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Sail Date: December 2014
My Dearest Husband and I have been on approximately 14 cruises since 2011. The Allure was not our favorite. In summary here are some of the pros and cons of our week. Pros: Royal Caribbean has the absolutely best coffee of any cruise ... Read More
My Dearest Husband and I have been on approximately 14 cruises since 2011. The Allure was not our favorite. In summary here are some of the pros and cons of our week. Pros: Royal Caribbean has the absolutely best coffee of any cruise line. There is something to be said about waking up and having a wonderful cup of coffee. Coffee has actually hampered my mornings on other cruise lines. The Aqua Shows and Ice Games and Ice Shows were wonderful. Chicago was a good production, although it is not my favorite Broadway show. Ma5ic was very good although I found the music a bit loud for my taste. Food was good, sometimes in the dining room in the evening it was very good. General comments: Broadwalk and Central Park are nice but are not a large as one would expect for them to be amazing. Cons: Guest Services: this crew has no idea what they are doing. A new manager started about 3 weeks ago so hopefully he can get them organized. I believe someone should write a training manual as you get all sorts of different answers depending who you speak with. There was always a line to speak to guest services, some times as long as 30 minutes. There is someone from guest services who goes around and asks if she/he can help but usually they can not. Also, they don't ask until you get to position #5 on the line. The crew also can not fix problems. They always stated they had to get back to us. Dining: The dining room was very disorganized for breakfast. I asked for cream after my coffee was already poured, the wait was 15 minutes. They have milk on the tables inside the creamers for coffee. It took about 12 minutes to place an order and about 20 minutes to get breakfast. Lunch in the dining room was smooth but it could be that we were there as soon as they opened. Service for dinner is good but our head waiter was useless. I booked this cruise just because I loved the idea of free restaurants. Well good luck getting in. Lines were extremely long. I even video taped several lines just to show management but didn't want to wait 1/2 hour in guest services to show the video. If you have "My Time Dining" the lines are a block long. I even had a crew member tell me: what do you expect with 6,300 people on board. OK Allure, I expect not to wait in line for over 20 minutes when I want to eat. Shows: ok, you book online before you go but get to the show 45 minutes early if you want a good seat. Library: nice but small room with a very poor selection of books. Most of the books were in foreign languages. First time a board a cruise that I did not borrow a book from the library. General Problem: You have to wait for everything..... Let's see: what did you do on your cruise: I woke up super early to be able to have breakfast without waiting in line (although, I usually enjoy a later breakfast). The rest of the day, I waited in line to see shows, eat and get concerns resolved in guest services. I am sure that others will not agree with my review. However, for us, we decided against ever going on a Mega ship again. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
In a Nutshell: The elegant MS Nieuw Amsterdam is a ship designed for this decade. It reflects how cruise ships have evolved from a medium of transportation to a hospitality vessel. The seven day Eastern Caribbean “holiday” cruise ... Read More
In a Nutshell: The elegant MS Nieuw Amsterdam is a ship designed for this decade. It reflects how cruise ships have evolved from a medium of transportation to a hospitality vessel. The seven day Eastern Caribbean “holiday” cruise exceeded expectations. HAL is working hard to keep up with the competition, trying to appeal to the budget cruiser who is looking for a bargain. The food in the main dining room and specialty restaurants is of high quality. Most personnel is professional and courteous. HAL has focused in bringing aboard top-notch musicians. The company can make some minor improvements. Food servers at the Lido and the Tamarind are subpar compared to other restaurants. Bartenders across the ship – receive an automatic 15% tip on every purchase – are rude and inefficient (and especially at the Lido). And on a full ship, personnel can be overstretched. Guests can see them running around and working hard. But there is only so much their employees can do at one time. It seems that they don’t have enough employees in this big ship, and as a result, quality suffers at times. Overall, sailing the MS Niuew Amsterdam is a vacation worth living. A ship for these times, made for different types of guests who want to be entertained and want to enjoy the pristine waters of the Caribbean (in this cruise). With a few improvements in customer service HAL could easily surpass other similar cruise companies within their category. Embarkation at Port Everglades Smooth as Caribbean waters. Embarkation went fine at 1:30 p.m. Not a long line and there were enough staffers to check in guests. Although, there are some negative reviews of Port Everglades, per my experience this is much better than other more crowded ports. The Ship: The 2100 plus passengers’ M.S. Nieuw Amsterdam is impressive in every sense. It was designed to be a cruise for a targeted public within the Carnival Corp. line. It is obvious that the corporation wants to focus their different brandings to reach several markets. Carnival, to start with, is for families and a younger crowd. Seaborn, on the other side of the spectrum, is geared towards more selected and wealthier customers. Then it is HAL. With the Nieuw Amsterdam, the corporation is trying to elevate the cruise experience to be more “luxurious,” but still affordable. They seem to want to eliminate the stigma of a cruise line for an older crowd and welcome more 30s-50s year’s old customers with above the average education and income – a demographic group that tends to spend more on vacations. This ship hits the target. The ship has more verandahs compared with other similar vessels. The restaurants, part of their “excellence” program, are elegant and offer an international array of food (Asian, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern...etc…) This is pretty much what you could find in a posh neighborhood in Manhattan, San Francisco, LA or Washington, DC. The entertainment venues include anything from BB King’s Blues Show to a classical music bar. Passengers can also find some peace away from the crowds in the Explorations Café and the Crow’s Nest on the 11th floor. Once again, these cafes are similar to an upscale Starbucks (if there is such) surrounded by computers and books. The ship is elegantly decorated to “imitate” a Manhattan from the 50s or 60s. The Manhattan room, their main restaurant, is red and silver – a mixture of a modern type of art deco. Throughout the ship guests can find photos of New York City and of older ships, when HAL was actually owned and operated by the Dutch. Hygiene was a top priority for HAL during the trip (as it should be). There were hand sanitizer dispensers in several key spots across the ship. The Lido area was cleaner compared to other ships from the same corporation. However, some of the public restrooms (especially restrooms for the handicap) were not cleaned frequently enough. At least one time one of these restrooms had a strong odor that could be felt from the hallway. The stateroom (verandah, see below) was excellent. Not only was spacious, but the newly designed Neiuw Amsterdam maximizes the space. This ship has, perhaps, one of the best cost/benefit when it comes to staterooms. For those first time cruisers, the Lido is the Lido. Guess what? The pool and the main informal restaurant are here. Yes, this is where everything happens, where everyone meets and where there is noise at all times. Thus, this Lido is not better than your Carnival or Royal Caribbean experience in the sense that guests might need to stand in line to get some buffet food and won’t be able to lunch in silence. But the adult only pool does make a difference for those who are in search of calmer waters. This pool is big enough to fit enough people at once. Before getting excited with the thought of getting your own deck chair, on full cruises there is the usual problem of overcrowding, albeit there were always regular chairs available. Another positive point is that the adult only Lido has less disruptions than other ships’ pools. During this cruise a metal drum was the staple. Noise control was a plus, for those travelers who don’t want to be disturbed by MTV – Spring Break type contests. The main problem at the Lido were the employees serving the buffet and at the bar (more below). If you are looking into sliding into a water toboggan, climbing a rock, and an MTV like party, then this ship might not be the best bet (disclaimer, I previously cruised in Carnival and NCL, and after my experience, I will never step in those again.) But if you are looking into a more relaxing and upscale experience, with cafes, great food and a variety of talented musicians, then the Nieuw Amsterdam has it all. Fellow Passengers In case you were wondering, I am an urban professional in my 30s and I traveled without any children. With that said, this HAL Eastern Caribbean cruise was, perhaps, one of the most diverse I have ever been at. Every single demographic group was represented in this cruise. There were many families, some with children, and others with teenagers. You could find passengers from Asia, Europe and Latin America, although most fellow cruisers were Americans. The passengers’ age varied from 5 years olds to 80 years old, but the average was between 30s and early 50s. Most passengers seemed to be working professionals (and in the case of the international passengers, more wealthy than the average). In contrast to other cruise ships departing from a U.S. port, the diversity in this cruise made it exceptional. The fact that there were so many people from different backgrounds helped to improve the cruising experience, making it more interesting and “international.” Smokers were not a problem in this cruise (I expected worst judging from other reviewers), but there were some people smoking in the Lido. I agree with other cruisers that HAL should restrict smoking to certain areas away from other passengers (if they want to compete with, say Celebrity, they should start from here). Service Service first and above port excursions. Why? Because passengers spent most of their time dealing with cruises’ employees than in the port of call. The service was the difference in this HAL cruise – from the best in the industry to the worst. I would book again my next cruise on HAL because of the service and I would not cruise again with HAL because of the service. The main problem is that service is not standard in all decks and restaurants. There are some places where service excels all expectations and others where it is very disappointing. Here