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3,835 Europe - Eastern Mediterranean Cruise Reviews

Stayed at Felipe II Hostal on Barcelona, Spain. Taxi to port terminal, 20 eros including tip. Checked all baggage, went to right on the ship no long lines. Went to dining area and had a cup of coffee and lunch, watched as people came ... Read More
Stayed at Felipe II Hostal on Barcelona, Spain. Taxi to port terminal, 20 eros including tip. Checked all baggage, went to right on the ship no long lines. Went to dining area and had a cup of coffee and lunch, watched as people came aboard. When ship about to leave the port we went up to deck 15 aft, had our cruise critic get together and meet people we been communicating with on Cruise Critic ------. As for the cruise it was nice calm seas the whole cruise, sunny days. On the cruise was a lot of middle age folks and well as seniors The ship personnel were excellence and helped you if you needed help. The ship was a newer ship then others I have been on . I did notice on the starboard side in the buffet area the tables were not cleared or clean when people finished their meal. I guess my last cruise spoiled me, Tables were clear of dishes when people were finished and crew in the dining area would bring you coffee or ask if you needed anything, The morning food was just bearly warm, scrambled eggs were cold as some other food, Oatmeal was just warm. The other meals were warm/hot. We eat early dining , then on the last 3 night we stop going, went to buffet, had to change my diet. We were seated at a table for 2 and next to us was another table of 2 some we tried to visit as we waited for our meals. Made some new friends Richard and Frankie. The ship get in ports on time and left ports on time. Would I go on another cruise with Celebrity Cruises? yes we would. Like to Thank, Alaine and Rick; Allacoffe, Karen and Robert; Carencpa, and Alla for all their hard work of finding and setting up the tours, they did a great job and we appreciate that.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
We returned sat15 june from a 2wk cruise round the med and as usual the cruise met our expectations. This is the 2nd time we have used the dream once before the refurb and this time. You can notice a few changes that have been made. But ... Read More
We returned sat15 june from a 2wk cruise round the med and as usual the cruise met our expectations. This is the 2nd time we have used the dream once before the refurb and this time. You can notice a few changes that have been made. But i think thompson are exaggerating by now saying its a platinum ship now its had a refurb, im sure thompson could tell us that millions have been spent but you really cant notice to much difference. well not to warrant using the word platinum. Our cruise was as good/comfortable as before the refurb. 1) THE CABINS. The outside cabin we had this time was on level 4, which was smaller than the one we had on level 5, the cabins on level 5 have enough room for a settee this one did not. The bathroom is the same size, small, and a shower that seems to get smaller as the cruise goes on due to all that food and drink we consume. There's a small flat screen tv with about 5 news channels on and 2 movie channels.there's enough hanging space, even when the wife puts her stuff in every conceivable space available. tea and coffee in the room (one of the reasons why its a platinum ship!!!) 2) THE BUFFET The food in the buffet is served to you as the problems with the norovirus. When i found out about this i thought great small portions. But we did not find this at all, you just asked "can i have some more please sir!!!!!" We had our breakfast here with every kind of breakfast available hot/cold cereals, fryups omelets lunch was salads hot food burgers etc 3) THE RESTAURANT The restaurant is anytime dinning from 6 till about 10ish. This is made up of tables for two, four,six,eight, you can either share or stare ie share where the waiters will sit you with other couples or you can stare at the wife!!. The menue is made up of 5 courses which we believe is of a good quality. we sat every night on tables of 8 and not once over 14 nights did anyone moan about the food. We found that on average dinner took about 2hrs depending on how you got on with your fellow table guests 4) THE SHOWS The shows on the ship are of an excellent quality, i read one review which mentions not as good as last year and that we only saw 2 this time. How can you make a judgement on the shows (unless your name is andrew lloyd webber )if you havnt seen them all. We went 2 see all the shows and only one is repeated over 14 nights and where i can say some of them are definitely not for me you could not knock them for the singing quality and dance routines.Two shows got standing ovations 750 people in that auditorium can not be wrong. 5) MADUSA LOUNGE ENTERTAIMENT This is where you will find light hearted stuff going on, they have bingo audience participation games and a great band on.At around the 11.30 some nights the show team come out and do some singing 6) OTHER BARS We didnt actually spend any nights in these bars but there is one that has a duo singing and another with a piano and violinist playing together 7) EVENING BUFFET This is available for all the people that do not want to dress up for dinner and have waiter service. 8) ALL INCLUSIVE DRINKS PACKAGES Theres is a large amount of drinks on offer with this package heineken lager,draught cider, house wine,john smiths and loads of cocktails, all soft drinks. Some bottled lager, cocktails come with a supplement aprox £1.10 depending what you order. 9) SERVICE The staff on this ship deserve a mention. the service is excellent 10) THE NOROVIRUS on board that we were told about, did not really effect you unless you enjoy using the swimming pools and the library ??. we didnt actually talk to anyone that new anyone that had it. My hands have never been so clean as there are sanitizers everywhere. 11) SUNBEDS This is where the sun lovers might have a problem with, especially on sea days as they do pack you in like sardines. When you are in port its not a problem because most people get off, but if you are on a trip and get back after 3ish you will be hunting for an available bed. There are a couple of extremely selfish people that put towels down then go off ship to look round town and come back 3hrs latter. There is a great way to stop this. tell the staff and they will take the towels away, we saw this a couple of times and had a good laugh when they came back to no towels. What is extremely annoying is that there is a sports deck that we saw about a dozen people using over the two weeks that could fit a couple of hundred beds on and ease the sardine environment on sea days. thompson say they listen to your views???? get rid of the sports deck and give us more room. 12) OVERALL The dream is a good cruise ship. its not the greatest on the high seas but it doesn't pretend to be.It is a small ship compared to the likes of royal caribbean but it does come with a great atmosphere, yes you will find stuff that you dont like but i can say that with the hundreds of people we spoke to over breakfast lunch dinner in the bars, lounges round the pool area over the couple of weeks we were there, everyone apart from one couple was enjoying there cruise. sorry this review went on a bit but have tried to give you a accurate one Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
This was our 19th cruise, 18 on Royal Caribbean and one on Celebrity, and we chose it to introduce family members to cruising. We had done this cruise in 2009 and knew it was awe inspiring. Our air travel was a nightmare - late out of DFW ... Read More
This was our 19th cruise, 18 on Royal Caribbean and one on Celebrity, and we chose it to introduce family members to cruising. We had done this cruise in 2009 and knew it was awe inspiring. Our air travel was a nightmare - late out of DFW due to a missing log book (took an hour to locate), we missed our connection in Madrid to Barcelona. Got another flight which was also delayed due to mechanical problems. We spent two nights in Hotel Regina which is near La Rambla. Although sparsely decorated, the room was nice and the staff was friendly. With La Ramblas within easy walking distance, we had plenty of shopping to so and sights to see. We took all three on-and-off bus tours and saw the incredible architecture the city is famous for. The RC shuttle bus was on time and delivered us to the terminal. Being Diamond Plus, check-in was easy. The ship was in excellent condition, and our JS was large and confortable. We had a table for ten at first seating and were blessed with very compatible companions. Our dining room wait staff struggled to remember names and drink preferences but overall they were satisfactory. Our head water Paul was excpetional, taking charge when he discovered that we were having some problems getting our food at times. The food was standard RC fare, good enough but not momorable. This was true of the other dining venues too. Excursions were very good. We did a walking tour in Cannes before doing some shopping. Livorno was next, and we did an extended walking tour of Florence before seeing Pisa. The tour guide in Florence persistently ignored several requests for toilet breaks, opting to deliver the last word of her canned speech before directing us to the nearest facilities. Many of us were made very uncomfortable by her insensitivity. Rome was next and the extended tours of the Vatican, the Sistine Chapel, the Bascilica and the coliseum were excellent and well worth the money., The guide was friendly and professional. Athens was Athens, crowded, covered in grafitti, but the Acropolis is a must-see. We also visited the Museaum of the Acropolis which was nice. The stone paving into, around and out of the Acropolis has been worn smooth but millions of feet and it can be treacherous. A tour guide slipped and fell right in front of me, breaking her ankle. My brother-in-law and I carried her down the stairs to the entrance where she was taken for medical treatment. We also visited Kusadasi, touring Ephesus and the House of the Virgin Mary. The tour guide may have been the best we have ever had on any excursion in all of our many cruises - friendly, educated, courteous,knowledgeable. We visited Santorini which must be seen to be believed. We took the cable car to the top, then a taxi to Oia and back, and then walked down on the mule trail. Having done the mule trail, we won't need to do it again. It wasn't so much the mule poop that made it a difficult trip, although there was plenty of it. It was the very slick and steep stone paving. It was a sli-and-slide all the way to the bottom - not too bad for me in my walking shoes but my wife's shoes had smooth soles which were not compatible with the surface. Salerno was our last stop before returning to Barcelona. We saw Pompeii which is not to be missed, and then we did a bus tour of the Amalfi coast. What a trip that was. Our driver was amazing as he negotiated the 1100 curves over that 34 mile route, dodging motorcycles and small cars driven by tourists and other lunatics. The scenery was incredible - jaw dropping beautiful. The weather was perfect for our entire trip, and the seas were glass smooth for all but the last day as we returned to Barcelona. The service provided by the Serenade's staff in all departments was excellent. The Hotel Director was especially friendly, greeting us by name on several occasions and coming to our aid at the guest services desk when we had an internet problem. It was a great cruise, and The Serenace of the Seas delivered on all counts. Go see for yourself. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
On June 23, we arrived to Barcelona - a day prior to embarkation. We attempt to use public transportation when possible and due to the location of our Marriott Renaissance hotel, we opted to take the RENFE train from the airport. It all ... Read More
On June 23, we arrived to Barcelona - a day prior to embarkation. We attempt to use public transportation when possible and due to the location of our Marriott Renaissance hotel, we opted to take the RENFE train from the airport. It all worked fine, however, note that we had to find the free green shuttle bus to the other terminal that connects to the train. As we were staying in Barcelona a day before and 3 days after the cruise, we knew to purchase the T10 ticket (10 rides that can be shared) for under 10 Euros. The RENFE train let us off at the new Passig de Gracia exit and our hotel was a few steps away. We arrived at the airport at 7:15 and were in the hotel by 9:15am. The other option, if our hotel had been just slightly closer to the plaza catalonya, is the airport bus. Very easy, but for us, we were worried we would not find a cab once getting off at the bus drop off. The Renaissance was lovely, we used points and they gave us a quiet, small room. They were very kind and let us in immediately, so we showered, rested, and then headed out. Our goal was the Picasso Museum free on Sunday after 3 pm. The concierge provided a map and suggested walking tour to see some sights along the way. The line was 1 hour long, but the time went quickly in the old streets. We have been to lots of Picasso museums and we enjoyed wandering around the old palaces which house the art. From there, we walked the Gothic Quarter, back to the hotel and dinner near the hotel. We decided to try to get to the port using public transportation - this time with a few mistakes. We easily walked to the Metro stop (Passig de gracia), however at this location, we did not see an escalator or an elevator. Being very careful not leave any luggage unattended, we bounced our bags along the steps down, used our T10 pass again, arrived at the Dressages stop (at the columbus statue), found the elevator up. Not really knowing where to find the port shuttle bus, we aimed for the dock - saw a blue bus marked port shuttle to the right and it was 2.50 Euro each. I will let you know right now, when we returned, we did this backwards, with less success as elevators were not operating (carrying 2 bags UP stairs). I would suggest taking a cab from the hotels for about 25 Euros.Getting on the ship - very easy. Our room - 8th floor, balcony on back of the ship - wonderful suggestion by our travel agent. The weather was gorgeous and we were out on this very large balcony all the time. Cannes - we took the $59 4 hour ship tour to the Fraganard fragrance and then onto St. Paul de Vence. Lovely town - and my husband did buy aftershave. Florence - it is a little difficult getting to the train station - so, we opted to take the ship's $99 all day tour that gives a 2 hour guided tour and 3 hours on your own. It was very nice - used headphones to hear the guide, she gave the highlights in a walking tour. She constantly warned everyone to watch their belongings. Rome - we took the free port bus to the end of the docks, turned right, walked several blocks and on the left was the train station at 7:45 am for the 8:02 train to Termini Station in Rome. It was 12 euros per person and included using the metro and buses in Rome. It was a lovely 90 minute journey. If you are going to the Vatican, the stop is sooner, but we had decided we only had enough time to do the ancient parts. From Termini, we walked inside the giant station to the metro and took the one with 2 stops to the Colliseum. Knowing NOT to buy our 12 Euro tickets in the colliseum, but instead buying them at the Forum entrance, we immediately walked in. We traveled with our own guide book/map, so read as we walked through and then onto the Colliseum with no wait (walk past all the people hanging around, trying to buy tickets). We then walked to the Pantheon, Pizza Navona, Trevi Fountain, and took the metro from the Spanish Steps (to the right of the steps) back to Termini station for a 2:42 pm departure. Lots of folks from the boats were on this return train. Salerno - we took the ship $69 tour to Pompeii - very great. There was a strike in the morning, so we did not leave at 8, instead at 10:30. We did not get to go to Salerno (free shuttle), as there was not time. Venice - wonderful sail in - everyone up on deck. After the boat docked, we decided to walk and attempt to find the Peggy Gugganheim museum. We walked over lots of little bridges and had fun - finding it about 40 minutes later. Wonderful museum - a real treat to also sit out on her deck on the Grand Canal. Our second day, we had purchased tickets on-line - months before - for the Doge's Palace Secret Itinerary tour. I think it was about 20 Euros per person and included admission to the palace. We opted to find the Vaperetta at P. Roma - a walk from the ship and then over the street. The ticket was 8 euros. it was hot and crowded and we could have walked a quickly as the time it took to get to the Piazza San Marco - but, it was a funny experience. the tour highlighted Cassanov's time in prison there, we then walked through the palace. On to walking toward the Rialto bridge, jumped on a vaperetta again to get to the Jewish quarter and the interesting area on that side, then on the vaperetta again to the stop near the ship. The ship offered a $25 ticket for boats to and from the piazza san marco. this would not have worked for us as we were walking around. Ravenna - we loved this town - we could have taken a ship tour of San Marino and ravenna, which i am sure would have been lovely. Instead, we took the $12 transportation to town (you MUST do this, as you cannot walk and it was a very long ride). Once there, we walked to the nearest mosaic's church (Sant appallinare Nuova) and bought the Opera di Religione ticket for 8.50 Euros (a 1 Euro discount with the map provided from a RCCL gal leading the bus. We did all 5 of the mosaic items on the ticket and dante's tomb along the way. I will suggest, at the first church, we purchased a 5 euro book about Ravenna and the churches. This was invaluable and described everything you would want to know. Debrovnik - we purchased the $12 transportation from the boat. If there were more than 2 of us, a cab would have been cheaper, but this was easy. The old city is pretty, very touristy - we walked around, went to a museum which had an interesting photo exhibit about the war, shopped around and took the shuttle back. 2 great days at sea with trivia games, tango lessons (well, my husband gave into that), a 4th of july party, etc. On the ship, the entertainment was ok - a magician comedian we may have seen before, but the bands in the centrum were great as were the evening dance parties, high wire shows, etc. Once back in bacelona for 3 days, we went to the fabulous Park Guell (T10 ticket)and walked an architectural tour we brought with us, purchased our tickets the next day for Montserrat - a wonderful day trip, and finally went to the Sagrida Familia and Las Romblas on our last day. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
