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Cruise Ratings
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Sail Date: January 2019
The ship and the itinerary were just what my wife and I wanted. We arrived a day early so we could poke around the shops/restaurants in Long Beach. Transfer to the ship was very easy. Our cabin was midship in case of stormy weather. We ... Read More
The ship and the itinerary were just what my wife and I wanted. We arrived a day early so we could poke around the shops/restaurants in Long Beach. Transfer to the ship was very easy. Our cabin was midship in case of stormy weather. We had a balcony and we spent quite a bit of time there watching the sea. Princess has equipped the rooms with new beds which slept very well. The ship has just returned to service after "freshening up" . Everything looked virtually new. Our first night out, we had dinner in the dining room and frankly, the food was mediocre and the service poor. Both the food plus the table service got better. We elected to visit some of the Premium dining and those were of very high quality.(I had a great Ribeye) We also picked one shore excursion in each port. In Cabo San Lucas we took the trip to Todos Santos which is about an hour inland. This town also has the famous Hotel California mentioned by the Eagles and where we had lunch. It was nice to get away from the port and there were far fewer people on the tour which made it more enjoyable. The weather was very nice at all of our destinations. (75 to 85 degrees) Mazatlan came the next day and our excursion was downtown on Segways. (very easy to learn to manuever) On Wed our final tour in Puerto Vallarta was whale watching from a high speed Zodiac. The guide was knowledgeable and we saw many Humpback whales. The Zodiac was much faster than the other boats which allowed us to cover lots of ocean in a short amount of time. Following Puerto Vallarta, we had 2 days at sea . We got lots of pool time and the food was much better than the start of the cruise. Disembarkation/ Customs was a snap and we got to LAX with hours to spare for our flight. We would definitely go back. It was so nice to wear shorts and sandals for a few days. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
Background We are Darren and Cindy in our late 40’s and early 50’s from Great Falls, Montana. We have been on 8 cruises to the Caribbean, Alaska, and a California Pacific Coastal. We began looking for cruises in the late fall of ... Read More
Background We are Darren and Cindy in our late 40’s and early 50’s from Great Falls, Montana. We have been on 8 cruises to the Caribbean, Alaska, and a California Pacific Coastal. We began looking for cruises in the late fall of 2018 for January 2019. Montana can be very cold and dark in the winter months and late January was an ideal week for us to travel in 2019. We were pretty set on this last week in January yet decided to wait until after the “final payment” date to seriously consider a cruise. In early December we narrowed it down to a couple of “last minute” options. The deals were pretty good for a 7-night Caribbean cruise with a variety of companies, but the airfare per person from Montana to Miami or Fort Lauderdale, FL was going to be more than the cruise. OUCH!! We generally prefer Celebrity Cruises, yet we also were considering a Mexican Riviera cruise with Princess since the price of the cruise was excellent and the airfare was going to be less than A THIRD of the cost to fly to LAX compared to Florida ports. Eventually about December 17 we committed to the January 26 Ruby Princess. The “Drop and Go” deal was the lowest price we have EVER paid for a balcony stateroom cruise (no perks included). We purchased a “Balcony Guarantee”, made our airline reservations, and a pre-cruise night at the Hilton LAX the same day. This was our third cruise with Princess. In the past we have always had a good experience with them. Admittedly, when booking a “guarantee” cabin, you need to be prepared to be satisfied with the worst cabin in your category. For us, the worst possible balcony cabins would have been a cabin under the fitness center/treadmills or a cabin with the balcony just above or near a smoking section. About two weeks later, we were assigned R-504, a perfectly acceptable balcony stateroom mid-ship. Goals: For us, the goal for the cruise was a week of sun, warmth, and relaxation with good food and wine in a casual (yet upscale) environment. We made a couple of decisions pre-cruise which would help us with this goal. 1. We like Good Food. On our past Princess cruises, the food in one of the Main Dining Room was always fine considering the amount of people the main dining rooms must feed within a couple of hour period. With some of the money we saved flying to LAX as opposed to Florida we chose to reserve EVERY evening in the Specialty Restaurants (Share and Crown Grill) on the ship which we could do for about $200 per person. 2. We like Good Wine. Each stateroom can carry on 2 bottles of wine per stateroom for in room/balcony consumption. For us, we considered the $15 corkage fee Princess charges for guests to bring additional wine on board to drink in the dining rooms/restaurants to be a VERY GOOD DEAL. 3. We planned to book the Thermal Suite in the spa for the entire cruise. We had purchased it on one of our Princess Cruises in the past and were very happy with it. Pre Cruise and Embarkation We flew from Great Falls, MT to LAX via Seattle on Alaskan Airlines. We left Great Falls in a blizzard but landed on time in Seattle then onto LAX on time as well. We stayed the night before at the Hilton LAX and were pleased with the room and hotel. The Hilton ended up being a good hotel for us since it offered a variety of light dining options for Friday night. Since it was warm on Saturday morning and since check out was not until 12:00 noon, we spent some time by the pool in the morning, then arranged a ride to the San Pedro Cruise Terminal. We shopped at Purdy’s wine/liquor just a block away from the Hilton. We bought and carried on 6 bottles of wine 3 white and 3 red and paid the corkage fees. For us this was a good deal since the wines were about $20 each and corkage was $15. The wines would have easily been $80-100 on the ship. We left the Hilton about 11:00am on Saturday and were at the pier by 11:30. We checked our luggage outside. Check in at the desk was easy and trouble free. In fact, at 11:45 there was not a single person in line. We boarded the ship shortly after we arrived. Our room was ready at 1:00pm. Our luggage arrived shortly after. Stateroom R-504 R-504 is near the mid-ship elevators and under the pool deck. Actually, it is immediately under a dining area for the pizza, ice cream station. The room was very clean and updated from the recent dry dock. There was new carpet, TV, mattress, etc in the room. There was some significant noise from the pool deck (table area) all day long. In general, it did not bother us too much and we got used to the noise. If we were to ever book a cruise on Ruby again and choose our room, we would never choose R504, yet for the “balcony guarantee” and the price, we were satisfied with the room. Storage space – plenty of storage space for us and our stuff Bed – We both found the bed very comfortable Staff – Our Room Steward (Glen) was very pleasant and kept our room well stocked and spotless. The room staff work hard, and we appreciated their work. Food Share by Curtis Stone – We booked reservations before the cruise on night 1, 3, 5, and 7 at Share. While the menu is somewhat limited, we consider this the best Restaurant on the ship. The service was exceptional and would highly recommend it to others. We never found Share to be crowded and wondered by more people do not book this restaurant. Crown Grill - We made advance reservations for night 2 and 4 (which ended up being nights 2 and 6) at the Crown Grill. We think the Crown is a step up from the Main Dining Room and the steaks (or seafood) good. International Café – We had a coffee card from our last cruise and the coffee and tea selections at the Café were again excellent – For us, the coffee package is worth it. The sugar-free deserts at the Café were also excellent. Buffet – We rarely ate in the buffet Chef’s Table – We were invited to dine at the Chef’s table Spa/Thermal Suite Once on board, we purchased the Thermal Suite pass at the Spa for the entire cruise. For us, the cost of the suite is well worth it for its heated tiled lounges, multiple steam rooms, and relaxation area. Sanctuary - We booked the sanctuary area for most afternoon's of the cruise and found it a wonderful and quiet place to relax Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
We took advantage of the drop and go special. Great value and relaxing itinerary. The art auction was the only disappointment. They really like to push 2, maybe 3 specific artists and don’t offer much variety beyond that even when guests ... Read More