are some examples: The Manhattan Room (aka. main dining room) and the Pinnacle Room (also Le Cirque) both located in the second and third floors offered the best service. All the waiters were professional, gentle and courteous at all times. Even when they had to handle several tables at the same time, they personally took care of all customers. Both servers who handled my table during dinner were excellent to say the least. They were very well trained, and they could easily work in a top restaurant in Paris or Manhattan. Service during breakfast and lunch at the Manhattan Room was very good, depending on who served you. But overall they were all great. Most of the stewardess who tended the staterooms were very efficient and courteous. My impression is that they always took care of all passengers. My stateroom was cleaned twice per day to perfection. Every time I encountered a stewardess in the hallway, he/she smiled back and greeted me. Excellent training from HAL. However, the big disappointment comes from the Lido servers and bartenders, and most of the bartenders in the ship. I cannot affirm there is a direct correlation with the 15% tip that the company forcefully charges each passenger for every drink and the bad service. But I can assure that most bartenders (again especially in the Lido) are rude. While waiters in the Manhattan Room are nice and always willing to serve you, bartenders and buffet servers at the Lido seemed to hate their jobs. At one point a bartender in their private island (Half Moon Cay) who worked at the cruise, served me two drinks instead of one and started arguing and yelling. Not a customer friendly attitude, especially in the hospitality industry. In addition, while the food at the Tamarind Asian restaurant was superb (see below), the service was subpar. The waiters/waitresses were not to the level of the other restaurants. The wine specialist won the price for the worst service ever in a cruise. This lady not only insulted my family by making discriminatory jokes, she was extremely rude. I had to communicate these issues to the ship’s customer service manager, who handled the complaint very well, taking immediate action by notifying all other managers. Nevertheless, I recommend that HAL changes the practice of charging 15% tip and making it a voluntary contribution. HAL should also enhance oversight of their bartenders and retrain them or rehire other bartenders. Their attitude is not only unfair with the customers, but also with their colleagues in other restaurants who work so hard to make a good impression. Overall, the ship’s mostly Indonesian crew was exceptional. HAL should make more to retain the good employees, giving them additional incentives for their good service. Also, the mostly Dutch officers and managers were excellent. They were active taking care of every single detail to make of this trip a very pleasant one. Food Not all food is created equal. Not at least in the Nieuw Amsterdam. Not even in the Manhattan Room, where the daily menus varies. The food in the Manhattan Room could be excellent to average, all in the same menu. There are days when the menu presents such a variety of gourmet food that it is difficult to pick one item. There are other days when there is excellent food and mediocre food at once. For instance, you can get lamb with mint sauce (top of the line) or a mediocre roast beef in the menu. The Christmas menu was delicious, worth every single bite. The Manhattan Room, in short, serves high quality food. Open seating at the Manhattan Room could present an inconvenience to those with fix dinner times. Apparently, there are nights when the restaurant is totally full, stretching out the limited personnel available. This results in higher waiting times to get the food and to eat. The problem are not the hard working servers who do everything they can to attend their guests. It is the lack of personnel during the busiest times. HAL can make adjustments to train and transfer personnel from less busy restaurants (dinner at the Lido) to take care of open seating at the Manhattan Room. Or they could just hire more people to rotate in the ship. Le Cirque is something else. Offered once in every cruise at the Pinnacle Room, cooks work extensively to imitate the cuisine from the famous New York French restaurant. The price, at $50 per person, is too high for the food they serve. This would be a better experience if they lower the price to match the quality (although close to Le Cirque, it is not Le Cirque). I never tried the Canaletto Italian restaurant. But the fact that it is within the Lido, it is not a good sign. A reviewer here complained about having formal dinner with people walking around with swimsuits. I agree. The Lido food is the Lido food. That means that it is buffet food. Good and tasty buffet food, but that that’s it. Also, as I remarked above, the servers are not in their best mood. The Dive, serves excellent burgers, fries and hot dogs. The pizza is your average cruise pizza (no gourmet). A good alternative option is to eat lunch at the Manhattan Room, pay $10 for the Pinnacle, or a free lunch at the Tamarind, which is a paid restaurant in the evening (best secret in the cruise). The Tamarind food is incredible. This is, without any doubt, one – if not – of the best Pan-Asian restaurants in cruise industry. The wantons are more than delicious. The only problem is the service – again—from average waiters, to rude wine specialists to a grouchy chef (a great but uncharismatic cook). Breakfast delivered to the stateroom is a perk that is unmatched anywhere else. HAL elevates the cruising experience with this service. People who are looking into buying a cruise should look into the unique breakfast service. Nothing better that eating breakfast with an ocean view. Mix drinks are horrible. Avoid them at all costs. For a little less than $7 you get a sugary drink without much alcohol. It seems that bartenders around the globe are in short supply, because HAL cannot find the right people. It’d be even acceptable if they were only rude, but they cannot prepare a Mojito at all. This is just not right, but it’s fixable (tip for HAL recruiters: search in bartending schools). Ports of Call This seven day Eastern Caribbean cruise had the following ports of call: Grand Turk: The best was Governors Beach, just a short walk from the cruise port. The worst, the taxi service. It is very expensive. Avoid going to downtown, not worth the expense. While there are tours operators to take tourists, it is recommended to check the ship’s excursion. San Juan, PR: The Old San Juan is worth walking. It is very small (in 2-3hrs people can see the entire old city). San Juan has, unfortunately, turned to a “cruise” tourist economy, meaning that there are less business for locals and more small shops selling souvenirs. For a real experience take a cab to La Placita de Santurce and dine in El Condado beach. St. Thomas, VI: The stay here is too short to go to St. John’s VI National Park (Turks Bay), but just enough to go to crowded, but beautiful Magens Bay or Linquist Beach (just be careful of unreliable and expensive taxi cabs). Half-Moon-Cay (Private Island): The disembarkation to the tender is very organized (like every single activity and movement in the ship). The private island is beautiful, like a postcard. The beach is outstanding. But with 3,000 plus people visiting (from two ships) it gets very crowded. The staff at the Captain Morgan Bar is extremely rude (they are the same people who bartend at the Lido). The BBQ is very crowded as well and it is served by the same servers at the Manhattan Room who try their best, but again seemed to be understaffed (try to eat earlier, rather than later). Entertainment HAL is trying to program activities that are more inclusive. From wine tasting to beer tasting, metal drum classes, to cooking exhibition and family activities, HAL’s staff does everything within their reach to keep their guests busy. On the downside they can always be “more creative.” Here are some of the shows they offer: BB King Blues’ Club: Very talented musicians. They play everything from Santana to Matchbox 20 to Motown classics. That is everything, but blues. If you expect a trip to the Mississippi river, then think about it twice. But the band is excellent. They know how to animate the public. At the end of their performance everyone is standing and dancing. If they played more blues (and honor their name), it would be much better. Expect to dance those classics until late at night. Classical music players: Both musicians were good, but not really good. For any classical music lover, this is a far cry from a good string-piano duo. They try hard, there are not just good enough. Beer tasting: What a joke! Miller Light and Blue Moon? An insult to any beer lover. Why they don’t bring some good Belgians, German lagers, British Ales, and American IPA’s. They can do much better. Sports: While they cruise ship has a basketball and a mini-tennis courts, the staff could do more to organize tournaments for different ages and groups. Cuisine Exhibitions: It is more like watching Food TV while munching a small appetizer. Cero interaction. What about smaller classes where guests interact with the chefs? Maybe selling a package with a cooking class and a dinner at the Tamarind. There is goes….more imagination is needed to create more engaging activities. Disembarkation Disembarkation was organized and smooth. This is the product of the methodological organization that is notable throughout the cruise. Cruise planers think of every single detail. Port Everglades do not have enough CBP officers to handle large ships as the Neiuw Amsterdam (2,000 plus passengers). Disembarkation times could improve with more CBP officers processing passengers. Outside the terminal ground transportation can be messy with several ships arriving at the same time and taxi drivers seizing the moment by charging exorbitant fees for short trips. An airport transfer might be ideal for some people. Conclusion The 7 day Western Caribbean holiday cruise aboard the Nieuw Amsterdam is a bargain for what it has to offer. HAL can make some adjustments (such as improving customer service, especially their security personnel, bar personnel, and service at the Tamarind) and could ramp up its entertainment activities. HAL managers might need to check how they can maximize their limited personnel to make sure that they can expand their operations more efficiency in order to attend all customers even in the busiest times. The elegant ship, beautiful selected Caribbean beaches, the food and the overall experience, makes of this trip an unforgettable vacation. The only regret was not being able to stay in the ship longer for their 14 day Eastern-Western Caribbean cruise. I’ll be looking forward to sail with them again, and I do hope that next time, HAL improves their customer service at all levels. Total perfection is unachievable, but with a few adjustments, HAL’s Nieuw Amsterdam 7 day Caribbean cruise can be as close as it can get to a perfect vacation.   Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
