DO NOT BOOK THIS CRUISE! We had a family reunion / birthday party on the ship. The ship/cruise line was picked by someone in the family who cruises often and promoted the trip as a "great deal" . Although I was happy that ... Read More
DO NOT BOOK THIS CRUISE! We had a family reunion / birthday party on the ship. The ship/cruise line was picked by someone in the family who cruises often and promoted the trip as a "great deal" . Although I was happy that someone else planned the trip, this is the last trip that family member will ever plan for us...#sensationFail. There was "NOTHING GREAT" about this cruise, and Carnival nickels and dimes you for everything, so once you add it all up - it was also "NOT A DEAL". There are many better options than this for a great trip.
Food: Horrible. If you are into greasy Guy Fierri hamburgers and fries, then you'll be very happy... because that's about the only thing worth eating. Other than that, the entire cruise food choices are very very bad. There are no "restaurants" so your choices are buffets or dining room - both were gross. The crew members on the boat work their butt's off, so no disrespect to them, but sit down dinner service took on average of 3+ hours --- once food arrived, it was a joke. A "side" of broccoli = 1 piece of broccoli with two sprouts. A drink at dinner would take at least 45 minutes to arrive.
Entertainment: Horrible. There is almost nothing to do on this ship. You will be out of options on day-2.
Pool areas: Horrible. 2,000 people sharing an overgrown hot tub (the pool) and an actual hot tub. The slides -- hahahah -- they don't slide. The kids went down the slide and would get stuck half-way down because there's no water in the middle of slide.
Rooms: Good - actually a bright spot here... had a Junior Suite, beds were clean and comfortable, bathroom and shower was fine, balcony was fine. Clean.
Embarking/Disembarking - best part of cruise was getting on, then getting off the ship. Very well organized, fast and error free. Read Less
Let me just say that I have been on more than 30 cruises and 10 cruise lines and this was by far the worst boat and cruise company I’ve ever gone with. Firstly, I walk into the room and I immediately got sick. I will preface this by ... Read More
Let me just say that I have been on more than 30 cruises and 10 cruise lines and this was by far the worst boat and cruise company I’ve ever gone with. Firstly, I walk into the room and I immediately got sick. I will preface this by saying that the boat is older (found out after booking) and I have mold allergies. I walked right to the bathroom and noticed that the shower floor was covered in mold. Our AC in the room also did not work properly and they were not able to fix it throughout the entire trip. Without the fan in the shower and without a working AC, the mold made me sick during the cruise and after. They would not move my friend and I and every time I asked if they could help, the only thing they did was have somebody throw bleach on top of the mold and attempt to fix the AC THREE times with no results. Firstly, that’s not how you fix mold especially more that’s over six months old.Secondly, going on a cruise to a hot destination and having some floors on the boat with no ac, I would not like to SWEAT in my room and be able to sleep well. Besides that, the set up of the room was what you would expect.
Secondly, if you’re looking for a dining room that is flexible with what you’d like, good luck unless you get a suite and eat in the suite’s dining room. We felt like second-class citizens in the dining room compared to our friends who had stayed in a suite and were in the other dining room. We couldn’t get little side items and we couldn’t get a dinner as a smaller meal like you would be able to on Royal Caribbean and Carnival and other things of that nature. You could also tell the line was SUPER STINGY. A ravioli dinner had TWO ravioli. That’s an appetizer and when you asked for me, you had to pull teeth. My friend and I actually went to the buffet after the dining room most nights (we thought it may get better).
Thirdly, no one knew the wine policy. Long story short, don’t carry it on unless you only want it the last night. You have to put it in your checked bag onto the ship.
Positives: lots of dance lessons and the gym was what you need to stay active on a cruise. The state room housekeepers were also quick and efficient. Read Less
We took this cruise with our best friends. The whole reason we booked this cruise was to go to Havana, and the week before we were scheduled to leave, the government shut it down. RC offered us a full refund or a 50% refund if we chose ... Read More
We took this cruise with our best friends. The whole reason we booked this cruise was to go to Havana, and the week before we were scheduled to leave, the government shut it down. RC offered us a full refund or a 50% refund if we chose to cruise. We were all so desperate for a vacation that we went for it. We opted for The Key program, which I can't recommend enough. Because of this, we got on the ship early and had a complimentary lunch at Chops. It was ok, and service there was soooo slow. We were in there two hours. Food was only ok, but our service team in the main dining room was great, Rommel and Stanmore. We really enjoyed the games and dance lessons, and the entertainment staff was great. They were all engaging and so much fun. Our cruise was not crowded at all, and I felt like I got to know some of them. We did a Fury snorkeling excursion in Key West and spent the day at Mr. Sanchos in Cozumel, which we did by ourselves. Other reviewers aren't kidding about the smell. It was really bad in certain places. We had a great time because we got away and spent time with each other. I wouldn't go on this ship again because I feel like there are better options out there. Read Less
We always have great experiences on Carnival. You could definitely tell the ship was in an older class. The paint was chipping and rusting all over the ship. That is the only reason I did not give it a 5 star rating.
The cabin was ... Read More
We always have great experiences on Carnival. You could definitely tell the ship was in an older class. The paint was chipping and rusting all over the ship. That is the only reason I did not give it a 5 star rating.
The cabin was very clean and comfortable. Our room steward, Leonardo was very personable and was there for all our needs. The dining was EXCELLENT whether you ate in the formal dining room or buffet. I always love all the food selections, e.g., Guys burgers, Cantina, buffet, deli, pizza. The entertainment was par on this ship. The piano man, Sam Martin was AMAZING. Sam is a very talented pianist and singer. Service was wonderful. The staff is very attentive to all our needs. Disappointed because one of our stops was Cuba, but was cancelled.
Our cruise Director, Erin, was very energetic and always had the crown engaged with all the activities. Loved Erin and her crew. Read Less
We chose this cruise due to the stopover in Havana, which, although not the fault of MSC, was extremely disappointing. We are from the UK and only received notification of this a few days before we were due to leave. The pathetic $400 ... Read More
We chose this cruise due to the stopover in Havana, which, although not the fault of MSC, was extremely disappointing. We are from the UK and only received notification of this a few days before we were due to leave. The pathetic $400 OBC no way compensated for the dreadful ports which we replaced Havana. This cruise was priced higher than the regular Islands and Costa Maya and Roatan are both resorts we have visited many times before. Having booked and paid for flights for hotels pre and post cruise we could not cancel without suffering huge penalties. However, we decided to make the best of it. Unfortunately, it was very difficult to do so due to the general attitude and culture on the ship. I was horrified by the cruise drill which was the most badly organised and shortest I have ever attended (on 40 plus cruises)!