We took advantage of the drop and go special. Great value and relaxing itinerary. The art auction was the only disappointment. They really like to push 2, maybe 3 specific artists and don’t offer much variety beyond that even when guests request others for auction. We attended all 4 events they offered, the staff was great and friendly and the experience fun overall, you could just tell they had to push certain artists. We would’ve easily purchased artwork we requested if given the chance at auction. The ports were great, Cabo was fun with the beaches in walking distance. Mangos is a must go to spot for drinks and lunch on the beach. 3 days at sea were also great. Nice and relaxing not having to feel like you’re always at port needing to get off to see the sites. The Billy Joel show by James Fox was outstanding. A great performance. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
This was my first cruise and I was treated like a king. I am from Las Vegas and I see service and hospitality issues all the time. But, I have never had so many staff members treat me so well. And, I am a low profile person. I went on the ... Read More
This was my first cruise and I was treated like a king. I am from Las Vegas and I see service and hospitality issues all the time. But, I have never had so many staff members treat me so well. And, I am a low profile person. I went on the cruise by myself and loved it. I didn't want to be a part of a group and so many people wanted me to join there party. I was fine and I only did about 10% of the events offered. But, I still did too many things to keep track of. I loved it so much. I have planned 2 charity cruises already and I just got off of the ship 2 weeks ago. I will be back next January, at the latest. And another cruise that I may be on is in July. You rock!!!! The food was wonderful. The customer service was top notch. The choices of activities was endless. Now that my trip is over, I wish I had taken more advantage of the excursions and activities. Thank You Roxelle and Nanagn and so many other staff members of the Carnival cruise line team. And, thank you to the entertainment staff at the Playlist productions "Studio VIP show". I was part of the show. YEAH!!!! Do you have my video??? In closing. The staff made my first time the best travel I have ever had. And that gives me new dreams and goals to attain on the next trips I plan with them. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
Of course, San Diego is a beautiful city. Leaving from San Diego meant, for us, that we were relaxed, happy, and ready for an adventure. However, from the moment we drove into the cruise parking entry, we were impressed. First, the ... Read More
Of course, San Diego is a beautiful city. Leaving from San Diego meant, for us, that we were relaxed, happy, and ready for an adventure. However, from the moment we drove into the cruise parking entry, we were impressed. First, the porter taking our luggage as we stepped out of the taxi was friendly and efficient. We didn't have to do a thing as he quickly tagged our luggage and sent us into the terminal. The army of brightly scarfed greeters welcomed us and showed us to the reception desk. Quick, pleasant, and efficient. Once on the boat, we were awed with the decorative touches. Picture-worthy decor everywhere we looked. Our cabin was clean, pretty, quiet, and roomy enough for us. (Veranda) The team that took care of us were delightful, thoughtful and we were sad when we had to say goodbye to them. The food on the Eurodam was excellent. Hubby and I love to eat out, and have done so at dives as well as five star restaurants. The presentation on the Eurodam is amazing, considering the sheer number of people they serve. The depth of variety should be enough for anyone, and the food quality is consistently high. The service is quite good, as well. For the price point, the number of people served, and the complications of cooking on a ship, I was very, very impressed with our food. The blues club band-- loved it. The Main Stage... eh, not so much. It was okay, but I left early. Same for the dueling pianos. The classical musicians were excellent. Did one shore excursion. Never again. The hop on bus in Mazatlan was scary. First, the cliff divers, though amazing, came with guys on the shore hustling us for tips. Something told me that much of that money would be skimmed off by the local cartel, and that the divers would see little of it. Ick. And the drive through town was crazy. Large bus. Tiny streets. Too much traffic. You get the idea. We would love to hop back on the Eurodam any time. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
We live in Los Angeles and wanted a Cruise we could drive too. Left our house in Encino and was on the ship one hour later. The service on the ship was a 10. All staff was very helpful and smiled. The ship was clean and crew always ... Read More
We live in Los Angeles and wanted a Cruise we could drive too. Left our house in Encino and was on the ship one hour later. The service on the ship was a 10. All staff was very helpful and smiled. The ship was clean and crew always making it look spotless. The food in the Horizon was much better than the reviews we read previously. Enjoyed it for breakfast and late snacks. If I have to criticize anything it would be the lines to get a Hamburger at the pool during lunchtime. They could have used one more person. I still ate there every lunch. The burgers were the thickest I've ever had the pleasure of biting into on any ship I have been on. We would never have known this ship was over 10 years old. In Cabo the Tobasco Restaurant on Medano Beach was great. Drinks and food perfect and they did not rush us. We were there over 3 hours. Umbrellas and tables on the sand were very comfortable. The bonus was the Massage Tents next to the restaurant. 90 minute fantastic massage for $20.00. Best part of the beach experience. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
Kelly and I had a great time. I’ve cruised before and it was Kelly’s first time. The cruise staff was great. Our cabin steward Joel could not have been any nicer. We got to experience the new dinner menu, which was outstanding. ... Read More
Kelly and I had a great time. I’ve cruised before and it was Kelly’s first time. The cruise staff was great. Our cabin steward Joel could not have been any nicer. We got to experience the new dinner menu, which was outstanding. The breakfast and lunch in Horizon was good. The worst part was trying to find an available table. We became art collectors onboard. Dylan the art Director was great. We bought 6 Peter Max pieces. We are very excited for them to arrive at our house. We did excursions in Porta Valletta and Mazatlan. Both were great. We ventured off the ship in Cabo on our own. We were badgered by people peddling tours, souviniers, drugs, etc. we only lasted 30 minutes on land and went back to the ship. Customs was very pleasant and easy this time. We had a balcony room on the Caribe Deck (10) very spacious and comfortable. The cruise directors were great. I think we participated in almost every trivia challenge. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
I chose this cruise since another cruise line didn’t have showers, but a high step into tubs n showers. Embarkation was easy and no waiting around like my last cruise with Princess. Also Disembarked was as smooth this time around. ... Read More
I chose this cruise since another cruise line didn’t have showers, but a high step into tubs n showers. Embarkation was easy and no waiting around like my last cruise with Princess. Also Disembarked was as smooth this time around. I give them 5Stars grades. The ship just came out of being rehab and is looking so improved since my last time aboard her. Our cabin wasn’t very clean. I did have to clean out the drawers and pick up somebody else prescription drugs from under the beds. Couldn’t get extra pillows nor extra bath towels as requested. Dining was much improved only in the dining room. The buffet on the other hand was very cool food, eggs over cook and very rubbery. Try to get coffee that was a joke, and if you did to was lukewarm. Entertainment was just not up to par. The selection of movies in the cabin or outside on the screen was very much up to date. The Guy calling BINGO was very obnoxiously annoying. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We chose this cruise as we live in San Francisco and it is so easy to take. Embarkation was a breeze and could not have been made easier. Once on board, for the second time, we noticed how friendly this cruise was. The first thing I did ... Read More
We chose this cruise as we live in San Francisco and it is so easy to take. Embarkation was a breeze and could not have been made easier. Once on board, for the second time, we noticed how friendly this cruise was. The first thing I did was go down and make friends with the Coffee baristas at the International Cafe. Always big smiles on their faces. During this entire cruise, the dining room staff bent over backwards for us. Our cabin steward was amazing for the ten days... I would like to commend the person who does the hiring for Princess Cruises as they do an amazing job of finding talented people for their ships. The ports are ok, and nice to walk into town for some local cuisine. Coming home, it was the first trip where I want to stay on board... Bravo Princess This cruise will make us loyal to Princess Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