this is the second year that I've been fortunate enough to spend the holidays on the QM2. My mother does not like to fly to get on a cruise ship so we are limited to ships that sail out of New York in the winter. Our cruise was ... Read More
this is the second year that I've been fortunate enough to spend the holidays on the QM2. My mother does not like to fly to get on a cruise ship so we are limited to ships that sail out of New York in the winter. Our cruise was relaxed and low key, plenty to do if one wishes. The entertainment was a mixed bag. I particularly enjoyed a group of soul/swing/Motown singers~the Flywrights~who were terrific~and the juggler. Beyond that the acts were just OK. The enrichment speakers were excellent, in particular, Dr. Jon Bailey, who presented four fabulous lectures analyzing Broadway musicals and Angela Schneider who spoke about different aspects of the Caribbean,including the devastating effects of the sugar trade. Having Ms. Schneider speak was important, I felt, giving travelers a more nuanced understanding of the history of the islands they'd be visiting beyond shopping and beaches. I enjoyed the food for the most part, especially considering the number of people they feed around the clock. I'm a pescetarian, and there were always plenty of options beyond meat and poultry dishes. That said I am not a picky eater and simply feel blessed when someone else is doing the cooking. The coffee leaves something to be desired. I love the Brits but they just don't know how to make good coffee. High tea in The Queens Room is a lovely indulgence. I'm already having scone withdrawal. The pools on the QM2 are a tad odd, probably because it's an ocean liner, not a cruise ship. For an older or less mobile person, they are very hard to get in and out of, having only ladders. I did indulge in a full pass to the aqua therapy center and used it to full advantage. It's not very large and it definitely needs some updating but I enjoyed the hydrotherapy pool, two saunas and steam room. We had cabins with protected balconies which I've heard some folks don't like because they "can't lie in bed and look at the ocean" pffft, get your butt up and quit complaining. Worked fine for us and our steward very promptly opened the partition so that my mother and I could go back and forth between our cabins on the balcony. The ports were great! St.Thomas which is well, St. Thomas. I don't bother, I just take a ferry over to St John for a much better USVI experience. Dominica, which I've visited before, and just love. They are stepping up their emphasis on eco-tourism and it's really a lovely island. St. Lucia was new to me and I visited the rainforest and did an aerial tram ride and a short hike. Gorgeous. Next on to Barbados which I'm lukewarm on. At the last minute I joined a snorkeling with turtles excursion which was rather lame, we did see plenty of turtles but also saw way too many people. The last port was St. Kitts which I also love, I did a great sail and snorkel excursion. Most snorkeling excursions don't allow enough time in the water for me but this one was long enough I was just starting to get cold when they blew the "come back" signal. Embarkation and disembarkation went very smoothly, plenty of porters, and as I was using a Cunard transfer to La Guardia, was off the ship very early. NO line at customs. All in all, it was delightful. I spent many hours in a chaise lounge reading and gazing at the ocean, Some folks might want more from a cruise but if relaxing is what you are after, the QM2 provides. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
This ship was a disappointment from the first step on board. The staff was uninterested and at times even rude. The ship itself was dirty, handrails and counters were sticky and stained. Guest services had old poinsettia plants, with ... Read More
This ship was a disappointment from the first step on board. The staff was uninterested and at times even rude. The ship itself was dirty, handrails and counters were sticky and stained. Guest services had old poinsettia plants, with leaves falling off. It was like no one cared. The spa staff was unfriendly. I walked in and tried to get some information and no one said anything, they just looked and me and went on working. Staff in the main dining room did their best, but the food was hopeless. Often served cold, undercooked, with poor cuts of meat. Our cabin attendant was a kind man who worked hard, but I felt he was rare on this disaster ship. It should be renovated completely. It's a mess! Most of the staff needs lessons in customer service. I would not recommend this ship to anyone. Seven nights on this cruise was too long. I've never said this about a holiday, but I couldn't wait to get off this ship. One thing I witnessed, was a man in the 5th floor promenade (ice cream counter) flirting with young girls. He was probably in his 40's and I heard one of the girls say to him, they were almost 18. Don't know his name but he was a bald Caucasian man about 5'7" and had a Russian (I think) accent. He usually wore a black baseball cap and red shirt. My daughter was with me and she thought his behavior was disgusting. I found staff to be rude over and over again. Most of them don't smile and aren't interested in being helpful. It's like a really disconnect in the training of staff. There was an exception worth mentioning though and that is "Samantha Telesford"a (I hope I have her name right). She is a gem! Personable, professional and a lovely lady, with a sense of humor. I have worked the in customer service industry and this ship falls short. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
We are frequent cruisers on Princess. We found the new Royal to be a beautiful ship. The best improvements from other Princess ships are: 1) Horizon Court and Horizon Bistro were so well laid out that it never seemed crowded. It was easy ... Read More
We are frequent cruisers on Princess. We found the new Royal to be a beautiful ship. The best improvements from other Princess ships are: 1) Horizon Court and Horizon Bistro were so well laid out that it never seemed crowded. It was easy to miss a selection of the food offerings, however, as there were several small areas with different offerings. We liked the relaxing ambience of the dinning area especially in the Horizon Bistro. 2) The Princess Theater - easy to see from any of the seats and we were always able to find a seat within 10 minutes of show time. We usually went to the late show. The vast majority of the dancing was in the atrium. The hard marble floor doesn't compare to a nice wooden dance floor. We miss the pre-dinner and/or pre-show dancing in the Wheelhouse Bar of Explorer's lounge. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
We love cruising and Celebrity is our favorite cruise line. We were on the Eastern Caribbean 7 day cruise that departed on Sunday, December 7, 2014. This cruise, with the exception of one aspect, did not disappoint. Pros: The ship is ... Read More
We love cruising and Celebrity is our favorite cruise line. We were on the Eastern Caribbean 7 day cruise that departed on Sunday, December 7, 2014. This cruise, with the exception of one aspect, did not disappoint. Pros: The ship is beautiful. The only time it felt crowded was when we were in the food areas - main dining room and the buffet area. There are many nice lounges and seating areas that are beautiful and peaceful. We really enjoyed the guitarist Jonny Java - he was fantastic! We loved our stateroom - Concierge level on deck 11. It was spacious and quiet. The chairs on our balcony were comfortable. Food was great - never had a bad meal. We did not eat in any of the specialty restaurants because we had an awesome group at our table for dinner and we did not want to miss out on their company! We are Select members of the Captains Club and we enjoyed the events that were held for the Captains Club - a wine tasting, two cocktail parties, and a backstage tour. Cons: Fortunately we have cruised before but if we had not cruised before and this was either our first cruise or our first with Celebrity it would have left a bad taste. The only downside to this particular cruise is something that we have never experienced before on any of our many, many, many cruises. Really hard to generalize but overall the other passengers on this cruise were an incredibly obnoxious, poorly behaved group. The kicker.....the worst behavior we routinely witnessed was from the large population of retired senior citizens traveling on this particular cruise! A few examples: Experienced the "F" bomb being directed at fellow passengers in the buffet line on multiple occasions - once toward my husband. Witnessed seriously rude & disrespectful behavior directed at the performers in the comedy show. The last day of the cruise they put out a very nice buffet for lunch - it is called the Extravaganza (or something like that) - it was total mayhem & chaos because the passengers behaved like a pack of entitled starved animals. Very unappetizing so we left. We had been on a Celebrity cruise the year prior during spring break. There were 500 college aged spring breakers on that cruise and the behavior was much better - more polite & better behaved than the cruise we just took. The spring breakers really added to the enjoyment and fun of that cruise. On this cruise the large population of abysmally behaved senior citizens detracted from the fun & enjoyment of the trip. My one take away from this experience....hell will freeze over before I will ever entertain the idea of living in one of those 55+ retirement communities in Florida! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
I'd recommend this week long cruise, both for value and content. There is something for everyone here. I'm not going to bore you with information that can be found on the mycubacruise.com website; the information there is ... Read More