As a vegetarian I often have problems aboard US ships but this took some beating! All the food arrived lukewarm and best and we experienced long wait times. I don't think this was the fault of the staff , simply that there were just too few of them. On the second night I realised every vegetarian dish was Indian food. I do love Asian food but not everyday! I was told that was the menu that they changed for the US based cruises. One of the Restaurant Managers, whose name I won't mention on here but probably should, was bustling around doing absolutely nothing. He said he would take personal care of my food and proudly presented me with a place of overcooked vegetables with a spoonful of brown rice. I asked if I could have ravioli the following day, it's an Italian ship after all, this arrived overcooked dry and with no sauce. I couldn't eat it. This restaurant manager starting getting stroppy with me and I had to tell him to change his attitude as it wasn't appropriate.
The good thing about this cruise that it was only for a week! I strongly urge readers of this to look at other options before booking this cruise line We will NEVER sail with MSC again. Read Less
We are one of the people who were affected by the travel ban to Cuba. We had booked a 7 day cruise with MSC for ONLY the reason that they offered a 2-day stop in Cuba. Of course, it wasn't their fault that travel to Cuba was banned ... Read More
We are one of the people who were affected by the travel ban to Cuba. We had booked a 7 day cruise with MSC for ONLY the reason that they offered a 2-day stop in Cuba. Of course, it wasn't their fault that travel to Cuba was banned 2 weeks before our cruise but while other cruise companies offered full refunds and other great options (like moving your itinerary AND getting 50% off your cruise), MSC's "fix" was not anywhere as generous. We could have changed our itinerary (but with no fantastic perk like 50% off) and seriously considered it as other than Cuba we were not excited about our itinerary and had just done a similar itinerary last year with another cruise company. However, my husband was excited about a 48-hour excursion we had booked and paid for, so we decided to go ahead and give the cruise a try. The excursion, which was the only reason we continued with the cruise after Cuba was off the table, ended up being cancelled at the very last minute and the excursion desk at MSC was rude and cold in their response to our disappointment. At one point, my husband and I had 3 excursion employees shaming us, holding up a print out of their excursion policy and making us feel terrible. And this was after my husband had been very calm, concise and articulate ~ we weren't attacking anyone, we just wanted to salvage our cruise experience. No one at MSC expressed any concern for our disappointment and instead blamed us and made us feel stressed.
We did try to keep our chin up and found a way to enjoy our time together but we will never use MSC again and encourage others to think twice before spending your hard-earned money and vacation time with a company that works with an attitude that does not put customer's enjoyment first and foremost. My husband truly feels our vacation was wasted :( and that is not a great feeling.
On the bright side, the day-to-day staff on the boat was kind and helpful. They always had very good fresh fruit and bottled water was complimentary with our drink plan. The other vacationers were wonderful and many where as disappointed as we were so we at least had some sympathetic ears.
The boat is small and not good for people who suffer from sea-sickness. The boat is also older, shabby and not-updated. The food was mediocre and sometimes less than mediocre.
We heard many great things about other cruise companies like Royal Caribbean, Princess and Norwegian (even Carnival). All of these companies offered generous compensation to customers who had booked itineraries to Cuba and helped disappointed customers adjust to the unexpected and disappointing changes in their vacation plans.
Save your money, increase your chances of a positive and fun cruise experience ~ Do Not Use MSC! Read Less
My experience on MSC was different from what I typically experience on other cruise lines but I still had a good experience. Getting on and off the ship was very easy and quick. The staff was always friendly and helpful. It was very ... Read More
My experience on MSC was different from what I typically experience on other cruise lines but I still had a good experience. Getting on and off the ship was very easy and quick. The staff was always friendly and helpful. It was very easy to navigate the ship but sometimes you had to walk through one of the dining rooms during dinner to go from point A to point B which was a bit strange. Food in the dining room was good. I was able to try new fish I had never been offered on other cruise lines. We also enjoyed the pizza and gelato. I did miss the chairs on the lower deck which is where I typically hang out. I also missed watching movies poolside. I did not observe people being chair hogs. MSC has everyone with a scheduled excursion to report to the theater. It was very chaotic and not clear what you were supposed to do when you arrived. In Ocho Rios, we did the Brimmer Hall Plantation Tour with Beach & Lunch. It was an hour drive to the plantation. The demonstrations were interesting but rather than pull us around on a trailer they could do those near the house. The plantation itself wasn't very impressive nor was the beach or lunch. I enjoyed the Best of Caymen in Georgetown. We visited a turtle farm, Hell, and a rum store. The Best of Cozumel was OK. After the English guide presented his info, the Spanish guide then repeated it all. We spent too much time at the history museum and not enough time at the chocolate museum. At the tequila store, they actually gave everyone a taste of 5 different kinds. I did not schedule an excursion in Costa Maya. It's a nice port for shopping and hanging out. I did not attend any of the evening shows. They were all music and dancing type productions. I had put in a request online for an extension cord and distilled water for my CPAP but never received any response so I brought my own. While sailing with MSC was a different experience than with other cruise lines, I enjoyed my trip and would sail with them again. Read Less
We left for our cruise about four days after the executive order that trips to Cuba are no longer allowed. NCL took a while to announce what our new itinerary would be and what our discounts would be, but we were very pleased with the ... Read More
We left for our cruise about four days after the executive order that trips to Cuba are no longer allowed. NCL took a while to announce what our new itinerary would be and what our discounts would be, but we were very pleased with the information when it was announced.
We were originally supposed to do Cuba overnight, a day at sea, then Great Stirrup Cay. They replaced the Cuba days with Freeport and Nassau. We have cruised royal and Disney several times each, and this was our first NCL trip. We selected it for Cuba, but were determined to make the best of the trip regardless of the change.
