, and to provide safety. The promenade was always lit as bright as day. I guess as far as open decks, I like to forgo safety and have the darkness and openness. This is a personal preference since I know I will not be jumping over, but I can see where this would be a concern for children, or drunk adults. On some newer ships, darkness and solitude can be found on open aft stairwells, but this ship had none of those. Ports: • Port Canaveral We went to Epcot. We took the shuttle from the ship for $28 per person. The commute was a little over an hour. I already had Disney passes, but for those who did not, the cost was an additional $50 or so per person. We knew that there would not be enough time, but some time is better than none. For Epcot, one needs about two days to do it entirely. We had about five or six hours by the time we got there. I know the park so I was able to prioritize, and we did three "countries" and four "future pavilions" and a little innovations, which is where they showcase futuristic technology. There was no resting or eating. No time for that. I think that someone would be able to do the Magic Kingdom effectively in the time allotted, and that is where most people went, especially those with children. • Miami We did not do a tour with the cruise ship. Instead we took a cab to the new Parrot Jungle Island. http://www.parrotjungle.com/jsps/ This was nice, but not as nice as the old Parrot Jungle was when it was in Coral Gables. It looks like they are trying to fit it into a location that is more convenient for business, but is it missing the beautiful massive gardens it had before. By the way, this costs about $23 per person, plus $12 total for the cab there. Those who booked through the ship paid over $50. On the way back, we paid $1.25 each for the public bus which took us to Bayside Market (right near the pier) where we caught the Duck Tour http://ticketing.ducktoursmiami.com/ for $21-$24 per person (senior and adult). This is a two hour amphibious tour in a vehicle that turns from a truck to a boat. It drives around the city and through South Beach with the guide narrating, and then it drives right into the water and sails around the homes of the rich and famous. They supply each of us with a duck whistle so we can act like fools and have fun. I would recommend this tour highly. It is a good value and was a fun novelty. • Nassau Due to rough seas, we went to Nassau on the day we were supposed to go to Great Stirrup Cay (NCL "private" island). We had a full day in Nassau when we had been expecting only a few hours. I guess this was a good thing. We went ashore and I was scrambling to find some information about the submarine tour or something of that nature. Since the seas were rough, all small boat things were not running. So we did an island tour with a local guide for $25 per person. We negotiated $20 but ended up giving the full amount because we thought he was so great. His name is Sterling and you should definitely ask for him! We discovered him in the tourist information building as he was holding a sign advertising an "Island Tour." The local guide is definitely the way to go! We went in a group of seven in a minibus. We saw all of Nassau, and we toured three different socioeconomic areas (poor, middle class, and wealthy). We got out and observed a local fish market as they prepared conch and various other freshly caught fish. He showed us two forts, each with their own guides who work for tips, and also the Queen's Staircase. He also gave us a tour of Atlantis, and he was very knowledgeable and thorough. We went throughout Paradise Island in detail and saw all the homes. He narrated throughout and he knew all the history. • Great Stirrup Cay This was the first time I had ever been to one of these "Private" Islands. We had beautiful weather for a day at the beach. We arrived early and were allowed to start tendering over at about 7AM. I got over there by about 9AM and it was definitely not looking too private with 2000 people on the beach. But overall it was very nice. The cruise line rents snorkeling gear, but I brought my own. Vests are required and provided for free. There are also guided marine tours which are included, although I had trouble keeping up as I kept fooling with my mask which was leaking and the surf was a little rough. I always enjoy snorkeling, but this was not the best if you are looking for quality and variety of the reef. For the casual snorkeler, this was fine. There seemed to be plenty of beach chairs if you walk down a bit and don't attempt to settle right where the tender lets out. One thing to note: I discovered I had been eaten alive by sand fleas, which did not become apparent until the next day. The lifeguard warned me, and I put on Off lotion, but it was too late. Other than snorkeling, included were a festive live Caribbean band, volleyball, ping pong, and a big buffet barbecue with fresh fruit and some Chinese giant wok creation (this wok was like four feet in diameter!). I didn't try the food because I knew we had to be back on the ship at 1PM and would eat there. It smelled and looked delicious though! There was also non motorized water equipment rental available (kayaks, floats, etc...). The day was enjoyable and pretty much what I expected. Staff and Service: I've read other reviews which had caused me to be concerned, but I found that the staff was wonderful in all the dining areas. There were times when the wait was long, but this seemed to be because the wait person was handling too many tables. They were always consistently courteous, and they were apologetic when there was a longer wait. I saw what they went through, and there was no way they could have moved faster. I have experienced the freestyle thing twice before, and I did see rude service on other NCL ships, but not this one. We almost never saw our cabin steward, but she always did a nice job. I guess this is generally preferable to most people. There was the occasional "towel animal" and the nightly chocolate mint on the pillow. Disembarkation: The "glitch" which threatened to taint the memory came on the last day during disembarkation. I became horribly ill two nights before the cruise ended. I thought it was the lobster in the Aqua (which tasted "off") and became sick to my stomach, badly. The very next night it happened to my grandmother all night and into the morning of disembarkation. By this time I realized it was probably "that stomach virus". So I requested to get her off the ship before that crowd spills out into the terminal, when you inevitably will end up waiting two hours for a cab. She could hardly get out of bed, never mind deal with that. I also didn't think other passengers would enjoy being crowded up against someone getting intermittently sick. After lots of arguing, they allowed her to get "wheelchair assisted" disembarkation. They brought a guy down to roll her to the door where we get out, but then he left without further instructions. I asked for help with the chair, since I had both our rolling carry-ons, as well as my backpack, and I could not roll the chair too. My grandmother could walk off if she had to, but they said to get out early, the person must occupy the wheelchair. So I strapped my suitcase to my back, and my backpack onto the other rolling suitcase, and tried to push this chair over the raised doorways with one hand as three staff members stood there. No one could help. They could not use their walkie-talkies that were strapped to their sides to call someone. Well after that, they came running out to tell me that I can't take the wheelchair off the ship without a staff member to help, but they could not provide a staff member. So it's a good thing she could walk, because if she really couldn't, I would have had to strap her to my back too. Anyway, this effort resulted in us being third in line for a cab and was well worth the trouble. I just think they could have been less rude and much more helpful. I was very angry with this. Other than this, we had a wonderful time and I would recommend this to anyone and everyone, especially those who are local to NYC. And even if, like me, you think you've been to more exciting places than the Bahamas, this ship is a great experience in and of itself. It's also really neat to sail from one climate to the next, from the snow and cold into the warm Bahamas breeze. Read Less
Sail Date November 2003
We weren't sure if we would like cruising! Decided to try the four night cruise. We only cruised once before, 25 years ago! Decided to visit Miami Area a day earlier. RCCL recommended the Wyndham Grand Bay,Coconut Grove. Lovely ... Read More
We weren't sure if we would like cruising! Decided to try the four night cruise. We only cruised once before, 25 years ago! Decided to visit Miami Area a day earlier. RCCL recommended the Wyndham Grand Bay,Coconut Grove. Lovely accommodations and service was superb. Walked to CocoWalk and had dinner. Following morning we were taken to Port of Miami to board the Majesty of the Seas. Embarkation: Miami: We arrived at the Port around 12 noon. The whole process went very fast. Able to place our carry on belongings in our Junior Suite by 12:30 pm. Off we went to the Windjammer Cafe' for lunch. After lunch we stopped by our cabin to freshen up and to our surprise the rest of our luggage was there! Our next stop was to explore the ship before leaving port. Ship: Even though the Majesty of the Seas was 11 years old, we felt it was kept in pretty good condition. The public rooms were clean and always neat. Read in previous reviews that there was an odor throughout the ship. We never smelled any offensive odors while on our cruise! Cabin: Junior Suite is the way to travel. Spacious room and bathroom with tub. And the balcony is delightful! Our cabin steward was there to greet us when we first went to the cabin. He was always on top of everything and kept the cabin immaculate. Unfortunately, we do not remember his name. Dining: We chose the Early Seating for Dinner. Our table was a table for 4. During the four nights, we only saw the young newly married couple two times. Unfortunately, the young woman was not feeling well. The service at our table was very good. Our Assistant Waiter, Tracy was marvelous. She catered to our every whim. We can't understand why a passenger would complain about the food. We felt it was pretty good. And the steaks were delicious! I must have had steak at least three of the nights. Chose to eat breakfast and lunch in the Dining Room rather that the Windjammer Cafe'. Entertainment:Saw one evening show and the Comedy Show. Both were good. Comedy Show kept us laughing. Ports of Call: Attending the shopping seminar which was very enlightening! Even won $100 prize! Bahamas: Did not take a tour, but walked throughout the town and visited the many shops. We didn't think the weather was all that bad. Had a rain shower that lasted maybe 20 minutes or so, then the sun came out. Returned to the ship to enjoy lunch. Then grabbed a taxi, with other passengers, and ventured over to the Atlantis. Very impressive but very expensive. Tried our luck at the casino and even won!!!! Coco Cay: Tendered to the private island. Lovely place. Enjoyed just walking on the beach and swimming. Beautiful weather and the BBQ great! Key West: Unfortunately, we were unable to enter Key West. The day was beautiful, sunny and warm but there were high winds. So we stayed at sea for the day. We were disappointed, since we had never visited Key West before. Kept busy on the ship. There are so many things to do. Disembarkation: Miami: Friday came so quick. Here we are back in Miami. Everything was very organized leaving the ship and getting to our destination. We were so very pleased with the cruise, we booked a cruise for October 2004 on the Navigator of the Seas. We were surprised to read the poor review from Scott. We didn't experience any of his situations. Accept for not being able to visit Key West due to the winds, which is understandable. Read Less