I loved sailing out of San Francisco even if they were having terrible weather. We had our first suite ever and how can I ever go back? We were escorted on the ship, what a lovely perk This ship is old and I don't care. I ... Read More
I loved sailing out of San Francisco even if they were having terrible weather. We had our first suite ever and how can I ever go back? We were escorted on the ship, what a lovely perk This ship is old and I don't care. I don't look for rust and tears so if they were there, I didn't care. We were in D737 and oh the balcony! We chose to have breakfast on it 8 out of 10 mornings, loved being able to choose from the larger menu. Club Class dining was wonderful and we had the best waiter ever. Loved the extra choices. Did the Chef's table and it was worth every penny. I wish they would serve the rolls in Club Class on formal nights as one can't eat them during the Chef's table since there is too much food. Had wonderful dinners in both the Crown Grill and Sabatini's Hadn't been to Mazatlan in about 25 years and loved to see how they've cleaned it up, the malecon was beautiful. We did the Luxury Sail in Cabo and enjoyed it immensely. Just wandered around PV, I had my banana dacquiri and guac on the beach like I always do at Cuates y Cuetes. We didn't do any of the entertainment. We entertain ourselves and just relax. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
Princess has the fastest embarkation of any cruise line. No wait, walked right on. Great balcony room. Tv programming needs work. Helpful staff. Princess patter was loaded with activities for seniors. Don’t miss sea adventure tour in ... Read More
Princess has the fastest embarkation of any cruise line. No wait, walked right on. Great balcony room. Tv programming needs work. Helpful staff. Princess patter was loaded with activities for seniors. Don’t miss sea adventure tour in Puerto Vallarta with speed boat, horseback riding to waterfall, snorkeling and beach relaxing with tour guide Ceasar!! Awesome! Ship headed for much needed refurbishment in spring 2019. Also visited Manzillo, Cabo San Lucas and Mazatlán. Also did Salsa and salsa and it was better than I expected! You won’t miss anything if you don’t get off the boat in Manzillo. We did a tour in Cabo through Princess, will definitely arrange something on my own next time! So many options, it’s a true tourist town. If buying Mexican blankets do it in Cabo where you could get 2 for $10. My husband and I traveled alone and wished that there were activities geared for Gen Xers. Visit large hot tubs at rear of ship for privacy and views. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
My husband and I sailed on the Legend for our honeymoon and loved it! Being on the West Coast, our options were limited for another sailing, and having heard others complain about these 3 and 4 day "booze" cruises on an old ship, ... Read More
My husband and I sailed on the Legend for our honeymoon and loved it! Being on the West Coast, our options were limited for another sailing, and having heard others complain about these 3 and 4 day "booze" cruises on an old ship, we weren't sure what to expect. But the price was amazing and we decided to give it a shot. We're very glad we did. First of all, the November dry dock on the Inspiration was noticeable. Rooms looked very updated (compared to some other reviews we've read before the dry dock). Bathrooms looked practically brand new. Food was good throughout the ship. Didn't love the menu every night, but we were generally pleased with the food in the MDR. Service was good enough, and we enjoyed not having to cook. We really went on this cruise to relax, so found it nice to have options for entertainment when needed, but also were content just sitting around reading or playing games. Enough to do for a 4 night cruise. Unfortunately, the weather wasn't very good, which is no fault of Carnival. But, I was very impressed that the captain managed to get us a few hours of sunshine. Our itinerary got moved around, and I was convinced there was no way we'd actually get to Catalina with the storm and the need for tendering, but because of the move, we had sun on our sea day, a few hours of dry on our Catalina day, and nearly a full day of sunshine in Ensenada (all while Los Angeles was getting drenched). Very pleased that they were able to do it. All in all, a great cruise. We wish it were longer. While I want to try a mega-ship, we were very pleased with the Inspiration. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
This was our 6th cruise with Holland, and we have only sailed with them. It was our first time on the Eurodam. This was a great cruise for us as it came at time when needed it most. For the most part Holland again came through with ... Read More
This was our 6th cruise with Holland, and we have only sailed with them. It was our first time on the Eurodam. This was a great cruise for us as it came at time when needed it most. For the most part Holland again came through with flying colours. Special thumbs up for the the dining room food quality, which was as good or better than any of our previous cruises. We are puzzled by some recent reviews that claim substandard food quality on the Eurodam. Service was top notch ( with a couple of exceptions hardly worth noting ) as always. ..but alas, there were a few niggly things that we feel worth noting: Internet service - it used to be that Holland had pay-as-go internet which was perfect for us because we only check our e-mails and send the odd one. Now that simple act costs $189 for 7 day trip. Decided to forgo internet and do it ashore for free...which leaves sea days as a dead zone. Reading lights - this admittedly a minor point, but the LED spot lights they installed in the cabins in place of the warm lamps they used to have, is an irritating step backward. Live music - on our first cruise back in 2008, there was a live band that played in various venues, including the Crownest, where there was a small dance floor. Holland has moved away from that...now they have the BB King Club and band, which while good, is in a dark venue that could be anywhere, and music gets repetitious after a few days. Used to be they also had a trio playing the Ocean Bar for dancing. Live music has definitely been on the downward trend over the years. Happy Hour - it used to be that most of the bars had happy hour from 4-5...including the Crownest. Back in 2008 when we started with Holland, you could go to the Crowsnest for 2for1 drinks, with a live band and watch sailaway! Now only the Ocean Bar has it from 4-5..it is crowded and noisy and we had to take our drinks elsewhere. That said, we will be sailing with Holland again without question! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
Really enjoyed this cruise - have travelled with HAL several times and am never disappointed. Inside cabin was small but adequate - Cabin 4165 Cabin steward kept the cabin clean and was very helpful if we needed anything. Ship is ... Read More
Really enjoyed this cruise - have travelled with HAL several times and am never disappointed. Inside cabin was small but adequate - Cabin 4165 Cabin steward kept the cabin clean and was very helpful if we needed anything. Ship is kept super clean - staff is very friendly and helpful. Activities vary and everyone can find something to do. Digital classes are good to either learn or learn something new on your computer. Test kitchen is fun and the receipes are some you can use at home. Lido Buffett is very good -I always enjoy that the food is hot and there is a great variety of food. I always enjoy the hard icecream for desert! Show are good - I'm not a big show person but did attend a couple. Casino - variety of games - some people win and some don't (I'm on of those that don't) but I enjoy playing. Great ship! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
I thought everything on the cruise was great. This was my first cruise, so I have nothing to compare it to. The food at the buffet was acceptable. I only ate at the buffet for breakfast. Nothing really spectacular, but nothing was poor ... Read More
I thought everything on the cruise was great. This was my first cruise, so I have nothing to compare it to. The food at the buffet was acceptable. I only ate at the buffet for breakfast. Nothing really spectacular, but nothing was poor either. The only issue I had with the Horizon buffet is finding a seat in the dining area. There are two sides for the buffet, and both sides are really busy and packed with people. I had to either eat really early to get a seat, or wait for someone to finish eating, then swoop down on the table to get it. Or, the alternate is to take your food outside to the pool area to eat, but it could get pretty cold and windy out there. Dining for dinner in the DaVinci or Michaelanglo dining rooms were wonderful. The service was excellent and the food was delicious. The inside basic cabin that my wife and I were in on the 8th floor was acceptable. It was clean and the bed was super comfortable. The bathroom was very small, but that's to be expected on a cruise ship. It fulfilled its purpose. I thoroughly enjoyed all the activities on the ship. We did dance lessons, trivia games, attended concerts, used the fitness center, walked laps on the ships deck, etc. Our favorite staff on the ship was a guy who claims to be from Serbia, who has a strong accent. He was the host for most of the trivia games, bingo, and was even the announcer for the disembarkation process. Loved that guy. He's so funny! Embarkation and disembarkation was a breeze. The cruise staff got this down to a science! All in all, a wonderful experience. I will be returning to Princess Cruises soon! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