The ship itself was small, which we were expecting. The decor was nice and not garish. The layout to get to the Crossings dining room was awkward but we eventually got the hang of it. The feel was relaxed and the crew was very friendly.
Our room was small. We were expecting that, being spoiled by DCL's larger rooms but we had forgotten just how small inside rooms were on other lines. We had to shift the bed about 1" every night so I could get around the cabinet without getting my leg stuck. The decor was nice, the room was clean. We were in 0138, which is right below the teen club. That was a mistake. It was very loud and there was a clunky noise or scraping noise seemingly 24/7.
The dining was perfectly acceptable. We rarely do specialty restaurants and did none on this trip. I was disappointed that the sit-down lunch offered the same menu every single day. There were not enough things there that sounded good so we ended up doing the buffet which isn't our favorite but there was more to choose from than we could possibly eat so it was fine. The pretzel buns are AMAZING I am going to try to make some at home. The beef dishes were good. I found most of the soups to be very overly salted. I thought the freestyle dining was amazing, and I wasn't expecting to like it. Seating was fast, the restaurants were nice, we liked the privacy as well. The food itself seemed comparable to both DCL and RCCL and we were happy with that. Snacks in the casino were fun to try late at night as well. The breakfast buffet was really repetitive, but there was enough to select from so again it was fine.
We found the sushi bar late into the trip. The service there was excellent and we had never had sushi before. We really enjoyed the spot. The view was nice, the bar was quiet and friendly. It really was a very nice space to spend some time.
The main shows on the Sky were quite cheesy. Props to the cast they really did put in a lot of energy and effort. DH and I were both theatre majors and enjoy shows but these were not our style. The audience was very well mannered and the cast was really talented. We tried a couple of the group games and those were fun as well. The trivia looked fun from afar. We did not do the outdoor activities because they really aren't our style. I peeked in at the movies and those seemed like fun also. Quiet and relaxing. The bingo game we went to was a good time as well. The staff did a good job of keeping things fun. I do prefer more enrichment type activities, there was very little of that offered on this type of trip and on this ship.
Our cabin steward was very prompt and did a good job. We only saw him two times but he always remembered our names and was very friendly. The convenience of the onboard account info being on our app was incredible. I wish the venue hours were in the app as well as the scheduled activities. The food service staff were always friendly, but not all were attentive. It just depended on the evening.
We did three ports. Freeport was BEAUTIFUL. DH chose a sailing excursion and it was hands-down the most beautiful day we've ever had in port. Our second stop was Nassau, which is always our least favorite. We did a snorkeling tour and felt like we were cats being herded but the snorkeling was good. Great Stirrup Cay was a great little private island. We don't enjoy beach days much but do love to snorkel. There wasn't a lot to see, but it was calm, sunny, the equipment was clean and in good shape, and we really did enjoy ourselves.
Even with a smaller ship, and a short Bahamas itinerary, we've decided that NCL is a great fit for us. We enjoy excursions and taking it easy, and even though there are lots of activities offered, there's a lot of opportunity for just kicking back and relaxing if that's your style. Read Less
The service was impeccable. When my husband stopped by Guest Services to pick up the Assistive Listening device they got overzealous and installed blinking lights and bed vibrator in the room. That was very kind but I didn't need all ... Read More
The service was impeccable. When my husband stopped by Guest Services to pick up the Assistive Listening device they got overzealous and installed blinking lights and bed vibrator in the room. That was very kind but I didn't need all that ( and it changed the set up of the room) so they took it right back out.
We loved having the assigned seating at 6pm. We loved having the same wait staff each night. I emailed special requests ahead of time---They were able to give us a private table away from the piano so I was able to enjoy without trying to explain my deafness to people They handled my food allergies easily. The main dining room was my something I looked forward to everyday.
We loved every single thing about the size of this ship. We never felt crowded, never waited in line, never felt rushed. We asked Guest Services and they said it was fully booked and had 1600 people on board when we sailed.There are rumors about Royal taking it out of commission with Cuba off the table. I hope not-- I would sail this ship again in a heartbeat.
The biggest surprise--- the teen club. As you know, they have little to nothing on the website about having a teen club. I was very, very worried that my 13 year old would be bored. We made him go to the teen meet and greet the first night promising to pick him up in 2 hours. We were thrilled to find out that instead of a dedicated room---they have a "roaming" teen club. Fabian had the kids all over the ship from morning until midnight. They played hide and seek, uno, scrabble, a scavenger hunt, went to the shows as a group and played a days long spy game called paranoia. My son was gone from sunup to curfew and had the best time. Added bonus--- no electronics were involved so it really was a throw back to the childhood of disconnect. I think Royal is missing a huge marketing opportunity and parents would sign up for this ship just to get their kids off the devices. Read Less
For our first cruise was really good choice. Although rerouting from Cuba to Bahamas was disappointing (obv not NCL fault). Food in all restaurants we went to was very good, service was great across the board. Balcony room was tight, ... Read More
For our first cruise was really good choice. Although rerouting from Cuba to Bahamas was disappointing (obv not NCL fault). Food in all restaurants we went to was very good, service was great across the board. Balcony room was tight, but we knew that going in. Embarkation was a breeze, even with seemingly hundreds in front of us. Disembarkation was a little confused, they weren't letting folks off that had checked their bags the night before since they weren't ready in the terminal (at 8:45 AM). They finally relented and let people pass. Better to wait in the air conditioned terminal than on board in the morning heat. Also we booked the NCL transfer, and this was very smooth and well organized. I'm sure there were plenty of Ubers but NCL made it easy.
One negative that is probably all cruise lines not just NCL was the medical service. My wife needed to see the doctor due to an infection. 20 minutes and $650 later we were back in the room (cost of "treatment" and antibiotics). While a bummer, this saved her a lot of discomfort for the rest of the trip. Another veteran cruise couple told us they heard the medical operation makes more profit than the casino. So get travel medical insurance! We have via our credit card, but I learned that only goes to $2500.