This is an, I hope, honest appraisal of my first cruise on the Norwegian Jade from 8-15 June 2013 departing from and returning to Venice with stops at Dubrovnik, Split, Athens and Izmir. I will be honest straight away and say that we were ... Read More
This is an, I hope, honest appraisal of my first cruise on the Norwegian Jade from 8-15 June 2013 departing from and returning to Venice with stops at Dubrovnik, Split, Athens and Izmir. I will be honest straight away and say that we were very fortunate in getting a free upgrade from NCL which moved us from a 'mid-ship mini suite' to an 'aft facing balcony penthouse suite'. This has benefits beyond the bigger cabin (butler service, improved breakfast and lunch options, priority disembarkation) and is, in my opinion, well worth the extra cost. In order for this to be a fair review, however, I am trying to write this as if I had paid for it.General impressions - Jade was built in the mid 1990s for the Hawaiian market. In some of the public areas (although not in my cabin at least, nor in any of the restaurants) this shows. The garish, Hawaiian style, decor isn't desperately appropriate for a tour of some of the world's most important archaeological treasures. The variety of carpets in the ship suggests to me that they are in the process of re-decorating. If they are planning on keeping the ship in Europe, I hope that this is the case. The whole 'freestyle cruising' ethos worked very well for me at least. I am, however, glad that I packed a jacket as it felt appropriate on a couple of occasions.Travel - I decided to travel independently as, frankly, I thought that NCL's markup on airline fares was a bit excessive. I was wrong! Once you have added in the cost and hassle of transfers you are saving very little if anything. As an aside don't believe what the ATVO website tells you about the speed and convenience of the 'Aerobus' to Venice; it's not particularly quick, it's absolutely crowded (on a late Sunday afternoon in June anyway) and there is nowhere for luggage (on a bus between Venice and Venice Airport!) and it dumps you in the Piazzale Roma which is more than a short walk from the cruise terminal (the 'Tronchetto' is useless as well - it only takes you about a third of the way which, by the time you have queued for tickets and then for the train, would have been quicker to walk). That having been said, I was a little disappointed that NCL didn't lay on a courtesy bus from the Cruise Terminal to the Piazzale Roma.Crew - I honestly could not find fault with any of the crew who were all helpful and attentive when required, but not in the least bit intrusive when they were not. Top marks!Drinks prices -this was one thing that I had struggled to get information on before departure, but the reality was better than I had prepared myself for. A large (half litre) of draft Heineken was just over USD6 (including the compulsory 15% tip), about £4 at current exchange rates so about 20% more than I would pay in a pub in London and substantially less than I paid in a cafe in Venice a few hours after the cruise ended. Wine and cocktail prices seemed similar.Currency - everything on Jade is priced in US dollars and, for European guests at least, charged to a pre-registered credit card. You will obviously need Euros for Italy and Greece. Just about every retail outlet in Dubrovnik also took Euros (the exception being the tickets for walking the city walls -they do take credit cards, however) but you can, if you want, pay in the local currency with the Kuna price being calculated from the Euro one. Interestingly, the situation in Split was almost exactly opposite. Nearly everywhere priced their goods in Kuna but would take Euros if you asked. In Izmir you will need Turkish Lira for everything except the city tour bus.Food - I was more than happy with the quality and, generally speaking, the service. The only exception to the latter was lunchtime when we were at sea at the Garden Cafe/The Great Outdoors where the pressing need that everybody seemed to have to eat at once made it a bit of a bun fight. This is hardly the fault of NCL and can easily be avoided by eating at another time or place. The 'speciality' restaurants were also very good and the additional prices charged were, in my opinion, modest but it would not have bothered me to eat in the 'free' restaurants every day.On deck - If you wanted a sun lounger in the forward part of the ship or at the stern by the sports deck, then you had to get up early and get your towel down. If you wanted one down by the pools, you had to get up even earlier! That is, unfortunately, the simple maths of there being 2000 people on board and a limited amount of deck space. Again, we were fortunate in being able to retreat to our balcony if we couldn't find a couple of sun loungers (which had the added advantage of being out of the sometimes strong breeze).Power sockets - again, something that I struggled with finding correct information on before I left, with some suggestion on the web that they were European type 220v. For the record, there were 4 or 5 'spare' sockets in our cabin and they were all US type 110v so, if you are not from the US make sure you take the appropriate adapters.Itinerary - Dubrovnik and Split are both must-sees, having the advantages of being interesting and close to the ship. Athens is, of course, full of things to see but getting from and back to the ship is not as easy. I had intended getting up early and getting the metro in to the city to avoid the crowds, the heat and the traffic, but we didn't get up in time; I wish that we had. As it was, we got the hop on/off tourist bus from Piraeus and were at the Acropolis by 9:30. At that time the queue for tickets was about 15 minutes. By the time we had got to the front it had doubled in length - don't be late! Izmir was very disappointing. The only thing worth seeing is the market and then only if you can stand the constant hassle of shopkeepers touting for business. With hindsight the fact that the municipal gasworks were one of the stops on the tourist bus route should have been a bit of a hint! We were back on board by midday wishing that we had gone on the excursion to Ephesus. NCL should, in my view, consider stopping elsewhere.Entertainment - As 'variety' type entertainment isn't really my thing, I didn't bother withe the shows in the main theatre after the first evening. In my opinion at least, a far better alternative was provided by a gentleman called RJ Red who, accompanied only by his guitar, sang beautifully to a small but highly appreciative audience every evening in the Atrium.Overall I had a great time and I was very sorry when it ended. The credit for this must go to NCL, who provided a great standard of service for a reasonable price, and to the crew of the Norwegian Jade. I know some people enjoy the formal aspects of cruising; for them this probably isn't the right cruise. For those of us who like to enjoy visiting interesting places without ceremony in a comfortable, friendly and relaxed atmosphere a cruise on the Norwegian Jade is, by me, highly recommended. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
I have only been on one other cruise which was in the Caribbean and that was many years ago. This cruise was very good with only a couple of things I did not like. First the good: The ship was wonderful, the staff from room attendants, ... Read More
I have only been on one other cruise which was in the Caribbean and that was many years ago. This cruise was very good with only a couple of things I did not like. First the good: The ship was wonderful, the staff from room attendants, to food service people were great. The room we booked was perfect. I have never been much of a boat person and came prepared for the worst with see sick meds, but only needed it once mostly for nerves. We were on the top deck at the very back of the boat, don't remember the room number but it was 8086. Excellent room with a balcony and we got great views any time of day or night, The food was very good and selection was nice was well. For what we got I thought the price was fair. The on board shops were OK, not a huge selection but this is not a huge ship. I bought some clothes and jewelry which I thought were pretty good deals. We ate in the restaurant all but 2 nights where we went to two of the pay extra places. The best was Izumi, which is an Asian/ sushi restaurant. The food was excellent but the best part was the waiter Rosanno who made the evening special. I like spicy food and he went to the kitchen and made 3 types of wasabi with different levels of hot that were incredible. He also talked about where he grew up, his life and was interested in us as well. We had a great time I would give this place a 5 star rating. We did not book any of the off shore excursions mostly because we thought they were to expensive. I think this was the case except for our stop in Turkey, where it might have been worth the money to visit, as time was short. The other ports were very nice. We stopped in Split Croatia, Kusadasi Turkey, Mykonos Greece, and Katakolon Greece (Olympia). We had two days at sea as well. If you take this cruise there are excursions at all stops but I cannot comment on them as we did not use any. I will say that unless you want a guided tour the stop in Katakolon Greece can be made special depending on how adventurous you are. We decided to rent a car from Avis and drive the 30 minutes to Olympia and see the sites our self. The drive was very easy and we paid with gas 65 euros for 5 people. This was far less expensive then the boat sponsored tour. We had to pay for our entry into Olympia bit it amounted to 15 - 20 euros per person. If we had went by bus we could not have found a great restaurant in town called the Aegean which on Trip Advisor I rated a 5 star, it was incredible. Over all the cruise was very good except for a couple of things. First when you get on board you are given the option of getting unlimited drink stickers on your ship credit card (which by the way I don't really like because the cost can really add up if you don't watch it). I don't drink a lot so I chose the water/ soft drink option which was I think about 7.50 USD a day. My wife who likes to enjoy wine and drinks with dinner wanted to get the sticker for Alcohol which was 50.00+USD per day and they would not give it to her since I had taken the non-alcohol sticker saying we might cheat. That was not presented to me when I opted for the non-alcohol sticker. So I think that is a ploy to get couples to pay more then need be. Also tips are included on all food/ drink purchases even you don't want to pay as much as they say you have to pay, don't remember the exact percent but over 10% and less then 20%. I think I don'w want to remember because I believe in tipping based on service, and I feel I am a generous tipper not apposed to giving 20% with good service. I am sure the web site explains all this but like most people I don't really read all the fine print because if you disagree and don't sign you don't go. These were the only real issues I had and I know they are not big issues but that is all I could come up with, so over all this was a very good cruise and I would cruise with them again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
I travelled with my husband and our two friends, to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary. Embarkation - was fast and smooth due to the fact I had pre-arranged with the Company to receive assistance as I have mobility issues. Staff were ... Read More
I travelled with my husband and our two friends, to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary. Embarkation - was fast and smooth due to the fact I had pre-arranged with the Company to receive assistance as I have mobility issues. Staff were very helpful and made this a very pleasant experience. Cabin - We arrived at our cabin to find it very fresh, clean and spacious. The bathroom was larger than I have experienced on other ships and was a very welcome sight. The limited space was well utilized with adequate cupboard space. However having booked balcony cabin 8345 it was not the one as advertised in the stateroom plan. There seems to me a major mix up and basically Celebrity have got it wrong!! So beware when booking 8345 you will get 8343 which means it has a restricted view and misshapen balcony which restricts light coming on to it! Dining - We tended to dine mostly in the Main restaurant where no supplement was required as the food was excellent. Lots of choice and sterling quality. There were a lot of restaurants if you are prepared to pay the extra supplement but I didn't see the point! Public Rooms - were spotless. In the ladies toilets there was always an attendant cleaning and restocking and (having the occasional chat on her mobile phone) but this didn't detract from her doing a thorough job. Entertainment - was below power compared to other ships I have been on and could have been much better if the 'acts' had gone through strenuous vetting before coming on board! Spa & Fitness - My husband used the fitness area which he rated very highly apart from having no drinking fountain in the sauna area. He felt the staff being motivated by bonuses were unhelpful unless you were paying into the various deals on offer. Shore Excursions - we didn't go on any because we felt they were overpriced but opted to pre-book independent companies from the comfort of our home via the internet. Service - was good, considering a 15% gratuity was added to every drink purchased, including the mini bar in the cabin. I felt this was a bit much as we frequently went to the bar to get drinks ourselves. Value-for-Money - Considering the high quality of the food, the cleanliness of the ship and the quality of destinations, I think it was definitely value for money. However because we didn't get the cabin we requested we felt we were overcharged for the room we got. Rates - We paid full price for this cruise and were very happy to do so because it was a special occasion but the cabin was overpriced and very disappointing simply because we didn't get what we booked. This cruise was excellent, we stayed healthy (due mainly I believe to the vigilant efforts by the staff to sanitize the ship constantly), the food was of a high standard and the loungers on the sun decks were the most comfortable I have ever experienced. These three points made my cruise worthwhile. The issue with the cabin has yet to be resolved by Celebrity and depending on the outcome, I will decide whether to sail again with them. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
This was my first cruise and I had read mixed reviews so I didn't know what to expect. Because I've never sailed on another line, this review is best taken by others looking for a reaction to a first time cruise. Embarkation: We ... Read More