This was our first cruise out of a 'pacific' port and we loved it - we will definitely be back. The ease of flying into LA was perfect. We landed, ate breakfast at Planet Hollywood in the International Terminal at LAX (before ... Read More
This was our first cruise out of a 'pacific' port and we loved it - we will definitely be back. The ease of flying into LA was perfect. We landed, ate breakfast at Planet Hollywood in the International Terminal at LAX (before security) and then took an uber to the port. Embarkation was a breeze - our room wasn't ready so we just explored the ship. Pros: Our cabin D734 was amazing - very private balcony, great location near pools and buffet. Our steward (Paolo) was the best. Buffet - we eat primarily in the buffet for all meals and were never disappointed. Same food as available in the dining room with more options and flexibility. Seating always available. The hours are superior to other cruise lines. We enjoyed the food! Ship: Ruby is a classic princess ship with some new updates - wall-mounted TVs in the rooms with ondemand content was great - we watched a new release movie every night. There are some really nice murals and updates on deck 15 - instagram-worthy backdrops! I love the variety of places to get away and make a spot to read a book, play games or just walk. We enjoyed the golfing green to ourselves on multiple occasions. Other 'super ships' we have been on - you can't even see the ocean from the ship, such a drag. Photos: All inclusive photo package was a nice option - it's always hard to pick a few photos. We knew we were going to do it so we took full advantage of all photo opportunities. The photography staff is always so nice and we have some wonderful family photos with ALL of us. The price is a bit high at $249 and the 'digital copies' are actually just scans (which I could have done at home...) but still was worth it for us. ************************ Cons: Shows: The magician and other popular entertainment was in the Explorer's lounge which would fill to capacity 30 minutes before the show started. We missed out on multiple entertainment options due to this - they should move to larger venues for the popular events. Salty Dog Grill: Menu and food was good but service was not great. Confusing and didn't run efficiently (had to provide your order multiple times to multiple people, served cold due to confusion). Kids program: I wish they would allow the parents to join the children for craft activities. I don't leave my child at the program but we would have loved to participate in some of the activities they had planned. ************************ Excursions: We booked an excursion through Princess for each port (Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta). All went well and met our expectations. Cabo San Lucas - whale watching from speed boat (zodiac). The seas were rough so we were told we could get a full refund or go for half a tour and half price. No guarantees on seeing a whale since we were only allowed to go about a mile out. In the first 10 minutes we saw two whales fully breach - it was amazing. The landscape of Cabo is beautiful. We then went back to the marina and walked to The Office for lunch and played on the beach. We took a water taxi back to the Marina.Our favorite port by far! Mazatlan - Estuary bird-watching - Very fun tour - up close experience with Pelicans and other birds. Our tour guide (Polo) was amazingly educated in birds and we enjoyed a nice boat ride, tractor ride on the beach and then lunch on the beach. Vendors on the beach damper my personal experience but they are friendly and walk-away when told 'no thank you' - you just have to do it 100000 times. Puerto Vallarta - Kid Dolphin Encounter (4-8 yo). My son loved this - I thought it was 'ok'. Not very coordinated - we were put on a bus and it drove off without any guide or idea of where we were going or how long. It took about 30 minutes. Upon arrival to the dolphin encounter visit everything went fine - my son was the only child so it didn't take long (about 15-20 minutes overall). It felt rushed and short. The photos were good (you couldn't take your own) and the cost was less than $200 USD for all the photos and a video. We ended up back on the ship at the pool after the excursion. The port offered mostly shopping (walmart, sam's club and a shopping mall directly across the street) Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
Booked an interior room less than a week before embarkation. This was our fourth time on this ship and first time ever in an interior cabin. Found the cabin adequate for a ten day cruise to a warm weather destination. We spent very little ... Read More
Booked an interior room less than a week before embarkation. This was our fourth time on this ship and first time ever in an interior cabin. Found the cabin adequate for a ten day cruise to a warm weather destination. We spent very little time in the cabin, pausing there only to take care of the necessities like sleep, dress, shower, etc. Room was quiet and Steward Dennis did a fine job taking care of the cabin in our absence. The Lido deck cabin was steps from the outside pool and hot tub. A few steps more took us to the Conservatory which is why this ship is one of our favorite. The covered Calypso pool and bar means we can swim, "hot-tub", work a puzzle, and/or play ping pong in a covered area. These areas along with the Horizon Court and aft portion of the ship make four distinct areas to enjoy breakfast and lunch. Service was wonderful. Speaking of food. We were initially assigned Anytime Dining (AD) being 30 on the wait list for early Traditional Dining (TD). We walked directly to the Mater D. and asked of early TD. We took our first meal in AD and were assigned Traditional, thereafter. Our waiters were superb and knowledgeable. We often followed their recommendations. Food was excellent. We found the entertainment to be excellent. The Magician show was fun, Todd Adamson was a wonderful singer, and the band was good. The dancers were some of the best I've seen. Todd sang a wonderful duet with one of the women singers (Megan) for his second act in the Vista Lounge. The Cruise Director had a great lineup. The San Francisco Cruise Port is the best. Staff is great. Embark and Debark processes were highly organized. Easy on; easy off. Great experience. Fin. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
I have never been on a Mexican Riviera cruise, so the route is right. Grand Princess is a cruise ship of good size and was last refurbished in December, 2016. In addition, I booked the cruise the last minute and got a good price. The ... Read More
I have never been on a Mexican Riviera cruise, so the route is right. Grand Princess is a cruise ship of good size and was last refurbished in December, 2016. In addition, I booked the cruise the last minute and got a good price. The food was reasonably good with decent choices and varieties. I specially liked its soups and rice porridge (congee) served daily at Horizon Court. The stateroom was clean, though slightly tight in the walk-in wardrobe area . The entertainments were interesting. The service was as expected. It is worth mentioning that during this cruise, there were 5 enrichment presentations by Dr. Gloria Auchey, entitled "Understanding Your Brain", which I found very insightful and enlightening. Each port visited offers something interesting to see and do, such as nice beaches, historic sites, animal sanctuaries, shopping, and so on. In summary, the Grand Princess Mexican Riviera is a cruise of overall good value and quite enjoyable. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
I'm glad to read that so many of the 'group' from Cruise Critic Meet and Mingle enjoyed HAL and are sold on cruising with them in the future. I have been on many HAL cruises and the Eurodam overall was excellent. I ... Read More
I'm glad to read that so many of the 'group' from Cruise Critic Meet and Mingle enjoyed HAL and are sold on cruising with them in the future. I have been on many HAL cruises and the Eurodam overall was excellent. I feel their service is exceptional, food very good with many choices. Tamarind was superb. MDR for breakfast and dinner, also very good. Went to Lido twice for a quick lunch and always satisfied with offerings. I did 'any time' dining and I was always asked if I wanted to be seated with a group. I never had to wait and enjoyed hearing from others why they appreciated being on such a wonderful ship vs. some of their other experiences. Went on a HAL shore excursion which was a lot of fun. Learned a lot about Puerto Vallarta and the guide and driver were first-rate. I used Trip Advisor for Cabo outing with Big Mikes Sea Adventures and would recommend also. Enjoyed the entertainment, especially the two comedians--who happened to be on our same floor with the musicians! Jazz and piano players were fabulous. Our cabin stewards were so gracious--always with a smile and a greeting each time we met. I have learned it works best for me to arrive for embarkation later as I went right onto the ship as well as disembarkation. All went smoothly with no delay. This was also true of the one port in Cabo where tenders were used--efficient and no delay. There were some young children as well as teenagers on this cruise, and all were well behaved. I didn't spend time at the pool so can't speak to that activity. I would definitely go on the Mexican Riviera cruise and Eurodam again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