Speaking of the casino, I ran pure at blackjack (on a 8 deck continuous shuffler!) so that helped ease the wallet pain! BJ tables were $10 and $15, and some were 3/2 (just have to ask). Poker is not so great, they spread 2-5 NLHE and rake 10% of the pot up to $25! Didn't really see the poker table get going, but I guess they should get kudos for having it. Video poker pay tables are awful (7/5 DDB) but that's expected. But casino had great service, with the open bar the waitresses kept the drinks flowing, dealers and floor guys were fun even when they were getting beat!
For the food, Cagneys was outstanding, top US steakhouse service, and the food was just one notch below your Delmonicos, Ruth Criss, etc. The Italian was average (we paid ala cart $52 for that). Crossings dinner was another night and that was good with again great service. The longboard bar in the back of the ship is a gem, after 6 they serve wings, hot dogs/hamburgers, and other appetizers. Also great servers in there. Also the buffet always seemed to have great looking desserts, so
Bahamas isn't our thing so we won't be going again on Sky, but with our 50% credit toward a future cruise we'll likely go with NCL again. (With better travel medical insurance). Read Less
I got this cruise playing MyVegas so only had to pay port fees. We found out 6 days before we sailed that we would not be going to Cuba. We were disappointed but we were also going on vacation so just adjusted our plans. We did have to ... Read More
I got this cruise playing MyVegas so only had to pay port fees. We found out 6 days before we sailed that we would not be going to Cuba. We were disappointed but we were also going on vacation so just adjusted our plans. We did have to fly to Fort Lauderdale which took 30 hours due to storms in Atlanta. Spent Sunday at a hotel. Left the hotel and in less than 1 hour we were on the ship. It is a smaller ship, it did seem like some people cancelled as it was not very busy. Our cabin was fine. Always clean and cute towel animals. Crew were always friendly and helpful. Saw crew members cleaning the halls and other areas also. Food was good, as were the drinks. Drinks were very strong which surprised me. Used to all inclusive at which are not strong at all. Stayed on board in Nassau, really enjoyed CocoCay. We did have a really good time on this ship. Read Less
Port of Tampa was very easy port to get into and park. We had Priority Boarding went great on the ship and eating lunch in 10 min.
Carnival Paradise is a smaller ship but has all the upgrades and easy to get around lines were very ... Read More
Port of Tampa was very easy port to get into and park. We had Priority Boarding went great on the ship and eating lunch in 10 min.
Carnival Paradise is a smaller ship but has all the upgrades and easy to get around lines were very short every time. The food was the best that we have had on our last few cruises, it was good very good.
The staff was very efficient and the ship was always clean and well maintained. Had an elevator go out but was fixed in one day.
The only complaint we had was the same as all our resent cruises. Carnival need to be able to figure out the Dance Club. Either the club was not open or the music was for young people all the time. I would think that the cruise line could look at the age of the cruisers and play music that we can relate to. We understand playing music to all age group. We are smokers and this club is one of the three areas on the ship we can smoke but we either run into a locked door or the music is not something we like, and the DJ will not play music on request at all, if he does not like what you are asking for.
Over all we had a great cruise and always recommend Carnival Cruise line to our friends Read Less
Embarkation/Disembarkation: We chose this cruise because of the overnight in Havana and because we had a very good previous experience with MSC. We were celebrating our 30th anniversary. We left out of Miami and it was the fastest and ... Read More
Embarkation/Disembarkation: We chose this cruise because of the overnight in Havana and because we had a very good previous experience with MSC. We were celebrating our 30th anniversary. We left out of Miami and it was the fastest and easiest embarkation we've experienced. Our assigned check-in time was 2:30, but since we had to be out of our hotel room at 11:00, we arrived at 11:30. We dropped off our luggage, parked the car, and walked across the street to terminal F. We had priority embarkation with our Aurea experience, but it wasn't necessary. Before noon, we were on the ship sipping a drink. we sat at the forward pool bar with the best bartender at sea, Ryan Felix!
Disembarkation was just as smooth as embarkation.We were in the first group called because we chose the Aurea experience. We walked off the ship, picked up our luggage and headed to our car. We had to meet with customs the morning of Key West, so there was no customs stop in Miami.
Drink Package: We had the Premium Plus package which is the most inclusive package. While we may not have drank our money's worth, and I didn't bother to do the math, it was so nice to get water, specialty coffees, smoothies, specialty bottled juices, mini bar items, and any alcoholic beverage with no worry about paying a bill. I will definitely do this again. You also save the service charge when you purchase the package prior to embarkation. An extra 15% really adds up. We gave an additional cash tip to our regular bartenders at the end of the week.
Spa: After our drink, we headed to the spa to book our appointments. We each had a massage included as part of the Aurea experience and I had pre-booked the Golden Jasmine package. I definitely recommending booking spa services in advance. Even with some specials thrown in during the week, the advanced purchase prices were significantly lower. We had massages or other treatments by 4 different spa staff, and each one was excellent! The only negative I have concerning the spa is the thermal area. There is not much there and it is quite small compared to other ships. One steam room was functioning correctly along with 4 heated loungers. We usually visit this area everyday when we cruise. We only visited once on this trip. When we told staff in the spa that several features were not working they pretty much said. "Oh, well. We get it fixed and it works for little bit and then breaks down again." At least they're honest? This and the Top 13 Private Solarium are the only areas where MSC really needs to upgrade and the only real disappointment on the Armonia. My husband used the gym daily and said that it was adequate.
Cabin: At 2:00 an announcement was made that we could enter our staterooms. We headed to 1225, Aurea Suite. The cabin was spacious and comfortable with a tremendous amount of storage space. We loved the walk in closet and additional cabinets. There was plenty of room to store our belongings out of sight. I still would call this a deluxe balcony, not a suite. Our stateroom attendant, Emmanuel, was excellent! He kept the ice bucket and mini bar full and our stateroom immaculate. The bed and furnishings were in good shape and very comfy. The bathroom was average, but did have a bathtub. The balcony felt slightly larger than the norm, but we wished for more comfortable chairs. The dividers rattled at night and we remedied that with a little duct tape! It is an older ship and these little things give that away. There were very loud noises from the solarium above at night that interfered with sleep. On the last day I asked one of the solarium attendants, Sean, about it and he told me that they move all of the chairs at night and clean. He seemed very concerned and said that they are to move the furniture very quietly. That night, I didn't hear a sound. I only wish that I had said something after our first night! Anytime we mentioned a concern the staff was eager and efficient in trying to resolve it. I would choose this stateroom again. I gave it a 4 rather than 5 rating because of the balcony noise and chairs and the fact that it was not a true suite.