Sail Date October 2003
Freestyle Cruising: A New Alternative I had such a wonderful time on the Norwegian Dawn. Two of the best selling points that Norwegian Dawn offers on its cruises is leaving from my home port of New York, and its Freestyle Cruising. We ... Read More
Freestyle Cruising: A New Alternative I had such a wonderful time on the Norwegian Dawn. Two of the best selling points that Norwegian Dawn offers on its cruises is leaving from my home port of New York, and its Freestyle Cruising. We were on board and in our stateroom less than 2 hours after leaving our house in Queens. We had a room with a balcony on which each morning we enjoyed our room-service coffee. A convenient mini- refrigerator in the room was where we kept bottled water and dinner leftovers. Freestyle Cruising, which means less regimen, and more options, was what got my husband, Anthony, to go on the trip with me. With this new "style" of cruising, there is no formal night, and dress is often casual. Even so, we dressed up for dinner on most nights. There are ten restaurants on board, and we ate at a different one every night at different times, waiting until we were good and hungry. There were many activities for us to do, either alone or together. Anthony spent time in the gym, internet room and the library. I took a kick-boxing class and a German language lesson and went to the movies. Together, we took meringue and waltz classes, and walked several miles around the deck. Keeping active even earned us free t-shirts. Speaking of free, there were many things to be had throughout the ship for free. Free champagne at the art auctions, free bingo cards left in your room; and in the casino there was free Lady Luck Rum Punch, a free raffle and free pulls on the giant slot machine for prizes. I applied for the free Casino at Sea Card, on which your slot plays accumulate points that can be redeemed for various things, but I didn't play enough to make it worthwhile. Although I was armed with the books "Slot Smarts" and "Idiots Guide to Gambling," I didn't gamble as much as I would have liked to. There was too much to do all over the ship, and my husband wasn't into gambling on this trip. But when I did hit the slots (I visited the casino almost every day), I had a great time. Twice I cashed in my winnings and ran to the reception desk to put the money towards my tab on the ship. Several times, I found credit in the machines, and had a great time gambling with the "found money." I focused my play on the IGT red, white and blue, three wheel two coin slot machines, and enjoyed some success. I didn't keep track of how I did, but I think I probably came out even. While food was available around the clock, (there was a 24 hour restaurant, plus room service) there were no midnight buffets like on other cruises, but there were midnight snacks served in the Casino, which was a clever way to draw people in. The food and the choices of dining venues were almost overwhelming. There were several barbecues poolside, but lines were long (although they moved fast), the smoke blew into our faces, and the hamburgers and hotdogs were overcooked, tasteless and cold most of the time. After the first barbecue, we vowed no more. The buffets were terrific, with a myriad of choices, and a great opportunity to overeat. We tried to stay away from them, and if not, to limit our selections to healthy choices, like the delicious Vegetarian Indian Buffet. Of the on-board restaurants with surcharges for dining, we chose two: the All-You-Can-Eat Sushi buffet, for $10 per person, which was a disappointment, and Cagney's Steakhouse for $12.75 per person, which was wonderful. At the sushi bar, the food was served in little dishes on a conveyor belt. A draw back of this is that if somebody sits next to you and grabs the dish you were eyeing off the conveyor belt before it got to you, you are out of luck. In such a case, you can have the waiter bring you the sushi. Still, the selection and choices were limited. The steak at Cagney's was superb, as was the wine steward's suggestion for a lovely bottle of wine ($22). The service was a little pushy, and for every sip of wine we took, somebody was instantly there to pour in more (even when we said no, they continued to come back). In this way, we unintentionally polished off the whole bottle before dinner was served, something we don't usually do. The next night at Impressions, a restaurant with no surcharge, we had a steak as equally delicious as the one we paid for. On another night, all restaurants had lobster on the menu. But there was also duck, which I love, so the two of us ordered 3 entries - 2 lobster dinners plus the duck, all delicious. Here, the service was almost aggressive; the server insisted on removing the lobster from the shell despite my husband asking her not to. This surprised us. While reservations were suggested in the specialty restaurants, we never made any and had no trouble being seated where ever and whenever we wanted. By far my favorite restaurant was Salsa's, nearly secluded on the 13th deck, dark and cozy, with delicious tapas (appetizers), sangrias and margaritas and no surcharge. Of all the food, the biggest disappointment were the desserts and pastries. They were bland and ordinary. Even to Anthony, who has quite a sweet tooth, they were not good enough to tempt him into over indulging. The Freestyle disembarkation went fairly smoothly, better than other cruises I have been on. We were allowed to stay in our room until 11 A.M., and had the option of keeping our luggage. In this way we were quickly off the ship and home in Flushing, by 12:15 p.m. It if wasn't for the fact that we left our digital camera in the taxi that drove us home, the vacation would have been perfect. But even this was mitigated by our traveler's insurance, which covered the monetary loss. Read Less
Sail Date October 2003
We booked on line at the last minute. We got a great deal and everything was very smoothly. RCCI has a user friendly, information packed web site! Since this was September and prime hurricane season, as the weather forecasters projected ... Read More
We booked on line at the last minute. We got a great deal and everything was very smoothly. RCCI has a user friendly, information packed web site! Since this was September and prime hurricane season, as the weather forecasters projected Isabel was going to move right through our path, I was very sorry we did not buy the trip insurance. Fortunately we didn't need it. We did purchase almost every over-the-counter anti-seasickness medication we could find and they worked! I wasn't nauseous once. There was only one night when I thought the ship was moving (that was also the night I had the most to drink - hmm coincidence?) Flight, Embarkation and Sail Away We flew from the NY area to Miami with no problems. We arrived at about 9 am and decided to have an "adventure". Instead of paying $22 per person for RCI's transportation to the ship, we opted to pay $0.50 and take the local public bus. It would have been OK, if the driver fulfilled his promise to tell us where to get off. (You should get off by the Justice Complex and walk to the "tourist" shuttle mini bus which takes you to the pier for another $1.) He didn't tell us and we had to walk 3 blocks in the heat with all of our stuff. The adventure continued because the shuttle driver was new and she dropped us off at the business office, not at the ship. We could have waited about a half hour for the next shuttle but we were in a hurry & charged with anticipation now that we'd seen our ship to get there so we walked again, through a serpentine course under the Key Biscayne Bridge. Thank heavens we had luggage with wheels! The stevedores were great - they walked an extra ½ block to relieve us of our stuff when they saw us coming. Boy did they get a big tip from us. We had to wait several minutes in the embarkation area because we were very early and they weren't ready to board yet. It really wasn't a problem; the air conditioning felt so wonderful after our trek. Many of our fellow passengers didn't follow directions or have their documents ready. We did, so we moved quickly and smoothly through the lines. Tip: fill everything out on-line, rip it out of the book they mail you and have it in your hands. Inside the terminal there were cookies and lemonade while you were waiting. We were thrilled - we were parched and hungry after our unexpected walk. We ended up being about the 3rd or 4th people on the ship who weren't members of the crown and anchor society, RCI's frequent cruiser program. Walking around on deck having the whole ship to ourselves was phenomenal. We took some wonderful pictures of Miami and enjoyed some silence before the Sail Away festivities began. As we unpacked and settled in, I realized I had forgotten some things. We actually disembarked and walked back into town. There's an open air mall and some other downtown shops about 1 mile away from the pier. Taxis are available; we took one back for about $5 b/c it was just too humid. Getting back on board was a breeze because we had our sea passes and could skip most of the lines. Muster was more organized and less scary than I anticipated. I just didn't want to think about the possibility that the ship would sink. The crew simply explained that unlike an airplane crash, it is possible to survive a disaster at sea. All you have to do is put on your life jacket and follow directions. We did meet a couple at muster on their 26th cruise. They were our age too. Ahhh, something to aspire to. The Sail Away party was a bit hokey for my tastes. I do not like public participation activities, but the mood was festive, the weather spectacular and the vacation had begun. Be aware that you are being video taped and may be subjected to watching yourself on a big screen the last night. Your fellow passengers can also buy a copy of this tape for their future viewing pleasure. We tipped our bartender, Clifton, at the aft bar $10 when we got our first round. He remembered our names and favorite drinks for the rest of the trip! The aft