This was my first cruise and I had read mixed reviews so I didn't know what to expect. Because I've never sailed on another line, this review is best taken by others looking for a reaction to a first time cruise. Embarkation: We took a water taxi in Venice from our hotel to the port. Picked up at 10:30, we were taken straight to the ships dock and our luggage was handled and checked by NCL porters immediately. Contrary to other reviews, I was not able to check a bag of sodas and water we purchased at a local market. We were told that liquids and/or the open bag couldn't be checked. It was a long walk from the pier to the building for check in. Maybe it felt longer than it was because we'd been walking around Venice for 4 days. Once in the building I finally found where to check in and we had our Sign & Sail card in a matter of minutes. After whisking through security we were on board and headed straight to the Garden Buffet. It was busy as usual, but we did immediately find a table. At 12:30 it was announced our rooms were ready. The Stateroom: I had originally booked a balcony room but by continually watch for price drops I was able to upgrade to a mini-suite. We ended up in room 11636. This is the very last room on port side. I was thrilled to find that because it was the room at the end of the hall, we had a much larger balcony. It did make getting to anything at the front of the ship a trek, but it was worth it. The storage in the room was plenty for 3 people. 4 large drawers and two smaller ones plus a large closet. Only 3 small shelves in the bathroom did not provide enough space for 3 women's beauty products, but I had taken the advice of other cc.com members and brought an over-the-door shoe storage that held everything we needed. It hung on the shower door nicely. The beds were amazingly comfortable, pillows very fluffy. I am 5'10" and my feet did hang over the edge, but I felt it was a small price to pay. My 16 year old daughter slept on the convertible couch, which pulled out to a full-sized bed. I tried it once and it was very hard and uncomfortable. The safe in the room was plenty large enough to hold all three travel wallets, two phones and my ipad. With lots of room to spare. It did quit locking at one point but was immediately repaired by maintenance. We emptied the minfridge and it held 24 cans of soda and 3 bottled water (1ltr. Sized). It kept the drinks relatively cold, though we did ice our drinks so it didn't matter much. The bathroom was separated into three sections. There are glass sliding doors that part the tub and toilet from the sink area. The shower head was not tall enough for me but I made due. The sink was ample size for face and teeth washing. There was a nice lip all the way around the tub for bottles and such. The water temp and pressure was great. The toilet is very loud and vacuums like an airplane toilet. The balcony was the most amazing part of this room. It was extra large due to the placement on the ship, and our room steward was more than happy to snag us a lounge chair from the pool deck. It fit perfectly with plenty of room for the small table and other chair. We even put the coffee table from the sitting area out there and could still move around with no space issues. I specifically chose NCL and a balcony room so I could smoke on my balcony. There were no other rooms behind us, so no one was bothered by smoke wafting back as the ship cruised. NCL provided me with a very nicely designed ashtray that prevented ashes from blowing around or spilling out. While we could keep our curtains open and enjoy the beautiful Medeterrainian sun, it was also very easy to make the room nearly pitch black for sleeping. We never once heard any noise from any other rooms or the hallway. Only on the balcony were we able to hear or feel anything from the restaurants one floor above. THE FOOD: we frequented the Garden Cafe buffet as it was most convenient to our room and we preferred the more casual atmosphere. The buffet easily accommodated a variety of cultures while giving ample choices to all. I had an omelet every morning and with 3-4 omelette stations there was never a long wait. Fresh fruit was readily available. We also often had the buffet for lunch/dinner as I love a good salad bar. Amazing choices. I never had to wait or go hungry. Only on disembarkation day did we have trouble finding a table. The MDR was a bit too formal for my taste, though it was fun too feel like I was on The Love Boat for a meal. Plenty of variety on the menu. We preferred the smaller Alizar room atmosphere. We only attended one pay restaurant, Moderno. It was amazing, from the service to the desserts. I hit the Blue Lagoon often, as it offered the best French Fries on the ship. THE CASINO: this is where I spent the majority of my time. It was small with about 20 table games and 200 machines, but it was not a busy place so I always had a seat where I wanted to play. The dealers were wonderful. Very friendly and called me by name. When a table was having a good time, the casino host bought drinks. There was always someone offering to refresh your drink and they would change your ashtray after every cigarette. The whole casino was kept amazingly clean and orderly There were 3 poker tourneys on this cruise, I only played the first one. They are structured as a rebuy tourney and add-ons, so it was really only about who wanted to spend the most money. I also played the slots tournament, won the second round and won the finals. There were only 4 of us in the finals, but I still won $125, a t-shirt and a bottle of wine. I attempted the blackjack tournament, but after 6 tries I gave up. For $15 a pop, it's worth taking a shot. This was the area I was most impress with. They would also allow me to come in and smoke even if they were closed. THE REST OF THE SHIP: honestly i didn't spend much time anywhere else. I did a self guided tour with my mother one evening and it was pleasant to see all the ship had to offer. My daughter (16) loved the teen club and I didn't see her much unless we were in port. She made many friends that she is still in contact with. I had no concerns with her running around the ship til 1am. Never once was there any safety or security concerns. PORTS CORFU: my favorite of all, I had pre-booked a speedboat rental with Nissaki Boat Rentals. A taxi took us to the rental shop for 45 euro. The boat itself was 65 euro and 10 for fuel. We putted around the island enjoying the peace and quite of secluded beaches and hardly any other boat traffic. SANTORINI: the island I had booked the entire cruise for. We took the donkeys up the cliff, which really only takes you about 1/2 way up and you are forced to walk the rest of the way, which in the 85 degree weather was exhausting. My 60 year old mother swims a mile a day and she was close to a heart attack after that walk. We then met a privately booked tour guide at the top who walked us another mile to where he was able to park. This tour cost 375 euros for 7 people. And excellent price we felt. We got him for 5 hours to show us the island. He took us to the most picturesque places, and the black sand beach on the other side of the island. It was an exhausting day but a beautiful island. We returned to the ship in time to see the most famous sunset in the world from our balcony. MYKONOS: this was the most relaxing island for us. We choose just to browse the town and shop. Spent a few hours walking around, enjoyed a Greek appetizer sampler, and returned to the ship. We were still recovering from the rough day on Santorini the day before. KATAKOLON: We had a surprisingly hot day for mid June at almost 100 degrees, so we barely made it into town before we grabbed a table for a lemonade and free wifi before returning to the ship. Thank goodness we didn't attempt a tour to Olympia. DISEMBARKATION: On the last sea day we went down early in the morning to find that the luggage tags for disembarkation times was almost empty. We still got close to the time we needed. On the day of, we disembarked with ease after only a short wait. About 10-15 minutes later than scheduled. We easily found a cab to the airport. All in all I would recommend this cruise, this ship, and NCL to anyone I know. I already have 3 more cruises in the works within the next year, all with NCL. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
We spent 5 days on Ventura, first time on this ship, we thought the staff were very friendly, the food was good and the service as always excellent.We dined in the Bay tree restaurant, the food was good and the service excellent.We also ... Read More
We spent 5 days on Ventura, first time on this ship, we thought the staff were very friendly, the food was good and the service as always excellent.We dined in the Bay tree restaurant, the food was good and the service excellent.We also dined in Marco Pierre White - White Room, this was awesome !!!!! Awesome food, Awesome service, thoroughly recommend this restaurant if you travel on this ship !!!My only bug bear of the trip was the failure of the dress code :( Guests on the ship on black tie night, arriving at the restaurant not in black tie, no sign of a tie !!! And on the casual night's, the attire was less than acceptable, far too casual, I personally think these should be addressed by P&O, and standards should be maintained!!!!! Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
Booking/Air. We booked this cruise probably 3-4 weeks prior to the sailing date because of the great price Celebrity offered after the final payment date. The AirChoice prices were a little bit high, but since the cruise fare was very ... Read More
Booking/Air. We booked this cruise probably 3-4 weeks prior to the sailing date because of the great price Celebrity offered after the final payment date. The AirChoice prices were a little bit high, but since the cruise fare was very affordable both expenses evened each other out. Our flight was with Lufthansa and it was so far the best experience. The service was great! The plane was clean and the seats were comfortable even for Coach Class. And the most important thing is - there were no delays: The flight was scheduled at 5:35 PM. They loaded the baggage and the passengers, the door closed at 5:35 PM, and they taxied the plane at 5:40 PM. Wheels up at 5:45 PM. The cruise was starting in Venice and ending in Venice. We always arrive at least one or two days before a cruise (if time allows then we arrive a week prior to a cruise). Since it was a last minute deal I was a little nervous about finding a hotel in Venice. I really didn't want to end up dragging my suite cases (and I am not a light packer) over the bridges and curbstones or hiring a 100 EURO water taxi. After booking, re-booking, and cancelling three different hotels in Piazza San Marco area, I read a very good advice on CruiseCritic (Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!) to book a hotel in Mestre. With my luck I was able to get a room at Hotel Plaza, which is right across the Train Station. When we arrived to Venice we took a public bus from the airport to Mestre Bus Station. It's only 6 EURO per person. The bus runs every 20 minutes and the Bus Station in Mestre is probably 100 meters away from the hotel where we stayed. What a smart move on my side! I've heard that you would have a better experience staying in Venice, but it was our first time in Venice and we only had half a day. Being jet legged after a long flight, I didn't think we could stay up that late to enjoy Venice at night. Hotel Plaza is conveniently located across the Train Station. You can get the tickets right at your hotel (just don't forget to validate them!) and the cost is 1.20 EURO per ticket. By the way, there is a nice supermarket probably a few blocks away from the hotel where you can get water, wine, toiletries, etc. The trains to Venice go every 5 minutes and it takes about 5-7 mins to get to Venezia Santa LuciaTrain Station from where you can start your walk through the city toward Piazza San Marco. Interesting thing: you have a map given to you at the hotel, but you don't even need a map - the crowd carries you through the streets and over the bridges to Rialto Bridge and then to Piazza San Marco! Since the ship was docked overnight at the end of the cruise we had a chance to enjoy Venice one more day! And I must say - it's an amazing city and it's absolutely beautiful! We loved it and would like to go back sometime soon! Now the actual review of our cruise.... Embarkation. We shared a taxi from our hotel to the port with two fellow cruisers (Hi, Robert and Jose!) we met on our RollCall. I think we paid 20 EURO per couple. It was the easiest and the most organized embarkation in my experience. There were two lines to drop off your baggage: one for those with luggage tags, and another one for those who didn't have luggage tags and the ship/port personnel was helping to sign and to attach the tags. The lines were moving very fast. I think it took us just about 2-3 minutes to drop off our suite cases. The luggage was immediately taken by the porters and moved to the terminal. No need to tip porters or worry about your luggage. A short walk to the terminal and you are on the second floor where you are met by Celebrity personnel and escorted to the correct line/counter based on your membership or stateroom. We are Elite and there was no line at our check-in counter. The whole check-in procedure took less than 10 minutes. As usual, there were a few stations where they were offering/selling "Beverage" or "Dining" packages. We were not interested in either of them so we headed straight to Oceanview Cafe. To my big surprise it wasn't crowded at all. Usually the buffet area is a mess on the day of embarkation (and disembarkation for that matter!) and we try to avoid it if possible, but this time it was nice, quiet and pretty empty. Our staterooms were ready by 1:45 PM. Oh, one thing that disappointed me was that there was no welcoming Champagne or Mimosas. When I asked about it, the officer who was greeting everybody said that the Champagne would be served during sailaway party on Deck 14, which was very nice, but I still missed that very nice touch of Celebrity's trademark. The welcoming Champagne makes me feel very special and welcome. I could order a glass of wine during sailaway if I wanted to. Entertainment. One more area where I was very impressed. We saw almost every evening show and each and everyone of them was worth watching. Just amazing performance of Celebrity singers and dancers - great production shows! We just loved stand up comedian Fred Klett, singer Enrico Cifiello and incredible violinist Vincenzo Gentile! There were lots of activities on the ship during "sea days", so you'd never be bored. We particularly enjoyed the Captain of the ship Dimitrios Kafetzis. Yes, he can be featured under entertainment as well. He was very young, therefore very approachable. He also had a great sense of humor; he always cracked jokes on his daily announcements and he was also the first Captain that I know of that participated in the Guest/Officers water volleyball game. And even though he was comical and easy going it was also clear to see that his officers and his crew respected him greatly. We also fell in love with one more person on board - Cruise Director, Alejandro! Once again - the best Cruise Director in all our cruises! I think I use a lot of "the best" words! But he was truly the best - very funny, very entertaining and very enthusiastic! Ship appearance/Public rooms/Staterooms. The ship is just beautiful! We've sailed on Silhouette two years ago, and she hasn't changed since then: still clean, spotless, and bright! We had a regular veranda stateroom. I had to mention a couple of (very little) things to our stateroom attendant. First, we didn't find the vase with the cotton balls and q-tips in the bathroom. I'm not sure if Celebrity is phasing out free cotton balls and q-tips or our stateroom attendant was just forgetful. Second, we didn't see the cute little chocolates on the pillow on the first night after the turndown service. We "blamed" it on the first night hassle. But on the second night we expected it. What do you know? No chocolates on the pillow again. Oh, and by the way, while walking down the hall to our stateroom we saw the boxes of those chocolates on the carts they use for carrying supplies, towels, clean sheets, etc. It means "some guests" were getting those chocolates. Anyway, it didn't ruin our cruise, but I kindly asked (left the note) our stateroom attendant what had happened to our chocolates? On the third night, little chocolates appeared on our pillows and we were getting them every night along with some towel art! My question is: is this how Celebrity trying to save $$$ - "Don't ask - don't get it"? Dining. Oh, boy... I don't even want to start here. This topic has been discussed to death and there are so many opinions about the quality and selection of food/dining options. I can honestly give my own opinion. I didn't like (or didn't enjoy) the food in the MDR as much as I used to. It wasn't awfully bad, but it wasn't the same as it was just six months ago when we were on Reflection. We had only one dinner at the specialty restaurant, "Lawn Club Grill". Yes, it is overpriced, but we are not paying for the prestige, we are paying for the experience. You get to make your own flat bread, knit it, roll it, and flip it in the air. The rest of the menu, such as the lamb, the kabobs, the lobster mac and cheese, and the hot cookie desert are especially delicious. It is definitely worth trying at least once, my daughter and I decided to make it a tradition when we are on any of the S-class ships. In addition, it would be more economical to purchase a dining package (35% off a combination of restaurants), but the cruise was so port intensive that I was too afraid to make such a commitment and then lose money in the end. It was simply safer to pay full price and not have the reservations hanging over our shoulders. Captains Club Breakfast. Add pictures only Officers/Crew. The crew was absolutely amazing! Always