I'd recommend this week long cruise, both for value and content. There is something for everyone here. I'm not going to bore you with information that can be found on the mycubacruise.com website; the information there is generally accurate. I see there is one gentleman who seems to have been on the same cruise as us who likened the trip to the famous Brit TV series 'Fawlty Towers'. This is really very unfair; while there were significant organisational issues to be sorted as regards excursions off the ship this was the first tour of Cuba this season so to grant a little slack is reasonable. We booked this trip about six weeks before the departure date of 19th December and the process was quite strait forward. It was done over the phone to the company's office in Calgary, Alberta, as this is a Canadian company. We dealt with a lady called Jane who was both friendly and efficient. Book as early as you can or you may not get the cabin type you want (as happened to us). Having said that the cabin we actually got was quite adequate for our needs, cabin number 7228 (see website: cabin layout). Being on the starboard side (right) is an advantage as the cruise proceeds clockwise around the island. On the port side there are excellent views...of the sea! The ship herself, the Louis Cristal, one of two this company owns, is some 155 meters long, is 34 years old and can carry 1,200 passenger plus some 350 crew. This makes her quite small by modern standards but a lot friendlier. You get to know a lot of passengers & crew by the end of the week. A further advantage of being quite small is her ability to go where others are unable to...like the tiny port of Antilla, the first call after Havana. You can join the ship in either Havana or Montego Bay in Jamaica. We started in Mo Bay and this was the first time the ship had passed this way this season as it had come across the Atlantic from Piraeus via various stops on the way, the last being St. Lucia. Joining was quite easy but there were only some hundred joiners over the four hour boarding period so there were only a couple of other families in immigration at the time. We were shown to our cabin via reception where there is a little form filling for Cuban tourist cards, credit card deposit, and so on. Incidentally, you don't need to get a visa in advance, a point not covered at all well in the information available on line. I had to call and ask several times as if you look on your local Cuban Embassy website it will say you need to get a visa before you leave your country of residence; not true in this case as it is all done on board the ship if you are joining in Mo Bay. Presumably you will need one if joining in Havana. Our cabin (or stateroom as the marketing department likes to call it) was quite adequate. There is adequate storage for everything if you don't go too crazy. Bags the size of your average overhead stowage wheelie bag will go under the bed which is a great help. There is a good 30 inch LG TV with a truly dreadful selection of four channels with mostly advertising (although it does have all the latest connection facilities for running your own media if you have the correct cables), adequately comfortable beds, a good shower (with shower gel & shampoo dispensers), a small refrigerator and enough seating space to relax away from the bed. Both telephone & internet are available on board via satellite. Nothing is free of course but both Skype & Viber are disabled which I find both cynical and annoying. You can purchase one hour of internet for $CAD12, usable over period of 8 days. It is up to you to keep track of your usage time as there is no time base visible. There are larger packages available. It was actually very slow when the system was working at all and it was constantly saturated although the management were well aware of the problems. Heaven knows what it would be like with a full passenger load! Best just to shut yourself away for the week and forget the rest of the world. Shipboard safety & security is taken seriously and you have to attend to your emergency 'muster station' with your life jacket when told before the ship sails. All activity on the ship is controlled via your 'ship pass', basically your room key with various additional functions. Now, excursions from the ship. See the website for details of what is on offer. You can either go the conventional route and tag along on these tours or with a bit of planning you can have a great time away from the crowds. A good & comprehensive guide book of Cuba is invaluable. Cienfuego, the first stop out of Mo Bay, is a good example of what i am talking about unless you particularly want to go to the very interesting botanical gardens outside the town or take the long drive to Trinidad. Looking around the town is easily done on your own on foot at a saving of some $CAD 50 per person. The same goes for Havana where you can walk from the dock to the Capitolo in fifteen minutes and get on the open topped double decker at a cost of about $CAD5 per person for unlimited use for the day. On a stop at the small port of Antilla on the Bahia De Nipe we hired a 1952 Ford at a cost of about $CAD80 for some five hours (without bargaining!) and visited two archeological museums in the area. If you want to cut yourself out of the crowd it is easy to do so at any point on this cruise, often at considerable saving, but of course you do not have the security of an organised tour. On the last cruise that I went on some 15 years ago tipping at the end of the cruise was a real nightmare. Who to tip...and how much? And what about all the unseen staff in the background? What happens on this cruise is that there is voluntary $CAD10 per person per day added to your account at the end of the cruise which goes into a central fund for everyone which seems a lot fairer. As always it is as well to check your account when it arrives on the morning of your arrival. The level of personal service I would say is equivalent to a four star hotel...and I've been staying in four & five star hotels for the last 40 years!. On the last night we dined at the best restaurant on the ship, the Alberta Prime, paying a $CAD35 per person extra; I would certainly recommend giving this a try. It made the final evening on the cruise really special.   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
This was my first sailing with Royal Caribbean and compared to Carnival this ship lacked a few things but over all it was a good time. We had the my time dinning option which given the chance i will not do again. I like the consistency of ... Read More
This was my first sailing with Royal Caribbean and compared to Carnival this ship lacked a few things but over all it was a good time. We had the my time dinning option which given the chance i will not do again. I like the consistency of the same waiter every night they get to know you and your needs are met very quickly. Having a different server each night they do not have the personal time with you i would like i felt very rushed at times because they had so many other diners to attend to. We did not get to see any of the shows because we were always at dinner and they only had 1 a night i did not like that at all. As for on board activities i felt they were non existent as well. Especially on days at sea they did not have anything going on . I will say that the food was delicious and the on shore excursions we did were the highlight of the trip. The port of Tampa is by far one of the easiest ports to get in and out of and the porters were very helpful with getting our bags to and from the ship. Over all if i had never gone on any other cruise i would have thought this was fantastic but i had 5 other carnival cruises to compare with so i found it a tad disappointing. The ship size was good not to crowded but the room size and the lack of activities left me wanting more. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
First, I would like to explain I am an easy going, very happy indiviiual...especially while on vacation. Nothing can really get me down, what is not to like while on vacation...!! That said, I also am an avid cruiser, once yearly on ... Read More
First, I would like to explain I am an easy going, very happy indiviiual...especially while on vacation. Nothing can really get me down, what is not to like while on vacation...!! That said, I also am an avid cruiser, once yearly on average...and last year we did the NCL Epic and we were as usual happy, to just be on vacation.now for the NCL Getaway....the NCL getaway was the worst cruise I have ever experienced ! The staff was very unattentive, the ship was unclean, the food was unusually awful, I was very surprised that it was this way...I never complain, So I did not complain while on.the ship ..I just rolled with the punches..but, I did not like this cruise! The layout for the ship is choppy, but I had an issue with the cleanliness of the ship mostly. Cups,and plates sat out for hours by the pool, the public area restrooms had no toilet paper on more than one occasion. This is very unusual for cruises I have been on. Also my son was very excited about the water slide ( the drop one) he watched u tube for weeks before hand, so it was a bit of a surprise that you have to be 100 lbs to go on...it never said that ANYWHERE! He was really disappointed. It just was very underwhelming. I can not put the blame on one thing, it was as a whole a very underrated experience. I just wish I could say it was better. On the plus side , We love the shows. And the seal lion swim( excursion) is the most awesome thing ever! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
After having taken previous HAL cruises, I looked forward to the Eastern Caribbean aboard the Westerdam. I was very disappointed. The HAL standards have gone down hill. The ship was very attractive, and clean, but HAL has cut corners in ... Read More
After having taken previous HAL cruises, I looked forward to the Eastern Caribbean aboard the Westerdam. I was very disappointed. The HAL standards have gone down hill. The ship was very attractive, and clean, but HAL has cut corners in every department. The ship was understaffed. It was difficult to get service for anything. The food was bland, boring, and limited. The casino was so tight that no one was winning anything at slots or tables. Very disappointing cruiise. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
What a beautiful ship. That is the last good thing I will say about this trip, except for the pizza and the shows. We got to the Miami Terminal and the terminal was freezing cold. We got onto the ship at about noon but our rooms were not ... Read More
What a beautiful ship. That is the last good thing I will say about this trip, except for the pizza and the shows. We got to the Miami Terminal and the terminal was freezing cold. We got onto the ship at about noon but our rooms were not ready until 3 PM. We went up to the buffet for lunch. We were with 3 other couples. All to food was cold. The selection was poor and the quality was fair at best. We didn't set sail until after 7 PM. Our first night in the dining room was a disaster. They put 8 people at a table for 6. The table was right against the pole in the dining room so there was no room. Our balcony room had an enlarged but there was no lounge chairs so we could lie out and relax. Our first two days at sea we could not find chairs by the pool. 4500 passengers but no place to sit out. People left towels on the chairs for hours with no one there. The staff did nothing to help. Second night dining was actually worse than the first. They moved us to a different table but the waiter dissappeared and the asst. waiter was taking care of tables on the other side of the dining room. over 2 1/2 hours later we finally finished dinner. Breakfast food was always cold and they didn't do omelets. New Years Eve they had 4500 people at the pool and again not enough tables or chairs. The worst happened in our cabin. The cabin steward changed our blankets and sheets one night to dirty ones from somewhere. We called down to reception for 25 minutes and no answer. We finally got someone to change all the sheets and blankets at midnight. The pizza was great and the entertainment was good most nights but the production shows were duplicates of other nights with different themes. If not for the fact that we were traveling with 6 friends, which made everything else go away, this cruise would have been a disaster. MSC wants to make a presence in the US. They do not cater to American tastes and American customs. They had better change their attitude. Again if not for our friends this vacation would have been the cruise from HELL.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2014