Emergency Drill: This was fairly quick and easy. We needed to carry our vests from our cabin but were not required to wear them. Guests who did not attend were required to complete it the following morning.
Dining: We ate in La Pergola restaurant for dinner every night. This is the anytime dining venue for Fantastica and Aurea guests. The hostess, Brenda, was wonderful. The first evening we had dinner at 8:00. It was very busy and the tables for 2 are nearly touching. My husband has poor hearing and we could not have a conversation. I spoke with Brenda on the way out and she promised a quiet, more intimate table if we could arrive at 6:00 each night. We did and it was perfect! If you like a quiet dinner, 6:00 is a great time to eat. Our waiter was Anil. He was very attentive and efficient. He always knew to bring our bottled water and favorite wine as soon as we entered the room. He made wonderful suggestions and made sure that we were happy with everything we ordered. You are always free to order more or to change your selection if you do not enjoy your selection. The servings are smaller than on most ships serving the Caribbean, but every meal was more than I could eat! I have read complaints about both the quality and quantity of food on this ship, but we did not find that to be the case. Each meal was delicious, from start to finish. If the portions are not adequate for you, you can simply order more food. We also want to mention the restaurant manager, Gochell. Hopefully I spelled that correctly! He stopped by the table each evening to see if there was anything we needed and to ensure that we were happy with our meals and service. He was very personable and had an excellent rapport with his staff. We discovered that he will be on the Meraviglia with us in November and can't wait to see him again! Most of our meals were eaten in La Pergola. Breakfast and lunch were very good. If it was closed we ate at the buffet or had pizza. The buffet had great salad, fruit, smoked salmon sandwiches, and wraps for lunch. We didn't really eat much there. It always seemed so busy and guests served themselves. I loved the way HAL served guests at the buffet. One of the few things that can ruin a vacation is getting sick. The fewer people touching the food and utensils the better! We enjoyed the pizza, but tried the burger and fries one day and didn't care for them. The gelato was good and a nice touch on a hot afternoon!
We gave dining a 4 rating rather than 5 because of the up-charge on the menu for steak and lobster as well as other items that used to be included. The regular dining room menus should be all inclusive. We also took into consideration the buffet service.
Bars: The forward pool bar and staff were awesome! Be sure to ask Ryan for the world's best Bloody Mary! It really was the best one we've had! The staff will concoct just about anything you can imagine. Just ask! Some of the same crew worked at the Rum Bar in the evenings. The Rum Bar had wonderful drinks, service, and entertainment. We are early birds and light drinkers, so we didn't venture out too much at night. The San Marco Coffee Bar was also excellent. We had coffee here every morning before breakfast. They also have wonderful chocolate croissants! There is also a smoothie and juice bar located just outside the spa on the pool deck. This was often breakfast or a snack. We loved being able to grab something healthy after all of the overindulging we did!
Entertainment: We almost skipped out on the shows because we had read some really harsh reviews. Don't listen to reviews!! I know that sounds funny coming from someone who is writing a review! The nightly shows in the theater were absolutely fantastic! The singers brought tears to our eyes and the acrobats were incredible. They were so good that we went twice one evening! I wouldn't miss it. It can get crowded, so get there a few minutes early. They were not taking reservations as we had read prior to our cruise.
We had use of the Top 13 private solarium which came with the Aurea Experience. You can also purchase daily or weekly passes. It was OK. We love quiet and hate fighting for pool chairs, so we did appreciate knowing that we could always find a lounge chair. There was usually staff there who would get you towels or bar service. Sean was one of the attendants and was wonderful! He was eager to assist and he was such an interesting guy! There were only about 6-8 chairs in the shade at any time during the day, so it was hot! You had to arrive early to grab a spot in the shade. They need to put up some type of cover. There were only showers to cool off and handheld spritzers. Another odd thing was that we could smell sewage at times. It depended on the wind. On our last cruise with HAL, we rented private cabanas at the top of the ship. These were covered and offered 2 loungers, a table and 2 chairs with views of the water. We had an attendant and additional chairs on the sundeck for sunning. The butlers brought you beverages, food, and cold towels. They really spoiled us! We really missed this space on Armonia.
As far as activities, we missed the art auctions and wine, etc. tastings that we usually enjoy on a cruise.
Ports: We took this cruise to go to Cuba. We booked a private tour guide and driver for Saturday and a food tour for Sunday through Strawberry Tours . Two days into our trip, it was announced that US citizens were no longer permitted to travel to Cuba. It was very sad. I cried for 5 minutes and then decided to continue enjoying our wonderful vacation. We were shocked by the behavior of some of our fellow passengers following this announcement. They were yelling and threatening the crew. The cruise director, Miguel was physically attacked. His attacker was arrested when we arrived in port. Some passengers started a petition and lawsuit against the cruise line. We were stunned. On any cruise we know that the itinerary can be changed for any reason. It certainly was not the fault of the crew! It's just part of the deal. Cuba was a bucket list item for us and we were very disappointed, but we were on a lovely ship, eating great food, and enjoying amazing service. MSC gave each passenger a $400.00 OBC, extended our stay in Cozumel, and added Key West. That was generous and it was done quickly. I was so impressed by how well the staff conducted themselves. You could see the stress in the customer service desk staff and the shore excursion staff. They were really being abused by some guests.
We only got off the ship in Cozumel. We took a cab, did a tequila tasting, and visited a few beaches. There was so much seaweed that we didn't go in the water. We like our beaches in Florida much better! We did some shopping at the port and headed back on board. We love staying on the ship in port. It's so nice and quiet! No lines for anything!
Cruise Critic Meet and Mingle/ Welcome Back Party: This was the best Meet and Mingle! Miguel, the cruise director, and Carlos, the activities director, hosted. There was such a nice selection of finger foods and drinks, as well as a beautiful cake. It was nice to meet some of the staff and the new cruise critic friends we talked with online. We were glad to bump into familiar faces during our vacation. I definitely recommend that you take part if there is a Meet and Mingle on your cruise! Miguel and Carlos had a group picture taken and gave each of us a copy as a gift. The welcome back party was also very nice. There was plenty of champagne, photos with the captain, and wonderful live jazz music. The saxophone player was so talented!