smiling, always nice and accommodating to all our requests! Senior officers were always around in the public areas: in the early morning by the pool or in Oceanview Cafe, by the gangway, on every deck, in the Theater in the evening. It was a very approachable team and it was a pleasure to communicate with them. Every member of the crew we've met was trying to go an extra mile to please us and to fulfill any of our request. Our wonderful waiter, Mohan, and his assistant Alina were bringing an extra basket of multigrain bread every evening after the first night when they learned our preferences. Assistant Metr'd in the Oceanview Cafe made a call to the kitchen and asked for an order of bread pudding when we came back late from the tour after lunch hours. One of the staff from the kitchen brought us a whole plate of fresh fruits late at night. And Marketing manager, Bradley, helped us fix an issue with our cancelled tour and get us a refund. I can go on and on and on about a wonderful experience and great people who made our cruise really enjoyable and memorable! Ports/Tours. We didn't use Celebrity Excursions so I can't comment on this. But we had private tours in almost every port. Dubrovnik. Did it on our own. We hired a taxi with another couple from our ship. The original price was 25 EURO for all of us to take us to the top of the hill where the cable car was. But then the driver offered us 1.5 hour drive around the area with multiple photo stops (including the top of the hill). At the end of the tour he would bring us back to the gates of the Old Town. The cost for this ride was 50 EURO for all of us. It was a deal. By the time we got to the Old Town there were no line at the ticket box to buy the tickets to walk the wall. It was a very hot day to walk the wall - I'd rather spend the time swimming or diving, but Dubrovnik is absolutely beautiful! The people that live there are so nice and kind! And we couldn't miss the opportunity to try a desert Dubrovnik is famous for - Rozata. Rome(Civitavecchia). We've been to Rome before, so this time we decided to explore Civitavecchia's surroundings. This private tour organized together with our RollCall members through the company RomeInLimo - "Orvieto and Civita Bagnoregio". Our driver/guide was more "just a driver" than "a guide", but still it was an interesting tour and very-very beautiful places to visit! Oh, and the wild strawberry gelato in Orvieto - is the best!!! Naples. One more excellent private tour of Amalfi Coast with RomeInLimo. Our driver Giovanni was fantastic! We skipped Pompeii and had chose the tour of "Amalfi Coast, Positano and Ravello". Along the way our great driver made a couple of stops at the most beautiful hotels on Amalfi Coast: Il San Pieto Di Positano and Santa Caterina. The views were just breathtaking! We also had a short stop at ceramic factory Ceramiche Casola, but the prices were so high that it turned into "just tour". A short lunch stop in Ravello was very relaxing and delicious!!! Catania/Sicily. This private tour was organized with "Coop. Sicily Life" and included the visit of volcano Etna and some time on our own in Taormina. When is Sicily... It was on our agenda to try real Sicilian Cannoli! Mission accomplished!!! Valletta/Malta. This tour (and the tour in Split) was organized through Private Guides Team. Malta - what an interesting place: totally catholic with such a strong Middle Eastern or North African influence! The heat was unbelievable (+35 C). And... we were given a vehicle without AC! We sent an unpleasant email to the tour operator and as a compensation we were given 50 EURO discount for our next tour in Kotor. The highlight of our tour in Malta was our guide Rose Fabri - probably the best and the most knowledgeable guide I've ever met. We've learned so many interesting things about Malta, we've heard so many amazing facts about Malta! The excursion included the Tour of Medina - the Silent City, Marsaxlokk - the traditional Maltese fishing village and Dingli Cliffs. And the Blue Grotto - the Sea Cave is a must see when in Malta! Kotor/Montenegro. For this tour we contacted an independent guide Milo Popovic who was recommended on CruiseCritic. It turned out that he was booked for this day, but he recommended his colleague Nenad. Our 5 hour tour included the visit of Perast, Budva, St Stefan old fisherman village transformed into town-hotel and panoramic ride to Njegusi with a magnificent view of Boka bay. There was a stop for lunch at a not-so-touristy family owned place where we bought locally smoked ham!!! Split/Croatia. One more tour with Private Guides Team. This time the vehicle was absolutely new, clean, with working AC and with bottles of cold water for everyone. The guided tour included the visit of old town of Split and Trogir - a charming little town on a small island. And our guide Frank was fantastic - tons of information, very knowledgeable, very well organized tour! Highly recommend him. Venice. The ship was docked overnight in Venice and our goal was to visit Burano and Murano. But our arrival to Venice was delayed till noon due to extremely low tides. That messed up our schedule and plans. We decided to cancel prebooked Celebrity excursions and to go to Murano on our own. If time permitted we would go to Burano as well. Thanks to so many detailed posts on CruiseCritic it was really easy to get from port/ship to Murano. We took PM to Piazelle Roma where we bought vaporetto 12 hour pass for 18 EURO per person. It was a good deal since you could use vaporetto as many times as you wanted during 12 hour period (again - don't forget to validate it every time you board the boat!). Murano is a small charming town famous for its glass business. You can walk it in 2 hours, have lunch and get back to Venice. No need to have a tour - but it's my opinion. We spent the rest of the day in Venice just wondering around the streets and enjoying our time. Dress code/Formal nights. I know it's the same "hot-button" topic for discussion as food, especially considering the luggage fees and weight restrictions. But we love to dress up for formal nights (and not only for formal nights for that matter). Our life is so busy and we rarely go out to a fancy restaurants to have dinner. And cruise is the only place and time when we can afford to spend two hours of our time to get dressed and actually enjoy that time. But for the reason mentioned above we try to limit our dresses/outfits or bring "little black dress" Coco Chanel once designed and said that every woman should have it in her wardrobe! :-) Unfortunately, the dress code on Celebrity ships is getting more "liberal" (don't want to use stronger word). However, to our pleasant surprise our last cruise was an exception. I haven't seen anybody dressed sloppy during dinner in MDR even on casual nights. And Formal Nights were such a joy! The women were absolutely gorgeous in beautiful cocktail dresses! You won't believe how many women were wearing long gowns!!! As a matter of fact there were so many of them that we looked underdressed in our cocktail dresses. And for our next cruise we decided to bring at least one long gown for Formal Night. Disembarkation. As easy as embarkation. Since we had a later flight we left the ship with one of the last groups. Took a taxi - the cost is the same as Celebrity's transfer, but I didn't want to be attached to the bus and to the schedule. And LAST but not LEAST... Private shared tours... We all know that CruiseCritic is a wonderful website and gives us an excellent opportunity to meet people on our RollCalls, to make new friends and to organize private tours. The beauty of a private tour is that it's more personal, less (much more less!) expensive than ship's excursions, you can alter this tour the way you and your small tour group wants and you get to see more. However, there is a risk associated with any private tours. In most of the cases tour operators don't require the deposit. Sometimes they require Credit Card information of the person who organizes the tour. Fortunately, some companies are implementing such an option as "shared tour" when all guests from the group submit their Credit Card info and are responsible for their own "no show" fees. But when it's not a case then, unfortunately, we can end up paying for the guests who decide to cancel at the last moment. I would like to kindly ask our fellow cruisers: if you participate in RollCall group tours - please show up on the day of the tour. If for any reason (and I understand - anything can happen) you or one of the members of your family decide not to show up then please have a decency and pay your tour fees. I think it's just not fair to punish the rest of the group and make them "split the cost 6 ways" because one of your family member couldn't go. And as our fabulous Captain says  OUT.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
The seventeenth cruise, 7 with Celebrity, first on Silhouette. Flew from Gatwick to Marco Polo, were met by a private transfer and in Cabin 6178 by 6.30 for an overnight stay. The Cabin was a 2C category with a partial obstruction with ... Read More
The seventeenth cruise, 7 with Celebrity, first on Silhouette. Flew from Gatwick to Marco Polo, were met by a private transfer and in Cabin 6178 by 6.30 for an overnight stay. The Cabin was a 2C category with a partial obstruction with the top of the tender in line with the base of the balcony. The cabin was satisfactory except for a lack of drawer space. The ship is glamorous with lots of facilities and plenty of room. Our opinion being that we preferred the size and layout of the Millenium Class but there was nothing to dislike about the Silhouette. The staff were at all times very helpful and a strong feature was the number of Ship's Officers that walked about and were very approachable. The desire to please was very evident and a comment card to put in the cabin after 2 days to ask for any comments on how they could improve the service. We were Elite members and used the evening happy hour to meet people who had been on the Cruise Critic Message Board. We had made arrangements to go on 5 Cruise Critic members private tours and besides reducing the cost of going ashore it helped to make a friends. The Elite happy hour and private tours took up much of our time and we used very little of the on-board activity facilities. We took the Select dining option in the Main Dining Room and this allowed us to have dinner with people we met on the private trips. We mostly went to the AquaSpa Cafe for breakfast, were nearly always off the ship for lunch and usually ate dinner in the MDR except once in Quisine, Bistro on 5, and twice in the buffet. We went to the MDR for Brunch, Elegant Tea (didn't go a second time), Tuscany for one breakfast and had one served in the cabin. The food was plentiful, adequate and enjoyable. Select Dining and arrangements with others meant that we didn't go to the theatre as much as usually. The first big 'broadway' show was a repetition of performances we'd seen on other cruises but the final show was different and interesting. Celebrity have sorted out disembarkation and it was easy, swift and uncomplicated. There was a confusion over the Shuttle but that was quickly resolved. We stayed two nights in Rome. We had been there twice previously and the ruins etc remain wonderful but they were the same ruins! Our journey back was dreadful. The private car had been arranged to early so we had to wait to check-in. The plane was late boarding. We arrived late in Gatwick and missed out bus by one minute and had to wait 2 hours. The journey to Heathrow took 2 hours and there was a thirty minute delay on the M4 at Bristol so we arrived at an empty bus station and there were taxis. The itinerary was port intensive with eleven ports and only one sea day. This was very demanding and it would have been better if there had been at least one more sea day. We enjoyed the cruise and Celebrity is now our preferred cruise company.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
Returned last week from my Greek Isle Cruise with Royal Caribbean. I'll start with the ship first then move to the ports of call. Embarking was easy, except you have to take your luggage across the street then walk back over to the ... Read More
Returned last week from my Greek Isle Cruise with Royal Caribbean. I'll start with the ship first then move to the ports of call. Embarking was easy, except you have to take your luggage across the street then walk back over to the port to check in. The rooms were ready right when I boarded which was around 2:30 local time. I had an inside cabin on deck 2 the room was very comfortable with lots of storage. Overall the ship was clean and they had coffee, lemonade, tea, apple juice etc out at all times. I felt like the food was just ok. The food in the Windjammer Cafe never seemed to be very hot, just warm or less than warm. The main dining room food was hot but I guess I expected the options to be more gourmet. They were kind of run of the mill. I did try some different things, like Lobster Bisque and Duck and they were just ok. The best thing I had was the filet, very tender and yummy. Even the desserts were just ok. I went to several shows and they were great the dancers were very impressive. The belly flop contest was a hoot. The acrobatic show in the Centrum the last night was very impressive too.To the ports of call, I did a shore excursion in every port except Katakolon. I was happy with the shore excursions except I wish we would have had more time in Oia, the tour guide told us the best views were at the end of the town and that takes 20 mins. to walk down there and then 20 mins. back and we only 40 mins. total in Oia. So we got to walk down the pathway take photos and walk back and barely made it back to the bus. Personally I could skip the winery and spend more time in Oia. I read several reviews how hard it was to take the cable car down to the ship. There were three ships in port that day. We did have to stand in line apprx. 30 mins or so but the line moved quickly. In retrospect I wish I would have done my own thing there and been able to spend more time in Oia maybe having lunch up there. I wasn't sure if the Oylmpic Village in Katakolon was going to interest me but it was very interesting and there is a museum too. 9 euros for the museum and village. We took the 7:45 shore excursion to Athens and arrived at the Acropolis before it got really busy, when we left it was getting packed and hot. Overall it was a great vacation. Would have liked the food to have been a little better and more time in Oia which is the main reason I took this cruise to begin with. I went one day early and stayed in Venice, very nice place. I booked a reservation for St. Mark's Basilica online "skip the line" for 1.70 euro and walked right in no standing in line. If you buy anything in Venice I think they have a tendancy to "short change" tourist. It happened to me a couple times and my friend said they did it to her too. Ciao!! Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
We just returned from a 7 week cruise with the MSC Divina and we have loved it. Before writing this review I have been reading some others to see what the general thought is.Well, if you want to enjoy this cruise, you need know a few ... Read More