bar on the pool deck is nothing to look at; you can't sit there but it is much less crowded than the congested main bar near the Windjammer Cafe and the service is faster than waiting for a waiter. Cabin As this was our first cruise we opted for the ocean view room and enjoyed our partially obstructed view. The obstruction was that we could see the bottoms of the life rafts. Big deal. The cabin was small but well designed and actually bigger than expected. The bed was comfortable and there was enough storage space for everything, if you slide your suitcase under the bed. The temperature on board was always perfect - not too hot and not too cold. This amazed both of us. (He's always hot & I'm always cold.) The bathroom was very tiny and I still wonder how larger passengers fit in the shower. If you are looking for "fun in the shower" with your cabin mate - give that idea up now. There's not enough room to change your own mind in there. We were on deck 8 which was convenient to everything. We managed to keep the inevitable weight gain to a modest 5 lbs by always taking the stairs but there never seemed to be much of a wait for elevators except when departing or returning from excursions. Even then, if you walked down a hall to a different bank it was OK. We didn't spend much time awake in the cabin so I doubt that I would ever opt for something larger unless I was traveling with more people; I could not imagine having more that 2 people in there. I was glad we brought a clothes steamer to get out some wrinkles. Bobby sent his tuxedo shirt out for pressing; that bill was $2. My favorite was the towel animals the cabin steward made every night. I loved coming back to see what surprise awaited us. Somehow the origami style towel animals were always wearing my sunglasses. Dining We opted for the late dinner seating so as not to miss the sunsets and to avoid passengers with children. Sean our waiter was marvelous and Wilma, the head waitress, was one of the most vivacious people ever. We were at a table for 6 but one couple never showed up. Our table mates worked in the travel industry for an airline and were lovely dinner companions. On the last day while we were in a bar in Key West, a couple from the table for 6 next to us came over asked if we could sit on the other side of our long table closer to them, so they could have someone to talk to. We had previously kept "social" space between our table and theirs. They had observed us having so much fun; ironically we had commented that their table never talked or smiled. It turned out these 20 something high school sweethearts had been stranded at a table with one couple who only spoke German and another couple who was seasick. The last night we moved to the other side of our table to sit with our new friends. Wilma asked about the change. When we explained, she demanded - in her thick eastern European accent - that we all get up so we obeyed, raised our glasses and sat back. She pushed the tables together to make one big party. Even the two other previously dowdy couples seemed to loosen up. The food was good. It wasn't fantastic but it was enjoyable. One night when nothing on the menu appealed to me, our waiter Sean suggested I order the same thing I'd enjoyed the night before as they still had a few steaks left. He explained that chef will make you something to order if the ingredients are available. We primarily ate breakfast and lunch in the Windjammer Cafe. Breakfast buffets are all pretty much alike but everything was hearty and usually hot (a nice surprise). The lines were never too long. If you wanted something lighter, there was always plenty of fresh fruit available. I usually grabbed a piece for later by the pool. We did eat in the dining room one morning because that was the only place to get eggs benedict. We were seated with a group of Asian tourists who did not speak English. The service in the dining room for breakfast slow and, surprisingly, the portions were small. We did not return to formal breakfast. The best pre-cruise tip we found was the suggestion to bring a large, insulated mug on board. We'd fill it with water or another included beverage from the fountains and sip that by the pool. It was much cheaper than paying $3.50 per bottle for the Evian the cruise seemed to be hawking at every opportunity. The water from the fountains is safe to drink; I do not know if you can drink the water from the sink in your cabin but I would be more safe than sorry and not brave it. The poolside midnight buffet was served on formal night. Disappointingly, our fellow passengers changed into shorts for the event. We opted to stay dressed. As we walked onto the deck, some woman grabbed Bobby & pulled him into the conga line saying she couldn't resist a man in a tuxedo. He was happy to go around the deck once and I was in search of chocolate so it worked out for everyone. The other midnight buffet was spectacular to look at. It was hard to believe that everything, including the flowers, was made out of food. We walked though at about 11 pm for the preview and took some pictures. When we came back at 11:45 to eat, the wait was over one hour to get in. Food simply did not interest me that much because we had barely finished dinner; Bobby was hungry so we had a mediocre pizza in the sports bar instead. Entertainment We loved the Viking Crown Lounge, RCI's signature 360 degree bar around the smokestacks. The panoramic view is breathtaking. We went up there the first night before dinner to have a quiet glass of champagne and unwind. We met a waitress named Sylvia who was marvelous. She wasn't very busy so she took the time to talk to us and tell us more about the ship. She explained that the crew had been a bit nervous about Hurricane Isabel but that we would have gone to Mexico if she came to the Bahamas. She also confirmed that RCI has a deal with the Weather Channel to track storms. Sylvia introduced us to an on-board entertainer who was enjoying his day off. We engaged in a pleasant conversation with him and later saw his wonderful acrobatic show. The comedienne who followed him was funny. We only went to the casino once. It always seemed bustling with activity. We played a few slots and went to the champagne bar afterwards. The library and game room were well stocked and comfortable. The board games were often checked out early. The rock climbing wall defeated me early on but Bobby climbed it a few times. Each face is a different degree of difficulty. He swears the view from 15 stories above the ocean enhanced by your sense of personal accomplishment is not to be missed. I'll take his word for it. Every day you are given a Compass and itinerary. Bring a highlighter to note what you would like to do. There are so many choices everyday. On the second day the ship experienced some sort of problem with one of the pools. The nature of the problem was never explained to the passengers. It remained drained for the duration of the cruise. Thus, if you wanted to get wet, the other pool was crowded. I was a bit concerned about the lack of lifeguards, especially since there were little kids and people who had been drinking. The Captain's Event was kind of boring, but you do get free champagne or Bahama mamas. The house champagne was drinkable. It was also a fabulous place to people watch; I enjoyed seeing everyone all dressed up. It was also much less of a hard-sell commercial than I thought it was going to be. The Captain told some jokes and explained the difference between a ship and a boat. (Ships have captains and boats have frustrated husbands.) Exiting the event, we found a photographer set up. One other couple was ahead of us and a passerby took our picture with our camera too. We ended up buying the photograph because it actually came out well. (Anybody who knows me, knows I hate having my picture taken, so this was an accomplishment). Upstairs in the main atrium people were waiting on line for 45 minutes to have their pictures taken. The on-board shopping offered better bargains than I thought we'd find. The duty free shops were competitively priced with land based stores, but there were no real bargains. They do gouge you on necessities, so pack your toiletry bag carefully. Excursions In Nassau we left the ship without any wait and walked around the main section of town. We bought some trinkets and other souvenirs. We had both been to the Bahamas before and neither of us liked it. It was much cleaner and less seedy than it had been in '91, the last time I was there. You can take public transportation or a taxi to Paradise Island or other public beaches on Grand Bahama. Both are much better values than booking the same trips through the cruise line. We did enjoy watching the crew practice the life boat drill. Coco Cay, RCI's private island, was cute. It had a Disney-esque quality. Everything was just a little too "perfect" and contrived but it was a nice day at the beach. About the only time we waited for anything during the whole cruise was to get on and off the tenders to and from the island. The hammocks on the island were comfortable. I wish the waiters selling "coco loco in the sun" had on-off switches. After about 15 minutes of that mantra from every direction it gets old, fast. A menu similar to the lunch buffet aboard ship was available on the island, along with huge containers of fresh, potable water. Again, armed with our trusty insulated mugs there was no need to purchase water. The snorkeling was OK. RCI sunk a boat & a plane for you to go "find". They give you a map and other swimmers tend to congregate by these wrecks. Various life guards throw fish food into the water to cause the fish to swarm around you. In that frenzy one fish bit a mole off some guy's back. It was fairly disconcerting to see him bleeding but he thought it was funny. The current was strong and rough because of Hurricane Isabel so for safety reasons they closed the deep snorkeling reef. Although we brought our own equipment, I was very impressed with the quality and frequency of the safety lectures and the sterilization procedures. Key West was eye opening. The natives are incredibly liberal and welcome all sorts of alternative lifestyles. Watch out for all the people who rented golf carts to get around & can't drive them well. The town was a bit disappointed; they had been expecting the arrival of an Aircraft Carrier and 5,000 sailors but due to the hurricane the carrier was re-routed to Norfolk, VA to provide disaster relief. They were also waiting for a Harley Motorcycle Event to roll into town. What a combination. There is no ban on public nudity in Key West as long as you are wearing body paint. We were there in the morning and afternoon so things were fairly calm. I do not think I would bring impressionable kids through many parts of town after a certain hour. We had a drink at the Hogs' Breath Saloon because, well, you have to. We also went to Irish Kevin's - where as the sign said, "we came, we drank, we don't remember." Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville looked like it would have been fun but we were short on time. The tour of the Summer White House was educational. As you walk there from the pier, about 3-5 blocks, take a look at the lush and unique foliage. The highlight of our trip was parasailing with Sebago on Williams Street. Through the cruise you could purchase parasailing excursions at every port. They were charging about $60 pp for a ½ hour boat ride and a 6 minute sail. We paid $75 for 2 people to go on 5 minute boat ride and a ½ hour parasail. Sebago is a member of the Key West Chamber of Commerce. They are fully insured and take safety very seriously. For an extra $10 they will also take digital pictures of you sailing and give you the disk to print out when you get home. There's an Internet Cafe on the pier right there, with cheaper computer access fees, if, like us, you didn't bring a lap top but can't wait to see yourself flying through the air. Sebago also made a point of sailing us past the Majesty twice for a birds' eye view of the ship. The worst thing was a handful of inconsiderate people had to be called to go through customs repeatedly. Nobody could disembark until these slackers finally showed up. Being called once because you overslept is one thing but making 2,500 people wait because you couldn't be bothered was something else all together. I realize the cruise line has no control over this but it's worth mentioning that sometimes you will be inconvenienced by others. Disembarking We forgot that our stuff had to be outside the room the last night. As the porter was coming down the hall we were inside furiously packing. He graciously waited, well actually walked back down the hall to get our stuff. The next morning, we had a leisurely breakfast and disembarked with one of the last groups because our flight home was purposely scheduled for evening. Customs was very quick but we had to wait a few minutes for the luggage. It would have been nice if there had been more places to sit while we waited As first time cruisers we weren't sure what to do with our luggage all day. We decided to rent a car to explore Miami and lock our stuff in the trunk. Where else could you put all that stuff for $29 and know it was safe? We took the Avis courtesy shuttle back to airport. The driver told us that if we ever cruise again, Avis will drive us to the port for free too if we are renting a car on the way back. She also said that most of the rental car companies will let "club members" use the shuttles even if they aren't renting on that particular trip. We picked up our rental and the agent went over the map with us. Florida is pretty easy to navigate. We headed south on Route 1 to Coral Castle. It's this huge place all hand carved out of coral by one guy in the 1920s and 30s. It has a sun dial that is still accurate. There's a 9 ton door you can move with one finger and the furniture is surprisingly comfortable. Some people say the place has mystical qualities. I don't know about that but I thought $20 pp for an attraction you can see in about 20 minutes was a bit pricey. After the Castle we drove north to the Miami zoo and learned the hard way why Floridians don't go to the zoo on 90 degree days with 100% humidity. We had the place to ourselves and were able to listen in on some private zoo keeper tours. It was fairly easy to see all the animals. Every few feet there were misters to cool you, so all in all it was fun. I enjoyed seeing the two baby giraffes who were both under 7 feet tall. Back at the airport, we were told our flight home was delayed. Isabel had reeked havoc with the airports along the Northeast Corridor and the airlines were still playing catch up. We were happy to be stranded on that end rather than at home anxious to come down. Instead of grabbing a quick bite, we settled in for a more relaxed meal and had a few more cocktails to wind down our vacation. Conclusion This was truly one of the best vacations ever! There was always something or nothing to do. The best part was it changed everyday and you did not have to plan any of it. You could just let it happen. Despite my generally skeptical nature, by the time I got off the Majesty I was a Crown and Anchor member & had an application for their credit card in my hands. Read Less
Sail Date September 2003
My wife and I decided to take a cruise for the very first time last August to celebrate our 10th anniversary. Having never cruised before, we spent a lot of time in researching all of the different cruise lines and of course monitoring the ... Read More
My wife and I decided to take a cruise for the very first time last August to celebrate our 10th anniversary. Having never cruised before, we spent a lot of time in researching all of the different cruise lines and of course monitoring the reviews on Cruise Critic. We decided to book a four day-three night trip to the Bahamas on RC's Majesty of the Seas. Since we'd never been before, we thought this was the perfect length to get a feel for all that cruising has to offer. Boy, were we wrong! The time went way too fast and by the time it was over we were already wishing we had gone for a week! We embarked out of Miami. I read many reviews that recommended getting to Miami the night before but we decided to catch an early flight (6:00 am) that Friday morning. No problems at all. We were in the Miami airport by 10:30 and quickly found the RC bus that transports you to the port. Because of reading this great web site, we knew that we could board the ship early so that's what we did. We arrived at the ship by 11:30 and encountered no problems at all! We took everyone's advice and completed the forms on line so that they were ready when we arrived. Check in was a breeze. After getting our boarding pics taken, we boarded and were immediately greeted by some of the outstanding staff on the Majesty. Customer service is the one thing that stood out the most on this ship. Every where we turned was a smiling face eager to accommodate our every need. We went straight to our room after enjoying the lunch buffet in the Windjammer. The food was terrific! Many choices and all very tasty. Since this was our first cruise and our anniversary, we decided to go all out and get a room with a balcony. Many of our friends who had cruised before told us we were crazy to spend so much money on a room that we would never be in. My wife and I TOTALLY disagree and would get the balcony room again in a minute! It was very spacious and clean. The balcony provided great opportunities for us to unwind and just stare out at the ocean. It also provided us a chance to view Miami and the Bahamas as we pulled in and also when we left. The food on the ship was outstanding at every meal. We had the second dinner seating(8:30)which worked well for us since there was so much to do we didn't want to be hurried at night to get ready to eat. Since it's been five months now, I don't recall every item but I will tell you that the Salmon and Prime Rib were great. Our dinners and entire trip were made so much better because of the outstanding personality and service provided by our waiter, Antonio. He is a very special person and a true asset to RC and the Majesty. His amazing smile and commitment to service totally enhanced our vacation! Our only disappointment with the cruise was the stop in Nassau. I don't really understand why anyone would want to go there. The townsfolk are very intimidating and pushy when it comes to selling their goods. We found that the jewelry and liquor prices on the Majesty were better than in Nassau. We did take a boat ride to Paradise Island which was very nice. It is a huge hotel with an awesome aquarium inside. Other than that we didn't see much need to stay in Nassau and spent the rest of the day poolside on the Majesty. Sunday was the best day by far. That's because it was spent in Coco Cay. Everything you read on Cruise Critic about Coco Cay is true. It truly feels like you have been lost on a paradise island. The ship pulls up by the island in the middle of the ocean and tenders you back and forth. On the island, we enjoyed the warm ocean, great sandy beaches, and a terrific lunch provided by RC. We recommend renting a raft and just floating around in the ocean. The time went by so fast that we had to be told that it was 5:00 and our last opportunity to head back to the ship. We thought about it for a second about staying there the rest of our lives, it was that nice! I apologize for the length of this review but we were so impressed with the entire cruise that we wanted to make sure any first time cruisers out there would gain some valuable information. We would and will use RC again, especially the Majesty! We met terrific people like Antonio and made new friends from Fort Lauderdale. We can't wait to sail again! Dave dadeib@wm.edu Read Less
Sail Date August 2003
August 10 -- Got on the ship at 3:20pm went to our cabin and chilled until dinner time. Then we ate dinner and went to a show and then to bed. August 11 -- I went to the Garden Cafe for breakfast. Then I walked around. Then I went down ... Read More
August 10 -- Got on the ship at 3:20pm went to our cabin and chilled until dinner time. Then we ate dinner and went to a show and then to bed. August 11 -- I went to the Garden Cafe for breakfast. Then I walked around. Then I went down to our cabin, watched some TV, and took a nap. After doing that, my Grandpa and I went for ice cream by the pool. (they had ice cream every day but it was really melted because they only packed it in ice). I also went for a swim in the pool. After that we went to our cabin to get ready for dinner. We went to dinner and then to a show. After the show my grandparents went to sleep and my father and I ordered room service. I had roast beef on rye while my father had turkey on French bread. We also had two iced teas to drink. And then we went to sleep. August 12 -- Today we were in Port Canaveral, Florida We woke up at 7:30am because our tour left at 8:15am. We had breakfast in the Ventical restaurant. After breakfast we got on a bus to go to Universal Studios. It was really hot on the bus because they didn't have AC. Here is a list and information on the rides we went on: Jaws: I thought this ride was fun but it may be scary for children under 10. You ride in a boat and there is a fake shark trying to attack your boat. Also there is a part where you are close to fire and you can feel the heat of the fire on your face. But in the end you get back safely. Earthquake: A very fun ride. When you get on the ride after they talk to you the train moves out of the station and you go to another station for the earthquake. There is a lot of noise and the train shakes a lot. Also there is fire close to you. Men in Black (last ride) This ride was very cool. You shoot these ray guns at aliens and at the other car. (Long lines for double riders, go in the single rider line) If you go in single you will get in the same car but not in the same row. Also this ride spins a lot, it may make children dizzy. There was a long wait to get on these rides