-Entertainment was fantastic. If Cruise Director Melessa is there, you are in for a great time. Gender Battle, Hairy Chest Competition (go Berta) - on the floor laughing. Eric Schwartz was extremely funny. The Divas show had great singing ... Read More
-Entertainment was fantastic. If Cruise Director Melessa is there, you are in for a great time. Gender Battle, Hairy Chest Competition (go Berta) - on the floor laughing. Eric Schwartz was extremely funny. The Divas show had great singing and dancing. I went with my 2 teen boys and we all had a great time. -Food was excellent - Guy Fieri burgers were fresh and delicious. PIzza was thin crust, fresh to order, and delicious. Iguana Cantina had great tacos. Skip the Lido dining - buffet didn't look that appetizing although made-to-order omelettes were good. We ate dinner in the Pride Dining Room and had mixed meals and service. -Room was tight for 3 of us. 2 twin beds and a cot. We had the ocean view which was nice. It was clean and served its purpose. -Outdoor activities. Mini golf was fun. Waterslide area was fun - the large slide could have used more water. Pool was too cold to use. Jacuzzi was packed with little kids. We made our way into it but be warned that you will have little arms and legs jamming into you. Never got to use ping pong table since it was always being used. -Excursions. Catalina activities were all cancelled due to weather. We rented a golf cart and drove around the island which was fun. Ensenada - we did horseback riding which was fun with great views. Couldn't quite understand why all the horses were kicking each other though. -Would we go again? YES. Really fun time at a great value. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
My brother & his wife are avid cruisers & invited us along. I never thought I would enjoy a cruise so the first time he asked us to join them for a 2018 cruise I turned him down. My sister & Mom went on that cruise with them ... Read More
My brother & his wife are avid cruisers & invited us along. I never thought I would enjoy a cruise so the first time he asked us to join them for a 2018 cruise I turned him down. My sister & Mom went on that cruise with them & my sister came back with such great stories of her experiences I immediately signed hubby & I up for this cruise. Embarkation & disembarkation went smooth & fast. I had heard Princess has these down to a science & though I had no previous cruise experience to draw from I have to say it went very smoothly. There was plenty of activities to choose from onboard the Ruby Princess. I dare say if you can’t find something you’d like to do on a Princess Cruise you’re probably a grump who doesn’t like anything anyway. The dining was excellent we tried the Crown Grill & Curtis Stone for specialty dining, both were as described by Princess. All of our other dinners were in the Michelangelo dining room & were excellent as well. Our Head waiter was amazing, José Fernandez, my sister-n-law has a lot of food allergies & he made sure she got what she needed each & every night. José even worked with one of the chefs to create a bread for her that was palatable. No easy trick since she is allergic to yeast, dairy, eggs & sugar. They could only use the ingredients they had on hand after all, there was no running to the store. Our last morning on the ship before disembarking José met us in the buffet as we ate breakfast & brought her 2 slices of the bread they had created that she liked to go with her breakfast. All staff we encountered were great - it takes a special kind of person to do a job like that. You work very hard & have to be able to keep the smile on your face even when people are unreasonable. Most every passenger we interacted with was polite, decent & reasonable. I felt somewhat like I was living in a shopping mall with a bunch of other Canadians for a week : D We ate at the buffet for every breakfast & most lunches & enjoyed the selection it offered. The cruise director, (Natalie from Australia) & her assistant cruise director Yessy from Peru were stand outs for me also. I bumped into Yessy a lot doing trivia, karaoke & then working with her in the Princess Pop Choir & I absolutely loved her. If she’s not a Cruise director soon instead of an assistant I’d be surprised. She has unparalleled energy & just the right amount of excess personality required for the job. All three of my favorites were in higher profile positions but I would like to say that ALL OF THE STAFF on the Ruby Princess were exceptional. We’re already booked in on another Princess cruise to the Caribbean next year, hoping to take our kids & grandkids with us on that one. I came back new! Between the two of us we did 4 different excursions booked through Princess, all were excellent & as described. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
Had a GREAT 7-day cruise to Mexico on the Ruby Princess. Met a nice couple from Canada. So here is a shout-out to LEO and Sandy if you read this "HEY"... We went with the Club Class upgrade this time and really enjoyed the perks ... Read More
Had a GREAT 7-day cruise to Mexico on the Ruby Princess. Met a nice couple from Canada. So here is a shout-out to LEO and Sandy if you read this "HEY"... We went with the Club Class upgrade this time and really enjoyed the perks that came with the upgrade. The dining and staff were outstanding. Our room steward was excellent and made the on-board experience a memorable one. He always would greet you with a warm and pleasant smile. Stayed on-board at Mazatlan and had a great spa day. They say there is a first time for most things and yes this was my first spa day. Let me just say it was worth every penny. I felt so good I even bought the wife some product for us. Movies under the stars was a nice evening out on deck watching a movie on the jumbo screen. All in All to sum it all up Great Food, Great Staff, and Great Time..... Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
My husband and I sailed on the Carnival Splendor to celebrate our 15th Anniversary. It was our first 7 day cruise, and our 2nd cruise overall. After reading some reviews about the Splendor, I was a little nervous about the age of the ship. ... Read More
My husband and I sailed on the Carnival Splendor to celebrate our 15th Anniversary. It was our first 7 day cruise, and our 2nd cruise overall. After reading some reviews about the Splendor, I was a little nervous about the age of the ship. Even though you can definitely tell the ship wasn't built within the last couple of years, we never felt like we were on an old ship. The decor is definitely pink! But, that didn't bother us, as most cruise ships have interesting decor! We loved this cruise because of the itinerary. The most pleasant surprise was how scenic the trip was, even on sea days! You could see the Mexican Riviera for most of the trip. It was so relaxing to just sit and watch the mountains in the distance. Another thing we enjoyed was the weather. We sailed in December, so this cruise was colder (especially at night). It was so relaxing! We had the early dining, which was a change from our previous cruise, where we had your time dining. This experience pretty much sold me on having a scheduled dining time! We really enjoyed our waiters, and felt that they really took the opportunity to get to know us.The food was delicious with several unique options. In Cabo San Lucas we booked a whale watching excursion through Whale Watch Cabo. After tendering to the port, it was a short walk to this company. We saw so many whales! One whale that we followed jumped from the water around 20 times. So amazing! In Mazatlan we booked a cruise through the ship (The Top 10 tour). While it was informative, we probably wouldn't book it again. It took a lot longer than we expected, and every place we stopped had someone asking for tips. In Puerto Vallarta, we booked an excursion through the ship as well (called the Exclusive Resort Getaway) that took us to an all inclusive resort. Best.Day.Ever. We sat on the beach all day and had the freedom to try any restaurant we wanted for lunch. We also had unlimited access to drinks. I would 100% book that excursion again. This cruise was also over the New Years Holiday. The ship had a lot of on board activities to enjoy. They handed out glow sticks, did a balloon drop in the atrium, and handed out free champagne at midnight. We would 100% book this cruise again! Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
We chose this cruise as we are about 1/2 way between NOLA and LA. Last year we did a 9 day out of NOLA and had a great time. This year we tried the West Coast. The Star is a great ship. I am sure there will be plenty of negative ... Read More