We just returned from a 7 week cruise with the MSC Divina and we have loved it. Before writing this review I have been reading some others to see what the general thought is.Well, if you want to enjoy this cruise, you need know a few things and adept to it. Let me start be saying that you can see that MSC is an Italian company and you can see it in everything in the ship. Learn to love it and use it to your advantage: you will have real coffee, you can expect good cocktails, high prices for alcohol (if you don't have a package) and the restaurants will be Italian style as well.I have read a few review saying that some of the people in the ship have no manners: pushing in front or not saying 'excuse me'. Well, you can start bothering about this, or just live with it. When you come in to the ship (after an excursion or something), you can push around and try to get into the elevator. Or you walk 1 stairs up, walk 20 seconds to the next elevator group and not have to wait for it.Dinning: The ship has a restaurant service 19:00 and 21:00 dinner. The waiters work extremely hard and try to speak your language (I have seen Indonesian waiters trying to speak and understand Germans and Italians). In general: when you are nice to them, say thank you, have a bit of patience and try to understand their situation (they literally run around bringing your food!!) then they will be kind to you as well. Being kind generally works better then shouting in your own language, be upset that he/she doesn't understand it and hope for great service because you tip him a bit.The food isn't great. But what can you expect if the kitchen has to serve 4-5 courses for a few 1000 people within 2 hours. Expect food you can prepare in mass or which are easy to through on a plate. The use of spices is also minimal; you have Italians, Germans, English, Americans and many other nationalities on board, all with a different taste-palette. There is also a buffet restaurant. Not great quality either and the behavior of the people makes it look like 'feeding time' in a zoo. Same things holds for the breakfast. Well, if you want to have excellent fine dining on your cruise-ship, chose one of the line where you pay triple the amount of money.Drinks.The currency of the ship is Euro. Except 5 euro's for a beer, 4,5 E for below average wine, and 6.5 for a cocktail. 1-3 E for coffee and 2 E for 1,5L of water. On top you have to pay a fee of 15%. I think that is expensive; but is it any different on another ship? You can also take the Allegrissimo package. For 23 euro's per person per day you can drink yourself stupid, have ice cream, have wine, take some bottles of water for in your room or on shore. For what I have seen from other cruise lines: this is basically the cheapest you can get. Drink 2 cocktails + 1 coffee + 1 ice cream and maybe 1 coke; and you already cover your costs. It just makes holiday so much easier when you don't have to think about bar-costs. The cocktails are great and quick btw. I loved it! You can also go for the 46 euro pppd package and get real champagne, some even fancier cocktails, mini bar service and some aged whiskey's and beer in a bottle.The Ship.The ship is new. The inside looks nice, flashy, shiny. There are plenty of themed bars, live music, shops, a large theater and it all looks nice. The shows are nice: the last about 45 minutes. Some are more music oriented (3 of them), there is 1 ballet show, 2 acrobatic and 1 mixed shows. It might not always be your style, but you see the effort and the dedication the performers put into it.The guests do use the towel-tric: trying to reserve their seat. Yup: if everybody wants to go have a tan on top of the ship, there is not enough space. If you see that boarding time from your excursion is 15:00 and you plan to go tanning afterwards: try to get a chair before 15:00, before the rest tries to get a chair. Excursions.If you don't want to think and book the excursions: they are fine. It all goes a bit slow though; but that is what you can expect if you are in a group of 20 - 50 people...Or you read quickly want the main excursions are about and you will have an idea of what there is to do in a city. I will name two examples:In Bari you can do a 3-4 hour city tour: go on a bus, have a walk and see about what is there. Maybe there is a lunch in it as well: expect 50 euro per person. Or you walk out of the ship, and go to a hop on hop off bus. Pay 15 euro's a person, do the same things and have a guide as well. Afterwards you go find a lunch yourself. Either find a restaurant or go to your favorite review page and find a restaurant. We had a 2 people lunch for 20 euro including free wifi. Easy saving.In Istanbul you will probably do the same touristy things as everybody: Haga Sofia, Blue Mosque, Topkapi palace, Hippodrome and the Bazaar. You can follow your group... or pay 3TL (1,20 eur) to take the tram which stops in front of the blue mosque! Over there everything is at a walking distance. So, all in all, I had a great time. For the money I could not have wished for more. I still had a 5 star feeling and am happy to have seen all these cities! Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
Booked a cabin for myself and my wife and another cabin for my stepdaughter, son-in-law and granddaughter who turned 15 on the cruise. Embarkation was quick and very efficent. The smoothes one I have experienced. Our cabin was very ... Read More
Booked a cabin for myself and my wife and another cabin for my stepdaughter, son-in-law and granddaughter who turned 15 on the cruise. Embarkation was quick and very efficent. The smoothes one I have experienced. Our cabin was very confortable, quiet and cabin attendents were very helpful, friendly and efficient. We booked late because had booked with Star Clipper but this cruise was cancelled due to ship being placed in drydock sobecause of late date, had limited choice in cabins on the Journey. The ship is beautiful and with the small number of passengers, it never felt growded. I did not have to wait more than 30 seconds for an elevator in the whole seven day! Food was very good with many different selection each evening and wait staff superb in being so welcoming and resourseful Thank you Viktoria! There were also special evening dinners such as Mediterranean Night which was served on the pool deck. All of the crew were very friendly from the captain on down and we greatly enjoyed the cruise director, Eric DeGray's humor and performances. Shore excusions were well managed. We were moved from ship to buses, etc., smoothly and also back on ship quickly. Azamara provides a free shore excusion on each cruise. We were treated to a classical performance in a former Greek outdoor theater in Ephesus. Amazing! Supposedly only the second time in 2000 years that a performance had been held in this theater. The dinner staff sang happy birthday and provided a birthday cake to my granddaughter on her birthday on (our last night on board) which I know is not unusual on a cruise but what I noticed most about the Journey's staff, was that they were genuinely fiendly throughout the cruise. What was most important for me was that each of my family members would have an educational, stimulating and enjoyable experience and they did! This along with the ships friendly crew, is one reason I am looking at the Journey's sister ship for a Black Sea cruise next year.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
Our cruise began with a tour of northern Italy on our own. Rented a car and drove to Trieste and then to Ljubljana. Trieste had much to offer in sights to visit. Took the hop on hop off bus and visited the Castello Miramare built by the ... Read More
Our cruise began with a tour of northern Italy on our own. Rented a car and drove to Trieste and then to Ljubljana. Trieste had much to offer in sights to visit. Took the hop on hop off bus and visited the Castello Miramare built by the Arch Duke Maximilian. We highly recommend this visit and the bus tour which hits the city highlites.Drove on to Ljubljana as this was one of the tours offered by the cruise line. We decided to take it on our own as the tour by the cruise line was very costly and the tour offered by the Line was very lengthy. Glad we did this on our own. Ljubljana was a disappointment to some degree. My wife and I enjoy historical sites and the old architecture. The city has a small historic area and can be seen in a very brief time. The old city is naturally along the river but it never was a large important location. There is a castle on the high prometory point affording a expansive view of the city and area. It is reachable by a funicular for 1 Eruo. It has a university and an artsy feel to it, but it is a very modern city of about 250,000. We did enjoy dinner at one of the hotels before driving to Venice.We arrived in Venice to catch the ship. Spent some time in Venice which is one of the cities my wife really enjoys. The history of Venice is overwhelming and one visit to the city is not enough. Left Venice and sailed to Koper Slovenia. Unfortunately the weather turned nasty. Got caught in a rain storm. Koper did not have a lot to offer as it is basically a port industrial city for Slovenia.The itinerary of this cruise was one of the reasons for our taking it. We sailed down the Adriatic Sea stopping in Split and Dubrovnik in Croatia and in Kotor in Montenegro. These were all beautiful cities with history dating to the Greek and Roman times. Kotor is a small town of about 13,000that is located in a fiord and surrounded by mountains. The sailing into the narrow passage is worth being up early when the ship arrives in port. The Old City of Kotor is one of the best preserved medieval towns in the Adriatic. The city is surrounded by an impressive wall and there are a great number of monuments of medieval architecture: churches, cathedrals, palaces and museums. You can do a self tour so save yourself the money and pass on the ships tour.We then sailed to Ravenna, Italy which was a disappointment. Took a ship tour since the port is about 20 minutes from the city center. The city is large but according to our guide most of the city was ruined by the bombing of World War II. We visited the beautiful Sant'Apollinare in Classe, an imposing brick structure dating from the beginning of 6th century by order of Bishop Ursicinus. It was consecrated on May 9, 549 by Bishop Maximian and dedicated to Saint Apollinaris, first bishop of Ravenna and Classe. The Basilica is thus contemporary with the Basilica of San Vitale of Ravenna. In 856, the relics of Saint Apollinaris were transferred from the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare in Classe to the Basilica of Sant' Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna. We also stopped by the Mausoleum of Teodorico, an ancient ruler who had the mausoleum built but does not rest there now.The local economy booms with a big chemical industry, the discovery of offshore gas deposits, and the construction of a new ship canal. These are the things you see en route from the ship to the city center.Sailed on to Bari Italy and then to Malta. From Malta we sailed to Sicily and then to Naples before ending at the port of Civitavecchia outside of Rome.Well, the food on the cruise was good but not as good as what we've had on other Celebrity ships. The buffet had great selections and we liked the floor layout for convenience and ease of moving around to various offerings. Service through out the ship was excellent and the staff courteous and helpful at all times. The entertainment was okay. Maybe I'm getting to the point where it seems repetitious. All of the ship facilities where well maintained. The exercise equipment was the latest and in excellent condition. There was ample shops on board with a good selection of high quality products if one is interested in shopping. The casino, according to my wife, was very stingy on their payouts. I would like to mention that we originally booked a cabin with a balcony on deck 8 but made a change to deck 6. When we made the change, we believed that the cabin had an unobstructed view. We learned before sailing that the cabin had an obstruction (life boats). On discussing the issue with our booking agent, she stated that we would be saving a thousand dollars and would find the lifeboats would not be much of an obstruction. In any event, we could not change cabins because the ship was sold out. Well we have to give our agent a big thank you for the savings, because there really wasn't much of an obstruction. We would do it again.We both agreed that this was an excellent cruise but the itinerary is definitely one that will tire you out. You will need a vacation in Tahiti to relax. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
We joined the ship in Corfu for a weeks cruise to be followed by a week at a hotel in Corfu. We have sailed with Thomson only once before which was May 2012 through the Suez Canal on the Celebration. Having enjoyed that cruise we decided ... Read More
We joined the ship in Corfu for a weeks cruise to be followed by a week at a hotel in Corfu. We have sailed with Thomson only once before which was May 2012 through the Suez Canal on the Celebration. Having enjoyed that cruise we decided to give them another go especially as Thomson combine it with a weeks stay also local flights which it are not easy to get with other lines. We were not disappointed, in fact I would say it was wonderful! Thomson's ships are older as they were previously owned by NCL, Holland America etc and are now leased from the Louie Lines. There are no balconies but the ships have been refurbished and are fine. We paid extra to have an outside superior and were pleased with the size of the cabin which had two large windows. However the single beds were quite small. The entertainment was amazing and far superior to any on Princess or Celebrity ships we have previously sailed on. The food in the dining rooms for dinner was excellent and we could not fault it. The buffet area was a lot smaller than any ship we have ever been on and it was always difficult to find a seat but not impossible as long as you were willing to go out on deck or downstairs to the Conservatory. All the staff are very friendly and cannot do enough for you. . Our itinerary was Koper, Venice, Split, Dubrovnik,Kotor. At all the ports other than Venice we did our own thing walking around the towns most of them being walled fortified towns. Dubrovnik was our favourite. The Venice trip on a gondola was something we wanted to do but turned out a little disappointing. All very rushed more or less pushed on, having to share with four other people my husband had to sit at the end on his own. No singing by the gondolier-who was quite abrupt and wore an old mack. no piped music. There is nowhere to sit in Venice unless you visit one of the overpriced cafes. There are signs everywhere telling you not in sit/lean on ancient monuments or steps. Anyway we have seen it now won't be returning! To conclude my review a very enjoyable cruise and I would definitely recommend Thomson Cruises as value for money. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
I normally cruise with a friend on an 'adult orientated' ship, however my niece turned 18 and I accompanied my sister in law on this cruise as her birthday gift. I had read reviews on Costa and was not looking forward to this ... Read More
I normally cruise with a friend on an 'adult orientated' ship, however my niece turned 18 and I accompanied my sister in law on this cruise as her birthday gift. I had read reviews on Costa and was not looking forward to this trip that much. However, after the initial shock to the senses, noise, smoking areas, I settled down and ended up really having fun. Fun is what Costa is all about, and they certainly go all out to make every day as good an experience as you can have. Now, smoking.....I am almost militant about non smoking, and I was prepared for the fact that smoking is allowed throughout the ship, but unlike the previous reviewer I did not find the whole ship to be 'filled with smoke'. It is allowed on one side of the ship, both inside and out, and throughout the Casino. I found that people did stick to this most of the time, and never found it an issue to find somewhere smoke-free. The idea that it would give you sinus problems is frankly ridiculous, and if you have problems with your sinuses, perhaps it is better to travel on another line. In Europe the anti-smoking lobby is far smaller than in the UK, or USA, and Costa would go broke if they banned smoking altogether. Surely this is what the member reviews are for, and if you take the trouble to write one, surely you must have read some! That's all about that. The ship is decorated in a style which is not to my taste, full of bright colours and I found the cafeteria restaurant to be quite dark away from the windows, not helped by the paint used. The food at breakfast was varied, and although the food was not of a luxury standard, it was well cooked and fresh. The lunchtime buffets, were dotted around the decks, and each day was a different nationality buffet, Spanish, German, Italian, and the seafood was really lovely, there was calamari, mussels and large prawns on more than one occasion. In fact, we almost enjoyed the lunches above dinner. Dinner service was not of the standard of Celebrity, but we had a waiter and a bus boy who were pleasant, and helpful, and remembered our drinks order. We personally could never have eaten the 7 courses, and normally a starter, main and possibly an ice cream was enough. My niece generally had the pasta starter as a main, and there was no problem with this, in fact they were always accommodating, even though they were run off their feet. Several evenings they had a 'party' type night, and the poor waiters had to either stand with torches, and our waitress even took part in some dancing on the balcony! Although my niece is 18, she is slightly special needs, and as we took the drinks deal, they also allowed her to just have the children's one, saving my sis in law about 70.00. I looked all over for a comparison to see if the drink deal was good value and couldn't find one, so I'm giving some examples here. Cocktails are 6.95, spirits 5.30, cappuccino 2.50, soft drinks (glass) 2.95, beer 4.90. All these are in euros, and plus 15% service. It doesn't take much adding up to see that 19.50 euros per day including the 15%, is an amazing deal. We're not big drinkers, but with a couple of coffees, and 3 or 4 drinks per day, we saved hugely! The shows were amazing, and not all in Italian at all, as good as West End, and although I don't usually attend on other lines, I found myself looking forward to them! In all, the crew and staff were really friendly, the officers much in view, and everyone went to so much trouble for you to have a good time. In the end, you get what you pay for, and you need to check on smoking, as they say, you pay your money and you take your choice. If you want value for money, great service, and lots of fun...give them a try! Go Costa! Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
Thomson majesty Adriatic explorer 03/05/2013 cabin 367 Initially there were dark mutterings from the teenager about the titanic , as we were led down to three deck. However the cabins were large and in good order , give or take the odd ... Read More