plus we had to go back to our ship. After we got back to the boat we went to dinner and a show. Then just as last night my grandparents went to bed and my father and I had room service then we went to bed. August 13 -- Today we were in Miami, Florida. We went on the Everglades airboat ride. We got in a bus for a hour ride. We got there and we got the front seat in the airboat. They gave us earplugs so the noise wouldn't hurt our ears. We went slowly at first but then we picked up speed. We stopped and our guide told us about the Everglades. We saw crocodiles bite each other. Then we went back to the bus, went back to the ship and had dinner. Than we went to a show and to bed. August 14 -- Today we were in Nassau, Bahamas. Went on a tour called " see and sea". We got on a boat and went out to another boat in the ocean. We changed boats and then we went down below and saw all kinds of fish swimming outside the boat. That was cool. Then we got off the boat and we got on a tour bus and we took a guided tour around Nassau. Then we went back to the ship, ate dinner and went to a show. Then we went to the Blue Lagoon and then to bed. August 15 -- Today we were at Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas. This is NCL's private island. We had a lot of fun swimming and eating there. Then we got back on the boat and went to our cabin to take a nap. Then we went to dinner and to a show. Than we went to sleep. August 16 -- Today was our last day at sea. We woke up at 10:00am and went to breakfast. Then we went back to our cabin and we just chilled out to dinner. After dinner we went to the show and then to bed. August 17 -- Got off the ship at 11:00am. Had to wait a long time for my uncle to pick us up. I had a great cruise and I would cruise with NCL anytime. Read Less
Sail Date August 2003
3-day Bahamas Sailing Embarkation: We arrived at the pier very early! So early that we were the first passengers to arrive and passengers from the previous sailing were still collecting their luggage. We took a 6:30 AM flight from JFK to ... Read More
3-day Bahamas Sailing Embarkation: We arrived at the pier very early! So early that we were the first passengers to arrive and passengers from the previous sailing were still collecting their luggage. We took a 6:30 AM flight from JFK to MIA and landed 30 minutes early in Miami. So we tried to take our time, but still ended up at the pier a little after 10 AM. Soon after, other people began filing in. At 11 AM we were aloud to go through the security checkpoint and began the check-in process. There was no line and I had all of our documents ready and we had our sea pass card/room key in 5 minutes. We then had to wait in another line next to the escalator to board the ship until 11:30. We were on board by 11:35 after having our pictures taken and headed straight to our cabin. The Cabin: We were on the Tween Deck (6) Cabin 6074 and it was the smallest cabin we have ever been in! It was in ok shape...stains on the carpet, one of the drawers was busted in the desk / vanity. The closet was pretty big and had wire shelves to put clothes away on. But we lived out of our suitcases as it was only going to be 3 nights. The bathroom was tiny and definitely showed its age. The sink had several cracks in it and there was rust along the door. We were so early on the ship that the cabin steward was not done cleaning up the rooms and our bathroom still showed signs of the previous passengers. So we put our stuff down and headed up to the Windjammer for Lunch. The Windjammer: The lunch buffet at the Windjammer was nothing special. They had a few hot selections and a few salads along with the carving station. It was a little disappointing after being on the Radiance and having so many lunch choices. Lunch was served from 11:30 AM till 2:00 PM and then from 2PM to 5 PM they offered a "snack" selection, which consisted of Hamburgers, hot dogs, French fries, pasta, asst sandwiches, Bratwurst, and one day was tacos and another was fajitas. There was also Pizza and hot dogs available from 2PM till 3AM at the Mast Bar. The Ship: After lunch we walked around to check out the rest of the ship. We were on the Monarch last August and it is the same exact layout and even the same carpeting. Only difference was everything had a different name. The pool deck looked great and the bars were all opened trying to serve you a drink the second you got outside. There are a few outside activities such as basketball and shuffleboard. Inside, the Centrum looked great, very clean, but the brass could use a lot of polishing. A lot of the carpet looked brand new and everything was in great shape for the ships age. The show lounge was a great layout and the Schooner Bar looks like the others. The stores were full with merchandise! The only negative comments about the ship are that some of the elevators were not working and the elevators that were working were very slow. As a result, the elevator waiting areas were always mobbed with lazy people waiting to take the elevator. I say lazy because several people would get on and take it only 1 floor. I can see not walking from deck 2 to 12 but 5 to 6????? The other negative was that on decks 9, 10 & 11 in the elevator areas on both ends of the ship, it smelt like vomit. It was very strong the first day and when we were in Nassau there were professional carpet cleaners on the ship cleaning the carpet on all the decks. There were also fans on the carpet, but it still had a smell the whole weekend. Dining Room: We had early seating dinner in the Maytime Dining room. We went down to the dining room before dinner the first night to speak to the Maitre'd because my husband is severly lactose intolerant and we have had problems in the past of the ship not being able to meet his dietary needs. I had faxed a letter to RCCL 3 weeks prior to sailing explaining his dietary needs and requesting a table for 2 as it was our anniversary. We were at a table for 10 and had the Maitre'd switch it to a table for 2. I reiterated my husband's dietary needs and explained that it had been a problem on past cruises and that I would seek higher authority if he was not accommodated. He assured me it would not be a problem. The first night at dinner we met our waiter and assistant waiter. They were on the slow side as we found out the other 2 nights. We were always in the dining room promptly at 6 and it would take 15 + minutes before we would see the waiter to even get a menu and it would be almost a quarter to 7 before we would receive our appetizer. We thought that with a table for two that we would be in and out quickly. Then on the last night, our waiter actually had the nerve to tell us to give him an excellent review on our review form because he would get in trouble if it was not positive. Let me tell you, just for that comment, he got a fair rating. Otherwise, the food was ok, nothing spectacular, but a lot better then the buffet at the Windjammer! Ports of Call: Nassau - The weather was great both days and Claudette never affected us. It was in the 90's in Nassau and we pretty much stayed on the ship. We only got off in the afternoon and walked around for 30 minutes or so. It was just so hot that we headed back to the ship to the pool! We were in Nassau 2 years ago on the Century, and since then, there was a new terminal where there were little shops, the taxi drivers to take you anywhere, and a shore excursions area where you could purchase all sorts of excursions, just like the ones on the ship, just cheaper!!! Coco Cay - This is RCL's private island and it was great! We were off the ship by 9 am and the sun was already hot! It must have been close to 100. We brought our own snorkel gear, but they also made us rent a vest. So once we got the vests we were off into the water. The water was really clear and there were tons of fish and reefs! Along with some stingrays and barracudas! After snorkeling we dried off and each got a Coco loco! They were great! Then we walked around the island and checked everything else out. The water park looked like it was for little kids and the parasailing and jet skis looked awesome! There were also a few little shops to buy souvenirs and the hair braiders were there also! They also had a BBQ on the island for lunch (the Windjammer was closed as a result). There were ribs, hot dogs, hamburgers, corn on the cob, mac & cheese, backed beans, fruit salad and a few other salads. My advice to everyone is get there as soon as they unwrap everything because there were flies everywhere and if you didn't get the food once it was unwrapped, odds are a fly landed on it first! After lunch, we headed back to the ship to enjoy the empty pool and hot tubs! Disembarkation: This was the worst part of the trip. We were done with breakfast at 7:50 AM and we sat in the elevator area of deck 5 until 9:45 when we finally cleared customs. No announcements were made as to what was taking so long and there were people everywhere. When they finally started to announce the color tags everyone ran to the exit and they had a hard time of keeping people in line and everyone was cutting. But we were off the ship by 10 with our luggage and at Miami International Airport by 10:15. Overall: This was a great cruise for a long weekend, however, I don't think I would have been happy if I was on the ship for a 7 day cruise. I found most of the staff to have an "I don't care" attitude, because they knew we would all be off in a few days and there would be a new group of people. It is a great cruise for a first time cruise who wants to get a taste of what a cruise is like. But for someone whose first cruise was on a larger vessel, they will be extremely disappointed. As for the rock climbing wall, it was not up and didn't even look like they were preparing to put it up anytime soon. The ship does need a little work, but people do need to consider how old she is compared to other ships in the RCL fleet! I give this ship: 3 out of 5 stars for appearance 2 out of 5 stars for dining 3 out of 5 stars for staff 5 out of 5 stars for value I hope this review helps any people considering this cruise and please feel free to ask me any questions! hardingk@optonline.net July 2003 Read Less
Sail Date July 2003
Getting to the Pier -- This was the first time that we ever went to the NYC piers, so we used a car service for transportation. The ride from Long Island went rather smoothly (about 1 hour). Only those cars using the parking garage were ... Read More