My family just returned from a weeklong vacation on the Getaway. We are experienced cruisers, with each of us taking over 25 cruises over the past 15 years on Royal Caribbean, Princess and even Carnival, and we all agree that this cruise ... Read More
My family just returned from a weeklong vacation on the Getaway. We are experienced cruisers, with each of us taking over 25 cruises over the past 15 years on Royal Caribbean, Princess and even Carnival, and we all agree that this cruise was by far the WORST cruise vacation we have ever had to endure. The food was POOR and there was no variety. The entertainment was not entertaining, the security on the boat was lacking and the staff seemed totally unprepared to handle the over 1700 youth on board as well as the large influx of overall passenger count. There were multiple security issues, which when we went to discuss with the appropriate staff, were delayed over an hour to speak with them. All that, on top of the continually DRUNK and OBNOXIOUS NCL sales employee on vacation, who stated that he was there to CHANGE THINGS for the better As cigarette smokers, we are sensitive to the non smoker, but being placed in either a CAGE on the pool deck or an area with only 8 seats on deck 8 were embarrassing and humiliating. There was NO VARIETY of edible or palatable food in any of the FREE dining areas. As much as we enjoy a cut of Prime Rib, having that as a featured meal on 4 occasions is not acceptable. On top of it all was the endless loop of Christmas music without variety for the entire 7 day voyage. Passengers were leaving the ship mid-trip to escape the poor service, poor food and entertainment. As we cruise several times yearly, NCL does a great job attracting the first time cruiser. They will not complain because they do not know any better. AS for the repeat cruiser, we will gladly spend our money elsewhere. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
Just prior to the cruise date we were sent an email stating the "staggered" check in times that Celebrity would like you to use. I say disregard them as their shore side staff are excellent and checking in/boarding was the ... Read More
Just prior to the cruise date we were sent an email stating the "staggered" check in times that Celebrity would like you to use. I say disregard them as their shore side staff are excellent and checking in/boarding was the smoothest I've seen in ages. Each Captains Club category had its own line and this helped immensely. We were welcomed aboard with champagne and there is a "specialty dining" booking table set up just after you enter the lobby. If you are going to use this feature, I'd recommend booking it right away as they fill up fast with the most preferable timings. That said, if you wait you can always book later in the trip as many tables had cancelled and were empty during our dining periods which were between 7-8 pm (complimentary to late seating). Many cruise critic members had problems signing up for the "Cruise Critic Social", so we arranged to meet at the deck 15 bar for the sail away to "meet and greet" and watch the Miami skyline disappear behind us. The problem was resolved when a member took it upon herself to collect all the names and submitted them to the service desk onboard and everything went nicely during our official "Meet and Greet. While exploring the ship during the first day, I noticed that "Michaels" was reserved for "Members Only"....what???? This was the nice quiet bar that we used to enjoy for time away from the hustle and bustle of the other bars and you could actually hear the person across from you talk. Well, apparently this is now reserved for "Suites Only" with drinks included and will eventually have dining facilities in it as well for those sailing in Suites. If you can book a sailing under the 1-2-3-go program...DO IT!!! and spend the extra $80 (the price of 1 drink per day) to upgrade to the premium drink package. You won't get much for an $8 drink limit, but with the premium package you never have to worry about a bar bill at all. Wine at dinner was a fantastic selection. Having a cappuccino anytime was a bonus and their coffee shop is way better than Starbucks. If you are looking for a quiet getaway inside the ship, then the sky lounge on the top deck is the place to go. Lots of windows to watch the ocean go by and very peaceful. If you want the same atmosphere outside, then the aft part of the ship is the place to go....relax in a chair or just sprawl on the grass. I was quite surprised at the number of kids on this cruise as they were supposed to be in school a week before Xmas break. Someone forgot to tell them that there is no whining and crying when on a cruise. Some parents just let them run wild, especially up and down the hallways. 'Nuff said. Dining was fantastic (as always), but I was surprised at the number of empty tables in the dining room during fixed dining. I don't know how busy the buffet was during these times as we only use the buffet during breakfast as we like to sleep in. The busiest bar during the whole week was the Martini Bar. It was hopping every night and the "mixologists" were very entertaining. I'd seen multiple martinis poured at the same time, but when one of them poured 8 simultaneously and had to stand up on the bar to reach the pyramid of glasses, that made the evening. The down side was the band set up right beside the bar which made conversations very difficult and attracted a lot of children sitting in the common traffic area causing major congestions. One evening it was a DJ who obviously couldn't get a job anywhere else as he was awful and was playing his own style of music. Speaking of kids and bars....don't you have to be 21 to sit and get served in the bar? Too many teens taking up space in the Martini Bar. Well done to the British dad who ordered a Gin and Tonic and them gave it to his 14-15 year old daughter :-) Overall the ship wasn't that crowded and there was no problem getting chairs by the pool or empty space near other facilities. Disembarkation was a breeze and you are able to take care of your own luggage getting off rather than putting it out the night before. When we got ashore, there were multiple vans waiting to take us back to the airport for $10. This sure beats paying the ship $30/person to go by bus. We're ready to book Celebrity again as they are one of our favourite cruise lines, they have great deals and great ships. Just looking for the 1-2-3-go fares again. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
After 15 cruises with Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Princess and even Thomson I feel that I have something to compare this cruise with. As we had done a cruise in September with Ventura but had already booked the New Year Cruise we were ... Read More
After 15 cruises with Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Princess and even Thomson I feel that I have something to compare this cruise with. As we had done a cruise in September with Ventura but had already booked the New Year Cruise we were very aware that P&O were not of the same class as our other cruises but were not prepared for the Azura. The only positives I can think of are the direct flights and ease of transfers especially the luggage arrangements and the cabins which were not too bad although we were lucky to have been given a disabled cabin which was much more spacious. The ship is tired and not very clean, the food is 3rd rate and most of the staff sullen and unhelpful with a few exceptions mainly our cabin stewerd who was always helpful and friendly. We ate in the Merridian but found very few waiters who compared with waiters on our other cruises but they were much the same on the Ventura. The buffet on both ships is a joke, small cramped and with very little choice of food the only nice food was at afternoon tea but even then trying to put the components of a scone together when the scone, jam, butter and cream were all in different places became like a treasure hunt. Surely there is someone on the ship who knows that these things should all be in the same place. A previous reviewer described it as Benedorm at sea but I would say it was even worse. Getting a sunbed was impossible unless you were up at dawn to put towels on. Sitting anywhere near the two main pools was a no no for us as we weren't tattood, drunk or used bad language. The loud music was the other off putting thing there, so we sunbathed by the spa pool which is quiet no music and no children. As we did a Royal Caribbean cruise at new year a few years ago with our grandchildren we were looking forward to the night, but again P&O disappointed. Party on the deck accompanied by the usual dreadful too loud music too cramped and long queues for drinks. We retired with other disgruntled passengers to the Glass House, may I suggest someone from P&O goes on Royal Caribbean at New Year to see how it should be done. Champagne, balloons wonderful dancing to a steel band up on deck and the Captain and Officers with the guests to wish them a Happy New Year. We didn't do any of the ships trips as we prefer to get taxis and do our own thing which is usually much cheaper. The ships clientel had certainly dropped a few notches from any other cruise ship we had been on maybe this is the sort of market P&O are aiming for but they certainly have lost a lot of regular cruisers judging from the many comments we heard from other passengers.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2014
It has been a few years since we were aboard a new ship and the Regal Princess did not disappoint. The ship is lovely. I understand people having problems with the elevator and stair locations, but this was not problematic for us. The ... Read More
It has been a few years since we were aboard a new ship and the Regal Princess did not disappoint. The ship is lovely. I understand people having problems with the elevator and stair locations, but this was not problematic for us. The atrium was beautiful and the center of all activity. We had no problems with the layout. My only disappointment was the lack of a promenade deck. I was aware of this ahead of time. Our daily activity includes walking the many laps of the promenade deck for fitness but had to find another way. The hallways proved to be a perfect substitute. We were assigned a deluxe balcony cabin on the Dolphin deck. It was perfect. The showers are much larger than other ships. The bedding more luxurious than previous Princess cruises. The flat screen TV on the wall was unexpected and the movies on demand a plus. Our cabin steward was exceptional. We were fortunate to be on a 7 day cruise where there were not many elite members and had laundry back in 24 hours. The buffet is the best on any Princess ship. There were many selections and many stations. The quality of the food was great. We had anytime dining and ate in the dining room each evening. The food was OK. I always find the quality subjective and we had great meals and some we could not eat. The first few nights they had difficulty with the amount of people waiting to eat but by the end it was sorted out. The service was good. The production shows were fabulous. All of the shows were new and updated. Finally, they stepped into the 21st century. I was joyful they let the 60's and 70's go! The weather was disappointing but we all know you can't control the weather. It was windy and cool most sea days. I agree with previous reviews that there was not much shade for the lounges around the pool. My favorite moment aboard the Regal Princess was the Love Boat theme being played when arriving and departing. It was a great nostalgic moment.   Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