I'm sure that was just too much information, but I tried to answer the questions that I had before our cruise. We really enjoyed both of our MSC cruises and are looking forward to sailing on the MSC Meraviglia in November. It will be our first Yacht Club experience and we are really looking forward to it! I wouldn't hesitate to sail on this ship again! Read Less
This was our 46th cruise and we are Diamond members. Allow me to begin this revie with
The service was the best of any cruise ship we have ever been on. The staff was eager to please. The production shows were terrific. ... Read More
This was our 46th cruise and we are Diamond members. Allow me to begin this revie with
The service was the best of any cruise ship we have ever been on. The staff was eager to please. The production shows were terrific. Very professionally done and entertaining. The ship was in good shape considering the fact that it is almost 30 years old.
There was a sewerage smell the entire five days on the ship. The food in the buffet was just plain BAD. Same food every day, very limited selection and it was not tasty. Food in the main dining room was just OK. Our outside cabin was more like a closet. When getting off the bed, we had to walk sideways. No ref ridge in cabin. Very little drawer space. We found the drinks in the Schooner bar to be watered down. Much better drinks when ordered in main dining room. Our waiter Milton and Head waiter Nick were excellent.
the embarkation and debarkation was very fast and orderly.
The embargo on Cuba began while we were docked in Havana. We left the following day and learned that we were the last ship to leave Cuba. The country itself was run down as the communist government owned everything. We learned that they pay Medical Doctors $53 per week so most of them have to hold additional part time jobs. Our tour guide was an engineer with a Doctorate degree but claimed she made more money as a tour guide because of the tips.
I would normally rate this ship as 3 stars, but because of the smell, I cannot rate it better than 2 stars Read Less
This was my 63rd cruise, itinerary is usually my main focus and wanting to visit Cuba there was only a few ship offerings. I have always had very good experiences sailing RCL and despite the numerous negative reviews and the size of the ... Read More
This was my 63rd cruise, itinerary is usually my main focus and wanting to visit Cuba there was only a few ship offerings. I have always had very good experiences sailing RCL and despite the numerous negative reviews and the size of the “Empress” I decide to give it a try, lucky my sailing was the last Cuba sailing before the new travel restrictions were put into place. Having recently sailed the mega ships the boarding process could not have been any easier. Navigating the ship is fairly easy and the hub of activity is on decks 5 and 6. Even-tough this is a small ship I found lots to do as there are numerous activities throughout the day. In the evening there was two venues with music and the usual fill of activities to participate. There were a number of bars, but “Balleros” was my main hangout plus the music was very good. I ate in main dining room , windjammer and the only specialty restaurant Chops, all were very good to excellent. Staff and service throughout were amazing. Even tough this was a small ship I never felt any rocking throughout the voyage. I did encounter that sewage smell on mid deck 8, but it was occasional. My only complaint was the cabin(the worst in 63 cruises.. but more below).
Overall, the Empress is an underrated ship, it has much to offer, food, activities, staff and yes character. Read Less
I have cruised since 1975. This would be #23. It had been 10yrs since my last cruise. As a SENIOR I did not look for all the ship activities I would have looked for as my family was growing up; rock climbing flumes etc. This ship was ideal ... Read More
I have cruised since 1975. This would be #23. It had been 10yrs since my last cruise. As a SENIOR I did not look for all the ship activities I would have looked for as my family was growing up; rock climbing flumes etc. This ship was ideal for my return to cruising. I love the smaller ship with it's lack of long lines; finding a quite spot; not fighting for a seat etc.
Embarkation swift and easy. Parked adjacent to ship at 10:45 sitting in Garden Grill Buffet at 11:50. Like the washy washy hand sanitizing crew from the start. The focus on sanitary precaution well worth it. There were 3 food options 2 buffets plus pizza in rear of ship. Crew cleared area and checked on beverage refills. Food was plentiful and had many options for all tastes.
We were 4 woman sharing a balcony cabin; adequate storage. Within an hour we had established a smooth working system for 4 woman. Example in AM my Grand daughter got all of us coffee. I retreated to balcony as others showered; hit the wi-fi or just woke up. Speaking of wi-fi we took unlimited and my grand had service entire cruise to what's app family at home or her social contacts. Cabin steward immediately filled request for 2 robes, an addition chair for balcony, empty frig and keep plenty of coffee pods in stock. Room kept neat and clean.
We enjoyed 2 stage shows. Only con 1 show at 8. Should be at 9; race to see. Enjoyed White Hot deck party as spectator. Enough variety of entertainment for the various ages in our group.
We ate most of our meals in the restaurants; the Seven Seas being our favorite for it view and décor. I enjoyed the fact I could have a glass of wine each night. My family also enjoyed the drinks offered free of charge. They also took in and enjoyed games.