Thomson majesty Adriatic explorer 03/05/2013 cabin 367 Initially there were dark mutterings from the teenager about the titanic , as we were led down to three deck. However the cabins were large and in good order , give or take the odd drawer front. The T.V addicts amongst you may find the television on offer limited , if there at all. There were a few occasions when the promised movie didn't materialise at all. We had a lack of hot water issue that was resolved within fifteen minuets of arrival ,other than that we had no cabin complaints at all. Remember the further up you go the less you get for your outside plus cabin. Public spaces were of a good size and kept spotlessly clean, we had rain and there were still plenty of seats available around the ship. The tours were a little lack lustre , a reflection of the newness of the route. Venice was a bun fight as ever , the ten minuet gondola ride and boat transfer , hardly merited the price. When you compare the superlative tours of Rome , it came in as very poor value. Top marks to the captain for getting us into the port of Split, a lovely city with a great market on the day we were there. The shows were at a formative stage as this was the first week that some members of the entertainment team had joined. This in itself was quite entertaining as wigs flew off , and frankly some numbers were excruciating . There will always be the talented carrying the not so ... I'm sure it will shake down just fine in the end. The food is ample however I do feel the spend per head has probably dropped too low now. On this ship there is far more reliance on waiter service with a very optimistic menu to choose from. I don't think this works at this end of the market. My avocado and shrimp salad had two centimeter pieces of avocado , one leaf cut into four, one small shrimp, three slices of crab stick. It would be better to offer what you can do well , and drop the rest. We dined in the bistro one night and found the food to be excellent, hard to remember now that twenty years ago this was the standard of food offered through out cruise ships. Although in fairness the price of cruises then did reflect this. As usual with these vessels the front line crew are the people who make it what it is. Service is excellent by any ships standards , and the crew are exemplary , not so the officers but they are not being paid to smile. To sum up the Thomson majesty is very good value for money , it's very British ( no need to worry about Johnny foreigner jumping the buffet queue) . It's a good starter cruise and a nice easy cruise for the elderly and infirm. Just remember when your looking at all those massive cruise ships with their balconies and water slides. They have to use tenders for practically every port in the Adriatic , whilst majesty slips into dock.so if you want to see Dubrovnik before the whole of Baltimore turns up , go Thomson. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
Not long back from our first trip with MSC and all i can say it was way above expectation. Everything certain cruisers where complaining about were actually some of things i most enjoyed about the ship, i found the multitude of ... Read More
Not long back from our first trip with MSC and all i can say it was way above expectation. Everything certain cruisers where complaining about were actually some of things i most enjoyed about the ship, i found the multitude of nationalities particularly fascinating and utterly immersive, the announcements in five languages i thought was great and reflected the multicultural world we live in, while the line certainly has an Italian flare and the vast majority of passengers are indeed Italian i feel the ship had a more of an international feel about it (English is widely used and often preferred by some members of the crew)i thought the food was great and always available, The shows really were something else we were blown away by the productions on board you could tell they had spent a lot of money on them, and half an hour per show is perfectly adequate. we also found the staff the best we have come across we made some good friends with the crew and lot of exchanging of emails happened to keep in touch. we stayed in balcony Cabin 13047 and it was stunning and in a great location one deck below the pool deck. I don't wont to waffle on to much but if you were on the fence about MSC then i cant recommend it enough. We have now booked for the Armonia next year out of Dubai....let the countdown begin Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
Glad we didn't listen to the first reviews and cancel, which we were contemplating doing.We had the best vacation of our lives. We loved going to French Polynesia on the Paul Gauguin too. For our itinerary, it was a port everyday ... Read More
Glad we didn't listen to the first reviews and cancel, which we were contemplating doing.We had the best vacation of our lives. We loved going to French Polynesia on the Paul Gauguin too. For our itinerary, it was a port everyday (except when we were unable to anchor at one because of high winds) and the people going were interested in the historical places. That made everyday busy and we were all too tired to stay up at night and miss entertainment. The small size of the ship makes this a very social ship. The staff was superb and eating wherever you want, helps you to get to know your fellow travelers. The excursions helped get to know one another because the size of the tours were usually small. Going to the oracle in Delphi was probably the largest group. Favorite ports: Dubrovnik, Rhoades, Patmos and going to Delphi.Least favorite port: Zadar, Croatia we arrived on a Sunday. Most everything was closed on Sunday. When some shops (not any museums) opened, they closed from 2-5 and the ship left at 6.We docked everywhere except Dubrovnik - where we had a tender- (be aware that the time posted ahead of time for the tenders changed during the day so you could only go back to the ship every hour), Santorini where we had a tender and Mykonos was our on,y zodiac ride. They were fine and actually came and went more often than the tenders I thought.When you do a back to back tour, the menu will be mostly the same but that was good because we knew what we liked and what others tried and liked. There were about 14 of us that stayed on for the next week so we all got to know each other well.Staterooms were fine. Occasionally, our toilet area would smell like a ship toilet but on,y one other couple said that. I heard one couple complaining about their room being too hot and another about it being too cold. Our room was fine and had lots of storage. Bring your own hair dryer though.It is difficult to do some of your own laundry. On the pg, there was a rope that went over the bathtub. No bathtub on the TM just a circular shower. Our neighbor showed us how they did their laundry. You need plenty of rope to do a triangular hold in the bathroom. You can also bring your own wire hangers and hang clothes up over the bed using the air conditioner to hold them. Grab 2 beach towels and roll up laundry to get out excess water and one to put over the bed. We also used the laundry services and it was great.I assumed we would have guest lecturers but we didn't. Actually, going on the TM arranged tours gave you well qualified guides.Can't say enough about the staff and how wonderful they were. Kudos to all of them for working so hard to make our vacation wonderful. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
This was my first time to Europe and longest cruise to date. We arrived in Rome 2 nights early and very glad we did there was a little adjustment needed to the time change. Stayed in the heart of Rome at the Cosmopolita Hotel and enjoyed ... Read More
This was my first time to Europe and longest cruise to date. We arrived in Rome 2 nights early and very glad we did there was a little adjustment needed to the time change. Stayed in the heart of Rome at the Cosmopolita Hotel and enjoyed it allot best thing was by far the location. Took a private car from Rome to the airport as there were 5 of us and well worth the money. Arrived at the port about 1pm and boarded quickly without problems were able to go straight to our rooms, where thanks to our family and travel agent champagne awaited us.Had a little champagne and checked out the balcony very nice,then grabbed a bite of lunch at the windjammer although it was full were able to find a table without problems. We then explored the ship a little and went to muster stations (muster was very formal and informative) after that we looked for other cruise critic members( we all were wearing mardi gras beads) only found a few but proceeded to the deck for the sail away. Then back to our rooms to unpack(our luggage was waiting for us no problems, as was Jimmy our room steward, I can not say enough about Jimmy he kept us and our other cruise mates organized and assisted us even when we did not realize we need assistance. Dinner for us was late seating there were 5 in our group with 6 chairs the 1st night that was removed for the remainder. I am gluten free due to a sensitivity not allergy and as soon as I mentioned it to Bovino it was if they fell over backwards to accommodate me. The Maitre D would arrive at the end of the meal every night to go over the next nights offerings and let me know if they could make the choices gluten free or not. I had a plate of gluten free bread brought to me every evening. By far the best though was when I saw Chocolate Souffle on the menu the Maitre D was not sure if they could make it but said they would try, to my surprise the next night I received 2 very hot absolute perfect souffles the best I have ever had. My table mates even felt mine were better than theirs. Needless to say we had no complaints about the food or dinning room service at dinner also did go to the dinning room for breakfast and lunch when we could again food was great and all except our last day at sea service excellent the last day they just seemed inattentive and rushed no specific complaints. On to excursions I took 3 excursions through the ship all were well organized and efficient I did find the buses cramped (leg room impossible for me 5"8" sister and the sights especially in Sicily were over run by buses from multiple cruise lines. Our Crete tour with the ship was not as crowded and took us a little more of the beaten path. My favorite excursion and port was Turkey we were on a private tour with others from our cruise critic message board and it was very nice to only have 11 of us in a van much more personal. I loved all the places we visited but was most impressed with lunch and the Terrace houses. Even a sudden thunder storm and getting lost and soaked did not change my opinion especially with the wonderful assistance we got getting re-connected with our tour group. As far as events o the ship we saw the ice show and 1 other show only. There is so much more to do than we had the time or energy for. I would recommend this cruise to anyone who want to get a "taste of the Med" all the tours we choose were taste of and that is what they were they gave us a taste to let us know what we would like to visit in the future. I would recommend this cruise and these dates to anyone the weather was neither hot or cold, I found everyone on and off the ship to be very friendly and helpful. Cannot wait to go again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
It did not start well with the cab driver advising us that LHR was closed due to an emergency landing. Thankfully no one was hurt and our plane to Athens was one of the few that were not cancelled or severely delayed that day. On landing ... Read More
It did not start well with the cab driver advising us that LHR was closed due to an emergency landing. Thankfully no one was hurt and our plane to Athens was one of the few that were not cancelled or severely delayed that day. On landing we took a cab to the Athens Marriott. A good hotel, but a bit isolated out of town on the main road between Athens and Piraeus. We could see the Acropolis from the nice rooftop pool area, but that was as close as we got, and we ate at dinner a nearby Italian restaurant which was the only restaurant we could find in the area. After breakfast in the club floor lounge we caught a cab down to the port. Having sailed from Athens before we knew it was usually a speedy efficient boarding process. There were 2 lines, one for suites and one for everyone else, so no recognition for LCV members here. We were on board by 11:30. Time to see the changes! As others have said, they are pretty understated, or even underwhelming. DH didn't even notice any of them, but that is men for you. The carpet in discoveries was not as garish as I had expected, the painting is horrid, ( he has just read this review and said "what painting"...) but I did get used to the spikey lampshade!! The balcony table is too big, rounded edges would have helped manoeuvre around it. I think there are new bedroom doors and new room number signs (someone will no doubt correct me if there aren't), but why have they not done something about those tacky laminated "make up my room " signs....I'm sure they could so something funky with magnetic signs instead. Food was very good as usual, Aqualina far exceeding Prime C, and Windows proving a very varied selection especially the Fish buffet on the first night that provided more prawns and mussels and calamari than I have seen before. I wonder why don't they set the outside tables with placemats and those nice coloured water glasses any more though? Entertainment many have said is quite poor on board, but on this cruise they had a very good lady magician called Mandy Muden, the first lady to be in the Magic Circle. Her act did suffer a bit because of the very diverse nationalities on board, with Japanese, Scandinavians, ( as well as Australians, and of course Brits and Americans), And the Swedish gentleman plucked from the audience did not do as expected. Or did he....? There was a singer who sang like Nat King Cole, the singers and dancers performed a very Glee-like show with funky animated backdrop. And of course there was Eric! He had a fabulous voice well suited to the show tunes he performed. We also appreciated the daily banter between him and Captain Johannes. And his grandfather tales..... Mosaic Cafe had lost all atmosphere with the demise of Jim Badger and sadly we never went there. But this cruise was always going to be about the itinerary. A trip to the Black Sea to visit countries that would have been impossible to visit just a few years ago. The demographic on board therefore made it very much about 'travellers' and not about 'cruisers'. Our first stop was Mykonos, an island we have visited before, an efficient tender service meant no waiting ( unlike waiting for 45 mins to tender into Villefranche with RCI a few weeks before ). A pleasant day walking the picturesque alleys. Wifi was freely available in every restaurant cafe and bar. Pleased to say Petros made an appearance too. Through the Dardanelles and the Bospherous into the Black Sea where we spotted dolphins. We tendered into Nessebar, Bulgaria. A very pretty town, with cobbled streets, old churches and timber framed houses reminiscent of a Harry Potter set! It was also full of shops selling tourist tat and copy designer items which did detract a little from the charm but nevertheless, it was a pleasant little town to spend a few hours in and have a cold beer. Next there was Constanta Romania. When researching this port I did find a comment that said it would be best to bomb the place which I thought was a bit harsh, by the end my assumption was that is exactly what they had done! The shuttle bus with the cracked windscreen built in the 1960s gave us a clue as to what is ahead..... There was little to see or do. On the plus side there were no tacky tourist shops....primarily because there were no shops at all!!. We did discover a new marina area, where there were cafes and bars (free wifi) which was a pleasant destruction from the depression of the city. As Eric reminded us that night...." You love where we take you...!!!" There was free wifi in the cruise terminal which was the only redeeming feature. Others who took the excursion into Bucharest said it was well worth it though. Odessa....what a beautiful city ! We docked right by the Potemkin steps, which led up to elegant tree lined boulevards, wonderful architecture and colourful gardens. In many ways it reminded us of St Petersburg but with the difference that there was a real cafe society. One of the joys of Azamara of course, is the late nights in port, this means you get to experience the city by day and by night, and Odessa had a great buzz in the early evening sunshine. We ate in town at a restaurant called Jardin, very pretty and good service. Waiter spoke good English, not something that was common in many other places we stopped at in the Ukraine, thus adding to the feeling of truly being in a foreign county, and 'travelling'. It was the signature White nights party that night on board with a crew member doing a very energetic performance of Gangnam Style! The atmosphere on board generally was more lively than on our previous 2 Azamara cruises, and I can only put this