We are experienced cruisers having traveled frequently on Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and the now defunct Majesty Cruise Line. We were always curious about Holland America so we finally took a trip aboard the Dec. 13, 2014, 7-day ... Read More
We are experienced cruisers having traveled frequently on Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and the now defunct Majesty Cruise Line. We were always curious about Holland America so we finally took a trip aboard the Dec. 13, 2014, 7-day Eastern Caribbean sailing of the MS Westerdam, out of Fort Lauderdale. Reviews of the Westerdam seemed variable and confusing so we were anxious to find our own “truths.” In my opinion, any review of the Westerdam must start with the ship itself. The Westerdam is simply the most beautiful and elegant ship we have ever sailed on. Its external lines are graceful, and with its dark hull, it seems to hearken back to the classic days of cruise lines. But it’s inside where the Westerdam really shines. The ship is loaded with beautiful, classic art and impressive design features seemingly around every corner. The ship was built in Venice and its overall design feels Italian. It was a joy to wander around on this ship, and that’s a very good thing to say about one’s home for a week. The Westerdam seems graceful and elegant at every turn. Although the ship is 12 years old, she has been lovingly cared for and does not show her age. We had a verandah room, number 5050, on the port side of the ship. It was fairly standard in size. We’ve had larger, and probably one or two smaller. It was an efficiently designed room with good storage space. The balcony was similar to most that we have had. The big difference in this room was found in the bathroom. There was a shower/tub combination instead of the typical shower alone. This was unprecedented in our experience. The ports of call were not completely typical for an Eastern Caribbean trip out of south Florida. The first, Grand Turk Island, was new to us. It seems to be just emerging as a cruise destination. One of the world’s highest rated beaches is in the Turks and Caicos Islands, but it is a flight away from Grand Turk. We took a taxi into the major town on Grand Turk. Although it had a few interesting features, such as an old prison, the town was not all that interesting and could be skipped. The surprising and welcome feature on Grand Turk is right at the cruise terminal. There is a great beach with good snorkeling just steps off the cruise dock. It’s loaded with FREE lounge chairs. Even on a warm day with several ships docked, there seemed to be plenty for everyone. You can walk off your ship, sit in the sun for a while, walk back on for lunch, and still get back for some more beach time before departure. The terminal area is newly developed with the best shopping on Grand Turk right there by your ship. Another new destination for us came next. Old San Juan. The Westerdam docks right at the edge of Old San Juan, just across the street from a main stop of the free San Juan tourist trolleys. Take the trolley that goes to El Morro, an impressive 18th Century fortress high on a coastal bluff. The fort is run by the US National Park Service. There is a $5 entry fee, but if you are 62 or older, you can buy a lifetime pass to ALL U.S. National Park Service properties for $10. An incredible deal! After our visit to the fort, we wandered around Old San Juan, enjoying the evocative small streets, interesting shops and good restaurants. Our next stop was Philipsburg St. Maarten. There is a water taxi service that leaves from the cruise terminal. At $7 for unlimited rides for the day, it is a terrific value. It will whisk you to the heart of Philipsburg much faster than the lengthy walk from the dock. We’d been to St. Maarten before, but found new things to do by visiting “That Yoda Guy” Museum. Nick Maley was one of the creators of the Star Wars character Yoda. He retired from film special effects to open this shop and paint in St. Maarten. It’s a fun place and well worth a stop. Generally, you can meet Nick and his wife at the shop. They are both quite genial. Along the beach, at the end nearest the cruise terminal, you’ll find “The Candy Store.” It’s owner, a Canadian who came here and never left, typically lets cruise passengers have free Internet access in front of his shop. The last port before returning to Fort Lauderdale is Half Moon Cay, Holland America’s private island in the Bahamas. It has been rated as the best cruise line private island for many years, and this is no idle boast. We felt like the stop there was worth the price of the cruise. We’ve been to many great beaches, but always assumed when someone described sand the color and texture of powdered sugar, it was a bit of an exaggeration. Not so on Half Moon Cay. We’ve never seen sand like that! The swimming and snorkeling were outstanding. The lunch buffet was delicious. The island is terrific. Don’t miss it. All in all, we loved the destinations featured on this cruise. Westerdam reviews seem the most variable with regard to the food. We ate a few times in the main dining room. While there is a different menu each day, the variety of choices seemed somehow similar. The food wasn’t bad, and the service was good, but the choices generally didn’t inspire us. We tried the specialty dining. We liked Canaletto, the Italian restaurant, the best. We ate dinner there on our last two nights, trying virtually everything on the menu. It was quite good, and the service was outstanding and very personal. The beverage server, a young woman named Leslie, I think, took a particular interest in our group and made us feel like we were the only customers in the restaurant. We tried the Pinnacle Grill on the first formal night. While the food was good, we felt that the additional charge was a little excessive. As with Canaletto, the service was truly outstanding. The Lido restaurant is a fairly standard cruise line buffet, except that some of the entrees are made to order. This slows down the service a bit, but does ensure hot food that is cooked correctly. We particularly liked the made-to-order pasta bar. The food selection here offers something for everyone, but doesn’t vary all that much from one day to the next. Late in our cruise, we discovered a posted daily menu for the Lido. It would have been helpful to have found this earlier. The Lido serves a surprising variety of food fairly late in the evening. Many crew members seem to eat at that time. We ate many breakfasts at the Lido. My breakfast item of choice on a cruise is a toasted bagel, cream cheese, thinly sliced red onion and smoked salmon. One can assemble such a breakfast item within the Lido, but it is not easy. All the elements of the dish have to be picked up at widely separated sections of the Lido Restaurant. It takes some time to find them all. On two or three days, we preordered breakfast to be delivered to our room and ate on our balcony. This was a pleasant option with the breakfast delivered on time on each occasion. Westerdam is moderately sized, and as such, we assumed the entertainment would be merely adequate. In fact, the entertainment exceeded our expectations. The main showroom featured a comedian, a comic ventriloquist, and various song and dance shows including a Filipino crew show. The theatre boasts impressive, new, large high-tech digital staging flats and backgrounds that were used to great effect on the final show. Since November 2014, Westerdam features the B.B. King Blues Bar on four of the seven nights. The house band is very talented but needs a bit of re-tooling of its sets. For one thing, they played little of what one might consider the blues. Also, every song was played much longer than necessary with each musician called on to do longish solos. I became fond of saying, “They don’t play songs until they are over. They play songs until you are over them.” Again, though, the band was quite talented. By reputation, Holland America passengers tend to be somewhat older than the average cruisers. This stereotype proved to be true on our cruise. My wife and I at 63 and 62 were well lower than the average age. Admittedly, the younger set would likely have been in school that week. There were lots of walkers and some wheelchairs on our cruise. Overall, we had a delightful cruise on the MS Westerdam. The ship never felt crowded. There were always available lounge chairs. We never had to wait to be seated at any meal, even though we did not opt for set dining times. Staff members we encountered were always excellent and seemed delighted to work for Holland America. Some of them were truly outstanding. One such person was the ship’s steel pan player, Opal from Trinidad, who was a treasure. She was a very gifted player, who seemed to work all the time, including teaching some beginning steel pan classes when she was not performing. Just a wonderful and talented young woman. The public spaces on the ship were exceptional, especially the Crow’s Nest Lounge, which offered huge panoramic views forward. It was the place to be heading into ports and for the daily trivia contests held there. Servers in bars and lounges were attentive but did not nag those who didn’t want to drink. Cruise Director Michael was involved and visible all over the ship. The ship’s Captain was accessible around the ship and seemed delighted to converse with interested passengers. He runs a great ship and gave us a great cruise.   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
We cruised for the fourth time the week of Christmas on Freedom of the Seas. We have cruised other lines as well as other RC ships. Honestly, if this had been my first cruise it would have probably been my one and only. This was not the ... Read More