It is sad to say we were the last docking of the Sun in Havana. We took air conditioned bus with a guide who spoke perfect English. This was basically our only option due to traveling companion's. Classic cars stirred memories of my teen yrs This was the real reason I choose Sun. Havana is such a different port. I enjoyed all the architectural diversity. Since I love history I enjoyed the background info and highlights of Old Havana and the look of New Havana. There were areas that broke your heart and you could see the glory Havana was. I hope that this port will reopen sometime in future. It is thru inter action that people learn from each other. We had priority disembarking so we ate breakfast at 7, met our escort at 8, off ship by 8:20. Luggage picked up by red cap and in our car by 8:35. Home in Orlando area by 10;15 On drive home we all discussed our trip and how we would do it again Read Less
We chose this cruise because it was a good deal for the itinerary. Key West is one of our favorite ports and we had never been to Cuba. We knew the ship was older and we did see signs of wear. The cabin was small but we did not spend ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it was a good deal for the itinerary. Key West is one of our favorite ports and we had never been to Cuba. We knew the ship was older and we did see signs of wear. The cabin was small but we did not spend much time in it. We food was good. We ate in the dining room whenever we could. It was quieter than the Windjammer. We had the early seating in the dining room. Our waiter and assistant waitress were attentive. We arrived in Fort Lauderdale the day before the cruise so we were able to arrive at the port close to 11 a.m. Embarking was fast. We were in the Windjammer before noon. The first day was at sea. We took part in trivia and other daytime activities. There were enough activities to keep us busy all day. We did go to the shows every evening. They included a comedian, juggler, and the on board troupe. The crew members and staff we interacted with where all helpful and friendly. We explored Key West on our own. It is a very walk-able port. In Havanna, we booked a private six hour excursion. Because we were the only two people in the car, we were able to personalize the tour to include what we wanted to see. The second day we did a free walking food tour. Both excursions were very interesting and allowed us a good insight into the lives of the Cuban people. Disembarking was very easy and went fairly quickly. Read Less
This was my first cruise on NCL. I usually cruise Royal Caribbean or Celebrity. I was a little apprehensive when I booked this cruise since I've been on NCL. This was a 4 day cruise to Key West and Havana Cuba and left out of Port ... Read More
This was my first cruise on NCL. I usually cruise Royal Caribbean or Celebrity. I was a little apprehensive when I booked this cruise since I've been on NCL. This was a 4 day cruise to Key West and Havana Cuba and left out of Port Canaveral which is the closest port to us. My hubby wanted to go to Cuba so I booked it. The ship is smaller than the ones we are used to going on and everything seemed a narrow and tight. Some little things that were big pluses to me was the water pressure in the shower it's amazing! and the ac in room worked very well.
This ship's beverage package is was great too! Premium brands like Grey Goose and JW Black were included. And I loved not having to use my room key every time we got a drink. The downside is that bottled water is not included, however we bought a 6 pack of premium 1 liter bottles for 14 bucks which was well worth it as it lasted the entire cruise and then some. For dinner we enjoyed all the wine we wanted, the food was pretty good at both dining rooms and the buffet. No lobster night though, which I was hoping for. We really enjoyed the buffet at the Garden Café, the food was good and the service was great. The Maitre'D Carina was very friendly and pleasant. Always stopped to talk to us and made sure we had everything we needed. The only negative experience was the process to get tickets to disembark in Key West. Hopefully they will figure this out soon since many people were very upset about it. I would definitely return to ship when looking for a short cruise again. Read Less
Ship is a older ship but public areas were well kept. Some of the best service I have had in the past 3 or 4 cruises. Entertainment was excellent and really enjoyed Key West and Cuba. Dining options were great with great late night ... Read More
Ship is a older ship but public areas were well kept. Some of the best service I have had in the past 3 or 4 cruises. Entertainment was excellent and really enjoyed Key West and Cuba. Dining options were great with great late night snacks. Excellent Diamond Club and Dining staff. The older ships has more personality and the staff are more personable. Cuba was one of the best ports that I have visited. It was very clean and I felt really safe even at night. I loved the overnight option but plan to rest up before hand. We really enjoyed our day tour and also our night tour. Embarkation day was the only bad experience we had. Took us longer to check in than normal with very long lines. It does seem that Royal is using more contract workers at the pier than Royal Staff. All in All we had a excellent trip and would definitely visit Cuba again. Read Less
We chose this cruise to go with a group of friends.
The Ship: was nice for the most part. It was comfortable to be on. It generally handled the sea state pretty well. It was nice to not have to walk forever to get from one end to the ... Read More
We chose this cruise to go with a group of friends.
The Ship: was nice for the most part. It was comfortable to be on. It generally handled the sea state pretty well. It was nice to not have to walk forever to get from one end to the other. The age of the ship did show though in some public areas. We went on the All Access tour and saw many of the behind the scenes areas. In general, the ship looked well cared for. Controls looked somewhat dated but that's fine since they seemed to work well.
The Cabin: Here the disadvantage of an older ship shows. The cabin was small and had only a window. The general condition of the cabin was fine. The bathroom was tiny with a little shower tucked into a corner. You almost had to leave the door open to sit on the toilet. But the shower worked well and seemed to be in very good condition.
Dining: Hmmm... Hit and miss. Some of the food was awful. Prime rib was the right color but missed badly on texture and taste. Beef medallions were the same. They did not taste roasted. Lobster bisque was horrific. Chicken was good. Most desserts were quite good. Pork was good and fish was fine. Civiche seemed to be just a kind of shrimp cocktail. The food in the buffet was generally OK if but over cooked. All that said, it wouldn't stop me from taking the ship again.
Didn't pay any attention to the entertainment or activities.
Service: Excellent all around
Ports and Shore Excursions: Ports were good even if to almost seems 70% of the cruises I go in have stopped in Cozumel. Key West was good but the highlight of the cruise was the stop in Havana. The shore excursion of Old Havana was great. We got to see how Cubans actually live. Our tour guide was very open about conditions in Cuba and did not stray into politics or propaganda. I'd love to go back but, as Americans, we can't.
WiFi: Hit and miss. Some areas of the ship had great wifi but in the cabin it worked ok for 1 device and poorly for the other. Read Less
I continue to read negative reviews of this cruise and I’m left scratching my head. I guess each trip is what you make of it but MY experience on Armonia was excellent. The ship was spotless, classy, and not a spot of rust to be seen. ... Read More
I continue to read negative reviews of this cruise and I’m left scratching my head. I guess each trip is what you make of it but MY experience on Armonia was excellent. The ship was spotless, classy, and not a spot of rust to be seen. The crew was attentive and courteous and our cabin stewardess constantly kept the cabin clean. The food was the best that I have ever had on a cruise and the drinks (I had the Easy package which included drinks up to $6) were excellent. The itinerary was fantastic since it included two days in Havana. Cuba is a magical place with friendly people, old American cars, and beautiful Spanish architecture.