We chose this cruise as we are about 1/2 way between NOLA and LA. Last year we did a 9 day out of NOLA and had a great time. This year we tried the West Coast. The Star is a great ship. I am sure there will be plenty of negative reviews about this sailing. It was 100% booked. As a result there were times where there was a line or a crowd. It wasn't a big deal. Although some will make it out as though it was horrible. Embarkation: We took an Uber from our hotel in Long Beach. It was $13 and we had a stay and park package with the hotel. 7 days parking included with a 1 night stay at the Courtyard Marriott Downtown (great area, would have enjoyed a longer stay). We arrived an hour before we were allowed to enter the building. We as well as about 100 people stood outside the door, but there were benches that sat about 30 people right there, as well as ledges farther down to perch on. The weather was chilly, but nice, and the porters took our luggage as soon as we got out of the Uber, so we only had to deal with our carryon. They opened the doors at 0930 for us to check in and go through security. It was a quick and smooth process. All four of us had our cruise/room cards in about 10 minutes. Based on our arrival time, we were in Group 1. We waited in the waiting area until around 1130 when boarding started. NCL provided orange juice and water for those waiting. The NCL Staff were a very organized and a well trained group of people. Once boarding started at 1130, they scanned our cards and looked at our passports and we were headed to the ship. With such an early boarding time, the rooms aren't available until after 1330. Once on board, we immediately went to O'Sheehan's for lunch. We were seated quickly and ordered wings and nachos. The food was great. As my wife and I had the Ultimate Beverage Package (UBP), we also had drinks. The kids had the soda package, so they had Pepsi (Pepsi, diet, orange, lemon lime, and ginger ale are the soda offerings). I had a Lagunita's Little Sumpin' (best beer on the ship). Then we explored the ship. It took a while for all the luggage to be delivered to all the cabins (duh! the ship is 100% full). Not a big deal. We signed 1 child up for Splash Academy (11 years old) and swung by Entourage! for the 15 year old to check it out. Once our rooms were ready we went down to deck 10 to move in. Cabins 10557 and 10559. Both are inside, side by side cabins. Easily large enough for 2 people. They had my son and I in one cabin and my wife and daughter in the second for our reservation. The first cabin had the beds separated and the second had them pushed together. They knew the children were going in one cabin and we were staying in the cabin next door. We had an extra key card made to get into the room (quick process at guest services, we also asked for a hole to be punched in our room cards so we could put them on our lanyards we brought from home, lanyards are available for $7.95 at Tradewinds....they were happy to help!). Because we are part of the Latitudes Program, we had a bottle of sparkling wine in each room. We packed them both away to take home. DUC De Valmer "Brut". I think this is the same stuff they use to make Mimosas with. This opinion is based on my tasting it now as I write this review. It is a white wine with good carbonation and a slightly bitter taste (not a regular wine drinker or professional wine taster). Onboard: The ship is clean and nice and the staff are mostly pleasant to interact with. There is the occasional staff member who seemed inconvenienced by our presence. This is understandable with a 100% full ship and the fact of "All people aren't chipper, all the time". None of the staff were ever rude to anyone in my family. People left empty dishes wherever they finished their food or drink, and the staff had them cleared away in less than 5 minutes. The waiters and waitresses always were courteous and friendly, some of the best staff on board. NCL has stopped using plastic straws, and the cardboard ones would start dissolving shortly after being used....this was annoying, and we pretty much stopped using straws after day one, but admirable as they are concerned with saving the environment. It was slightly bothersome that there weren't many garbage receptacles, but the staff didn't seem upset when we would leave papers with our dirty dishes. It would also have been nice to have more signage pointing out the restrooms. Occasionally we just went back to our room to use the bathroom instead of wandering around trying to locate one. We were not the only people who had trouble finding them. Dining: Our first dinner ended up being at O'Sheehan's. There were several warnings we ignored on our NCL webpage about making reservations for everything. They knew the cruise was 100% booked. This is a hint: Make your reservations ahead of your cruise or expect a possible wait. Once on board, it became first come, first served if you were in a party of less than 10 people for the main dining rooms (Aqua and Versailles). Even the complimentary dining rooms were booked by many guests before the cruise. As we chose not to stand in line for Aqua, we ended up at O'Sheehan's. Aqua usually had a line outside from 1700-1730 when it opened. The line disappears almost immediately, as they seat everyone very quickly (we didn't discover this until night 2). After the line is seated, they give out pagers and invite diners to wait in Gatsby's Bar around the corner. If your pager hasn't gone off in the time they give you as an estimate, you can go back to the desk and they will work to get you seated ASAP. O'Sheehans offered a great meal. They had a different from the main dining rooms special each night. My daughter and I love steak. Peppered Steak was the special one night. We both asked for rare, and it was amazing. We also had the New York Strip Steak in Aqua, rare, and it was almost as good. On another night O'Sheehans offered prime rib. It was also really good. The shrimp and ribs were great too. None of the meals we had were a disappointment. My wife celebrated a birthday in December, and when we booked the cruise, the reservation specialist noticed and made sure we got a birthday cake. When we embarked, there was a card in our room congratulating her, and if we gave the Maitre 'D the card when we arrived at Aqua, cake (and singing of Happy Birthday) would arrive with dessert. The cake was delicious, but my wife's favorites at Aqua were the After 8 Mint Chocolate Mousse, and the Flourless Chocolate Cake with Raspberry jelly. Topsider's (pool side), offers grilled items (burgers, hot dogs, veggie burgers, etc), sometimes has pulled pork or other toppings on the burgers. I threw cheese on a burger with pulled pork and bbq sauce. It was sooooo good. Garden Cafe Buffet: We mostly ate there for breakfast. Here is the low down. Go to the place with the berries and the granola and drop some in a bowl. Next, go to where the pancakes are, and add some strawberries and whipped cream = magical. Also, there are several omelet stations. Usually 1 with no wait. No buffet breakfast is complete without bacon and the chocolate croissants. Whatever you do, don't miss out on the chocolate croissants! One night I really wanted Sherbert at 2130. Topsiders shuts down at 1700, and that includes the hand scooped ice cream (soft serve is always available in the Garden Cafe). I asked at O'Sheehans, and they said Topsiders was the only place to get it outside of the Main Dining rooms. I asked a cook at the Garden Cafe if he had sherbet, and even though he was busy shutting down the Cafe for the night, he went out of his way to get me a dish of lemon sherbert. It took about 10 minutes to arrive, but it was piled high, and delivered by a waitress who not only had a huge smile, but told my wife it was her pleasure to spoil me on my vacation......again, amazing waiters and waitresses!!!! If you go to O'Sheehan's for breakfast, get the omelet as the scrambled eggs may be slimy (my daughter's description). The omelet at O'Sheehan's was great, there were more "add ins" there than at the Garden Cafe. You could choose Swiss or cheddar cheese. They will deliver a pastry basket or you can ask for the pastries you want. The chocolate croissant is the one you want. Although, my wife had a chocolate chip muffin she raves about. Never tried it, so I don't know. Entertainment: We are fans of Trivia (not good at it, just enjoy it) and of the other Director's Staff led games. We played the ring toss, goofy golf, and anything else they had to offer. This includes several "game shows". As a result, we won a lot of NCL branded stuff. The stuff includes pens (my wife is a "pen snob", and the NCL pens are her favorites), t-shirts, water bottles, luggage handle, and decks of cards. We also enjoyed the evening show performances by the magician, acrobats, and comedian. The acrobats were incredibly talented. The best part of the comedian's show was his interaction with the American Sign Language interpreter. He had us laughing for the entire 45 minute show, and they actually had to ask him to finish because he would have kept cracking jokes for a whole lot longer. The dancers were great during the Sail Away party by the pool. The singers were great in the preview show. We did not go to Vegas or the other shows the NCL dancer/singers did. Some