down to the free booze!! However, they really were pushing the drinks packages available on board, and one passenger we spoke with on around day 4 didn't even realise there was the semi inclusive element outside of the wine!! The complimentary selection of drinks is on the last page of the drinks menu whereas the packages were being advertised on the first page. Crafty. Even the welcome letter in the cabin only mentioned the boutique wines with lunch and dinner so this had not been updated. The wine selection and quality was excellent and the measures of G&T were huge. Consequently our account was the smallest it had ever been, on any cruise, with only a few Baileys on the rocks being bought ay $5.50 each. We asked why no 'bubbles' and the reply was because they wanted to keep that for occasions such as the Captains evening. Oh well, back to the G&T.... So, with a slight hangover we reached Sevastopol, and the first part of our two day tour with Sergey Sorokin. This is young Sergey and not the historian Sergey and he was great! We went to the site of the Charge of the Light Brigade, a church built into the limestone in the 8th century, the Balaclava submarine base ( very James Bond and eerie) and the Panorama museum which was incredible, unlike anywhere we has ever seen before. Google it! Day 2 we were in Yalta which is only 80km away - the ship sailed very very slowly that night. We went to the Massandra Palace (built for Russian tsar Alexander III who only had one lunch there), the Livadia Palace where the Yalta's Conference of 1945 was held, we had lunch overlooking the Swallow's Nest Castle , then on to Vorontsov Palace in Alupka which is an amazing palace in English-Scotish styles built in 1848 and on the way back we took a short look on Chekhov house in Yalta. Lunch was an interesting introduction to Ukranian cusine. We had meat soup and then meat dumplings, and sampled 3 types of Ukranian wines – the red was dry and the whites were very sweet to our western tastes. The white had 3% sugar….Sergey said his wife likes white wine with 18% sugar. We paid $170pp for the 2 day tour and cannot recommend him highly enough. The night we were in Sevastopol was the Azamazing evening. I hold my hand up to being sceptical about these when first announced, but it was excellent. Coaches took the ship (minus the 40 who didn't go..) to the Mikhailovskaya Battery Museum for drinks and then an energetic performance by the Black Sea Navy Ensemble. There was a large buffet selection of local food to enjoy as well, including caviar and vodka and local wines, which went down well. It was very efficiently run and enjoyable in the atmospheric surrounding of the old castle. On our return there even was a gift of pin from the Sevastopol tourism board. We did not change time zones during the cruise. A day at sea and then into Istanbul, where we had to disembark. At this time there were troubles and rioting going on in the city but we saw no evidence of this. We had pre-purchased our visa online for $20pp as the UK office had advised the cost could be up to $50pp, but as it happened on board the cost was also $20pp. We caught the tram that runs along the road directly in front of the port to our hotel (TRL3pp per trip) the Barcelo for a one night stay. Trams are efficient, clean, air conditioned and incredibly frequent - they really are the only way to get around this bustling city. We had drinks at the Cosy Bar which has outstanding views of the Blue Mosque from its rooftop bar, (look for it opposite MacDonalds) and dinner in a little side street in the same area. On the tram on the way back to the hotel after dinner, there were 2 young men proudly draped in the Turkish flag, who could have been returning from the rioting...but they still stood up, and gave their seat to a lady...so they were well brought up rioters!! Watching CNN that night it was hard to believe we were in the same city. In summary we had a wonderful cruise, the staff on board are efficient and fabulous, the ship was spotlessly maintained, and it was good to see Ernesto, who was previously on our 2 Quest trips again. And he remembered us by name two years later. How do they do that?! We met some great people who we hope will be forever friends, and we will return to the friendliest little ships on the deep blue sea soon. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
Eastern Mediterranean Trip 2013 May 27 Trip Notes May 25 and 26 Flight (747) departed SeaTac on Saturday evening. British Airways crew were very professional and pleasant. We had a nice dinner and then reclined our seats into a really ... Read More
Eastern Mediterranean Trip 2013 May 27 Trip Notes May 25 and 26 Flight (747) departed SeaTac on Saturday evening. British Airways crew were very professional and pleasant. We had a nice dinner and then reclined our seats into a really great bed. I slept for six hours and awoke refreshed. After a light breakfast we deplaned in London. It took about 30 minutes to clear customs. We went to the taxi stand where we found a driver named Pete who was excited about driving us around London. We decided to do three things: (1) Visit King Henry VIII castle, (2) Have lunch at a Pub, and (3) Visit Windsor Palace. The weather was delightful -- 70 degrees and sunny. Five hours later we were back at the airport where we are waiting for our flight to Athens. May 27 Our flight to Athens departed on time at 9:30 PM. It was a three hour flight with a two hour time zone change. We landed in Athens at 3 AM Monday morning. Clearing customs was a breeze. Our three pieces of luggage were number 2, 3, and 4 coming onto the carousel. No waiting at all. We walked across the street, maybe 50 yards, and were at our hotel. We stayed at the Athens Airport Sofitel Hotel. It couldn't have been easier. We got up at 9:45 AM, showered, had room service breakfast, and met our driver at 11:00 AM. Our driver was Dionisis (Dennis) Kokkotos -- www.athenslimo.com. Dionisis was the perfect guide. He had a stretch Mercedes limo that fit the four of us just fine. He took us on a four hour tour of Athens. Athens is a large city with seven hills and five million residents. We started with the Acropolis where we spent 90 minutes viewing the remains of the Acropolis. After that we did a driving tour of Athens. We say the old Olympic Stadium, the palace, museums galore, and the changing of the guard. We stopped for gelato at his favorite bakery and then took a short drive to the cruise terminal. We arrived at the terminal at 3PM. All of the lines were gone so we waltzed right through and were on board in no time at all. The Pacific Princess is one of the smaller cruise ships in the Pacific fleet. It is about one-third the size of the other Princess ships we have been on. Our cabin is 7072. We are on the port side of the ship with a nice balcony. We had dinner at 6:00 PM as the ship cruised out of the Athen's harbor. May 28 Morning found us at anchor off the Greek island of Patmos. Patmos is about 13 square miles in size and hosts about 3,000 residents. The Greek Parliament declared Patmos a sacred island because of its connection with St. John and the Book of Revelation. In 1088 Abbot John Christodoulos of Bithynia founded a monastery. We took a boat from the ship to the city of Skala. We found a taxi stand at the end of the pier offering tours for 40 euros. (Note: if you want to save money, do this. Hire a cab to take you to the Cave. Then hire a cab to take you to the Monastery. Then hire a cab to take you back to this ship.. The total distance is only a few miles.) At the end of the pier we hired a taxi to take us to the Cave of the Apokalypsis and to the Monastery of St. John. The monastery is at the top of the hill with lots of steps. Its location helped it to fight off pirates. Then it was back to the ship for lunch and a leisurely afternoon. May 29 We awoke to 45 mph winds and seven foot swells. No big deal on a ship this large except that we could not get on the boats (tenders) to take us to shore. The Captain woke everybody up with an announcement that we would have to skip our visit to Santorini. About the Pacific Princess: Length 592 feet Gross tons 30,200 Passengers 670 Decks 10 stories The ship has one swimming pool, two hot tubs, one large buffet, and three restaurants. The ship also has a gym, spa/salon, running track, casino, library, shops, and espresso stands. The winds and waves calmed down by noon, but the weather was hazy all day. May 30 The Pacific Princess arrived at the dock in Kusadasi (coochadasee), Turkey promptly at 8:00 AM. Today there was no wind and the seas were calm. We walked off the dock through the strip mall of tourist shops and found our guide, Fulya Tamer, of Ekol Travel (www.ekoltravel.com). I was impressed by the cleanliness -- streets were clean and well maintained. Fulya was very personable and, equally important, very knowledgable. We had a ten person van for only the four of us. It was very nice. We started the tour with a 30 minute drive to the House of the Virgin Mary. This is a small house at the top of a hill in the Solmissos Mountains which, according to the guide books, is "widely recognized" as the place where Mary spent the last few years of her life. The house had two small rooms. Very plain and simple. Then we drove a short distance to Ephesus for an incredible experience. Ephesus was an Ancient Greek City and later the Eastern Capitol of the Roman Empire. Over 200,000 people lived there. Archeologists have been unearthing the ruins of Ephesus for the last 100 years. The ruins are magnificent. The the top of the hill is a small area of a couple of square blocks where the ruins start. I thought that was the extent of the ruins. Boy was I wrong. The ruins extended for another half mile down a wide marble walkway that at one time had shops on either side. We passed a Roman Bath, the Temple of Hadrian, a small colosseum, and more shops. At the end of the marble walkway was a two story library, the Library of Celsus, which had been one of the three largest libraries in the world. A short distance from the library was the large colosseum which could hold 25,0000 people. Elton John performed there a few years ago -- really. I found Ephesus to be absolutely breathtaking. And to think that parts of it were over two thousand years old. Truly amazing. From Ephesus we drove a few miles to the Basilica of St. John which was built by Justinian in the 6th Century AD. It was impressive but paled in comparison to Ephesus. Our guide took us to a quiet open air restaurant where we had a five course meal for lunch. All that food made us ready to shop, so we did. We visited a carpet showroom where we learned how to spin silk and saw carpets being hand made. The ten foot by twelve foot carpets can take four or five years to complete. We did not buy a carpet. We next visited a leather store where we were greeted by a fashion show. Jeff and I participated in the fashion show. The lovely models had to have us on the runway. But I don't know why. Connie and I did find leather coats that we absolutely had to have. So we bought them after some haggling over the price. I love to haggle All in all it was a great day. May 31 At sea all day. A very low keyed day with nothing on the agenda. We did a respectable job of consuming three meals with some visiting on the side. We are getting really excited about visiting Israel tomorrow. June 1 The Pacific Princess docked promptly at 6:30 AM in Haifa, Israel. The day was warm and a bit foggy. We got in line with our passport to clear Israeli customs. A half hour later we were on the dock to meet our tour guide. Haifa is an old port city dating to at least the first century, BC. It is located at the northwest end of Israel, due west of the Sea of Galilee. Our tour guide was Ehud Peretz from guidedtoursisrael.com. He was superb and we highly recommend him. Today is Saturday, the Sabbath. There was little traffic as we drove around. Ehud warned us that traffic would be much heavier on Sunday. We started our tour with a visit to the Baha'i Temple in Haifa. It extended halfway up a very large hill in Haifa and included many terraces, fountains, and gardens. Members of the faith tithe 19% each year! This temple is the world headquarters of the Bahais. We proceeded to Nazareth where we saw the Church of the Annunciation and the Church of St. Joseph. Both were beautiful examples of different architectural styles. I was surprised to find that there was a Church dedicated to St. Joseph -- he seems to be the forgotten person in the story of Jesus. Nazareth had two sections: Arab and Jewish. The Arab section was mostly one or two story buildings in the lower part of the valley. The Jewish section was apartments near the top of the hill. From there we went to the Church at the Mount of Beatitudes which is built on the spot where Jesus preached the sermon about the beatitudes. It is near the top of a hill overlooking the Sea of Galilee. I was quite surprised to learn that the Sea of Galilee is a fresh water lake that is a little smaller than Lake Washington. It lies in a valley below the Golan Heights made famous, or infamous, in the 1967 war. We visited the Church of St. Peter in Capharnaum located on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. We dipped our hands into the water beside the Church as jet skis roared by. Quite a contrast! We ate lunch in a restaurant located on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. After that we drove to the RiverJordan where John the Baptist baptized Jesus. We dipped our hands into the River while some people put on white baptismal smocks and submerged themselves in the river. The Sea of Galilee feeds the Jordan River which runs to the Dead Sea. We toured a kibbutzim that was established by Russian immigrants in 1912. I was surprised again to learn that the 70 or so kibbutzims in Israel are all self contained small villages that produce crops, plastics, electronics, furniture, and other products. We returned to the Pacific Princess worn out. The reader should note that I am more than a little skeptical about the historical accuracy of the things we saw. Our guide showed us the place where Jesus stepped ashore after walking on the waters of the Sea of Galilee. It reminded me of Mark Twain's statement that he has seen enough small pieces of wood from the "one true cross" in European churches to build many crosses. And that statement was made 150 years ago. June 2 The Pacific Princess was scheduled to dock at 7:00 AM exactly, which it did. We were in the first group to leave the ship to meet our driver at7:05 in the Port of Ashdod, Israel. Ashdod was settled by the Philistines in 1200 BC -- 3200 years ago! It is one of the three largest ports in Israel. Ashdod is located about 30 miles due West of Jerusalem. Today is Sunday which is the first day of the work week. The weekend in Israel is Friday and Saturday. Traffic was fairly light as we drove into Jerusalem. We visited most of the major attractions of Jerusalem. These included the Wailing Wall (Western Wall), the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, David's Tower, the walled temple, and vistas that gave us a wonderful view of Mount Zion, the Mount of Olives, and the divided City of Jerusalem. Many of the Churches were controlled by three or more religions who had trouble agreeing on anything. For example, we saw a ladder that was leaning against a second story window. There was as ongoing thirty year argument over who was going to move the ladder. Jerusalem is a clean and modern city, until you come to the wall that separates Bethlehem from Jerusalem. The wall is big, ugly, and surrounded by litter. Our guide took us to the entrance to Bethlehem which is controlled by the Palestinians. Our guide could not enter Bethlehem with us. He arranged for another guide to greet us and show us the Church of the Nativity (which is also controlled by three different religions). The Church of the Nativity is one of the oldest churches in the Holy Land. In the Church we saw the spot where Christ was born the place where He was placed in the manger. Maybe yes, maybe no. Who knows? I was disappointed to see that Bethlehem was a poor village in a poor country. The cleanliness of Bethlehem left much to be desired. We did find rush hour traffic as we returned to the ship. Tomorrow is Egypt. June 3 & 4 Alexandria, Egypt & Cairo, Egypt Our trip originally had Port Said, Egypt as a stop. But Princess Cruises was concerned about our safety in Port Said, so we bypassed the Port. Princess did not provide any information regarding their safety concerns. Instead of docking at Port Said on June 3 and then moving to Alexandria on June 4 we went directly to Alexandria. Because it was a longer journey, we docked at noon on June 3 in Alexandria instead of at 7:00 AM in Port Said. We have booked a two day overnight stay with Ramasside Private Tours so they met us in Alexandria when we arrived. Alexandria is named after Alexander the Great. At its peak Alexandria was the second most important city in the Roman Empire as a center of learning for its library and as a shipping hub. Today it is famous for its library -- the second largest in the world after the Library of Congress. Our tour guide was Karim Serry (Le_roi_karim@hotmail.com) from Ramses Tours (www.ramsestours.com). He was an