I believe that MSC has made a customer for life. I would not hesitate to book this same cruise again or any other MSC ship. Don’t believe the negative reviews and experience it for yourself! Read Less
We had an amazing cruise. I give a 5 star for everything. If I had listened to some of the reviews, I would have missed out on this amazing experience. We were the last cruise that was able to go to Cuba and I can express how fortunate we ... Read More
We had an amazing cruise. I give a 5 star for everything. If I had listened to some of the reviews, I would have missed out on this amazing experience. We were the last cruise that was able to go to Cuba and I can express how fortunate we were. We were given a really great room that had a window at the front, and a window at the side. There was a king and a pull down bed in the front room and a sofa bed in the other. The entertainment was top notch. Our teenagers insisted that we go to the shows each night (we didn't miss one). There were all good but our favorite was the Adam's family show. The food was amazing. Seriously, I think the pizza was the best I ever had. The gelato was amazing. We ate in the Marco polo dining room every night and the dining staff took great care of us. Our housekeeper kept our room spotless. If someone has a complaint about this ship, the food, the entertainment, the staff, or anything else, they really don't deserve to go on a cruise. What I liked most was that this was full of people from all over the world-who all went to see Cuba. Arriving in Havana was one of the most exciting experiences of my life (and I travel a lot) They had to translate into 5 different languages, and I like that. We made new friends from Australia and the Philippines. We enjoyed the pub quiz. Karaoke was fun too- the multi talented staff speak so many languages! I wish i had done the dance lessons that the entertainment staff hosted. We missed not having comedy, but you can't make it funny if you have to translate it so I didn't mind that there was no comedy. We did the Hemingway Tour in Havana, and it was so interesting. Our guide was terrific. We got to see outside of Havana, Hemingway's house, and the village where he fished and you do start to understand how poor the people are in Cuba so I am sad that cruises from the USA won't be going there any more. (if you ever get to go- bring money to be generous with! The average Cuban lives on $20 a month! And bring cat food for the street cats you will see, toiletries because people need it, toys for the kids, crayons, whatever- the people appreciate it!. We gave a young man a soccer ball that we brought with us. He was so happy to get one!). The ship may be a bit older but it is fine. I went on Norwegian epic on spring break and did not enjoy it any more than I enjoyed this cruise. It was different but also amazing (I have cruised on Carnival Paradise, Carnival out of Jacksonville, Norwegian Epic and Bahamas celebration, and I loved every cruise I have been on, but this was a particularly special experience. If you are spoiled and a difficult person, don't go on this cruise. The staff are too nice and you don't deserve it. But if you are an adventurous person who likes to meet people from different cultures, and you are a nice and easy going personality, then go! I nearly cancelled our trip because of some of the reviews, and I would have been so sorry if I had. One of our top 10 trips ever! Read Less
Service was great. Entertainment was okay. The ship was small but the largest that Royal can go to Cuba with. Wanted to experience Cuba and meet the people. Was not disappointed. Education is free through University but availability ... Read More
Service was great. Entertainment was okay. The ship was small but the largest that Royal can go to Cuba with. Wanted to experience Cuba and meet the people. Was not disappointed. Education is free through University but availability of jobs for a decent wage are slim. The teacher I talked to mentioned they earn about 20 CUCs a month. (Abut $20 in US money). He also mentioned he was not allowed to cruise or leave the island. I asked him about healthcare and he said it was free but they didn’t have medical supplies so it was usually not that helpful. The entertainment on the ship was okay but nothing fantastic. Five night cruise and only 1 really good show. The Royal website described the room as having a bed and couch but that was not the case. Ship was very old, I think 1992. Was dissainted because I bought gift certificates from AARP only to find ou they could only be used on new bookings. Carnival gift cards can be used for OBC. Read Less
EVERYONE with Royal Caribbean made us feel like we were so important to them and they would do anything within their power to accommodate our every need. The service, entertainment, and food was all excellent! We had a few meals in Chops ... Read More
EVERYONE with Royal Caribbean made us feel like we were so important to them and they would do anything within their power to accommodate our every need. The service, entertainment, and food was all excellent! We had a few meals in Chops Grill and they were good, but the food and service in the main dining room was so good, we probably will not spend the extra money next time. A larger pool would be nice, but that was not the goal of our trip or we would have booked a larger ship. We had three adults in an ocean-view cabin and had plenty of room. We purchased The Key and felt like the benefits were great compared to the cost. After a lot of research, I also found that most excursions were actually less expensive booking directly through Royal Caribbean, contrary to many review warnings. We loved the ports of Key West, Cuba, and Cozumel! Definitely agree with "small ship, HUGE heart". We did walk by a few small areas with a less-than-pleasant odor a few times, but I have never been in a venue accommodating over 2,000 total people where you couldn't find a few spots that were not exactly pleasant. If given the chance, I would do this exact trip again next week, no questions asked!!! Read Less
We chose this cruise because the itinerary included Cuba, which we wanted to visit. I most likely wouldn't have chosen this ship otherwise. That said, I don't get what all the complaints are about! I'm on my 20th Carnival ... Read More
We chose this cruise because the itinerary included Cuba, which we wanted to visit. I most likely wouldn't have chosen this ship otherwise. That said, I don't get what all the complaints are about! I'm on my 20th Carnival cruise so I've seen a lot of ships. It's true this one is smaller and doesn't have a few amenities like the Seaside Theatre but it still had plenty of other things you would find on other ships like Guy's Burgers, Sushi, Punchliner Comedy Club, mini-golf, Serenity deck, etc. It had a few very chill areas to relax on that you don't find on other ships too that I appreciated since the layout is different (in a good way). The smaller size meant fewer people which wasn't a bad thing either when it came to lines for food, port debarkation, etc.
The food was decent too. Perhaps not quite as good as some of the other ships but other reviews had me expecting trash and it was far from that lol. Cabins were like any other ship for the most part imo (we had an Oceanview). The entertainment was good as far as music and comedians go. There was actually a live Salsa band in one of the lounges and dance lessons on one of the sea days which was fun. The cruise director Erin was just as good as other ships as well, so there was plenty to do. Room steward, waitstaff, etc also all gave the same high level of service I always have on Carnival so not sure why some people had a bad experience there.
Bottom line, don't try to compare this ship to the Breeze or Vista. That would be like comparing Lake Michigan (which is indeed nice) to the Caribbean Sea (which is next level nice). The one thing I will caution is that final debarkation took a long time. There were only TWO customs agents that morning and there were probably about 2K people getting off. A few folks missed their flights so if you book a cruise to Cuba and have to fly to Miami be careful with how early your return flight leaves. Also, if you're looking for a tour in Havana go with Blexie. Much less expensive than Carnival's tours and far better. Rosio was the best! Read Less