We cruised for the fourth time the week of Christmas on Freedom of the Seas. We have cruised other lines as well as other RC ships. Honestly, if this had been my first cruise it would have probably been my one and only. This was not the same Freedom of the Seas we have cruised 3 other times. We were made aware of the propulsion issue and change to itinerary when we checked in at boarding. A little late to decline the cruise at that point. We did receive room credit for any inconvenience. It was a decent amount but quite honestly not enough to compensate in my opinion. We were late arriving at San Juan due to even slower ship speed from rough currents. Therefore our already shorted day was even shorter. RC would have been smarter to have deleted Labadee stop hence allowing enough time to arrive at San Juan and St. Marteen. Additionally, being Christmas Eve and Christmas day in San Juan and St. Marteen respectively there was little to do in port anyway. We were okay with that since we have been to both ports previously. We respect the businesses for closing. Just something to think about before booking the week of Christmas. The propulsion issues also created a heavy vibration felt all over the ship. We noticed it most in the MDR and in the Olive & Twist lounge. We actually stayed in the same balcony cabin we had cruised in before. The cabin still (a year later) had all of the maintenance issues we experienced in it before. The balcony door vibrated loud enough to keep you awake at night and even worse with the propulsion issues. The showerhead was still not spraying properly. Our room attendant was fabulous as always. The MDR seemed to have confusion every evening. We were moved to three different tables one night before they figured out where they wanted us and yes, we had a reservation. There seemed to be a language barrier with the wait staff that I have never noted before. The demographic was very different as well on the cruise. Perhaps because of the week of Christmas?? Mostly families with unsupervised rude children running amuck. I do not mind children I have 2 of my own (young adults now) but I do find rude children and their parents offensive. This is not in RC's control I understand just a cruise downer. Karaoke most nights was preteenagers trying their hand at Taylor Swift. The usual adult only safe zones were riddled with children of all ages. Obtaining a chair on sea days was horrendous probably due to the mounds of broken chairs not able to be used. We have cruised on FOS with a full ship before and did not encounter this problem. Also, the saving of seats is not monitored as FOS posts in the Cruise Compass that it is. There were chairs that were empty for hours with only a towel. It would have been nice to have been notified of our toilet was not working and also that the public restrooms in specific areas were not affected. We woke to discover that issue. Yes, I had visions of the Carnival stories in my head until I found out it was not ship wide. Apparently, someone flushed something forbidden and the problem was resolved. All in all it was a wonderful trip with my family. We didn't allow these hiccups to ruin our family vacation however we all left saying, "that wasn't the cruise experience we are used to" We have booked our next RC cruise (not on Freedom however) so we are not soured with RC. They do have some work to do to redeem themselves.   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
95% ecstatic with the cruise. Ship is bigger than you can imagine! All the included restaurants were above average. Bar prices were reasonable and service was excellent. Everyone we dealt with was polite and helpful. So why only 95%. ... Read More
95% ecstatic with the cruise. Ship is bigger than you can imagine! All the included restaurants were above average. Bar prices were reasonable and service was excellent. Everyone we dealt with was polite and helpful. So why only 95%. The production of "Chicago" was as good as we saw in New York. Sound, dancing, singing, everything. Oceanaria was far more entertaining than we expected and we enjoyed it immensely. But then, there was "Blue Planet". Production and the set were outstanding. Absolutely great visuals (think Cirque du Soleil). But why did Royal Caribbean allow some hack to butcher the music? Many classic standards were presented with some of the worst arraignments I have ever heard. These songs weren't broke, so why did thy have to fix em? The same vocalists who did such a commendable job with "Chicago" couldn't save it. They tried, but I do not think any vocalist could save the arrangements. While the "Stars of the Infinity", the in-house group of divas that perform on the Celebrity "infinity' continue to hold my vote for WORST ENTERTAINMENT EVER, I cannot hold the vocalists on the Allure responsible for the "Blue Planet" music. They had already demonstrated their talent. Also on "Blue Planet", as well as in many, typical shipboard performances, the concept of more dancers doing less is rampant. More does not mean better, just more. Despite these minor detractions, definitely see the show, overall, it is very entertaining. We also took the ship tour. Other than being way, way overpriced, it was a fascinating insight into the cruise underworld. In addition to being a finely tuned machine, the ship below decks is incredibly clean despite running at warp speed. The kitchens were immaculate and everywhere we went we met skilled professionals proud of their ship and anxious to give their passengers a first rate experience. Other than one mediocre show (averaged out), the ship is magnificent. We enjoyed 3D movies, lounge entertainment, rock walls, flow riders, parades, and live comics. Outdoor parks and a boardwalk with a merry-go-ground. Kept repeating "I can't believe we are on a ship". Allure or Oasis should be on your list of must-do cruises if just for the ship.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2014
Stayed at the Embassy Suites - Miami Int'l Airport the night before the cruise. Clean suite, friendly staff, good breakfast. Headed to the port at 10 AM. Checked in quickly and were on board before 11 AM. Escorted to Michaels Club to ... Read More
Stayed at the Embassy Suites - Miami Int'l Airport the night before the cruise. Clean suite, friendly staff, good breakfast. Headed to the port at 10 AM. Checked in quickly and were on board before 11 AM. Escorted to Michaels Club to meet Suite Concierge. Were offered drinks and hors d'oevres. Nice touch to begin our cruise. At noon, my husband and I headed to Bistro on Five. We have done this on every Solstice Ship. Had a leisurely lunch and then headed to our suite. Luggage not yet there so we just relaxed on our veranda. Met stateroom butler, Nelson, and our stateroom attendant, Ivan. Both were excellent through the cruise. Food and service in main dining room were very good, although we only ate there 3 times. Went to Qsine...we love it! Also, enjoyed the Lawn Club Grill, as always. Ate dinner on our veranda one evening also. Our butler served us course by course and it was just lovely. Thought all of the production shows were excellent. We were not impressed, however, with the musical groups around the ship. No great piano player in any lounge. Claire, the vocalist/pianist in the Reflection Theatre was superb. She did not evening show and then performed again the following afternoon. Theatre was nearly full at 3pm on a sunny sea day!!! We only got off the ship briefly in San Juan and then again in St. Maarten. We've been there before and decided we'd stay on board and enjoy the quiet ship as we came on board to relax. Debarkation was a bit slow. Our bags (group 1) were delayed an hour due to an electrical problem with the luggage belts. Other than that, our cruise was problem free and truly enjoyable!! We are booked on the Summit in May, the Solstice in August and the Reflection again next December. Also going on the Freedom of the Seas in April. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
We have just returned from a week in the Eastern Caribbean on the Regal Princess. The ship itself is beautiful -- while some people have complained here about the central atrium not continuing to the top of the ship, we did not consider ... Read More
We have just returned from a week in the Eastern Caribbean on the Regal Princess. The ship itself is beautiful -- while some people have complained here about the central atrium not continuing to the top of the ship, we did not consider that an issue at all. The only issue we did have was that the balcony in our mini-suite was considerably smaller than the one we had on our earlier Princess cruise to Alaska -- it would have been too small for more than 2 people. The ship staff was exceptionally friendly and helpful, and the food was excellent. The dinner we had at the modestly-extra-cost "Sabatini's" restaurant ranked with the best I have had anywhere. The only beef I have is with some of the excursions. The stopover at "Princess Cay" was a major disappointment -- the island is too small to comfortably handle the number of passengers who disembarked; we were packed together so closely on the small island that it reminded me of Coney Island on the 4th of July -- and while the food in the lunch buffet was very good, the lines were long and slow. Princess Cay may have been fine for the smaller ships of a few decades ago, but I think it has outlived its usefulness. The Orient Beach excursion on St. Maarten was similarly oversubscribed -- while not as bad as Princess Cay, there were far too many people on the tour to give you some distance from the person next to you. I would advise Princess to limit the number of people signing up by at least a third. Finally, the St. John's Eco-Tour was a happy exception. The hike through the St. John's National Park was interesting, and the beach was uncrowded and beautiful.   Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
This was our first ever cruise, and Princess surpassed all our expectations. What a beautiful ship! We had the most relaxing holiday of our lives and got to experience a wonderful part of the world. We chose the Eastern Caribbean Voyager ... Read More