Getting to the Pier -- This was the first time that we ever went to the NYC piers, so we used a car service for transportation. The ride from Long Island went rather smoothly (about 1 hour). Only those cars using the parking garage were allowed to enter the garage area so, due to drop-offs and pick-ups, traffic along 12th Ave was horrendous. It took about an additional 30 minutes to drive from W 59th down to W 52nd St. For our return home I called the limo company and had the car meet us on 11th Ave and W 52nd St, which was much easier. For those of you that are using a cab or car service, and don't mind carrying your luggage, I would suggest that you approach the pier from below W 52nd and get dropped off across the street from the ship. Just carry your luggage across 12th Ave at the traffic light. Embarkation -- We arrived at the pier at approx 11:15 AM, and were on the ship within 30 minutes of giving our luggage to the porters. There didn't appear to be a separate check-in for Lattitude members, however, if you identified yourself as a member to the NCL staff on hand, you were pulled out of line and sent directly to an available check-in rep. CC Meeting -- We missed it. After returning the life preservers to our cabin following the muster drill, we found that our luggage had already arrived. We took that opportunity to unpack everything. By the time we got to the top deck, the weather turned nasty. We're really sorry we weren't able to connect with all the folks we chatted with the past few months. Cabin -- My wife and I had absolutely no problem finding our cabin. We were on Deck 9 in cabin 9226 (starboard - aft). The cabin contained a queen size bed (which I believe was actually wider than our normal queen size at home) and a sofa that opened up into a 3rd bed. Since it was just the 2 of us, it stayed closed. The balcony had a small table and 2 chairs (1 that reclined). The luggage fit nicely under the bed and we had plenty of space for our clothing; · Closet · 3 drawers · 4 shelves in the closet · 2 shelves to the right and left of the closet. There's a mini fridge in the room that we kept stocked with a case of bottle water we brought on board. The electronic safe was easy to use. Plenty of room in the bathroom. The sliding doors that separated the shower, sink and toilet were a nice touch. We actually kept the balcony doors open most of the cruise and had the TV tuned to the music stations. This made for some peaceful times whenever we were relaxing in the sun. Freestyle Dining - Restaurants - Food Absolutely no complaints about the food or the restaurants. The only restaurants we missed were Cagney's and Bamboo. We ate in the Garden Cafe once and preferred to stay away from it because of the crowds. The Freestyle atmosphere really catered to my wife and me. We actually preferred to sit at a table for 2 each night and, with the exception of the last night on board, never had to wait for a table at all. We rarely ate dinner before 8 PM and had lunch on board only 2 times as I recall....one of which was on the 1st day we arrived. We used room service for a continental breakfast on the days we were in port to make it easier to get off the ship for the excursions. Speaking of room service, our orders were never late and consistently brought within 5 minutes of the times we requested. We always received a telephone call alerting us to the fact that the order was being delivered. We were very comfortable with the resort casual dress code for dinner. Monday evening was formal night and we did not feel out-of-place because we chose to remain casual. I did, however, wear a summer suit on Friday because it was my 50th birthday. Shore Excursions -- We booked all of our excursions ahead of time through the NCL website and found the tickets waiting for us in the cabin when we arrived on 5/25. Universal/Orlando was great (our 1st time there). I highly recommend the margaritas at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville. We enjoyed Miami's Key Biscayne Heritage Bike Tour in addition to Nassau's Seaworld Explorer. We were a bit disappointed that we were unable to go ashore at Great Stirrup Cay. The water was rather rough which made it difficult and dangerous for the tenders to take on and drop off the passengers. Very understandable. Entertainment -- The Jean Ann Ryan Dance Company was all they were cracked up to be. Immensely talented and high energy. Too bad they performed for only 3 nights. The David Lucas show, and the show by his wife Ava, was equally entertaining. We missed the Crew Show on Friday night. The late night shows in the Spinnaker Lounge were a great way to end the evenings. We also had a blast at the poolside parties. We always took the time to sit in wherever there was a lounge performer, whether it be a piano player or a singer. The Dixieland Band that performed in the Pearly Kings Pub was neat. After Thought -- Our excitement going into the cruise was at a fever pitch, and we anticipated nothing short of a fabulous vacation. Our cruise far exceeded our expectations and we're already making plans to cruise the Dawn again when my wife turns 50 in 2 years. From time to time we did hear complaints. My opinion is that if you go on board looking for the negatives, you will find them. The complaint that sticks in my mind was uttered by a woman who said she could not get to the cabin door while the bathroom door was wide open. I haven't figured out if she was complaining about the cabin set-up, or the fact that she didn't have the foresight to close the bathroom door. Come to think of it, I couldn't step onto the balcony while the sliding glass door was closed (my sarcasm for the day). My point is, for those that are booked on the Dawn and those considering it, if you go on board anticipating a cruise that will be nothing short of fabulous..... that's exactly what you will leave the ship with. Read Less
Sail Date May 2003
This was our first time on a Disney Cruise (13th cruise overall) and our first trip to Walt Disney World. We booked a 7 day land/sea package. After adding an extra night to start our vacation, we stayed 4 nights at the Caribbean Beach ... Read More
This was our first time on a Disney Cruise (13th cruise overall) and our first trip to Walt Disney World. We booked a 7 day land/sea package. After adding an extra night to start our vacation, we stayed 4 nights at the Caribbean Beach Resort and then spent 4 nights on the Disney Wonder. My husband and I are in our mid-thirties and were traveling with our 3 (almost 4) year old son. This review will focus primarily on the cruise portion of our trip. Getting There: We flew to Orlando on Wednesday, direct on USAirways from Pittsburgh. We were met at the airport by Cartier Towncar, who took us to the CBR. It was nice to arrive the evening before our package began which allowed us to take full advantage of the park passes included with the package by getting an early start on Thursday. As I had read was the case prior to our trip, we needed to check out and check back in Thursday morning to switch from the room only reservation for the first night to our 3 night land package which included admission to the parks. We had a wonderful time visiting the parks on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Then on Sunday morning, Cartier Towncar picked us up (in a complimentary stretch limo upgrade) at the CBR and took us to Port Canaveral where we walked right on to the ship. Since we booked the package, we completed our check-in for the cruise at CBR. This made for a seamless transition. My only comment concerning this process is that Disney advertises a one-time check-in for the entire trip. Although everything was completed at the resort, we did have to check-in at a separate DCL desk and they wanted us to do it no later than Saturday. The hours were limited, where two of the days the desk opened at 8:00 am and closed at 12 noon or 1:00 pm. Since we planned on taking advantage of early entry at the parks, we left the resort before the desk opened. Therefore, we had to come back mid-day one of the days, and make a trip to the Custom House at CBR to check-in for our cruise. I thought that it would have been more 'seamless' if we had been able to turn in our cruise documents at the front desk when we checked in for our package. Otherwise, if they would have one day that the DCL desk opens earlier to give guests a chance to check-in before leaving for early entry at the parks, it would eliminate the need to make a special trip back to the resort mid-day. Cabin: We were in cabin 2511, which we joked before going was a steerage cabin. It is a category 12 and lowest cabin that you can book. But to our surprise, aside from a couple veranda cabins we have had on other cruises, it was the nicest cabin we have had, with or without a window. There was plenty of room in the cabin, a decent amount of storage space and a curtain that could be drawn between the master bed and the couch/bed. The cabin hostess, Emy made the couch into a very nice bed for our son which he was very comfortable in. Emy was from the Philippines and she was great. She took good care of our cabin and treated us very well (not like steerage passengers ;-) One comment about the power outlets in the cabin... At the dressing table was the only useable one in the cabin. While I have read in the past about bringing a power strip, I have never done this since a hairdryer is the only thing that we plug in. The outlet was so close to the counter top of the dressing table, there wasn't any clearance and I couldn't plug in my hairdryer. My hairdryer has a bulky plug and it is polarized, so it could only be oriented with the cord coming down and there wasn't enough room. Fortunately there was a hairdryer in the bathroom. Unfortunately, it's one of the European style ones that almost looks like a vacuum cleaner hose and was not very powerful. The bottom line is either to take an extension cord or a hairdryer with a regular plug where the cord comes straight out from the wall. Dining: One of Disney's trademarks in the dining area is the rotational dining among three dining rooms. This allowed us to eat at a different dining room each night except for the last, when we ate in the same dining room as the first night. We had main seating (6:00 pm) and the APTA rotation— that's Animator's Palate, then Parrot Cay, followed by Tritons. We were first seated at a rectangular table for six. There was a family of four seated, leaving for us two chairs and a high chair on the end. Since at almost 4 years old, our son is too big for a high chair, it was replaced by a regular chair which left us with no leg room. After sitting there a few minutes, my husband went to talk to the maitre d' who responded that the seating arrangement is only suitable with a baby in a high chair and promptly reseated us at a round table for six with another family of three. This was a much roomier table and as it ended up the other family had a son just a few months younger than ours. We had a very enjoyable time dining with them and the boys enjoyed sharing trains and playing with them at the table while we dined. Our waiter was Mark from St. Vincent and assistant was Sandor from Hungary. They both were very accommodating and Mark made fabulous recommendations for dinner and desserts choices. For breakfast there were several options, on Deck 9 was a buffet in the Beach Blanket Buffet. Parrot Cay served a buffet style breakfast as well on Deck 3 and Tritons on Deck 3 of offered a sit-down breakfast including a menu choice of Eggs Benedict, my favorite! We managed to try one of the options