guest said the Vegas show should be rated 13+ as a result of the outfits. I can't say, as we didn't see the show. Although, Vegas is always 13+ from my experience in Vegas. Paradis was a brand new show, and in the Freestyle Daily (activity descriptions, left on your bed every night at turn down), it recommended that young children not attend. The cruise director staff was great. Especially Zoren from the Philippines. He was incredibly pleasant to interact with at all the activities he led. No matter where our family ran into him on the ship, he always went out of his way to talk to us, or wave from across the room. The other cruise director's staff were great as well. They were under some pressure as they were introducing two new game shows. During the week the Director's Staff was learning how to run The Great Pyramid Game and one other one. My wife and I were in the "tryout" to be contestants for The Great Pyramid Game show. We didn't make it into the final round. Some guy said donkey for a farm animal. I thought he said doggy and I had already said dog. I was laughing (like you are so done guy), time ran out and I got eliminated. We could have won it all! By all, I mean an NCL t-shirt and other branded stuff. Oh well! No big deal, it was still a ton of fun! We got to enjoy the rest of the show. Also, during the Perfect Couple show on New Year's Eve, a couple got engaged. The guy had contacted the staff in advance. He worked with the Assistant Cruise Director to arrange the whole thing.....she made it so he was able to propose at the end of the show. It was a great event. My son's favorite activity was Nintendo Wii free play in the 5 O'clock Somewhere Bar. He played bowling, Tennis, and Baseball with others from the cruise. Our trip included New Year's Eve. NCL went all out for the night! There was a balloon drop in the Main Atrium, silver and white balloons everywhere, and they gave out hats at the Main Dining Rooms, as well as noise makers at 2300. Free Champagne was flowing as well, and music in every area of the ship. It was a party beyond all parties! The Main Atrium got extremely crowded as everyone wanted to be there for the balloon drop, but that was sort of the fun of the night! My family hung out on the edge of the crowd until right before the countdown, then ran up to O'Sheehans to look down on the balloons as they fell. Being up there made it so much easier to go back to our room just after midnight. There was a time change that night, so they actually celebrated the Countdown twice, but we skipped the second one. Bars: At certain times the bars were packed. Some of the bars only had one bartender during peak times. The ship is 100% full, with many customers having the UBP. As a result, delays are to be expected. The longest I waited to get a drink was under 10 minutes. People were fairly patient with the lines. My only complaint is O'Sheehan's (the Irish Pub) running out of Guinness. I asked the bartender if the whole ship was out on Wednesday? He said to go to one of the main dining rooms. Aqua gave me a Guinness with my dinner and an open one to go. The one to go was for a special drink. O'Sheehan's could not make an Irish Car Bomb (horrible name), as they did not have shot glasses. I took the open Guinness to Bliss Lounge. The bartender poured me a shot with Jameson and Bailey's Irish Cream and gave me a clean glass to pour in the Guinness. It tasted great. It took two bars and a flight of stairs to enjoy, but was worth it. My wife drinks her coffee black, the coffee was a bit strong for her, so she enjoyed taking a cup of coffee to the bar and getting a shot of Kahlua. With the UBP, it was a lovely addition. Her only complaint is that on day 2 she went to Topsiders Bar next to the pool first thing in the morning and asked for a Frozen Grasshopper (her favorite drink, pretty much the only drink she ordered on previous NCL cruises), the bartender made it (no one else was at the bar), and was cheerful while making it. Later that afternoon, around 1400, she went back to Topsiders and again asked for a Frozen Grasshopper (about 10 people at the bar then), and was told that they don't make Grasshoppers. She never asked for one at any other bar because she felt embarrassed. Her favorite drink became the Pineapple Champ that was available at Bliss Lounge. Ports: All of the ports were great. My wife and I got off in Puerto Vallarta and walked down the main street near the ship. It was a nice town. We never felt unsafe, and prices were reasonable. Mazatlan was the only place my daughter and I did an excursion. My wife stayed on the ship with our son in Mazatlan because he enjoyed being in Splash Academy and she didn't want to walk around the town by herself. In Cabo San Lucas, there was a tender to get to the town. My kids decided to stay on the ship again, and my wife and I decided to wait for Open Tender to leave the ship (making it possible to do Trivia before we left!). The tender tickets were available for pickup from 6-7:30, and 13 tender ticket numbers were called before Open Tender was available. We were on the tender by 10:15, because the crew was extremely efficient. On board for Cabo was 1330, which felt a little short, but it was understandable because of the distance we had to travel to get back to LA. Our Excursion: I would rate the entire tour as a whole, a 2/5. The Zip lining by itself, 4/5. My daughter and I took a bus to the Huana Coa Canopy Adventure. Don't be fooled by the YouTube video, where they show Tequila tasting after the zip line. During the hour long bus ride we were told by Bernardo that we were going to taste Tequila and then go Zip Lining. As a safety officer, I do not approve of drinking prior to extreme sports. After a minimal introduction of himself and the driver, Bernardo sat down and ignored us. It would have been great to hear about Mazatlan, the tour, or any other information. We arrived at the distillery and received a pathetic tour of the Tequila making process (watch YouTube to see what the tour should be like). The guide barely spoke English, and another tourist who is fluent in Spanish even had trouble figuring out what the guide was saying. We sampled 2 tequila shots, with the option to purchase more (possibly $3/shot, it wasn't really clear). Afterwards, we hung out for 2 and 1/2 hours in an empty dirty lot to get back on the bus and go Zip Line. There was no entertainment, not enough chairs for everyone to sit, about 8 of us were left standing. The vendors were still setting up their overpriced wares while we sat around. It was pretty much all the same items you could get from the stores near the ship. Dany was one of the Zip Line guides, and he was great! He took the time to teach us about what we would be doing, he talked to us about everything, what the area is like, he asked us about ourselves....he was a real tour guide. I can say this as I lost control on the last Zip Line. He caught me and was very concerned. I had slammed into the final platform at full speed. Minor abrasion on my ankle, I was fine. Then we had a bit of tasteless, bland quesadillas and climbed back on the bus. It takes about 1 hour to get to the Zip line place. No commentary at all, either way. At the Zip Line location Bernardo (Bernie) was asked several times "what is going on?". He would just say "We are waiting on the group ahead of us." and then he would walk away. Zip lining is fun. Hanging out for no reason was a drag. I wanted to do the zip line tour in Puerto Vallarta, but that tour was booked completely over 3 weeks out from the trip (WARNING! Book early!!!!), and I heard from people later how awesome their Zip line trip was. I wouldn't waste my money on the Mazatlan Zip Line Tour. Heads up: There are two time changes going to Puerto Vallarta, and so there are two coming back. The room steward was good about putting a reminder on our bed at turn down, and the Freestyle Daily always had a couple of reminders included too. It was a bit tough on the family on the way there, but on the way back it was great! Naps and 1230 bedtimes helped a lot! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
The embarkation process in San Diego was the easiest I have ever experienced. It may be because it is smaller and we were the only ship loading, but security, registration and boarding took 15-20 minutes in total. The Ship: As ... Read More