This was our first ever cruise, and Princess surpassed all our expectations. What a beautiful ship! We had the most relaxing holiday of our lives and got to experience a wonderful part of the world. We chose the Eastern Caribbean Voyager visiting Antigua, St Lucia, Barbados, St Kitts, St Thomas and Princess Cays. I researched and booked most of the port tours myself and had no regrets. I did however regret booking the Trunk Bay beach tour through Princess. It was the only one we booked through them, and it was so unorganised and crowded. We all thought it was only Princess passengers however they made us stop for Celebrity passengers who never even came! We wasted a good 20mins for nothing. Highly recommend booking your own tours. We booked the balcony obstructed view- E438 (which wasn't even obstructed- highly recommend) and the room was a decent size with more than enough luggage/wardrobe space. The room and bathroom were spotless. It was a perfect size for us. Loved that there were 3 mirrors in the room so getting ready was easy :) the bed was super comfortable, and the interactive flat screen TV was a bonus. According to other passengers on the ship, this was the most modern they have seen on any cruise. Loved that you just play movies and shows on demand! They had a great choice also. They also have live news too which was great. We were mid ship and after reading many bad reviews regarding the middle lifts, I can now understand the frustration. Like I said this is our first cruise so we have nothing to compare it to, and apparently all other ships have stairs in the middle. Well not this one. Trying to get on during peak times was a struggle. A majority of the time we just gave up and walked to the back of the ship to get to where we wanted. It wasn't a massive drawback for us, but I did feel for the older passengers who relied on the lifts. This was probably the only con of the ship. Stairs would have been perfect there! The shows were fantastic especially loved the comedy act! Enjoyed the casino although this got a bit boring after a while. Its not that big. We hung out at Club 6 every night for 11pm happy hour and also to socialise. Whilst we met some great people, I must admit it was the staff that won us over. We loved seeing them every night and they were always happy to have a chat. Club 6 isn't pumping, hardly anyone was dancing! But I guess its an older clientele so most of them were in bed by that time. Only a few young ones stayed up to drink and dance. Sea days were awesome just hanging by the pool. We didn't bother with the Sanctuary, we just relaxed in the Adult Retreat for free. Preferred this pool over the main pools. It was nice and quiet. I read somewhere that it gets too windy up there but we didn't notice this problem at all! We hired the Cabana the first sea day for $50 I think, it was nice, but not really needed. Food was wonderful EVERYWHERE. We were blown away by the quality of the food in the Dining Hall especially. Desserts? Wow!!! The chefs and waiters did an amazing job. Staff everywhere on the ship went above and beyond. They are just the friendliest people and gave 10/10 service. Getting on and off the ship was a breeze. I thought it would be a nightmare each time but we didn't have any issues :) There were no mad rushes and no wait times. I have no hesitation recommending this cruise, it was such a pleasure to be on. I hope one day we will be able to travel on her again.   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
We are smitten with Celebrity, no lie, and continue to be fans of this cruise line. I won't go into details on embarkation/debarkation except to say it was the smoothest--on both ends-- we have ever experienced. Last year the music ... Read More
We are smitten with Celebrity, no lie, and continue to be fans of this cruise line. I won't go into details on embarkation/debarkation except to say it was the smoothest--on both ends-- we have ever experienced. Last year the music around the pool area was so loud you couldn't hear yourself think, much less have a conversation. Celebrity listened to everyone's feedback, or else this cruise's demographics were different, but in any case the music was unobtrusive and very pleasant. The service in the main dining room was a notch above what we have experienced in the past, as was the food. We have been somewhat disappointed with the pastry chefs on different Celebrity's ships but this pastry chef was really outstanding. The Executive chef on board is from Portugal and his offerings were top notch. The lobster was even moist and succulent! Try that while serving to 600 people simultaneously. Likewise our sommelier from Serbia was the most personable and knowledgeable we have ever come across. (Aleksandar) He was sincerely interested in finding out what type of wines you like and was interested in making nightly recommendations based on your tastes. He lamented that the first night out he never knows what tastes people have and enjoys getting to know his guests' preferences. The Porch food was a disappointment with a grey slice of meat on sandwich and impersonal service. Won't revisit that venue. The Oceanview Cafe which is the main buffet continues to shine for its fantastic fresh food offerings and diversity. The fresh fruit and salad bars are exceptional and if you love Mexican food you can even scratch that itch. We also love the high tea offerings there between 4 and 5 pm. There are 2 kinds of scones served with whipped cream and strawberry jam along with a good variety of tea sandwiches. When a cold front blew in one afternoon we really enjoyed being able to enjoy this room while it was quiet to drink hot tea. Don't miss the European baked breads. Celebrity makes everything from scratch except for it's cookies which it subcontracts out to a company that bakes them to its specs. Every carrot is peeled, every stalk of celery and every haunch of meat is sliced or broken down on this ship. (Don't miss the kitchen tour!) The Cafe Al Bacio serves up a mean Cafe Americano with efficient staff and table service as well. We make good use of this venue and recommend it highly. At times the fitness center was unoccupied and the equipment is great. The adult solarium is a great place to snooze while the ship is in motion...listen to the waves lapping in the pool. My only beef is that this pool is a little too cool to enjoy. Celebrity continues to provide a spotlessly clean ship with very very visible round the clock sanitation and cleaning activities visible. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
MSC is new to the US market. The staff are rude and their systems and processes are dysfunctional. Ex: Key cards for the room stopped working 6 times for 1 person in our group and 4 times for another. Food: horrible quality. The waiters ... Read More
MSC is new to the US market. The staff are rude and their systems and processes are dysfunctional. Ex: Key cards for the room stopped working 6 times for 1 person in our group and 4 times for another. Food: horrible quality. The waiters are very nice and attentive. We were treated like 2nd class people. At dinner our friends were told they were were sitting at the wrong table. 4 staff members came to the table and raised their voices that they were at the wrong table. This was their 5th night sitting at this table. The table number corresponded to the table number listed on their card. They showed them and told the staff that the conversation was over. We were in a SUITE. All this meant was we had a bigger room. No robes, slippers. Nothing extra. The hangers were from the dry cleaners - all metal (a few were wide plastic). We were given one bar of soap for the basin to wash hands and no soap dish - just sat on the counter. Had to ask for wash clothes and it was like pulling teeth to obtain them. Only 1 pool towel per person. Used for the whole cruise! Lose your towel - $25 charge. Here is the BEST! We wanted an all inclusive beverage package - $300 for the whole cruise for two people. So we signed up. Had to go the next morning to get our sticker put on our card that kept not working. Went to obtain sticker - told because we have 2 cabins we must all have the package. The others occupants were underage. We were not going to pay so we said cancel and we purchased their "coupon" program for $90 for 15 coupons. When we received our final bill - the all inclusive charge was on our statement, plus the coupon charge! Back to the reception desk. Spent more time at the reception desk then dancing in the club. ID cards kept not functioning as we left the ship to go to shore or get on the tender with 100's of people waiting behind us! AWFUL DON'T GO ON THIS CRUISE SHIP!!!!! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
Travel Arrangements The check-in process was not intuitive, the Air France flight check-in was not easy as the link was to the Italian version of the Air France website not easy to navigate, but achieved with the help of Google ... Read More
Travel Arrangements The check-in process was not intuitive, the Air France flight check-in was not easy as the link was to the Italian version of the Air France website not easy to navigate, but achieved with the help of Google Accommodation The cabin was not as big as we had expected, the bed was comfortable but the finish reminded us of a mobile home with veneered fitted furniture to maximise space and storage with cupboards finishing at angles back to the wall. The toilet/shower room was very small with what appeared to be plastic moulded sink and shower which while functional didn't look very appealing. The bed was probably 350mm from the external wall/door to the balcony, barely enough room to get round. Meals The waiter service was good and the waiters were very pleasant if a little incompetent on occasions. The two set meals times were either to early or to late, we were allocated a 18.15 meal time which was too early when we had been out on excursions for the day but speaking with other passengers at the later meal time they were not finishing until nearly 11 o'clock, too late for us with children, more flexibility is needed. The quality of the food was acceptable, the variety of main courses was ok however often not hot enough, the deserts were very repetitive. The main problem with the restaurant was the lack of tables, at breakfast and lunchtimes and on returning from excursions we regularly had to hunt for a vacant table sometimes doing two or three circuits before being successful. None of the ice cream machines worked for the entire cruise. Bars The drinks were general good, however the waiting staff with the exception of two or three, were metronomic with little or no interest in customer service or engaging with customers other than to take payment for a drink. Entertainment The shows in the theatre were probably not as polished as we were expecting, the entertainment activities around the pool were the sort of thing you would expect to find at a generic British holiday camp, the music in the bars was generally good. our ten year old went to the children's club and thoroughly enjoyed the activities, we were also impressed with the long hours the club was open. Excursions We only did two excursions, we found ourselves waiting around for over half an hour after the designated departure time. The only Costa representative was at the port, on both occasions we were put on a bus with no further explanation of what to expect. Once we found our way off the bus at the excursions the tour guides were excellent on both occasions, the Costa staff were not so helpful or informative. And finally.... The overall cruise experience did not live up to our expectations, we disliked the fixed evening meal time and the feeling of always wanting to be in the same place as 3000 other people, lack of space, attitude of staff and standard of cabin when related to the cost, behind the fancy lighting and decor in the public spaces we would rate it as a three star hotel experience at a five star price.   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
The ship was very beautiful, lots to see and do. For smokers the 15th deck left side of ship facing forward was all smoking, and The casino was huge, half of it was smoking as well, However for coffee drinkers, there was no coffee stations ... Read More
The ship was very beautiful, lots to see and do. For smokers the 15th deck left side of ship facing forward was all smoking, and The casino was huge, half of it was smoking as well, However for coffee drinkers, there was no coffee stations on the 15th floor which was a pain. The shows were awesome, food was great Overall experience on the Allure was 8 out of 10 Read Less

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