on each day. On the last day of the cruise, there was a choice of continental breakfast at the Beach Blanket Buffet or sit-down menu breakfast in the dining room that you ate on the previous evening. If you choose the dining room, then is necessary to go at a scheduled time: 6:45 am for main seating and 8:00 am for late seating. The lunch options were plentiful too. For casual dining, there was the Beach Blanket Buffet (some days with an ethnic theme), Pinocchio's Pizzeria, Pluto's Dog House (hot dogs and hamburgers, grilled chicken sandwiches, bratwurst, and veggie burgers), and at Scoops you could get wrap style sandwiches in addition to ice cream. Our son had a hamburger from Pluto's one day that had to be the nicest hamburger that I have ever seen on a ship. Tritons offered a sit down lunch but we did not make it there and enjoyed the casual lunches on Deck 9. I was impressed with the kid's only line at the Beach Blanket Buffet. They had all the items that our son enjoys (how did they know ;-), macaroni and cheese, chicken fingers, corn, jello cubes, and the trays were especially designed for the kiddos with individual wells to eliminate cross-contamination of the food items on their plate! At night, the kids buffet was set-up for the Oceaneer's Club and Oceaneer's Lab to bring the kids up to eat. Our son did this one of the nights and seemed to really get a kick out of eating with the kids and without mom and dad. Fun Ship Activities: Jacqui was our cruise director. She was very friendly and personable. She always made it a point to say "hello" when we saw her out and about on the ship. There are three passenger pools on the Wonder. Well, actually there is a fourth according to Travel Channel Secrets, but it is for the crew! The Mickey Mouse pool, for the kids, is very thoughtfully designed. Mickey's ears are wading pools with just six inches or so of water and then the rest of his face is about 1-1/2 feet deep. Our son loved this pool! He started out in the ears but then got the courage to climb down into the deeper part. It seemed to give him confidence in the water, because then he wanted to try the Goofy pool which is about 4-5 feet deep. I took him in the Goofy pool and held him above water, but he seemed to be less clingy then I have previously experienced with him in the pool and I think it was from spending the time alone in the Mickey pool. The slide at the Mickey pool looked like fun (my husband wanted to do this, but only kids under a certain height are allowed), but our son wasn't feeling brave enough to give that a try. There is also Quiet Cove for guests 18 and older, but I didn't spend any time there. Towels were available on deck in lovely wooden cabinets. I couldn't find them at first since I was looking for a plastic bin of some sort. The fitness center was located in the spa on the forward section of deck 9. It was somewhat small, but adequate with a variety of machines and free weights, treadmills, steppers, and bikes. There were television sets with headsets available to listen too. From the treadmills you could see down into the ship's bridge, which was a neat perspective. We enjoyed the variety of live music offered in the Route 66, adult only section of the ship. Our favorite was the dueling pianos in Barrel of Laughs. Larry and Greg were very entertaining and played music requested by the audience. The Cadillac Lounge was lower key with easy listening piano music. And for those wishing to dance and listen to livelier music, Wavebands was the place to be. This was also the location for the 70's and 80's parties held on two different evenings during the cruise. And during our sailing, there was a magician/comedian onboard who performed in the Walt Disney Theatre for each dinner seating and then later that night offered an adult only show in Wavebands. Another spot we enjoyed in the evening was the ESPN Skybox. We got to watch some of the NCAA men's basketball tourney championship game on the big screen TV in the stadium seating. I really thought the dEcor there was quite clever. I was very disappointed to read that on the Magic it will be turned into a teen lounge during the fall 2003 dry dock! We did not see the Hercules show, but we did go to see Disney Dreams. It was as good as I had read! I wasn't sure if our son would enjoy it or not. But he really did seem to like it. Although, 45 minutes was about his limit to sit still - so the last 15 minutes he started squirming around. But I thought it was a wonderful show and truly different from anything that you will see on any other cruise line. Our son loved participating in activities at the Oceaneer's Club. He also enjoyed the activities that the kids program offered at Castaway Cay's Scuttle's Cove. Our son didn't even want to leave Scuttle's cove to come down to the water; he was having so much fun with the kids and counselors. The children's staff was wonderful; everyone I encountered seemed to really enjoy working with the kids. A couple activities that our son really enjoyed were "Do-Si-Do with Snow White" and "Swingin' with Tarzan" where they "trashed the camp" and played a memory game with the movie characters. The equipment in the Oceaneer's Club and Lab was very impressive too. Recently our son was playing a board game that he said he first played on the "big boat" and then he clarified the Disney World big boat. Since he had been on another cruise line too, I asked him which "big boat" he liked better and he said that he liked the Disney World big boat better. When I asked him why, he said "because there's Mickey Mouse" (but of course). Even though other lines have good kids programs too, I think his response says it all. He would enjoy many of the kid's programs on various lines, but at his age, the fact that the characters were on the ship made it magical! Ports of Call: Nassau: We decided to stay onboard at Nassau since we have visited this port before and figured that we might want a break after running around at the theme parks leading up to the cruise. We talked to people who went to Atlantis and really enjoyed that. We could see it from the ship and it looked like a very impressive resort. We had a relaxing day on the ship. It was a good opportunity to enjoy the pools while they weren't too crowded. Freeport: We chose to go to the beach at Our Lucaya resort area. DCL offers an excursion, but we did it on our own. This provided us with more flexibility on timing. Cabs were readily available when we got off the ship. It was $5 per person each way to the Port Lucaya area. There are some shops at this location, although we were told by our cab driver that there is better shopping and deals to be had in Nassau. We walked across the street to the beach area. Our son enjoyed playing in the sand and the water for a couple hours and then we returned to the ship. It was very nice white sand and the water was beautiful. There were locals asking to braid hair and selling various items, but they weren't too pushy as a polite 'no' was enough for them to continue walking by. Getting a cab back to the ship was a little trickier. The cabs are vans and they wait until they have a full load before they will head back. Fortunately we only had to wait about 5 or 10 minutes. Castaway Cay: In one word - Wonderful!! It was so obvious that Disney put a significant amount of planning and thought into this. The Scuttle's Cove kid's area was huge. The family beach was close by to Scuttle's Cove. We walked a little way down and had no problem getting beach chairs. We took a walk along the beach and at one point were called to by the lifeguard to let us know we weren't allowed to go any further down the beach because it was the teen beach. I thought that was great that they had their own area. We turned to walk inland and stumbled across the game area which was a pavilion with billiards tables, shuffle board, foosball and some other activities. We played a game of billiards and then made our way back to our beach chairs. We tried the infamous Konk Kooler. It was great! After we got home, I used one of the recipes I found posted and made them and they turned out just as good (well, almost - it's just not quite them same as drinking them with the Caribbean breeze blowing through your hair!) We did not make it to Serenity Bay (the adult only area) but there is always next time ;-) ! Return: We booked a USAirways flight direct from Orlando to Pittsburgh scheduled to depart at 12:20 pm. On other cruise lines, it would not be recommended to book a flight departing this early, but from what I read we wouldn't have a problem getting to the airport on time. We scheduled the Cartier Towncar to arrive at 8:30 am. By 8:00 we were off the ship and the towncar arrived at 8:15 am. The debarkation process was truly amazing. My husband commented that, that alone was worth paying extra to sail on Disney! Just as we had read, after eating breakfast, we just walked off the ship. No sitting around in a lounge waiting for an announcement to leave. No mad rush or being herded to get off the ship. We really did walk right off. The bags were organized and clearly labeled by cabin location. We got our bags, walked through customs and then to the waiting area for the towncars. Upon arrival at the Orlando Airport, the line to check-in and for security was not bad at all. We were at our concourse by 9:30 am. So we ended up having quite a wait for the plane (longer still with a preschooler!), especially after the plane got delayed for an hour. Our aircraft was delayed getting to Orlando after the escape slide was inadvertently deployed at the previous airport. Apparently it takes just about an hour to repack that slide. As a result we arrived home a little later than we hoped, but still reasonably early considering how much later you need to book flights when returning on other cruise lines! Overall: We had a fabulous vacation! For our son's age, the combination of the parks and cruise was perfect. I think a whole week at the parks would have been too much for him, but I hope to do that in a couple of years. In the meantime, we enjoyed the cruise so much and felt like 4 days wasn't quite enough. I was just starting to figure out where everything was on the ship when it was time to pack our bags to leave! So, we took advantage of the $200 onboard credit to rebook while we were sailing and we will be sailing the Western Caribbean on the Magic next January. I hope there is some helpful information for any of you planning to go soon! Read Less
Sail Date April 2003
Disney Wonder 3/23/2003 I am still getting unpacked and caught up but thought I'd give a quick comparison of Disney verses the other cruises I've been on. I really hate posting anything negative on the boards as it upsets so many ... Read More