The embarkation process in San Diego was the easiest I have ever experienced. It may be because it is smaller and we were the only ship loading, but security, registration and boarding took 15-20 minutes in total. The Ship: As usual, HAL does a great job with decorating for Christmas in a classic, tasteful way. A gingerbread village was on Deck 1 in the Atrium and smelled so good when you were anywhere near it. I did notice a few less decorated trees this year (this is the 6th Christmas cruise my family has taken). The ship itself was in good repair, and we noticed some upgrades in the public areas from our last cruise on the Eurodam in March of 2018, including carpeting and seating in all public areas. They had reinstituted a book exchange in the Crow’s Nest and games, including 2 permanent Danish large wood games, can now be found in the Gallery Bar adjoining the casino (puzzles were still upstairs in the Crow’s Nest). I have always loved the Gallery Bar for the quiet atmosphere since it is tucked away, although it was less quiet on this cruise when the extra children and families on board for the holidays used it as a hangout. Still it was nice to have a place to go and they have many more games available than before. I have been fortunate/blessed enough on all my cruises to have had at least a balcony cabin and many have been in suites, but for some reason the balcony (class VF) on the Eurodam seemed smaller than usual to me. However, it was clean and comfortable. The cabin stewards were friendly and efficient, and we always enjoy having adjoining cabins so the balcony portion can be opened to allow travel between the rooms. It allows us to use an open/closed curtain system to know when others are willing to be disturbed. Our first two days were at sea, including Christmas Day, which was very relaxing on board. Ports: This was our first cruise out of San Diego and to the Mexican Baja Peninsula so we enjoyed the new places. San Diego is as beautiful as I heard. The hills, water and walkable streets were a feast for the senses and we especially enjoyed our time eating our way through Little Italy. There is a beautiful Catholic church there where we attended services. I was excited to visit the old Love Boat route, having grown up watching that show and always wishing I could be Julie McCoy. Our first stop at Puerta Vallarta was entertaining as we booked a walking food tour in the old part of the city (vallartafoodtours.com/food-tours/). Our tour guide Bernardo was knowledgeable and friendly. It was 3 ½ hours so a lot of walking was involved but all pretty much on flat ground- just wear good walking shoes. We stopped and 8 places sampling 9 types of food and drink. I can’t name a favorite because I enjoyed the chocolate shop, agua fresca, tuba water, street tacos and everything so much! I highly recommend this tour that was a 10 minute ride from the ship, which included history, a visit to the historic church and across the bridge to the island. The iguanas roaming the streets were entertaining. Note: the taxi from the ship areas was $24 for 3 of use to the meeting place at the end of the boardwalk. The ride back from in town was only $8 for all of us. I am sure there are risks with walking outside the ship area to get a taxi but it would be considerably cheaper. On the way back we had our driver drop us at the Walmart that was across the street from the cruise port. We always enjoy walking into foreign grocery stores to see the different products and we struck gold here, buying a liter of Kahlua for $8.50 USD! We were less thrilled with Mazatlán. After reading about State Department warning, we only briefly walked outside the cruise ship area here, not venturing into the old town. It requires a tram ride from the ship to the cruise terminal area where many shops and vendors await, as it is a working, busy port. I did buy something at an ice cream stand ($3 minimum purchase) so I could obtain wifi and get email from work. We also enjoyed margaritas and spicy chips and homemade salsa at the bar in the center of the plaza. The next stop was Cabo, which was a clear favorite. The areas we visited (historic, shopping and port areas) were clean, felt very safe and we enjoyed a visit to Cabo Wabo Cantina for delicious, spicy fajitas and ceviche, as well as delicious tequila based drinks. The food and drink prices there and at the bar we stopped at on the waterfront were very reasonable. Cabo was beautiful as we entered and beautiful as we left. It was definitely a place I would come back and visit for a longer period of time. We would have liked more time there than the 6 hours we had, since we had to be back on board at 2:30 and really be prepared even earlier to head back since it required a tender. We then enjoyed a final day at sea before arriving back in San Diego on Sunday where the disembarkation process was easy as well. We waited in our cabin after a quick breakfast (a welcome benefit for HAL who lets you do this) until our time to exit was called. We quickly found our luggage and exited the terminal. Again because it is small, it is easy to get beyond the secured area to pick up an Uber or taxi to the airport. Food and Drinks: Although HAL has a pretty clear brand, over my many voyages there has been variability as to the quality of the food, really meaning between good and great. This trip fell into the great category and is a testament to the Hotel Director, as well as the head chef and chief bakers. Perhaps because Hal caters to an older crowd who may be more conscious of a lower salt diet, I have found food on other trips to be a little bland. Not so on this trip, where the proper use of salt in all items, including bread made the products more flavorful. The desserts had a fresher, more vibrant taste, as did our entrees in the dining room and food from the Lido Market. We enjoyed all of the specialty restaurants at least once (using our newly acquired Mariner discount) and all were enjoyable. Canaletto in particular was a better experience than on prior trips as the food quality was good and the service was at least twice as fast on prior visits. A major concern about this venue to the time it takes to order and receive different courses. This was a much improved experience and they have now added an additional entrée as a special of the day. I would like to see that at all of the specialty restaurants as it adds something different if you have dined there many times. We did attend afternoon tea on two occasions, one with plated services and one with waiters walking around serving. The food, consistent with the other dining venues, was better on this cruise. The Lido Buffet was very good (an effusive thank you to Rouisa who served us breakfast at the Lido most mornings we ate there- the friendliest employee HAL has). Denada was another roving server in the Lido who was always welcoming. Beverage service on this cruise was some hit and some miss. They had 5 specialty holiday cocktails we enjoyed trying, both throughout the trip and at a $15 bar class where we tried 3 of the specialty cocktails and took home the recipes. One pour note (sorry for the bad pun but I couldn’t resist): they have a new Dale DeGroff cocktail menu and we were excited to try some cocktails. However, it was only 2 weeks old and they did not have all the correct ingredients listed so the bartender liberally used substitutes. However, you cannot substitute cinnamon syrup in a drink with ground cinnamon and think it is the same. Other substitutions were for cheaper brands of liquor, or leaving out ingredients altogether. The bar tender apologized and we actually asked him to remake one drink because he didn’t measure and it tasted awful. I was disappointed to pay anything for these drinks and believe they should have told us upfront that they could not make the requested items. Also, for new drinks, measuring ingredients is necessary, even for experienced bartenders. As mentioned, we enjoyed the holiday drinks, particularly one called the Christmas Cookie and other HAL menu staples such as the Tropical Cable Car, but found significant variations from bar to bar as to taste and alcohol level. In another instance, we were given two wine lists in the main dining room and had no problems ordering from both (the older one being much more extensive). However, at the Pinnacle the next night, the wine steward did not want to give us the old menu, stating that most of the wines in it had been discontinued. In fact, our choice of a bottle was not available. To her credit, she did substitute a similar type that was a few dollars more for the same price. All in all, some consistency from bar to bar is still needed. Entertainment and Other: My only other comment is regarding Internet service. The HAL app is very useful and I like being able to see events, my shipboard account and keep track of ship time using my phone or iPad. However, when I purchased the Internet package (mid-tier so I could keep in touch with work), it would download the message line of emails, but never download the content so I could read the body. These were not emails with large attachments, and my sole visit to the customer service desk on this trip was to ask if there was a problem with the Internet. The response was that we were at sea so it could be slower. Clearly never getting an email to fully download (even after 20 minutes) is more than being slow. However, they promptly refunded the full charge to my account when I asked for a refund due to the service issue. Although I stopped and listened at BB King, Billboard and Lincoln Center a few times I did not partake in any scheduled nightly entertainment. I did want to see the comedy show that only had one viewing, but by the time we arrived at the theatre, it was already standing room only. It seemed there were a few more activities scheduled, including dance classes and we enjoyed the EXE talks about Mexico’s history and geology. I remain a loyal HAL cruiser and continue my journey towards 4-star before I retire and take my 30+ day cruise as a reward. This trip was better than most, and our next cruise was already booked several months ago so my new countdown has begun! Read Less

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