incredible guide and we highly recommend him and Ramses Tours. Our van was a twelve person Hyundai van that was very comfortable for the four of us. We started with a tour of Alexandria. What follows is my attempt to be descriptive and nonjudgmental. The city was teeming with people, cars, and garbage. Our guide told us that it was common for people who lived in Alexandria (and Cairo) to throw any and all garbage into the street where it piled up. There were few working traffic lights. Most streets were very narrow and barely wide enough for two small cars to pass. Traffic in the city probably moved at an average of 3 mph or less. Cars, motorcycles, motorbikes, horse-drawn carts, and pedestrians all darted in and out trying to share the same space. I can not imagine living in such squalor and crowded streets. Most of the City had a run down look to it. Our first stop was at some catacombs that were discovered 108 years ago. We went down 100 steps to where the mummified bodies had been laid to rest. The entire structure had been carved out of bedrock. From the dead we went to the living. We visited the stunning new Library of Alexandria which was only a few years old. It has over eight million volumes. We we searched going in and going out to make sure we were not smuggling anything in or taking any books out. After the library we visited a huge mosque. We were welcome inside as long as we removed out shoes. Connie and Cindee had to use a separate entrance to gain admission. Around 3:30 PM we left Alexandria for a 130 mile trip to Cairo. We we on the major highway between these cities. At times is was two lanes in each direction and at times it was three lanes. Every so often there were major speed bumps that you had to crawl over. These speed bumps allowed pedestrians to dart across the road. It took us four long hours to make the trip to Giza and Cairo. We arrived at our hotel hot, tired, and hungry. We had a quick dinner and retired. Cairo June 5 When I looked out the window the next morning, I saw that we were across the street from the great pyramid and some smaller pyramids. What a treat! We had a quick breakfast and then headed on a 45 minute drive to see the step pyramids. We were the first ones in line and were able to view this site without any crowds. The step pyramids were in the desert. The ground was covered with very fine sand that got into everything. At every site we were bombarded by people hawking post cards, papyrus documents (that were fakes), camel rides, donkey rides, horse drawn carriage rides, guide books, bottled water, and trinkets. The vendors were very aggressive, but we were good at saying no. One of the schemes was to offer to take your group's picture with your own camera and then charge you for the picture. Another scheme was to invite you to take a picture of a man sitting on his camel and then charge you for it. A third scheme was to give you something, like a shirt, or postcards, or a necklace, as a "present" and then demand money for it. The vendors were only a very minor irritant. From the step pyramid we drove to the Nile where we had a 30 minute ride in a sailboat called a felluca. The Nile was about a half mile wide in Cairo. The ride was incredibly peaceful after the turmoil of the City. We left the Nile and fought the traffic battle again as we went to the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities. We spent most of our time in the King Tutankhamen exhibits. After the Museum we headed back to Giza to view the Great Pyramid of Cheops, the middle pyramids of Chephren, the little pyramid of Mykerinos plus the Sphinx. After the pyramids we grabbed a fast food Egyptian lunch and headed back to the van for a three hour trip back to the ship. I am so glad that I saw all of these sights in Egypt after having heard about them for my entire life. June 5 and 6 June 5 and 6 we were cruising from Cairo, Egypt to Sorrento, Italy. The distance was about 1,000 miles. We were out in the middle of the Mediterranean with only occasional passing ships to see. June 7 I got up at 5:00 AM to watch the ship approach Sorrento, Italy. We docked exactly at 6:00 AM. We left the ship at 7:45 to meet our driver at 8:00 AM. Our driver was JeanLuca Biancho (www.amalfidriverservice.com). He was superb. He was a smooth driver, had a nice Mercedes van, and spoke great English. We started with a short driving tour of Sorrento and then headed for the Amalfi Coast. The road along the coast was carved out of the cliffs 250 years ago when the Spanish controlled this part of Italy. The road twists and turns with a continuous incredible view of the coast line. Our first stop was Positano. We walked through the small town and out on the beach. When we looked up, we saw the town towering over us. Everything is carved out of the side of the hill. We went on to Amalfi for lunch. This town was carved out of the hill, too. This is definitely a high end resort area with ocean view rooms going for over $500.00 a night. We returned to Sorrento where we spent an hour or so sight seeing and then headed back to the ship. We really enjoyed the day. June 8 The ship docked at Civitavecchia (near Rome, Italy) before sunrise. The was lots of activity unloading everyone's luggage which had been collected from our rooms the night before. We bid a fond farewell to the Pacific Princess as we disembarked. Our driver was Antonio Cagnoli (www.transferitalyrome) (acagnoli95@gmail.com). He was good company as he whisked us to the Rome Airport. British Air had sent us a note to be sure to get to the airport really early because it wold be crowded. We did get there early. It was not crowded. And BA did not open their ticket counter until an hour after we arrived. The flight to London was delayed an hour but we still had plenty of time to make our connection to Seattle Matthew met us at the airport. A great trip.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
We loved the Azamara Journey the first time we cruised on it, so when this cruise became available at such a great price, we jumped in. While I know the possibility of pirates caused many not to go on this cruise, we felt that the ... Read More
We loved the Azamara Journey the first time we cruised on it, so when this cruise became available at such a great price, we jumped in. While I know the possibility of pirates caused many not to go on this cruise, we felt that the precautions Azamara had put into place were more than enough to ensure our safety. We had not been on a repositioning cruise before, so we were a little leary that the entertainment choices might grow stale on such a small ship as the time progressed. We were pleasantly surprized. Every show was very good. As always, the food was great. We no longer bother with the specialty restaurants on board this ship. I have food allergies and they are very careful with the foods they prepared for me, and made special desserts such that I could have them, which I greatly appreciated. Loved my waiter Paul for looking out for my allergies along with the Head Waiter, Daniel. I want to say that I had the dreaded norovirus, which I (and several others) contracted in India before coming onto the ship. Our symptoms came on shortly after boarding. Both the ship's nurse & doctor came to see me (at no charge) and called to check on me several times, offering anti-nausea drugs/shots when needed (again at no charge.) In addition to the attentive care, the cruise line offered me a discounted fare for a future cruise in consideration of my on-board illness. They were exceptionally vigilant in cracking down on the spread of the virus, and soon no one on board had it. We were pleased with the ports, although they were few, since it was a repositioning cruise. We took the cruise excursions since they were half price if booked before the cruise. We were pleased with all. We found the commentary going through the Suez Canal very interesting and enlighting. We found it much more interesting than the Panana Canal. Finally, I want to say what makes or breaks many cruises is the crew. Their crew and staff of the Journey are exceptional. They seemed to bend over backwards to accommodate any and all requests or concerns that anyone voiced on the trip. (We had both a cruise critic meeting at the beginning and end of the cruise.) Obviously, we will sail with them again. May even do this re-positioning cruise with them so I can see Dubai, which I missed due to my illness. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
My husband and I took the May 17 Eastern Mediterranean cruise out of Civitavecchia. This was our first cruise on Celebrity. We chose Celebrity due to great reviews by family members. We had cruised on Princess (twice) and Royal Caribbean ... Read More
My husband and I took the May 17 Eastern Mediterranean cruise out of Civitavecchia. This was our first cruise on Celebrity. We chose Celebrity due to great reviews by family members. We had cruised on Princess (twice) and Royal Caribbean (once) and wanted to try Celebrity. When we heard they had a new ship I checked the itineraries and found just what we wanted. The ports were all new to us and we liked the fact that there were only 2 days at sea. We booked a veranda stateroom very much in advance and got a very good price. The price continues to go up the closer you get to the sale date. Although other incentives were offered as time went on, they still did not make up for the difference in what we paid compared to the new prices with incentives. Boarding: We used Roma Cabs to get from our hotel in Rome to Civitavecchia. This company is terrific. We highly recommend them. We arrived at the time the cruise lines said they would start boarding (11:30 AM) and it only took about 10 minutes to board. We got our stateroom immediately and were able to drop off our carry on luggage. Our other luggage arrived in the early afternoon. We went to the buffet in the Oceanview Cafe. It was not crowded. We were told only about 500 passengers had boarded so far so that might be why it wasn't crowded, since the ship was fully booked and holds over 3000 passengers. We were greeted at the buffet with complimentary champagne and mimosas. What a way to start off. The buffet surpassed the lunch buffet we had on both Princess and Royal Caribbean. The food was much more varied and a higher quality. There were many salad choices (both those you make yourself and prepared salads which varied every day). At all lunch buffets there is always Asian and other eastern cuisine, a pasta bar and pizza, a place to make sandwiches with cold cuts, soups, other hot entrees and lots of desserts including an ice cream bar with toppings (whipped cream, chocolate and vanilla sauce, M and M's plain and peanut, Reese's pieces, gum drops and jelly beans and sprinkles). The ice cream bar is there at dinner and after dinner as well. In the AM a waffle station with toppings is there in its place. There are also soft serve machines in the buffet and on deck 15. We ate all our breakfasts and lunches (when on the ship) at the buffet except twice when we had lunch at the Mast Bar (deck 15 - very good hamburgers, hot dogs and french fries). We went to the dining room for 7 of the 10 dinners. The dinners were fabulous in the Opus dining room, but a few nights we just chose to eat at the buffet because we were tired from our excursions or just wanted to eat outside, since the weather was marvelous. There is ample outdoor dining seating just outside the buffet which is on deck 14 at the back of the ship. We did not eat at the specialty restaurants. There are many and they do look wonderful but we were more than satisfied with what was offered in the main dining room and at the buffet. Tip: The specialty dining costs are cheaper the first night on the ship (you can book when your board) or if you get a dining package. The prices for specialty dining go as high as $45. Breakfast at the Oceanview Cafe was incredible. Carvery of ham every day, eggs and omelets to order, all kinds of cereals, fresh fruit, pancakes (2 kinds), waffles, blintzes with whipped cream, fruit and sour cream toppings, bananas foster, lots of breads and pastries, and many other items that appealed to the guests from other countries. The only 2 things that were not to our liking were the juices (the better juices were only available at an additional cost or part of a premium beverage package) and the bacon which was much too undercooked for our taste. Don't get me wrong, we were not disappointed with breakfast at all. There were plenty of delicious choices. The buffet in the evening had a carvery, several hot dishes, hamburgers and hot dogs, pasta, salads, fish and chips and other choices. The Opus Dining Room dinners were wonderful. We chose select dining and came to dinner at about 7:00 every night and we were always able to get a table for 2 and the same waiter if we wanted him. Note: The people who choose select dining have to eat upstairs. They cannot eat on the main (first level) of the dining room which is really the prettiest place to eat. However, if you are lucky enough to get by the rail, overlooking the main area, you can still enjoy the beautiful room. We felt the convenience of eating when we wanted to was worth this concession. The menu was varied, the food of the highest quality in taste and preparation and presentation, and the staff was amazing. There were also several appetizers including mushrooms stuffed with crab meat and shrimp cocktail, salads, entrees and desserts that were available everyday to please most people. Try the french onion soup - it was fantastic. Check out the website 'beyondships' for details on this ship including menus. A note to hearty eaters - the portions for many of the dinner choices, especially the appetizers and some desserts were small, and we are not big eaters. We were glad since it kept us from overeating and you can always ask for more. Better to ask for more than have a lot of food go to waste. The formal nights for this cruise were on the 2 sea days, but this can change since it is up to the captain. On the 2nd formal night we had a hard time choosing between lobster tail, beef wellington and duck a l'orange and other great choices. There is also a brunch that was held on the 2nd sea day on the first level of the Opus dining room from 10:00 to 1:00. It was gorgeous. Glass sculptures, fruits and veggies carved into flowers and birds, etc. The food included all the normal breakfast items plus many, many more including eggs benedict, quiches, a shrimp station, etc. There were also white and milk chocolate fountains with fruit for dipping. What a spread! The staff really worked hard. Regarding the staff: classy, classy , classy and I do not mean stuffy. Everyone was so professional, spoke at least 2 languages including English, were very friendly, and just couldn't do enough for you. There was always someone to help you. By the way, the officers were also very friendly. We are not drinkers so we did not visit the bars. We also did not visit the casino. Onboard activities: We were very busy when in port and when at sea we chose to go to the pool (indoor and outdoor) so we did not partake in the onboard activities except for the shows in the evening. The Celebrity singers and dancers are phenomenal and they gave 3 performances at night and several more at different times in the atrium. The other entertainment was good but not quite as good as we expected. They had one great pianist. The other entertainers were good and we enjoyed them but not just as good as we had experienced on the Royal Caribbean mediterranean cruise we took 3 years ago. We went to the shows in the Reflection Theater every night except the last night. The entertainment at the pool, in the atrium and elsewhere on the ship was very good. Our stateroom. We had an veranda 1a stateroom on the port side of the ship. Our stateroom was 8253. Our stateroom attendant Xavier was wonderful. He even got a maintenace man to fix one of my purses. The cabin was very roomy and had plenty of storage space. Note: Store your suitcases under the bed. Also, above the bed is a large storage area that really helps. The bathroom was roomier than I expected, also with ample storage space, toiletries, a foot rest for the ladies to shave their legs, etc. It seemed like every time we came back to the cabin (even when we were only gone 30 minutes) the towels were changed if used, the ice bucket was filled, etc. I don't know how they do it. If the stateroom steward was in the hallway he would open the door for us. He even greeted us by name the first day and we hadn't even reached our cabin. I do not know how he knew who we were. The balcony had 2 lounge chairs and a table and was quite roomy. There was a flat screen TV with movies and music. We also got candy on our pillow every night. How sweet! I am not going to go into much detail on the ports. We only used Celebrity excursions which were all very good. We loved the ports. We were very lucky to have excellent weather. We did not choose excursions for Rhodes or Mykonos. Very easy to visit on your own. We rate this a 5 star +. We will always choose Celebrity if there are itineraries that suit our needs. Thanks, Celebrity for a great time.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2013

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