Disney Wonder 3/23/2003 I am still getting unpacked and caught up but thought I'd give a quick comparison of Disney verses the other cruises I've been on. I really hate posting anything negative on the boards as it upsets so many people and they take it to heart without realizing that one person's opinion really doesn't represent what they may experience and therefore should be taken with a grain of salt. Please don't think that the few negative comments that I have are anything more than simple observations that I noticed when comparing this cruise to other cruises I've been on. This cruise included me, my Husband (both mid-40's), Son (8) and my Parents (70's). In general, I loved Disney Wonder. As with anything Disney, they know how to do things right! Embarkation/debarkation were the best of any cruise we've been on (this was cruise #10 for me). I found the ship to be lovely but prefer a more open layout. I tend to feel shut in when I am on a ship that is compartmentalized like the Disney ships are (Norwegian Dawn and Carnival's newest ships; Pride, Legend, and Spirit are like this too but are very popular among most people). As time went on I became more comfortable with the layout though. I just like to have more wide open spaces (which I found on RCCL's Explorer of the Seas). Disney's food is much better than RCCL's and about the same as Carnival and Norwegian (whose food I loved!) Disney's desserts were top-notch!!! Better than any I've ever had! The cabins (category 9 on deck 2...#'s 2622 and 2624) were nicely appointed but felt smaller than others I've been in even though it was supposed to be larger. I liked the split bath, but you sacrifice some standing room in each area in order to have the extra sink. I got use to the tight squeeze though and thought it was a fair trade to have an extra sink ;-) I usually have a balcony but traded that in for the two connecting ocean-view cabins on this cruise. I think that probably the cabin just felt smaller due to the missing balcony! I do think that if we had only one ocean-view cabin with the three of us, I would have felt crowded (this goes back to that need for open space....my quirk, no reflection on Disney). The location (deck 2 aft) was terrific! Very convenient to dining and easy to get on and off the ship. We had no real noise issues although there were occasional noises, they were not anything that would keep me from recommending these cabins or booking them again myself. I enjoyed the rotation dining, but prefer traditional dining in one "grand" Dining Room. I found each of the three main Dining Rooms to be nicely decorated and comfortable (but again, too closed in...I like open spaces and lots of windows). We didn't go to Palo, so I have no comment on that. I enjoyed all the menus. Our Servers, Beata and Rea, were top notch! My main complaint with Dining on Disney was with the "casual" dining venues. I didn't like Beach Blanket Buffet at all. The food was very good, but the area itself was tight, small, congested, and very hard to navigate, in my opinion. I was very surprised since Disney is King when it comes to crowd control and spatial engineering! We opted to visit the buffet at Parrot Cay from then on and were much more comfortable (back to that open-space issue I have). I also noticed that there were times when it was hard to find food on the ship. Now, I certainly never was in danger of starving, but on all other cruise lines, food is always easy to come by (perhaps too easy!) We loved all the shows, games, family events, and deck parties! I think Disney wins in this department, hands down! My Son loved the kid's club too. We did the 4-day itinerary with Nassau, Freeport, and Castaway Cay. We spent our Nassau day at Atlantis (we booked a room at Comfort Suites for full privileges at Atlantis...total cost with taxes was $163). We had a wonderful day at Atlantis swimming in the pools and touring the aquariums. In Freeport we stayed on the ship and explored. Hubby and I did get off the ship briefly and visited the little "straw market" that was set up at the pier. It was nice and the people were very friendly and laid back. Castaway Cay is as nice as everyone says. We had a lovely beach day with a nice BBQ lunch. We did some snorkeling at the Family Beach but didn't see too many fish. The water was nice, but a bit on the chilly side. Castaway Cay compared favorably to Labadee (RCCL's private stop). I think Labadee is about the most beautiful place I've seen (however, the water is not as clear), but I thoroughly enjoyed my day at Castaway Cay too. Well, I don't know if I've covered everything or not. If anyone has any specific questions, feel free to ask. Again, I reiterate, do not take my negative comments as any bad reflection on Disney. I think Disney has an amazing product here! I would cruise on Disney again in a heartbeat and probably will return to the 7-day in the future. My Son and my Parents can't wait to go back on Disney! I will honestly say though, that Explorer of the Seas still beats out Disney for my number one slot. Disney is a very close second though and only for those issues that I addressed previously that are my own personal issues with spatial relationships. Next time I will just book the balcony and I will have the open space I need and I will be fine! Till then......may all your dreams be "Disney Dreams Read Less
Sail Date March 2003
We have been on three cruises, our first being on the RCCL's Majesty of the Seas which was in Sept of 2002, one with Costa Cruises, and the third also with RCCL on Explorer. The Majesty stands out in my mind not only because of it ... Read More
We have been on three cruises, our first being on the RCCL's Majesty of the Seas which was in Sept of 2002, one with Costa Cruises, and the third also with RCCL on Explorer. The Majesty stands out in my mind not only because of it being my first cruise ever but by the beauty of this smaller ship. It is one of Royal Caribbean's older ships but you would never know it by her appearance. She certainly lives up to her name. The ship is very clean and shiny. The staff goes out of their way to help you in every way. Each evening we were greeted by a different towel animal on our bed. Our room steward always put my husband's sunglasses on them to liven them up. We had an ocean-view cabin which was a bit tight, but most of our time in the cabin was spent only sleeping or changing. We brought a collapsible cooler that we kept water and pop in and our steward always made sure there was fresh ice in it. The meals in the dining room were outstanding, but the service could of been a little faster. We had the late seating and missed most of the after-dinner shows. The shows we did see however were outstanding. There was a comedian one of the nights that left us laughing as we left the theater. If you are a first time cruiser I highly suggest trying out RCCL's Majesty of of the Seas. I personally like the smaller ships because you don't feel like you're a small fish in a giant fish bowl. Everything is easy access and there are plenty of activities on board from gambling in the casino, to belly flop contests at the pool. And the midnight buffet is to die for with Caribbean music and dancing the night away up by pool side finished by relaxing under the Caribbean starlit sky. I will definitely cruise on the Majesty again in the future. Read Less
Sail Date September 2002
This was a first cruise for my husband and I. We had a wonderful time on the ship and the Carnival staff was excellent. Always something to do and they had something to fit pretty much any interests you have. The constant availability of ... Read More
This was a first cruise for my husband and I. We had a wonderful time on the ship and the Carnival staff was excellent. Always something to do and they had something to fit pretty much any interests you have. The constant availability of food and 24hr room service was awesome. Fantasy is one of the older/smaller ships so it actually made us first timers a little more at ease. It was easy to explore and learn your way around. Two things that I would change on my next cruise, would be to invest in a better room. We had an outside stateroom with a window/midship on the 6th floor (empress deck) and honestly the room was just too confined for our tastes. A balcony would have been the better way to go. We also sailed at the end of February which was cold most of the time on deck and soooo windy. Another valuable lesson learned was to take advantage of the shore excursions booked directly through Carnival. Being from Florida and used to tourist surroundings, we thought we would take charge of our own tours. Wrong. In the Bahamas, you have tenders all trying to take you somewhere at different prices. We tried in vain to find this place in Freeport that rented power boats, so we could explore on our own. We never found it. They wanted to sell us "package deals" to the beaches, etc., which they most likely make a profit from doing. I don't begrudge anyone trying to make an extra buck, but no one wanted to steer us in the direction "we" wanted to go. I realized later that had we set something up through the ship, we might have had a better time on land. I do highly recommend a visit to the Atlantis Hotel. This place is amazing! The in-ground aquarium is a one of a kind. A little hard to take pictures during the day, however. They are obviously used to the tourist traffic and we had no problems while there and were free to roam around. Lunch was very good at one of several restaurants within. Of course, a trip to either Freeport or Nassau would not be complete without a trip to the straw market. Interesting. I can see why Carnival has such a good reputation, as we encountered no problems, easy to check in, ship was pretty much immaculate and great/friendly service all around. Believe me when I say.....when you pass through the gulf stream and enter the Carribean Sea with its turquoise waters....you'll think you've died and gone to heaven! Hope you have as good a time as we did! Read Less
Sail Date February 2002
Very friendly, helpful with special dietary needs, Good variety of activities. the last day they provided a tour of Miami and ride to airport. it was an interesting experience and they took care of our luggage and got us to the airport. It ... Read More
Very friendly, helpful with special dietary needs, Good variety of activities. the last day they provided a tour of Miami and ride to airport. it was an interesting experience and they took care of our luggage and got us to the airport. It was nice not to have to carry our bags around and we got in an extra activity which was tour our the art and history of Miami beach and a walking tour of Little Havana. The shore excursions were great. Nice variety A relaxing and fun vacation, staff fantastic, ship clean overall a top rate experience. Cabin was comfortable with plenty of storage and a wonderful balcony. Liked the walking deck where it was marked so you could walk a mile. There could have been more hot tubs. Also Sunday activities could have taken into consideration that some passengers may have wanted to attend mass or a church service. Overall it was wonderful and I plan to take another cruise. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016

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